Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review: LAST SACRIFICE by Richelle Mead

Man, I feel like I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster!  Reading the Vampire Academy series straight through has been emotional and exhilarating!  At times, it broke my heart—others, it made me fall in love.  I can’t recommend this series enough for anyone who enjoys YA or Urban Fantasy. 

Anyway, Last Sacrifice opens with Rose in jail for treason.  True to Abe’s word, she isn’t in there long.  Her friends stage a dangerous jail break, which sends her fleeing from the Court with Dimitri.  With the aid of the Alchemist, Sydney, Rose sets off on a journey to uncover the secrets of Lissa’s family in order to restore her royal birthright.  Along the way, they are aided by some…unlikely people.

Back at the Court, Lissa runs for election for Queen.  She doesn’t qualify of course, due to her lack of family support, but a loophole in the system allows her to run, thus buying more time to prove Rose’s innocence. 

Adrian continues to walk in Rose’s dreams, but doubts start to surface over her feelings for him.  At the same time, Dimitri’s heart begins  to thaw from its Strigoi induced guilt.  Could there be a happily-ever-after for he and Rose after all, or will Rose’s last—and greatest—sacrifice destroy their future permanently? 

I am very satisfied with the conclusion of this series.  It tied up all of the loose ends around Rose, while also leaving some strings open for Mead’s new series to tackle.  I don’t know much about the new series, only that it will center around Sydney and Jill, the Moroi girl whom Rose befriends and trails thru the periphery of the books.  I’m sure we will continue to see a lot of the characters that we have grown to love, especially Lissa. 

Overall, I give Last Sacrifice...

Plot – 5 bookmarks
Character Development – 5 bookmarks (Looking over the whole series, the differences from beginning to end for Rose, Dimitri, Adrian & Lissa are dramatic, as is the relationships between the characters.)
Love Story – 5 bookmarks (!!!!!!!)
Fight Scenes – 5 bookmarks (The final showdown between Rose & Victor is pretty cool.  Also the fight in the alley with Rose & Dimitri against three Strigoi was great.  The aftermath of that one was heartbreaking.)
Political Intrigue – 5 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Rose (Sophia Bush), Lissa (Blake Lively), Dimitri (Ben Barnes), Christian (Michael Steger), Jenna Boyd (Mia), Ed Westwick (Adrian), Tinsel Korey (Tasha), Josh Hutcherson (Eddie), Nick Verreos (Abe), Emily Browning (Sydney), Susan Sullivan (Queen Tatiana), John Slattery (Nathan Ivashkov), Diane Lane (Daniella Ivashkov).  Not sure yet on Jill.  I will have to see what comes to mind when I read the new series.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Review: SPIRIT BOUND by Richelle Mead

[Spoilers! Sorry!] Having returned from her failed trip to Russia, Rose finds herself back at St. Vladimir's Academy with one last test before graduation. Taking her final trials is bitter sweet without Dimitri to stand by her. She tries to put him out of her mind, but his love letters/death threats are a constant reminder that once she steps outside the schools safety wards, Dimitri will be on the hunt to kill her.

Rose is not ready to give up on Dimitri yet though. She and her friends come up with a crazy plan to get their enemy Victor Dashkov to lead her to his brother, the only known person to bring a Strigoi back to life. Getting the information on how to do it is hard enough, but the trick will be to capture Dimitri and change him before he kills her.

In addition to the Dimitri drama, the Court is swarming with political intrigue. This political storyline has been threading through all of the books, but it really culminates toward the end of Spirit Bound, indicating big changes in Moroi and dhampir society will be coming up in the final book of the series. Rose's relationship with the Queen flucuates between outward dislike and a certain respect. While Queen Tatiana is a small character, Mead does a great job with making her multi-dimensional.

And then there is Adrian... I feel sorry for the guy. Rose is trying to give him a fair chance at a relationship, but you just know she belongs with Dimitri. He's a great guy and a very interesting character, but I can't help my impatience when I think of Rose wasting her time with him.

We get to see more of Abe and Sydney in this book also, which is nice. I can't help but like Abe and really hope to see more of him in the last book. Mead did a great job of incorporating the best of both of Rose's parents into her.

Overall, I give Spirit Bound...

