Monday, May 30, 2011

In My Mailbox: BEA Edition

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. The idea is to share what books you got your hands on in the last week. This week was huge, because this week was BEA and the Book Blogger Convention. I was only in the exhibit hall for one day and I walked away with so many cool books. Some are books that I never would have picked up otherwise, and I've come to find that some of the best books are the ones you just happen upon. My favorite grab of the week? The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater- I already read it and seriously, WOW.I loved it. Review to come soon. Until then, check out my ridiculous IMM for this week!

Monday, May 23, 2011

In My Mailbox 5-22-11

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. The idea is to share what books you got your hands on in the last week. Again, it's been a few weeks since I last did an IMM, mostly because not alot came rolling in for me. Thi week however was insane with books from the library. I have 7 to share on this IMM and then just today 2 more books came in! Plus this week is BEA, so if all goes as planned there will be many, many more books to share next week :)

My Ramblings on Shelby and Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes by P.H.C. Marchesi

Shelby and Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes
: P.H.C. Marchesi
Release Date: March 18, 2011
Author Website


Shelby Kitt never gets lost. Shauna, his sister, never gets sick. As far as most people are concerned, the inseparable Kitt twins are odd 13-year-olds. No one, however - not even Shelby and Shauna - can guess how extraordinary they are until the vice consul of Miriax, a planet from another dimension, asks them to take part in a dangerous mission. From that moment on, Shelby and Shauna Kitt discover that the universe is full of klodians, cities in jungles, giant bats, and tea with mushrooms. Most of all, they discover that it will take more than special powers for them to face - and survive - the evil that threatens the galaxy.

My Ramblings:

First I have to say that this poor book has been waiting to be read for months. I recieved a copy from the author and then school got horribly busy then suddenly it was finals and at last I had a 2 week break to read- so this review is a long time coming. This is another book that I probably never would have picked up on my own, it's not my usual reading fare, but I've come to find out that there are so many great books out there if you get lucky enough to stumble upon them. This is just one more of those good book finds!

There were a few little things that I struggled with in this book. For starters, well, the start of the book. In the beginning I was eager to find out about Shelby and Shauna and what these dimensional holes were, but they were nowhere to be found. Instead we are introduced to Marina (a disgraced scientist/engineer) and shortly thereafter we meet Lendox, our first look at an alien from Miriax. All of this introductory stuff seemed low to me, especially compared to the ret of the book. I also had some issues with all the Mariaxian names, which all end with an "x"- while I thought this was a great device to use, you knew right away when something was related to Miriax, at times I felt like I was confusing people or things because the names began to run together for me. Again, these things aren't huge, and other readers might not even be bothered by them, but for me they were little bits that got in the way at points.

That being said, the rest of the book was so much fun! Shelby and Shauna are pretty typical loaners. Not really popular and a bit odd, they stick together against bullies and bad guys and even interdimensional baddies. Their relationship was good to see, I've been liking these family adventures lately, where there isn't one big hero, but instead a group effort in the whole good conquering evil, save the world adventures. I also liked that the powers they discover are awesome, but not so otherworldly that they are not relatable. While we might not all be able to fly a plane on the first try like Shelby, or heal the sick without any training like Shauna, these are skills and jobs that we can aspire too. We can learn to be a pilot or a doctor and save the world in our way. (maybe not form Klodian... although you never know...)

The other place that Marchesi shines in in world building and the explanation of the science behind these interdimensional holes. Not being a scientist myself, I can't really attest to how likely any of it might be, but as a sci-fi geek, I have to admit that I am totally digging the idea that there are other planets out there, in other dimension who wee need to survive. That the balance of power and energy must be maintained for all to survive. Admittedly, I found the idea that the Miriaxan' feed off positive energy and the Klodians feed off the negative energy on earth a but silly, especially at the start, but as it went along I found that it didn't really bother me and that Marchesi wove that idea into the story well, so it worked.

