What’s On My Plate – February 2015

On My Plate

February? You’ve got to be kidding me. I feel like I just packed up all the Christmas decorations! And yet, time marches on…February has typically been a rough month for me, as three out of four of the people in my little family have birthdays this month (including yours truly). And when I say “rough” I mean BUSY. Obviously birthdays are something to celebrate:-D My son is turning SIXTEEN!! That cannot be right. It just can’t. To those of you with small children, cling to these years, because before you know it, your kids are going to be asking about getting their driver’s license! And we’re already talking about college, so yeah. Time sucks. I want time to STOP.

In any event, on the bookish front I have a lovely month ahead of me! Here’s what’s on my plate this month:

Books for Review:

Get in Trouble by Kelly Link. I’m a big Link fan, no one writes short stories quite like her. This is her new collection, and although the publishers have packaged it to look like edgy literary stories, you can bet there is plenty of fantasy and magic realism within these pages.

Dead Boys by Gabriel Squailia. This book just sounds like all kinds of amazing! Can’t wait to get to it.

The Damned by Andrew Pyper. This ghostly story sounds really good!

The Lost Level by Brian Keene. I’ve seen some great reviews on this book from Apex, and I’m looking forward to it.

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey. This is the new edition of an older book that many of my blogger friends have read and loved. I’m so glad I’ll get to read and review it, and I’ll be giving some copies away as well.

Backlist Burndown/WWE Women of Genre Fiction Challenge:

Zoo City

Lisa @ Tenacious Reader has started an awesome reading event each month called Backlist Burndown. I ran out of time in January and wasn’t able to fit a backlist book in, but this month I will, for sure! First up is Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. I adored Broken Monsters and now I’m going to catch up on all her other books. I’m also counting this toward my World’s Without End Women of Genre Fiction Challenge this month.

Blog tours:

I’m part of Tor’s Echo 8 blog tour, and I’ll have my review of Echo 8 up tomorrow, and then Tuesday I’ll be interviewing Sharon and giving away copies of the book!

I was just invited to participate in another Tor event, the blog tour for V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic! Oh boy, I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am:-D I don’t have all the details yet, and I don’t know my tour date either (it could be next month), but I just had to share. I know there will be a giveaway for the book during the tour, so keep your eyes peeled for more information.

Giveaways:

Share the love 2015

As I mentioned, my blog tour stop for Echo 8 is Tuesday, and Tor is giving away copies of Sharon’s latest SF Romance! I had a blast reading this book, and you will too!

After skipping my Book Review Giveaway last month, I’m now combining December and January, and I’ll have TWO winners because of it! For those of you who are new to this, I’ll be giving away the winners’ choice of any of the books I reviewed in December and January. Come back on the 15th to see what you can win! And as always, this giveaway is international.

As part of Tor’s promotion for the new edition of Kushiel’s Dart, I’ll be offering up copies to THREE winners, so check back on the 26th for my review and enter to win your own copy.

Once again, I’m participating in the Share the Love Giveaway Hop, which starts on February 6th. I’ll be “sharing the love” and highlighting some of my favorite authors or bloggers (honestly, I haven’t decided what to do yet, so you’ll just have to come back on the 6th!) I’m not even sure what I’m giving away, oh it’s all a big mystery:-D

Also, I have two giveaways that are still going on, so check the sidebar up there for your chance to win Pacific Fire by Greg van Eekhout and Tunnel Vision by Susan Adrian!

That’s my February, folks! Let me know what you’re up to this month:-D

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Mustache Me Some Questions!

Mustache

This “tag” has been making its way through the blogging community, and although I haven’t been officially tagged, I was invited to join in by Tabitha from Not Yet Read and Danya from Fine Print! It’s always fun to take a peek behind the blogger and see another side to that person, and I had fun answering these questions.

FOUR NAMES THAT PEOPLE CALL ME

1. Tammy
2. Tamara (my real name, but I am rarely called Tamara these days)
3. Mom (by my kids, of course!)
4. Tam (by my husband)

FOUR JOBS THAT I HAVE HELD

1. McDonald’s crew chief (yeah, baby, I was IN CHARGE!)
2. Private English teacher in Tokyo
3. Pianist for a ballet class
4. Hostess at a Tokyo Korean club for men (I was one of five gaijin (foreigners) amidst a bunch of Korean women). My job was to sit at a table full of Japanese businessmen and mix drinks for them, talk to them (mostly in English, because they wanted to practice it!) and light their cigarettes. I got paid cash under the table and pretty much hated every moment of that job. But at least I had spending money!

FOUR MOVIES I HAVE WATCHED MORE THAN ONCE

1. Pride & Prejudice (with Kiera Knightly).
2. All the Harry Potter movies
3. Love Actually because who doesn’t love that movie??
4. Serenity (because duh, Firefly, Nathan Fillion!)

FOUR BOOKS I’D RECOMMEND

Like I need to recommend these again:
1. Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series (OK, so it’s seven books!)
2. Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons
3. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
4. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

FOUR PLACES I HAVE LIVED

1. Tokyo, Japan (for a year in college)
2. Los Angeles, CA (forever!)
3. Redlands, CA (in college)
4. Ridgecrest, CA (where I was born)
Obviously I don’t get around much…those are all four of the places I have ever lived!

