The sad truth about birthday

Yes. Birthday. Not BirthdayS. The fact of the matter is, I have come to accept the fact that Birthday Bash 2013 probably... won't happen. There's still time for ME to put it all together. After all, I have over 3 weeks to get it ready. However, I don't think that'd be fair to the authors. I usually contact them at the beginning of June, giving them over 2 months go answer my interview questions. I don't think it would be reasonable of me to give them just over 2 weeks. :(

I guess I just didn't realize how quickly the summer was getting away from me this year. *weeps*

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012

**Pivot Point-- Kasie West

Release Date: February 12th, 2013
Genre: Romance, Mystery, Supernatural/Superpower
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 343
Amazon Link*: Click here
Goodreads Page: Click here
Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

Review: I know that River already reviewed this and said pretty much all I am going to say. But I need to say it again: This book is amazing. It REALLY makes you think! First of all, I was not expecting it to be so... X-men like. I mean, they don't go around fighting bad guys, but they do have superpowers and go to a high school for people with super powers.

But that's not what makes this book truly amazing. The concept is just... so original. The idea that you can have two stories happening simultaneously to the same person is... mind blowing. Throw into that a murder mystery and some pretty cute boys, and you've got a winner.

One thing I especially loved was the rules that Kasie set up in the world. Although Addie can SEE the future, she understands that there really isn't anything she can do to CHANGE the future. There are so many uncontrollable details that go in to the future, that it's not like she says "I'll look at my future and if it sucks then I'll just fix it." This made for some great tension in the story. Ah! So much great tension!

The end of this book really blew me away. As in... I think pieces of my brain might still be scattered around from when my mind exploded. This book does not stick to standard romance conventions. Addie is forced to choose between her own happiness, and the happiness of others. And she might have to break some promises along the way. So good! If you want a more detailed/cohesive review, I would check out River's.

Other Reviews:

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2013
*I am an amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using my link, I will get a tiny fraction of the purchase, which goes toward contests.

TV Tuesday: Anime (1)

I mentioned before that I have recently REALLY gotten into anime. It's kind of taken up about 70% of my TV watching. Yes, there's a lot of crap out there, but there are some really good shows that are surprisingly deep. In fact, I have so much to say about them, that I think I'm going to do a few TV Tuesdays about anime, doing two shows each time. Today I'll feature two of the more popular series.

Fullmetal Alchemist & 
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
(The original series is also on Netflix!)

These shows take place in an alternate Germany-like world where the elite are "Alchemists." I love this series because alchemy is treated like a science, even though it looks like magic. Two brothers have used alchemy to try and bring their mother back to life. However, it is forbidden to use alchemy on humans, and the consequences of their actions are that the alchemy they use ends up taking away Edward's arm and leg, and Alphonse's entire body. In order to save him, Edward must bind Alphonse's soul to a suit of armor. The rest of the show details their journey to both regain their original bodies, and stop a sinister plot that could destroy the world. And yeah, it deserves to sound that dramatic.

These shows are interesting because there are two series (Fullmetal Alchemist, and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) that are not connected to each other. They are in that they have the same characters, and the first few episodes are the same, but they tell different stories. The first series (FMA) was produced while the manga (most animes are based off of a manga) was still being released. Eventually it surpassed the manga, and the story in the show and the story in the manga ended up diverging greatly.

Since the original anime was SO different from the manga, they decided to re-make the series and stay
exactly on the manga story. The result was Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

Both of these series are FANTASTIC. I would say that I like Brotherhood more than the original, but there are certain things about the original that I like more. You definitely need to watch the first one first. Because if you watch it after Brotherhood, you'll probably be disappointed in it.

This series made me laugh, cry, and scream. I'm fairly certain it is one of my favorite TV shows of all time, not just one of my favorite animes.

Fairy Tail

In this world, magic is not science. It's pure magic. This show take's place in a world where anyone can become a "wizard." And if you become a wizard, it is expected that you will join a guild. The guilds provide a fun atmosphere of equals, as well as giving you the opportunity to take on jobs and earn a living as a wizard. This show follows the members of the guild Fairy Tail (that's not a misspelling). This guild is known for extremely powerful wizards who are... not very subtle. If you ask a Fairy Tail wizard to find out who has been stealing radishes from your garden, chances are they'll burn down your entire city. But this motley crew is extremely lovable.

