Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bwhahaha, Happy Halloween and...Giveaway!

Happy Halloween everyone! I hope you all are enjoying this ghost-filled night. If I had the choice, I'd be out trick-or-treating right now. I mean, who doesn't enjoy free candy, right? But alas, I have papers to work on tonight, and NaNoWriMo to prepare for tomorrow. At least I have Halloween-themed movie marathons to keep me company, and later I'm going to try and finish Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus. I'm about half way through it, and it's a pretty eerie book so far.

Unfortunately, I don't have spooktacular reviews for you tonight, but I've decided to run an spur of the moment contest! Comment on this post telling me how you're spending your Halloween, and at midnight I'll randomly select a winner to receive a copy of The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey. That's probably the spookiest book I've read to date. Very gruesome. Very creepy. And yet, very intriguing. You can read my review of it here. The contest ends at 12am central time, so comment comment comment! (Open only to those that are following me, and those in the US.)


Also, as I mentioned before, I'm participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Anybody else rising to the challenge? If you are, look me up on NaNo's website! My username is "Psyoren" minus the quote marks.

Again, happy Halloween everybody, and good luck!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Follow Friday (2) & Book Blogger Hop (3)!

Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Rachel at the Parajunkee's View. Every week, book bloggers have a chance to connect and check out each other's blogs. Check it out to sign up and participate, or just check it out to check out some great blogs! This is my second week participating. This week's question:

If you have, or would have a daughter, what book would you want your daughter to read?

I don't have a daughter (or any kids for that matter), but if I did I would really encourage her to read the Tortall books by Tamora Pierce--especially The Immortals Quartet. Those books meant a lot to me as a kid, and pretty much turned me into a bookaholic, so I would hope that they would get her as excited about reading and fantasy as it did me. But then again, so long as she's reading at all, I'd be happy. I'll take the "librarian's motto" approach: The right book for the right child at the right time. That's the goal. There are too many books out there to recommended anyway!

Book Blogger Hop

And if you do one Follow meme, why not do two? The more the merrier! This is my third Book Blogger Hop.

The Book Blogger Hop is a meme hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books. Like Follow Friday, It's a place for book bloggers to connect, and "hop" from one another's blogs to get to know each other. Check it out to sign up and participate! Even if your blog doesn't get listed this week, you can view other people's blogs and make some friends. :P In addition, Jennifer also asks a question to kick off the conversations. This week's question:

What is the one bookish thing you would love to have, no matter the cost?

I would want to build a tower in my house with a spiral staircase. At the top of the tower would be a small library, with shelves that took up the entire wall, filled with all of my favorite books. There would also be an oh-so-comfortable chair for reading in, and a freaking huge desk so I could spread out while I worked on writing for NaNoWriMo. I tend to get intense...and messy...when writing 2,000+ words a day. Oh, and there would totally be toy dinosaurs all around the place. Shoved in the shelves, on the desk, on the floor, hanging from the ceiling, etc. They'd be guardians. Yes, book guardians sounds about right. They roamed the earth for millions of years, so why not roam my reading room? I think I have a new goal in life.

What about you guys? If you had a kid, what would you want her to read? Dr. Seuss? Little House on the Prairie? What about your bookish wish? Would do you want if you could get anything? To all of you returning visitors, thanks again for stopping by my blog, and to all you new visitors, welcome! If you leave a link to your website I'll be sure to check it out when I get home from classes today. Until then, happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Look at this Magnificent BEAST


This is the greatest painting since the Mona Lisa. Do you not see the lollipops and rainbows? Those are the marks of a winner.

Drawn by Allie Pipitone
Digital on digital canvas
Hours spent: .25 (while talking to me on the phone~)

Check out Allie's DeviantArt profile for more amazing non-octopus related art. You know you want to. All the cool kids are doing it. ;P

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Daughter of the Flames by Zoë Marriott

Title: Daughter of the Flames
Author: Zoë Marriott
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Ages: 10+
Pages: 342


In a temple hidden high in the mountains, fifteen-year-old orphaned Zira trains in martial arts to become a warrior priestess with the hopes that one day, she’ll be able to defend the faith of the Ruan people. But when she chooses to defend a man King Abheron has ordered to be murdered, she ignites a set of events that will alter everything she knows about life. Pissed off, King Abheron targets her home, destroying it and the only family she’s ever known. But in the midst of this chaos, Zira discovers that she isn’t just Zira, she’s actually Zahira, the last surviving member of the royal family that King Abheron murdered to gain his position. Now she must unite with a man who should be her enemy if she is to have any hope of freeing her country from this tyrannical leader.


