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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

Clarity & Perception

Clarity (Clarity, #1)
by Kim Harrington

Don’t close your eyes. Except when the truth is too dark to bear.Clarity “Clare” Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It’s a gift.And a curse.When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare’s ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case — but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare’s brother — who has supernatural gifts of his own — becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most? (goodreads.com)

I don’t normally write about multiple books in one post, but since I finished both Clarity and Perception right after each other, I thought I’d double up!

First things first, I am now having some harsh words with myself about not having picked up Clarity last year when it came out. It was one of the books I put on my 2011 Debut YA Author Challenge list, but for some reason, I was too chicken to pick up the hard cover. I was so worried that I would be disappointed and have spent money on the hard cover for nothing. Yet, I knew that I wanted to read this book. I heard so many great things about it! I was a big ol’ chicken pants and for that, I am mad at myself!

However, when I received Perception from Scholastic Canada in the fall, I made myself put Clarity on pre-order for the paperback. I would read this and then the sequel.

I did that this past weekend. In a day I’d gone through both the first and second books and let me tell you, I am HOOKED.

Eat your heart out, Nancy Drew! This book is high on the mystery and thrill and has some paranormal elements written in, but not in your typical Supernatural Creature of the Week way. Sure, Clare and her family have some sort of fancy mental abilities, but there’s also murder! And kidnapping! And intrigue!

I loved so much about Clarity that I was almost kicking myself for waiting so long as I was patting myself on the back for waiting until I had the second book within reach so I could pick it up as soon as I was done with the first.

Clare Fern is strong, witty and smart. She’s been picked on her entire life, but that’s made her a better person I think. She’s able to verbally spar with her taunters. Witty comebacks and whatnot. It’s awesome. She’s got a complicated relationship with her ex, but wins mega points in my books for dumping someone who cheated on you – even if it was an accident.

There’s a love triangle (yawn) that is only in the early stages in Clarity, it’s much more prominent in Perception, so I tried to ignore it the best I could. I did sort of feel like all of the boys Clare spoke with has some sort of undying torch burning for her – including her brother’s best friend, Nate, but whatever. That’s just the way books are written these days and I have to accept that.

What really, totally rocked for me was the writing and pacing of the story. It’s been ages since I read a good mystery that kept me changing my mind time and time again over who the Big Bad was going to be.  Just when I was sure it was going to be Person A, I’d be suspicious of Person B and then on to Person D and so on.  When I exclaimed “Ah HA! I KNEW IT!” at the end, well, I didn’t really. Not until just before all was revealed. Since I had almost everyone we’d met on my list of suspects, I was pretty sure I’d be yelling “Ah HA!” no matter who it had been. heh

I’d picked up Perception even before I’d updated Goodreads that I’d finished Clarity. You have to understand that I am completely OCD about updating my blog and GR when I am finished a book. I do it in real time. I don’t wait. But this time? I waited. Why? Because I had to read THIS:

Perception (Clarity, #2)
by Kim Harrington

When you can see things others can’t, what do you do when someone’s watching you?

Everybody knows about Clarity “Clare” Fern. She’s the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.

Only Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.

But then someone starts playing with her head . . . and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare’s pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare’s hopeful ex-boyfriend who’d do anything to win her back?

One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared. (goodreads.com)

Yes, I was totally suspicious of everyone in this book, too! In fact, I was actually surprised by the ending because I was sure it was going to be one of two other characters and I was WRONG. I was so hoping that I’d be right with one of them, though, because I think that would have been really original and I would have applauded Kim Harrington’s daring! Alas, my suspicion was fruitless though I was completely skeeved out by the actual culprit. I even shuddered at one point. Rare for me while reading.

I’m impressed by how Clare manages to handle the bullying and taunting that she goes through in both books. She’s a pretty strong character and though it obviously bothers her, Clare seems to have a dignity that many of us lack in her response. I hate that she’s picked on and used, but each and every time I think “Wow, I’m impressed” when she turns away rather than hides or lashes out.

The one downfall to this story was the very obvious love-triangle aspect. I tried my best to ignore it but I was becoming rather frustrated each time it popped up. I’d have enjoyed much more focus on Perry and his problems than which boy Clare thought she had feelings for. Oh, well.

Both Clarity and Perception were such exciting reads that I am a little bummed out that I don’t have any more books in this series to read right now. They were exactly what I needed this weekend to get me out of my funk and help me unwind.

I love(d) Nancy Drew books growing up and though I find them a little hokey now that I re-read them, these books by Kim Harrington are filling that void. I LOVED these books and truly appreciated the delightful mysteries that they solved. In fact, for the beginning of Perception, I even felt like the narration sounded similar to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. It made me laugh and the characters voice was just right.

