Wednesday, October 24, 2012

And now it's time to say goodbye . . .



I'm done.

This is not a test.

I am not joking.

It is not April 1st.

In fact it's October 24th.

Nothing direct happened to me.  This isn't a result of internet douchebags getting their dicks in a twist about something I said.  It was just time for a change.

A change I couldn't make here.

I'm sure this seems rather out of the blue since I've been posting regularly for nearly four years now with barely a break thrown in.  Except for these last couple of weeks of radio silence.  I was busy building.

I guess you could say I got tired of the same old thing.  And tired of ALL THE FUCKING DRAMA.  And tired of being a little pigeon-holed.

I've been swishing this around in my head movies probably since the beginning of the year.  Some kind of major reformation.  A change.

Except once you've branded yourself it's kind of hard to make that change.  Buying another pretty layout won't change your content or reputation.  Especially for someone that's been around as long as I have.

And that's okay.  I'm at a point now where I can walk away and be okay with it.  I've had my run here at Bites.  Now it's time for something different.  Time for something more MATURE.

Yeah . . .

Little did I know that my evil twin, Laura from A Jane of All Reads, was feeling the same way.  With the will to blog all but dead inside of us, and both of us in dire need of a change, we came together, knocked each other up (hey, if you can have MPREG, you can have girl on girl internet babies) and pushed out our loinfruit -

This is where we us are now.  The theme is far more adult, there's a fuck of a lot more swearing and there are cookies.

Will I be gone from Bites?  Yes.  But I'm not done blogging.  I just needed something new.  Bitching, Books and Baking is that newness.  We're still loading content but you'll still see my familiar reviews along with a rather new voice or two.

I'll still be checking my litbites email and I'll still be reviewing the books I've already received for that specific purpose.  It'll just be done over there.  Rip the bandaid off quick and all of that.  I do have a winner to email for Margaret Willey's FOUR SECRETS.  I won't forget about that.  Thanks to everyone who make my time with Bites awesome.

So come see me (and Laura) at our new home and come bitch, read and bake with us.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Not In My School (20)

Not In My School is a weekly feature that throws out one YA lit cliche a week to compare to my own high school days. Because we all know how accurate those fictional nuances are . . .


Really?  We're STILL thinking that some dude breaking into a girl's house in the night to watch her sleep is romantic?  Or threatening her with bodily harm?  Or disabling her car engine "for her safety?"  Guys that don't grasp the concept of personal space?  Close talkers?  No.  This "fad" really needs to pass and/or people really need to grow some much needed brains.  If there were stalkers in my school they'd go directly to jail without passing Go and without collecting $200.  I'm with Buffy on this one; stalking isn't a turn-on at all.

And the winner is . . .

The winner of a copy of SHADOWS by Ilsa J. Bick is . . .

Mary D.!!!

Congratulations, Mary!  I've already sent over an email so be sure to get back to me ASAP!  And a huge thank you to everyone who entered!

Just a reminder to those who do enter my giveaways, if I require you to do something in order to enter, say follow a blog, that means it's a REQUIREMENT.  Not an option.  If I give you a yes or no option, the no option being facetious since it's a requirement and I expect entrants to actually comply with requirements, you need to select yes (or otherwise comply with the requirement).  If you select no IT WILL KICK YOU OUT OF THE GIVEAWAY.  While my no option may be facetious I will not consider your answer of a joking manner.  I'll take it as no, you didn't comply with the requirement and yet entered anyway and I'll delete your entry from the form list.  I don't believe this is all that difficult.

Hell, YOU CAN LIE TO ME.  I don't actually confirm the winners are followers.  I work on the honor system out of no other reason than I'm far too lazy to follow through on that.  I'm comfortable in the knowledge that people may be humoring me.  If I give you a silly answer option and that's what you pick I'll default it to you complying.  If you tell me yes I'll take your word for it.  Tell me no and I'll roll my eyes and delete your entry.