Plot – 5 bookmarks
Character Development – 5 bookmarks (The change in Dimitri is dramatic and heartbreaking. I'm not just talking about his Strigoi traits either.)
Love Story – 3 1/2 bookmarks (He's a good guy, but Adrian needs to go find someone else.)
Fight Scenes – 5 bookmarks (Lissa gets a chance to show off a bit in this one!)
Political Intrigue – 5 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Rose (Sophia Bush), Lissa (Blake Lively), Dimitri (Ben Barnes), Christian (Michael Steger), Jenna Boyd (Mia), Ed Westwick (Adrian), Tinsel Korey (Tasha), Josh Hutcherson (Eddie), Nick Verreos (Abe), Emily Browning (Sydney), Susan Sullivan (Queen Tatiana), John Slattery (Nathan Ivashkov), Diane Lane (Daniella Ivashkov)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Review: BLOOD PROMISE by Richelle Mead

[Note: I’m going to try to write this without giving too much away, but there are spoilers.  If you have not read the books and want to be surprised, just know that I am in love with this series and this book is no exception.  No need to read further.]

Shadow Kiss finds Rose on her own in the world for the first time.  She has gone to Russia in search of Dimitri in order to fulfill her promise to him.  She suspects he has gone to his homeland of Siberia, but requires the assistance of Sydney, a human Alchemist, to show her the way.  (Syndey is important, because she will be a major character in Richelle Mead’s new YA series beginning next year.)  Adrian continues to invade Rose’s dreams trying to find out where she is, but she refuses to tell. 

Once in Siberia, Rose meets Dimitri’s family and informs them of his fate.  They take her in and treat her like family.  Here she learns that life in the dhampir communes is not like she had always imagined it and she is almost tempted to stay with them.  However, there is a mobster-type Moroi following her around, Abe…also known as Zmey, the Serpent.  Abe keeps threatening Rose to leave the commune and go back to the States.  Rose relents, but mostly because she realizes Dimitri was not there. 

Rose heads off with a group of vigilante dhampirs to the city of Novosibirsk to continue her search.  There, she not only finds Dimitri, but is taken captive by him.  He gives her two choices…turn Strigoi willingly or die.

Overall, I give Blood Promise...

Plot – 5 bookmarks
Character Development – 5 bookmarks (Rose seems more adult. We also see evil Dimitri.)
Love Story – 5 bookmarks (I don’t care how evil he is, they just have to work things out!)
Fight Scenes – 5 bookmarks
Political Intrigue – 3 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Rose (Sophia Bush), Lissa (Blake Lively), Dimitri (Ben Barnes), Christian (Michael Steger), Jenna Boyd (Mia), Ed Westwick (Adrian), Tinsel Korey (Tasha), Josh Hutcherson (Eddie), Nick Verreos (Abe), Emily Browning (Sydney)

Review: SHADOW KISS by Richelle Mead

Rose returns to St. Vladimir’s Academy with a celebrity-like status due to her Strigoi kills.  Her accomplishment is overshadowed by her guilt over Mason’s death. 

This is the book that we see Rose change the most.  She is learning more about what it means to be shadow kissed and how her role fits in with Lissa’s use of spirit magic.  The more Lissa uses spirit, the darker her becomes, but Rose is able to suck that darkness away by absorbing it herself, making her moody, angry and could lead to insanity like the legend of Anna. 

While Rose knows absorbing the effects of spirit is detrimental to her health, she has been indoctrinated into the belief that Lissa must always come first in all things, so she is willing to serve in all ways.  This means going to college where Lissa wants to go, taking the classes Lissa wants to take and not following her heart with Dimitri.  When people start to question Rose about what she wants out of life and how she feels about Lissa’s needs always coming first, it plants a seed of doubt in Rose that she must reconcile.  When a series of traumatic events unfurl, Rose finally makes a decision to put Dimitri’s needs first, which could ruin her friendship and her future as a guardian forever.

This is probably my favorite book of the series so far.  Rose grows up a lot.  Her crush on Dimitri becomes love and the best part is that he finally admits that he loves her too.  Just as they commit to a future together, something absolutely horrible happens and Rose faces the impossible choice of whether to fulfill her guardian duties to Lissa or a promise to Dimitri.  I rarely cry in books, but this one left me breathless.  Word to the wise, make sure you have the next book on hand, because you will want to start it immediately after this one. 

Overall, I give Shadow Kiss

Plot – 5 bookmarks
Character Development – 5 bookmarks (Rose really grows up in this one. We also see Dimitri’s softer side.)
Love Story – 5 bookmarks (!!!!!) 
Fight Scenes – 5 bookmarks
Political Intrigue – 4 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Rose (Sophia Bush), Lissa (Blake Lively), Dimitri (Ben Barnes), Christian (Michael Steger), Jenna Boyd (Mia), Ed Westwick (Adrian), Tinsel Korey (Tasha), Prince Harry (Mason), Josh Hutcherson (Eddie)

Review: FROSTBITE by Richelle Mead

When Dimitri and Rose discover a gruesome mass murder of Moroi and dhampirs in a home which should have been protected by magic wards.  In the snow outside the home, Rose discovers a silver stake which was used to break the wards.  Because of the magic infused in stakes, evil Strigoi are not able to touch them.  This means one thing…the Strigoi are being helped by humans.  Since humans can touch magic and come out in the daylight, this means all of the rules have changed. 

