Saturday, January 12, 2013

Bad Book Arrangement

This book took quite a long time to read considering the size, this compilation has three in one. The first book was quite depressing, and to be honest, I had a hard time getting through it. Since it took me so long to read the first one, I wasn't too thrilled to continue reading the others. Yes, the book was very well written, and yes the story was powerful, but it just was not my kind of book. Finally I delved into the second one and it actually piqued my interest right off the bat. Again the plot line was a bit sad, but it offered tremendous hope at the end. I enjoyed the second book. I had actually already read the third book before I had received the review book and I liked it when I read it. This book is not nearly depressing as the other two. It is a tense, but enjoyable plot line. Overall this compilation had a few good parts, but the book order could have been rearranged. The first book just turns away potential readers. I would suggest persevering to the last two books, or just skipping the first book. This has powerful stories, but do not be anticipating happy stories that lift your spirits.

Here is an excerpt from the first book

I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers through their Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lemonade- A Short Story

Have you ever heard the age old saying ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade?’ Well I must admit that I disagree, my philosophy is that is life gives you lemons, squirt them in thine enemy’s eyes. Is that too dark for you? I understand; not everyone will agree with my sentiments.
Some of you might be mildly surprised right now, others shocked, and still others wondering what kind of story you have gotten yourself into. Well let me just let you know that it is definitely paranormal. Those of you who just thought vampires need to stop reading your tween daughter’s books again.
 But back to the lemons, a very decisive part of the story. Now most would agree that there is very little that can be done with just one single lemon and they would be right. To make some sort of spectacular lemon substance, you usually need a lot of lemons. Well the same concept applies to nearly every other thing in the world. In other words “the more the merrier.”
Never has that saying been truer than when applied to a certain group, a certain bipedal group, and before you think an ostrich, I am in fact referring to humans. Time and again man has attempted to bring together his fellow man for one purpose or another, whether war, a football game, or a tea party. There is something about each that draws people’s attention, that has them begging for more, yes even the tea party. What draws them; pride, hope, enjoyment? Or is it something deeper, is it something so close to our hearts and yet completely foreign to our brains that it is indefinable?
This was the thought that started my Monday morning. Why does man seek out attention from his fellow man? Why do we not all want to go hide in caves cowering from all life? From all that we know about what harm can befall us at a moment’s notice, why is it that we will still shake hands with a complete stranger? As I lay in bed contemplating this, I groggily reached over to turn off my alarm clock.
Why is it that teenagers have to get up the earliest for school, when we clearly are the ones who need the most sleep? I scrambled out of bed while at the same time checking my phone for texts. Yes I am talented. You might be wondering why a person of my particular age would be thinking such thoughts on a lousy Monday morning. Well I am a knowledge seeker, a wisdom striver. That’s right; I am the journalist for the school newspaper.
This is pretty much how I spend my free time, contemplating the Universe while maybe at the same time making myself cookies. Don’t roll your eyes; thinking can make a person hungry. But back to my morning, I finished getting ready and went down stairs, got some pop tarts, and went out the door. I walk to school every day because I boycotted the bus due to a certain mishap that involved a couple of science projects and a few suspensions, but anyways, back to me walking alone to school.
You might be thinking (a dangerous habit when trying to predict this story) that right about now is when the zombies jump out right? Wrong. I got to school without anything abnormal happening. In fact the whole morning was rather uneventful. It was in biology class that the ball started rolling. Now I’m sure you’re sure where this is going right? You think I will find some weird egg in the fish tank, or maybe this is when the boy next to me admits he has been bitten by a spider or something.
