Monday, August 1, 2011

Enduring Romance is Retired

It was a glorious four year run, making love connections between authors and readers! And those Cyber-Launch Book Parties were a blast. A big thanks to everyone who ever popped in. If anyone wants to follow me around the blogosphere, I can be found at my main site Kimber An and will be spending a lot of time at our new group blog for ePublished YA authors, Fabulously Young ePubs.

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Countdown to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Book Seven-Part 2-THE REST OF HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS BY J.K ROWLING!!
Yep, it’s time for Part II!!!! Whoo-hoo! It’s the Last Battle, and it’s awesome!! Here we go:

            Okay, where were we? Oh, yeah. Dobby just died, they’re at Shell Cottage with Luna, Dean, Mr. Ollivander, and Griphook. Wonderful.
            The trio only stays there long enough to interrogate Griphook and Mr. Ollivander about the possibility of a Horcrux in the Lestranges’ vault and the possibility of Lord Voldemort having (dun-dun-doww!!) the Elder Wand, respectively.
            So they set off to break into Gringotts-not a good idea, to say the least. This is proved when the treasure in the vault is cursed and nearly kills them, a horde of goblins turn up and nearly kill them, and they hitch a ride on a blind dragon (do NOT try that at home!), which again, nearly kills them.
            Luckily, though, they get the Horcrux-a cup that used to belong to Helga Hufflepuff. Unluckily, Griphook got the sword, so they have nothing to destroy it with. Unluckier still, Voldemort’s noticed Harry’s going after his Horcruxes. He’s going around checking on them-and no doubt he’s going to be slightly annoyed when he discovers most of them are gone. Okay, that was a bit of an understatement. Try REALLY REALLY YELL-HIS-LUNGS-OUT-ZAP-SOME-GOBLINS/HOUSE ELVES/WHATEVER’S HANDY annoyed. That also means he’s going to turn up at Hogwarts and probably protect his Horcrux there even more securely.
            Harry has to get there first. They Apparate into Hogsmeade, where they discover the Death Eaters have the whole place under their control. They’re nearly captured but rescued by Aberforth Dumbledore, Dumbledore’s brother!
            Aberforth protests their fighting Voldemort and all, telling them Dumbledore’s full backstory in the process, but eventually lets them into Hogwarts via a passageway to the Room of Requirement.
            There they meet Neville, Luna, Ginny, and some other old friends, including Cho Chang which makes things a little awkward. But eventually they sort things out and Luna takes Harry to the Ravenclaw dormitory to see a model of what Harry thinks is the Hogwarts Horcrux-Rowena Ravenclaw’s long-lost diadem.
            While there a Death Eater attacks, is Stunned by Luna, and the Death Eater and her brother are tied up by Professor McGonagall, who decides to support Harry and fight Voldemort. A little later we meet Snape, who duels Professor McGonagall and escapes, presumably to join Voldemort, who by the way is on his way to Hogwarts RIGHT NOW!!!!
            Luckily, no one decides to run and scream their lungs out. Unluckily, Voldemort is aware of what is going on and prepares to take over Hogwarts. The Order of the Phoenix joins in and the battle begins.
            Meanwhile, Harry finds Ron and Hermione. Somehow they managed to get into the Chamber of Secrets, get a basilisk fang, and destroy the cup Horcrux, sharing their first KISS (YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!) in the process. Now they’ve just got to figure out how to get the diadem.
            Luckily, Harry gets a brainwave and comes up with the answer: it’s in the Room of Requirement! Unluckily, Draco Malfoy and his henchmen Crabbe and Goyle follow him there. Crabbe, who seems to be a bit rebellious lately, sets a Fiendfyre curse going, and the trio, Draco, and Goyle barely manage to get out. Luckily, the fire destroys the Horcrux. Unluckily, Crabbe dies in the blaze.
            And the tearjerking only starts there. It quick succession three people we never thought would die do just that. I’m not saying who, but it’s pretty major.
            All this has Harry close to despair. Only heightening the drama is Professor Snape’s death at the hands of Voldemort. But before he dies, he gives Harry a memory. Harry heads up to Dumbledore’s office. He finds out from the memory that-surprise!!!-Dumbledore had planned his death with Snape, so Snape never truly won the Elder Wand from Dumbledore-and thereby, neither did Voldemort! Actually, Draco did-remember, he’d Disarmed Dumbledore right before Snape killed him. So technically it was Draco-and remember, Harry took Draco’s wand at Malfoy Manor, so now-dun dun doww!!-the Elder Wand is Harry’s! Yeah, confusing, I know. But really, are there any good books that aren’t?
            But even bigger than that is the revelation-Harry’s a Horcrux!
            Yep, you heard me right. Harry has a bit of Voldemort’s soul living in him. This explains how Harry got Parseltongue, and all those times he read Voldemort’s mind, and how his scar would hurt whenever Voldemort was really angry, really happy, or really close.
            Unfortunately, it also means that Harry has to die if anyone’s to beat Voldemort.
            So he does.
            Now, don’t everyone go running and screaming in panic. Harry doesn’t die. He almost dies, which is another matter entirely.
            He survives, again, due to a serious lapse of good sense on Voldemort’s part. Remember when Voldemort took Harry’s blood to revive himself way back in Goblet of Fire? Well, that’s what saves Harry now. When he took Harry’s blood, Voldemort bound them both to life while the other lived. In other words, Voldemort can’t kill Harry, and vice versa. Not for long, though!
            And plus, Voldemort just unknowingly destroyed the piece of his soul that was in Harry, so there’s only one Horcrux left-nasty old Nagini.
            She’s soon taken care of by everyone’s favorite cheer-on-able hero, Neville, leaving Harry and Voldemort in the final showdown. Who will win?! Will Harry win, and save the whole world, wizards and Muggles alike? Or will the former-super-cute Tom Riddle turned Voldemort win and take over the world?!
            I’m not saying, but it should be obvious if you’ve been paying attention.
            Well, that’s it everyone! I have now reviewed the whole Harry Potter series! I think I did an OK job, but it’s nothing at all like the actual book, so I recommend you go read the whole series. It’s been really fun reviewing these, and I hope you enjoyed it. Sadly the series is now at an end: all the books and movies have been released. But it’s been great! Now go read some more, and I’ll be back with more great reviews! Until then, happy hippogriffs to you! 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fabulously Young ePubs Launches Tomorrow!