In an effort to protect the children of St. Vladimir’s Academy and their families over the Christmas break, the school rents out a Moroi owned ski lodge and invites everyone to spend Christmas there.  The ski lodge is also protected by wards, and with the combined force of guardians to protect it, it becomes as safe as the school. 

At the ski lodge, Rose contemplates dating her friend Mason, a dhampir classmate training to be a guardian.  Mason is kind, funny and completely in love with Rose.  She knows he is who she should be with, but her crush on her instructor Dimitri is too strong. 

If that weren’t enough boy problems, Rose attracks the attention of a rich, and perpetually drunk, Moroi by the name of Adrian.  Adrian has a wild and reckless reputation and is a few years older than Rose.  Rose keeps turning down his advances, but Adrian doesn’t give up easy—causing jealousies to bloom in both Mason and Dimitri. 

Rose also has to deal with her own jealousy when Christian’s aunt Tasha shows up.  She and Dimitri are old friends and she makes him an offer that’s hard to refuse. 

In light of the increasing Strigoi attacks, controversies erupt among the Moroi.  Some, such as Tasha, feel that Moroi should be using their magic to fight alongside the dhampirs rather than cowering.  Others want to force dhampir teens to graduate after their sophomore years, sending them into guardian service two years early.  Some of Rose’s classmates, only months from graduation are itching to fight.  Feeling frustrated over the in action as well as from the mixed messages from Rose, Mason leads to group to go on the hunt for Strigoi.  Can Rose save him in time?

Overall, I give Frostbite

Plot – 4 bookmarks
Character Development – 4 bookmarks (We are steadily seeing Rose mature)
Love Story – 4 bookmarks
Fight Scenes – 4 ½ bookmarks
Political Intrigue – 4 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Rose (Sophia Bush), Lissa (Blake Lively), Dimitri (Ben Barnes), Christian (Michael Steger), Jenna Boyd (Mia), Ed Westwick (Adrian), Tinsel Korey (Tasha), Prince Harry (Mason)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Review: VAMPIRE ACADEMY by Richelle Mead

I’m a bit behind on my blogging, because I have been reading A LOT!!!  A friend bought me Last Sacrifice, the final book in Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series for Christmas.  To fully appreciate it, I am re-reading the entire series.  For those of you who do not know, I am in literary love with Mead.  I have never been disappointed by anything she has written.  In fact, she has broken my heart more times than I can count. 

Vampire Academy is the first book in Mead’s Young Adult series.  After two years on the run living among humans, Rose Hathaway and her best friend, Lissa Dragonmir, are apprehended by guardians in the employ of St. Vladimir’s Academy, the boarding school they had run away from.  Lissa is a Moroi (good vamp) princess.  Rose is a dhampir, half-human/half-Moroi, who is Lissa’s best friend and personal bodyguard.  Out in the world, there are Strigoi (bad vamps) who live to kill Moroi and dhampirs.  Moroi have some magical ability, but are not physically strong.  Dhampirs have the speed and senses of their Moroi side, but the physical hardiness of their human ancestors, which makes them the perfect guardians for Moroi against the Strigoi.  Confused?  That is only because of my half-assed explanation.  Trust me, Mead does a much better job world building than I do. 

Anyway, back in school, the girls are welcomed to a celebrity-type status based on their party-girl reputations and two years of freedom.  While Lissa the princess is easily welcomed back by the school, Rose is very behind on her guardian training.  If she is going to graduate with her class at the end of the year, she has to get serious and work hard.  The school assigns her a mentor to tutor her before and after school.  Dimitry is twenty-four years old, but has already achieved legendary status in the guardian world for his lethal fighting skills.  Oh, and he is super hot, so Rose develops a crush on him almost instantly.  A crush that at times seems reciprocated? 

On top of their roles as best friends and Moroi/guardian status, Rose and Lissa have something else tying them together—they are bonded.  Prior to running away, the girls were in a car accident where Lissa’s entire family was killed.  Actually, Rose had been killed too, but somehow, Lissa was able to use her magic to bring Rose back.  Ever since, Rose has been able to read Lissa’s mind and emotions, a very convenient trick for a guardian pledged to protect, but still kind of annoying most of the time. 

The thing I liked best about this book is that the teens act like teens!  They occasionally break rules, let their mouths get them in trouble and do stupid things that they regret later.  In other ways, they are very mature and responsible.  Mead does an excellent job capturing that time of life when you are not a child, but also not an adult yet.  It makes for very realistic characters. 

