Monday, January 31, 2011

Show Me Your Shelves

Hello and welcome to the first Show Me Your Shelves!
A feature where readers of Red House Books are given the opportunity to show us their book shelves, book cases, book piles....

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Krista W.!

Krista has an absolutely gorgeous bookcase.

Here is what she has to say about her case and books:
"I have one tiny bookshelf in my house. It belonged to my grandmother, and dates from the early 20th century. It's been painted pink. It's been painted black. It is now a shabby chic (read: chipped, peeling and grubby looking) shade of white. It is now missing a handle, the top door continuously falls of its track, the drawer in the bottom refuses to budge, and it is in desperate need of a new paint job, but I wouldn't trade it in for anything.

Most of the books that I read now have been borrowed from my local library. (Strong supporter of small-town libraries. Go support yours now!) In fact, I haven't purchased a book for myself in years. The books that I do have on my shelves are some of my favorites from over the years or those that were leftover from college courses. I also have a collection of old vintage books that were handed down to me from my grandmother and great-aunt."

What a wonderful story. If only that bookcase could talk.

Here are some closeups:



For more information on Krista, check out her blog Broken English. For more information on her wonderful bookshelf and books, check out this post.

Thank you so much Krista for Sharing Your Shelves!

I wish I had a bookcase with a unique story. What about you?

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Do you have shelves you'd like to share? Fill out THIS FORM to start :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

In My Mailbox - January 30, 2011

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren :)

I'm supper excited for my haul this week!

Links are to Goodreads

For Review
Big Thanks to Jeanne + Medallion Press, Harlequin, Kay + Sourcebooks, Book Chick City + Simon and Schuster UK, Kate + Bloomsbury

Won

Bought
Big Thanks to Swag Bucks for the Amazon Gift Cards!

So, what's in your mailbox?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Book Review: Drought by Pam Bachorz

Publication Date: January 2011
Pages: 400
Series: ?
Acquisition: received ARC for review

Summary:
Ruby Prosser dreams of escaping the Congregation and the early-nineteenth century lifestyle that’s been practiced since the community was first enslaved.
She plots to escape the vicious Darwin West, his cruel Overseers, and the daily struggle to gather the life-prolonging Water that keeps the Congregants alive and gives Darwin his wealth and power. But if Ruby leaves, the Congregation will die without the secret ingredient that makes the Water special: her blood.
So she stays.
But when Ruby meets Ford, the new Overseer who seems barely older than herself, her desire for freedom is too strong. He’s sympathetic, irresistible, forbidden—and her only access to the modern world. Escape with Ford would be so simple, but can Ruby risk the terrible price, dooming the only world she’s ever known? (from Goodreads)

My thoughts:
Drought was a disappointing read for me. I never gave up, hoping the next chapter would give me the answers I sought. And while, I have to say, the writing was very well done, I just couldn't connect to the story and the ending was very unsatisfying.

So many questions and zero answers. I'm pretty sure this was by design but it really didn’t work for me. The premise is unbelievable in it's scope. This, was pretty awesome. BUT the actions of the characters? I didn't buy. The Congregation basically lets themselves become slaves, and stay slaves for 200 years.  I could not see any reason for this. Darwin West enslaved them but they could have fought him. In they could have killed him and still lived however they wanted. Their actions were a bit infuriating at times.

Also, I really didn't like Ruby. She's 200 years old but lets her mother treat her like a child and worse. By the end of the book, I wasn't really rooting for anyone. Not Ruby, certainly not her mother and as for the rest of the Congregation? I think 200 years worth of chances is more then enough.

There were also some heavy religious overtones that I wasn't able to quite fit into the story. The mysterious Otto gave them all his blood so that they may live forever. But he leaves them and most of them don't know it was really his blood sustaining them. Yet they wait for his return. They pray to him. Some of them even seem oblivious to the fact that before 1812, they most likely were worshipping a different God. It just didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.  Again, maybe I was suppose to be confused? Or maybe I missed a big piece of the picture?

The romance….very not my style. I usually only run into this when it comes to vampires - the 200 year old vamp failing in love with the 16 year old girl (ew). But in this case we have the 200 year old….whatever it is that Ruby is, falling in love with the 17 year old boy. I know the Congregation ages slowly but I made the assumption that it was in body only. It was one of the reasons I got so mad at Ruby for letting her mother baby her so much. She's 200 years old! So yeah, I wasn't grooving on the Rudy / Ford connection.