FOUR PLACES I HAVE BEEN

1. London. I’ve been twice, and it’s one of my favorite cities.
2. Paris. In high school, my French club took a trip to France, and it was amazing!
3. Bali. I took a trip to Southeast Asia during my year in Japan, and ended up in Bali.
4. Thailand. Another place I got to visit during my year in Japan. All I can say is SPICY FOOD!!!

FOUR PLACES I’D RATHER BE RIGHT NOW

1. In a cozy cabin in the mountains, with my dogs and a fire in the fireplace, and a stack of books, of course!
2. In Morro Bay, CA, which is my favorite place in the world.
3. Anywhere that isn’t at work.
4. In a really big bookstore with lots of spare cash and an entire day to explore.

FOUR THINGS I DON’T EAT

1. ONIONS!! Raw or cooked, I can smell an onion a mile away, and I just don’t allow them in my house.
2. Bell Peppers – seriously, they are the “colorful filler” for many dishes, and I feel just as strongly about them as I do about onions.
3. Bananas, oranges, MSG, nuts (they are all migraine triggers)
4. Under-cooked meat. I do love a good steak or hamburger now and then, but only if it’s been cooked to death. Well-done, people! Well done.

FOUR OF MY FAVORITE FOODS

1. Pasta. As long as it doesn’t have onions in it:-D
2. Chicken pot pies. I have some funny stories about chicken pot pies, but probably no one cares but me, ha ha:-D
3. Chocolate! Mostly Hershey’s Kisses with Almonds
4. Sweet Leaf tea. It’s truly amazing—pricey, but amazing!

FOUR TV SHOWS THAT I’VE WATCHED

1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You do know the name of my blog, right?
2. Bones. Again…(see above)
3. Castle. Because NATHAN FILLION people!
4. Angel. Because DAVID BOREANAZ people!!

FOUR THINGS THAT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS YEAR

1. San Diego Comic Con in July!
2. Going on some college tours with my kids.
3. Seeing my daughter’s Choir Pop Show in March, because she’s been working so hard.
4. The end of the school year in May. I know, how depressing! But this has been a really rough year for my kids, with me going back to work and both of them in high school, plus my daughter is in a very high stress choir program at school. I’ll be glad when they can relax for a bit!

FOUR THINGS THAT I AM ALWAYS SAYING

1. “Has anyone seen my keys?”
2. Closely followed by “The first person to find my keys gets $5!!!” (Yes, I am always losing my keys!)
3. “Who made this mess???!!”
4. “Who wants a jerky?” (to my dogs)

So, do we have anything in common? I’m supposed to tag four people, but how about instead you just consider yourself tagged, if you’d like to participate?

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Tough to Read, Hard to Put Down: ATLANTA BURNS by Chuck Wendig – Review

Atlanta burns

 

Atlanta Burns (Atlanta Burns #1 & 2) by Chuck Wendig
Genre: YA Crime/Mystery
Publisher: Skyscape
Release date: January 27 2015
Source: eARC from publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 381

four and a half

The nitty-gritty: A tough read full of unhappy people, but with a glimmer of hope at the end.

“Maybe next time? I’ll bring my shotgun. It’s got a taste for the blood of monstrous men.

“You can’t go like this forever. At some point you gotta be a normal girl.”

“If you say so.”

Chuck Wendig never fails to make me feel something, which is one of the most important things a writer can do for his readers. So when I picked up Atlanta Burns, I was expecting a gritty, action-packed story of a girl who solves crimes (OK, so I latched on to the blurb that compares it to Veronica Mars), because it’s Chuck Wendig, who does gritty really well. But I was not expecting this book at all. I would have to say Atlanta Burns got me more worked up emotionally than I’ve ever been while reading a book. I nearly didn’t finish it. When I got to the end of chapter thirty-three, my first reaction was to beat my Kindle to death and swear off Chuck Wendig for good. Because he had just broken my heart.

But after turning out the light and trying to go to sleep (and not being able to), I decided I might as well finish the story. I mean, there were only a few chapters left. And boy am I glad I did. I can’t tell you what made me change my mind about the book, because I don’t want to spoil the story. But let’s just say that glimmer of hope I mentioned up there? The door cracked open just a bit and let the light through—a murky and dim light, but light nonetheless. I finished this book wanting very badly to read the next installment.

Atlanta is a high school girl who lives in near poverty with her mother, a woman who can barely take care of herself, let alone her daughter. One day after school she inadvertently rescues a boy named Shane who is being bullied by a couple of schoolyard thugs. Before long, Atlanta is drawn into the hopeless lives of other students who are being bullied for being gay, Venezuelan, poor, etc. With her trusty shotgun and a generous supply of Adderall from her drug dealer friend Guy, Atlanta sets out to save as many lives as she can.

But when she is asked to investigate why dogs are disappearing from an affluent neighborhood, Atlanta finds herself in the middle of a dog fighting ring. Everything’s going to hell, fast, but Atlanta’s made a promise to try to shut down the Farm, and she isn’t one to give up easily.