This series is what I call "happy fun times." If ever I need a show to pick me up, I watch this one. Because despite what may happen, the characters are always extremely loyal and extremely ridiculous. Even when this show makes me cry, I feel like I'm happy. This show is deep and intense at times, but I never really feel like it's dark.

Each storyline is probably 12 episodes long. The dub (meaning the English version) of this show is only about 40-50 episodes long. However, the original japanese version is something like 200 episodes long. Don't feel overwhelmed by that (it's not unheard of for an anime to get over 100 episodes, since they are based on books), if you just want to watch a few arcs, you totally can. And I don't like to watch the shows in Japanese, so I've only seen the English ones.

Of all the anime I've watched, this is the world that I would actually want to live in. In fact, of any book I've read this is probably the world I'd want to live in. It's just that fun.

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012

Alexander Gordon Smith Blog Tour!

Today I am very pleased to host the amazing Alexander Gordon Smith! Gordon has written the fabulous horror series: Escape from Furnace and the more recent The Fury (NOTE: The Fury is NOT the same series as the Furnace books. It is a different story all together).  Here he is talking about a topic that I find particularly fascinating (and apparently he did too! This guest post is LONG!)! There's a giveaway at the bottom!

How to write horrible things without being a horrible person
By Alexander Gordon Smith

Hi Enna, thanks so much for inviting me onto your blog to talk about The Fury, it’s awesome to be here!!

I think those exclamation marks and that smiley face are the perfect introduction to what I wanted to talk about today. It’s funny, as when I meet people who have read my books they are often quite surprised. A common reaction is something along the lines of, ‘Oh, you’re quite nice in real life, I thought you’d be a horrible, furious serial killer or something.’ The irony is that even though I’m the author of The Fury, I can’t imagine a less furious person than myself!

The same can be said for most of the horror authors I know. They all seem to be extremely content, affable, good-natured and, if anything, a little shy. There’s not one monster amongst them (well, not in public anyway, who knows what anyone is like behind closed doors)! It’s an interesting point, because you’d have thought that in order to write some of the horrible things that we do, you’d have to be a horrible person, or at least have horrible thoughts. In reality, though, I think it’s completely the opposite. I think that for some reason, people who write horror tend to be some of the nicest people in the world. And I think it’s horror that makes us so nice.

It has taken me a while to think about why this might be, and I guess the obvious answer is that by writing horror we get something out of our system. If we’re upset, we take it out on our stories. I know that’s definitely the case with me. Ever since I started writing, when I was very young, I wrote as a form of therapy (although I had no idea this was the case when I was younger, I just knew it made me feel better). If I was upset, or scared, or frustrated, or anxious, or lonely, I would sit down and write something. These somethings were almost always horror, and they were pretty horrific!

I don’t remember too many of them, and most have sadly been lost along the way. But one that I do vividly remember is a story I wrote at school, when I was about thirteen and having a bad time with some of my teachers. I penned a gratuitously gory short story about a serial killer who murdered them all! I didn’t pull any punches, and some of my teachers died in unspeakably horrific ways. I remember my English teacher pulling me out of class when she had marked it, and asking me – quite concerned – if everything was okay at home, and whether I needed to see the school counsellor (she did give me an A, although whether it was because it was a good story, or she was the only one who didn’t die in it, or she was just terrified of me after that, I’ll never know). What I should have said in reply, but what I didn’t really understand at the time, is that I didn’t need to see the counsellor because I had my own silent form of therapy.

I can’t say whether writing those stories made me a happier person – it was too long ago now. But I’m
pretty sure it did. Writing gave me a form of power, gave me ownership over my own life at a time – my teenage years – when life really felt like it was spinning out of control. I mean, I wasn’t a particularly unhappy kid. I had a great childhood, a loving family, less friends than most but they were great friends. Apart from a couple of blips, it was a dream. But no matter what your circumstances, everyone’s adolescence is a weird and often scary time. I remember being angry a lot. That anger is where the inspiration for Brick in The Fury came from. In fact, it has been the inspiration for so much of what I write – one of the core themes of the Furnace books was anger, and how it changes us. Thinking back, though, I was always angry before I wrote. I never remember being angry afterwards. It allowed me to channel my emotions, to focus that churning, howling mass of teenage angst into something else, something I had an element of power over. Seeing those characters battling their problems, and knowing that their solutions came from my own head, let me know that however bad things seemed I had what it took to overcome, to survive.