Pop on over and check it out.  We have NINE authors contributing from three different publishers.  Fabulously Young ePubs

Monday, July 25, 2011

Fabulously Young ePubs!

Hey, Blog Buds, the other Decadent YA authors and I are throwing together a group blog, so I'll be transitioning to that this weekend as Enduring Romance goes into retirement.  If you are or know anyone who is an *ePublished* Young Adult author, please let us know!  We're all Decadent right now, but we'd like to include non-Decadent authors to spread the love.  Fabulously Young ePubs

Saturday, July 23, 2011

More of Kimber Jr's Top Ten HARRY POTTER Stuff

Kimber An here: This is excellent feedback on why readers like certain characters.
My Top Ten favorite Harry Potter characters
1.      Luna Lovegood-because she is AWESOMENESS ITSELF!!!! I like her because she has imagination and believes in things she can’t see, and she’s a very good character. She also knows how to stand up for herself! ;)
2.      Hermione Granger-because she is among the greatest heroines of all time!!!!! She’s cool because she’s a bit of a know-it-all but that’s a good thing because she’s able to help Harry with the hunt for the Horcruxes. She’s also not afraid to punch bullies like Malfoy! She’s a really good friend and is always there for Harry and Ron and she’s just truly brilliant! And plus-she has a really good sense of timing! ;)
3.      Ginny Weasley-because she is a true Gryffindor!!!!! I’m pretty sure a lot of people just think of her as Harry’s love interest. NOT TRUE!! Yes, she likes Harry. And Harry likes her. And they kiss like four times-holding the record for most kisses between the same two characters in Harry Potter-but she’s so much more!!! Hey, she dueled Death Eaters in the Department of Mysteries, not to mention took part in the Battle of Hogwarts!! She grew a lot from the timid first-year who was possessed by Tom Riddle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Now its clear-she’s a true Gryffindor!
4.      Harry Potter-because he is a truly realistic protagonist!!!! Now Harry is the person who generally comes to mind when you think of Harry Potter-for obvious reasons. He is like the greatest protagonist ever, just because of the way he grows from book to book. When he’s eleven, he acts like an eleven-year-old. When he’s fifteen, he acts like a fifteen-year-old. And when he’s seventeen, he acts like a seventeen-year-old. He’s also the type of hero you care about. He’s not some random guy running around zapping this other bald guy for no apparent reason. He’s a boy who lost his parents to a very evil wizard and wants to avenge them and everyone else who’s lost their lives to Voldemort. You really care about him and let me tell you that really comes into play in the last part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. All in all, just a truly great character!!
5.      Ron Weasley-because he is a very good friend to Harry!!!! Ron can be a confusing character. He’s often insensitive and sometimes a bit unkind, but he’s really a very loyal friend to Harry and Hermione. He’s also prone to jealousy, but in the end shows himself as a true Gryffindor, fighting alongside Harry in pretty much every major battle he’s in. Not to mention he, like Hermione, has a very good sense of timing!! ;)
6.      Mrs. Weasley-because she’s the one who zapped Bellatrix!!!!! Of course, that one act pretty much seals her place in my top ten, because I absolutely hate Bellatrix. But more than that, she acts as a mother figure to Harry, whose mother was killed by Voldemort. She’s very caring and can be very fierce-as she demonstrated when she zapped Bellatrix-when those she loves are in danger.
7.      Bellatrix Lestrange-because she was bad, but she was very, very good at it!!! Honestly, even I have to admit she was a really good villainess, possibly second only to Cruella DeVil. In fact I’d say she’s my all-time favorite villain, Harry Potter or not.  I would say she even beats out Voldemort in terms of true evilness, but I don’t think so. They’re about equal in terms of true evil, and after all that’s what being a villain’s all about.
8.      Fred & George Weasley-because they are the main sources of comic relief, yet still manage to be true heroes!!!! These twins are two of the funniest characters I’ve ever encountered in books in general, and yet they still manage to pull off the whole hero routine, and do it well. Not to mention they got revenge on Professor Umbridge, who in my opinion is second in nastiness only to Bellatrix and Voldemort themselves! Truly awesome!!!
9.      Neville Longbottom-because he is a true unsung hero!!!!! Truth be told, he’s not the type you’d expect to become a hero-though then, neither is Luna. But boy does he become one in the end!!!! He’s the one who defeated Nagini, the last remaining Horcrux, with the sword of Gryffindor. I’m going to say right now, they expanded his role quite a bit in the movie of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and I love how they did it. It’s absolutely magnificent, and if you didn’t think Neville was a true hero yet, you would now!!
10.   Severus Snape-because he is a truly dynamic, tragic character!!!! Surprised? Don’t be. He is a surprisingly dynamic character. In the first few books he’s just basically a big bully to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. In Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince, you learn more about him, including his backstory. Honestly, before I saw the movie, I never thought I’d get that emotional over Snape. He’s just not the type you have much sympathy for-until the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Pt. 2). Then, just when you start thinking “OK, Snape’s a definite villain ‘cause he killed Dumbledore and pretty much took over Hogwarts, oh, and not to mention he’s a Death Eater,” BOOM!! That whole thing just positively shatters and you really get to see what a tragic life Professor Snape had. You’d never have thought it, but he is a true hero and deserves his place on my list.