Bottom line - DON'T ANSWER IN THE NEGATIVE.  It seriously boggles my mind how many people do.  That just shows me that 1) you didn't read the directions, 2) you blatantly ignored the directions and/or 3) you figured I wouldn't care either way and I wasn't really being serious about the requirements.  None of these things are good.

Am I asking for too much?  I don't think so.  I'm giving you a chance to win something for nothing out of your pocket except a few seconds of your time.  Some people think that's too much for me to be asking.  Those people can blow me.  For me to get in a position to be able to give these books away was a basket of dicks in work so forgive me for wanting a modicum of return on that.  Silly, Donna, I know.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Four Secrets by Margaret Willey + Giveaway!

Published October 1, 2012.

Author website.

"To you the idea to kidnap Chase Dobson might seem like a mistake. But to us... we were just trying to stop him from being so...evil. We just...we had to stop him. No one helps kids like us. Not at my school. We aren't the important kids. We knew it wouldn't stop unless we stopped it ourselves." 

Katie, Nate, and Renata had no farther to fall down the social ladder. But when they hit bottom, they found each other. Together, they wanted to change things. To stop the torment. 

So they made a plan. One person seemed to have everyone's secrets—and all the power. If they could stop him... 

But secrets are complicated, powerful things. They are hard to keep. And even a noble plan to stop a bully can go horribly wrong.  (

The most prominent issue I had with FOUR SECRETS was the age of the three protagonists and the talked-about antagonist.  They're all supposed to be in eighth grade but I kept finding that I had to remind myself that these weren't kids in high school.  Just the extent of the issues they were having, how they spoke about it, how they carried it out it, just seemed so far beyond someone still in middle school.

Granted have it set their freshman year in high school and I probably wouldn't have batted an eye.  Not much of a difference age-wise in the slightest but the association is different.  In my mind there's a pretty big gap between middle school and high school and the voices I kept reading, at least to me, were high school age.  I just wasn't convinced they were middle school, especially when body sizes came into play.  All except Renata were described as large, either in stature or bulk (and by bulk I mean muscle).  It just didn't fit for me and it was a point of contention throughout and every time I was reminded of their ages it wrenched me out of the story a little bit.

But other than that it was a really good, pretty fast, read told from the perspectives of four different people, Chase excluded.  I could wholly empathize with the feelings of the social worker whose job it was to get to the bottom of why these kids kidnapped their classmate.  Because they entered into some kind of pact they wouldn't talk and she ended up getting the creative runaround from all three of them.

Nate told his view in story form, referring to the people involved by assigned fantastical names and set in a scene that only vaguely alludes to what actually happened.  Yeah you can get what he's saying but his was the portion of the book I liked the least.  I was over his method of storytelling pretty quickly and while I'm sure it helped him to cope with the situation he was seeking solace in a fantasy world instead of coming to terms with what happened.  He frustrated me the most.

Renata you see very little of within her own viewpoint, told, or rather shown, through her drawings.  Otherwise you get a picture of who Renata is by the way Nate and Katie describe and talk about her.  That would have been annoying to me if it weren't such a perfect way to get across Renata's personality.  She is very much a background girl that doesn't speak very often but when she does, whether it's actually with her vocal chords or with her drawings, it's so poignant you can't help but listen.  She's described as incredibly small and for most of the book that's the image I had in my mind: someone who was frail, tiny and needed rescuing when in fact she was exactly the opposite.  Next to the social worker I think I liked Renata the most.

Katie is the most prominent voice in the story aside from the social worker and its through her you learn the most information in a manner that won't have you trying to put puzzle pieces together.  Her method is very straight forward and when she started the second "rouse" journal I grunted in agitation.  I WANTED her to reveal what happened because I knew it wasn't what the situation looked like.  I think that was pretty evident from the beginning.  But there wouldn't be a story if that happened so I bided my time reading Katie's story broken up by lunches and homework and recreation time.  She was the most readable in terms of figuring everything out.