Well you would be wrong, both things are absolutely ridiculous. No, as I was retrieving my pen from the corner of the room where it flew in my anxiety to take notes. My hand brushed against something hard and round. I bent over to look under the table and saw animal droppings. It is probably from some rats or some escaped animal right? After all, this is the biology lab, but anyone thinking that would be wrong mainly because they have never been to my school.
To say it follows every health code is an understatement. I think it’s pretty safe to say that they are OCD. I’m almost positive that there is an award in the Principal’s office that says ‘Cleanest school in the Universe’ or something absurd like that. So it would be tantamount to heresy to admit that I found something so horrifically unsanitary on school grounds. Wishing to keep my ‘Currently Living’ status on Facebook intact, I kept the incident to myself and even cleaned up the mess.
I went home that day feeling rather scandalous. The next few days were very uneventful. Surprising as it is, I didn’t even think about or remember the incident for days, I guess that’s how traumatic experiences work. When I finally did remember, it hit me like a punch. I was withholding information from the higher ups. Oh my gosh, isn’t that illegal?! I started to hyperventilate, pacing rapidly. Suddenly I stopped. What the heck am I doing? Am I seriously doing the stereotypical thing and freaking out? I must be losing it.
Needless to say, my embarrassing episode never left the bus station. The homeless guys, I’m sure, won’t turn me in. They are pretty trustworthy judging by their aversion to people.
Now let’s go in a different direction for a minute, let’s take a trip down the road called ‘Hypothetical Situations.’ Let’s say I was to investigate a bit. Let’s say I stayed late after 6th period and went immediately back to the biology lab. Strangely enough, it was completely empty, oh how convenient. All still hypothetical, I am lucky enough to find another gift over in the same spot.
So I look more closely at the site. Perhaps I should call in some specialists that will set up some sort of E.T. re-creation. Maybe aliens are involved and this is all way above my head. An inner struggle rages. To ‘fess or not to ‘fess, that is the question. I decide not to, and then I hypothetically go home and live out my days as the local real estate agent, because everyone knows you have to be crazy to go into that profession; all very normal and boring.
Now please come back to reality; this is what really happened. In biology, as I turned in my homework, I happened to glance over at the wall behind Mr. Barker’s desk. Strangely enough, there was a small hole in the drywall and it looked as though someone had hurriedly swept up the debris in an effort to make it seem as though it had always been there.
But I know for a fact that that hole was new. Hadn’t I cleaned up frog guts right near there after missing the trash can? And yes I did find out they weren’t even supposed to go in the trash can in the first place. But my point being, there was definitely not a hole as big as my foot there the other day.
I tried to inconspicuously catch a glimpse of Mr. Barker’s foot to judge the size. Yeah that hole was definitely smaller than Mr. Barker’s foot, which rules out a teacher temper tantrum. Unfortunately I had been standing at the desk for too long, thus drawing unwanted attention and stares. I shrugged noncommittally and went back to my desk, determinedly ignoring the weird looks.
 I was understandably distracted for the rest of class, continually glancing back at the wall, trying to fit some sort of pieces together. That was when I heard the scuttling, very faint, but definitely there. I looked around to see if anyone else had noticed, but mostly everyone had a dazed expression with drool at the edges of their mouths and some were even actually asleep. Typical, I am the only one to notice the barely perceptible noise.
 I tried to ignore it, staring intently, almost threateningly, at Mr. Barker. A slightly louder scuttle, Mr. Barker winces; I stare into his squinty eyes. Yes, there it is a side dish of fear with a main course of panic; very small, but still apparent if you are looking for it. What is going on here? Are the teachers aware of this, whatever this is?
When class ended, Mr. Barker raced from the room and as I entered the hallway I noticed several other teachers doing the same. On a hunch, I decided to follow my 4th period English teacher Mrs. Spellini. So as not to be obvious, I followed exactly ten paces behind her. After turning the corner, I saw the swish of her long skirt disappear behind the door of the Teacher’s Lounge. With the grace of a cartoon character, I snuck up to the door, hiding behind ridiculously small poles and changing clothes to disguise myself whenever someone glanced my way.