My Favorite Harry Potter Book & Movie:
Book: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-just because it’s when you see everything completed and it all makes sense.
Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2-it’s just magnificent and emotional and everything else a truly great movie should be. Hands down my favorite Harry Potter movie. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Top Ten Favorite HARRY POTTER Moments

In celebration of the last Harry Potter movie, my daughter compiled several lists of favorites.  Besides being fun, I think it's helpful to us writers to see what appeals to readers. 
Movie Only: this scene is only in the movie, not the book
BaM: this scene is in both the book and the movie
1.      Harry and Hermione’s dance-movie only, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
2.      Dumbledore’s Farewell-BaM (but they’re very different), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
3.      Ron and Hermione say Goodbye-movie only, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 2
4.      Hermione Punches Malfoy-BaM, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban  Clip on YouTube
5.      Ron & Hermione’s Kiss-BaM, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Pt. 2)

6.      Harry & Ginny’s Kiss-BaM, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
7.      Harry & Ginny’s Kiss-BaM, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (pt. 1)
8.      Harry & Ginny’s Kiss-movie only, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2
9.      Harry & Cho’s Kiss-BaM, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
10.   Mrs. Weasley Zaps Bellatrix Lestrange-BaM, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (pt.2)
Of course, this IS a personal favorite of MAMA BEARS like me the world over!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

This Blog Will Retire August 1st...

...after four glorious years of making love connections between Readers and Writers. It will remain online, but become Read Only. Please pop back in for updates between now and August 1st.

What Matters Most?

Most of the young adult fiction I write has to do with people saving the world. (Hell, that's what most of my fiction deals with in some way.) But as we know from super-hero movies, even when you're saving the world, you still have a life. So at what point does one fall prey to the other?

I have a tendency to come into popular TV series late. Buffy the Vampire Slayer? I started watching in season 6. Smallville? Uh...on DVD right around the time it ended its run. (Yay for jumping on Supernatural from the start! doesn't take place in high school, so we'll save that for another day's analysis.) But one great thing about watching so much of these shows all at once is that the trends kind of whack you over the head with a two-by-four.

Buffy and Angel I understood. He was instrumental to helping her save the world (or occasionally trying to destroy it himself) more than once. So that was a romance that fit right in with her being the chosen one. But her other romances? Not quite as much.

And don't even get me started on Clark Kent. Seriously, boyo, save the world or get the girl.

There's a delicate balancing act when you're dealing with world-ending matter and dating. How many times did Clark have to ditch Lana to go be a hero before she got the message that he had something more important going on? (Granted, he did, but since she didn't know, that isn't the point.) And Buffy? The only boyfriends that stuck for that girl were the ones who also weren't quite "normal", and every one of them that lasted knew she was the Slayer. And you know that the love interest always ends up in trouble, especially if they aren't super-(or supernatural)-powered.

So how does a character decide what matters most? The love-interest or "the world"? One's immediate and one's...kind of vague. The balance of one life you know and care intensely about weighed against the many strangers. And what does that decision say about them as a "person"? The copout, of course, is that they can manage to save everyone. Sometimes it works. Sometimes though, it just looks like a cheat.

As a writer, it's something I try to weigh very carefully, because reality says it can't work every time. At some point, the character has to decide and someone has to lose.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

YA Decadent Blog Stomp: Bitter Roses

Good morning, Blog Buds!  It's my turn for the blog stomp.  Please scroll to the bottom or click on the Blog Stom icon on the sidebar to the left to learn how you can enter the daily drawings and the Grand Prize drawing for the loaded KINDLE!  
Looking around at all the wonderful YA Authors I hang out with at Decadent got me thinking about why I write Young Adult in the first place.  Well, at first, I didn't.  I had no idea what I wrote.  I just had big stories in my head and I wrote them down.  It wasn't until people started critting them for me over at Critique Circle  , people like Sara Gwen  who was a teenager at the time, that I started getting feedback about having a 'voice' best suited to writing for teens.  Duh.  So, I worked on toning that voice and packaging my stories for that audience. 
So, why is my voice best suited for teens?  My personal opinion is my lack of Bitter Roses.  What I mean by that is Adults seem to go through a change at around age 20 (scientifically speaking, this is the age at which the human brain stops growing) and they begin to look back on their childhood and adolescence either in Bitterness or through Rose-Colored Glasses.  Their ability to Think and Feel as their younger selves diminishes dramatically. (I've seen a similar thing happen around age 40, but that's for a different post.)
This diminishing never happened for me.
Here's a song to demonstrate what I mean:
'When I Grow Up' by the Beach Boys
As I was saying, I still Think and Feel childhood and adolescence, which is undoubtedly why I was a Childcare Professional for years and years before having my own four children and finally becoming a published YA author.
And there's another thing.  My childhood and teens were far from ideal.  I've read that other authors, most notably J.K. Rowling  write for young people as a way to recapture childhood, because their own was not-so-good.  I know I'm nowhere near the calibur of author Rowling is, but I think I've learned something she has too and I've learned to infuse my stories with it.  You can either let Pain fester into Bitterness and end up miserable.  Or, you can turn Pain on its ear and become Empathetic to those who suffer similarly.  This is why the heroine of the Ophelia Dawson Chronicles is an Empath.  It's a supernatural ability for her, but any human can learn empathy by really seeing and feeling for those around her, and then acting in a compassionate way.  I'm not saying I've arrived at that, but my journey in life is taking me there.
Commenters on today’s post are entered to win a Decadent title of their choice. In addition, all commenters will be entered into Decadent’s grand prize drawing. There’s some great stuff to win, so please enter today and enter often!
Kimber An

Thank you

I hadn't quite expected to be doing this so soon, but I'd like to say thank you to Kimber An for having me as a reviewer on Endurance Romance. She was the friend who went 'go for it!' when I mumbled about becoming a book reviewer and getting a blog. I'm so glad I took her advice!

Today's my last review on ER for a while. I've had to think through a few long term plans because of my health, and I'm cutting back on extra responsibility outside my own review blog. I'll still pop in to read posts, and I'll definitely be back if I have any publication news for my own novels. Although there's a big ocean between us, I've had fun working alongside Kimber An, Rebecca, Mfitz, Kimber An Junior (whose reviews are hilarious and always have me grinning madly at my laptop screen). I might be able to come back one day, but I'll have to see where life takes me first.

Never stop reading! Books are what make the world go round, along with love and friendship, all of which are found here.