The story takes some hot topic issues, mixes them together, and gives us a bleak and violent world, where bullying and hate crimes are the norm. Wendig comes right out and lays his issues on the table, and he doesn’t ever flinch. In case you’re wondering what the big trigger was for me, I’ll tell you, because if you’re a dog lover like me, you deserve a warning. Part of the book deals with Atlanta trying to shut down a dog fighting ring, and if there’s anything that will make me stop reading a book, it’s cruelty to animals. I knew this part was coming, but I wanted to see if I could get through it. And I did, mostly. Wendig shows us the grim realities of this terrible sport without going overboard. One of the best parts of this story is a dog called Whitey, and I’ll just leave it at that.

I’m going to tell you something you might not want to hear: none of the characters in Atlanta Burns are particularly likable. (Well, except for Atlanta’s English teacher Mrs. Lewis, who didn’t get enough page-time, in my opinion.) Otherwise, this story is populated by the following nasty and unlovable people: drug dealers; bullies; dog killers; dog thieves; teens who drink; teens who do drugs; Neo-Nazis; unfit mothers; corrupt law enforcement; and one Atlanta Burns, a teen who has recently “spent time away” because she shot the balls off her mother’s boyfriend (he was sexually abusing her). Atlanta has some serious baggage, not the least of which is her absentee mother who is in worse shape than she is. Until she meets a couple of nerdy kids who need her help—Chris, a gay teen, and Shane, a Venezuelan boy—both who have been mercilessly bullied. And I’m not talking call-you-a-faggot or stuff-dog-shit-in-your-locker bullying. This shit goes way beyond that, into the territory of physical pain.

But despite the unlikable-ness of Atlanta in the beginning of the book, she did grow on me, and I have to admit by the end I was completely in her corner. Wendig has a way of making you believe that all this could happen to one girl, in one small town. I don’t know how it happened, but I went from hating Atlanta Burns to loving it. Wendig pushed me into a pit of despair and made me claw my way out, then he showed me a glimpse of a beautiful sunset. Not bad for a book that I almost didn’t finish.

Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. Above quotes were taken from an uncorrected proof, and may differ in the final version of the book.

Find the book:

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Mind Meld @ SF Signal: All About That Backlist!

Mind Meld

Hey, thanks to Andrea @ The Little Red Reviewer, I was asked to participate in Mind Meld on SF Signal today! It was a lot of fun, as we all got to talk about our favorite authors’ backlists. Check it out here! I listed some of my favorite Dan Simmons books, and a bunch of other bloggers and authors participated as well. Lots of fun!

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Blog Tour + Giveaway: Interview with Greg van Eekhout, Author of PACIFIC FIRE

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I’m thrilled to be participating in the Pacific Fire blog tour, hosted by Tor Books! I loved Pacific Fire, which is book two in van Eekhout’s Daniel Blackland series. If you missed my review, you can catch it here. Today, I’m happy to welcome Greg to the blog, and I also have three copies of Pacific Fire to give away, courtesy of Tor Books! Read to the end if you’d like to enter (US and Canada only).

Please join me in welcoming Greg van Eekhout to Books, Bones & Buffy!

Author interview

Congratulations on the publication of Pacific Fire, the second book in the trilogy! How easy (or difficult) was it to write the follow-up to California Bones?

All writing is hard for me! I don’t even understand the concept of writing not being hard. There’s all these words and you have to pick the right ones and put them in the right order and figure out what to say and how to say it. Ugh!

Ha ha, well, you make it look easy:-) Pacific Fire opens ten years after the ending of California Bones, as opposed to many sequels that begin right after the events of the previous book. What prompted this decision?

I wanted to deal with the aftermath of California Bones, and deal with the kind of life Daniel and Sam, the Hierarch’s golem, have had to lead after all the stuff that happens in the first book. So giving them a decade to accumulate consequences seemed like the best way to accommodate that.

Pacific Fire

Your fantastical vision of a magical Los Angeles is one of my favorite parts of your series. I especially loved the idea of water canals in place of freeways. Did this idea come about after spending time in the horrible L.A. freeway traffic?

Since cars and freeways are some of the things people most closely associate with L.A., switching them out for boats and canals gave me a clear and dramatic way to signal that this is a different version of L.A.. It also made water magic an intrinsic part of the city. But, yeah, L.A. traffic is dreadful. It really detracts from quality of life.

I loved the idea of using famous Los Angeles icons as characters in your books. It must have been fun to incorporate those characters into your stories! How did you decide which people—Disney, William Mulholland, etc.—to use?

Since hydromancy, or water magic, is such a big part of the story, it made sense to include Mulholland, the guy who’s largely responsible for bringing water to Los Angeles. And Disney, jeez, he’s Hollywood and he’s Disneyland.

Can you tell us why you chose to use the unique idea of ingesting human and supernatural creature bones in order to do magic?

The whole idea for the series began with the notion that, in the middle of L.A., there are these amazingly cool ponds of thick, bubbling goo, and inside the goo there are fossils of fantastic creatures. So I wanted to use fossils to enact magic. Eating them just seemed like the most direct way to do that, and it also fits in with themes of using people and consuming limited resources. The idea that you could get magic not just from eating the bones of magical creatures but also by eating the bones of people who’ve eaten bones is just a logical extension of the idea.

