Glistering: B's Blog - The Glister Journals, outsights, and infrequent flashes of brilliance

Reading,Recommendations

July 16, 2014

Review: The Raven Boys

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Time to get caught up with some reviews!

This is a little old now as I read The Raven Boys last summer, but as we’re only in the middle of the series (the third of four books comes out this year) I guess it’s not too late.

The Raven Boys is the first title in the Raven cycle by Maggie Stiefvater and is definitely one of my favorite books of the past few years. I like books that are both well-written and don’t explain too much at the beginning, just dropping information here and there to let you piece things together, and such a book is The Raven Boys.

In fact, the beginning is very vague: Blue Sargent and someone we understand to be her aunt are sitting in a graveyard in the middle of the night, waiting. Waiting for what, exactly, isn’t clear, but we’re told that every St. Mark’s Eve, Blue and her clairvoyant mother wait in the graveyard for the soon-to-be-dead spirits to walk by and whisper their names. Blue can’t see or hear them but functions as an amplifier. In fact she often acts as amplifier for her mother, aunt, and the other women living in her home. It’s this paranormal vagueness, the relationship of the female characters living at 300 Fox Way, and the way the paranormal is no big deal, just a part of everyday life–exciting at times and a headache at others, but rarely causing anxiety or stress–that reminded me of one of my all time favorite books, A Wrinkle In Time. It also reminded me of the movie Practical Magic (which I also love) in the way the characters interact. Win-win.

Apart from being extremely well-written – Maggie turns some wonderful phrases – it is otherwise unlike anything else I’ve ever read. And that’s always a good thing too.

Blue is initially extremely annoyed then befriended by four boys, ‘Raven Boys’ from the local prep school, and is roped into their adventures trying to find the final resting place of an ancient Welsh king. The reasons for this search are also very vague, but it seems like a worthy quest, at least from the boys’ point of view, and they are all invested in it. Magic is involved, of course, and the boys soon discover that Blue, with her amplifying power, is very handy to have along. Romance is obviously in the future with a foreboding black cloud already hanging over it in the form of Blue’s curse–that she will be the cause of her true love’s death. There’s a triangular shaped thing already in place too, but that’s to be expected I suppose and didn’t detract one bit from the pleasure I got from the story.

I absolutely loved this book. The characterizations were clear and not too clichéd, I loved the boys (especially Noah) and loved the quirky women of Blue’s household too. There were a few parts that were too vague, not well described enough, which made it hard to imagine, but the characters, plot, and strength of writing more than made up for it. I will definitely be reading this book again and am in for the whole series.

Highly recommended! With reservations about the sequel.

This song’s a little old now too, but the first time I heard it, it made me think of this book. (No the video has nothing to do with the story.)



Currently writing: TGJ Book 2 Chapter 26 (Yes, still, but almost done). Revisions through chapter 15.

Listening: Foster the People (review coming)

Reading: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Watching: Gilmore Girls Season 7



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2014 to China Blue Publishing.

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Contests/Giveaways,Reading,The Glister Journals

July 2, 2014

Freedom to Read Giveaway

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I am currently on vacation and working very hard to finish up my current novel. So far, so good! For those of you who have read and loved Bronze, I hope you will love the second book even more. I can’t wait to release it!

In the meantime, let’s have another giveaway! This hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Bookhounds. Please enter and follow the linky on my blogger. I am giving away a $15 gift card to the book store of your choice, and a paperback copy of my novel Bronze (The Glister Journals #1).

I have tried to make this easy for people already following me or The Glister Journals series in various places. If you’re already a follower, you shouldn’t have to do much except enter on the rafflecopter. I will verify winning entries, so no need to add again on Goodreads, etc. If you have any insight on how I can make this even easier for current followers, please let me know! Follow the links (on my Blogger) to the other participating blogs.

Good luck!



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2014 to China Blue Publishing.