Ok, not really, but I still looked pretty dorky to say the least. Slowly I eased my head up to the window, so as to alert no one to my presence. I immediately heard Mr. Barker squeak out something about the meaning of the message on, from what I could tell, this ancient piece of technology called a pager. They still made those? Well that must have been how all the teachers had known to convene in such a timely manner.
I silently cursed myself, blast my distracted mind, I had completely missed Principal Bosse’s reply. I did happen to at least focus in time to catch three fleeting words that were slightly mumbled. In order, they were ‘students, aware, and basement.’ There were probably words in between but I couldn’t catch them, besides that wasn’t the most pressing matter at that moment. The only thing that was important right then was that some unfortunate soul noticed that I was eavesdropping.
I say unfortunate because I might have, at that moment, forgotten the need for secrecy, and had plastered my face, quite unladylike, to the door’s window. I daresay I was not a very becoming sight to see while nervously drinking coffee. Ms. Addet, the math teacher, screamed in surprise just as I ducked out of sight and made a dash for the nearest unlocked door.
Call it destiny or simply a crazy coincidence, but I managed to find myself closing the door to the basement just as the Teacher Lounge door burst open. Weird, I thought this door was supposed to be locked, but at least for now it was my sanctuary. Surely my pursuers would think the door locked as well and not check in here for a while, giving me time to escape. I would really like to know the odds of such an event, but that Google search would have to wait.
Thankfully I did manage to still have sense enough to, like any other human on the planet, slap the walls frantically looking or rather touching for a light switch. An orange glow greeted my wide eyed stare. I glanced down the stairs, then at the door. Always better to traipse into a dark dungeon-like basement than to stand in relative safety. I mean, everyone knew that right?
Using such logic, I went down the stairs, my inquisitiveness propelling me onwards. Perhaps I would be able to find out what the students were apparently aware of in the basement. I reached the bottom of the stairs and flipped the light switch. What greeted my eyes were about two hundred other eyes.
“Rats,” I mumbled, “why does it have to be rats?”
I stood dazed for a moment, and then I ran back up the stairs, barely missing stepping on one of the vermin in my haste. When I slammed through the door, I just so happened to smack straight into Principal Bosse’s stomach. He stared at me, I stared at him, and then a rat ran past my foot.
Two Weeks Later:
So you are probably wondering what happened right? Well basically, after getting detention for ‘trespassing’ I wrote a story for the local newspaper on the rat conspiracy going on just beneath the unsuspecting feet of America’s future. I did some investigating and found a whole network of holes throughout the walls, the maze thus being the rat’s method of finding food and supplies.
It might have been slightly melodramatic, but hey, give me a break. One thing led to the next and a health inspector came to assess the problem, ran out screaming, and the local pest control came in to rectify the situation. The only good things that came out of these circumstances was that I got local recognition for my incredible journaling skills, not to brag or anything, and also the school staff was put on some sort of health probation by the school board for a gross perversion of their authority.
Apparently they were keeping the rats a secret because the school was getting a budget raise due to its cleanliness. Of course, it’s always about the money, so typical. So in the end I suppose everyone won, well except the teachers obviously, but even the rats were treated fairly. They were taken from the premises humanely, due to protests by the future PETA activists in our high school midst.
They insisted on using a lemon based spray to herd them into cages, causing only minor eye irritation to corral them. So the lemon did play an important part in the end.
As to the reason that people gather rather than scatter, I have only one answer, ridiculous instinct, just like community minded rats. I suppose I actually ended up making lemonade, no enemies were harmed. I guess it really is the best method.
P.S. - Do not take offense at being compared to a rat, it was only for allegorical purposes and should only be viewed in such a light. Also, paranormal is defined as not scientifically explainable, such is the human mind. Sorry to all of you who were expecting a werewolf to pop out.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Don't Judge a Book by its Cover

