Calvert’s Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

15783514The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Published: June 18th, 2013 by William Morrow Books
Format/Source: Purchased hardcover
Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis:

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

Review:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a very unique book. At times it feels like a children’s story, but the narrative is punctuated by mature thoughts and insights periodically. I found that the writing style of an adult retelling a childhood memory very pleasant, as it mimicked how I would do the same.

The Ocean is a very short book. Not quite what I would call a novel, but longer than a short story. It made a nice bathtub book. In that short span, Gaiman drew me into the world of the main character, who remains unnamed, as he recalls a childhood memory previously forgotten. I found myself begging for more detail on the Hempstocks and their lives, but was ultimately denied. That is not to say that the book was disappointing. On the contrary, I found it to be the sort that stays with you after it’s done. The kind of story that leaves a hole in you chest, that prompts you to sit and reflect before you continue on with your life.

All in all, I have absolutely no complaints or criticisms. A full twenty-four hours later I am still in the afterglow of this fantastic novel.

My rating: 5/5

calvert

Book Blast & Giveaway: The Cutting Room Floor by Dawn Klehr

This is one of those books that I had looked up a while ago when I was trying to become more aware of some books coming out this year. It’s very interesting and I am excited to be able to highlight it.

CuttingRoomFloorBlast

17393014 (1)The Cutting Room Floor by Dawn Klehr

Published: October 8th 2013 by Flux
Genre: Young Adult mystery
Pages: 305

Buy it! Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Synopsis:

Behind-the-scenes secrets could turn deadly for Desmond and Riley.

Life in the Heights has never been easy for seventeen-year-old Riley Frost, but when she’s publicly dumped and outed at the same time, she becomes an immediate social outcast at her high school. So Riley swears off romance and throws herself into solving the shocking murder of her favorite teacher, Ms. Dunn.

Riley turns to her best friend, budding filmmaker Desmond Brandt, for help. What she doesn’t know is that Dez has been secretly directing her life, blackmailing her friends, and hoping his manipulations will make her love him. When his schemes go too far, Dez’s web of lies threatens to destroy both of their lives.

About the Author:

Dawn Klehr began her career in TV and though she’s been on both sides of the camera, she prefers to lurk behind the lens. Mostly, she loves to get lost in stories –in film, the theater, or on the page – and is a sucker for both the sinister and the sappy. She’s currently channeling her dark side as she works on her next book.

Dawn lives in the Twin Cities with her funny husband, adorable son, and naughty dog. The Cutting Room Floor is her debut YA novel.

Twitter | Facebook | Website

Giveaway!

dawnkTOUR

2 Winners will each receive a $25.00 Gift Card to Amazon.com

Must be 13+ to enter | Open Internationally

To enter, head on over to this rafflecopter! Good luck!

Reading Goals: September’s Results and October’s Goals

So it’s a new month. How did I do with my reading goals for September?

I had wanted to read:

I didn’t exactly finish Tumble & Fall. In fact, I did not finish it…eeeks! I plan on posting my thoughts on that particular book in a couple of days, but yeah, I don’t think I can even really count Tumble & Fall as a book I read this month. Technically I finished Love & Lament this month as well. And while I haven’t made any new reviews for them, I did finish both of my rereads of Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth for #rothreread! So I read about four books!

That said, all the other books I read for September were fantastic reads!

 So! For the month of October, I plan to read:

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  • The Black Country by Alex Grecian: This is the second book that we’re reading for my book club this month. We picked this book from the list of historical fiction books for the summer. It’s a 19th century murder mystery in England, so it’ll be quite a seasonal read.
  • The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon: I’m looking forward to reading this. I think it’ll be good fun and I’m curious if I will share the same kind of opinions about it as others.

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  • Relic by Heather Terrell: I’m thinking I’ll continue this trip into the Post-Apocalyptic/dystopian genre; Relic will be a good read.
  • The Paradox of Vertical Flight by Emil Ostrovski: Sometimes, contemporary stories can be more dystopian to me than actual dystopian stories. I sort of ended up with this book by accident, so I think it’s time to see what I think of it!

And of course, if I get my hands on Allegiant, I will likely be delving into that one too. We’ll see how fast I devour it!