The Jinn Darazgosh by Musharraf Ali Farooqi

June 2011, Kindle ebook
Short story (fable)
Review copy

Summary of the book received with the publicity info
A Fable Relating How the Curiosity of a Jinn Led to the Usual Unhappy Results and Brought About the Closure of the Heavens Upon His Race

As this was such a short story, I won't use my usual review format. I think this is the first Islamic fable I've read. I was really intrigued by it, and I wasn't disappointed with the story. Darazgosh is quite a character, and a prime example of how the full story is often needed to fully understand a situation. I was constantly trying to second guess the story, and I failed miserably every time (a good thing). It is a really short tale, but it's one that's going to remain with me for a long time. I know I'll be re-reading it to remember the finer details, as well as for remembering that situations are often never what they appear to be, because no one ever knows all sides of it. That's the fun of life!

You can find out more about Musharraf on his website.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Done with SWEET BYTES!

Woo-hoo!  Kimber An   is a happy author today!

Decadent YA Chat for Blog Tour

It's tomorrow night, July 6th.  Come and be entered into the Blog Stomp's prize drawings!
Decadent YA Chat at the Romance Studio

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Decadent Publishing YA Blog Tour Starts Today!

Good morning, Blog Buds!
My publisher, Decadent, kicks off its month-long blog tour today, starting at home with Let's Get This Party Started!   This one's hosted by fellow YA author, Leslie Soule who is also one of my editors.

Leave a comment under this post or any other related post here or at one of the other participating blogs and you will be entered into the prize drawings.
Grand Prize:  An Amazon Kindle loaded with SIX eBooks!
First Prize:   a free eBook each month for 12 months
Second Prize:  a free eBook each month for 6 months.
Additionally, each stop on the blog tour will have a drawing for an eBook on its assigned day.
This blog's stop is July 7th. 
Today's stop is at Daily Dose of Decadence

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Romance Endurance Training

I have to admit, the title Enduring Romance always makes me giggle a little bit. Because if you think about it, it can be taken two (or maybe more) ways. First is the straight-forward "romance that lasts forever" sweetness and light. Then there's the "putting up with romance" angle. On any given day, I can alternate between those two meanings like they're on opposing sides of a wildly swinging pendulum.

You see, I consider myself primarily a "strong romantic elements" type of author. I can do straight romance, but I have a much harder time with it. I think the problem is I have a hard time looking at romance and falling in love as the primary part of anyone's story. An important part to be sure, but primary? For me that only works in fairy tales. So when I read or write romance, I always have to put on my princess glasses and see the world in this rainbow of cartoon colors. Sometimes it works...sometimes it doesn't.

Strong romantic elements though? (Happy sigh) That's my sweet spot. It still has all the magic of boy meeting girl (or girl meeting girl or boy meeting boy...whatever match-up the story at hand needs), but like in life it's told within the framework of a bigger picture. Characters get to fall in love while finding the bad guy or running from danger or saving the world. It still happens, but it isn't the primary focus of their lives.

Because whether we like to admit it or not, there's always more than romance going on. There's school and jobs and family and friends, and sometimes falling in love has to take a backseat to those other things. For me, in romance stories, it always wants to be in the front seat--preferably driving.

Oddly enough, the first novel I ever tried to write was a romance. It was an epic love story about these two kids who ran away together as teenagers then were torn apart by life and how they fought to find each other again later. There was war and natural disaster and all sorts of stuff going on, but the focus of the story was the main characters and their emotional journey with each other. It...uh...*cough*...never made it very far. As much as I loved the idea (and still do, as a matter of fact) I couldn't write it.

Romance writers get a lot of grief from people saying how easy it is to write that "fluff". I'm pretty sure the only people who say that are the ones who've never tried writing it. Romance is hard.

Then again, so is falling in love.


Julie Particka is the author of Pretty Souls, book one of the Paranormal Response Team series, and the newest contributing member to Enduring Romance. She'll be posting every third Sunday. In the meantime, you can find her online at her website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs

9th June 2011 (UK), Mira Books
540 pages, Paperback
Review copy


Book blurb
Olivia Bellamy has traded her trendy Manhatten life for a summer renovating her family's crumbling holiday resort. Tempted by the hazy, nostalgic memories of summers past - childhood innocnece and the romance and rivalries of her teens - it's the perfect place to flee after her broken engagement. 

But what began as an escape may just be a new beginning. 

As Olivia uncovers secrets buried thick with dust, one by one her family return, their lives as frayed at the edges as the resort. Her father and the mystery woman in the tatty black and white photograph, Uncle John, who's trying to be a father again to his teenage kids. Conna Davis, the first love she never forgot. 

Laughter is ringing around Willow Lake once more. This could be Olivia's summer of a lifetime!

Nayuleska's reasons for loving Olivia: although she's been emotionally burned, she focuses on a project and gives it her all. It's not her fault that because of the project ghosts from the past emerge: they are mysterious, painful and pleasurable.

Is there another character who deserves a mention? Daisy - initially she isn't someone I like or relate to, but she cares so much for her brother, and just wants to be loved by her father. I like who she becomes by the end of the story.

How evil/nasty is the enemy? Substance abuse is horrific at any age. Keeping essential secrets about a loved one's past can initially cause an awful lot of hurt, but it doesn't last forever.

Are there plenty of plot twists and surprises? Apart from the obvious ones indicated in the blurb, there were a nice lot of surprises. I especially liked how the story switched povs, and switched from the present day to the past (mostly to life at camp).

One of my favourite parts was...frustratingly I thought I'd put a bookmark at my favourite part, but I haven't so I haven't go the exact details. It was when Daisy became happier with her family situation, and wanted to do something with her life.

I give this romance/family saga 9/10, with the romance rated between mildly sensual to sensual, there's also some strong language and substance use/abuse.

If you like this I recommend Lily's Journey by Tania Crosse, another story full of family secrets and character growth.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Kimber An's Site


Wanted! By Kate Thompson

September 2010, Bodley Head (UK publisher)
128 pages, Hardback
Review copy

Children's, Historical, 9+

Drama, ancient Rome, mad emperors, misunderstanding, tense moments, family ties and support, some humour

Summary from Random House Children's Books (UK)
Marcus is a young baker in Ancient Rome, living with his family in the shadow of the murderous Emperor Littleboots. When a slave boy shoves the reins of a sleek, beautiful horse into Marcus’s hands seconds before he is killed by a soldier, Marcus knows he’s in danger – because the horse is Incitatus, the Emperor’s most prized and powerful animal. 