I know people always say don't judge a book by its cover, but I couldn't help but think that this was going to be some book where there is good and there is evil and there is going to be this guy who fights a battle and wins for the good guys. I was mildly surprised when this book was, for the most part, nothing like that. From the very get go I was very intrigued by the characters behind the scenes. They are only really mentioned at the beginning, but their influences are felt throughout the book. Many of the supporting characters are very complex and will do things that you don't expect them to do, so I found that I always had to be on my toes. The only thing that I didn't like about the book was that the ending left very many things unanswered, but I guess it makes sense because there will soon be a sequel. I just wish there had been some more definite plot endings. I suppose I will simply have to wait to read the next book. Other than that, this was a very engaging book and I enjoyed the original story line. I am very much looking forward to the next installment, where I will be able to learn more.

Here is the first chapter

I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah publishers through their Blogging For Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Fun Read

I originally chose this book because it was the only book I could request. I did not expect to like it and I imagined that it would be rather farfetched and childish. I feared it would try to follow in the footsteps of other great fantasy novels. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised. The story line was gripping and I found myself having to reluctantly set it down when I had things to do or places to be. Needless to say it was always in my purse for those off times when I could easily whip it out and continue the adventure. As someone who tends to dislike the portrayal of dragons in books, I actually liked them in this book. They had emotions and talents, but they were also still dragons. I was thrilled to find out that my library system had the rest of the series, but also sad that I have to wait 3 weeks until I can actually check them out due to camp. I would recommend this book to teenagers, just because of the fantasy of the story. I fell in love with all of the characters and am excited to learn more about their backgrounds in the next few books. This was a very fun read.

Just go to this website to get the 1st chapter

I recieved this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers through their Blogging for Books Program in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Very Captivating

I found this book very captivating. The story line made me want to just keep reading. I admit that I read this book deep into the night. While I didn't greatly like the character of Bethany Quinn, I fell in love with all of her supporting cast. I found Bethany rather selfish, but then again I have not been through hard times like she went through. By the end she does redeem herself in my eyes and I found that she really did have a heart and a longing for God. This book is almost like a puzzle. Every few chapters you would get another glimpse of Bethany's past. Throughout the book I would find myself trying to guess what had happened to make her so bitter towards God. The characters in the book go through a lot of grief, but through their grief, they become closer with each other and closer to God. Bethany has a passion for her work, but at times it seems to run her life. I understand her love for her work, but there is a line where your career and your personal life should not cross. In the end Bethany learns this lesson. Overall I found that this book was worth my while.

Just go to this link to get the first chapter

I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers through their Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Angels Everywhere

When I ordered this book, I had no idea that it was the second one in the series. I tried to find the first book, Breath of Angel, but unfortunately my library didn't have it and I didn't have the money to buy it. So I started reading this book knowing full well that I would probably have no idea what was going on. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Although it was the second book, it still explained each character fairly well instead of assuming that you already knew who they were. While reading it I found that there were some unexplained things, but I caught on quick enough. I felt that the plot line was pretty strong for a sequel. There was a ton of character development and building. I felt that the world that Karyn Henley had created was very original, especially at a time when everyone is writing of surreal worlds. Angels walking everywhere definitely made life interesting for the characters. The angel aspect made an intriguing story line and they were all very likeable. I definitely had a hard time putting this book down, but I would recommend reading the first book before this one. Overall I felt that this was a good book.

To get the first chapter, just go to the link.

I received this book through Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Face the Facts

Miranda glanced around frantically. The key could be anywhere on the cruise ship!

“If only I had more time,” she mumbled.

She ran her fingers along the seam of the door jam in the cramped closet that she had been thrown in.

                “Ah ha!” she shouted triumphantly.

She picked up the key that had fallen with a ding. Just at that moment the ship lurched, knocking her off her feet.

“Oh, I hope I’m not too late!”

Her fingers worked frantically as she inserted the key in the lock running from the closet and up to the control room undisturbed. Sitting on the desk like an ugly center piece was the bomb. It was odd that there was no one around on the ship. Pushing the thought aside, she stumbled towards it just as the countdown read  ‘5…4…3…’

Monica snapped the book shut with finality.

“If only my life could be that exciting,” she said to no one in particular.

She stood up grabbing ‘Time Bomb,’ a New York best seller and walked out of the deserted library.