All three were hard-set in their ways when it came to not breaking this pact.  For the life of me I couldn't figure out why and while it worked out in the end I don't feel there was proper punishment doled out for the responsible parties.  The story resolved itself nicely enough but it was a little on the abrupt side and lacking in satisfaction.  I wanted more.  Comeuppance, maybe.  A knock off one's high horse, if you will.  The story resolved itself within one book which is a plus all around but there's a little bit more there, even if it's just ten or twenty pages.

While not my favorite Carolrhoda Lab book that's not to say it wasn't a good read.  FOUR SECRETS has points of view for every type of reader of a multitude of ages telling a story about bullying and how NOT to go about remedying it.  I don't want to give away the ending but through the eyes of the social worker you can see just how hard the gears are grinding, what's up against these kids and just how thin of a wire they're all walking on.  Bullying sucks, sure, but there are ways to go about fixing it that won't land someone in jail.  There's an air of noble cause and valiance in the book as well that may sway towards, in my eyes, the wrong way of fixing things but there is a balance there and Willey does a good job of playing both sides of the game.  It also goes to show that everyone has secrets, even the most perfect of people, and sometimes they're far darker than bad hair days.

Ban Factor: High - Kids taking matters into their own hands and being OKAY with going to juvenile detention?  Le gasp!

Giveaway Time!!!

Want to win my ARC?  Then just fill out the form below for your chance.
  • Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only.
  • One entry per person per email address.
  • Duplicate entries will be deleted.
  • Entrants must be a follower of Bites via one of the following mediums: GFC, RSS, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr.
  • Giveaway ends October 23rd at midnight AZT (3 am EST).

Monday, October 8, 2012

Last Call for Booksahol!

My giveaway for Ilsa Bick's latest, SHADOWS, ends tonight at midnight, AZT (3 am EST)!  Be sure to get your entries in by then for them to count.  You wouldn't want to miss this chance!  Good luck!

WORD's Got Strength

Today I'm over at WORD for Teens talking about strong characters and why showing me their strength  will always win over telling me about it.  I can tell you about my purple dinosaur pet but if only I can see it does it still exist?  Come find out.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Added to the Pile + 125

Technically I only received one book this week that's getting added to my pile.  The other, BLOOD FOREVER by Mari Mancusi, was graciously sent to me, signed, by the author for reading and /or promotional purposes even though I already had a digital copy.  It's for this reason, among MANY others, that Mari is awesome.

Via PaperBackSwap -

WHITE CROW by Marcus Sedgwick
Some secrets are better left buried; some secrets are so frightening they might make angels weep and the devil crow. Thought provoking as well as intensely scary, "White Crow" unfolds in three voices. There's Rebecca, who has come to a small, seaside village to spend the summer, and there's Ferelith, who offers to show Rebecca the secrets of the town...but at a price. Finally, there's a priest whose descent into darkness illuminates the girls' frightening story.  (
Horror!  Yes!  I have another one of Sedgwick's books in my review pile and I can't wait to get to both of them.  I may need to bump them up just for ambiance purposes.

Things I've Learned from Books + 168

Posted weekly, you get, for absolutely free, a bit of knowledge learned from the books I read. I just couldn't keep this wealth of information to myself. That would be cruel. It will keep your gray matter happy. And happy gray matter keeps it from de-evolving. De-evolving is bad. You don't want to be sludge, do you? Or a fish?

Using the term 'Titanic' in reference to a book is one hell of a marketing ploy.  People will eat it right up.  But if you're going to use it be sure to actually include something substantial about the ship in the story.  No one wants to read what they're told is a story about the Titanic when it's barely more than a headline in a passing newspaper in the plot.  Hulk likes to smash things like that.

80s Awesomeness! ~ 175

80s Awesomeness! is an original concoction of my insanity need to live in the 80s. The flashback started here and posts weekly on Saturdays, highlighting the best of 80s fashion, music, movies and whatever else the coked up, yuppie Rubik's Cube decade can throw at you.