There is also plenty of action and intrigue.  Lissa is able to heal, a power that no other Moroi that she knows of possesses.  Someone is out to expose her and use her powers for their own gain.  Rose is forced to take her guardian training out of the classroom in order to save her best friend’s life. 

Overall, I give Vampire Academy

Plot – 4 bookmarks
Character Development – 4 ½ bookmarks
Love Story – 4 ½ bookmarks (the stage is set in this book for a hot love story which will thread through the rest of the series)
Fight Scenes – 4 ½ bookmarks (Rose & Dimitri kick serious ass!) 
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Rose (Sophia Bush), Lissa (Blake Lively), Dimitri (Ben Barnes), Christian (Michael Steger), Jenna Boyd (Mia), Ron Rifkin (Victor Dashkov), Jennifer Stone (Natalie)

Sunday, December 19, 2010


It’s been a while since I’ve read a really good mystery.  This book balanced multiple plots and some really unique characters to create a satisfying read.  As the first in the series, Larsson introduces us to Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative reporter recently convicted of slander, and Lisbeth Salander, a social misfit with a talent for computer hacking.  Through a series of incidents, they end up working together to solve the mystery of a teenager who has been missing for thirty years. 

My favorite part of this book was the character of Lisbeth.  I can honestly say, Lisbeth is the most unique heroine I’ve ever encountered.  Coming from someone who reads as much as I do, that is saying a lot.  In the tradition of Holden Caulfield, she is a true anti-hero.  It’s not just that she dresses in Goth clothes or has tattoos & piercings that makes her different.  Lisbeth has severe emotional and social problems, to the point that social services thinks she is mentally unstable and unable to care for herself. 

At twenty-four years old and still a ward of the state, Lisbeth is assigned an abusive guardian who has complete control over her life.  When her guardian goes too far, he finds out too late that he underestimated her capacity for revenge.  For Lisbeth, he is just another example of men who hate women. 

The character of Mikael Blomkvist is a nice balance to Lisbeth.  He is calm and rational.  He doesn’t over-react to Lisbeth’s apparent rudeness or lack of respect for his privacy.  Over time, he becomes the one person she can actually trust. 

While it took me a few chapters to get sucked in, this is a fast-paced thriller and easy to lose yourself in on a lazy weekend afternoon. 

Overall, I give The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Plot – 4 ½ bookmarks
Character Development – 5 bookmarks
Action – 3 bookmarks
Dream Cast ( otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Ellen Page (Lisbeth), Liam Neeson   (Mikael), Vera Farmiga (Erika), Ian McKellen (Vanger), Helen Miren (Cecilia)

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Joining me in the Author Spotlight today is the talented author and screenwriter, and member of the International Thriller Writers, Ryne Douglas Pearson.  He has published numerous novels, a collection of short stories and two major motion pictures.  

JLR: Thank you, Ryne, for taking the time to hang out on my blog today!  With advancements in technology, self-publishing novels has gotten a million times easier and more affordable.  What made you decide to self-publish, and how has that process been working for you?

RDP: For me now it’s about control. I’ve been traditionally published in the past by both Putnam and William Morrow, but so much is given up when you decide to hand over your book to another to print, promote, and publish. Even though it’s more work, it makes complete sense for me to do this now myself.

JLR: As all aspiring authors know, writing the novel is the easy part—getting published is where the real work comes in.  Tell us about your road to publication.  Is there anything you would have done differently?

RDP: For my first novel I queried, and queried, and queried. After 139 rejections an agent took me on and sold the book, Cloudburst, to William Morrow in a couple weeks. This was wayyyyyyyyy back in 1992.

JLR: How have you been able to use social media (Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, etc.) in your marketing plan?  Do you have any advice for new authors looking to promote themselves on these sites?

RDP: I think it’s vital to get involved in social media, not only to promote but to also link up with people who are interested in writing and reading. It’s called ‘social’ media for a reason. It’s about connecting, not just promoting. In fact, I may mention a book of mine just once a day. Sometime not even that. I think it’s more important to build a following of people who find you interesting. If that happens, they’ll seek out more about you. I prefer using Twitter because it’s quick and can reach a wide audience. Plus, it’s pretty darned funny what people Tweet a lot of the time. Like a virtual standup show. Most importantly, for the marketing aspect, I have a website where people can learn about me, my books, where to buy them, etc...

JLR: There is so much advice given by authors about the writing process.  What type of writing routine do you have?  Are you a planner or a figure-it-out-as-you-go type writer?  Any tips you want to share?

RDP: For novels and short stories I do not outline. I may jot down notes, but I don’t lay the story out fully in advance. For screenplays I always outline. The actual process for me involves sitting down and writing. That’s it. It’s not magic—it’s work. Put your butt in the chair and bang the keys.

