Book Review: My Soul to Save

My Soul to Save

My Soul to Save, by Rachel Vincent, is the 2nd book in the Soul Screamers series.

Kaylee Cavanaugh is a soul screamer, and compulsively screams for the souls of dying people. But when she witnesses the death of a popular singer, there doesn’t seem to be a soul to scream for. Kaylee soon discovers that teens are trading their souls for fame and fortune. But in agreeing to help a friend of friend try to get her soul back, Kaylee will be putting her own at risk when she and her friends travel to the Netherworld.

The characters were developed well in the first novel, so this time around focused more on the story. Kaylee and her boyfriend not only have the pressures of dating, but having to skip school to try to save lives, means having to sneak around protective parents as well. They have good intentions, but don’t always make wise decisions.

An original world with unique characters, this sequel was even more creative than the first. Along with the usual teenage angst and romance, this young adult urban fantasy has plenty of mystery and suspense. With a fantastic start, the intensity continues to build throughout the story, leading to a highly climactic and surprising ending. I’m hooked on this series.

Q&A With Michael Grant

Hunger, Michael Grant

Harper Teen’s 28 Day Giveaway stops here today with a Q&A with author Michael Grant. Be sure to visit for a chance to win Hunger, 2nd in the Gone Series. Lies, 3rd in the series, will release this May.

1. How do you escape the bleak months of winter in Southern California?

You think you’re kidding, but the other day I was forced to put on a sweater. That’s right: a sweater! We go out to eat fairly often, and sometimes the chill becomes so unbearable that the heat lamps on the restaurant patios aren’t enough and we’re forced to eat inside. Plus there are times when I gaze up through the palm trees and the neighbor’s lemon tree and see actual clouds. I know! The horror!

2. If you really did like snow and ice, where would you live and why?

We used to live in Portland, Maine, and in Minneapolis, and we lived for five years in Chicago. All were cold and I enjoyed all three places. But I feel like I am just done with cold now. I kind of hate cold, and I hate gloomy, overcast skies. But I guess if I liked all that misery I’d live in northern Sweden or Norway so I could see the northern lights. I’ve never seen the aurora borealis and I really want to.

3. What’s your favorite book to escape with?

That’s a good question, and very different from asking what my favorite book is. For escape I read Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series. It’s about the Royal Navy in the early 1800’s. You’ve got ships, ocean, heavy meals, gruesome surgery, little bits of romance, lots of humor, and plenty of guys getting their legs blown off by cannon shells. What’s not to like about that?

4. Tell us one really embarrassing thing about yourself and tie it into winter.

For a while in Minneapolis I wore a giant beaver fur hat. I have a ginormous head—like XXL, seriously, because of all that extra brain—so the hat was equally ginormous. (I think an entire family of beavers had to give their lives for that hat.) Since I’m already fairly tall, the hat raised me to about seven feet. Children would see me, scream, and flee. I would walk into coffee shops and sudden silence would descend on the room. Somehow the sight of me with that monstrous hat was enough to strike fear into the hearts of some pretty hardy Minnesotans.

5. Help us look past winter and think of spring.

How about Easter eggs? There are a number of “Easter eggs” in the Gone map. Trotter’s Ridge, Lake Tramonto, and Achatz River are all named for Chicago chefs. The Stefano Rey national park is the Stephen King national park in English. There’s a Santa Elissa island for the Harper editor, Elise Howard, who acquired Gone, and San Francisco De Sales island is named for the patron saint of writers.

Thanks to Michael Grant, and Harper Teen for hosting the 28 Day Giveaway! Click on the widget below to check out their home page and today’s giveaway and access to all of the other featured books this month.

DVD Review: Dr. Who: The Complete Specials

Dr. Who: The Complete Specials

Dr. Who: The Complete Specials is a collection of television specials, starring David Tennant as the immortal “Doctor.” The set includes “The Next Doctor,” “Planet of the Dead,” “The Waters of Mars,” and “The End of Time, Part One & Two.” These specials lead up to The Doctor’s regeneration as the 11th Doctor, played by Matt Smith. It’s a fun and exciting addition for Doctor Who fans, as well as newcomers to the show.

“The Next Doctor”
When the Doctor (David Tennant) arrives in London on Christmas Eve 1851, he discovers that Cybermen are planning to resurrect the CyberKing. But another Doctor (David Morrissey) is already there, with little memory of his past. Fast-paced, with a few surprises, this installment is fun and light-hearted.

“Planet of the Dead”
David Tennant is back as the Doctor, tracking a strange wormhole. But the Doctor and a bus full of people soon find themselves stranded on a strange planet, in the middle of what looks like an arid desert. Teaming up with a beautiful thief, prepared for any situation (played by Michelle Ryan), the Doctor searches for a way back to Earth before a storm of murderous creatures reaches them. Slightly creepy, but a lot of humor, this installment was definitely my favorite of them all.