California Bones

You’ve also written a couple of middle-grade books for Bloomsbury USA. How different was it to switch gears completely and jump into adult novels?

The first chapter of the first draft of California Bones was nothing but the F-word, over and over. But once I got that out of my system, the approach isn’t all that different. What do these characters want? How do they see the world? How do I put the reader in the characters’ heads? And what’s cool, fun, exciting, important about the world they live in?

What’s next for you? Can you tell us about what you’re working on right now? And I’m hoping the answer is Dragon Coast (Book three of the Daniel Blackland series)!

I am almost done reviewing the copyedits of Dragon Coast, and it’s due out in September. Then I owe a short story for an anthology, and then I’ve got a couple of book proposals to write. One is for another adult fantasy novel, and one is for a middle-grade science fiction novel. For the first time in several years, I don’t have a book under contract. It’s terrifying, but it also gives me a lot of freedom to work on whatever I want.

Tell us three things about yourself that can’t be found on your website

  1. I have an alternative way of snapping my fingers that involves bending one finger backwards. It grosses out my wife.
  2. I once tried brewing my own beer and discovered rocketry and made a hole in my ceiling.
  3. I’m nice to telemarketers because I was once a telemarketer and it’s a horrible job and few people do it because they want to be telemarketers.

Thank you for visiting today, Greg!

About the author:

GregGREG VAN EEKHOUT is the author of California Bones and Pacific Fire, as well as a previous fantasy novel with Bantam Books, Norse Code. He is also the author of two middle-grade SF novels, Kid vs. Squid and The Boy at the End of the World (a finalist for the Andre Norton Award). He lives in San Diego, California.

Find Greg: Author Website | Twitter

About Pacific Fire:

I’m Sam. I’m just this guy.

Okay, yeah, I’m a golem created from the substance of his own magic by the late Hierarch of Southern California. With a lot of work, I might be able to wield magic myself. I kind of doubt it, though. Not like Daniel Blackland can.

Daniel’s the reason the Hierarch’s gone and I’m still alive. He’s also the reason I’ve lived my entire life on the run. Ten years of never, ever going back to Los Angeles. Daniel’s determined to protect me. To teach me.

But it gets old. I’ve got nobody but Daniel. I’ll never do anything normal. Like attend school. Or date a girl.

Now it’s worse. Because things are happening back in LA. Very bad people are building a Pacific firedrake, a kind of ultimate weapon of mass magical destruction.  Daniel seemed to think only he could stop them. Now Daniel’s been hurt. I managed to get us to the place run by the Emmas. (Many of them. All named Emma. It’s a long story.) They seem to be healing him, but he isn’t going anyplace soon.

Do I even have a reason for existing, if it isn’t to prevent this firedrake from happening? I’m good at escaping from things. Now I’ve escaped from Daniel and the Emmas, and I’m on my way to LA.

This may be the worst idea I ever had.

Find Pacific Fire:

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And now for the giveaway! (3) winners will receive a finished copy of Pacific Fire. Giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only. Please fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Magic in the Bones: PACIFIC FIRE by Greg van Eekhout – Review

Pacific Fire (Daniel Blackland #2) by Greg van Eekhout
Genre: Adult urban fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: January 27 2015
Source: ARC from publisher
Pages: 336

five stars

The nitty-gritty: A worthy follow-up to California Bones, Pacific Fire is infused with even more magic and danger and humor.

“How’s your stealth osteomancy?” she asked.

The same sint holo that concealed objects in his bone-lined box was in his cells. A skilled osteomancer like Daniel could summon it and make himself vanish, or least make himself hard to spot.

“Not great,” he said.

“How impenetrable are you?”

“You mean like to bullets and things?”

“Yeah.”

“I am utterly penetrable,” Sam admitted.

“How about offensive magic? Kraken energy, fire breathing?”

“Not so much.”

Em shined her light on him, as if searching for some defect. “You are the Hierarch’s golem, aren’t you?”

“I don’t live up to my potential.”

If that quote made you chuckle, then you are going to love Greg van Eekhout’s series. This is the second book, and therefore this review will contain some unavoidable spoilers for the first book, California Bones. Proceed with caution if you are worried about such things!

I love so many things about this series! van Eekhout’s magical system is one of my favorites, and while there is a certain “ick” factor to osteomancy—it requires you to eat the flesh and bones of powerful magicians and magical creatures, thus absorbing the magic into your own body and making you more powerful—I’ve never read anything quite like it. Add to that the utterly original setting, characters that are full of human flaws and desires, and perfectly timed humor, and you have a *magical* combination.

Second books in series often fall into that murky “middle book” territory, but I didn’t feel that way about Pacific Fire. For one thing, we have a new character named Sam who completely stole the thunder from Daniel, the main character from California Bones. I dearly loved Sam, and I wanted the book to keep going so I could keep reading about Sam and his friend Em and their adventures.