“Why is it that I’m the only one who ever comes here?” She thought, “But then again I suppose other people have more important things to do than fawn over fiction.”

She hopped on her bike at the same time that she glanced back at the receding building.

“Their loss,” she smirked.

Monica was a librarian in the making; in fact, when the librarians weren’t looking she would put some of the books away herself. She once made the mistake of telling her best friend Zeke this.

He had feigned surprise and muttered in fake belief, “Were you arrested?”

Since then she had kept her library life in the dark and from prying eyes.

“I guess a life is beyond boring if all I have to hide is my secret library meetings from my friends,” which for the record weren’t so secret considering they were always advertised on the bulletin board at school.

She smiled as in her mind, she dramatically portrayed her anguish.

“I’m so good, I could go big screen,” she chuckled while waiting for a stop light.

As with all people, Monica was a star in her own mind. Some would argue that spending so many years reading fiction and fairy tales would give a girl an unhealthy imagination. Monica disagreed, most days it was her daydreaming that was the only thing keeping her going. Oh but all of the adventures she had had in her mind. The thing that amused her friends the most was the fact that she was nearly sixteen and yet still had her nose stuck, in what they considered kid’s books. They were constantly trying to get her to open her eyes and see the real world.

“They just don’t understand,” Monica thought, “What I read is the real world. They’re the ones deluding themselves into believing that what they are living is the epitome of real life. I pity them.”

She glanced at her watch as she set her bike in front of the mall, 12:57, three minutes early as usual. She walked past the expensive stores, latest fashions, and hottest trends to the food court where her friends had agreed to meet.

 As she approached, she spotted her friends already at a table and ran up to them, exclaiming as she sat down, “Carol, why the forlorn expression?”

“As always Monica, I have no idea what you are saying,” Carol quipped.

Monica sighed, “It’s an expression I-”

“Let me guess,” Zeke interrupted, “You read it in a book?”

He smiled triumphantly at Monica’s downcast eyes.

“So tell us, what does it mean? We’re all dying to know.”

Monica mustered enough courage to say in an airy voice, “I don’t think that you would appreciate it, so I won’t tell you.”

Zeke snickered as she changed the subject. She asked Carol how her soccer practices were going.

Carol replied cockily, “I have no doubt we’re the best in our league.”

And Monica didn’t doubt it either. They had been undefeated for two seasons now. Monica had tried soccer once in 6th grade, but has managed to break a kid’s nose and score in the wrong goal in the first fifteen minutes of practice. So she never gave it another glance. She brought her thoughts around as she noticed that Carol was still rambling on about victory. She had to admit that she loved her friends, but she couldn’t help but notice a huge chasm between her and them. Was she the only one who saw it? Was she the only one who noticed that as they grew, they drifted apart?

They had been friends since the playground days, when the over assertive Carol had waltzed up to Monica wearing a tutu with a bewildered Zeke on her arm.

“We all live on the same street,” she had announced, “So we should be friends.”

Surprisingly they had been inseparable since then, even going to the extreme of taking the same high school classes regardless of their futures. That is, until recently.

“Perhaps I shouldn’t have changed classes halfway through the year. Maybe that’s the cause of the drifting I’m feeling,” she thought.

Then she considered the opportunities she would have by taking chemistry rather than physical science again, she put aside the silly notion. She had a life to live after all, regardless of the classes her friends were taking.

Zeke shook her shoulders, “Earth to Monica! Are you still here?”

She blinked the thoughts from her eyes and turned to Zeke, “What?”

She really should stop drifting like that.

“We wanted to know if you wanted to come to a movie,” Carol asked.

“Oh I can’t, being poor and all.”

Zeke shrugged, “That’s a shame,” he didn’t sound too sincere, “Let’s go Carol so that we’re not late.”

They left without a backwards glance.

“Bye,” Monica called half heartedly, but they were already too far away to hear.

“Typical, now all I have to do is read, because my real life has deserted me. Although, it deserted me because I read,” Monica shuddered, “Think on that.”