Will Marcus find a way to keep Incitatus hidden? Are the rumours of Littleboots’s death true – or is it all a trick? And how can Marcus save himself, and his family?

Nayuleska's reasons for loving Marcus...he's one plucky boy, although some might see him as unfortunate when Incitatus decides he likes Marcus & won't leave his side.

Is there another character who deserves a special mention? Incitatus - that horse has such character!

How evil/nasty is the enemy? I'd say pretty evil considering how Marcus could be executed at any moment.

Are there plenty of plot twists and surprises? It's surprising how much a small book took me by surprise. Never just a book on the number of pages!

One of my favourite parts was...when it ended. I could finally breathe a sigh of relief and not worry about Marcus.

I give this 9/10 - the illustrations added to the sense of action throughout the book.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Kimber An at Daily Dose of Decadence

I'm talking about the PLAYLIST for the Ophelia Dawson Chronicles there today.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Summer Reads & Writes

Hey, Blog Buds, school's out!  I've been spending almost all my computer time on Sweet Bytes, the next full length novel in the Ophelia Dawson Chronicles.  Now that school's out, I can do more.
Writing must always come first now.  I was hoping to have Sweet Bytes read to send to Decadent by the first week of May.  Um...okay, so then I set my goal for the last week in May.  Well...then in my story analysis I came up TWELVE chapters short of my wordcount.  Yeah, I spewed coffee on my computer screen.  Good thing I have Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder or that would have taken me months to figure out and then months more to figure out what to do about it.  As it is, it took just a few minutes.  But, it will take a solid week to make up those chapters.
Anyway...I reckon my editors would rather receive a story that's as complete and good as I can make it all by myself. 
Once that's done, I'm going to be spending time on blogosphere-wide events, like Decadent's YA Blog Tour in July.  I'll be guest blogging all over the place and such.  Stay tuned to this station for more details.
Besides that and a massive amount of end-of-the-homeschool-housecleaning, I also plan to READ!  Yes, read!  Haven't had time to do that in such a long time.  I really do miss being a book reviewer.  With the last Harry Potter movie coming out, I want to read the whole series again.  My children and I are planning to read Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone out loud together.
I also want to reread Nefertiti by Michelle Moran again.  It's one of those books I like to read once a year.  I want to read Lottery by Patricia Wood, but I gave my copy to my mother and made her swear to take excellent care of it.  Signed by the author, you know!  I'll check out a copy from the library.  Other rereads will be Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair and Apocalypse Blues by Walter Greatshell. 
For first time reads, I want to squeeze in some Steampunk, like Boneshaker by Cherie Priest and a few swoony Historical Romances set in World War II and the Old West.  Any recommendations?
Ahhh, summer!  I can't wait to go camping! 
You know what I can't figure out about camping these days?  Why in tarnation do people even go if they have to take all their modern junk with them?  When I go camping, goshdarnit, I wanna get dirty!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spy Girl: The Dark Side of Midnight by Carol Hedges

June 2005, Usborne books
272 pages, Paperback
Children's 11+, thriller-ish

Summary from Usborne.
Jazmin Dawson is a super-cool secret agent with hi-tech kit and a hi-octane life of crimebusting... in her dreams! In reality, Jazmin is a schoolgirl with a serious snack habit, whose biggest battles are with her maths homework. But then everything changes. Jazmin’s mum, who is a spy, goes missing and Jazmin is sent to rescue her. Stepping off the plane in Prague, Jazmin finds herself at the centre of an international mystery, and with a dangerous mission to infiltrate a rogue scientific institute.

Enjoying Ally Carter's spy series (ok so I've only read the first one to date..I do have the rest!), this one really caught my eye. It sounded awesome. Only at first I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd expected to. The style of writing is a bit different to what I'm used to, because there was a lot of pov changes in quite quick succession. I found it a little difficult to read the first paragraph of each section because of the style of font it was in, but that's a formatting issue.

It didn't take long before I was used to the style, and totally in love with Jazmin. I had formed several theories (just like Jaz) about what her cousin Clea was doing when she was away.((Jaz was staying with her cousin, aunt and uncle while her mother was away - she didn't want to be there! Clea didn't want Jaz hanging around, and kept disappearing. The mystery about Clea thickens when Jaz finds out that her cousin isn't actually with her friends - apparently Clea is with Jaz! Since they clearly aren't together, Jaz starts investigating) They were all wrong. I loved how Jaz dealt with everything thrown at her - she's so like me in some of the decisions she makes and her viewpoints. It's nice how imperfect she was, especially with loving snacks, and then realising she could get healthier by cutting down on them and switching what she eats. Her thoughts are very comical.

I think it was the way all the viewpoints started connecting together, then the way the links got thicker as the story progressed which grabbed my interest the most. I was sitting thinking 'oooooooo' as the book got closer to the end. Yes this is primarily a spy novel. It involves nutters (they are!). It also involves a key figure popular in children's & young adult fiction - angels. This angel isn't sweet - it's extremely scary! I was pretty freaked out by what it did. As for the end - that really blew my mind away. And Jaz's. Poor thing. Her cousin hadn't changed too much by the end of the story - which in some ways was a shame, but not entirely unexpected. As for Jaz - she changed a lot. She had to grow up very fast. Skip the next paragraph if you don't want minor spoilers.

Here's a minor spoiler: Jaz meets a guy who turns out to be more than he seems. Jaz doesn't know this though. Ever. There's a misunderstanding, they fall out, then tragedy strikes. How annoying! I was more mad than upset about this. Until what happened next...which was even more frustrating because Jaz doesn't know he survived! I'm so getting the 2nd book because I'm really hoping that the guy's disappearance will be an ongoing story. There's a real mystery there! 

Right back on track for everyone now. So many issues get addressed in this action packed book. Cults, parent-daughter relationships, life of high flying business men, a little bit of a futuristic style with some of the houses, paranormal with angels,  mild teen romance, life of spies and criminals.

This is definitely one of those books I'll be raving about to friends for a while, and insisting people check it out. Definitely gets 10/10 from me! Content wise it's relatively clean, with a bit of violence (on the gore-o-meter). Most of it is unseen violence though, all off the page.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Review: Semi-Sweet by Roisin Meaney (and CONTEST)

by Roisin Meaney

Genre: Foodie Fiction with Romantic Elements
Publisher: Grand Central
Cost: $10.95

CONTEST: See here.

