June 03, 2012

A book with GLOWing Potential

If a violent battle destroyed the only world you’ve ever known, would you be brave enough to save who was left? Would love be strong enough to survive the fight? Either way, there’s no turning back.
The Empyrean is the only home 15-year-old Waverly has ever known. Part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space, she and her boyfriend Kieran will be pioneers of New Earth. Waverly knows she must marry young in order to have children who can carry on the mission, and Kieran, the handsome captain-to-be, has everything Waverly could want in a husband. Everyone is sure he’s the best choice. Still, there’s a part of Waverly that wants more from life than marriage, and she is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.
Suddenly, Waverly’s dreams are interrupted by the inconceivable – a violent betrayal by the Empyrean's sister ship, the New Horizon. The New Horizon’s leaders are desperate to populate the new planet first, and will do anything to get what they need: young girls. In one pivotal moment, Waverly and Kieran are separated, and find themselves at the helm of dangerous missions, where every move has potentially devastating consequences, and decisions of the heart may lead to disaster.

Thanks to the lovely folks over at Goodreads, I scored a copy of Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan in their First Reads contest. I had seen Glow floating around on other blogs and such, but had not actually bought it. The premise sounded interesting so figured "what the hell" and entered. I think I actually entered First Reads a couple of times for this book, but whatev...

This was an awesome little diddy! When other reviews say this book takes off with a bang, they ain't kidding. Right out of the gate Miss Amy has you by the jugular and you keep going. You think, "Oh, I will wait until the pace settles before I start dinner." Yeah, right. Call a pizza, 'cause you are not so much making dinner. HA!

The thing that got me right off the bat was the scene. The whole story takes place on one or two spaceships bound for New Earth. One would think there might be problems here with world building, but alas...no. Now I have to sheepishly admit that I'm kind of a Sci-Fi nerd. A big Star Wars fan, loved the Alien movies, Pandorum, Event Horizon, yada yada yada...you see where this is going. I LOVE Sci-Fi thrillers. Something about being stuck in space in a metal box is just plain scary.

But I digress...

Amy builds a wonderful world on the Empyrean and the New Horizon. You obviously cannot see how large these ships are or how intricate the engineering, but Amy gives you a phenomenal picture. Between the orchards, the animals, the people, and the farms, you get a great sense of how BIG these ships are. And even though she does not describe with fine detail, Amy creates the greatest picture of the ship in your head. I was amazed. One could certainly get lost in the details of describing something you've never seen, but Miss Amy does it well.

Like I said, the action is non-stop. Waverly goes through hell as does Kieran and Seth. At points you feel sorry for all of them, but you want them to keep fighting. The tension never seems to cease, and just when you think it's starting to...BAM something goes wrong.

I really enjoyed the characters as well. Waverly is sort of your girl next door. She is the semi-reluctant hero. The only reason she does what she does is, well, she's the oldest so it's expected of her. All of the younger girls look to her as an elder of sorts so she feels obligated to step up to the plate.

Seth. This boy is the brooding nobody. He's wicked smart, but has a chip on his shoulder the size of Mount Everest. Seth kind of 'loses it' and I'm hoping he gets a chance to redeem himself in the next installment because I really like him. He doesn't back down, doesn't take no for an answer, but he has some "daddy issues" to work through.

Kieran. I'm on the fence with Kieran. The token golden boy. The prodigal son. Kieran is the guy who has everything going for him; he's smart, he's talented, he's got the girl, he's the Captain's favorite... He has it all. When things go from bad to worse (and then worse still), Kieran is given the chance to walk the walk. At first that 'walk' is more like a drunken stagger, but he is starting to get his legs under him.

My only real beef with Glow came toward the end and I thought I might have to put it down. It started to get preachy for me. Now, I have nothing against those folks who are the church-going type, I'm just not one of them. I'm not a big religious book reader so when I saw a sort of preachy feel develop I groaned (a lot) but pushed through.

And I'm glad I did.

What started off sounding like "if you don't believe in God and don't worship Him and give Him thanks for everything in your life, you are an evil and contemptuous person" turned out to be more twisted than I had originally thought. Me likely this. *evil grin*

So in the end, I really enjoyed Glow and am definitely looking forward to Spark, the next installment to the Sky Chasers series. I would like to see if Waverly has it in her to be a leader, if Seth can truly love, and if Kieran will, well, get his head out of his butt...