Writing still is a form of catharsis for me. I know for a fact that the times I don’t write are the times I get most stressed, most angry, most irritable. If I go a long time without writing – something that has happened this year, actually, although I’m writing again now thank goodness – then I get seriously anxious about anything and everything. I really do feel like things are tumbling out of my grip, that I can’t cope. As soon as I start a new project, though, it all settles down again. When I’m in the middle of writing a book I feel like I’m on top of the world, like nothing can bring me down. It’s an incredible feeling! Of course I’m always nervous about the story itself – is it any good? Will anybody like it? – but all the other worries in my life just get funnelled through my psyche and into the story. They just don’t seem significant any more.

On the same note, horror writers also have the added advantage of being forced to face up to their own fears. I wrote earlier in this blog tour about how one of the best ways to craft a scary story is to write about something that scares you. By doing that, you have to examine that phobia a great deal more intimately than you might like to. When you write about these fears, the same thing happens – you gain power over it, you own that fear. It’s an incredibly powerful way of conquering the things that scare you. So I guess that’s one of the reasons horror writers tend to be nice people – we have a way of dealing with the things that bother us, we can channel that fear and fury into something creative. It’s like taking a Valium, it makes everything seem quite pleasant and lovely. As long as I’m typing, everything is fine!

Incidentally, I get sent a huge amount of writing from young writers looking for feedback. I love reading other
people’s stories, especially as maybe 99% of the ones I am sent are horror stories. It’s so awesome to see so many teenage writers taking to horror – I think it’s one of the healthiest things you can do at that age. Absolutely anyone can be a writer, and I think it’s something everyone should try – even if you’re not interested in it as a career, it is such a valuable tool for getting control over your own life and emotions.

I was talking to my daughter about this post earlier, and she brought up another really interesting point: empathy. Horror writers are pretty evil, when it comes down to it – creating characters then turning their world into a nightmare. But it’s hard. I mean, you get SO attached to those characters when you’re writing, and when bad things happen to them (bad things you didn’t always see coming, especially if – like me – you don’t plan your books) it is absolutely devastating. Characters die fairly regularly in my books (sorry guys!), and every time it happens I feel like a little part of me dies too. I got so upset at the end of the Furnace series that I swore I’d never write anything again, it was just too upsetting. And I was the same at the end of The Fury – not at a death, but… well, you’ll see if you read the book. I feel like I have lost my friends, my family, and it completely crushes me each and every time.

But the fact that I find it hard is important, I think. We have to empathise completely and utterly with these characters. We are those characters, and when we go through such terrible things we learn to understand people, to share in their fears and loves and triumphs and losses. We can sympathise with others under any circumstance, and I think it makes us more patient and less likely to criticise (although my girlfriend may disagree with that last statement in my case)! We spend our lives trying to get people we love out of trouble, going through hell with them, fighting tooth and nail to keep them alive and happy (even when the cause of those dangers and unhapinesses are our own doing). All we want to do is help people! Writing horror gives you an overwhelming affinity with and love for the human race.

Well, this blog post has gone on for a little longer than I had planned, but it’s just such an interesting subject! There are a couple more reasons why I think horror writers are generally nice people – if anyone gets on our nerves, we can kill them in spectacularly gruesome ways and not go to prison! I know I for one am guilty of this. If there is somebody I am angry with, for whatever reason, I put them in a book, under a thinly veiled pseudonym, and then watch them die a grisly death. *Evil Laugh* I probably shouldn’t confess to that, and I’m certainly not going to go into details, but it is immensely satisfying, and really does help alleviate the anger. It’s worth trying even if you aren’t into writing – you might find it helps if somebody is really getting you down!

But maybe the reason horror writers are often the happiest people in the world is simply because we love our jobs so much. A writer is the only thing I have ever truly wanted to be, every since I was six years old. And here I am doing it for a living! I feel like the luckiest guy on the planet, and every morning when I wake up I can’t believe how awesome it is. I walk around most of the time in a complete daze of undiluted happiness, so it’s no wonder I don’t come across as a serial killer! In all seriousness, though, writing has a million therapeutic advantages, and is there for everyone. Anyone can write, and even if you’ve never considered it, you might find it can do amazing things for your emotional wellbeing, your confidence, and your outlook on life. Give it a go, write something gory and gruesome, and you might find yourself smiling!