The author takes a risk (in my opinion) by setting this story ten years after the conclusion of Pacific Fire. Daniel has left Los Angeles and is on the run after killing and eating the heart of the Hierarch, the most powerful osteomancer in California. With him is Sam, a golem created from the Hierarch who has all the power of his “father,” even though that power hasn’t yet surfaced. Daniel has sworn to protect Sam from the evil osteomancers of Los Angeles who would do anything to get their hands on him.

When the story begins, Daniel and Sam are living in a trailer on the edge of the Salton Sea, when Daniel’s friend Gabriel comes to warn them that Daniel’s uncle Otis, along with a couple of other shady and power-hungry osteomancers, are hatching a diabolical plan to bring to life a Firedrake dragon, a magical creature that has been extinct for a long time. Daniel knows he must stop the project, and so he begins to make plans to infiltrate Catalina Island, Otis’ stronghold where he plans to bring the dragon to life. But it won’t be easy, because everyone is looking for Daniel and Sam, and there are only so many places to hide. Plus, resurrecting a Firedrake? Now that takes a hella lot of magic, but if anyone can figure it out, it’s Otis.

Pacific Fire is steeped in magic, which practically oozes from the pages. Greg van Eekhout has turned Southern California into his own personal magical playground, and he gleefully shows us how wonderful that playground is. From the crazy idea of his watery canals that take the place of L.A. freeways, to unexpected creatures that roam the hills of Catalina Island, each familiar Southern California location is turned on its head and given new life. In van Eekhout’s world, Gabriel is the head of the Department of Water and Power, and is a powerful water mage who controls the water of Los Angeles. Not only can he monitor traffic on the canals and adjust it as necessary, but he draws his power from the water and knows everything that happens in the city.

As I mentioned before, I loved the character of Sam. At first it was hard to picture what he looked like, as he’s a golem and has been created from the DNA of the Hierarch, which I suppose is a lot like cloning. But he appears human, and in fact he’s a teenaged boy in this story, with all the inherent quirks of any normal teen. For one thing, he’s girl-crazy, and he tends to fall in love with every girl he meets. He has incredibly powerful magic deep inside him, but for some reason he’s unable to draw from it. When we first meet Sam, Daniel is trying to teach him how to use his magic so he’ll be ready to defend himself when the bad guys come calling—and don’t worry, they will! But poor Sam, he just wants to be a normal kid and live in a proper house and go to school, where he’s sure to meet girls.

On his journey to help Daniel stop the dreaded Firedrake project, Sam meets another golem named Em who joins up with him. Em is the sort of girl who looks normal on the outside, but inside she’s more like a ninja with mad fighting skills. She and Sam were adorable together, and even though I wouldn’t call their relationship romantic, you could see the potential was there.

My only complaint is that the book felt a bit on the short side. There was one scene in particular that takes place on a submarine (yes, you read that correctly!) that could have been so much more developed. Sam and Em wind up on a submarine and head to Catalina Island (and I won’t tell you how they wind up on it!), but the scene literally cuts from the moment they board to the moment they arrive on the island. I so wanted to find out what took place on the submarine trip!

But I’m still giving this book five stars, so obviously it didn’t bother me too much. The ending, oh how I wish I could tell you how Pacific Fire ends!! I didn’t know whether to scream or cry at the end, but I can tell you I am even more excited about reading book #3, Dragon Coast, which luckily comes out later this year.

California BonesFor urban fantasy fans, this series should be on your “must read” list. Laugh out loud funny and full of tense action and danger, Pacific Fire is highly recommended.

Big thanks to Tor Books for supplying a review copy! The above quote was taken from an uncorrected proof and may differ in the final version of the book. Check back here tomorrow for my interview with Greg, and you can enter to win a copy of Pacific Fire!

Find the book:

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Have You Heard of Libib? It’s the Online Book Cataloging Website of My Dreams!

libib2

I recently ran across a book cataloging website called Libib (I know, weird name, right?) and decided to try it out. FOR FREE, you can catalog your entire library of physical books (or movies, music & video games), where it’s stored online in a database that can be sorted in various ways—alphabetically by title or author, for example—and added to at any time. And the best part is that there is a handy phone app (for iPhone and Android) that will scan the bar codes of your books and input all the book’s information into the Libib database!

Here’s how Libib works:

1. Download the Libib app onto your phone.

2. Take a book off your shelf and scan the bar code. Here’s an old book I didn’t even know I had!

scanning

3. Once the scanner picks up the bar code, the book is immediately added to your library. It even instantaneously shows up on your computer! Now that I’ve scanned The Time Machines, you can see the computer screen shot below, where the title is now part of my library! You can see it under the letter “T” where it belongs. You can also see the total number of books I’ve entered under the name of my library, “Tammy’s Physical Book Library.” Obviously, I still have lots of books to scan:-D (click on the image to make it larger).

Libib example

4. Now, simply click on the title to see all the information about the book:

libib screenshhot 2

It automatically adds a cover photo of the book, date of publication, publisher, number of pages, the ISBN number(s) and a description of the book. You can also add your own information with the “tags” and “notes” features, review the book, add a rating and lots more!