And then there was the ending. Not going to give anything away but yeah, it made me throw the book (just a little) and yell (a little more).

Final verdict:
Again, have to say, the writing was awesome and although I didn't connect with the characters and I didn't particular like the total lack of information I'm desperately hoping Drought is the first in a series. I usually don't wish for this, seeing as just about every YA book that comes out these days is a series. BUT ! I want answers!

A very frustrating read for me but I'm glad I read it. It's kind of been sticking with me...like I can't stop thinking about it…
Not sure I would leap to recommend this one to all readers out there but I urge you to seek out other reviews before making a decision.

Overall Rating:
3 / 5 Stars

Linkage Love:
Egmont USA
Author's Website
Goodreads

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Book News for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad Users

Shelf Awareness posted an article today from the Huffington Post.
 It's entitled The Coolest Book Apps For Reading, Getting Free eBooks And Organizing A Digital Library and among other awesome apps it places the Goodreads Apps on its cool list. 
Before today I had no idea this existed!

The Indiebound App, which Shelf Awareness was specifically highlighting is also very cool.

Do you own an 'i' device and if so, do you use it for your book loving needs?

I'm off to download some awesomeness :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Show me your shelves?

Did you know I love books? 

HA! Ok - that was as trick question. How about -- did you know I love bookshelves? Specifically those filled with books? (hehe)

Did you know I want to see your shelves?

Been thinking of this for a while. I realised that I do almost nothing to facilitate discussion here on my blog. I love other bloggers discussion posts! I love reading other's take on the same topic. I even comment (*gasp* - I do comment...but not nearly as much as I would like...)

But anyway! 

Here is what I'm thinking - every week (or so) I'll showcase a readers bookshelves - or bookcases, or piles on the floor. Then we can all ooo and ahh and revel in our fellow book lovers' collections. A visual way for all of us to share a little bit more of our book love with each other. Anyone can participate, whether you have a blog or not.

Did I mention I love looking at other people's bookshelves? (Seriously, if you invite me to your house..I'll wonder around...can't promise I won't touch either... ;)

Anyone interested? (please?!)

If so (pretty please?!) you can either comment below with your email address or email directly at WilowRaven[at]yahoo[dot]com. 

I'm in the process of reorganizing my massive book collection so even if no one wants to participate you'll still be getting a peak into what's on my shelves.

I know you wanna show me ;)

Guest Post: Author Alexander Gordon Smith

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Alexander Gordon Smith to Red House Books. 
Gordon, as he is known socially, is the author of the Escape from Furnace series. The first two books, Lockdown and Solitary  have be released in the US and they are awesome! 

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Horror and Me
I love horror. It’s my absolute favourite genre. I think it always has been, even though my experiences with it haven’t always been good ones! I love horror because of the thrills, the unnerving, unsettling unexpectedness of it. And I love to be scared, the incredible feeling that everything you thought was real might suddenly turn out to be wrong, that the fabric of the universe might peel away to reveal something else, something terrifying beyond. There really is nothing like it.

I think maybe the main reason I love horror, especially as a writer, is that it’s the only genre where absolutely anything can happen. There are no rules. With, say, science fiction you have to stick to whatever science you’re using, even with fantasy you need to adhere to the world you’ve created. But in horror, there are no limits on what can happen. The laws of physics, psychology, biology, religion – everything – can fall apart without warning, plunging you into the abyss. There are countless different kinds of horror, but they all have this in common: they are rule-breakers, they make a mockery of everything we take for granted.

I didn’t know this when I first started writing – I was only six or seven – but part of me must have been fascinated by horror, by the unknown, because my very first book was a collection of monsters. They were just doodles accompanied by names – creatures such as the Ploop and the, er, Poo – and they all had smiley faces rather than scary ones. All the same, I remember showing the book to my mum and dad hoping they’d be at least a little bit scared – and being very disappointed when their only reaction was along the lines of ‘aw, aren’t they cute!’

My first experience of genuine horror almost put me off the genre for life! When I was about the same age, I used to go and visit my gran up in Scotland. I must have told her that I loved horror – by which I meant my little book of monsters and, well, Scooby-Doo. My gran worked in a newsagent’s that also rented videos, and one day, thinking she was getting me a real treat, she brought home a stack of R-rated slasher movies. I don’t remember the titles, but I do remember sitting in her living room, wide-eyed, watching chainsaws and zombies and cannibals and lots and lots and lots of blood. I didn’t have the courage to tell her I was petrified, and every time I tried to look away she’d say something like ‘oh look at that, Gordon, it’s sucking his eyeballs out!’