JLR: Personal blogs and websites almost seem like a requirement for authors these days; yet, they are time consuming to keep updated and don’t bring in any direct revenue.  How important do you feel a personal blog or website is, and how much time do you spend on these projects?  What are the benefits that you have seen?

RDP: I probably spend an hour or two every day on my website. I consider my website to be the sign that points people to the various storefronts (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc...) where they can sample and purchase my books.

JLR: Have you ever been worried that you might be going too far in your sex scenes and might alienate readers?  Does anticipating reader reaction ever cause you to censor yourself?

RDP: What’s a ‘sex scene’? No, in all seriousness, I have a saying I live by: write it like you’re gonna burn it. In other words, get it down on the virtual page first. You can always delete it later. But never self-censor WHILE you’re creating.

JLR: That's great advice. I’ve always felt that to be a good writer you must first be a good reader.  What types of books do you read and how have they influenced your writing?

RDP: I read a lot of horror, science fiction, and suspense. I also love classic books such as To Kill A Mockingbird and also poetry by Robert Frost.

JLR: Do you feel it’s necessary to read a lot in order to be a good writer?  Why?

RDP: I have no idea. I only know that if I hadn’t been an avid reader I would not have become a writer.

JLR: In the past year or two, e-publishing has soared in popularity.  What made you decide to publish in e-book format?  Do you worry that you won’t achieve as much success as you might in traditional print?

RDP: I believe I’ll be far more successful in eBook publishing that I ever was in print. There is no such thing as a backlist now, and ‘out of print’ is meaningless. My books will be selling long after I die.

JLR: There has been a lot of talk this year about traditional print books giving way to e-books.  For example, publishing powerhouse, Dorchester, announced a few months ago that they were getting out of the mass market paperback market altogether in favor of e-publishing.  What affect for you think this will have on authors and readers going forward?

RDP: Print will be a niche market for books in less than ten years. That’s just the reality. It makes economic sense, and it’s better for both readers and writers. The only people it’s not good for are the huge conglomerate publishers.

JLR: How long have you been writing, and when did you decide that you wanted to write for publication?

RDP: I’ve been making my living as a writer for 19 years. I started trying to be writer a few years before that.

JLR: How did your formal education prepare you for becoming an author?  Is there anything that you feel you’re your schooling could taught you to better prepare you for the publishing process?

RDP: I dropped out of college after one year, so I’m not the poster boy for education. But I am doing what I love and making a living at it.

JLR: What other works have you published?

RDP: I’ve published eight novels: Cloudburst, October’s Ghost, Capitol Punishment, Simple Simon, Tope Ten, The Donzerly Light, All For One, and Confessions. I’ve also published a short story collection, Dark and Darker. Simple Simon was made into the Bruce Willis movie Mercury Rising, and the movie Knowing with Nicolas Cage was based on my original script.

JLR: What is it like seeing your work on the big screen and played by major actors?  Will we be seeing any more of your work in the theaters? 

RDP: It’s very gratifying to see things that I’ve written released as films. It means I must be doing something right. As for future works on the screen...stay tuned :)

JLR: If you could give one piece of advice to your teenage self, what would it be?

RDP: Dump her first.

JLR: What is the scariest book you’ve ever read?  Were you able to finish it?

RDP: The Amityville Horror, It was total BS, but it scared the crap out of me.

JLR: OMG!  That was my scariest book too!  In fact, i don't think I could finish it. :) Where can readers go to learn more about your work?

RDP: They can go to my website at .

JLR: Where can readers go to purchase your work?

RDP: My books are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers. Readers can find links to these retailers here:


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Interview: Jennifer Wylie - Author of JUMP

This week, I had the opportunity to sit down with debut author, Jennifer Wylie, whose short story Jump was just released by Echelon Press.  With her first novel only a few months away, readers can expect exciting things from Jennifer.  I'm so pleased to host her today.  

JLR:  Thanks for joining me today, Jennifer!  As all aspiring authors know, writing the novel is the easy part—getting published is where the real work comes in.  Tell us about your road to publication.  Is there anything you would have done differently?

JW: I've been writing since I was very young. I didn't even seriously consider publication until around two years ago. After editing and then querying for agents and receiving lots and lots of rejections I finally found my publisher. (I still don't have an agent-and that's just fine with me!) I met my publisher on twitter, and also chatted with her in the comments section of someone else’s blog once. After researching the company (beware those vanity press types!) I submitted my query. A few months later I received a contract not only for my novel, but two short stories I had also submitted.

There is so much I could have done differently, however perhaps I wouldn't be where I am today. I definitely jumped in blind at the beginning. I should have done a lot more research on editing, query letter writing, agents and publishers. I did figure most of it out eventually. :)

JLR: So much of book promotion today is done through blog tours.  Tell us about your blog touring experience.