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Contests/Giveaways,Reading,The Glister Journals,Writing

June 21, 2014

Midsummer’s Eve Giveaway Hop

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Welcome to the Midsummer Eve’s Giveaway Hop! This hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and may be followed on my blogger. I am giving away a $15 gift card to the book store of your choice, and a paperback copy of my novel Bronze (The Glister Journals #1). Good luck!



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2014 to China Blue Publishing.

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Reading,Recommendations

June 18, 2014

Review: Mockingjay

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Mockingjay

Death. Destruction. Mayhem. Just another day in Panem.

This is the first time in I can’t remember how long I felt that I HAD to read the end of a book, just to make sure somebody was okay. And not just “okay” but that the book ended satisfactorily. Now, cheating and reading the end of a book is close to sacrilege to me, like sneaking peeks at presents days before Christmas (no, I never have). I had become so invested in one particular character, however, that if they didn’t make it, and if there wasn’t closure, I was going to throw the book away. Seriously.

I found Mockingjay much harder to read than the first two books. I believed The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I had a much harder time suspending disbelief for Mockingjay, but I’m not sure why. It felt a little too slow at the beginning, but once Katniss and the others began their forays out into the other districts, it didn’t stop. One of the things I found most difficult to read were the continuous deaths.

There was plenty of death in the first two books, of course, but that was mostly individuals during the games. This is brutal war and torture. There is a LOT of violence in this book. It’s not that it’s too graphic–I didn’t find it any more graphic than the others–but it just seemed over the top to me, and at one point Ms. Collins was killing off so many characters that I had a suspicion that EVERYBODY was going to die. It seemed to be heading in that direction. Which is why I had to cheat.


If you loved the first two books (which I did), of course you must read this one. If you struggled through them because of the violence, this one’s worse. Was it worth reading? Absolutely, and I’ll read the trilogy again. But not for a while. And yes, I’m looking forward to the movie immensely!

I had been holding off writing this review hoping for a real movie trailer, but there is none yet. (I’ll come back and add it later.) In the meantime, Radioactive by Imagine Dragons always reminds me of The Hunger Games in general (the lyrics, not the video) so I will leave you with that for now.



And now there’s at least a teaser!



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2014 to China Blue Publishing.

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Contests/Giveaways,Reading,The Glister Journals

May 12, 2014

Children’s Book Week Giveaway Hop

Children's Book Week Hop

Children’s Book Week Giveaway Hop
May 12th – 18th

This is a giveaway hop going on at my twin Blogspot blog.

About Children’s Book Week:
Children’s Book Week is the annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading.
Established in 1919, Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. Every year, commemorative events are held nationwide at schools, libraries, bookstores, homes – wherever young readers and books connect!
For more information visit: http://www.bookweekonline.com/

My giveaway for Children’s Book Week is a $15.00 gift card of your choice and a paperback copy of Bronze (The Glister Journals #1) US/CAN only.



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2014 to China Blue Publishing.

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Music,The Glister Journals,The Glister Journals Soundtracks,Writing

May 1, 2014

Looking ahead to summer . . . and a soundtrack clue

Salinas Rodeo Horses

Summer’s just around the corner and it’s a good thing! The Glister Journals Book 2 is coming along, but not fast enough for my liking. I’m a music educator and I absolutely love my job–music and kids, how awesome is that? But sometimes I can’t help wishing I could just write full time. Then things would get done in a more reasonable amount of time! Many days I get no writing done at all. Sometimes I’m just too exhausted. Sometimes I’m too distracted. Book 2 chapters are now going out to critique partners and Betas, which is very exciting, but it’s still going to be a while before the book is completely finished.

If you are actively trying to guess the songs, please let me know! It’s difficult to tell if anyone’s paying attention at all. The soundtrack page of the website gets plenty of traffic, but that’s not necessarily people really interested in it. For that reason, I’m going to make this the last clue for a while. There’s not much more I can say without just giving things away anyway, and where’s the fun or challenge in that? When the book is ready to launch – cover and title revealed – I’ll post at least one more clue before opening the contest for entries.