For a while after that I didn’t go anywhere near horror. I couldn’t even watch Scooby-Doo. But in the long run I think that experience desensitized me to the genre, because by the time I hit my teens I was once again addicted to it. I would read Stephen King almost religiously, I devoured the works of the masters – Stoker, Shelley, Lovecraft, Poe, M. R. James, Blackwood and loads more. I started to write stories of my own. They were silly, and not very good, but my friends would ask me to make up tales of their own grisly deaths. I even got into trouble by writing a story in English about a serial killer who murdered all my teachers – apart from my English teacher, of course, who was wonderful!

When I was twelve, I wanted to become the Ernest Hemingway of horror. I wanted to investigate haunted houses and genuine paranormal events then write novels about them. This ambition didn’t last. One night in summer I managed to convince my best friend – whose name shall remain anonymous for reasons that will soon become apparent – to sneak out after dark to a nearby house. It had been abandoned for years, and everybody said it was haunted by the woman who once lived there. We climbed in through a broken window armed with torches and coffee, thinking that we were the coolest paranormal investigators ever. We set off into the winding corridors, and after about five minutes we had both wound each other up so much in the creeping shadows that we were almost paralyzed with fear. We bolted for the exit, and I was so scared that I had to keep stopping to throw up all the way back to the main road. I thought my friend had escaped with a little more dignity… until I saw that he had wet himself! It was a disaster, and needless to say my dreams of being the Hemingway of Horror died there.

I continued to write, though, and when I was seventeen I began my first real horror novel. It was called Asylum, and was actually set in a prison called Furnace – although the plot was very different to the Escape From Furnace series. I absolutely loved writing it, the freedom that the genre gave me to let absolutely anything happen. In fact, I loved writing it so much that I failed my A-Levels (our main high school exams), because I just assumed I was going to be the next Stephen King. I sent the finished manuscript out to about five different publishers, all of whom rejected it. One even told me that I should seek help because of my disturbed mind!

Despite this hitch, I never really stopped writing horror. And I hope I never do. Horror is terrifying, yes, it makes us hide behind the sofa, or cower under the duvet, but it also allows our imaginations to soar, it pushes back the walls of reality and lets us believe that anything is possible. Horror scares us, but it frees us too. That’s why I love it.

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Like what Gordon has to say about his take on horror? I sure did! Thanks Gordon!

CLICK HERE for a chance to win copies of both Lockdown and Solitary.
Extra entry for commenting on this post.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Can't wait to get my hands on...Series Sequels

My little contribution to your ever growing Wishlists and TBR piles - As always, I'm here to serve ;)

UPCOMING SERIES SEQUELS
Links are to Goodreads

September 15, 2011 from Dial Books

Previous books in the Series:
The Line






Wildcat Fireflies (Fenestra #2) by Amber Kizer
July 2011 from Delacoret Books

Previous books in the series:
Meridian






Lemniscate (Angel Star #2) by Jennifer Murgia
March 21, 2011 from Lands Atlantic Publishing

Previous books in the series:
Angel Star







Circle of Fire (Prophecy of the Sisters #3) by Michelle Zink
August 2011 from Little Brown

Previous books int he series:
Prophecy of the Sisters
Guardian of the Gate




One Hundred Candles (Past Midnight #2) by Mara Purnhagen
February 15, 2011 from Harlequin Teen

Previous books in the series:
Past Midnight 





Bloodborn (Other #2) by Karen Kincy
September 2011 by Flux


Previous books in the series:
Other






**covers may not be final**

In My Mailbox - January 23, 2011

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren :)

I treated myself to a little retail therapy this week - hehehe.
Some more are on the way too :)
A few others showed up as well - overall - a very good book week!

Links are to Goodreads :)

For Review
Big Thanks to Jennifer / Goodman Media and Paul / Sourcebooks

Won
Big Thanks to April from Good Books and Good Wine

Bought!
Big Thanks to ME for having no shelf control!

So, what's in your mailbox?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Contest! Win Lockdown and Solitary by Alexander Gordon Smith

Enter to win copies of books 1 and 2 of Escape From Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith
This series is addicting!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS
*Open to US residents 13 years or older (if you are under 13 please ask your parents to email me at WilowRaven@yahoo.com before entering)
*Ends February 11, 2011 11:59 EST
*Fill out THIS FORM to enter
*Extra entries for following (blog, twitter)
*Extra entry for commenting on my review of Lockdown
*Extra entry for commenting on my review of Solitary
*Extra entry for commenting on Gordon's guest post

Again please fill out THIS FORM to enter.