What I Liked:
First of all, I'm a sucker for anything foodie-romance related. While this isn't really a romance novel, it is definitely a love story. I would say a'la Nicholas Sparks, only it's not depressing. Also, more interesting. But I have no affinity for Nick Sparks. Also known as The Spork. He gives love stories a bad name. This book will give them a good one.

I appreciated the uncomplicated voice of this book. It's a story that could so easily be a trainwreck, because there's so much going on, but the author pulls off an engaging, complex tale. And the food. Well, like I said, I love the food. This book is one of those novels that will entertain you, but leave you with a sense that this story could as easily have happened to you. Very unlike most foodie books I've read, but still worth the read. Well-written, and couldn't have been happier with the ending if I'd tried. Love books like this!

Book Blurb:
Hannah Robinson is just about to open the doors to her new shop Cupcakes on the Corner when out of the blue her boyfriend Patrick announces that he's leaving her for another woman. Faced with starting a business on her own, Hannah begins to wonder if her life-long dream has just turned into a nightmare. So her best friend Adam sets his birthday as a deadline - seven months to make her shop a success, or walk away from it all. And as Hannah immerses herself in her new business, she soon discovers that she's too busy to think about Patrick and his now pregnant girlfriend ...or to notice an increasingly regular customer who has recently developed a sweet tooth for all things cupcake. But while Hannah is slowly piecing her life back together, family friend Alice's is falling apart. Her husband Tom's drinking is getting out of control and things are about to get a whole lot worse. As the seven-month milestone approaches, Hannah must decide her future. And while she's figuring out what's really important, it becomes clear to everyone that happiness in life, and in love, is all in the making.

I will be giving away two copies of this book on my foodie romance blog. Come on over and check it out!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Writing & Philanthropy

Hello there everyone! Today I'm blogging about writing and philanthropy. Philanthropy is defined as "the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed by the donation of money to good causes."

If you've seen the movie Toy Story 3, then you're familiar with the part where Barbie and Ken meet for the first time and then say, "It's like we were made for each other."

Well that's how Writing and Philanthropy are, too - made for each other. On the one hand, you've got writing. In a way, writing is a dialogue that a person enters into with the world. On the other side of things is philanthropy, an act of dialogue with the world that a person enters into in an attempt to bring about positive change.

Many publishing houses are philanthropic and have causes that they support. Individual writers have causes that they support as well. My own personal quest for several months has been to find a good diabetes charity organization to work with. I didn't know where to begin. I'm fairly new both to writing and to philanthropy, so I expected to just pick out a charity organization, say "I'm a writer" and be directed to an author liaison, or something of the sort. How wrong I was! I cam to find that this is not in fact how things work in the real world.

After tirelessly searching and feeling like I'd just been calling out into a void (a lot of the writing process tends to feel like that) I finally gave up my ego and posted the question up on an author discussion group that I'm a part of. One of my author friends quickly replied, directing me to author Brenda Novak, who runs a huge online auction supporting diabetes research. I sent Brenda Novak an e-mail, with a bit of trepidation since she's a big-name author and I'm (Eep!) just Leslie. But Brenda Novak wrote back to me that same day.

The reason I chose diabetes as my own little philanthropic "pet project" is that my stepfather, Richard A. Anderson, died from diabetes back in 2002. So to me, supporting the cause of diabetes philanthropy is like a personal vendetta against my stepfather's killer. Also, it's an act that's opening my heart as well.

Check out the Brenda Novak Online Auction at - the site will go live on May 1st.

And check out my stepfather's novel, The Temple of the Heart!!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Introducing well known English Children's Author Jacqueline Wilson (2 reviews)

I don't usually review children's books here on ER, but today I thought I'd introduce everyone here to a well known English children's author, Jacqueline Wilson. I know that her books are sold everywhere, so I'm guessing they've made it across the pond. Jacqueline is a big force for children. In my view, she is known because her books tackle lots of difficult issues in a way that is both funny and serious at the same time. I read a few of her books when I was little. I love her books even more now, because I have a wider knowledge of the issues, I realise more than I did in the past how important her stories are to children. You can find out more on her website, including details of various awards.

On with the first review!

Lily Alone by Jacqueline Wilson

February 2011, Hardback (UK, unsure of USA)
Review copy, Children's, 9+

Summary from Random House Children's Books
Lily isn't home ALONE - but she sort of wishes she was; looking after her three younger siblings is a lot of responsibility. 

When Mum goes off on holiday with her new boyfriend and her stepdad fails to show up, Lily is determined to keep the family together and show they can cope without any grown-ups. But taking care of 6-year-old twins, her 3-year-old sister and the family's flat feels overwhelming and Lily is worried that school or social services might discover their situation and break up the family. What could be better than to take all the little ones for a camping adventure in the park? Plenty of space to run about, no carpet to vacuum, and surely no chance anyone will guess they're there . . .

I read Lily Alone when I needed a light read. That might seem a contradiction in terms considering the subject matter (parental neglect), but what I clung to was the humour that's dispersed throughout the story. Some books are solid heavy going. Having read Jaqueline's books before, I knew that this was the right blend for me in that particular mood.

Unfortunately Lily's mother's actions aren't unusual. Similar cases happen throughout the world each week (probably every day). Children should be at the heart of a family, and parents have an obligation (which is mostly enjoyed and not seen as a chore) to look after their children. Lily's mother's emotions are pretty up and down, and she seems more like a child than an adult. It's up to Lily to sort things out. Lily loves her mother. If she didn't, she would have spoken out when she and her siblings were left alone. She kept quiet and tried to do the right thing. It's an emotional book, with me wishing to take Lily and her siblings somewhere safe and warm. It's all from Lily's pov, and it's clear that she is mature for her age. The way her siblings view the situation is realistic. There is a lot of drama and strong emotions, so I recommend having tissues ready at this and the next book. I give it 9/10

The Longest Whale Song by Jaqueline Wilson

September 2010, Hardback (UK, not sure of USA)
Review copy, Children's 8+

Summary from Random House Children's Books 
Ella’s mum’s in a deep coma having just had a new baby. That means Ella has to live with Jack, her hopeless stepfather and cope with her tiny newborn brother, as well as worrying about Mum. The only thing that’s going right is her school project. It’s all about whales and how they sing out to each other to attract a mate – sometimes for hours. Maybe a whale song could reach Mum, wherever she is, and bring her back to Ella and baby Samson. Surely it’s worth a try?