In the end this is a really fun read that has adventure, humor and a few hidden messages about the power of positivity that are worth considering. While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I suspect that the intended audience (MG) will enjoy it even more!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Happy Release! The Tender Mercy of Roses by Anna Michaels

The Tender Mercy of Roses
: Anna Michaels
Release Date: May 2011
Author Website

(from book cover):
When the body of rodeo star Pony Jones is discovered in the northern Alabama woods, it is Pony's spirit- invisible to the eye but not to the sixth sense- that helps reveal clues to her murder. Pulled together in a whirlwind mystery of intense emotion and unexpected encounters are her grief-stricken father, Titus, bent on retribution; and Jo Both Dawson, a hard-drinking former detective new to town, who feels an otherworldly connection with the dead woman- and an irresistible compulsion to uncover the truth. What the unlikely partners do find is more shocking then murder itself: long-buried family secrets that will bring them to search their souls for redemption...and tie the three of them closer then they could imagine.

My Ramblings:
I reviewed this book way back in January (see review here)and more recently I re-read it in anticipation of the release. I have to say, I liked it better the second time! This time I felt like I was able to appreciate some of the more subtle moments in the book, where as th first time I was really eager to get to the end to find out how the mystery of the book would be resolved. This time I was able to really just enjoy the journey!

So I have to say HAPPY RELEASE WEEK to Anna Michaels on this great book!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Ramblings on Slow Burn by EB Walters

Slow Burn
By E.B. Walters
Release Date: May 1, 2011
Author Website
Blog Tour Hosted By: Forbidden Reviews


She doesn’t want to deal with the past...

Ten years ago, Ashley Fitzgerald witnessed the death of her parents in a tragic fire and blocked the memory. She pretends to have moved on, is a successful artist and photographer, until the morning she opens her door to a stranger she assumes is a model and asks him to strip to his briefs .

He wants to expose the truth....

Wealthy businessman Ron Noble has the body, the jet, the fast cars and the women, but he hides a deadly secret. His father started the fire that killed Ashley’s parents. Now someone is leaving him clues that could exonerate his father and they lead to Ashley’s door. Blindsided by the blazing attraction between them and a merciless killer silencing anyone who was there the night of the fire, Ron dare not tell Ashley the truth. Yet the answer he seeks may very well tear them apart.

While a demented arsonist...SLOW BURN(s)...and plots his ultimate revenge

My Ramblings:

When I saw this book come up for blog tour I was interested right away. Based the summary I recieved (the same one provided here) I wanted to know more. Slow Burn combines some elements that I like- action, mystery and romance. I liked the idea that there are two people, Ron and Ashley, who are still realing from the loss of family members (in the same fire), and who both want answers. I was really intrigued by how their relationship would work, because they are, at the very heart of it, using eachother for their own ends. Still, when you are dealing with really personal issues, like love and loss and family, and you find someone who really understands how you feel, it's hard to not form a bond. So how would that play out? You are working with eachother, but agaist eachother. You are using eachother, but are drawn to eachother. It could be really interesting stuff.

Unfortunately there was alot about this book that didn't work for me. I had to reread several passages to make sure I had the plot right and the character relationships right. Even after a few re-reads I wasn't entirely sure I knew what was going on. There were also a lot of secrets floating around and there were times when I'd notice that the secret had been revealed to the characters, but not ot the reader. It wasn't anything earth shattering, but it was enough to take me out of the story and that's never a good thing.

I'm generally forgiving on errors in books, and with an ARC (which this was) I'm even more so. I expect a few mishaps here and there and for the most part ignore them. However, here, the errors were to plentiful to ignore. The book was riddled with grammar, formatting and spelling issues, so many that I found it hard to get into a groove with this story. I assume that these will all be cleaned up in the final published copy, but I felt it worth noting here because these issues directly impacted my overall feelings on this book, and I'd be remiss if I didn't explain myself clearly on all fronts.

So, in the end how is this book? I'd say that it's has a good concept and plot idea. I honestly feel like the story could do with a good once over and some clarifying and tightening up, and the technical issues absolutely have to be fixed for it to really have a chance.

The Stylish Blogger Award

Check me out! Thanks to the fabulous Darby Karchut who gave me the Stylish Blogger Award, and now I must pass it on. It's hard to pick just seven (and I have to omit Eve's Fan Garden, because despite the awesomeness of EFG, it'd be kind of like giving myself an award, right?) So here goes, I love these 7 blogs and visit them all the time, to check out their reviews, scope out new books and particpate in memes!

Forbidden Reviews
Reading Lark
Page Turners
Mundie Moms

The Broke & The Bookish
Once Upon a Twilight

Now, seeing as this is how this award works, here are 7 things about me that you might not know...

