Thursday, April 24, 2014

Review: Ghost & The Goth Short Story by Stacey Kade

As part of a pre-order promotion for The Hunt, Stacey wrote a Ghost And The Goth short story.  It is a little over 14 pages long and gives her fans a glimpse at what life is like for Will and Ally after Body and Soul.  Will started college and Ally is stuck completing "Lily's" senior year of high school.

There are definitely some benefits now that Alona has a physical form, but she no longer has the freedom she had as a ghost.  She is working to establish a sense of balance that is acceptable for both her and the Turners, but Lily's parents do not understand and appreciate the bond Will and Ally share.  We all know that Ally, thanks to Alona's personality, will eventually prevail.

I don't want to give away any spoilers, but Will signed a lease for his very own apartment.  This should give you a clue as to where this story eventually leads :)

If you are a fan of this series, I would recommend trying to get a copy of this short story.  If there is enough interest, perhaps she will run another promotion or share it on her site.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Marathon Monday - Week 1

Marathon Monday is going to become a new feature on my blog.  I started training for my first 1/2 marathon last week.  My husband is a marathon runner and I am...NOT.  I've completed several sprint distance triathlons, but I am a swimmer and biker who struggles through the 5K run at the end of every triathlon. (The Marathon Monday photo above is from the run portion of a triathlon.)  I have run several 5Ks and a few 4 mile races, but a 4 miler is the longest run I have ever completed.  I am signing up for a 5K run over the Fourth of July.  I am looking for a 10K sometime in August and I am registering for the Columbus half marathon on October 19th.  I will post a weekly update on my training to help keep myself motivated.

Last week was the first week of my 12 week 5K training program.  I completed the following:

Tuesday 4/15 - 2.06 miles in 22 minutes
Wednesday 4/16 - 2.78 miles in 30.36 minutes
Friday 4/18 - 2.75 miles in 30 minutes
Saturday - 2 miles in 20 minutes

My husband is getting ready to start his 6th consecutive Boston Marathon.  Every year is supposed to be his last, but something about Boston convinces him to register every year.  Maybe it is the special 26.2 brew Sam Adams only makes for the marathon....

Or catching a Red Sox game...

Or perhaps just the thought of adding another one of these to his collection:

 2014 Boston Marathon Results

His goal is always to finish in under 3 hours.  You can't get any closer than this. 2 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds.


Splittime of daytimediffmin/milemiles/h
Finish Net01:04:15PM02:59:5909:5107:148.31

The celebration has already begun.  Cheers!! 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Review: This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

I would like to thank Jeri Smith-Ready for sending me a copy of This Side of Salvation.  I am a huge fan of her Shade and WVMP Radio series, so I was thrilled when I received this ARC.  While her other books involve ghosts and vampires, this is a YA contemporary.

The story is told from David Cooper's point of view.  He is a sixteen year-old high school student who is anything but your typical boy.  Prior to the start of the book he experienced the traumatic loss of an older brother and turned to religion as a means of coping.  Meanwhile, his father went completely off the deep end.  He lost his job and stated talking in "Bibleish"....he only uses bible quotes when speaking.  I can't even imagine how many hours Jeri must have spent researching possible bible quotes to apply to conversations about the weather, video games, school, baseball and other every day situations.

David and his older sister Mara are home schooled, but David is the star pitcher for the local high school team.  They attend community college and other courses outside of the home and seem to have a fairly normal social life....even though bringing friends home is a complete embarrassment unless their Dad is away.

David's parents believe the Rush...aka the going to take place in a couple of months and want their children to give up everything in preparation.  While David thinks his parents are crazy, he goes along with their wishes with one stipulation...his Dad has to seek counselling when the Rush doesn't happen.

While the book has a religious undertone it by no means tries to influence anyone's beliefs.  It is more of a mystery as David, Mara, his girlfriend Bailey, and his best friend Kane try to solve the disappearance of his parents.  The story starts out in the present and bounces back and forth between the past and present.  We get to experience a teenage boy's first experiences with dating from his perspective...which were VERY amusing.  We also get to spend a lot of time inside the head of a star athlete.  What is he thinking during a game, what goes into his training, etc.