JW: I have been so excited to start this tour. I actually started planning it months ago. I'm glad I did, it takes some time to set up dates, and even more to write up all the guest posts and answer interview questions. That said, I've been having a blast! Everyone is so wonderfull, and I love to see the comments left by readers. I will most certainly be doing one again! (I have a second short story out March 1- so perhaps in Feb!)

JLR: As writers, so much of our work is done alone, and this can lead to discouragement.  How do you keep from giving up?  Who do you get your support from? 

JW: I get a lot of support from my online friends on Twitter and Facebook. Many of them are writers or aspiring writers, or even editors. When I get bored or stuck or frustrated someone is usually around who can get me going again. They are also wonderful to bounce ideas off of! My family is also very supportive of me, including my most wonderful parents!

JLR: They say good reading habits are developed at an early age.  Have you always been a reader?  Can you pin-point a particular book or author who solidified your love of reading?

JW: My mother has always been a very avid reader. I can't remember not reading. When I was very young I zipped through all the Black Stallion books (there are a lot, if you didn't know. I still have them!) When I was a very young teen (if even a teen) mom started me on Pern books, and I was hooked into the fantasy world. I still read a lot of fantasy, occasionally some romance (my favorite is fantasy WITH romance!), though I did go through a sci fi phase as well.

JLR: In the past year or two, e-publishing has soared in popularity.  What made you decide to publish in e-book format?  Do you worry that you won’t achieve as much success as you might in traditional print?

JW: My publisher, Echelon Press, publishes mostly in eBook format. Though my shorts won't be in print, my novel hopefully will be shortly after it comes out in May 2011. Ebooks are becoming so common I haven't worried too much about it. A lot of it depends on how much you promote your work as well. Having a book in print doesn't guarantee sales.

JLR: Tell us a bit about your childhood.  Where did you grow up?  What was your family like?  Has your childhood influenced your writing?

JW: I grew up in rural Ontario, Canada. I have the best parents and one awesome sister. When younger we played and tormented each other endlessly. We're quite a bit better now (less tormenting LOL). Growing up I spent a lot of time outdoors. I was a typical tomboy. I am happy to say I had very happy childhood. I suppose being happy and having a good sense of humor has influenced my writing, and all the role playing as a child certainly helps as well.

JLR: Do you have any hidden talents? 

JW: I can do anything. :) I can ride a horse, weld, needle felt, paint, garden, lay tile, sort of cook. I like to try new things. I can't drive stick shift though, even though I did try :P

JLR: What are you writing now that Jump has been released? 

JW: I'm currently working on a sequel to a YA novel I just finished. I'm also working on cleaning up the sequel to Sweet Light, my novel which will be released in May.

JLR: Where can readers go to learn more about your work?

JW: Please visit my website It has links to my blog, Twitter, Facebook etc. as well as info on my published, pending and works in progress.

JLR: Where can readers go to purchase Jump?

JW: You can pre-order any format at Omnlit (release Dec 15)

It is also available now for your Nook at Barnes and Nobel

Monday, December 6, 2010

Review: I, EMMA FREKE by Elizabeth Atkinson

I knew by the title alone that I was going to like this book.  Twelve year old Emma Freke (AM A FREAK) is shy, intelligent, and at nearly six feet tall, a complete freak of nature.  She lives above her mother’s bead shop with her grandfather and dizzy, irresponsible mother who treats Emma more like an employee than a daughter.  Because she had no friends in her grade, the school forces her to see the school councilor twice a week for “socialization therapy,” which just makes her life more pathetic.  Her one and only friend is the two years younger and fifteen inches shorter Penelope. 

Things begin looking up when for her birthday her mother tells her she no longer has to go to school.  Instead she will be home schooled.  Emma knows this is just so she will have more time to work the store for her mom, but she doesn’t care.  Just when she settles into the idea that she will never have to face the kids at school again, the school district puts a kibosh to the home schooling idea by not giving approval.  Angry with her mother, Emma resigns herself to her fate, but things look up again when she receives an invitation to the Freke Family Reunion on her father’s side of the family.  Here she hopes to find people that she can finally fit in with. 

What I loved about this book was the character progression in Emma.  She turns into a completely different person by the end of the book, and it’s lovely to watch it unfold.  So many readers will identify with Emma.  I mean, haven’t we all felt like a freak at one time or another.  Part of maturity is learning to embrace your differences and celebrate them.  I strongly recommend this book for teens who might feel awkward or different. 

Overall, I give I, Emma Freke

Plot – 4 bookmarks
Character Development – 5 bookmarks
Age Appropriateness – I found nothing objectionable in this book at all.
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – The ANTM Model Anne Ward (Emma), Willow Smith (Penelope), Merrill Streep (Stevie), Marissa Tomei (Donetella), Joe Pesci (Grandfather) 

Review: LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL by Jo Knowles

I wanted to read this book because I know it is controvesial and banned in some schools. I learned about it on the SpeakLoudly website which is dedicated to preserving quality Young Adult literature and preventing censorship.