1. I love to horse back ride, and still harbor dreams of being a successful barrel racer and/or rodeo queen (I may have aged out of that last one though...)

2. I've been dancing since I was three years old and most recently learned how to dance Salsa.

3. I have three tattoos and want more (lots, lots more)

4. I also had my eyebrow pierced, although that came to a tragic end when it was ripped out during a very intensive dance rehearsal...

5. I've attended 7 different colleges/universities, next May I will finally emerge with my Masters.

6. One of my favorite things to do is take wildlife photography, although in Upstate New York I'm limited to the occassional wild squirrel sighting.

7. I'm curretnly working on two different writing projects (while going to grad school!), both are, not surprisingly, set in the West and involve horses.

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Ramblings on Ravenwild by Peter J. Plasse

By: Peter J. Plasse

Returning home from another grueling shift of E.R. work, Dr. Blake Lee Strong comes across a downed motorcyclist and stops to help, but little does he know that his world and that of his family will soon be turned upside down. Duped into being transported to another planet called Inam'Ra, Dr. Strong and his family are thrust into a medieval world populated by Trolls, Gnomes, Elves, Dwarves, Humans and other alien beings. An epic odyssey begins as the Strong family fights for not only their own survival, but also for the continued existence of the citizens of Ravenwild.

My Ramblings:

This was a really good book that I held on to for way to long before jumping into. Admittedly, fantasy is not my usual fare, but when I was contacted to review this book I decided to give it a go. I'm really glad I did. It took me a little bit to get into the world and find my groove, but once I did I found myself really enjoying both the characters and the story that Plasse presents. It's fast paced and has a huge cast of characters, although it is easy to follow, and each characters is there for a reason. Plasse weaves the story together and manages to pack in fantasy, romance, mystery and action without it seeming overly complicated. At 494 pages it is a bit long, so this won't be your one-nighter, but it's worth taking the time and giving it a read.

One of my least favorite things that happens in MG and YA is the trend towards having main characters without parents or with dead beat parents. I was really excited to read a book that was about the whole family! This was such a change from so many other books I've read recently and I thought that it was really well done. Each member of the family had a purpose for being there and they functioned well seperately, but it was always clear that they were a close knit group and even when apart they were a united front of sorts.

Lastly, I want to point out the great drawings that are included in this book. Done by Mike Longenecker they are spread out through the book and add in a little something extra to the story. Part of the fun of reading is to imagine the world that the author creates, here we get a little peak into how they envision it. Done as black and white sketches, they are simple, which is perfect for this story. They add to the story without distracting from it. My favorite illustration comes from fairly early on in the book and is of the trolls breaching the wall- there is so much detail in the drawing that it really brings the story to life!

Overall this is a good book and if you are a fan of fantasy, then this is a great one to pick up!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

In My Mailbox 5-8-11

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. The idea is to share what books you got your hands on in the last week. It's been a few weeks since I last did an IMM, mostly because I had ALOT of work for school, plus very few books came in (which, for the sake of the school work was probably a good thing). So here's what I got over the past few weeks.

Chime by Franny Billingsley

Won or For Free (from conferences):
Possessed by Kate Cann
Buffalo Unbound by Laura Pederson
Attachements by Rainbow Rowell

The Latte Rebellion by Sarah J. Stevenson (debut author)
The Great Wall of Lucy Wu bu Wan-Long Shang (debut author)
Temptation by Jude Deveraux

Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Ramblings on Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

By: Cynthia Hand
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Author Website

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

My Ramblings:

So, fair warning, this post is going to go slightly off topic. I won't be able to help myself, so beware. Let's get to it.

This book was wonderful, I'd put it at the top of my list for 2011 so far. And to think, I almost didn't read it. It came in from the library, got pushed aside when it was time for finals and suddenly my three weeks was up and it was time for Unearthly to go back. Luckily at the last minute I renewed and at last I began to read.