I cannot wait for more books in this series! Completely unrelated, I love that the author’s last name is the same as my best friend’s last name. heh. I support all things Harrington!

Clarity series

  1. Clarity
  2. Perception

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (DoSaB, #1)
by Laini Taylor

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself? (goodreads.com)

I am a huuuuuuuge fan of Laini Taylor’s Dreamdark series. In fact, I think you should all go out and buy the two books in that series so that she can be asked to publish more. Go on. Go do it now. I’ll wait.

*waits*

Done? Great! Now that I have that off my chest, I’d like to talk to you about Laini Taylor’s latest release, Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Though it feels like a fantasy novel, this story is actually set in present day, so I tagged it as Urban Fantasy over Paranormal. I have seen nothing but rave reviews for this book, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m always wary of super-hyped books, you know?

DoSaB is a beautifully told story of a girl who lives on wishes and hope. Karou flits between two worlds – ours and Elsewhere – like they are seamless. She is kind and imaginative and a mystery that you want to get to the bottom of.

I’m having a hard time putting what I felt while reading this book into words. Mostly, I had a strong feeling of contentment and a nagging wistfulness for wishing I was as creative as the character and the words on the page. I felt swirls of colour surrounding me as I read. This book brought out my synesthesia with force. I smelled cinnamon and spice while I read. Such a strong sense of cinnamon that I had to chew cinnamon gum while reading at times, the craving was that bad!

This book was poetry and painting all woven into words on paper.

I even sticky-noted a page because a section of dialogue stuck out to me so much I kept going back to it and rereading it.

She paused. “I mean, your nonmagical magic. Your ordinary Karou wizardry. When will you be back?”

“Friday, I think. I just have to stop in Paris really quick –”

“‘Stop in Paris really quick,'” repeated Zuzana. “You know, a smaller soul than I might end our friendship on the grounds of you saying obnoxious things like ‘I just have to stop in Paris really quick.'”

“There are smaller souls than you?” countered Karou.

“Hey! My body may be small, byt my soul is large. It’s why I wear platforms. So I can reach the top of my soul.”

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, page 165

“So I can reach the top of my soul.” How bloody poetic is that? This book is riddled with lines that just took my breath away. Lines that were buried in the middle of paragraphs or snuck into dialogue all unassuming-like. The dialogue in this book rocks. Rocks hard, even. It’s natural and funny and raw and real.

While I was reading the only person I could picture as Karou is the actress Ksenia Solo. She’s currently on a paranormal show called Lost Girl (which my husband and I love) and I adore her character Kenzie. She’s also in Black Swan (which I have yet to watch – I’m too chicken!). She’s Canadian as well. I believe the character of Kenzie even had blue hair in a couple of episodes, so I know she’d rock Karou all around the block, yo! (Not to mention all three names start with the letter K. I feel that is kismet! Oo! Another K!)

The one thing I didn’t like about this book? The romance. Sigh. I knew it would be there and I knew it was coming, but, please. I am so tired of romance in books. The instant connection between Karou and Akiva is explained in the end, but, I just… I can’t. I’m so jaded about romance in YA right now that other books have ruined this aspect of a story for me. Akiva was nice and all, but I am tired of romance. 😉

Cynical and jaded. Yep. That’s  me!

AND! Since this series uses the title of the first book as it’s “title” (and you all know how I feel about THAT) I have dubbed the series “DoSaB” and it shall be tagged as such until they decide to change it to something else. Ha! Take that, publishers!

Pick up this book and read it. The end.

DoSaB series

  1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone
  2. Days of Blood and Starlight – September 2012

February Photo a Day Challenge: Feb 1 – 14

Have I told you lately how much I love my iPhone? I’m not about to divorce my husband over it (although his lack of iPhone does make him ever so slightly less sparkly in my eyes. Heh.) but I love this stupid piece of technology so much it’s not even funny. Heck, I hardly even use it as a PHONE if I was being honest. I think my most favourite app right now is Instagram (which I have mentioned a few times on here). I’ve been using this free app for over a year and I have enjoyed every second of it. It’s pretty much the sole way I take photos with my phone now. Last month I noticed a few people on IG posting photos for a January Photo a Day challenge. I only clued in towards the end of the month, so I didn’t participate, but I was more than excited to find out that the blogger who hosted the January challenge – FatMumSlim – was doing one again for February!

I present to you the first half of my February photos, based on this challenge. (photos link to the IG original with caption.)

