Where There’s Smoke (short story) by Jodi Picoult

Its been ages since I last read a Jodi Picoult book. It must be My Sister’s Keeper and that was before book reviews here so imagine that. I do have another book that I probably will read later this year that’s been sitting on my book shelf for some time, but today, we’re looking at short story by Jodi Picoult called Where There’s Smoke. Its definitely a change in pace from the past while’s books. I needed a little palette cleanser and this felt like it would do the job.

Let’s check it out!

Where There’s Smoke
by: Jodi Picoult

where there's smoke

Even as a child, Serenity Jones knew she possessed unusual psychic gifts. Now, decades later, she’s an acclaimed medium and host of her own widely viewed TV show, where she delivers messages to the living from loved ones who have passed. Lately, though, her efforts to boost ratings and garner fame have compromised her clairvoyant instincts. When Serenity books a young war widow to appear as a guest, the episode quickly unravels, stirring up a troubling controversy. And as she tries to undo the damage—to both her reputation and her show—Serenity finds that pride comes at a high price.-Goodreads

 Where There’s Smoke is  an introduction to a character for a novel Jodi Picoult released called Leave Time which is with the same main character as this one, Serenity Jones. I’ve never read Leaving Time before so I don’t know how the character actually turns out or what she does. It would intrigued me however to see what this character is all about.

Right off the bat, Where There’s Smoke sets the tone of the story rather quickly.  Its also a more refined writing style and one that I definitely enjoy. Serenity Jones is a flawed character and maybe even has moments where I dislike her decisions. But I do acknowledge that on a full-length novel scale, her character would have huge room for development and that is what the best characters are based on and if the cards are played right.

This short story was a decent read. Serenity Jones is a psychic and this gives it a paranormal twist. The story itself is probably nothing unheard of and could have used a little more focus and depth. However, I believe the concept behind this novel was the psychic case being the background but rather learning who Serenity Jones is as a person, a psychic and a TV figure is the goal. It is a short story in the end and it only sets a stage as it is also a prequel. Where There’s Smoke is a short story of about forty pages so it would dive straight into spoilers if I write anymore.

Overall, Where There’s Smoke is an enjoyable short story. It spends most of the time letting us learn who Serenity Jones is and how she works while telling us a small slice of mishaps that occurs in her world also. It left me wondering how the novel Leaving Time is and what it is about after getting a taste of it.

Have you read Where There’s Smoke and/or Leaving Time? Are you a fan of Jodi Picoult?

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Book Review: Bitter Fruits (Eden’s Fall #1)

Next up is another book from my Kindle that I had found a good while back.  This one is called Bitter Fruits and is the first in a series called Eden’s Fall. Bitter Fruits is an adult paranormal romance.  Although it features college students and vampires, there is quite a bit of erotic scenes that its hard to categorize it as a young adult novel, in my opinion.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

Bitter Fruits
(Eden’s Fall #1)

By: Sarah Daltry

Bitter Fruits

A vampire-themed masquerade party isn’t really her scene, but Nora is sick of frat parties and bars. When she meets Alec, the appeal suddenly becomes clear. It’s obvious that they’ve been struck by the same intense mutual attraction, but Alec keeps his distance. Intrigued despite herself, Nora pushes a little deeper — and discovers Alec’s unimaginable secret…  Nora is not afraid of following Alec into the darkness, but the choice is soon taken from her. Someone is hunting her — someone tied to the secret and desperate to see it play out. But when Nora finally meets her aggressor, she finds herself hopelessly drawn to him. She needs to make a choice between the two men, but can she save them both, knowing one is destined to die? – Goodreads

 I honestly don’t even know where to start with Bitter Fruits.  Its not a bad novel and actually if you cut out a lot of the college girl angsty moments and take out the whole very similar to TV series version of The Vampire Diaries sort of story of trying to love both brothers at the same time and being torn apart, its decent. It may seem like I’m contradicting myself here since I’m a huge fan of The Vampire Diaries and this is right up my alley. I guess what doesn’t work so well here is that Nora, our main character, treats the two boys in terms of meat.  Like their bodies and physical traits is what draws her to them. Maybe its something more and its just instinctive like they are just right for her and she can’t explain it other than that. I said it in previous reviews and I say it again: Physical traits are great but that is not what makes ladies jump on them literally or turn them into indecisive sexual beings that betray their original lover. Let’s stop this point before I hit further in the spoiler territory.