In theory, this is a pretty simple storyline. Girl, Clara, discovers she is something other, something special (in this case an Angel). Her mother, who is also an angel, doesn't tell her everything she knows, so Clara feels a bit lost, but determined to fulfill her purpose. Her visions bring her ever closer to solving the puzzle of what she is meant to do with her abilities. What I really liked about Clara was that even though she was clueless about alot of her powers and the history of angels, she was not ever a damsel in distress. She was confident and independent and unique but without being the outsider. She has great friends and her family is fairly well adjusted. For all intents and purposes, she is the everygirl. She crushes on the hot guy (Christian) and falls for the good guy (Tucker), and even though she becomes the silly-girl in love for a bit (didn't we all at one point, that's what first loves do), she never loses herself to it. When it's time to chose to follow her visions or her heart, she hesitates, but in the ends makes the decision on her own and is ready for the consequences of that choice. It's really well done.

The boys and Clara's friends in this book are great as well. On the friend side we have Wendy who is a normal Wyoming girl, rides horses and wants to be a vet and then we have Angela, a emo girl who knows more then Clara about the world of angels. Both girls are loyal friends who stick with Clara through thick and thin. These are the kind of friends we all want, and that someone like Clara needs. As for the boys, well, without a doubt I'm a Tucker fan. He's Wendy's twin, hard working, and a real cowboy. Little moments with him resonate the most, where you see beneath the sarcastic comments to the type of guy he is, which in the end is just an honest to goodness great guy. Christian is the golden boy, not a bad guy, but as Mr. Popular he's a bit out of Clara's league, although as he is part of Clara's vision, and the reason they moved to Jackson Hole, they are linked together. Plus, Christian has a bit of a secret too that is a game changer for Clara. Watching Clara navigate these relationships is great. How do you balance your purpose (Christian) against your heart (Tucker)?

The book ends on a bit of a cliff hanger, but you still feel like there was a resolution. Instead it leaves you wanting more, wanting to know what happens next for Clara and Company.

Here we go with the real ramblings... get ready...

For those who know me, you know that my biggest pet peeve in the world is poor research. Within that peeve, there is a one bit that really, really kills me, and that's when an author sets her book in a real town and then proceeds to make the town so unrecognizable that it ruins the whole story. That destorys a book for me, so when I realized that Clara and her family were moving to Jackson Hole, WY I was excited and nervous. Would she do it right, or would the story self-destruct before my eyes? Authors, take note. This is how you do it. I go to Wyoming every other summer or so and no matter where I roam, Jackson Hole has become my home (point's if you know what song that's from). If I'm not in Wyoming often enough I say that I get the itch. I miss the mountains, the way the air smells when it's about to rain, the way the sun reflects off the Snake River. I miss the people and the wildlife and I miss the way I feel when I'm there. It's a hard thing to explain, but that area is part of me and to see it in this book was wonderful.

Hand included everything that I love. From the touristy pictures under the antler arches, to the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, The Pink Garter, Mountain High Pizza Pie, Snow King and even Crazy River Rafting (the actual rafting company is Mad River Rafting if you are wondering, but I've always been more a Barker-Ewing girl myself, so I'll let that one slide). Everything is spot on. Even when they leave town it's perfect. Flying over Jenny Lake (how fabulous would it be to leap off from Cascade Canyon and just glide?), to sunrise over the mountains and the view from Teton Pass. Even the tiny snippet in Yellowstone was there. If Hand had included a scene from my personal favorite Teton spot, Schwabacher's Landing, I wouldn't have been able to contain myself (I'm not certain I'm containing myself now...).

In short, I loved this book not only or the story, but because it felt like home. There was a familiarity that made me connect with the characters that much more. I'm not a religious person (to say the least) and angel books tend to put me off because they sometimes come off as preachy. Hand never does, this is simply a great story, with great characters, in a great setting. Plus, if you've ever stood in the misty morning, bundled in layers of clothes and watched the sunrise reflect off the Tetons, it's hard to deny you may have found yourself in heaven. So, Bravo Cynthia Hand, you accomplished what so many fail at, you made a world I know and love come to life on the page and next time I'm there I won't be able to resist looking upwards in hopes of seeing an angel glide by.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Creating a Believable World: Guest Post by Chris Rylander

A few weeks ago I reviewed The Fourth Stall, then I had the chance to interview the author Chris Rylander, and now we have a great geust post from the author as well! So sit back and enjoy!

Creating a Believable World

One of the key elements to writing a successful book (and by successful, I simply mean one that most of its readers will enjoy as opposed to commercial success) is creating a believable world where the story takes place. This is often given the most importance for fantasy or science fiction novels, which often take place in a world or future that is drastically different than what we live in now. For those stories, making this imaginary world feel real and believable is obviously critical since the reader will essentially need to be told everything they will have to know about that world or they’ll feel disconnected or lost.