Excerpt and Guest Post from Ruby Hill by Sarah Ballance

Ruby Hill by Sarah Ballancehttps://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/1/?ui=2&ik=aca2695382&view=att&th=14131b917d3957e3&attid=0.1&disp=inline&realattid=f_hlqps56p0&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P_S6mgdahaRg3UQlho0R7NS&sadet=1380832459071&sads=JS5mGa32EyqdWRfnrLF_9vvDS9Q

ISBN: 9781622662258
Buy it! Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis:

From her earliest memories, Ashley Pearce has been drawn to Ruby Hill Lunatic Asylum, and she’s not the only one. Decades after the abandoned hospital ended its institutional reign of torture and neglect, something lurks in the shadows. Since she’s a paranormal investigator, it’s Ashley’s job to find out what.

Crime scene expert Corbin Malone doesn’t believe in ghosts. A born skeptic, he has no interest in entertaining the hype surrounding the mysterious deaths at Ruby Hill, but he won’t turn his back while more women die. He agrees to an overnight investigation, never expecting his first encounter would be with the woman he pushed away a year ago. But when he discovers Ashley is a target, he learns his greatest fear isn’t living with his own demons, but losing her for good.

Excerpt:

Death had a flavor. Equal parts bitter and bland, the damnable taste was more sickening than the stickiness in Corbin Malone’s throat. It soured his gut, leaving him with an unease he couldn’t quite swallow, and the deeper they drove into the countryside—the closer the car brought him to Ruby Hill Lunatic Asylum—the more potent the flavor. Five years a cop, he’d neatly sidestepped the ugly aftertaste until things got personal.

Until the body belonged to his brother, Cash.

Nearly six months had passed since Cash Malone fought for his last breath inside the dismal, abandoned halls of Ruby Hill. Though his body now rested six feet under a distant patch of cemetery grass, Ruby Hill remained his tomb—a giant, crouching headstone marring acres of otherwise beautiful, rolling hills. And for Corbin, a visage of murder.

 Guest Post: 13 Shocking Reasons Real People were Committed to a Lunatic Asylum

If you thought you had to get your crazy on to land in a place like Ruby Hill, you’d better think again.

The following list of reasons folks were locked up for “treatment” between 1864 and 1889 at the RUBY HILL-esque yet very real Trans-Alleghany Lunatic Asylum is absolutely true. (My commentary, however, may be prone to exaggeration.) (Source)

  1. Bad Whiskey – I don’t know if this guy drank bad whiskey, sold bad whiskey, or manufactured bad whiskey, but you’ve got to feel for anyone forced to sober up a lunatic asylum. I’m pretty sure that type of residence is exactly where I’d most need whiskey, bad or otherwise.
  2. Drospy – I admit I had to look this one up. It’s the old word for edema, which is what happens when you carry excess fluid. Basically this means if you’ve ever taken off your socks to find they’ve left dents in your legs, you could have been committed. Now THAT is lunacy.
  3. Fighting Fire – Not setting them, but fighting them. Apparently firefighting in the 1800s wasn’t always considered the heroic profession we know it as today. And someone at the admissions desk is a pyromaniac.
  4. Menstrual Deranged – What does that mean, exactly? Aside the menstrual part – we get that. Monthly, even. But deranged? We probably don’t want to know, but what do you want to bet a man came up with that one?
  5. Masturbation for 30 Years – Erm, okay. But why THIS GUY and not EVERY OTHER GUY ON THE PLANET? I’m just sayin’….
  6. Suppressed Masturbation – So what we’ve just learned is there is clearly a target zone for this particular activity—somewhere between once and 30 years’ worth. Good luck with that, boys.
  7. Ill Treatment by Husband – Okay, so he’s a jerk so they lock HER up? I bet a man thought of that one, too. (I’m gaining a whole new appreciation for my fabulous husband, who—in over 16 years of marriage—has not once sent me to an asylum.)
  8. Seduction and Disappointment – I’m not sure who was seduced in this scenario and who was disappointed, but apparently this was not the time to oversell oneself. (No wonder that one guy just stuck to masturbation for 30 years.)
  9. Scarlatina (Scarlet Fever) – You there, with the contagious disease. Into the criminally over-crowded asylum. Yep, that’ll fix you. That will fix all of you. Muahahaha.
  10. Medicine to Prevent Conception – To be fair, all forms of contraception were made illegal in the United States in 1873, so this was at least technically a crime. By the 1880s, though, there was a handy-dandy sausage casing device (yes, that would be animal intestine) alternative. Might have been worth a shot because…
  11. Dissipation of Nerves – There’s nothing to indicate the dissipation of nerves was in any way related to conception rates, but my husband and I have six children (one of whom was conceived after I was surgically sterilized) and I’m telling you, asylum people. YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. It a classic inverse proportion, and if you don’t believe me just ask all those people who see me with six kids and immediately assume I’m crazy. But I digress.
  12. Carbonic Acid Gas – I’m not sure of the particulars here, but just so y’all know, this is a byproduct of breathing. BREATHING WAS A CRIME.
  13. Novel Reading – ERMAGERD, YOU GUYS. First we can’t breathe, and now they take away our novels! But fear not, for RUBY HILL is not a novel, but a novella. Which can only mean READING RUBY HILL WILL KEEP YOU OUT OF AN INSANE ASYLUM!