Look vaguely familiar?  Did a particular song pop into your head and now won't leave you until at least Friday?  It should.  This is the original Baywatch cast from 1989.  I know The Hoff is kind of unrecognizable with his shirt on but the bathing suits on the women should be a dead giveaway.  Baywatch originally ran from 1989 to 1990 and was cancelled because no one was watching.  Surely you jest.  The Hoff, being the repository of genius that he is, kept pushing and brought the show back in 1991 with a cast that'll be more familiar to many, including myself.

Yes, I was an avid Baywatch fan back in my youth, mainly for Hobie.  I loved Hobie.  Remember when he got all wrapped up in the jellyfish tentacles and almost drowned?  I was traumatized.  I also didn't understand the slow motion running scenes that plagued every episode.  Oh what innocent eyes I had.

Here's the pilot intro.  It may throw your senses into a state of confusion -

And the one that most of us know and tolerate. Try not to sing too loud. You'll scare the children.

Freaky Friday :|: 175

Freaky Friday is a weekly post highlighting YA horror published between 1980 and 1999, originally inspired by Sharon's (Loves Books and Cats) Flashback Friday.

Title: Watcher in the Dark
Author: Beverly Hastings
Published: 1986
Publisher: Berkley
A misleading cover and a spooky title promises more than this first novel delivers. In a contrived story with a number of holes that leave the reader asking too many questions, Erin Moore, a high school senior, babysits for four-year-old Abby when her father goes on a business trip. Tension mounts as one by one, the people Erin could turn to in a time of crisis are conveniently inconvenienced, while Erin becomes convinced that someone is after Abby. Is it Abby's college-aged half-brother? An unknown watcher? Unfortunately, the reader knows the answer all along, and there's not much mystery here, although suspense is high. Readers with a penchant for thrillers may enjoy this adequately written story about a teen caught in a babysitter's nightmare.  (
1) Yes, I'm late again.  There are actually things to DO here in AZ that I find more entertaining than being on the interwebs.  So, you know, priorities.  2) New author!  This list will be short because Beverly Hastings wasn't what you'd call prolific.  Plus her catalogue is a mix of adult and YA so it'll be even shorter as a result.  Expect another new author rather soon.

It would appear Publisher's Weekly (the author of that blurb there) was not impressed with this title, consisting, or so they say, of standard babysitter stalker fare.  RL Stine already did this, that I know.  It looks like your standard whodunnit with a scared teenager.  I'd probably pass this one up even without reading PW's added disdain.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

YAckers Review - Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Published September 11, 2012.

Author website.

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head. 

But all that changes when the Lynburns return. 

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?  (

UNSPOKEN was September's YAck pick.  I had to gracefully bow out since that was during my time of state transition so I have absolutely nothing of value to add about this one.  But you should still check out it's YAck over here.  The response appears to be rather positive.  Except for my evil twin.  I wouldn't expect any less.

Ban Factor: Unknown - I didn't read it.  I have no idea.  Since it deals with head voices and words like 'eerily' I'm going to hazard a guess it might be on a few radars.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Not In My School (19)

Not In My School is a weekly feature that throws out one YA lit cliche a week to compare to my own high school days. Because we all know how accurate those fictional nuances are . . .

Writers everywhere

There appears to be an inordinate amount of parents who are writers in YA lately.  And children.  And the kids aren't just your standard 'I write bad poetry to the tune of Fall Out Boy' writers but SERIOUS novelists.  And the parents are some level of established author.  I don't know if all of these manifestations are authors' dream worlds or what but while there were a fair share of writers in my high school only a very small handful were something beyond teen angst serious about it.  None of the parents were anywhere near published.  Read YA novels and authors/writers are EVERYWHERE.  As if that's the number one job in the created world of the books and the number one thing for all involved to aspire to.  I wish but it just wasn't so.  At least not for me.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

August and September TBR Pile Update

Moving cross-country has a tendency of rattling things up a bit.  My one month of being an Arizona resident comes up on Thursday and I'm still trying to settle into some kind of routine.  The prospect that we're moving again soon doesn't help things any but I'm trying.  At least I have something down.  Let's take another step toward settling, shall we?

