Because you can't judge a book by its cover

Monthly Archives: April 2011

Johnny Marco, a simple cobbler, from Cloaked by Alex Flinn wishes his life was more exciting. He spends every day after school and during the summer working at his family owned shoe repair shop in the luxurious hotel Coral Reef Grand in South Beach. Johnny’s father left when he was two and he works to support his mother. His life changes immensely when the partying princess from Aloria comes to town and stays in the posh hotel. Johnny accepts the Princess Victoriana’s challenge of chasing down her brother (who has been turned into a frog by the evil witch Sieglinde). In return for finding the Prince of Aloria, the Princess gives Johnny $10,000 and promises to marry him. Johnny embarks on a magical journey with only the magic earpiece, the magic cloak, and the lucky ring given to him by his best friend Meg. The magic earpiece allows him to talk to animals that were once humans. The cloak allows Johnny to travel anywhere in the world as long as he wished for it. But you had to be very specific, because the magic cloak had a sense of humor, like dumping Johnny into garbage cans on a regular basis. Johnny encounters many dangers, many used-to-be’s (animals that once were humans), two giants, and one evil witch throughout his quest. Johnny also learns a lot about himself including discovering who his one true love is. Johnny also has to make many life changing decisions throughout the course of his quest. By listening to his new animal friends that are used-to-be’s, Johnny embarks on his own personal journey to find out who he really is and what he wants with his life.

I really liked how quickly Cloaked progressed. I was enthralled with the plot right from the beginning and I loved how quickly the different characters developed. Each character and their personality were needed to further the plot in the right direction. I also enjoyed how many different fairy-tales Alex Flinn was able to incorporate into this one complex novel. Parts of the story were very predictable, but overall the plot was unique. Many of the chapters started with a quote from one of the fairytales incorporated in to the plot. I really enjoyed the quotes, because it showed a little bit more of where the story is coming from. I also enjoyed the story because the fairy-tales that were incorporated are not the most common ones, so it was interesting to read some of the little known fairytales. The ending of Cloaked came as a slight surprise to me, but I won’t reveal why for fear of ruining the end for some of you future readers of this novel.

You can read an excerpt here.

Rating: 

Content: 

Title: Cloaked

Author: Alex Flinn

Format: Paperback

Page Nos.: 352

ISBN: 978-0060874223

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: February 2011

Reviewer: Jillian

 

The Denver Post has a great article on the 10 ways that digital books are changing our literary lives. Most of it is about the ability of digital readers to connect with one another and immediately share their thoughts about books.

I was sad to see that Romantic Suspense author Beverly Barton passed away. She is the author of 58 books from Harlequin and you can find out more information about her books here.

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books posted a list of Victorian Novels they recommend and by Victorian Novels they mean novels written during that time period, not set in that time period. The best part is they are all available to read free online because they part of the public domain. More books to add to my TBR pile.

As many of you know, I am a Kindle owner. I LOVE my Kindle and have found some amazing authors through the free books they give away. One of the places I find great free or cheap Kindle reads is Pixel of Ink. I am excited to share that Pixel of Ink has launched Inspired Reads where they will post free or discounted Christian fiction Kindle books.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen celebrated its 200 Year Anniversary this year. In honor I am going to watch the BBC version of the film (like I really need an excuse to rewatch this great film)!

A new site has been launched from the creators of Tor.com and HeroesandHeartbreakers.com, Criminal Element.com. A publisher neutral site dedicated to discussing Thrillers, Mysteries, and Crime novels in all their forms.

Heroes and Heartbreakers has posted about what to read when you hate vampires. I know that there are those readers out there who are tired of the vampires so this is the post for you. :)

Penguin has launched Book Country, a site where you can read, review and interact with authors and other readers. At the Book Bloggers & Publishers Online Conference that I recently attended I got to hear one of the publicist from Penguin describe the website, if you are interested in being a part of the book writing process this is the site for you.

Amazon has announced it will launch a Kindle Lending Library to allow readers to borrow books from their local libraries and read them on their Kindles. About time!

Giveaways:

Read Me Bookmark Me is giving away a large selection of YA novels, contest ends May 5th.

The Story Siren is celebrating her 1 Millionth visitor by giving away six advance reader copies of books, contest ends May 6th.

Mundie Moms is giving away two signed give aways, contest ends May 24th.

Carina Press at Here Be Dragons is celebrating all things Steampunk by having a give away all week.

Romantic Crush Junkies is giving away three copies of Joanne Kennedy’s Cowboy Fever, contest ends May 1st.

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Free Reads:

Lori Foster has posted an excerpt from When You Dare.

Madeline Hunter has posted an excerpt from Dangerous in Diamonds.