The story is told from the point of view of sixteen year old Lainey who is reflecting on her turbulent friendship with the beautiful Leah, who recently passed away in an accident. There was always an off-balance of power in the girls' relationship from the time their friendship started in fifth grade. Leah was cute, smart, popular and from a wealthy family. Lainey was invisible and tom-boyish. She was shocked and elated when Leah reached out to her and decided to be her best friend. For a few years, the girls were inseperable, but in this case, that was not a good thing. Leah was abusive and controlling toward Lainey. As time went on, Leah's aggression grew. Eventually, Lainey began making new friends while Leah separated herself from people and tumbled down a self-destructive path. Leah's tormenting eventually climaxes at a party where the secrets of their friendship are exposed in front of everyone.

This book deals with some very heavy issues; child on child abuse, drugs and alchohol, social differences and questions of sexual orientation. Even though the subject matter is dark, seeing the way the two main characters develop is fascinating. Lainey becomes stronger, leaving the reader with a feeling of hope. I also think that teens deal with these issues in real-life, so reading about them in literature is a good thing. It helps them to know they are not alone and shows them healthy ways to deal with their problems.

Overall, I give Lessons From A Dead Girl...

Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character Development - 5 bookmarks
Moral Lessons - 4 bookmarks
Age Appropriateness - Will depend on the child. Parents may want to read this one to judge whether their teen is mature enough to handle the subject matter. That said, there is no graphic descriptions. Most of the abuse is implied.
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Anastacia Baranova (Leah), Vanessa Marano (Lainey)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Review: FLOWERS ON MAIN by Sherryl Woods

Flowers on Main is the second book in the Chesapeake Shores trilogy.  I haven’t read the first, but the book pretty much stand on its own.  I was in the mood for something insanely romantic, something that would sweep my heart off to fantasyland.  While this book didn’t quite accomplish that, it wasn’t bad. 

The story revolves around Bree O’Brien, a local girl who ran off after college to pursue her dreams of becoming a playwrite, leaving her devoted boyfriend Jake behind.  Six years later, Bree is ready to come home to Chesapeake Shores again.  She was beginning to feel lost and alone in Chicago.  She wasn’t sure what her next steps would be, but she knew her future was back home. 

The problem with this decision is her ex-boyfriend Jake.  His heart had been broken so severely when Bree left, that he has never been able to forgive her.  It wasn’t just that they had broken up, but that she had done so immediately after miscarrying their baby—a baby he was thrilled about and Bree was terrified of—and the fact that she moved on to another man so quickly.  Unfortunately, the town of Chesapeake Shores is too small for the two of them and Bree’s presence begins to drive Jake insane.  The situation is compounded when Bree spontaneously decides to open a flower shop and discovers that Jake’s landscaping company is the only flower wholesaler in the area. 

I liked both Bree and Jake.  They had good chemistry and it was easy to root for them to get together.  Unfortunately, Jake’s temper tantrums got a little old after awhile.  I mean how many times does he really need to storm out of a place just because Bree is there?  I get that he was hurt and had good reason for wanting to stay away from her, but it started to feel immaturish, not a good quality for a romantic hero.

Another romantic sub-plot in the book had to do with Bree’s divorced parents, Mick and Megan.  Mick was a world famous architect whose work kept him away from home a lot.  When Bree was a teen, megan finally got sick of waiting around for her husband that she dumped her five kids off on their grandmother and moved to New York.  Now, fifteen years later, Mick suddenly decides he wants his wife back and begins courting her all over again.  To me, this relationship seemed improbable and forced.  I don’t care what unresolved feelings you might have for an ex, fifteen years of estrangement is too long to just decide one day that you want to get back with them again.  For as much as Megan claimed to want to take things slowly, it seemed like a given that she was going to move back and re-marry Mick.  I thought this sub-plot was rushed.

The book was predictable, but most romances are, so I can’t complain.  If that doesn’t bother you, it’s worth giving it a shot.

Overall, I give Flowers on Main…

Plot – 2 bookmarks
Character Development – 2 ½ bookmarks
Love Story – 2 ½ bookmarks
Likelihood I Will Read the Other Two Books in the Series – ½ bookmark (Very doubtful)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Rachael McAdams (Bree), Paul Walker (Jake), Blythe Danner (Megan), Jeff Bridges (Mick)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tis the season for a GIVEAWAY!!!!

2010 has been a fabulous year for me with the release of my first novel. To pay forward my blessings, I’m giving away a free e-book (PDF) copy of my novel Four Thousand Miles.