Things coming up in the summer months:

The California High School Rodeo State Finals are in June and I plan on going. It’s a long way but I’ve never been to the finals before. I wish I could go to the nationals in Wyoming. Maybe another year! The Salinas Rodeo is in July and I may also go to that. The picture above was taken last year there. :)

Later in the summer I’ll be heading north to Washington to visit family. This time I plan to take an extended trip and check out some areas I’ve wanted to explore, especially the Olympic Peninsula.

I’ll probably also take a trip down to Hollywood to visit my aunt. I’ve been wanting to visit old neighborhoods and childhood haunts like Santa Monica Pier, Griffith Park, and Venice Beach too. I was hoping to take a riding trip this summer – Colorado perhaps – but will have to put it off for now.

So I’ll have posts on those trips and hopefully lots of pictures of horses, ocean, forests, etc. More music and book reviews on the way too.

I plan to be busy. Very busy. But what else is new? In the meantime, here is May’s clue:

    Clue 11. The first chapter’s song is by my absolute favorite band (as of today and for about the past eight years).
    You’ll find the band (not the song) mentioned here (somewhere) on my blog (use the search for “favorite band”–it’ll narrow it down) and on Pinterest. The actual song fits Allison perfectly! If you understand autism at all, the title may jump out at you.

So what are your plans for the summer? Going anywhere special? Doing anything exciting? I’d love to hear about it!

Currently writing: TGJ Book 2 – Chapter 26

Listening to: Nickel Creek


Reading: The Moon Dwellers by David Estes

Watching: Gilmore Girls Season Six



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2014 to China Blue Publishing.

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Media,Reading,Recommendations

April 22, 2014

Review: Catching Fire

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Catching Fire

Katniss is back in District 12 and trying to settle into the Victor’s Village. Although Peeta lives nearby, she never sees him, and her relationship with Gale has drastically changed. She’s trying to figure out how to carry on when she becomes aware of the unrest growing among some, maybe all of the other districts. And she and Peeta are probably to blame. President Snow makes it very clear that, while on their upcoming Victory Tour, they will need to be convincingly in love–and not just convincing to the public; convincing to him.

The tour does not go as smoothly as planned and rumors of rebellion are growing. Soon it’s time for the next Hunger Games, but this time it’s special, the seventy-fifth anniversary – the Quarter Quell. Katniss and Peeta should only have to be sponsors, but all the old rules are off. This time, everyone is agreed; Peeta must survive.

At first I thought this second book was going to drag, the beginning, back in District 12, seemed to take time to get going. But it didn’t. And once “The Tour” kicked in, it was non-stop drama (the good kind) and action. And this book completely sold me on Peeta. In the first book, although I liked Peeta, I wasn’t too attached to either guy. But I was in complete agreement in this that, if anyone was to survive, it had to be Peeta. Of course things couldn’t be that simple and Peeta’s got his own ideas.

In Catching Fire we meet new characters and have to live through another arena spectacle. This one certainly has a twist though and will have you reaching for the next book. I’d have it on hand if I were you. I was stubbornly waiting for the paperback to come out.

As for the movie, I wondered how they were going to do some of it, how much would they have to change. But once again, I thought the movie was amazing. The only thing I was aware of missing was Peeta’s paintings. For the tour, they’re supposed to exhibit their “talents.” Katniss doesn’t have any beyond her hunting prowess and “borrows” from Cinna. But Peeta is an artist. I would have liked to see that explored a little. And I don’t think there was anything in either movie about the Avoxes, but I guess they have to cut something. I’m not complaining.



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2014 to China Blue Publishing.

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Reading,Recommendations

April 10, 2014

Review: The Hunger Games

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Hunger Games

Yes, I’m extremely late to the party, I know, but I’m going to weigh in on this series anyway. I’ll just go ahead and credit this book with fueling my new interest in young adult literature and I don’t mean that in a genre sense. I’ve tried reading some of the traditionally published ‘genre,’ and have been severely underwhelmed to the point that I can’t bear to waste time finishing them. Nothing had really impressed me since Harry Potter. But this book–indeed, as I’m finished with the final book I can say the whole series–is so well written, well paced, and with such strong characters, I want to read anything Suzanne Collins has written no matter the genre or target age group. It is also the first book I’ve read in first-person present tense that I thoroughly enjoyed. I generally don’t care for it as it’s seldom well-done, but as I said, the writing is so strong, it could be in any voice and I’d love it. I also need to say that I have since found other authors/books in this category well worth reading, but I’ll review them later.