Okay, so my logic might be a bit flawed, LOL, but I’m going to distract you quickly so you won’t notice. ☺

Here’s a related little historical twist that blew my mind.

In September, Entangled Scandalous released my historical romance, HER WICKED SIN, which is set during the Salem Witch Trials. Back then, the Salem in question was actually Salem Village, which has since been renamed Danvers. Danvers is home to the Danvers State Lunatic Asylum (reportedly one of the most haunted places in the world, and they turned it into APARTMENTS, y’all!), which sits on Hawthorne Hill, the very site of the gallows where the Salem witches were hanged. Nice little coincidence, right? But it gets better. Back in 2011—long before I’d given any thought to writing about the Salem Witch Trials or a haunted lunatic asylum—I had out there a little novella about a haunted house. Its name?

HAWTHORNE.

Mind. Blown.

Now that you’ve been properly wooed (yes-I-said-wooed), are you ready to dive into the dust, abandonment, terror—and yes, romance—of an abandoned mental institution? (Come on—you’ve got to see how the romance fits in there, right?) If so, I hope you’ll consider a dark, dangerous trek (or, you know, just click over) to your favorite e-tailer for the scoop on RUBY HILL!

PS: I’m probably hiking with grizzly bears as you read this, so bear (ha!) with me if I don’t respond immediately to your comments. I do look forward to your replies—and I have been promised nightly wifi—so if I’m not mauled, eaten, or otherwise incapacitated, I will SO come back for you! ☺

About the Author:

Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep. She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom, she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids). When not buried under piles of laundry, she may be found adrift in the Atlantic (preferably on a boat) or seeking that ever-elusive perfect writing spot where not even the kids can find her.

She loves creating unforgettable stories while putting her characters through an unkind amount of torture—a hobby that has nothing to do with living with six children. (Really.) Though she adores nail-biting mystery and edge-of-your-seat thrillers, Sarah writes in many genres including contemporary and ghostly paranormal romance. Her ever-growing roster of releases may be found on Amazon , Barnes & Noble, Kobo, For the Muse Publishing, and ENTANGLED PUBLISHING.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Book News: The One by Kiera Cass Cover Reveal

So if you have read my reviews this summer, you’ll have seen that I read The Selection and The Elite for the first time. I enjoyed the books as I enjoy watching reality television shows with guilty pleasure. It is one of those stories that you can’t believe that you are reading, and yet you keep reading. It is overall an enjoyable series, perfect when you want some brainless entertainment (and I don’t mean that harshly at all!).

So last week, the cover was revealed for The One, the final book in this trilogy. (Some quick recap: the series is The Bachelor meets a half-explained dystopian society meets a royal family. The main character is waiting of the final rose to marry the prince in a tense kingdom, but her heart is divided.)

So, here’s the new cover!

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I think we all knew the girl would be wearing a white dress for this book, but it’s still very pretty. Is it a wedding dress? I particularly like how it goes along with the girl’s name “America” and now the trilogy features red, white, and blue dresses.

10507293The Elite (The Selection, #2)

What do you think of the cover(s)? Are you following this series?

#RothReread Week 2: Fear Landscape

divergent reread2

#rothreread is an effort hosted by Allodoxophobia and Gone Pecan as we reread Divergent and Insurgent to prepare for the final installment of the Divergent trilogy.