7 years come July 2 that we acquired these rings and this dog. For all of forever. #febphotoaday 3. Hands

Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I can’t recognize the girl I used to be. #febphotoaday 4. #stranger

Gluten free Rice Krispies. #febphotoaday 6. #dinner

A button that I never hit because I will NEVER get to work if I do! #febphotoaday 7. #button

Movie date with my Mum = success! #febphotoaday 10. Self portrait”

Husband, dogs & books. Love. #febphotoaday 11. #MakesMeHappy

If it’s hanging up in the closet, it means I rarely wear it. #febphotoaday 12. #insidemyclose

This used to be our anti-valentine tradition. I love Grumpy Bear. #febphotoaday 14. #heart

There you have it. Must admit that having a theme for the day greatly increases my ability to provide a photo a day. I know I tried to do 365 days of photos a few years ago and it didn’t work out, but having the ease of a camera on my phone AND a theme for the day makes this so much easier.

If you have an iPhone, get yourself Instagram and join in the fun! Tag all your photos with #FebPhotoADay and see what others are doing. I’m no professional photographer but it doesn’t matter. Be creative! Have fun!

Other apps that I used to edit/tag the photos are PicFrame, Frametastic (to make collages) and Labelbox (to label them, duh!). These are also free (I rarely pay for apps unless I am 100% certain I will get my money’s worth!). It’s just a fun way to interact and get that creative need fulfilled.

I realize many of you may have already seen these on facebook or twitter and yes, this is a cop-out of a blog post… but Internet, I have been SO BUSY! I have no free time anymore! Ugh! So I wanted to post something. You’ll have to just accept this and hope that I can find time to entertain you with something more exciting soon. 😉

5 Questions: Rhiannon Hart (Blood Song) & GIVEAWAY!!!

You have no idea how excited I am to be able to interview my (internet) friend Rhiannon! A few days ago I posted my review of her first YA fantasy novel, Blood Song and then I thought, why not make her suffer through my 5 Questions feature! She owes me something after starving her characters through that book. ha! Also, since I was surprised with two copies of this book, I wanted to do something special for my North American readers since Blood Song is only available in Australia for the moment. (Boo!) Be sure to read to the end of this post for a chance to win a copy of Rhiannon’s debut novel!

Without further ado, Internet, may I present to you, Rhiannon Hart!

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1. I know you’re both a fantasy and dystopian genre fan, was there ever an internal battle over which genre to choose when writing your story? Or did you always know you wanted to write a fantasy novel?

I love reading dystopian novels as well as fantasy novels, but I regard them with a sort of reverence. (That’s not to say I don’t have respect fantasy novels too. I do, but I don’t approach reading them in the same way.) My favourite dystopian authors take something that they are truly scared about, extrapolate it to (logical) extremes and then write it down. For me the best ones are political, not sensational. I think that’s why Cold War-era dystopian fiction is my favourite. The writers were truly terrified of nuclear war. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a favourite too. If I write a dystopian novel it will probably be something with a feminist bent. I wanted to write a fantasy series first because those were the books I fell in love with in high school. I wanted to recreate that feeling of being enraptured with a story.

2. How has your life changed since becoming an official published author (if at all)?

Not a great deal! It’s probably changed more in my head than in my way of life or any other tangible evidence. I love knowing that my book is out there being read by people, and being able to engage with them online. (Fan mail is the shiz. It really makes my week to get even one email, no matter how short it is.) And the sense of accomplishment is an enduring one. I do fret over things still, but rather than “Am I ever going to get published” it’s “Oh god will they like the next book, and what the hell should I write next?!”

3. Is there any news about a North American pub date for Blood Song? I know many Canadians and Americans who would love to get their hands on a copy of the book!

No 🙁 If anyone wants to lobby their local publishing house on my behalf, feel free! Hopefully the series will perform so well that they can’t NOT publish it in North America. (I’m thinking the Canadians will come around first. They seem particularly awesome.)

North Americans! We must, must, MUST start a letter writing campaign! NA publishers! Listen up! This book needs to be available in Canada & the US. (Especially since us Canadians are awesome!)

4. What is your favourite part about the writing process? (Character creation? Edits? World building?)

Writing dialogue! I love banter. The humorous parts of my writing are almost always found in the dialogue. It’s also the first thing that flows easily when I’m writing a scene from scratch. (I’ve really struggled with the opening of book three, BLOOD QUEEN, for instance, because nobody opens their mouth for several chapters! I think I’ve nailed it now, though.) Then I add the details later: the surroundings, the “choreography”, ie who’s doing what and where. I really love it when a lovely bit of description comes out of nowhere, too. I just got my notes back from my editor, and she’s told me how much she loves the descriptions of the cities that Zeraphina and Rodden visit. I am so happy that I’ve managed to create a sense of place in the book, and enjoyed doing it, seeing as world building isn’t my forte or passion. (Which is practically treasonous for a fantasy author to say!)