Daughter of the Flames was quite a treat. It really had a little bit of everything: action, adventure, drama, political mystery, goddesses and the divine, romance—if you can name it, it was probably there. Marriott manages to balance all of these elements and create a fantasy that is not too overwhelming for the reader to understand. But what I really enjoyed about most about this book (aside from the awesome sparring scenes) was the complexity of its characters and their interactions. Though the romance in this novel starts out as more pragmatic than anything, it was nice to see that the friendship forged out of circumstance slowly blossomed into something heartfelt and true. Marriott does a wonderful job of layering each character with their own fears, wants, hopes, and dreams. Nobody is good. Nobody is evil. Everybody is just doing what they believe they have to do in order to set things right. Even King Abheron. It is very rare for me to find a book where I sympathize with the villain as much as I do the heroine, but I found myself wishing that he could be taken to a therapist and helped. Maybe if Dr. Phil existed in this world less people would have died. But it certainly made for an exciting read!


6/8 Tentacles

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Title: The Scorch Trials
Author: James Dashner
Series: Maze Runner #2
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Age: 13+
Pages: 368


Thomas was sure that escaping the Maze meant that the Gladers could get their lives back. But when Teresa showed up and triggered The End, they had no idea that escaping was just the beginning. Outside the Maze, Thomas and the Gladers must now face the Scorch—a hot, dry, and dangerous wasteland where nature itself seems to be against them. Out there, they learn that the government is virtually nonexistent. There is no order, no structured society, only WICKED, and who knows where they stand. Oh yeah, and then there’s the Cranks—people covered in festering wounds driven to insanity from a disease known as the Flare. And guess what? All of the Gladers have it.

Now the Gladers have two weeks to cross the Scorch in order to save themselves. Supposedly, at the end of this set of Trials is a safe haven and the cure to their brain disease. But with new variables, new alliances, and Test Group B to deal with, Thomas can only wonder what WICKED’s real intentions are, and if the answer lies somewhere locked inside his mind.


For those of you who read my review of The Maze Runner, you'll know that I was eager to read this book. And I'm giddy to say that it did not disappoint! Like The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials is an adrenaline-shot rollercoaster. Dashner picks up right where he left off in the previous book, and wastes no time putting Thomas, Newt, Minho and the rest of the Gladers through hell. New spooks hide around every corner (or in some cases, hang from the ceiling) which will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. Though I hate to admit it, I was afraid to read parts of this book in the dark. Don't judge me! Wouldn't you be scared if psychotic zombie-like people were chasing after you demanding to have your nose? Life for Thomas in this book is like playing Resident Evil or BioShock or one of those other freaky zombie video games.

*coughs* Anyway, like The Maze Runner, more questions than answers arise from the new turns in this plot, but Dashner has significantly improved the way information is revealed to the characters and reader so the confusion is tolerable, if not enjoyable. You’ll be guessing throughout the entire novel who and who not to trust. In addition, as mysteries unfold, we learn more about Thomas and his character, shedding some light on WICKED and their position in all of this. This is done tastefully through sporadic flashbacks that come to Thomas in dreams, and in the end, I was left wanting more. Seriously, I have half a mind to march myself over to Delacorte Press and demand to read The Death Cure (the last book in the series). I cannot wait to see what Trails lay ahead for Thomas, Teresa, and the Glader Gang when this trilogy concludes!