She glanced around the decidedly empty food court and made to get up, when she noticed a small flash of light outside the double doors. She focused and saw two guys stealing her bike! She barreled past a janitor, yelling, even though the guys were outside. She burst through the doors just in time to see the guys riding away on her bike and another one they had probably stolen as well. Tears welled in her eyes as she set off for home.

“Now would be a good time to own a cell phone,” she choked out between silent sobs.

She stumbled on until she tripped on a crack, essentially ripping her jeans, while at the same time skinning her knees and hands.

“How could this day get any worse,” she mumbled as she stood up examining her hands.

She realized her mistake too late. She probably shouldn’t have said that, lest something worse did happen. But it was already too late to take it back, for as she turned to pick up her shoulder bag, a truck drove by, splashing muddy water up on her.

“What the!” she exclaimed, “It hasn’t even rained in weeks!”

This was just beyond belief. She needed to get home fast. She glanced around and made a mad sprint for her house, which was just a few blocks away. Over the sounds of her ragged breathing, she heard a dog bark, or was it three? She glanced back to realize in horror that there were at least six pit bulls bearing down on her.

 “Maybe they’re not chasing me,” she thought, and then, “Probably not, what with my luck.”

She nearly laughed at the absurdity of the whole thing, but she couldn’t spare any breaths as she caught sight of her house and dashed up the lawn. She reached for her bag to grab the key and remembered that she had forgotten it on the sidewalk in her haste. She pulled on the door frantically, but it wouldn’t budge. Nothing left to do but jump the fence; she nearly cried at the prospect. The dogs were nearly to her porch as she struggled over the fence. She barely made it before a dog tried biting off her leg.

“Success!” she yelled.

That was when she looked down and noticed she was standing in fresh manure. Another one of her mom’s garden pet projects attempts.

 Then she thought, almost desperately, “I just bought these shoes!”

She stumbled to the porch, muttering not so nice things under her breath. She paused at the door to remove her soiled sandals.

“The one time I buy designer shoes.”

Then the floodgates opened and she sank to her knees, tears pouring down her face as she laughed hysterically.  She felt ridiculous, but she couldn’t stop. Her mom meandered through the kitchen in yoga garb and noticed Monica in surprise. Bedraggled, alone, and sitting outside with an almost crazy glint in her eyes. She rushed over to the door yanking it open with concern showing on her face.

“Monica, do I want to know what happened here?”

Monica stood up, sure now that she was dreaming and that is when she noticed her mom’s new blonde hair.

“What happened to your hair?” Monica asked once her jaw snapped back up.

Yes, definitely dreaming.

Her mom grinned slightly, “I decided to try a blonde look, I thought the brown was a bit old.”

“This is surreal,” Monica thought, “If I look down are my hands going to be blue?”

She sneaked a quick glance down just to assuage her doubts.

“Ah, thank goodness,” she exasperatedly whispered.

She glanced at her mom, realizing that she was still looking at her like she had just climbed from the sewers, which she had for the most part done.

She cautiously took a step inside and said, “You would not believe the day I’ve had.”

Her mom smiled, “No, I’m sure I won’t.”

Jessica paused, “What’d I tell you? This girl is just like me.”

“I wonder who writes those stories for the paper?” Mikey wondered.

“I’m not sure, but it is going to be a weekly thing, so the next installment comes out next Sunday.”

Five miles away, Ms. Anderson turned to her 4th grade class, “So what do you think Monica has learned?”

One of her students raised his hand, “That when dogs chase you, you should grab your house keys.”

Ms. Anderson chuckled, “Definitely.”

Halfway across town a girl stared at her laptop as she read the comments on her story.

“Who would have thought that my English assignment would be so popular?”

And then she started on next week’s adventure, “Maybe I’ll add a vampire this time.”

She paused, with barely a smile on her face, “No, definitely a werewolf.”

                                                   What is reality?

                                             Life isn’t always clear.