The pile at the beginning of the year -

And ye olde digital list -

DREAMING ANASTASIA by Joy Preble (free copy from BN)
MESMERIZE by Artist Arthur
ESCAPING TITANIC by Marybeth Lorbiecki
TITANIC by Philip Wilkinson
TIME VOYAGE by Steve Brezenoff
THE LIBERATION OF MAX MCTRUE by Kim Culbertson (from the author)

By the time I moved I was trekking about 197 books 2,600 miles.  To get technical Soldier Boy was driving the truck and since I spent a fair portion of the unloading with my head in the toilet he was the one that actually brought the boxes in.  But, you know, technicalities.  So where am I now?  At 195.  It's starting to feel like a slow crawl.  Yes, I'm dropping but it feels like water weight at this point that keeps collecting around my lower belly and JUST WON'T GO AWAY.

What my pile looks like now in it's new location -

At least now I don't run the risk of slamming my head into the rather hard beam of a pitched ceiling.  That hurt a bit.

And my most recent digital pile (from NetGalley unless otherwise stated) -

THE POISON DIARIES by Maryrose Wood (Epic Reads deal)
ASHEN WINTER by Mike Mullin 
TWO AND TWENTY DARK TALES edited by Georgia McBride and Michelle Zink
MORE by TM Franklin
THE LOST PRINCE by Julie Kagawa
MIDWINTERBLOOD by Marcus Sedgwick
IRON'S PROPHECY by Julie Kagawa (a .79 steal from Harlequin)

I'm down to a little baby digital list now but now I have a job where I actually don't have time to read at my desk for hours on end so don't expect me to crank through these like I've been.  I'm back to reading like a normal person now.  Chagrin.  That number whittling down is going to go even slow.

Monday, October 1, 2012

I'm Pretty Sure I'm Not Being Boycotted by the Internets

You may or may not have noticed that, if you click on my stat counter at the bottom of my site, you'll see some rather screwy numbers.  Namely none at all.  My counter was working fine until a few days ago when my stats started to drop rather significantly.  I've seen drops like that before a couple of times so it didn't really dishearten me although I did get a bit of a frownie face.

Then the counter just stopped logging altogether and it looked like literally no one was coming to my site.  I checked a further few days back and noticed that all of my stats were wiped out back to last Monday, looking like no one's been to my site in a week and they're still not coming.  Apparently not even bots like Bites anymore.

Except I know I don't suck that hard that I went from 250 unique views a day to zero in a span of 48 hours.  I didn't post anything THAT offensive.  At least I think.  So I'm looking into it.  I have a ticket into the stat counter people so we'll see what happens.  Sometime last week the server was unavailable and my stats started dropping off just after it came back up so methinks there's a correlation.

Just to let the publishers, authors and my readers know that I do still have a readership according to my Blogger stats.  At least I have those to fall back on.  Sort of.  It's something showing people are visiting my site.  I'll take it.  Hopefully this gets fixed quickly because seeing big fat zeroes for daily page views is a total downer even though I know it's not true.  Help me feed my ego, Stat Counter!  Please!

The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff

Published August 1, 2012.

Three Author Websites.

From acclaimed YA authors Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff comes The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories. 

- A vampire locked in a cage in the basement, for good luck. - Bad guys, clever girls, and the various reasons why the guys have to stop breathing. 

- A world where fires never go out (with references to vanilla ice cream). 