5. What is your favourite questing food? (Blood doesn’t count. =P)

Oh dear, I knew you’d ask me this! My poor, underfed characters. Hmm. Questing food is so spartan. I would say roasted rabbit would be my favourite on-the-road food for Zeraphina and Rodden. Leap likes it too, and Griffin, though she prefers it raw. I love drinking chai, myself. I have drunk a big glass of milky chai almost every day since I started writing the series (in 2009), and I couldn’t help but put in a reference to a chai-like drink in BLOOD STORM.

BONUS QUESTION: For those of us who might be out of the loop when it comes to amazing Australian authors, do you have any recommendations for us? I have already gushed about Kate Forsyth and Isobelle Carmody (as you well know ;)) but whom-else should we be looking for in the Fantasy section of the store – YA or adult?

Yes! The Monster Blood Tattoo books by D. M. Cornish for starters. Fantastic series, and he illustrates them too. Also Marianne de Pierres, Lili Wilkinson (for Scatterheart), Melina Marchetta (for the Finnikin of the Rock books), Michael Pryor, Margo Lanagan, Leanne Hall and James Moloney.

Thanks so much for having me, Cat! I’ll make sure I give Zeraphina and Rodden a decent meal soon.

You’d better, lady! I like to eat everything that I read about in fantasy novels, but I’m not about to start wolfing down blood. So give me beef stew and hunks and bread. Maybe even paté. heh

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I’ll bet you all can’t wait to read this book, right? RIGHT? Well, if you live in North America, then you’re in luck, because I’m giving one copy away! *throws confetti*

Here’s the dealio:

  • Contest ends: February 23, 2012
  • I’m trying out Rafflecopter because apparently it’s easy to use.
  • Open to Canada & US ONLY
  • I will not be using your email address for anything other than notifying you if you win.
  • Winner has 72 hours to reply with mailing address, or I pick another one.
  • Do not leave your email address in the comments. If you do, I will delete the comment.
  • I’m only asking for FB page likes because, well, I want to feel loved. heh No pressure. It’s just another way to follow the blog if you don’t have a feed reader.
  • **NEW** If you don’t actually complete the task you say you did, that entry will be disqualified. Cheaters never prosper. 😉

Please feel free to promote the heck out of this, since I really want people in North America to be able to get a chance to win a copy of the book. It’s awesome! It’s FANTASY! And it’s YA. And it has ARCHERY (if not food).

Continue reading 5 Questions: Rhiannon Hart (Blood Song) & GIVEAWAY!!!

My Traditional Ode to Valentine’s Day

He Shoots Again

cupid’s arrow has done it again
just like a bull’s eye
it struck my heart
and made me love
he made me love
someone i can never have

oh, cupid is playing darts
with his bow and arrow
and my heart is the board
he shoots and he shoots some more
until my heart is sore
and he shoots again

i hear the laughter again
to him it’s just a game
there’s pleasure in my pain
and he made me love
he made me love
someone i’ll never have

without your help i can do just fine
please leave the choice up to me
look at all the pain you’ve caused
in all of history,
romeo and juliet, adam and eve
would have been just fine without you
why don’t you just leave?

and he shoots again
and he shoots again

he’s drunk on love’s passion
he’s crazy for love
he needs it, he wants it
he’ll take it ’til you’re sore
he’s just got to, got to
got to have more

and he shoots again

oh, cupid is playing darts
with his bow and arrow
and my heart is the board
he shoots and he shoots some more
until my heart is sore
and he shoots again

© cjh
february 4, 1993

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me today “What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?” I’d be able to take my husband & I  out to dinner tonight. Of course, my reply was, “Nothing.” We just don’t care about this fake holiday at all. Never have. We are so insanely lovey-dovey every single day of the year, why bother? I don’t like hearts or chocolate, I like flowers, but not because you NEED to buy them. Today, for us, is just a day like any other.

Of course that doesn’t stop me from posting the song lyrics I wrote in 1993. Heh. I just realized now that I had been trying to record this song on Garage Band in the fall to post this year and completely forgot. Oh, well. As it was I said to my coworker “Oh! You’re big gala is this weekend! It’s pretty dress time!” to which replied that St. Patrick’s Day was in a month.

Oops. I’m apparently in the wrong month. Go, me.

I thought perhaps I should post this for my dear friend Kyle who seems to have expressed some displeasure over today. This one’s for you, Bento!