Did Glow rock my world? Not the fall-out-of-bed kind, but a solid 6.5


If you read YA chances are you read, or have read, Cassandra Clare. If you have not... Well, I have nothing to say other than... WTH!! You need to!

I know there will be a million and one reviews of City of Lost Souls out there, so I decided to do something different here. The last thing you need is yet another review of a book from a series that is not only a best seller, from a fab author who rocks our socks, but is also in the makings of a movie! The Mortal Instruments is one of my all time favorites series and I am here to tell you why. Why I rave about these books to anyone who will listen, and others who just tolerate my ramblings with near patience.

In short, these books have everything!

Raising an eyebrow? Questioning my sanity? Allow me to explain.

Now I'm no literary expert, but I know what I like. When my friend Rachel first introduced me to TMI, her words were something like "not too much on the romance, but they were pretty good." But Rachel is a BIG romance fan. She said it had lots of demons, vampires, fae, and other stuff. This alone made me take City of Bones home. Oh, and she said the main guy, Jace, was pretty hot. That helped too. *wink*

As far as I'm concerned, Cassandra Clare is a master crafts...uh...woman for story telling. She wraps you around her little finger and takes you for a wild, crazy, heartbreaking ride. And you enjoy every minute of it. There is action, adventure, love, lust, friendships, enemies, characters you love, characters you hate, characters you LOVE to HATE, plot twists that leave you breathless, worlds so believable you look over your own shoulder...the whole tamale people!

My gateway drug to Fantasy Fiction was The Lord of the Rings. A tough read for a beginner I s'pose, but I was HOOKED. After that I got completely immersed in The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan (may he rest in peace). Another fantasy fave was the Forgotten Realms books from R.A. Salvatore.

Miss Cassie, for me, is on the lines of these books. Her worlds are so thought out it's spooky. Every time I read one of her books I'm amazed at the detail she incorporates. The politics of Shadowhunter lives, the relations between Shadowhunter and Downworlder, and the history of the Nephilim race fascinates me.

But she doesn't stop there. The plotting involved in Cassie's books leaves my head spinning. It makes the writer in me BEG (and I mean beg to the point of delirium) to be a fly in the room as she plots a book. The characters' lives twist in and out of each other so much I'm left in awe.

This is particularly noticeable with City of Lost Souls.

I'm sure there were references to previous Shadowhunters in the first four TMI books, but I don't recall them offhand. While reading COLS, however, Cassie makes several references to her prequel series, The Infernal Devices (Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince). Having read these books recently, they stuck out like a hobo clown at an Amish wedding. I can't help but wonder if Cassie plans her books this way or if they just happen naturally, like magic, like slow churned vanilla ice cream and hot brownies, like peanut butter and chocolate...

I got so freakin' giddy reading COLS it was really kind of pathetic. My writer side totally geeked out with how intertwined the plots are between the books. You don't have to read one series to understand the other, since they both give the necessary background, but why would you not WANT to read both? And the connections are subtle too, which is awesome, so those readers who have read both series don't feel like they're being pulled out of one story and into another. From a passing glance that catches an odd angel pendant with gears and such for wings, a mysterious Silent Brother, Zachariah, and quick references to a lost love with dark hair and blue eyes... I just cannot help the fangirl in me!!!!

It really is books like The Mortal Instrument series, and the Infernal Devices, that inspire me to write. The deep seeded worlds of Shadowhunter life, or Middle Earth, or Menzobarrenzan make me want to create such rich worlds of my own. Horribly conflicted characters like Jace Lightwood, Will Herondale, Boromir, Frodo Baggins, and Drizzt Do'Urden inspire me to reach the ultimate conflicts with my own characters. To push them to their limits. To find what makes them break. And what will bring them back together again.

This is not to say other books don't inspire me to write, and write well. There are just books you enjoy, and then there are books that take you to that place. That place, that space, between a totally happy voracious reader, and the other realm that gives you the drive to BE a part of that world. To create that feeling in the pit of the belly for others that you feel reading your favorite books. To make your readers want to WOOT out loud, to cry openly, to get so mad at a character you consider for a nanosecond throwing the book across the room, to fall in love, and to get so lost in a world it FEELS real...

That is what Cassandra Clare does for me. That is why I love her books. She is the whole package. I love her books, I love her worlds, I love her characters, but I also love the way she inspires the writer in me.

What about you? Who inspires YOU to write your pants off?