Thanks again so much for letting me guest post on your blog, Enna, it has been a real journey of self-discovery!

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All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012

The Fury-- Alexander Gordon Smith

Release Date: July 23rd, 2013
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 688
Amazon Link*: Click here
Goodreads Page: Click here
Imagine if one day, without warning, the entire human race turns against you, if every person you know, every person you meet becomes a bloodthirsty, mindless savage . . . That’s the horrifying reality for Cal, Brick, and Daisy. Friends, family, even moms and dads, are out to get them. Their world has the Fury. It will not rest until they are dead.
Blurb: GAH! This would be the scariest thing ever!

Review: Ready for some more horror? Don't worry, this one I definitely recommend. This book had me on the edge of my seat, and almost crying sometimes. Why? Because it hit me where it hurts! One of my greatest fears is being isolated or shunned or hated by  society. I need people to like me in order to survive! Therefore, the idea that the WHOLE WORLD can turn against you just made me weep. Literally!

Honestly, if everyone started trying to kill me, I would probably just give up. I'm super impressed that these kids didn't. Not only did they find a way to survive, they rose to the challenge.

What I particularly love is that Gordon has gathered together a cast of characters that are likable, but definitely flawed. And the bad people aren't necessarily "bad" just as much as the good people aren't necessarily "good."

The "horror" parts of this book were pretty gruesome, but also so unbelievable that they didn't bother me. Picture dozens people being folded like paper and exploding into blood colored sand. I don't know about you, but I can't really picture that in anything other than a cartoony way. (If you don't know yet that horror doesn't usually bother me, you can read more about that here.)

All-in-all I found this book captivating, if not very stimulating. If you're looking for something that'll wrap you up for 500 pages, but won't tire out your brain too much, this is the book for you!

Other Reviews:

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2013
*I am an amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using my link, I will get a tiny fraction of the purchase, which goes toward contests.

Series Review: Gone by Michael Grant

Release Date: June 2008 thru April 2013
Genre: Horror, Sci-fi, Dystopia
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: Approx. 500 pages each book
Amazon Link*: Click here
Goodreads Page: Click here
Without warning, everyone over the age of 15 years old disappears. In the following series of events, the remaining teens and children discover that some of them have supernatural powers. Terrible things happen to them.

(Summary by me. Tried to keep it not-spoilery)
Review: Yup. I'm reviewing a whole series. Why? Because I feel the need to warn you all.

Gone saved me one Christmas break. I absolutely could not find anything I wanted to read, and so I went to the closest bookstore and bought the biggest book in the YA section. I loved it. You can read that review here. I also really loved the second book. Mini review of that here.

But then... as I read on in the series... things started getting progressively more disturbing. But there was never any profanity or sexual scenes (which are my no-nos) so I kept going. You can see my feelings evolving in my reviews of the third and fourth books.

But then things got REALLY disturbing. But at this point I had already devoted over 2,000 pages to these books. So I wasn't going to stop. The last review I posted for book 5 is here.

And now here I am. I've officially FINISHED this series. And here are my final thoughts:

This series grabs you and doesn't let you go. However, sometimes it felt like I had already stepped into the Tower of Terror elevator; and by the time I realized what was happening, it was too late to get off. And I mean the REAL ToT elevator. Not the Disney ride. This series took me places I didn't want to go, but because I felt so invested in the characters I went there anyway. Do I regret reading it? Um... I'm going to hesitantly say no. Because I really did love the first two. And I am a self-proclaimed lover of horror books. But... I don't know. The things that happened to these kids, both what they did to each other and what was done too them, hit me in a place beyond fiction.

GAH! This is a hard review to write. Can you tell? Never before have I read books that I LIKED/loved, but that I wouldn't recommend to anyone. As it is, this is not a series I recommend to people. It's not even a series that I don't recommend lightly. I don't recommend it at all because I don't want to be blamed for people getting trapped in it.

Any of you read this series? Can you add more coherence to my review?

    All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2013
    *I am an amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using my link, I will get a tiny fraction of the purchase, which goes toward contests.