So I have now finished both books (yay ahead of schedule!) so I’m very excited for the next book! This week’s prompt is what would be in your fear landscape? For the uninitiated to the trilogy (and within the trilogy) those 16 year olds who want to join Dauntless have to go through a version of simulation where they are confronted with their fears. It is meant to make them able to still operate despite their fears. So what are my fears?

  • I feel like I’d be remiss if I did not mention the death of those I love. Unfortunately, it’s sort of fact of life, but it is still not something I’d like to think about and I’d rather if it didn’t come prematurely.
  • Rats. I have a phobia of rats. Mice are still not pleasant for me, but it’s really rats that I have a problem with. It’s completely irrational, I know. But I can’t help it. My heart will begin to race just to look at the rats in a pet store.
  • Frogs. But really, anything that has the potential to jump on my feet. Even going to the ocean is somewhat terrifying because there’s the potential that something could mess with my feet. It must have something to do with vulnerability.
  • Some of my scariest nightmares involve a breaking and entering of some kind with the intention to cause harm to me or those inside the house. There’s this violence to it and real intent to harm that is just terrifying.
  • Maybe being chased by wolves? I get a few nightmares about that, despite how again, completely irrational and unlikely that would be.

I could see a few of the ones that I’d be surprised by in the fear landscape involving different versions of loss of control or vulnerability.

What would be in your fear landscape?

Join the conversation!

Entangled’s Ever After Fall Releases

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Ever After is an imprint of Entangled, and today I am spotlighting their new releases. They all have something a little different to offer and seem like good fun! Definitely check out each of these books (there’s also a giveaway associated with them!)

Haunted Chemistry by Lindsey Loucks

ISBN: 9781622662982
Buy it! Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis:

When bookish college co-ed Alexis heads to the laundry room in her new apartment, she runs into Ian Reese, the chem lab partner she crushed on all last semester. And the guy who stood her up on their first date. But she’s down for an awkward reunion, and no better place than her creepy laundry room.

Ian has every intention of making amends, but just when Alexis begins to trust him again, a new threat calls more than their future together into question. A ghost from the apartment’s past is hellbent on revenge, and if he wants to get his girl, he’ll have to get the ghost first.

Giveaway

$50 gift card. Winner’s choice of Amazon or Barnes & Noble! To enter, head on over to this rafflecopter.

Mercy by Jan Doffey

ISBN: 9781622663347
Buy it! Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis:

Julia Klein’s life has begun to unravel—her daughter Amy has been suspended from school, Julia is about to lose her job, and her boyfriend Garrett is being transferred thousands of miles away.

Overwhelmed, she and Amy leave for a weekend at a rambling old colonial inn. Julia never suspects that Garrett, desperate to find a way to keep Julia in his life, has decided to surprise her by joining them. Nor does she expect her daughter to befriend a mischievous ghost…or that she herself would be possessed by the malevolent spirit of a long-dead mother.

As a dark secret emerges, Julia, Amy, and Garrett find themselves pitted in a fight for survival against a savage presence that intends to resurrect/repeat/relive a horrible crime committed two centuries ago.  And this time, Amy and Julia will be the victims.

Giveaway

$20 digital gift card (Winner’s Choice: Amazon or B&N) and a Nautical brooch for every tour stop. To enter, head on over to this rafflecopter!

Northern Light by E.J. Russell

ISBN: 9781622662845
Genre: M/M Romance
Buy it! Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis:

Nothing gives art fraud investigator Luke Morganstern a bigger rush than busting forgers, the low-life criminals who dare victimize true artists. But when his latest job sends him to a remote cabin in the Oregon Coast Range, he’s stunned to discover the alleged forger is his former lover, Stefan Cobbe, the most gifted painter Luke has ever known.

Stefan, left homeless and destitute after the death of his wealthy partner, doesn’t exactly deny the forgery — he claims he doesn’t remember, an excuse Luke can’t accept.

But Luke’s elderly client suggests Stefan may be telling the truth and presents another possibility – a dark presence in the woods, a supernatural fury simmering for decades. Luke must face down his fear of the uncanny – and admit his feelings for Stefan – if either of them is to survive.