I mean, if I want to set my next story on Pancake Planet, I can’t just say it takes place there a few times and expect the reader to know what Pancake Planet is like. Pancake Planet needs to be constructed for the reader on the pages in a believable way. You’ll need to know what makes Pancake Planet what it is and how it’s different from or similar to what the reader can already relate to. Is it inhabited by pancake people who like to lather themselves in syrup every morning and wear pads of butter as hats? Or do regular humanoids live there, and the planet itself is made of pancakes and even the houses are pancakes which creates problems because some of the characters are eating their own homes and then there is a drastic housing shortage on Pancake Planet? Or maybe Pancake Planet has nothing to do with pancakes at all, but instead is a magical place where Bacon People lord over the sad, weak and repressed Leafy-Green Folk? It doesn’t really matter, but what does matter is that whichever of these happens to be true, it needs to be established firmly and in a way that makes sense and is somewhat logical to the reader. So that it feels like a real environment, a real setting, even though it’s not. (But probably there is a real Pancake Planet. I’m pretty sure it’s out there, just chock of full pancake houses which I will someday consume.)

Anyway, where I’m going with all of this is to say that this isn’t only true for fantasy or science fiction novels, as can sometimes be the misperception. It’s also true for realistic contemporary stories. Even ones set in middle school, which most of us survived and can probably remember well, and therefore already relate to. In fact, it’s that’s very reason that the believability of your setting or world is almost more important for a contemporary middle grade story than it would need to be for a fantasy or sci-fi novel. Because if it feels phony for even a second, then pretty much every single reader will be able to identify that right away.

So that brings me to this question: How do you create a believable middle school world? (Something I’ve been told that The Fourth Stall does well.)

This is where is gets tricky. There are probably many ways it can be done and, as with everything, it’s mostly subjective. So all I can do is speak for my own experience in creating the school-world in which The Fourth Stall takes place. Essentially, for me, it came down to memory above all else. Constantly I was putting myself back into my own shoes as a 6th-8th grader… what did I worry about most? What did I like and not like about school? What did my friends like or not like about it? Who was my favorite teacher and why? What was the layout? How did that affect me?

This is just a tiny sample of the questions that were constantly whizzing through my head as I wrote The Fourth Stall. And because I’m not a teacher and don’t have any kids, I had to rely solely on my own memories of middle school. Other writers may be able to use their experiences as a school teacher or being a parent in conjunction with their memories. And that’s okay, too, of course. But they key is to use some sort of real and concrete frame of reference.

And the secret ingredient, I think, the thing that separates an adequate fictional school-world from a great one, is that it needs to feel slightly off or unrealistic in some way. I’ll try to explain: it won’t be as successful if you merely copy down what you remember thought for thought. You need to use those real memories and experiences as a foundation and then build on it with fiction, with your own unique spin. Make it as real as you can, and then tilt it, so it’s just a little bit off. Oftentimes when I’m reading a book, the dialogue and events that stick out to me as feeling the most realistic and believable are the ones that feel totally unique to the book. Lines that I’ve never heard anywhere else and that probably couldn’t exist anywhere but in that story and still feel quite so real. For a good example of what I mean, check out the opening pages of the book Burger Wuss by M.T. Anderson:, the first few pages contain one of my favorite conversations I’ve ever read in a book. It’s those slightly bizarre moments, occurring inside a world that was based on something real and concrete, that I think give a book or story an authentic feel. That bring the story to life in a unique but believable way.

More about the Author:

Goodreads Author Page

My Ramblings on Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris *NO SPOILERS*

Dead Reckoning
By: Charlaine Harris
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Author Website


With her knack for being in trouble's way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte's, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. But Sookie suspects otherwise and she and Sam work together to uncover the culprit - and the twisted motive for the attack. But her attention is divided. Though she can't 'read' vampires, Sookie knows her lover Eric Northman and his 'child' Pam well - and she realises that they are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master. Gradually, she is drawn into the plot -which is much more complicated than she knows. Caught up in the politics of the vampire world, Sookie will learn that she is as much of a pawn as any ordinary human - and that there is a new Queen on the board . . .