Thanks guys and good luck!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spoiler Free Review: Escape From Furnace 2: Solitary by Alexander Gordon Smith

*Spoiler Free reviews are reviews of 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) books in a series with no fear of spoilers!*

Publication Date: December 2010
Pages: 240
Series: 2nd in a series
Acquisition: received ARC for review

Summary:
Goodreads link

My thoughts:
Another big WOW! Picks up right were book one leaves off. Second latter really - which was totally awesome. I didn't feel like I had missed anything AND I was thrown right back into the action which I loved.

Alex is still fighting - and he still hadn't given up.

In Solitary we get to meet a few new characters and we learn more secrets. This series has so many layers to it and I really like how each book adds something different.

Final verdict:
A few more gory moments, lots of tension and another cliff hanger! Although, not as bad as before : ) I've gotten very wrapped up in the world Gordon has created and I'm really looking forward to following Alex further into the hell that is Furnace.

A must read if you've read book one and if you haven't, and you like YA dystopian thrillers, I recommend you start on this series.

Overall Rating:
5 / 5 Stars

Books in the Escape From Furnace Series:
Lockdown
Solitary
Death Sentence (June 2011)
Book 4 (?)
Book 5 (?)

Linkage Love:
Square Fish / Macmillan
Author's Info

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Book Review: Escape From Furnace: Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith

Publication Date: August 2010 (US edition)
Pages: 290
Series: 1st in a series
Acquisition: received a finished copy for review

Summary:
Furnace Penitentiary: the world’s most secure prison for young offenders, buried a mile beneath the earth’s surface. Convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, sentenced to life without parole, “new fish” Alex Sawyer knows he has two choices: find a way out, or resign himself to a death behind bars, in the darkness at the bottom of the world. Except in Furnace, death is the least of his worries. Soon Alex discovers that the prison is a place of pure evil, where inhuman creatures in gas masks stalk the corridors at night, where giants in black suits drag screaming inmates into the shadows, where deformed beasts can be heard howling from the blood-drenched tunnels below. And behind everything is the mysterious, all-powerful warden, a man as cruel and dangerous as the devil himself, whose unthinkable acts have consequences that stretch far beyond the walls of the prison.
Together with a bunch of inmates—some innocent kids who have been framed, others cold-blooded killers—Alex plans an escape. But as he starts to uncover the truth about Furnace’s deeper, darker purpose, Alex’s actions grow ever more dangerous, and he must risk everything to expose this nightmare that’s hidden from the eyes of the world. (from Goodreads)

My thoughts:
Wow. What a thrill ride! I first picked up Lockdown with the intention of reading only a few pages but before I knew it I had 1/3 of the book done. I was ripped into the story, throw around, and spit back out...and then I asked for more.

A Dystopian version of the not so distant future where intense violence committed by young offenders has pushed society to the extreme. Life imprisonment in Furnace. A prison built from the very earth. One way in and no way out.

Beneath Heaven is Hell. Beneath Hell is Furnace.

With a tag line like that I knew I wasn't going to be disappointed!

The setting was detailed, gory, horrific and most importantly, realistic. This last fact shocked me a little. I mean, this sort of prison and the people and the society that created it could never actually exist...right?

Final verdict:
Gordon's depiction of Alex's struggles were full of such raw emotion I was literally sitting at the edge of my seat during certain sections. I had given up hope long before Alex even considered it and his fortitude acted like a shinning light in an otherwise dark and cold hell.

Graphic at times, not for the weak of heart but full of action. No romance, which was kinda nice. Characters I loved and characters I loved to hate.

Very different from other YA dsytopian books I have read. I can see young male readers really connecting to Alex as a character and very much being as wrapped up in his story as I found myself.

Oh - and it ends on a cliff hanger - a BIG one. So make sure you have a copy of Solitary within arms reach!

Overall Rating:
5 / 5 Stars

Books in the Escape From Furnace Series:
Lockdown
Solitary
Death Sentence (June 2011)
Book 4 (?)
Book 5 (?)