These are but a few of the curiosities collected in this volume of short stories by three acclaimed practitioners of paranormal fiction. But The Curiosities is more than the stories. Since 2008, Maggie, Tessa, and Brenna have posted more than 250 works of short fiction to their website Their goal was simple: create a space for experimentation and improvisation in their writing—all in public and without a backspace key. In that spirit, The Curiosities includes the stories and each author's comments, critiques, and kudos in the margins. Think of it as a guided tour of the creative processes of three acclaimed authors. 

So, are you curious now?  (


NetGalley noted the pub date for this book as today but Goodreads is showing back in August.  Considering Goodreads has the bump-up date for Meagon Spooner's SKYLARK I'm going with the Goodreads date for accuracy.

Okay, so book?  Andrew Karre is a publishing genius, never pandering to a wave or reading fad.  He's his own dowsing rod of incredible works, sniffing them out like a nifler and finding precious, precious gold.  Instead of lifting debuts out of the publishing ashes this time he's taken the minds of three already-established authors and exposed their twisted brains in bound book form.

Stiefvater, Gratton and Yovanoff have been experimentally writing as the Merry Fates for years now, stretching their writerly fingers beyond the scope of each of their perceived comfort zones.  The end result in THE CURIOSITIES is a peek behind Oz's curtain, complete with handwritten cliff notes and StiefTonOff (I need to copyright that) doodles to compliment the shorts scattered throughout.  They banter back and forth about each others' writing styles, throw comments about and generally boost each other up as they dip their toes into unfamiliar, and oftentimes murky, water.

The style of each author emerges almost immediately and you get an almost intimate sense of what each is comfortable writing and what was really a stretch into no-man's land.  It got to a point in THE CURIOSITIES that I didn't need to read who the short was written by, they were that distinct from each other.  You get to see some of their prompts and how each author sometimes interprets something as simple as a single name and even when they reach beyond their zone they all cling to something familiar, something stylistic that grounds them in the unknown.  They wax writer-like about drawing blanks, building a story from a single image or a single sentence or even a snippet of some weird dream.  It's a true look into the heads of authors without the classroom lessons of writing.  All you're getting are real world examples and they're so much more poignant.

Maggie is consistent Maggie even when she's trying to be Brenna or Tessa.  I will admit I was not thrilled with her Ballad of Faerie series.  While her writing was beautiful I felt it was more author than character and as a result I stepped away from her Wolves of Mercy Falls series, not wanting to read more of the same.  But what with her story in KISS ME DEADLY and now all of these it's only a matter of time before I pick up another Maggie book.  I just like her shorts far too much.  Her voice is so much more than just her and her range as an author is astounding.  She can flit in and out of genres as if she were skipping despite how taxing some of those stories were to write.  I am coming around again.

Tessa has a thing for grim fairy tales without really broaching into horror.  She plays at the line with her freaky dolls and pokes brownies in their eyes just for shits and giggles.  She takes a fey world and by sheer will of style turns it into something not only eerily dark but captivating and something wholly other, spinning metaphors into pure gold.  I love it when she dredged up barely touched lore and adds her platinum touch to it.  THE SUMMER ENDS IN SLAUGHTER is one such example that blends lore and darkness and Tessa touch into something that's captivating, drawing you in and not letting you look away.

Brenna prances across that horror line and plays with the dead, dressing them up in decaying dresses and stringing them up like marionettes to put on a show.  NEIGHBORS blew me away to the point of speechlessness.  The opening blurbs even warn about the stereotypical twist.  You know what's coming as you read but you don't because Brenna, in all her twisted horror glory, twists the twist and while you may see one you won't see the other.  By god I loved it.  I need more Brenna stories in my demented, horror-loving life.

THE CURIOSITIES is not only an excellent collection of short stories meant as a glimpse into the legwork of writers but an amazing introduction to the authors StiefTonOff.  See the genius that is Andrew's editing skills in compiling this novel of awesome and then read the expansive minds of three authors with rather set comfort zones shatter their own walls and wander into the wild.

Ban Factor: High - From vampires to fairies to a libido-laden dead teenager there is a veritable smorgasbord of screech-worthy banstuff in here.
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