04.27.11

When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon

Posted in Review at 6:40 am by Amber

Title: When the Men Are Gone
Author: Siobhan Fallon
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers

The focus of the stories in You Know When the Men Are Gone varies from an observer of military life to directly involved which keeps it interesting without rehashing the same story type.  Not all of the stories take place on Fort Hood though it is home base for the military families highlighted in the stories.  

I believe non-military readers can identify with the characters in the stories.  We’ve all felt at one time or another what it’s like to be shunned because of rumors, experienced the loss of a loved one,been overwhelmed by all the tasks we need to get done before the end of the day and wondered if our loved one is cheating on us.  Fallon captures those emotions and the ways they can make people do irrational things.

About Siobhan Fallon
This is Siobhan Fallon’s first book. Siobhan Fallon lived at Fort Hood while her husband, an Army major, was deployed to Iraq for two tours of duty. She earned her MFA at the New School in New York City. She lives with her family near the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA

04.22.11

Earth Day 2011

Posted in Event at 2:50 pm by Amber

Are you doing anything for Earth Day this year?  I went around the house and turned off or unplugged unnecessary items before I left for work.

Eco-Libris has been keeping track of 41 Reasons to Plant A Tree for Your Book

04.18.11

Mailbox Monday – April 18th

Posted in Event at 1:54 am by Amber

Mailbox Monday

A big thank you to Marcia at A Girl and Her Books for originating Mailbox Monday. This weekly meme is now on tour with a new host each month. April’s host is Passages to the Past.

Mailbox Monday April 18th, 2011

I received a $25 Amazon gift card last week (from asking Bekka Black a question during her visit to Bitten By Books) so I purchased some items on my wish list.  On the top is The Color of Water (10thAnniversary edition) by James McBride.  It’s a memoir about his mother and his life growing up as an interracial child.  He’s friends withSpike Lee and I was very impressed with McBride when he was in town for the celebrations around Lee’s award of the Wexner Center Prize.

Second from the top is The Girl on the Fridge: Stories by Etgar Keret.  He’s an Israeli author who has also been to the Wexner Center of the Arts but I stayed home that evening.  My husband said I would’ve enjoyed the visit.  Keret is probably best known in the US for the writing “Kneller’s Happy Campers” which was the basis of the movie Wristcutters: A Love Story.

The third book from the top is Lady Lazarus by Michele Lang.  She was on one of the panels I attended at the World Fantasy Convention in October.  She mentioned the book several times and charmed me with her New York accent.  Lady Lazarus is a witch who can summon souls – this is the first in a planned trilogy.

The final book was sent to me by Henry Holt for review.  The Civilized World by Susi Wyss is a collection of short stories set in Africa.

What arrived in your mailbox this week?

04.13.11

Try Me by Parker Blue

Posted in Review at 8:11 am by Amber

Title: Try Me
Author: Parker Blue
Publisher: Belle Bridge Books
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers

It can be difficult to start a series midway through but I never felt like I was truly missing anything. Sure, I don’t know everything that happened between Dan Sullivan and Val Shapiro but I have a pretty good guess.  Her angst over what they should have meant to each other was typical teenager self-centeredness.

In case you don’t know, Val Shapiro is 18, 1/8 succubus, part of the Special Crimes Unit of San Antonio, earned the nickname Slayer for her skills with a stake (and a sword), and was kicked out of her mother’s house sometime during the first novel, Bite Me.

She was partners with Dan Sullivan in the first novel and is currently living with Gwen, his sister. Val doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up but she does like her job. Fang, her hellhound, is her best friend.

I never connected to any of the characters but the plot (find some missing books) and subplots (vampires want to come out to the world, demons want to remain underground out of the public eye, how to act like an adult around your family when you feel like your mother hates you) were interesting.

04.11.11

Mailbox Monday – April 11th

Posted in Event at 1:43 pm by Amber

Mailbox Monday

A big thank you to Marcia at A Girl and Her Books for originating Mailbox Monday.  This weekly meme is now on tour with a new host each month.  April’s host is Passages to the Past.

All my books this week are from NetGalley.

Bite Me and Fang Me by Parker Blue.  These are part of the Demon Underground Series featuring Val Shapiro.  She’s part human, park demon and hunts vampires.  I read the second book, Try Me, last year when I won it from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers. The publisher is holding a contest on Parker Blue’s website to win all three books.

Skinny by Diana Spechler.  After her father’s death, Gray Lachmann becomes a counselor at a summer camp for overweight children.

The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen.  I don’t know anything about the plot but Jussi Adler-Olsen is a Danish crime writer.  That’s really all I needed to know. 🙂  It’s release date is August 2011.