    Mini Reviews (5)

    Even though I haven't been posting, I HAVE been reading. It's made for a pretty big backlog of reviews. Here's a few books that I read a a while ago and I don't remember a whole lot of details. Hence, mini-reviews! These are a great way to smoosh down that "waiting to be reviewed" list, too! The rating for each book is in (parenthesis) next to the title and author name.

    Siege and Storm, Leigh Bardgo (4 flowers)
    (Goodreads | Amazon)

    This is the sequel to Shadow and Bone and this is definitely a bridge book. I liked the story, but didn't feel like anything really happened a lot was just set up. Yes, there were battles and romance (and oi-vey was there sequel phase), but nothing that made my jaw drop (like the first one did). However, it built the story up enough that I can tell the third book is going to blow my mind.

    Of Triton, Anna Banks (4 flowers)
    (Goodreads | Amazon)

    This is the sequel to Of Poseidon. These books are the epitome of a great summer read for me. Really. They're light and fluffy, but still manage to strum my heartstrings. This one actually made me cry! And (correct me if I'm wrong) but I believe this is the final book in the series. Everything certainly wrapped up nicely. Gotta love duos!

    Mind Games, Kiersten White (4 flowers)
    (Goodreads | Amazon)

    This book was really good! But if most books can be equated to movies, then this book is more like a TV episode. Everything happened so fast and so short. It would be really hard for me to justify buying this little book (only 237 pages) in a $18 hardcover. Paperback, perchance, but not hardcover. I really wish this one had been longer, or that the second book and the first had been put together into one big book. If you get the chance, I would DEFINITELY check this one out from the library or some such.

    The Age of Miracles, Karen Thompson Walker (2 flowers)
    (Goodreads | Amazon)

    This book is the cause of what will forever be known as "The Book Slump of Summer 2013." After reading this one I didn't even crack open another book for a MONTH. I have no idea what the point of this book was. Great premise. Terrible execution. And WAY too much foreshadowing/foreboding. It got so old! And don't even get me started on how many things the author got "wrong."

    Falling Kingdoms, Morgan Rhodes (3 flowers)
    (Goodreads | Amazon)

    I thought this book was... fine. (have you noticed that it's been a while since I read anything that really wow-ed me?) The multiple perspectives sometimes through me off, not because I got confused, but because I had no idea who to root for. Because the jumping around preventing me from connecting with any of the characters, I didn't really care about any of them. And there was some weird insta-love stuff going on (followed quickly by insta-death). I definitely don't regret reading it, but I'll probably forget about it long before the sequel comes out.

    All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012

    It's my 6th Blogoversary!!

    It's my 6th blogoversary!! 

    It's hard to believe that little 'ol Squeaky Books is really 6 years old. I've been neglecting the site lately, but hopefully that will change soon. Or... how about right now!

    I've done a guess the cover contest for a few years for my blogoversary, but this year I decided to shake things up. This year it's a GUESS THE AUTHORS contest!

    That's right, instead of book covers, I've got author pictures. You need to guess who the author is and fill out this form. To make it easier, these are all of the author's profile pictures on Goodreads.

    Author friends! Sorry if you didn't make it onto this. I literally had a list so long that I had to randomly select 12 people to make it on. So... blame!

    Ready? Guess away! Winner will get a $10 Amazon gift card! Just to keep things fresh, I'm not going to say when this is going to end. It'll end WHEN I FEEL LIKE IT! Muahahaha! If there are any that you just can't get, leave a comment! If people agree with you, I'll give a hint. :)

    All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012

    I'm Back! And I need adult fiction recommendations!

    Hello! I am BACK from Harry Potter World and it was AMAZING! I will get into that more later. I've also got some great reviews scheduled, some author interviews, a new synopsis-project idea, AND I'm starting on the birthday bash 2013.

    BUT, what I need ASAP are some adult fiction recommendations! My mom is flying to Australia TODAY, and she needs some books. Unfortunately, we have really opposite tastes when it comes to books, so I have no idea how to help her. Here's what she said:
    I want something that's a page-turner. I also like books with some element of mystery that needs to be solved.
    Here are some of her favorites:

    • The Handmaid's Tale
    • The Help
    • Life of Pi
    • The Book Thief
    • Grapes of Wrath
    • Rebecca
    • The Bell Jar
    • The Bean Trees
    • The Poisonwood Bible

    If you know of any great books, please recommend ASAP!

    All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012
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