I have noticed some limitations to this system, which is that sometimes the bar code just won’t scan. I do have some books with old ISBN numbers, and it won’t pick up all of those. Also, if you have a paperback version of a book that came out in hardback first, when you scan the paperback, it will upload the hardback cover art, not the paperback cover art. That isn’t ideal for me in terms of book collecting, but it still does the job and includes the book as part of your library.

The other thing it won’t do is indicate if a book is an advanced reader’s copy, because ARCs don’t have bar codes. However, to get around that, I can find the ISBN on the ARC and MANUALLY enter it, and the book will pop up in the system. You can then go to the “tags” tab and add an “ARC” tag, which is a great way to keep track of the ARCs I own.

This is a work in progress! Here are some of the piles of books in my house that I need to scan into my Libib library. In many cases, books are double-stacked on the shelves, so you can’t even see them all (and this isn’t even all my piles!):

Once you have your library scanned into the system, you can join a social network and publish your library online, so other Libib users can see what you have. I’m not sure I’ll do that, because really, does anyone care about my library but me? Probably not:-D

I can’t tell you how excited I am to have discovered Libib! It may take me some time to catalog my entire library, but it’s super fun to do, and very quick. I know you’re all dying to know how many books I own, so once my library is scanned, I’ll do a follow-up post.

Have you ever heard of Libib? Are you interested in cataloging your book library? Or do you have another system you use? I’d love to hear about it!

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Over-Booked [17] – A Book Haul Post

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 Welcome to Over-Booked, where I’m sharing my recent book acquisitions, and linking up with Stacking the Shelves at Tynga’s Reviews and The Sunday Post at The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. I caved and requested a couple of Edelweiss titles, but I am getting pickier, so these are books I’m very excited about reading! Here’s what I have this week:

Physical books:

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Sweetland by Michael Crummey. This is my only purchase lately, and it just happens to be my Riot Read book of the month. I’ve heard good things about this story, and I still get a kick out of opening the Riot Read package each month and being surprised!

Tunnel Vision by Susan Adrian. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for this finished copy! I was on the blog tour this past week and you can read my review of Tunnel Vision and enter to win a copy as well.

Pacific Fire by Greg Van Eekhout. Big thanks to Tor for the review copy! I just finished this and LOVED it. My review will be up next week, and I’m part of the blog tour on Wednesday, so make sure to come back and read my interview with Greg. I believe there is a giveaway for this blog tour as well.

There Once Lived a Mother who Loved Her Children, Until They Moved Back In by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya. OK, that’s got to be the record for the longest title ever! I won this book from Grace @ Books Without Any Pictures. Thank you Grace! This looks like a lot of fun.

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey. Big thanks to Tor for sending me this gorgeous reissue of a book that’s getting lots of attention! I’ll be reviewing it next month, and Tor is offering up copies for a giveaway, so stay tuned!

From Edelweiss/NetGalley:

Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz. Thanks to Angry Robot for the review copy! This book sounds awesome!

Uprooted by Naomi Novik. I’ve already seen good reviews for this book, and although I haven’t read any Novik before, I hear she’s really good.

Throne of Darkness by Douglas Nicholas. This is the third book in a series, and even though I missed the second book, the publisher tells me this works well as a stand-alone. I absolutely loved Something Red, so I’m anxious to check this out.

That’s my book haul for now! I’d love to hear if you’re planning on reading any of these! And link me up to your book hauls:-D

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Unique & Thought Provoking: THE GHOSTS OF HEAVEN by Marcus Sedgwick – Review

The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick
Genre: Unable to categorize!
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Release date: January 6 2015
Source: eARC from publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 336

four and a half

The nitty-gritty: A quartet of interlinked stories set in different time periods, joined together by the recurring theme of the spiral. A complex story that requires some thought and patience, with a big payoff.

How arrogant is man, Bowman has sometimes wondered, to think he can know everything about the universe while stuck to the surface of a tiny planet in a remote region of the galaxy? Yes, great things have been learned, but not everything. There is always the unknown. No matter how high you climb on the spiral staircase, there is always another turn of the stair, out of view, and that’s where the unknown lies.

The Ghosts of Heaven was one of those books that completely surprised me. I had seen lots of mixed reviews on Goodreads, and I mean mixed, folks! And so I was curious to read it for myself. This is my second Marcus Sedgwick book, and while I enjoyed the last one (She is Not Invisible), I absolutely loved The Ghosts of Heaven. Not everyone will “get” this book, and it’s not a page turner or a plot-heavy story. I’ll admit it took me until the middle to finally see where it was going, and how everything would eventually tie together. The Ghosts of Heaven will make you think about big concepts, like our place in the universe and how everything is connected. It’s a philosophical piece that asks some tantalizing questions about our existence, and it does so by traveling through time and space. It requires a patient reader, and if you are that person, I guarantee you will love this book.