Despite all that I said above, Bitter Fruits has a good idea brewing under all the sex and love story. It rotates around these mythological creatures that actually aren’t exactly vampires and despise being called that. It pulls in some mythological investigations.  While I’m not very well-versed or know mythology to a deep extent, its fun to have that connection pulled in where it links up with the story of Adam and Eve and our main characters here, Alec and Caleb are actually the original Abel and Cain and because of their issues has caused them to be cursed and its for this exact reason they would like to break it but of course, its not that easy especially when Lilith is also in the picture. The imagination behind this, although reminisces a lot of TV series in the past few years still manages to add a fresh twist to it that intrigued me quite a bit. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough of these parts.

Deal is, I wish there was more mythological breaking curses going on than the first part which is just Nora wanting to have sex with Alec who resists because he doesn’t want to drag her in until they do.  Then Caleb comes along and she just can’t resist him and more sex happens because he’s even more perfect for her but she doesn’t want to betray Alec even if she already did. She goes back to having sex with Alec and then Caleb or maybe thats what it feels like.  With all the steamy action going on, I kind of lost track.

Sometimes, less is more.  The plot of the curse and what dangers these characters should be much more than the love story and incredible amounts of sex because that is what build characters and develops them into something more. Nora, Alec and Caleb lacked that development to make me want to care about them.  I just wish they would stop having sex, think about their choices and take care of the important stuff more. There’s something here but its hidden behind a lot of dragged out overused bits.

Tasting the Boy Next Door by Katy Baker

Don’t judge me…just don’t. That’s all I ask. This was for free on Amazon Kindle books.  By the time I got around to it in the last few weeks, the title had changed to Banging the Boy Next Door.  Let’s just check it out.

Tasting the Boy Next Door (The Boy Next Door #1)
By: Katy Baker

tasting the boy next door

Melissa Smyth is outraged when her parents enlist their geeky neighbor to look after things while they’re away. Determined to prove she’s in charge, Melissa decides to use her feminine charms to make Rory Thompson her slave. But Rory has other ideas. Recently returned from Thailand, he’s geeky no longer. Who will come out on top? One thing’s for sure – sparks will fly. – Goodreads

I don’t know what was crossing my mind when I downloaded a ton of these erotic free books.  I really don’t. Like I said before, don’t judge me.

But you know what? I judge myself.  I guess that’s the problem because most of you don’t judge me even when we agree to disagree. Tasting the Boy Next Door is an erotic short.  First issue I had is right there. Tasting the Boy Next Door is 15 pages long so yes, it qualifies as a short and man, its erotic alright because its takes about 7 pages (Kindle page count and Amazon page count seem to be different) to get to the sexy bits of striping and the whole nine yards and that’s the rest of the story, ladies and gentlemen.  I’m not saying this is a bad story, because if this was a scene in a drawn out novel (or even a novella), I’d be totally into it.  The sex scene was written well enough. What angers me about this is that there are 2 more sequels after this and they cost money so this story is like a prequel or a teaser.  I’m all for a good tease but then this prequel wasn’t even enough to make me know what else I’m getting into in the next two.  Like another 40/60 deal with the majority of it being sex scenes and the actual 40 not being of any character development but thats not true because the sequels seem to be longer in length and probably that’s why it costs money, except I don’t even care enough about spoiled and rather b*tchy Melissa or ex-geek and now super muscular Rory one bit to want to invest in it. This feels a little like manipulation and that is a turn-off.