Linkage Love:
Square Fish / Macmillan
Author info
Goodreads

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Book Review: Vampire Diaries Stefan's Diaries Vol 1 Origins by L.J. Smith

Contributing Authors: Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec
Publication Date: November 2010
Pages: 237
Series: (see below)
Acquisition: won finished copy from Goodreads

Summary:
Set during the Civil War, against a backdrop of grand estates, unimaginable riches, and deadly secrets, three teenagers in Mystic Falls, Virginia enter a torrid love triangle that will span eternity.
Brothers Stefan and Damon Salvatore are inseparable until they meet Katherine, a stunning, mysterious woman who turns their world upside down. Siblings turned rivals, the Salvatores compete for Katherine's affection, only to discover that her sumptuous silk dresses and glittering gems hide a terrible secret: Katherine is a vampire. And she is intent on turning them into vampires so they can live together-forever. (from Goodreads)

My thoughts:
I've always been a fan of L.J. Smith's Vampire Diary Series. I read it way way (way!) back when they were first published. Some would we can thank the Twilight craze for the resurgence of vampire related YA books in recent years. I for one am not complaining. While it may be true that I'm a little particular about my vampires (they should not sparkle) and about their relationships with humans (100 year old vamp dating a 16 year old? A little gross) I do enjoy good vampire stories in general.

Told from Stefan's point of view, Origins tells the story of the Salvatore brothers before they became vampires. We really get to see the family dynamics in play. In their father's eyes, Stefan is the good son, the obedient son. Damon is the wild boy, predictable only in his disobedience.

Enter Katherine - Vampire. What are the brothers to do?

I thought I knew the Origin story of the brothers but this book painted a very clear picture of how things actually played out.

Final verdict:
If you have read and enjoyed the original series, the new set of books will be an added bonus. If you haven't yet picked up The Vampire Diaries, Origins is a good place to start. A quick read but entertaining. An in depth look into the actions that shaped Stefan and Damon into the vampires they would become.

Overall Rating:
4 / 5 Stars

The Vampire Diaries Series:
The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries
Vol 1: Origins
Vol 2: Bloodlust (January 2011)
Vol 3: The Craving (May 2011)

The Vampire Diaries
Books 1 and 2: The Awakening and The Struggle
Books 3 and 4: The Fury and Dark Reunion

The Vampire Diaries: The Return
Vol 1: Nightfall
Vol 2: Shadow Souls
Vol 3: Midnight (March 2011)

The Vampire Diaries: The Hunters
Vol 1: Phantom (2011)
Vol 2: Moonsong (2012)
Vol 3: Eternity (2013)

Linkage Love:
Harper Teen
Author's Website
Goodreads

Tidbits:
*The credit for authorship of this book is actually stated as "Based on the novels by L.J. Smith and the TV series developed by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec". Makes me wonder who actually wrote the words....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Can you tell me? Answers

A few days ago I asked:

How do you embed a link in the comment field?

I got a few lovely answers from a few lovely people! Thank you so much guys!

Answer?

Use the html code: 

For example, if I wanted to post a link to my latest In My Mailbox post it would like like this:

The resulting link would be: IMM

Not too bad!

What do you think? Do you embed links in your comments? Did you find this Q&A helpful?

Do you have a question you would like me to feature in an upcoming Can you tell me? post? CLICK HERE

Thanks again everyone!

FREE e-Book Alerts

Digital words aren't for everyone and I don't think they will EVER take the place of printed books but for those of you, like me, who have grown to love them here are my latest finds!
A lot of publishers and booksellers offer chapter samples but here you will find links to only complete books!

Some might be available for only a short time and some are only available on certain platforms so make sure to read all the fine print : )

Reaper (Soul Screamers Series) by Rachel Vincent

House Of Dark Shadows (Dreamhouse Kings Book 1) by Robert Liparulo

The New World (Prequel to Chasos Walking Trilogy) by Patrick Ness

Beasts and BFF's (13 to Life prequel) by Shannon Delany

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Can you tell me?

In the course of blogging, learning the ropes, trying to get a handle on Twitter, I have discovered that I have a lot of questions about random things.

Occasionally, I'm going to pose a question to you. Something random but bloggy / social networky / techy in nature most likely. (what? those are all real words, I swear)

I'll post up answers in a few days - cause, maybe you don't know the same things I don't know...you know?

This week, I ask you:

How do you embed a link in the comment field?

I think I know how it's done. BUT I want to see what you guys have to say.

Thanks guys!

p.s. I really want a cool icon / button to use with this feature. I'll be holding a contest this week (you could win books!) so get those creative juices flowing and stay tuned!