I just started training for my first 1/2 marathon and couldn't have related more to the following quotes from TSOS:

"I went out before sunrise for my run.  I liked some aspects of being out before the world woke up, like not having to dodge cars backing out of driveways.  But the silence unnerved me.  Too long without sound and my thoughts tended to run in dysfunctional loops."

For me, it would sound something like this:  OMG...I can't breathe,  my legs hurt, how much longer do I have to do this.....

"So music accompanied each step keeping me going when my body begged me to stop.  It helped me dig deep and remember the Joe DiMaggio quote hanging in my room.  "You ought to run the hardest when you feel the worst.""

David is 100% correct.  This is exactly why I run with my iPod.  The distraction is the only thing that gets me through my runs.  I'm supposed to complete a 4 mile training run this afternoon.  I can barely walk from the 4 runs earlier this week, but I will finish the mileage my training program says I should do with the help of some of my favorite bands.  I will be especially thankful when I finish because tomorrow is an "off day". I will not have to run again until Tuesday.  Woo Hoo!!

Overall, I felt like this was a very well written and enjoyable story.  I gave it five out of five stars and would recommend it to all of my friends who are fans of YA.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Review: The Guard by Kiera Cass

The Guard is a retelling of a few scenes in The Elite from Aspen's perspective, so I would definitely read The Elite before reading this novella.  In addition, there are several new scenes that give us a better understanding of what life is like for Aspen and some of the other guards and staff.  This novella provides a more realistic picture of what the rebel attacks are like and gives the reader a chance to hear some of Aspen's thoughts on the Maxon/America/Aspen love triangle.  We also get to see some of the behind the scenes business transactions involving the King, which are just as shady as you would expect.

I was very nervous about reading this story because I am 100% Team Maxon.  I read The Prince as soon as it was released and LOVED it, but I wasn't sure how I would feel about this one.  Overall, I felt like it was a nice addition to the series.  I will never be an Aspen supporter, but I have a grater appreciation for his character after reading The Guard.

There is one scene involving Maxon, which I was VERY happy to see.  I wish there were more, but I guess I can't be greedy since it is Aspen's novella.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is an interesting take on the whole vampire phenomenon.  There are walled off communities where vampires and those who are "infected" are supposed to live.  People who are infected are not vampires, but they have been bitten by a vampire and could turn into one if they succumb to the urge to drink human blood.  The urge is relentless, so most infected individuals eventually turn.  If they are able to resist the urge for 88 days, the infection wears off and the individual remains human.  There are some humans who were trapped when the walls went up as well as humans who volunteer to go into the Coldtowns for the vampires to feed on.  Most of the volunteers are hoping they will eventually be turned into vampires, but that is rarely the case since the vampires need to protect their food supply.

Tana is a 17 year old girl who was at a party with a bunch of her friends when there was a vampire attack.  Tana and her ex-boyfriend, Aidan, are the only survivors.  They help a vampire named Gavriel, who was being held captive by the attackers, to escape as well.  The three of them travel together and check themselves into the local Coldtown, which is where the majority of the story takes place.

Flo and I decided to select The Coldest Girl in Coldtown for our April read along after reading all of the amazing reviews when this book was first released.  I was expecting it to be the next Twilight, Vampire Academy, or WVMP Radio series, but it fell short.  While I liked the story, there was definitely something missing.  It never really grabbed and held my attention until the last 100 pages.  It is my understanding that this is supposed to be a stand alone novel, but I honestly believe a sequel containing A LOT more of Gavriel would be a far superior book.  I loved all of the scenes when he was present, but they were far and few between until the very end.  The ending was also left open, so Holly could easily resume the story at some point in the future.  While I am not counting on there being a sequel, I would DEFINITELY read it if there is.