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Finally, they have released the trailer for The Help, I am excited to see this when it comes out in August.

Novel Reaction is pleased to welcome James LePore  here to tell us a little more about his novel,  A World I Never Made.

I practiced law for twenty-five years before retiring in 1999 to write and take pictures. My photography can be seen here.

I have written a number of works of short fiction that have evolved from my novels. After each novel was completed, its characters continued to live in my head, telling me, it seemed, that they wanted to go on living on the page. The stories that grew out of A World I Never Made will be published in February, 2011, in a volume entitled, Anyone Can Die. My second novel, Blood of My Brother, is available now at amazon and all other online booksellers.

 

I knew when I was writing A World I Never Made, my first novel, that in-depth character development would have to give way to pace and plotting, the two key elements of the suspense/thriller genre. I did not know that I would get the chance, after the final draft was handed in, to expand on my characters in the trio of short stories that ultimately came to comprise Anyone Can Die. When I was given that chance, all of the non-essential thoughts and notes and back stories that I had relegated to a sort of literary limbo over the twelve months it took to write A World I Never Made, began suddenly clamoring for my attention. An attention I was happy to give them.

I turned first to Lorrie Nolan, who died at the age of twenty—twenty-nine years before the novel begins—while giving birth to Megan and leaving her twenty-one-year-old husband Pat (World’s two central characters) devastated, so devastated that he pretty much abandoned Megan until she was a teenager. Lorrie is only mentioned in passing in the novel, but she is flesh and blood in Till Death Do Us Part, on her honeymoon with Pat—raw and wildly in love—in New Mexico. My purpose in writing the story was to give the reader a deeper understanding of Pat’s loss, and therefore of his motives, both in abandoning Megan when she was a child and in desperately pursuing her across Europe as World unfolds.

It was my love for Megan Nolan, not an elucidation of motive, that drove me to write God’s Warriors. Though she would deny it, Megan’s heart was not all black, not completely hardened by the cards life had dealt her. Her decision to help a young girl who has been terribly abused, but to absent herself completely from the girl’s life while doing so, will give the reader an insight into the things buried in Megan’s heart, the things that force their way out when she has to make much more momentous decisions—life and death decisions—in the novel.

Max French, an eccentic FBI agent, also pursues Megan across Europe in A World I Never Made, falling in love with her, from a distance, along the way. What made him so quirky, and why did he fall in love with the women he pursued without ever really meeting or getting to know them? The answers are to be found in the two events in Max’s early life around which Anyone Can Die’s third story, Max, revolve. Max is a man with a past, and a big secret; to my mind exactly the kind of flawed but fearless soldier we want in the front lines of the post-9/11 battles we are fighting at home and all over the world.

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Thank you James for stopping by. You can read Novel Reaction’s review of A World I Never Made here.

Novel Reaction is excited to welcome author Josi Kilpack as part of her blog tour!

Josi S. Kilpack hated to read until her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond when she was 13. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and accredits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began writing her first novel in 1998 and never stopped. Her novel, Sheep’s Clothing won the Whitney Award 2007 for Mystery/Suspense and her most recent book, Devil’s Food Cake, is the third book in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery Series. Josi currently lives in Willard Utah with her husband, four children, one dog, and varying number of chickens.

Like many readers, and writers, I have a few key books that stand out above others. As I reflect on what those books were for me, it’s interesting to see how they relate to the journey I’ve taken from reluctant reader to writing novels of my own.

GARFIELD, by Jon Davis: As a child, my mom took us to the library as religiously as she took us to church (that would be weekly).  She was a voracious reader and she, of course, encouraged us to love books as well. Alas, I did not love books. There was always something better to do. To pacify her, however, I checked out Garfield. They were the only books I was interested in, at least until The Far Side started publishing comic books as well. Certainly, the literary value of these books were minimal, however, I enjoyed them and I think that enjoyment was a key point in my personal development.

THE DANGEROUS YEAR, by Era Zistel: In the third grade I found this book on the shelves of the school library. I still had no interest in books but we had to check something out. I believe this was the last book on the fiction shelf and it had skunks on the cover. I didn’t like to read anything, but if I had to read, I preferred to read about animals due to the fact that people were so uninteresting. The Dangerous Year was about a family of skunks, most of whom get killed off over the course of a year, hence the title of the book. I really liked the story so I checked it out nearly every week for 3rd and 4th grade. This was an important part of my journey because it was the first book I ever loved. It didn’t cross my mind that I might love other books as well, but it was a good start.

THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND, Elizabeth George Speare: In 7th grade I put off a book report until the night before it was due. I didn’t like books, and I thought all the stuff the teacher wanted us to write about was stupid. Symbolism, characterization, story arc meant nothing to me, but my parents were teachers and I couldn’t get zeros. At home, after failing to get my mom to help me by using the book she was currently reading, she handed me a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond and assured me I would not only like it but that I would be able to read it that afternoon and turn the book report in the next day. I thought she was a danged liar, but I had no other options so I pouted to my room and accepted the miserable experience ahead of me. Well, it turned out my mom was right—I did read it and I did like it. Beyond that, I realized that a book could completely capture me, if I let it. This was a pinnacle day for me and broke me out of my determination not to like reading—other than a few select books here and there—and showed me that through a good story I could be transported. I finally understood why my mom read so much. I finally understood what it meant to become part of the story.

HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD NOVEL, by James Frey: Fast forward a decade and I’d read thousands of books. I was as voracious as my mother was and we had hot dogs for dinner a lot because I needed to read just one more chapter. During a difficult pregnancy I started writing what I thought would be a short story while on bed rest. I had played around with another story a few years earlier, but never thought about publishing it. I didn’t think about publishing this one either until friends encouraged me to do so and I decided why not. I mean, I wrote a BOOK, that must mean I’m some kind of genius, right? It was inspired, it was perfect, it was my way of blessing the whole world with my brilliance! Or not. After a few rejections I realized there was more to publishing a book than simply writing the story. So I went to the library looking for books on writing. I found Frey’s book and was amazed at how much I didn’t know I didn’t know. This book led to other books on writing which provided my education on how to write a book. I’d been learning about structure and characters for years through the books I read, but now I knew how to do it myself. I used the skills I learned and rewrote my book. A year and a half later, it was published.

HARRY POTTER, by J.K. Rowling: I heard about the series for years before I picked it up. It was a kid’s book, and I didn’t read kid’s books, not even when I was a kid myself. I was happy for Rowling’s success, but it did not grab my attention until a friend of mine, who also didn’t read kid’s books, told me how good it was. I decided to give it a try, but bought the paper book version for $7 so I didn’t invest too much in something I was still pretty sure held little interest in me. I finished the first book in a day, and by the end of the week had spent $80 on the next four books in the series. I couldn’t believe I liked it so much, so I dissected the story, the characters, and the setting in my head, focusing on those things that stood out to me. In the process I found flaws in the story and the writing (as always happens when you’re reading critically) and yet, overall, I still loved the books. This was an important day for me because I realized how much I had learned to the point where I could critique someone else’s work. Being able to critique someone else meant I could critique myself. My writing improved because of this, and I waited in line for every other book in the series as soon as it came out.

LEMON TART, by Josi Kilpack: I realize it’s very arrogant for me to use my own book, but I can’t give a fair view of my lifetime relationship with books and leave this one out. It was the first book in my Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series, but wasn’t written with that intention. I wrote the first chapter for a contest I didn’t win, but I loved the story. I loved Sadie and after writing several books in my faith based market, I was ready to try my hand at a mainstream novel. I worked on it for a few years before presenting it to my publisher. I wasn’t sure they would want it, seeing as how it was so different than my other books, but they loved it and I realized I was entering a whole new level of writing, promotion, and overall storytelling. I’d become comfortable where I was, but suddenly there was a whole new world of writing for me to explore.

DEVIL’S FOOD CAKE, by Josi Kilpack: Okay, not I’m really coming across as arrogant. Sheesh. But, the fact is that this book was a big deal in terms of my journey. Lemon Tart had done really well, as had the second book in the series, but Devil’s Food Cake amplified the series into an actual SERIES. Suddenly, it seemed more real and with the great reviews of the earlier books my confidence in the future books grew even more.

And so, here I am three books into an eight book series and working hard every day to rise to the challenge of it all. I’m also a mom of four kids and encourage them to not just read, but to read what they love in hopes that whatever their journey may be, they might find books to be a worthy companion, helpmate, and vacation as they go.

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Thanks Josi for stopping by and sharing some of your favorite books. I also devoured Garfield comic books when I was younger.

 

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Why Ratings?
It is true you can't judge a book by its cover, you also can't judge a book's graphic content by its cover. NovelReaction's goal is to provide readers with a graphic content so they can make an informed decision regarding the books they want to read. (Also, to have a great place for people to discuss books.) So sit back, pull up a beverage, and read on!
Graphic Ratings*

1 = kissing
2 = kissing, some fondling
3 = descriptive stripping but no sex
4 = sex scene but not descriptive in details
5 = full descriptive sex scene

*I am rating a specific book by an author, not the author's style. If I am aware an author writes a specific way, I will let you know.

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