Okay, let’s step back and calm down (I need it before I move on!).

I’ve read erotica before and I’m not even that opposed to it.  Heck, for one of my Nanowrimo’s it was a romance/erotica novel and those scenes are challenging to put together and try to evoke those feelings that the author is thinking of.  If it wasn’t for the language here that didn’t work, the scenes worked quite well.  I understand the effort and hard work that goes into putting a story together.  What I hate is how this emphasizes that girls or ladies will have sex or have some lustful rushes over a hot guy: muscular, tall, handsome.  Are there not enough stereotypes that this needs to be reinforced? There’s not a switch in our brains that just goes, “OMG! Look at those muscles under that tight shirt! I just can’t resist him, let me have sex with him RIGHT NOW!” There’s no build-up, no nothing…I guess this goes back to my first paragraph. I like looking at hot guys, just check my Pinterest account.  I literally have a board just for the handsome gentlemen actors out there. But this one…no, just no.

Either way, I gave Tasting the Boy Next Door 2 stars out of 5 on Goodreads. For what it is, its okay.  If you think of this as a sexy quick turn-on piece, it does the job.  I mean, I can’t really complain about free and its short enough that it took 20 mins on a bus ride home from work so at least it didn’t feel like it wasted my time.  Between me and you (which is like the world that drops by here and read to the conclusion), I like this sort of erotica stuff and its fun even in a cheesy way when there’s context to it.  This didn’t have that.  Its just a teaser for a novella disguised as a free short story because its literally just one sex scene. For me, I won’t be pursuing the series anymore.  It had its merit but I’m not down for anyone trying to manipulate me into following a story that wasn’t even structured as one.  If it was done in a way of putting all 3 stories into one novella and charging a few dollars, I would have appreciated it much more that way and probably been much more forgiving.

Cover Reveal: Minutes Before Sunset

If some of you remember, I had reviewed The Timely Death trilogy some time last year written by the very talented Shannon A Thompson. The beginning of this year marked  change of events for her resulting in the upcoming release of Minutes Before Sunset novel, the first in her trilogy. I’m extremely happy that she asked me to help with the cover reveal. I’ve never done a cover reveal before but hey, it seems important 😉

With that, I present to you the new cover for Minutes Before Sunset.

Minutes Before Sunset

Awarded Goodreads’ Book of the Month in July 2012

 

I think that looks absolutely cool! Don’t you? I’d pick up this one (also because I’ve read it and know its really awesome).

Minutes Before Sunset is set to release on July 28, 2015.

Summary

Two destines. One death.

“Her kiss could kill us, and my consent signed our death certificates.”

Eric Welborn isn’t completely human, but he isn’t the only shade in the small Midwest town of Hayworth. With one year left before his eighteenth birthday, Eric is destined to win a long-raging war for his kind. But then she happens. In the middle of the night, Eric meets a nameless shade, and she’s powerful—too powerful—and his beliefs are altered. The Dark has lied to him, and he’s determined to figure out exactly what lies were told, even if the secrets protect his survival.

Jessica Taylor moves to Hayworth, and her only goal is to find more information on her deceased biological family. Her adoptive parents agree to help on one condition: perfect grades. And Jessica is distraught when she’s assigned as Eric’s class partner. He won’t help, let alone talk to her, but she’s determined to change him—even if it means revealing everything he’s strived to hide.

About the Author

Shannon A Thompson

Shannon A. Thompson is a 23-year-old author, avid reader, and habitual chatterbox. She was merely 16 when she was first published, and a lot has happened since then. Thompson’s work has appeared in numerous poetry collections and anthologies, and her first installment of The Timely Death Trilogy became Goodreads Book of the Month. She is currently represented by Clean Teen Publishing, and Minutes Before Sunset releases on July 28, 2015.

As a novelist, poet, and blogger, Thompson spends her free time writing and sharing ideas with her black cat named after her favorite actor, Humphrey Bogart. Between writing and befriending cats, she graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in English, and she travels whenever the road calls her.