7/8 Tentacles

Monday, October 18, 2010

Plain Kate by Erin Bow

Title: Plain Kate
Author: Erin Bow
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (An Imprint of Scholastic Inc.)
Reading Level: 10+
# of Pages: 311
ISBN: 978-0-545-16664-5


Plain Kate is good with a carving knife. In fact, she’s so good that when her superstitious village falls on hard times, she gets accused of witchcraft. Just when things are looking really bad, a man named Linay strolls into town and offers her a deal; her shadow for everything she needs to escape the town that now hates her. Kate agrees, and soon realizes that there are consequences to living without her shadow. At the same time she leaves the village, a mysterious fog begins to sweep across the countryside, carrying sickness and death to any living soul who happens to be in its path. It quickly becomes apparent that Linay is behind it, using Kate’s shadow to aid him and his witchcraft. Now Kate must find a way to stop him and regain her shadow, before he can fulfill his dark intentions.


Plain Kate was a wonderful and refreshing coming of age fantasy story for three main reasons. First, Kate is an incredibly realistic and sympathetic character. She’s not pretty, she’s not strong, she’s not gifted with some insanely powerful magical ability. She’s just a girl, alone in the world with her carving knife, hoping that somebody out there will extend a hand and offer a little bit of kindness and a place to belong. Her story is a real tear jerker, and evokes a kind of sadness and loneliness that I’m sure everyone has felt at one point in his or her life and can relate to.

Second, if you’re looking for romance, then you’ll be surprised to hear that Plain Kate doesn’t have any. I know what you’re thinking: “LE GASP, A YA NOVEL WITHOUT ROMANCE? CAN THAT EVEN EXIST?” The answer is yes, it can, and Plain Kate pulls it off with flying colors. To be honest, there’s enough angst in this story without Kate having to worry about the love of her life leaving her or turning her into a vampire. It was a great change of pace.

And third, for those out there that love a complicated villain, you’ll adore Linay. I found myself teetering between hating him and loving him just as much as I loved Kate. His motives are complicated, and his nature is not your typical nasty bad guy evil. Even though he’s using Kate to pull off his wicked plan, it’s clear that he cares about her, and at times he even had me convinced that he is almost a hero. I found this complication exciting because its typical in fantasy novels to have black vs. white dynamics between the protagonists and antagonists. It made reading Kate and Linay's dialogue thought-provoking.

Honestly, I could probably come up with a few more things to praise Plain Kate for, but why waste time reading a longer review when you could be out reading this book?! Plain Kate was a wonderful fantasy, one that will surely capture the heart of any reader.


7/8 Tentacles

Friday, October 15, 2010

Follow Friday (1) & Book Blogger Hop (2)

Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Rachel at the Parajunkee's View. Every week, book bloggers have a chance to connect and check out each other's blogs. Check it out to sign up and participate, or just check it out to check out some great blogs! This is my first week participating. This week's question:

What is your reading suggestion this week?

Hands down, it's got to be Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld. It's pure love in the condensed form of 481 pages. Seriously, pick it up. And if you haven't read Leviathan, the first book in the series, you totally should. That one is made of sunshine, happiness, and rainbows, especially if you're into steampunk/rewritten fantastical versions of history. (It's like historical fiction, except enough elements have been changed so you KNOW that there's no way it could be real.)


In addition, this week I'm participating for the second time in the Book Blogger Hop! I just had too much fun last week.

The Book Blogger Hop is a meme hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books. Like Follow Friday, It's a place for book bloggers to connect, and "hop" from one another's blogs to get to know each other. Check it out to sign up and participate! Even if your blog doesn't get listed this week, you can view other people's blogs and make some friends. :P In addition, Jennifer also asks a question to kick off the conversations. This week's question:

When you read a book that you just can't get into, do you stick it out and keep reading or move to your next title?

Lately, I try to stick it out till the end, even if I hate it. I find that there is always something to learn from a book, even if it's not good, which is a lesson I can take and apply to my own writing. In addition, I learn a lot about myself when I dissect a book for the reason(s) why I didn't enjoy it: My values, dreams, opinions about get the idea. :)

What about you guys? What is your recommendation this week, and will you put a book down if you can't get into it?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award P1

Holy smokes, this post is soooooo over due. A huge thank you to Elle of Wooksy for choosing me as one of the blogs to honor with the Versatile Blogger Award! Though I’m still working out the kinks of this blogging business (as well as the layout and template of my blog, if you hadn’t noticed), I’m very happy with what I’ve accomplished so far, and it makes me all gooey to be noticed for it. Elle is one of my good friends and I know without her help, Oktopus Ink wouldn’t be what it is today. Please please please, go check out her amazing blog, Wooksy! I demand it. If you don’t, attention-hungry octopi will spontaneously appear next to you and strangle you with an 8-legged hug of death.