The story is divided into four “quarters,” and each one has its own set of characters and takes place during a different period in time. In his introduction, Sedgwick explains that the quarters can be read in any order, and the story will still make sense. Being the slightly OCD person that I am, I started at the beginning and proceeded in the normal way, reading the stories in order. I found this to work extremely well, and I urge you to do the same. The last story, in my opinion, is the linchpin of the bunch, and brings together elements from the previous three stories. All four revolved around the theme of spirals, and the way they appear in nature and art, over and over again. Briefly, here is a breakdown of the four stories:

Whispers in the Dark. This story in verse describes an ancient tribe of people who use cave art to communicate and “do magic.” A young girl hopes that she will be chosen to be “the one who will go to the caves” and make the magic on the cave walls, magic that will ensure successful hunting. The girl is chosen, but not for the reason she wants. As she travels through the forest, she notices the beautiful spirals found in nature, like a snail’s shell and the tender leaves of a fern. This is a harrowing story full of danger and explores the beginnings of written communication.

The Witch in the Water. A minister comes to a small town and sets out to wreak havoc on the innocent people who live there. A young girl, who makes medicines from the plants in the forest, is accused of witchcraft after the visiting minister convinces the townspeople that she is evil. This was an unsettling story with slowly mounting tension, as one by one, the villagers start to believe that she is a witch.

The Easiest Room in Hell. This was my second favorite tale, and it’s told through journal entries by a man named Doctor James, who has just come to work at the Orient Point Lunatic Asylum. There he meets an inmate named Charles Dexter, a man who appears sane on the outside, but is actually irrationally terrified of anything spiral-shaped, including the massive spiral staircase at the center of the asylum. James bonds with Dexter and is convinced he can help him recover, but the evil Doctor Phillips has other ideas. Sedgwick’s asylum is surrounded by the sea, which gives this story a Gothic feel. He uses foreshadowing to great effect, and the format reminded me of Dracula. This was a sad and chilling tale, and Sedgwick cleverly drops in clues from the previous two stories.

The Song of Destiny. Definitely my favorite, the last story jumps to the future, as a spaceship of five hundred sleeping people hurtles toward a planet called New Earth, a journey that will take one hundred years. Keir Bowman is a “sentinel” on the ship, one of ten people who are tasked with waking up every ten years to make sure all is in order. This was the scariest of the bunch, as we soon discover a terrifying mystery that Bowman must solve during his waking hours.

Each story feels completely different from the others; and yet somehow, it all makes sense when you’re finished reading. Over and over, Sedgwick uses the spiral as a way to unite the characters together, and ultimately, as a way to explain life itself:

“You can never make it back to where you began, you can only ever climb another turn of the spiral stair. Forever.”

I do have one complaint—or rather it’s something I’m puzzled by—and that is I don’t understand why this book is being marketed as young adult (according to Amazon, it’s for ages 12 and up). Most of the characters are adults, and the thoughtfully complex themes seem more suited for adult readers. I’ve been running across more and more “young adult” books that seem to be mislabeled, and I’d love to find out the reasoning behind some of these marketing decisions. I think by being labeled “young adult” The Ghosts of Heaven will miss out on a more appreciative audience.

This is a special book, something unique that won’t appeal to every reader. But for those who enjoy puzzles and coincidences, this is a beautifully written story that will give you chills as you read the last lines.

Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. The above quotes were taken from an uncorrected proof and may differ in the final version of the book.

Find the book:

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Want to win a copy of The Ghosts of Heaven? Check back in February for my Book Review Giveaway!

 

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Blog Tour: TUNNEL VISION by Susan Adrian – Review + Giveaway!

Welcome to my stop on the Tunnel Vision Blog Tour! You can read my review below, and don’t forget to check out the giveaway at the end of the post (U.S. and Canada only this time). First, here’s what this book is about:

Tunnel Vision

Jake Lukin just turned 18. He’s decent at tennis and Halo, and waiting to hear on his app to Stanford. But he’s also being followed by a creep with a gun, and there’s a DARPA agent waiting in his bedroom. His secret is blown.

When Jake holds a personal object, like a pet rock or a ring, he has the ability to “tunnel” into the owner. He can sense where they are, like a human GPS, and can see, hear, and feel what they do. It’s an ability the government would do anything to possess: a perfect surveillance unit who could locate fugitives, spies, or terrorists with a single touch.

Jake promised his dad he’d never tell anyone about his ability. But his dad died two years ago, and Jake slipped. If he doesn’t agree to help the government, his mother and sister may be in danger. Suddenly he’s juggling high school, tennis tryouts, flirting with Rachel Watkins, and work as a government asset, complete with 24-hour bodyguards.

Forced to lie to his friends and family, and then to choose whether to give up everything for their safety, Jake hopes the good he’s doing—finding kidnap victims and hostages, and tracking down terrorists—is worth it. But he starts to suspect the good guys may not be so good after all. With Rachel’s help, Jake has to try to escape both good guys and bad guys and find a way to live his own life instead of tunneling through others.

four stars

The nitty-gritty: An addictive and exciting story with lots of mysteries to solve, government conspiracies, and just a touch of romance.

We’re in the parking lot of a park. There are trees everywhere: cottonwoods, aspens, oaks, all in full green leaf, the grass bright. The air is hot and still. It smells like summer.

The last time I was outside, it was the dead of winter. I breathe, deep.

This. Oh God, this. I can’t go underground again.