Giveaway

The Oregon Chill-chaser bundle: (US ONLY)

  • Mystic Water handwarmer mug from Clay in Motion Pottery
  • 9.5 oz Dark Hot Chocolate mix from Moonstruck Chocolatiers

To enter, go to this Rafflecopter!

Ruby Hill by Sarah Ballance

ISBN: 9781622662258
Buy it! Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis:

From her earliest memories, Ashley Pearce has been drawn to Ruby Hill Lunatic Asylum, and she’s not the only one. Decades after the abandoned hospital ended its institutional reign of torture and neglect, something lurks in the shadows. Since she’s a paranormal investigator, it’s Ashley’s job to find out what.

Crime scene expert Corbin Malone doesn’t believe in ghosts. A born skeptic, he has no interest in entertaining the hype surrounding the mysterious deaths at Ruby Hill, but he won’t turn his back while more women die. He agrees to an overnight investigation, never expecting his first encounter would be with the woman he pushed away a year ago. But when he discovers Ashley is a target, he learns his greatest fear isn’t living with his own demons, but losing her for good.

Giveaway

 $25 Gift Certificate to winner’s choice of Amazon or Barnes & Noble AND Skelton Key blue Swarovski heart Art Nouveau necklace (US/Canada ONLY) To enter, go to this rafflecopter!

Wish Upon a Star by Michelle McLean

ISBN: 9781622663323
Buy it! Amazon |Barnes & Noble

Synopsis:

Ceri McKinley never stopped wishing that her ex-fiancé Jason Crickett would come back into her life. But when he finally does, he comes with a request that puts them both—and all of humanity—into jeopardy.

Jason only wants two things: to bury his brother properly and to convince Ceri to trust him again after he jilted her. But when Ceri agrees to help him get his brother back, they end up fighting for their lives as a zombie uprising threatens them all.

Giveaway

$20 Gift Card (Winner’s Choice: Amazon/B&N) & a “Wish” Necklace. To enter, hop on over to this rafflecopter!

One Thousand and One Nights by Ruth Browne 

ISBN: 9781622663316
Buy it! AmazonBarnes & Noble

Synopsis:

Sheri spends her days fighting zombies and her nights chained to a wall, earning her every breath by telling stories to her captor Aleksy—stories that make them both forget the ruined world. Sheri could put up with the conditions—at least she knows her sister is safe in the community Aleksy leads—until she realizes she’s falling for him…even though he wants her dead.

When Aleksy allowed Sheri and her sister into his compound, he didn’t know about the zombie bite on her back. It’s only a matter of time before she turns into one of the rising dead and threatens their existence, but Aleksy has a secret need for Sheri and her stories. For everyone’s safety, he chains her to his bedroom wall, hoping for just one more day. But how long will the community allow Aleksy to ignore his own rule: always kill the infected. Always.

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Giveaway and Excerpt from Waterborn by Kimberly James

Waterborn by Kimberly Jameshttps://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/1/?ui=2&ik=aca2695382&view=att&th=1413df36b93b697f&attid=0.3&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P_S6mgdahaRg3UQlho0R7NS&sadet=1380210179035&sads=6xZqN5zWkhMMV1BU89PTGpzF9o8

Published: September 6, 2013
Genre: New Adult Fantasy and Romance
Pages: 288
Buy It! Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis:

“You don’t have to choose. You can be both. The girl with the charm, the girl without. They both suit you.”

Caris Harper lives a charmed life. Literally.

When her dad offers to take her to the Emerald coast of Florida for summer vacation, Caris jumps at the chance. The chance to get answers to questions she’s always been too afraid to ask. The chance to be normal. Isn’t that what her dreams have been telling her, that here in the place of her birth she can be normal? But from the first moment the wind caresses her face and the sun touches her skin, the charm begins to fade, revealing a girl Caris never knew existed, one that is anything but normal. The long-buried Song that awakens is only the beginning of a transformation that will challenge her ideas about loyalty and family.

Noah Jacobs is a waterbreather—a species of human fully adaptable to life in the water. Like his older brother Jamie, Noah wants to prove they can use their abilities and be heroes in service to their country. When a simple mission goes wrong and Jamie goes missing, Noah exiles himself to the Deep in a desperate search. MIA is a classification Noah is not ready to accept. But instinct can’t be ignored. Not when he hears her Song. Caris is not what he expects and Noah is determined to get her out of his head. Instead he finds himself acting as her mentor and the more time they spend together, the more Noah realizes he just wants Caris.