When Natalie Spencer loses both her career and marriage in the same morning, the emotional shock sends her on a spontaneous journey to England. There, she is nearly mugged in a Tube station, but an introverted songwriter named Gavin Ashby scares off her attackers. Recognizing Natalie’s fragile state, Gavin offers help and invites her to recuperate from her trauma at his country home.

As she adjusts to her new role and surroundings, Natalie finds healing by helping others. Gavin and his family begin to accept Natalie into their hearts, leading her to a choice…abandon her old life in the States and trust in a new chance at love, or flee once again?

To enter, post a comment below and tell me your favorite literary couple of all time and why their romance inspired you. I’m a sucker for a great love story, and I’m always looking for new books to read. You can earn additional entries by:
 +1 – Follow this blog
+1 – Tweet about this contest (provide me a link)
+1 – Follow me on twitter!/Jesilea
+1 – Become my fan on Facebook
+1 - Add up all of your entries (maximum possible 6)

Don’t forget to leave me your email address in your comment! Winner will be drawn in the evening of December 10, 2010. Winner will be notified via email, as well as announced on my blog. Contest open internationally. Void where prohibited.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Review: WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson

Lia is a high school senior dealing with some pretty heavy issues.  She has been jailed hospitalized twice for anorexia and cutting, her relationships with her parents are practically non-existent and her best friend, Cassie,  just died…alone…in a motel room.  Even though she is surrounded by pain and tragedy, Lia has a wit and charm to her that makes her sympathetic.  You can’t help but root for her to pull through in the end. 

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book is the insight it gave me into eating disorders.  While Lia’s anorexia is only one of several plot lines, I thought the subject was handled beautifully.  I have known a couple of anorexics throughout my life, and like a lot of people, I have a really hard time understanding what they are doing to themselves and why.  The author did not glorify anorexia, nor did she overly demonize it.  Instead, it felt honest.  She didn’t need to beat the reader with the moral lesson in order to make us feel hope at the end. 

Wintergirls is not just a story about eating disorders.  The death of Lia’s best friend also has a primary focus in the novel.  For nine years, the girls were inseparable in everything…even their obsessions to be thin.  However, after Lia is released from the hospital, Cassie decides to break off their friendship, blaming Lia for encouraging her bulimia.  The girls hadn’t spoken in six months, but the night of Cassie’s death, she phoned Lia’s cell phone thirty-three times.  Lia never picked up.  Now, Lia is dealing with survivor’s guilt, which is making her feel that she is being haunted by Cassie.

I recommend this book for teen girls, because I think Anderson handles these subjects truthfully and in ways that many of them will be able to relate to. 

Overall, I give Wintergirls… 

Plot – 3 ½ bookmarks
Character Development - 4 ½ bookmarks
Moral Lessons – 4 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Dakota Fanning (Lia), Emma Stone (Cassie), Kate Burton (Mother), Richard Gere (Father),  Jennie Garth (Step-mom Jennifer), Ruby Jerins (Emma)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Review: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

For those of you who might be afraid of Russian literature because of the long, hard to pronounce names, this is a great novel for you.  I’ve read a few things from Dostoevsky and he is clear and understandable. 
Written in 1917, Crime and Punishment follows impoverished university drop-out, Raskolnikov, as he murders and robs a pawnbroker and her sister, then has to suffer under the consequences of his actions. 

Raskolnikov is quite possibly the world’s worst criminal and that is kind of Dostoevsky’s point.  The crime occurs in the beginning of the story and we watch the character unravel under the guilt of it all.  There was no physical evidence tying him to the crime.  He could have gotten away with it if he had kept his cool, but instead, Raskolnikov seemed to sabotage himself over and over—behaving nervous and guilty, getting defensive, failing to come forward to the police right away with his involvement with the pawnbroker, raving about the crime while suffering from fever.  But Raskolnikov’s actions support Dostoevsky’s belief that people who are basically good will suffer more from their conscience than the actual punishment itself. 

Is Raskolnikov a good person?  He killed two women with an ax and stole from them.  On the other hand, when his scoundrel of a drinking buddy dies, leaving a sick wife and several children behind, he gives the widow most of his cash.  He also seems to have genuine affection for his sister and saves her from making a mistake of a marriage for the sake of security.  He even falls in love with a kind-hearted prostitute, someone whom many men would not consider worthy of love. 

Overall, I give Crime and Punishment

Plot – 3 ½ bookmarks
Character Development – 4 bookmarks
Psychology – 5 bookmarks
Literary Merit – 4 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Robert Pattinson (Raskolnikov), Emily Blunt (Sonia), Michael Sheen (Detective Petrovich), Tom Hardy (Razumihin)