My Ramblings:

I want to start by saying that I'm not a huge fan of that summary (from Goodreads and Barnes and Nobles), but I couldn't find a better one, and unfortunately NookBooks don't come with the back cover info. I'm hoping that the hardcopy has a better description on it, because this one just didn't do the book justice. There is so much more going on in this book then is alluded to, and the new Queen it references is a such a small part of it all (although my suspicions are the next book will really look at her).

So with that out of the way, how did this book fare? Basically I loved it! There were a few things I wasn't down with, but in the grand scheme of the series, knowing we have a few more books headed are way, I thought it struck a good note. The main thing I didn't like was that the book really focused on Sookie and Eric (which is NEVER a bad thing), but the lack of some of the other characters left me feeling a bit empty. Where were Jason and Tara? Even though Bill was there, his part was small, and as much as I'm all over the Sookie/Eric relationship, I found myself missing Bill a bit. What the book did deal with, Sookie's fey relatives Dermot and Claude, the return of Sandra Pelt and her relationship with Eric and the blood ties and her place in the Vampire community was done really well. There was a lot of action, which was something I missed in the last book, and I liked seeing Sookie deal with how she felt about the world she was occupying. Mainly, she wants people dead (namely Victor), but isn't sure she should. What does that bit of blood lust say about her? I felt like she was finding her spot in this world finally.

Eric & Sookie together are my favorite of all the pairings (although I do love Alcide as well...)and I thought their relationship took a really great turn in this book. It seemed more, well, human. Eric is dealing with his emotions and so is Sookie, and it was fun to see them trying to figure it all out.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my all tome favorite character, who got a ton of play here, Pam. Like Eric, in this book we see a more human side to Pam as she deals with some of the drama and heartache surrounding her current girlfriend. I don't want to give anything away, but let's just say it's emotional and heartbreaking to see her not only trying to back Eric's play, bring down a King (or in this case Victor- Regent of Louisiana, and get the girl. We see her icy wall come fown a bit and it was really refreshing. Of course she was still kicking ass when need be, but the balance was perfect.

Bottom line on this book is that is was wonderful. I can't wait to see where it goes next and how Sookie will deal with the gifts she's been given and the choices she might have to make.

My Ramblings on A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

Game of Thrones
By: George RR Martin
Release Date: January 1, 2003
Author Website

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective wall. To the south, the King's powers are failing, and his enemies are emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the King's new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but also the kingdom itself. A heroic fantasy of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and evildoers who come together in a time of grim omens. The first volume in George Martin's series

My Ramblings:
I had not heard of these book prior to seeing the commercials for the HBO show after an episode of True Blood last summer. It seemed interesting, but not interesting enough for me to keep HBO after TB ended for the season. I admit that I regret that decision. As the run up to the series premier started I began to hear more and more about these books, on facebook and twitter, on EW and other blogs. At the prompting of a few friends I borrowed this book (the first in the A Song of Ice and Fire series)from the library. It was immediately apparent that this was not a book borrow. It was one to own. I didn't want to be rushed through finishing it, it wasn't a one nighter, it demanded to be read slowly and it made me think about each character and storyline. This book, in short, was captivating. I'm a sucker for High Fantasy (and not just for the sex- thanks for making that generalization New York Times- see here for more on that debocle) and Game of Thrones met the mark.

This post could probably go on for pages if I tried to comment on everything. At 787 pages, there is a lot her. There are a few quotes that stood out- one is the Stark motto "Winter is Coming" and the other is "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die". Those two quotes pretty much sum it up. Dark days are on their way, and everyone is preparing for not only the literal winter that is bearing down, but also war as the struggle to claim the throne begins in earnest. To be sure, everyone is playing the game in one way or another. They want the throne for themselves, their family or for a friend. There is castle intrigue, betrayals, love, lust, double crossing, swordplay and relationships that are forged by blood and by steel. I was struck by how Martin was not afraid to illustrate the idea that you either "win or die", where most would shy away from the death of major characters, Martin doesn't. I was shocked to see people I thought to be invincible (in a literary world) get discarded early and those who I had thought to be more secondary players survive to fight again another day. It kept me interested and it left me wanting more.

This is a great book, and I can't wait to grab the next in the series and see where it goes from here. As for the HBO show, I'm all over it as soon as it's available on Netflix (I know, it'll be a while), but for now I'll revel in the books and the world Martin created!