I didn’t know much about this story before I read it. In fact, this was one of those books where I completely forgot to read the blurb first, so for that reason the plot surprised and delighted me. Tunnel Vision isn’t without its faults, however. This story requires a great deal of suspension of disbelief, and that was my main stumbling block as I was reading it. However, Jake’s voice and the imaginative idea of “tunneling” kept me flipping pages as fast as I could. For a young adult novel, the protagonist is older than normal, so keep that in mind if you are a teen reader or someone who recommends books to teens. Jake is eighteen, a senior in high school, and is about to go off to college. His language is salty to say the least, so if F-bombs aren’t your thing, this might not be the right story for you.

However, I love that this story will most likely appeal to male readers in particular, and as a parent of a teen boy who is a very reluctant and picky reader, more stories like Tunnel Vision are sorely needed. Jake is a happy but driven senior whose biggest challenges are trying hard to get into Stanford and finding the courage to talk to Rachel, the girl he has a crush on. Jake has an unusual ability to clearly see the exact location of anyone in the world, as long as he is holding a personal object of that person in his hand. He calls his ability “tunneling,” and he’s kept it mostly a secret for his entire life.

But one night at a party, Jake gets drunk and unintentionally reveals his talent to everyone in the room. Unbeknownst to him, one of the girls at the party is a spy, and before long, Jake notices an odd car that seems to be following him. Soon after, he finds himself a virtual prisoner at a secret underground facility called DARPA, where he is put through a variety of tests to see how far his ability can go. The mysterious Dr. Liesel Miller and Eric Proctor convince Jake that he is “doing good” by using his tunneling ability to locate missing persons, hostages, and even suspected terrorists.

But it isn’t long before Jake realizes everyone is lying to him, and he sets out to discover the truth about DARPA’s real intentions. What follows is a thrilling adventure story full of intrigue and danger, and at the heart of it all, a boy’s search to get back the life he’s lost.

Adrian’s idea of tunneling isn’t necessarily original, but she’s taken the idea of holding an object and psychically gleaning information from it and flipped it on its ass. Just think about the things you could do with this ability, both good and bad. At first, Jake feels good about helping hostage victims or finding lost children, but he’s also made to tunnel into people like terrorists or children being forced to make bombs. The thought is that the outcome of being able to locate these people is a good thing, as his captors continue to remind him. I loved the double-edge sword that is Jake’s tunneling ability. He constantly struggles throughout the story about whether he’s doing the right thing, and luckily there is never a clear answer to his dilemma.

One of my favorite characters was Jake’s sister Myka, a super-smart twelve-year-old who goes to a special school for genius kids. Since their father died two years ago in a plane crash, Jake and Myka have become extremely close, and Jake has a special connection with her that relates to his tunneling. I loved Myka’s endearing combination of spunk and vulnerability. She loves her family above all else and is fiercely loyal to them. I also adored Jake’s Russian grandpa who he calls “Dedushka.” He’s got some secrets of his own and is one of the few people Jake can trust. I’m dying to tell you more about him, but I don’t want to spoil the story!

There’s a romance between Jake and a girl at school named Rachel, but it’s almost more of an afterthought. Rachel’s character wasn’t developed enough for my tastes, and she’s more or less relegated to the stereotypical “girl friend” role. Honestly, I would have loved the story even if she hadn’t been part of it.

My “suspension of disbelief” issue lies in the overly dramatic reactions of the DARPA characters, who treat Jake as if he is the country’s biggest secret asset, and they will do anything to keep him under their control. I get that his tunneling ability could be potentially dangerous if he were to get nabbed by the wrong people. But when the guns and handcuffs came out, I had a hard time believing such things would happen to an eighteen-year-old. Another thing that sort of bothered me was that through Jake, we get to peek into the minds of the people he’s seeing, but we’re never told anything else about them. Why is a woman handcuffed to a chair and being threatened with a knife? And whatever happened to her after that? We’re merely observers for a brief moment, and I wanted more information on these mysterious people.

But don’t let this deter you from reading Tunnel Vision. Some of my reactions to the dramatic parts of the book could be age-related, but for teen readers, this book is one hell of a ride. Adrian knows how to combine action and excitement with a wonderfully genuine family dynamic, all in one page-turner of a story.

Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. Above quote was taken from an uncorrected proof, and may differ in the final version of the book.

Find Tunnel Vision:

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About the author:

susan adrianSusan Adrian is a 4th-generation Californian who somehow stumbled into living in Montana. As a child she danced in a ballet company and read plays dramatically to blackberry bushes. Later she got a degree in English from the University of California Davis and worked in the fields of exotic pet-sitting, clothes-schlepping, and bookstore management. She’s settled in, mostly, as a scientific editor. When she’s not hanging out with her husband and daughter, she keeps busy researching spy stuff, learning Russian, traveling, and writing more books. Tunnel Vision is her first novel.

Find Susan:  Author Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr |Blog

Want to win your own copy of Tunnel Vision? Simply fill out the Rafflecopter below. This giveaway is sponsored by the publisher, and therefore is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only. Good luck!

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Filed under Blog Tours, Giveaways, Reviews