Anyway, those who have received this awesome award have to do a bit of work to really earn it. They must:

1.) Thank and link back to the person that gave this award (Done, and thanks again, Elle!)

2.) Write 7 things about yourself.

3.) Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are epically awesome.

4.) Contact the bloggers you’ve picked to let them know about the award.

So, since I’ve already accomplished number 1, here is number 2!

1.) Tamora Pierce is my favorite author. My childhood would not be the same without her Tortall stories. Seriously, it wouldn't. Her books helped me through a difficult time when I was a teenager.

2.) My favorite animals/creatures are octopi and owls.

3.) I still play pokemon and have memorized the Poke’rap.

4.) I’m a Bones junkie. Not bones, as in skeletal remains, but Bones as in the TV show. Brennan and Booth are my all time favorite TV couple.

5.) I've watched Beauty and the Beast (on dvd) four times this week.

6.) I’ve taken comedy writing class as The Second City in Chicago.

7.) I’m currently working on my first YA fantasy novel.

Now that that’s finished, I can pass this lovely award onto some other well deserving bloggers. However, as of right now, I don’t follow a lot of blogs, and the ones I do follow are some bigger named bloggers who have already been given this award. So I’ve decided that the recipients of this award will be announced this weekend, after I've had a chance to look through each of the blogs I follow and make sure they haven't already been given this award.

Anyway, I hope you all are having a wonderful week! If you haven't had a chance, be sure to mosey on over to Barnes & Nobel or Borders or something at some point. Quite a few books came out this Tuesday, including Elixir by Hillary Duff. Can you believe that Hillary Duff actually wrote a YA book? It kinda freaks me out. It seems like only yesterday that she was Lizzie Maguire...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima


Title: The Demon King
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Series: A Seven Realms novel
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Reading Level: 13+
Hardcover: 506
ISBN: 978-1423118237
Buy: (also available in paperback)


In the mountains of Hanalea, sixteen-year-old ex-street gang lord Han Alistar and his clan friend Fire Dancer run into three young wizards setting fire to the forest and force them to stop. To keep them from attacking, Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard. Soon Han discovers that the amulet has an evil history: It once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. And now the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana’Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, is dealing with her own troubles. After three years of riding, hunting, and freedom in the mountains with the Demonai clan, she has returned to court to attend her 16th birthday party and Name Day. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her: She intends to marry her off to a suitor who goes against everything the queendom stands for.

When the lives of these two teenagers cross briefly, it ignites a course of events that will fan the flames of a smoldering war between clans and wizards, changing the course of Hanalea’s history forever.


Sometimes novels that focus on two or more characters and split the time between them take too much time to develop each part of the story, leaving the reader bored and wondering, “what’s the point?”. But I never found myself asking that about The Demon King. Chima’s world is fantastic in its new self and at the same time grounded enough in reality that it will be easy for even for the anti-high-fantasy reader to slip into and stay connected when reading. Good exposition, well weaved politics, and memorable/unique characters throughout the entire novel bring this story to life. Especially Raisa. OMG, excuse me for going fangirl for a moment, but Raisa is one of the coolest YA heroines out there. She’s opinionated, strong willed, adventurous, and pushes people to push her to become a better queen. She’s completely aware of the fact that she’s been sheltered as a princess, and is hungry to step into a role which gives her the power to help people. Rare qualities for a character in her position, which made getting to know her incredibly entertaining.

And I can’t forget Han. Oh, poor Han. Street-smart and quick on his feet, he still has the strength to move forward even after getting his ass kicked by the corrupt local Guard. Multiple times. What a guy.Though he is your typical cocky street kid with a heart of gold (can anyone say, Aladdin?), his perspective of the story provided a good balance to Raisa’s princess-party life.