The Mice of Bistrot des Sept Freres by Marie Le Toureau.  This is a children’s book about Chef Marcel who runs the trendiest mouse cafe in Paris.  A culinary judge is about to stop by the cafe when Chef Marcel runs out of the secret ingredient for his cheese soup.

The Ninth Wife: A Novel by Amy Stolls.  What sane woman would consider becoming any man’s ninth wife? Bess Gray is a thirty-five-year-old folklorist and amateur martial artist living in Washington, DC. Just as she’s about to give up all hope of marriage, she meets Rory, a charming Irish musician, and they fall in love. But Rory is a man with a secret, which he confesses to Bess when he asks for her hand: He’s been married eight times before. Shocked, Bess embarks on a quest she feels she must undertake before she can give him an answer. With her bickering grandparents (married sixty-five years), her gay neighbor (himself a mystery), a shar-pei named Stella, and a mannequin named Peace, Bess sets out on a cross-country journey—unbeknownst to Rory—to seek out and question the wives who came before. What she discovers about her own past is far more than she bargained for.

What arrived in your mailbox this week?

04.06.11

The Association 1: President Park Incidents

Posted in Review at 12:45 am by Amber

Title: The Association 1: President Park Incidents
Author:E.P. Shirleyjack
Source: The author
Book Cover for The Association 1: President Park Incidents

Description from Smashwords:

In retrospect, I should have called the police after the Second President Park Incident. The police or the Magic Council. But it all started so innocuously, behind the dumpster at Jiggle Jon’s Cold Beer, Lotto and Groceries, in the bluish light of the corner street lamp. It started with a frog and a question. And here we are, three friends chasing answers through trash strewn gullies and hostile back country highways, all because of that frog…and The Association.

A novelette. First tale of The Association.

The three teen-aged friends are Tay, Sarah and Togo.  Tay is the calm one, Sarah is the nervous one and Togo is the crazy one.  Togo formed the Briarglen Community Association and they are the sole members.  Their first project is a watershed survey which keeps them busy collecting water samples.  One evening Tay finds a frog with six legs.  They start counting the mutant frogs and stumble across the reason why the frogs may have mutated.

Tay is the narrator of the novelette and does a pretty good job of telling their tale.  Sarah seems like a bit of a tag-along.  Togo is a good instigator.  In previous endeavors she talked Tay and Sarah into reading at the library’s storytime and taking karate classes.  Their conversation while searching on foot for more frogs captures the pendulum of teenage girl conversations.  One moment they’re talking about their future aspirations and the next one they’re singing “Ninety Nine Mutant Frogs in a Ditch”.

Most of the novelette was spent focusing on characters and plot.  This certainly isn’t a bad thing but urban fantasy needs to have some worldbuilding to ground the reader to the rules of the world.  The last third of the novelette gives the reader some clues as to why a Magic Council is needed in addition to a police force in Demosthena.  This took a bit long for my taste. 

The girls are supposed to have more adventures and I’ll be interested in seeing what happens to them next.

04.04.11

Mailbox Monday – April 4th

Posted in Event at 4:20 pm by Amber

Mailbox Monday A big thank you to Marcia at The Printed Page for originating Mailbox Monday. It’s now on tour and the April host is Passages to the Past.

I received a Kindle “gift” this week from E. P. Shirleyjack of her novellette The Association 1: President Park Incidents.  This was my first time receiving something this way and it worked out great.  Stop back on Wednesday for my review.

What arrived in your mailbox this week?

04.01.11

March 2011

Posted in Status Report, Writing at 8:01 am by Amber

Happy April Fool’s Day!  It was a holiday my family never celebrated which is surprising.  Aren’t older brothers supposed to be full of hijinks and pranks?  Maybe they were too well behaved or I didn’t take pranks well. 

These statistics are all for short stories, poems, or contest entries. Book reviews are not included.

  1. Sales in March: 0
  2. Rejections in March: 0
  3. Submissions sent out in March: 0
  4. Total stories/poems/contests pending responses: 1

March was not a good month for writing anything new.  I took a workshop on how to use my characters’ personalities to drive the plot forward.  It made me rethink the point of view used in Three Girls, a Corgi, and a Dead Body.  I’m thinking I should switch it from the widowed sister to the single sister.  It’s something that’s going to take a while to figure out.

I also took a deconstruction workshop on The Fifth Element in March.  One topic covered was Chekhov’s Gun which I now realize is one of my favorite things to look for in books and movies.

One of my LiveJournal communities decided to do critiques this year and I submitted a short story.  The feedback was extremely helpful in giving me an idea of what could be done to improve it.  April should bring some more writing and editing on it.

What plans do you have for April?