When a startling truth threatens their newly formed trust, Noah straddles the line between love and obsession while Caris struggles to find a balance between the girl she thought she was and the young woman she wants to be.

Excerpt:

All my life I wanted to be like my mother, hoped I was like her. And now that I knew I was, the knowledge felt like a burden instead of a blessing. A dream turned nightmare.

As I stood on the beach, a few yards away from where the foamy waves rushed over the sand, I wished it weren’t true. Maybe my dad was wrong. Maybe my mother had been wrong.

My hope was dashed as soon as the Song came, easy and instinctive. Echoes built and swirled in my head like the breaking of so many waves. I felt the purpose of this Song in a way I hadn’t felt before. I recognized it for what it was now. What before had come as the result of wayward thought, produced by uncontrolled feelings, now came with a violent edge.

A command.

A part of me prayed he wouldn’t answer, that he wouldn’t succumb to the power even as it seemed to fill me with a sense of vitality.

Minutes later, Noah emerged from the surf, surrounded by the foamy break. He radiated power. Somewhere in the fog of my mind, I remembered his strong arms wrapped around me as he wrestled me from the force that held me to the bottom of the ocean. Was it because I knew what he was that I could see him so clearly, or was it that he no longer had to hide that part of himself from me? Did we all wear a charm of some sort? All I knew for sure was that no mere human had eyes like that. No mere human moved with such graceful strength as though he commanded the water itself.

Our eyes locked and held. We circled each other with wary steps. This wasn’t the same boy I’d rescued from a pack of bullies. This boy was wild, defiant and snarling silently, caught in this invisible trap of my Song.

Where did we stand? Yesterday I would have said we were friends. Now I didn’t know. He stopped an arms length away. Was he afraid to come closer? No wonder he had looked at me with such animosity before. He didn’t like it, having to come when I called. But despite that, despite what my dad had told me about my real father hurting my mother, I couldn’t believe that Noah would hurt me. I told him that day he’d rescued me from a pool of horseshoe crabs that he wouldn’t hurt me and I still believed that. Maybe even more now.

“Are you afraid of me now?” I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a sense of empowerment, a tiny thrill that he was here only because I’d asked him to come with just a thought.

“No.” As if to prove it, he closed the space between us with one long stride, eyes intent, bold as they raked over me. I had discarded my dad’s t-shirt, eager to feel the wind on my skin, the spray from the surf. I wore my bikini top and bottoms, but I might as well have been naked the way Noah looked at me. Noah’s bare chest glistened with moisture and I had the absurd thought to rub up against him, let that moisture soak into my skin. Something must have shone on my face, some yearning I couldn’t name, because he shook his head and tiny drops of water rained down on me. I massaged them into my arms, let them drip down my face, craving more. They sang through my blood and every nerve ending in my body responded. Even my scalp tingled.

His eyes scoured my face, questions swimming in the green depths. But he also looked as if he too had no idea what happened next.

“How long have you known?” I couldn’t quite keep the edge out of my voice. The accusation. I knew this wasn’t his fault. The fault lie with my dad, but still, he had been keeping this from me. He should have told me.

“Since the first day I saw you.”

“The day behind the shops when Jax took your hair?” How had they done it? Cornered and trapped him like that? It didn’t seem possible, even though there had been three of them.

“No.” He averted his eyes. I watched his throat move as he swallowed. “Before that.”

Realization dawned. My first night here, when the water grabbed at me. I remembered the swell I’d felt in my chest, the Song that had burst through my head almost without me knowing.

I called him that first day, and he’d come, not knowing who I was. I didn’t want that kind of power over him. Yet, here he stood.

“Why you? I mean, there are others like you…” I gulped, still barely able to grasp the idea of another species, even with the proof of it standing in front of me. The proof of it humming under my skin. I still felt human enough, but Noah was definitely more. So unquestioningly, obviously more. “Like us. Why you?”

“I don’t know.” He said the words almost like a tired sigh, as though it was an unanswered question he’d asked himself over and over.

“So, we’re not really friends. It’s just this…” I waved my hand between us, not knowing what to call this connection we shared.

