Category Archives: Alex Sanchez

January 2016 Reads

This new monthly feature has come about because January sucked, and I couldn’t get my brain together to review much. So what did I read, and what did I think of them? In case you haven’t been following my Goodreads, read on:

Tracey Garvis Graves: Covet: 3 stars: Review
Kelley Armstrong: The Masked Truth: 3 stars: Review
Amanda Panitch: Damage Done: 5 stars: Review
Alex Sanchez: Bait: 4 stars
Anna Sheehan: No Life But This: 3 stars: Review
Shirley Jackson: The Bird’s Nest: 3 stars

Wait, I only missed reviewing two books? Actually, I reviewed DAMAGE DONE and NO LIFE BUT THIS in a quick hurry overnight. I was only going to write a paragraph for each (like the two books below), but I went past a paragraph and gave them their own review posts.

BAIT
It’s obvious early on what’s happened to Diego, though he doesn’t say the words until much later. It’s a heart-wrencher of a story, but goes to show how much kids – everyone, really – need someone to be there for them, and help them through the hurt on the way to recovery. And it includes a romance I actually cheered for (and you know how rare that is for me). Highly recommended, though TRIGGER WARNING.

THE BIRD’S NEST
I think the correct term nowadays is Dissociative Identity Disorder, but this book is from the ’50s (I think) so Elizabeth’s condition is called something else. I can’t vouch for how accurate a portrayal it is. It kept me turning the pages, and I was expecting Morgen…I don’t know if she was a jealous sister, a fed-up guardian, or something else entirely, but she got rather verbose with long rants in the latter half of the book.

Melbourne Writers’ Festival, Webcams & Reading Wishlist

Melbourne Writers’ Festival
The schedule for the MWF was released today. Though there are really only two authors I’m interested in seeing, I will say straight out that the Romance Writers of Australia’s conference could learn a lot from the MWF. I only wanted to attend one session/workshop (about 1 hour) of RWA, on a Sunday, and they expect you to pay for all of Saturday and Sunday. Yeah, not going to happen. I’ll try to catch Keri Arthur some other time, because there’s no way I’ll pay for two days’ worth of stuff when I only want to attend a one-hour thing. But if that’s the go in America, I don’t see how y’all can afford to attend so many cons.

SUNDAY 24 AUG: 1-2PM: Undercover with Robert Muchamore (BMW Edge: Free Event)
WEDNESDAY 27 AUG: 11:15AM-12PM: Rachel Cohn in Conversation (ACMI Cinema 1)

Rachel Cohn’s one is actually part of the schools programme, so I’ll have to investigate to see if non-student me is allowed to attend, and what the price is. Students get to pay $6. I have a concession card; would that get me a discount? 😉

A free event with Robert Muchamore? Count me in! Along with Alex Sanchez and Jacqueline Wilson, he’s one of my favourite writers of YA. The plots are great fun, but most of all the characters are so utterly believable. Which makes them less like characters and more like real people, which makes the writing all the more endearing. None of that Mary Sue/Gary Stu faff. Sure the characters are living the fantasy of being spies, but… If you haven’t read the CHERUB series, get to it.

Webcams
Since the lovely Gwen/Faith Hunter requested, here’s the important stuff to know about webcams:

Is it compatible with your system? I have Windows 2000. Some webcams specify Windows XP or Vista. But the most common reason I saw for people selling their webcams on eBay is that they weren’t compatible with their Macs.

Does it come with a microphone, built-in or otherwise? If not, you’ll have to supply your own.

Does it come with an installation CD? No point buying the cam if it doesn’t have the necessary bits.

Does it come with an instruction manual? Hopefully with English instructions, and not just pictures. (I don’t know if IKEA and I will get along.) Because I’m afraid of screwing things up, I need to know what’s the right way, other than “not what you’re doing” 😉

Did a quick check on JB Hi-Fi, and they sell webcams for $40-60, or something like that. I’m not willing to spend that much, so I hit eBay. I made sure to tick the box so I only saw listings where the seller’s in Australia. (Just makes me feel safer.) My search function always lists from cheapest to most expensive, so I worked through the entries, making sure they listed what I needed to know, and asking if they didn’t. Added some to my Watch List, bid on one, and I won it on Friday: $16 including postage. The seller’s confirmed my payment and left feedback, so now I await the delivery, which’ll probably be on Monday. “Webcam 8 LED 1.3 Mega Pixels USB 2.0” – don’t ask me what the brand is; I don’t know.

Reading Wishlist
I’m slowly working through the list with Amazon.com and UK, and then I’ll hit the Australian publishers’ sites. Where I’ve listed two dates for one title is where Amazon and UK had different dates. Mind you, that doesn’t mean it’s published in both the US and UK – probably just pubbed in the US, and the UK lists when they’ll get it imported. I’m up to the F authors.

The Best Books I Read in July

Kelley Armstrong, No Humans InvolvedThe author’s been kind enough to tide readers over between releases with free fiction online, but her proper published novels are stellar. Necromancer Jaime Vegas is used to dealing with ghosts, but not these unidentifiable whispers. It takes a while for the story to build, getting readers acquainted with chaos half-demon Hope Adams, whom we’ll revisit in book 8, Personal Demon. In the meantime, stay tuned for the killing room Jaime encounters—fascinating stuff. (A)

Alex Sanchez, Getting ItYet another fabulous novel by one of my favourite authors. When teen Carlos Amoroso catches an episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, it inspires him to ask gay classmate Sal about how to change Carlos to hook a particular lass. Sal agrees, in exchange for Carlos helping him set up a Gay-Straight Alliance at their school. The novel is better than the summary suggests, with realistic characters in believable situations. And just like an episode of Queer Eye, you might even shed a tear of happiness at the end. Such a huggable, wonderful book. (B+)

Leslie Margolis, FixUsually I don’t just see a book on the shelf and decide to take it home (I have a list), but I’m glad I did this time. A thought-provoking read about today’s wealthy American teens and cosmetic surgery, this is the story of two sisters: Cameron, who’s already had rhinoplasty and now wants another surgery, and Allie, who thinks that she doesn’t have a choice and that she must have rhinoplasty—even if she’s not sure she wants it. This is the piece of America you didn’t want to know existed. (B+)

Rachel Vincent, StrayI’d been awaiting this novel for months. I had my local bookstore import it from the U.S., even though it cost me $20.50. ($1 Aussie is circa 80c American, and the U.S. RRP is $6.99—you do the maths.) Stray is 618 pages, so I definitely got a lot of bang for my buck. I’d read about shape-shifters before, but not werecats. This is a society where females are rare, and thus highly valued. But Faythe Sanders needed distance from her Pride, and so attended university for five years. But when she’s attacked by a stray (a bitten werecat with no Pride), and her fellow tabbies around the country go missing, Faythe is dragged back to her Pride. Pissed off with her all-hours watch, she’s overdue for some time to herself, but when she finally gets it, it’s at a dangerous price. Without all her guards, it’s up to Faythe to save herself and her fellow tabbies. The second half of the novel is worth the cover price alone. Greg Sanders is the most admirable character by far: parenthood and team-leading is difficult enough without all the werecats, ferocious tempers and territorial disputes he has to deal with. Add all that to keeping his own emotions at bay, and he’s overqualified for the Father of the Year award. Who needs Hogwarts when you can have the Pride? The release of Rogue (and any other works by this fabulous author) can’t come soon enough. (A)