Visit her blog for writers and readers at http://www.ShannonAThompson.com.

Reviews

* “A magical, if slightly dark, tale.” – The Reader’s Review

* “Wonderfully unnerving.” – Coffee Shop Reader

* “This is a story of forbidden love, hidden love, and a war of love.” – Endless Reading

* “This book was brilliant, original and romantic. This is a timeless love story with incredible character growth, action and twists of fate.” – Note to Selph Book Reviews

* “Miss. Thompson twisted the concept of Light and Dark, reversing the well-known roles, changing the time-old dance and making it her own. Brilliant and true, “Minutes Before Sunset” is thought-provoking, bringing real-life lessons and morals from a world of the supernatural.” – Live. Laugh. Read

Join the Dark

Join the Dark: Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/series/121294-the-timely-death-trilogy
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Timely-Death-Trilogy/227663240691565
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/AuthorShannonT/the-timely-death-trilogy/
Extras – http://shannonathompson.com/novels/a-timely-death-trilogy/extras/
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Shannon-A.-Thompson/e/B00AXANG76/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

There you go! I’m loving the new cover and I already know the novel itself is awesome.  The premise is absolutely fantastic.  If you are unsure and still want to check out my review, I guess I should add a shameless plug HERE for it 😉

Happy Wednesday!

 

A Zombie Holiday Trilogy by Anthony Renfro

I’m having a few repeat authors showing up here but Anthony at Books, Movies Poetry was super awesome after he saw my post about his short stories that he sent me his entire A Zombie Holiday Trilogy. Before we get into it, a huge gigantic thank you to him for doing that because I appreciate it a lot 🙂

If you happened to have missed my review of a whole bunch of Anthony’s short stories a little while back, its right HERE!

Actually, one of the short stories, A Zombie New Year was published yesterday.  To get more details, head over to Anthony’s blog HERE!

A Zombie Holiday Trilogy

by Anthony Renfro

a zombie holiday trilogy

A Zombie Holiday Trilogy includes 3 stories (I’m sure you figured that part out):

  • A Zombie Christmas
  • A Zombie Thanksgiving
  • A Zombie New Year

Each story is focused around that holiday during the zombie apocalypse in whichever town and city it is set. The characters are different and they all have their own little mission, regardless if its the protagonist’s desire to give gifts to the survivors or find a turkey for Thanksgiving or reunite as planned on New Year’s.  Among a completely unexpected and pretty bad circumstance, the protagonist look for that shred of hope to forget whats going on outside.  Its that hope that there’s something more to look forward to.

I read A Zombie Christmas earlier with his short stories collection, A Long Journey Off A Short Pier and it was the first time that I realized what these stories were about.  It definitely left me a different and good impression. A Zombie Thanksgiving also gives a nice direction to the story. It shows the growth in the writing to a more detailed story and having more characters involved and adding some concrete relationships.  However, A Zombie New Year differs a little because it combines two aspects of horror with zombies and the haunted.  I sure hope thats not considered a spoiler.  Its two parallel stories because the readers follow the two leads in separate places struggling to survive and to meet up with each other.

I won’t say any more because short stories are exactly that and shouldn’t be gone more in depth to keep your reading experience full of surprises.  I think this trilogy has something different going for it and its worth a read.  Its different what you’d typically expect in this genre (although I only tiptoeing my way into this zombie/horror literature world).

Give it a go and maybe you’ll find something that will give you the pleasant surprises I had with these ones as well 🙂

Also, Anthony is doing a Goodreads giveaway with the publishing of the last short story so head on over to the link up there to get the details.

And now…What’s up for 2014 here?

Yesterday, I posted up my personal New Year’s Goals HERE!  I don’t usually document most of those goals on my blog so, before I update my About page, this is whats going to go on here regarding goals for the new year! I’ll probably figure some spontaneous stuff as the year rolls on but for now, I put a lot of thinking and made some decisions.  Of course, I’d also love to hear your opinion on it 🙂

Let’s start with the stuff that will stay from 2013!