“I can’t speak for you, but I am your friend, Caris. I will always be that.”

My throat tightened and I looked away, not wanting him to see how his words affected me. They soothed the raw edge of my raging emotions. Grounded me to center when everything felt like it was spiraling out of my control. “You must hate me.”

His mouth quirked in a half smile. “No. I don’t hate you.”

https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/1/?ui=2&ik=aca2695382&view=att&th=1413df36b93b697f&attid=0.2&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P_S6mgdahaRg3UQlho0R7NS&sadet=1380210209203&sads=oHpXJUTvvpzwLjnt3JrD92EdlEEAbout the Author:

Kimberly is a Crossfit junkie and a connoisseur of french fries.

She likes to make stuff up and write it down. Her stories usually have a contemporary setting with a fantastical twist. Waterborn is her debut novel.

Kimberly lives in Alabama the beautiful with her husband, three dogs, Kevin the cat, and four new adults of her own. A couple of which are off at college.

Giveaway!

You can win an eBook copy of Waterborn! Open internationally and ends on October 16th, you can enter by going to this rafflecopter! Good luck!

Review: Storm Watcher by Maria V. Snyder

15846011Storm Watcher by Maria V. Snyder

Published: October 2013 by Leap Books
Format/Source: ARC from BookExpo America 2013
Genre: Middle grade contemporary
Pages: 184

Synopsis:

Luke Riley is lost. His mother’s recent death has set Luke and his family adrift. Even though his father, twin brothers, and their three Bloodhounds are search and rescue volunteers, they have been unable to rescue themselves and become a family again. The summer after sixth grade looms in Luke’s mind as a long, lonely three months where the only thing he can look forward to is watching The Weather Channel. Luke is fascinated with the weather, but since his mother’s death in a storm, he is also terrified. Even the promised 13th birthday present of a Bloodhound puppy fails to lift Luke’s spirits. He would rather have a different breed – a petite Papillon, but his father insists he get a Bloodhound.

When Luke decides to get the Bloodhound from Willajean, a dog breeder who owns Storm Watcher Kennel, he works out a deal to help at her kennel in exchange for the expensive dog. Thrilled to have a summer with a purpose, Luke befriends Willajean’s daughter, Megan and together they plan how Luke can get a Papillon puppy instead of a Bloodhound. But nothing seems to work as they struggle with stubborn fathers, summer storms, unhelpful siblings, and hidden guilt. Can one little white dog really save both families?

Review:

When I reached Ms. Snyder in the autographing line, I gushed, “I loved the Study series! I’m excited for this book!” Her eyes paused over me for a moment longer than what was necessarily comfortable or expected and she said, “This book is nothing like the Study series.” I was taken a little aback and mumbled an, “Oh, okay! Well I’m looking forward to it.” She signed the book and I quickly walked away, a little ashamed and red in the face.

I couldn’t get that memory out of my mind when I picked up Storm Watcher to begin reading. But it really didn’t take long to understand the merit behind what she had said. Storm Watcher is not the Study series. I haven’t read her other books, but I would assume that it varies from them as well. Storm Watcher is a middle grade contemporary story about a boy dealing with loss and finding love where he had grown to accept its loss.

Storm Watcher is written in that simple and yet artful style that first made me love the Study series. Luke has lost his mother and is grappling with the loss. He is terrified of storms in a family of search and rescue dog trainers. He wants a Papillion instead of another Bloodhound in his family.

I’m a twenty-something year old woman and I loved the book despite it being meant for 9-14 year old. The weather symbols to describe different things and what was happening were really artful. It really shows what an experienced writer Ms. Snyder is. It also made a lot more sense once I read Ms. Snyder’s new bio about being a meteorologist—you can totally see the connection with the details. It was an intelligent read that did not speak down to the reader. The drama was real; it was something that I was instantly relatable despite never having been in a similar situation.

I would definitely recommend this book for children, and really anyone who can appreciate a middle grade book. I would also recommend having a dog to cuddle with while enjoying the story. It really makes you pine for one.

My rating: 5/5

Book News: Goodreads Policy Change and Commentary

If you’ve had your ear to the ground in the book world this past week, you’d likely have heard about the controversial actions taken by Goodreads. If you aren’t keyed into such news, then you’ve very likely not heard anything about it, hence some of the controversy.