“The Waters of Mars”
When the Doctor (David Tennant) stumbles upon a base on Mars, he excitedly realizes that this is the first ever human base on Mars. But soon discovers that they are all supposed to die this same day. The Doctor’s curiosity gets the better of him, when he decides to help the group try to defend themselves from a strange water-based infection. But when the creatures find out that Earth is mostly water, they decide to hitch a ride back to Earth and take over. This installment was the darkest and felt most like a horror flick, with hear-pounding suspense and even an ethical dilemma for the Doctor.

“The End of Time, Part One & Two”
This is David Tennant’s last adventure as the Doctor. When his adversary the Master (John Simm) is reawakened, the Doctor is too late to stop the insane Master’s plot to take over Earth. And the Doctor also faces his fate that “He will knock four times,” leading to his death. Former James Bond, Timothy Dalton, narrates these ominous, climactic installments.

– Disc 1: “The Next Doctor”
– Disc 2: “Planet of the Dead”
– Disc 3: “The Waters of Mars”
– Discs 4-5: “The End of Time”, Parts One and Two
– Doctor Who Confidential
– Doctor Who at the Proms
– Deleted scenes with introduction from Russell T. Davies
– David Tennant Video Diaries: The Final Days
– Doctor Who BBC Christmas idents
– Audio commentaries
– Doctor Who at Comic-Con

Dr. Who: The Complete Specials is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.

DVD Review: Small Wonder Season 1

Small Wonder Season 1

Small Wonder Season 1 will be available, February 16th, from Shout! Factory.

When Ted Lawson gets inspired to create a life-like robot, he decides to see if his experiment can pass as a real girl. The Voice Input Child Identicant (nicknamed VICI or Vickie), soon becomes a member for the family. Joan Lawson quickly comes to think of Vickie has her own daughter, and son Jamie continually tries to exploit Vickie by getting her to do his homework and chores.

This original sitcom from the 80’s stars Dick Christie as Ted Lawson, Tiffany Brissette as V.I.C.I., Marla Pennington as Joan Lawson, Jerry Supiran as Jamie Lawson, Emily Schulman as next-door-neighbor Harriet Brindle, and Edie McClurg as Harriet’s busybody mother.

As a child of the 80’s and life-long scifi fan, Small Wonder held a special place in my heart. For their extremely limited budget, and time period, the special effects are not all that bad. The commentaries were especially enjoyable, hearing about what went on behind the scenes, Vickie’s eternal pinafore, and how they were actually not allowed to downplay anything. Dick Christie was told to overdo the acting. Besides the usual corny jokes, catch-phrases (“That makes sense!”) and over-acting, the stories and heart of the show actually made me fall in love with the show all over again.

– The 4-disc DVD set includes all 24 episodes from season 1
– Multiple commentaries with creator and cast
– Original episode promos
– Fan art gallery

Robin Hobb Q&A and Giveaway!

Dragon Keeperdragon figurine2

In honor of latest release, DRAGON KEEPER, Robin Hobb graciously agreed to a Q&A with AND one lucky reader who comments below will win a limited edition dragon figurine! (Details below.)

Can you talk a bit about DRAGON KEEPER in your own words?

I’ve taken a rather long vacation from the Cursed Shores, and the world that contains the Farseer, Liveship Trader and Tawny Man trilogies. This is my return! I intended to write a stand alone novel that would serve as a nice introduction to the world for new readers. Unfortunately (or perhaps not!) I got carried away and the manuscript became too long to publish as one book. So, Dragon Keeper is volume one of The Rain Wilds Chronicles. Volume two, Dragon Haven, will follow it in May of 2010, so there won’t be too long a wait between the books. Chronologically, Dragon Keeper occurs after the events in The Tawny Man trilogy. The Rain Wild Traders are finding that living up to their bargain with the dragon Tintaglia is harder than they expected. The dragons they expected to hatch and fly away are instead still lingering, dependent on humans as they are unable to hunt for themselves. Having a horde of intelligent and aggressive dragons on the edges of one’s city can present more than a few problems. So, Keepers are hired, along with a liveship barge and his captain, to escort the dragons up and river and away. But to where?

What brought about the decision to divide DRAGON KEEPER and DRAGON HAVEN into two separate books? What was your reaction?

It was my fault. Quite simply, I got involved in the stories, I liked the characters and I started investigating too many side issues and plotlines. So, the book grew, and I found myself going back and adding material to the beginning, so that the actions of the characters made sense to the reader. But as I added more back story, the book manuscript grew longer and longer. So, when I submitted it, (late, I am sorry to say!) it was too long both for the time allowed to edit it and to put it out as a single book. So we had to make it volume one and two. My reaction to it? “I need more self discipline!!!”

The book chronicles two strong female characters – Alise and Thymara. Why are their journeys such important tales to tell?

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