1) MOVIES!

breaking emotions blogathon

ck not so secret santa

Shitfest 2013

Shitfest 2013

Movie reviews, participating in blogathons and the whole thing has really increased in the past year.  I’d even go so far as to say that it probably was the most grown part in the past year.  Writing reviews really takes a lot of time for me and I’m still finding a good balance as of how to really review movies.  BUT, I’ll do what I did last year and review what I’ve seen.  I will try my best to make it to the theatres more but I will also buy less movies and watch more on Netflix! 🙂

Aside from that, we’re looking at the same marathons going on like below:

January: Catching up with as many 2013 movies as possible (with some other older ones as well)

February 1-14: Valentine’s marathon (I already have a general plan for this)

March & August: Recommendation month (check out THIS post if you’re wondering what that is)

July: Fantasia Festival 2014

September: TIFF 2014 (I’ll try my best to make it there)

October: Halloween marathon

December: Christmas/holiday/winter marathon

I have a few months just to do some random movie viewing and I’m aiming to take it easy in general.  Nothing like daily movie reviews because that can get tiring so I’ll try for 2-3 movie reviews a week.

Any other suggestions? Marathons? Recommendations (if not I’ll take suggestions given to me over the course of last year in the comments)? 

2) Baking & Cooking

Hamburger cupcakes!

Hamburger cupcakes!

For the most part, baking is my passion.  Seeing as my goal is to improve on the appearances and decorations of my baked goods, I’m going to do a little cupcake project.  Maybe I’ll put themes to them or whatnot.  I haven’t worked out the details but I did get Betty Crocker’s Big Book of Cupcakes so I’m aiming for a little bit fancier desserts. How does Cupcake project sound?

As for cooking, I’m sorry to say that Bite of China Project was something I really couldn’t get going.  However, I do have plans with my best friend to revive it once she feels like she’s ready to blog in her life.  So, maybe I’ll open a blog with her some time down the road the bring the project up to pace.  I’m disappointed in myself for not being able to do that BUT, this year, I had thought about taking down cooking entirely but the last while of using healthier foods and substitutes for a healthier eating lifestyle, has really made me excited about cooking again.  So I’m thinking of making that into an official thing.

What do you think? Should cooking stay and exploring healthy foods/vegetables, etc? Look into healthier substitutes and that sort of thing? 

I’m aiming to get at least one recipe up every week and gradually increase to 2 or 3 as my priorities drop a bit.

3) BOOKS

Sadly, this is the one that I’ve been thinking of cutting out.  However, in the light that I don’t want to really cut it out completely, in 2014, I’m going to do small reviews  on monthly basis.  The only ones that are going to take full reviews will be when its for books written by bloggers.  Some of the best books I read this year were written by these authors.  If you do want to see more of what I’m reading, just search me up on Goodreads or drop me and email and I’ll add you 🙂

My goal is to read 40 books this year as per the Goodreads Reading Challenge.  I might change it to 35…depending on how crazy life gets 🙂 Still, not writing full on reviews will make life a lot easier.

4) WEEKLY WORKOUT ROUNDUPS

hardest lift

I’m not sure how many of you actually find this motivating.  This is more of a personal thing.  It gives me the illusion that I have people watching my progress so I keep going and pushing hard.  So, my plan is to stop once I reach Week 52.  However, if this does motivate this, I’d gladly keep doing it but on monthly basis, which I actually think is a pretty good idea.  Its something I’m thinking about 🙂 I’m at Week 43 right now so there is only 10 more posts to go up.  However, if you do want to join me in my quest, you could always follow me on Tribesports 🙂 It’ll be fun! If not, my workouts go directly to my Twitter feed as well.