Though I admit that that I found Raisa’s side of the story more interesting (if you couldn't tell), the end of the book left me wanting to read more about Han. Oh why oh why don’t I have The Exiled Queen in my hands right now?! (The answer: because it hasn’t arrived in the mail yet.) It’s been a while since I’ve gotten so attached to a series. The Demon King was a wonderful first installment to Chima’s Seven Realms series, one that any reader should be able to enjoy. It’s got a bit of something for everyone!


8/8 Tentacles

Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Blogger Hop (1)!

Book Blogger Hop

I've seen this event posted on dozens of blogs before, but this week I decided to give it a try. The Book Blogger Hop is a meme hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books. It's a place for book bloggers to connect, and "hop" from one another's blogs to get to know each other. Check it out to sign up and participate! Even if your blog doesn't get listed this week, you can view other people's blogs and make some friends. :P

In addition, Jennifer also asks a question to kick off the conversations. This week's question:

What is your favorite beverage while reading or blogging?

For me, it depends on the weather. Once NaNoWriMo rolls around in November, I practically live in Starbucks and stick to drinking the Caramel Apple Spice drinks. Never had it? TRY IT. It's like crack, but the good kind. Any other month I usually drink water or some sort of tea, preferably chai or green.

What about you? :P

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby


Title: The Clockwork Three
Author: Matthew Kirby
Publisher: Scholastic Press (October 1, 2010)
Reading Level: Ages 9+
Hardcover: 400 pages
ISBN: 0545203376


I don’t normally copy the description of a book from its jacket, but the first part of The Clockwork Three’s description is so perfect I can’t help but steal it:

“Giuseppe is an orphaned street musician from Italy, who was sold by his uncle to work as a slave for an evil padrone in the U.S. But when a mysterious green violin enters his life he begins to imagine a life of freedom.

Hannah is a soft-hearted, strong-willed girl from the tenements, who supports her family as a hotel maid when tragedy strikes and her father can no longer work. She learns about a hidden treasure, which she knows will save her family -- if she can find it.

And Frederick, the talented and intense clockmaker's apprentice, seeks to learn the truth about his mother while trying to forget the nightmares of the orphanage where she left him. He is determined to build an automaton and enter the clockmakers' guild -- if only he can create a working head” (taken from Amazon's product description).

Ok, end of steal. Set sometime in the in the early 1900s on in an active American city on the coast, mysterious circumstances bring these three kids together. Together, they decide to help each other achieve their goals. But this decision leads them down the dangerous and twisting alleys of their city where thieves, gangsters, and mysterious agents lurk. United, they must learn to trust each other and find the strength to overcome those who wish to stop them from achieving their dreams.


Though the book does a fantastic job of blending steampunk, history, mystery, and a bit of fantasy, the strength of this book definitely lies in its characters. Giuseppe, Hannah, and Frederick are each in their own way deserving of your love and sympathy. Young readers will have no problem finding a friend within the pages to identify with and relate to, especially since each of these three young heroes play an equally important role towards the movement of the plot. In addition, beautiful and smooth writing make this story engaging from page one. Break-out author Matthew Kirby has a knack for describing everything thoroughly, with enough detail so that there is no difficulty in picturing the scene—even the more fantastical and steampunky elements of the story.

However, if you’re like me and have the attention span of a small rodent, you might find the book a bit long and slow. Though the characters run into each other numerous times throughout the story, the three stories don’t actually merge and move towards a common goal until three fourths of the way through the book. As a result, I felt like the adventure advertised on the jacket was put on the backburner, scarified so that Kirby had time to set up each of his characters’ background, personality, and direction. I guess it’s hard to blame him for this; I mean, it’s hard enough to set up context for one main character, let alone three—and he does it so well. But it was tiring after a while to jump around waiting for each character to run into another. I’m not trying to say it was a bad read—no, I loved the details put into each of the characters’ lives, especially Hannah’s. But by the end, I lost interest in what was really going on. However, for those you that like well grounded characters, a bit of adventure, a bit of mystery, and don’t mind taking the time to reach the actual plot, then you’ll love this book.


5/8 Tentacles