Monday, December 12, 2011
I started this blog for me to have an outlet and talk freely about books and writing and now I feel as if I'm constantly walking on egg shells. I hate it. I don't even read many blogs any more because I feel obligated to comment but then can't think of anything to say or think my opinion doesn't matter or am afraid I'll upset someone. It's ridiculous.
Last week I said I was going to try to do Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays. This week I'm just going to try to get one review up. I have a couple of eARCs I'm going to review, but other than that, I think I'm going to step away from the blogosphere.
Graduate school starts in January. I'm going to be taking classes, working in the writing lab, working in the library, and teaching a Foundational Composition course while trying to maintain some form of a writing life, a social life, and being an active member of my fraternity (Sigma Alpha Iota). I am going to be busy. Originally I had planned on maintaining the blog and continuing posting reviews, but now I don't even want to.
You guys have been awesome and supportive and I thank you all for that. Maybe some time away will help and I'll be able to come back and read all of your blogs and laugh and cry with you again. But right now I need some time to myself. I need to feel like I can be who I am and say what I want without fear of being chased down by a mob with torches and pitchforks.
I'll post a couple of reviews and I may even drop in with some updates so you guys know I'm still alive, but as of now my posts will more than likely be sporadic and few and far between. I wish you all the best and hope to see you on the other side. <3
Monday, December 5, 2011
Age Group: Middle Grade
Published: February 1, 2010 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published 2003)
Format: Paperback, 214 pgs.
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is a truly extraordinary Viking hero known throughout Vikingdom as "the Dragon Whisperer" ... but it wasn't always so. Travel back to the days when the mighty warrior was just a boy, the quiet and thoughtful son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans. Can Hiccup capture a dragon and train it without being torn limb from limb? Join the adventure as the small boy finds a better way to train his dragon and becomes a hero!
Friday, December 2, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: June 1, 2010 by Scholastic (first published 2009)
Format: Paperback, 390 pgs.
Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn't know why.
Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace...until now.
For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it's spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human—and Grace must fight to keep him—even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
I like to mix things up: genre, age group, release date. I like to read books that I never got to read growing up as well as books I never got around to. For example, my upcoming reviews include Shiver, How to Train Your Dragon, Stuart Little, and Fracture. Things to look forward to. :)
Friday, November 25, 2011
The cool thing about Tangled Tides is that it's not just about merfolk; it's about a number of mythical creatures, all fighting for survival. In celebration of her book's release, Karen is hosting a battle of sorts, a war of the underwater worlds that takes place all over the internet. Myself and other readers are choosing our sides and declaring them publicly, and if you want a chance to win a signed copy of her book (and why wouldn't you? I do!), you should choose a side, too. All you have to do is tweet about your favorite creature/who you're rooting for and include the hashtag #TangledTides to be entered to win a signed copy of the book as well as some other sea creature gifts. (For more information visit Karen's blog.)
While merfolk and selkies are the primary creatures, gorgons and sirens also play critical roles in the story. In order for you to make a more informed decision, Karen has posted brief descriptions of each creature on her blog. (If you've read this far, you've probably realized you have to go to Karen's blog at some point. It is her book after all. :)
Although I find them all fascinating and rooted for everyone while reading Tangled Tides, I have to admit that when it comes down to it, I choose merfolk. Why? you ask. Because they're cool . . . and they have Treygan.
Merfolk are all about the sunshine and the water. They have different jobs, and they even come color coded. AND merfolk aren't condemned to an eternity underwater, they can move freely between land and sea (if they know how to control it), and they can manipulate water. They're pretty awesome, if I may so.
All interior artwork was done by fellow writer/blogger Alexandra Shostak, who is also awesome and incredibly talented. In the book, merfolk are represented by the image at the right, which I absolutely adore.
If you're interested, you can buy the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or through Rhemalda; you can also add the book on Goodreads!
I choose merfolk. Whose side are you on?
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Posted by Amanda Johnson
Monday, November 21, 2011
Age Group:Young Adult
Published: November 25, 2011 by Rhemalda
Format: eARC, 328 pgs
Source: For Review
2011 Debut Author Challenge
Yara Jones doesn’t believe in sea monsters—until she becomes one.
When a hurricane hits her island home and she wakes up with fins, Yara finds herself tangled up in an underwater world of mysterious merfolk and secretive selkies. Both sides believe Yara can save them by fulfilling a broken promise and opening the sealed gateway to their realm, but they are battling over how it should be done. The selkies want to take her life. The merfolk want something far more precious.
Treygan, the stormy-eyed merman who turned Yara mer, will stop at nothing and sacrifice everything to protect his people—until he falls for Yara. The tides turn as Yara fights to save herself, hundreds of sea creatures, and the merman who has her heart. She could lose her soul in the process—or she might open the gateway to a love that’s deeper than the oceans.