5) TRAVEL/WRITING/DAILY PROMPT/PHOTO CHALLENGES

IMG_3006

Other than Photo Challenges, everything else is something of a part time thing here.  I like to do it but I don’t travel all the time; I don’t do creative writing because I think I write bad and daily prompts are really when I’m inspired by the topic.  First off, I’ll try my best to keep up with Weekly Photo Challenge and A Word A Week Challenge.  I know that I’ve slacked off a bit at the end of the year but I’m ready to do well. I have a side goal to improve my photography skills and get to know my DSLR camera better. 🙂

Do you want to see more creative writing or daily prompts here? 

6) PERSONAL/VLOG/PIANO COVERS & MONTREAL EVENTS

Boyce Avenue

Boyce Avenue Concert

The last section is also some new stuff I’ve implemented in 2013. Montreal Events and possibly just events around me that I go to, I’ll see cover all those things.  Its fun and I do it already.

BUT, my big question is whether you all would like to see more vlogs, piano covers and my personal posts (mostly about staying positive and stuff related to that)? How about my expanding the TV series and music obsessions? Do you like those segments? Which would you like to see more out of these?

OVERALL!

This has been a really long post, or it felt that way because it took me a span of hours to get it all down. I’d love to hear your opinion on where I want this to go. Is there something you drop by to check out? Is there something I did rarely but you want to see more of? Help me out by answering some of my questions?

Please leave me a comment, tweet, email (if you’re shy).  I’d really love to hear from you 🙂

Thanks for everything! I’ll be updating my menu and my side bar widgets this week to keep this organized a bit more.

Random New Year's cat pic

Let’s play! My cat’s way of welcoming the New Year!

Now that this business is pretty much out of the way, I have reviews and photo challenges lined up for the rest of the week! Final note, I felt last year was a bit crazy, hence the chopping off or slowing down of certain segments and also, I was going at 2 posts a day but I’m going to gradually drop down to a post a day and maybe just round up to about 7-8 posts a week.  I’m trying to find a decent balance to match with my personal goals and not overload on stress 🙂

Book Review: The First Pillar (Everville #1) by Roy Huff

In the heart of trying to expose some of the other talented writers we have in our blogosphere, I’d like to introduce you to Roy Huff who is writing a fantasy young adult series Everville and just released recently the second book, City of Worms.  After purchasing the first book, The First Pillar, a few months ago, I finally got around to reading it.  You can check out his blog HERE and follow him on Goodreads HERE.  Lets get this started with a little synopsis of The First Pillar.

Owen is a freshman starting his first year in Easton Falls University.  He and his two friends, Dante and Anika both are looking to be more involved aside from keeping up with their school work.  However, shortly after he arrives, he is drawn unexpectedly into another world Everville. He meets the Keeper and learns about the evil forces Them which are trying to take over The Other in Between.  As he drifts back and forth between the two worlds, he realizes that this new dimension is related to the real world he lives in and with the short time he has, he must not only help save Fron and the Keepers from Them but also prevent anything to happen in Easton Falls as well.

As most of you who have been checking out my book reviews in the past year, you would know that I’m a big fan of young adult novels.  I am no longer a young adult but there’s something about this genre that really works (for the most part). Its usually fun and exciting to read.  The First Pillar is a creative and imaginative fantasy adventure and being the first book of a series, it does set the stage well to have its readers looking for more.

However, there were a few things that bothered me.  One was the story layout.  It took a bit longer for me to actually get used to it and at times, I would get confused and have to go back and read again that chapter to determine what was happening and where Owen actually was.  Second, was that there were some parts I didn’t really see how it worked out realistically, but then I could overlook that as this is partially set in a fantasy world.

As much as this book had some little problems, I do acknowledge that the idea and concept behind it was very good and now that I’ve grasped the situation of the world of Everville a bit more than when I started, I do believe that it sets up a good stage for the next one.  I won’t get right to the second one just yet but I urge you to give this a shot.  Its a pretty decent read and a good debut for the series.  It has had a lot of awesome ratings and I believe you will enjoy it also 🙂