Ella's story deals with several issues at once. Ella struggles to live with her stepdad. She doesn't like him, wishes he wasn't there, and that her mother was with her biological father. It's very clear from her voice exactly how she feels about him. It makes her mother's new situation a nightmare. She's so attached to her mother that you will need tissues as she tries to get her mother to react to her. Although the situation isn't a pleasant one, I liked how it helped her form new friendships at school, and learn to love research. It shows that when there is a major family incident schools are quite understanding (although there is a limit to how far the child in question can slack off). It shows there is always something everyone can do during difficult times Equally it helps deal with the tricky issue of a loved one being ill, and all the fear and anger emotions which go hand in hand with illness.

It's a sweet book because it reveals how over time Ella actually starts liking her stepfather. It's a very slow process, and she never adores him as much as her mother. She discovers that her own father doesn't always meet her expectations, which in turn brings about a new understanding for her stepfather. She also discovers that she loves her little brother dearly, and shows signs of being an awesome older sister. You'll have to read it to find out what happens when Ella plays the whale song to her mother - it's a moving scene. I've give this one 10/10

I hope you've enjoyed learning a little bit about Jacqueline's work, and please do check out her books.

(I forgot to say that both books have illustrations by Nick Sharratt, who often illustrates Jacqueline's work. His illustrations are distinctive and add volumes to the stories.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Review: Dark Kiss of the Reaper by Kristen Painter

Dark Kiss of the Reaper
by Kristen Painter

Genre: Paranormal Romance (Contemporary)
Cost: $3.99 (Kindle)

What I Liked:
Well, I'm a big fan of Kristen Painter's work in general, so I had a leg up already on that one. Not a huge fan of these angel stories, so it took some getting used to. But I'm glad I stuck through it, becuase as always, I adored her hero and thought even the heroine was worth reading (I'm notoriously hard on heroines).

This is not your typical Angel of Death story. In fact, I thought the world-building that Kristen Painter accomplished in this book was unique enough that I would be able to distinguish it from other more commonplace angel stories. I loved the setup and their romantic trajectory. I thought it was well-written and engaging. While it wasn't my favorite book of hers (will anything ever live up to Heart of Fire? ::sigh::), I did thoroughly enjoy it and will read it again.

I will say, if you like angel stories, I think you'll really enjoy this. Kristen Painter has a lyrical voice, she does great world-building, and writes heroes very well. And the story.... it's heartbreaking and beautiful.

Book Blurb:
He'll steal her heart, then take her soul...

The angel of death has a name: Azrael. He also has a purpose, to soothe the souls of the suffering into the peaceful passage of the after life. But in his twilight existence, Azrael has never known peace or pleasure...

Until he meets Sara, the first mortal who can see him in his Reaper form. Charming and spirited despite bearing her own burdens, she intoxicates him with the pleasures of life, even taming his brutal dark side with her fearlessness. But Azrael’s new happiness is short-lived when he realizes Sara’s health is fading. The bright flame of her life is about to be blown out.

And he’s to blame.

~ review by Rebecca Lynn

Monday, April 18, 2011

Four Stars for CRUSHED at Night Owl!

CRUSHED at Night Owl

Unrequested ARCs

Good morning, Blog Buds!
Just a reminder, the policy here on Unrequested ARCs is you send them at your own risk.  We only review books we like or love here, so it's much cheaper to ask us if we want a book before sending it.
Also, I, Kimber An, no longer review books.  Since my first book, SUGAR RUSH, was accepted for publication last year, I just don't have time.  Oh, sure, once in a while I'll get sick and have the time and sudden urge to read, but mostly I just can't.  Besides novel-writing, I also have FOUR children.  Count 'em, FOUR.  So, once again, not such a good idea to send me an ARC, if you're pinching pennies these days.
Now, if the ARC happens to be Young Adult, I might pass it on to Kimber, Jr.  Or not.  I still reserve the right to be a neurotically overprotective mother.  But, I certainly don't have the time or money to stand in line at the post office and mail a paper ARC to any of the other reviewers here.
So, please, ask first. 

Nevertheless, Enduring Romance is on a few of the Big Boy Publishers mailing lists and I still get ARCs out of the blue, just automatic sends, I guess.  I figure it's not the authors' faults the publishers didn't check out our policy here and, being an author, I know authors got to eat and usually have a few hungry mouths to feed.  So, I'll tell you about their books anyway, if I have time.
DEPARTMENT NINETEEN by Will Hill.  Here's a review-
EONA by Alison Goodman.  Here's a review-
Okay, guys, got to get back to writing SWEET BYTES.  I was just getting to an exciting part too.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Little Bee Told Me...

...that Decadent Publishing may open to general submissions for a few days this week.  Keep an eye on this page- Decadent Submissions

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Siobhan Reviews SUGAR RUSH!

SUGAR RUSH at LoveFantasySciFiNovels

Dottie Reviews CRUSHED!

At Tink's Place

Review: Lois Lane Tells All

Lois Lane Tells All
by Karen Hawkins

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Pocket
Cost: $7.99

What I Liked:
I love Karen Hawkins' voice. She's got that special something. In fact, I picked this book up to read for a "killer openings" class, and ended up finishing it, a couple of hours later. She sucked me right into this story with great voice from page one. The story is great as well, and a lot of suspense elements, although I wouldn't call this a straight suspense.

The plot is intriguing, and if you're a Superman fan, you're going to love this book. But my favorite part was the hero, Mark. He's definitely the Clark Kent we've all wanted to find. Listen to this line, from page 365: "Mark rubbed his cheek against her hair, settling into the couch to engulf her deeper into his embrace. When the time was right, he'd tell her he loved her. For now, he'd just show her." ::melting:: I just adore this guy. It's worth it to read, just to get into his beautiful mind.