Here’s the (un-detailed) detailed summary of the situation, with my commentary (of course):

  • Goodreads changed their policy regarding reviews and author guidelines earlier this year. They now request that authors don’t engage with negative reviews but instead advise them to flag the negative review if it doesn’t comply with said review guidelines.

Fine. I expected some changes with Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads. In fact, I really don’t think that this will be the last of the changes made to Goodreads’ business practices and policies. They might exclaim that they are still a good ole ethical want-to-good website, but when you’re owned by a big business whose business is making money, freedom to make those decisions goes away. The motives change. I’m not upset by it (maybe a little) but I recognize it as reality. It is what it is. One theory I’ve heard is that they are prepping for the option to cross-post reviews onto Amazon.

  • Goodreads did not make any site-wide announcement about the revisions to their policy.

I wouldn’t have thought that Goodreads would want to take a leaf out of Facebook’s book, so to speak. This to me stinks of all those little sneaky policy changes that Facebook used to/still does that caused enough outrage that Facebook had to implement a voting option to allow users to weigh in on policy changes. Albeit, that hasn’t exactly worked out thanks to the apathy of users, but still, I expected better from Goodreads (despite my realist attitude above).

  • Goodreads began to delete users’ shelves and reviews if they were deemed in violation of new policy—without giving any warning to the users (who at this point were in good-standing with Goodreads and were not aware of the policy change). The reviews deleted were supposedly those that had attacked an author’s behavior in a way that was not related to the book. The intent behind the shelves deleted was determined by Goodreads, and those that were used by users to group books in a negative way.

The key thing here: without prior notice of anything. It has been labeled as an attempt at censorship by some. Goodreads has since updated their little announcement thread (the only place this has been announced) in a group that users have to join. They apologize for making those deletions without notice and aim to send users a notification prior to their reviews or shelves being deleted.

  • Goodreads intends to continue reviewing and deleting those shelves and reviews that are written negatively in a way that does to pertain to the review.

Okay, so here’s where things get a bit complicated. Some people don’t find a review written in a complete attack against an author, sometimes before the book has even been published, to be helpful and shouldn’t have a place in Goodreads.

However, where is the line drawn? It has come out through authors’ Twitter feeds that authors are being encouraged to flag negative reviews (though really only when it is in violation of the review policy). This wasn’t instantly known by users of Goodreads either. GR-Amazon (pronounced gramazon…you’re welcome) wants to put a stop to some of the bullying attacks that can happen any online commenting/opinion forum. But if they are really trying to make the reviews about books, shouldn’t those reviews that go in the opposite direction (praise for an author without bring rooted in the exact book) be flagged? There is a genuine worry that more power is being given to authors to flag any negative review that they don’t like.

People sometimes want to consider an author’s beliefs, behavior, and/or history when deciding to consume a book. Those are factors that they find important in a review. Does this mean that Goodreads is no longer a forum for readers, but instead a tool for Amazon to sell more books?

A big problem I have with all of this is some of the interpretation that Goodreads has to do in order to make these deletions. Examples are shelves named ‘taa,’ ‘Hormel,’ and ‘due to author’ were deleted, despite their benign names. Goodreads inferred that the point of those shelves was to categorize books that the user viewed in a negative way due to an author’s behavior. Huh? And then there’s some weird stuff happening to people’s reviews, like review dates being changed as heard about from the Sword and Laser book club’s discussion about this.

This erupted over the weekend, and a few people have made the decision to discontinue use of Goodreads. The current problem is that there are no really satisfactory alternatives to Goodreads, especially for book clubs. Some users have started accounts at Booklikes.com, which as far as I understand it is like a Tumblr for books (I’ll probably be making an account there soon myself, just to stay current.). I wonder if this means that there will be an increase importance on blogs as a source for uncensored (though I’d temper that with reasonable and respectful) thoughts on books and their authors.

I shall try to stay current with these changes, as I’m curious to see if GR-Amazon will establish criteria to make these deletions less subjective. In the end, as it has been repeated a few times, it is a free service and we are at the whims of the big business. And we have the freedom of choice and the ability to discuss.

How did you hear about this? What are your thoughts? Are you going to be jumping ship or will you stick with Goodreads?