I doubt if many people are ignorant of the premise for the story, but if you’re here seeking out a review at this point, perhaps you are: In a brutal future United States where the privileged few live extravagantly and wastefully in the “Capitol,” the average citizen lives in one of twelve districts. Each district has it’s specialty–mining, cattle, agriculture, etc.–but most barely scratch out an existence while the best of everything is sent to the Capitol. Why don’t they rebel? Well, once upon a time there were thirteen districts. 13 rebelled and 13 no longer exists–at least as far as anyone knows. To commemorate the occasion and remind the districts of what can happen again, each district gives up one boy and one girl each year to the Hunger Games, a brutal arena free-for-all where only one winner can survive. Katniss Everdeen, something of a tough loner who would do anything for her sister, becomes the girl for District 12.

The Hunger Games is certainly brutal and violent but not over the top. Some parts were unpleasant but never so graphic as to make me want to skip parts (I have my limits for blood and guts). The violence is a part of the story and propels it forward. Yes, there is certainly a love story, but it never becomes too sentimental or steamy. It’s a very clean read in that perspective which I liked. The motives for everything, including the love interest, is what I found the most appealing.

And I’m glad that I read the book first, but the movie is truly excellent. Considering I had read it recently, I wasn’t aware of anything important missing and felt myself right back in the story. That’s pretty amazing. It sets just the right tone at the beginning, the rural and impoverished District 12 looking like something out of 1940s Appalachia. In contrast, the Capitol is all high tech, high fashion, and wanton wastefulness. Presiding over all, though not conspicuous is the president of Panem, Snow, well played by Donald Sutherland. I don’t like Donald Sutherland, never have, but kudos to the casting directors. He’s perfect. Actually that’s one of the best things about the movie–its cast. They nailed it. Even Lenny Kravitz as Cinna is perfect. No, really! If they ever make a movie/movies out of my series, I want them to cast it. (I can dream!)

Verdict: Go see the movie, but read the book first!



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2014 to China Blue Publishing.

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Buu and other critters,The Glister Journals,The Glister Journals Soundtracks,Writing

April 2, 2014

Happy Birthday Buu (and April Soundtrack Clue)

Just a short post . . .

Almost five years ago (we think…time goes by so fast) we adopted a little white ball of fluff and named him Buu. We weren’t sure of his actual birthday so decided April 1st was probably close enough. He’s part Siamese part American shorthair, otherwise known as Colorpoint or Flame point. He’s a real goof ball, very talkative, and a snuggle bunny…er, kitty. He gives kisses and high fives, plays dead, and lets us dress him up. Our lives have been so enriched by him. I promise not to post too much about him, but he might turn up now and then. Fair warning.

So, on to the April soundtrack clue. To narrow the possibilities down a little more:

    10. Eight of the songs were released before 2000. The oldest song is from 1976.
    Most of these are fairly well-known I think. Some are definitely classics.

How are you doing so far? I’m not trying to make this too hard, but I’m not completely giving it away either. Let me know if there’s a certain kind of clue you’d like. I’ll try to oblige!

Full soundtrack clues (so far) can be found on the Glister Journals soundtrack page

In case you missed the previous post, the Fool for Books giveaway is on until April 7.

Currently writing: TGJ Book 2–Chapter 1 and 25

Listening to: Tired Ponies


Reading: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Watching: Gilmore Girls Season Five; The 13th Warrior

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Contests/Giveaways,Reading,The Glister Journals

March 31, 2014

Fool for Books Giveaway Hop

Fool-for-Books

Entries and the hop Linky list are on my Blogspot site.



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2014 to China Blue Publishing.

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