If you're a fan of contemporary romance, of Superman, or of the Sophie-Kinsella-type romantic comedies, you should check out this book. It won't disappoint.

Book Blurb (from
New York Times bestselling author Karen Hawkins returns to Glory, North Carolina, for another delightful story of love and laughter.

She thinks she’s Lois Lane . . .Susan Collins always wanted to be a hard-hitting reporter, but there’s not much call for her talents in sleepy Glory, North Carolina. Then the Murder Mystery Club—a trio of enterprising octogenarians—decides to open their own CSI lab at the assisted-living center. And when strange "accidents" begin to happen around town, Susan senses she could be on to the news story of her dreams.

He doesn’t want to be her Superman . . .Mark Tremayne has returned to Glory to take over as CFO of The Glory Examiner. His job is to keep the newspaper profitable, which means covering the annual Baptist Church Bake-Off and selling ads for the county fair—not allowing his too-sexy-for-her-own-good reporter to hare off after a wild story that could alienate some of the townspeople.

Together . . . they’re Kryptonite.Mark’s and Susan’s viewpoints could be from different planets, but their mutual attraction is in total alignment. Despite their arguments, the indomitable redhead and the hot accountant are a sexual explosion waiting to happen. And when it does, Glory had better watch out!  

~ Rebecca Lynn

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Buy Back Books

My husband and I went on a hot date this weekend to Title Wave Books in Anchorage, Alaska and I had the chance to buy back a couple of favorite books which I'd given away. 

It just doesn't seem right to ask for books back that I let people borrow.  If they love 'em as much as I do then they ought to keep them forever.  I was able to buy back NEFERTITI by Michelle Moran and MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND by Lisa Shearin.

Of course, my daughter, known here as Kimber Jr, immediatelly reappropriated by new copy of NEFERTITI, so I'll have to buy it back yet again. 
Here are some more I'm looking to buy back when I can
CONTACT by Susan Grant
THE KING'S DAUGHTERS by Nathalie Mallet
APOCOLYPSE BLUES by Walter Greatshell

I've reviewed all of these.  Google or do a search in the box at the top of the blog page.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Yotsuba& volume 1 by Kiyohiko Azuma

Thanks to those germ gremlins, I haven't been able to read the book I planned to review today. However, I'd like to over you something a  little different. I adore anime and manga, so jumped at the chance to feature in the translation month over on Mostly Reading YA

Please check out my review of Yotsuba& vol 1 which is the start of a sweet, funny series. It isn't an anime, but I can recommend Azumanga Daioh as being something similar. 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jess Wins!

Jess won the Grand Prize Drawing celebrating the release of my prequel novella, Crushed Sugar.  Besides the cool Alaska stuff and a free copy of Crushed, she gets a t-shirt with Bianca's famous words from the end of Sugar Rush-.
What do you need?  A good bite on the neck?
If you're interested in getting your own t-shirts, please pop over to my CafePress store.  I make no profit from the sales.  The shirts are sold at cost.  Lately, I haven't been able to access it on my computer.  I think my browser's the problem.  If you have trouble seeing my page on CafePress, please let me know so I can email the site and get it fixed.  Thank you!  Here's the link-
T-Shirts for Diabes & Blood-Sucking Dead Guys

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Drawing is Now Closed!

The winner will be announced as soon as she confirms.  A Big THANK YOU to everyone!

Last Day for Grand Prize Drawing

Check out the Crushed Sugar's Release Day Post  to learn the details and comment under this post or that one to be entered.  The drawing will be held tonight at 6 p.m. Alaska Time.  The winner will be announced after he or she is notified and confirmed.  Thanks to everyone who helped make this release a blast!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mighty Jesse Reviews CRUSHED

The Amazon reviews are starting.  Mighty Jesse just posted hers.  Thank you, Jesse!
Mighty Jesse's Review of CRUSHED SUGAR at Amazon
Hey, if you've reviewed CRUSHED or SUGAR RUSH, I'd really appreciate it if you reposted your review at Amazon! 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thanks for an Awesome Release Party for CRUSHED!

The contests here and at Blog Buddies and reviewers' sites are ongoing with different closing dates.  The Grand Prize Drawing here is on Wednesday, March 30th.  Scroll down to check out all the stuff and links.  Now, I must get back to work on the next full-length novel in the series, Sweet Bytes.  I also have another shorter tale in mind, but I don't know if it'll fly yet.
Brace yourselves, Blog Buds.  Tomorrow's Monday.

Four Star Review for CRUSHED

Thank you, Siobhan! CRUSHED at LoveFantasySciFiNovels

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How To Write a Book Review

  Good morning, everyone! Well, I've tried my hand at writing book reviews before, but it's definitely something that could use improvement. They say that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach, so I thought I'd try this method. Also, book reviews are one of those things that seem deceptively simple - after all, a review is just your opinion of a book, right?

 Well, it turns out that there's a little more to it than that. I've noticed that with most of the reviews I've received, the reviewer starts out by first summarizing the plot. This is a technique that shows that you've been paying attention. It's one of those tips that they give you in counseling sessions as well - if you can repeat back to the other person what they've just said (the gist of it, you don't have to repeat verbatim) - it shows that you've been paying attention.

  One of the things you have to decide is your own policy when it comes to whether to give "negative" reviews or not. Many sites do not give negative reviews, and if they receive a book that they do not like, they will pass it off to someone who will give a good review of it. Personally, I think a good way to address the parts of a book that you don't like, is to give constructive criticism. It all ties in to your job as a book reviewer. What are you trying to accomplish by being a reviewer? Ultimately, I think a reviewer's job is to point out the places that an author can work on, in order for them to improve with time and with the writing of later books.

  You have to decide on a format policy. Will you only review physical copies of books, or will you also accept electronic copies? Or both?

  Many sites have rating systems. Stars seem to be the most commonly used objects in a system, and rating systems seem to typically go up to 4 or 5 stars. I've also seen some fantasy review sites that use swords and such.
  Not sure if I've forgotten anything or not. But suffice to say that book reviewing is not as easy as it might seem at first.