Young Adult fans of Mermaids, Selkies, Sirens and Gorgons will love this tale of the sacrifice one makes for genuine love. Love that could be lost at any moment to the ever-changing tides.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: May 6, 2010 by Definitions (originally pub'd 2009)
Format: Paperback, 224 pgs
What if you had everything:
A gorgeous boyfriend who was madly in love with you?
Quirky hip parents who totally got you?
A musical talent that could take you anywhere?
What if your biggest problem in life was choosing which path to take?
Follow your first love--music-- to New York City?
Or stay with your boyfriend, friends, and family?
What if one day, you went out for a drive...
And in an instant everything changed?
What if suddenly all the other choices were gone?
Except for one--the only one that truly mattered?
What would you do?
A sophisticated, layered, and heart achingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Anywho, I'm working on a new book, and I'm really excited about it. TSA is waiting to be critiqued so all I can do is work on this new project. I call it PiP. It's young adult with a slight paranormal twist and is written with dual POVs and in 1st person present tense. Basically it's the complete opposite of TSA.
The main characters are twins, Ellie and Elliot; their lives are destroyed when Elliot gets kidnapped and murdered. Ellie doesn't know how to live without him, and lucky for her Elliot comes back as a ghost -- only he doesn't know he's dead and he doesn't remember what happened to him. Then more boys start going missing and it's up to them to put the pieces together in order to catch the killer before anyone else gets hurt and before Ellie becomes collateral damage.
Yea, it's gonna be intense.
I started it right about the same time NaNo started, and I broke 11,000 words last night. I'm happy, considering I'm not participating in NaNo. Hopefully it'll be at least 60k when it's completely finished, but I have a feeling the 1st draft is only going to be about 40k. I'm a bare bones writer, so I'll have to go back and flush a lot out.
I usually don't make an outline, but a few thousand words in I got completely stumped and couldn't do anything but keep going back over the stuff I'd already written, so I broke down and made a very, very vague outline. It has twelve chapters, but each chapter has 3 parts to it since Ellie and Elliot take turns telling the story. Basically the outline looks like this:
Ellie @ funeral
Elliot comes home
Ellie tells Elliot the truth
And eventually the little pieces get a tad more descriptive, but for my purposes I just needed to know the absolute basic progression of events. It really helped me for this one, because I'm not really sticking to the outline (I've already changed a handful of things), but it allowed me to see the general story arc without ruining the thrill and surprise of writing a first draft by the seat of my pants (which is usually how it works for me).
If you've been following for any period of time, you know I'm a half-ass outliner. I don't want to know details, but I like to have a vague idea of my story. I like to be able to ignore what little bit of an outline I have and make things up as a go without worrying about how it fits into the story as a whole, but I like having a rough guide to my plot as well. I highly recommend the half-ass method. It's the best of both worlds.
So that's what's up with me. I have 11,000 words of PiP's first draft (I'll share the full title eventually lol) and I couldn't be more thrilled with it. How are things with you? Are you NaNo-ing it up?
Monday, November 14, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: February 15, 2011 by HarperCollins/TN (first published 2010)
Format: Paperback, 328 pgs
Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.
Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.
Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: July 6, 2010 by Scholastic (first published 2008)
Format: Paperback, 374 pgs
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before--and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
For those of you who don't know, I was a music major for a bit in college. Ultimately I loved it too much to make a career out of it and switched to English, where the professors didn't suck the life and love out of the subject for me. Even though I was no longer a music major, I continued to take lessons and play in ensembles; this confused some of my peers, as they couldn't understand why I would put myself through the horror of recitals and end of the year playing exams (juries) in front of a panel of music professors. I still wonder if they really love playing their instruments if they have to ask me why I continuously sought to improve my skill and learned to embrace the stage.
Anywho, as a musician music is an incredibly huge part of my life, and one that bleeds over into my writing life as well. Why? Because art inspires art. Music can be soothing and inspirational or so passionate it can move you to tears; it can also be angry and hateful or sad and heartbreaking. It lends itself well to writing, just as literature can for the creation of music.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: August 2, 2011 by Hyperion Books CH
Format: Hardcover, 282 pgs
2011 Debut Author Challenge
The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.
If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.
And there are no strangers in the town of Near.
These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.
But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.
The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.
As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.
Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.
Friday, November 4, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: November 1, 2011by Sourcebooks
Format: eARC, 336 pgs
The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart's latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing...
Jonathon Denbury's soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: December 27, 2011 by EgmontUSA (expected)
Format: eARC, 336 pgs
Every other day, Kali D'Angelo is a normal sixteen-year-old girl. She goes to public high school. She attends pep rallies. She's human.
And then every day in between . . .She's something else entirely.
Though she still looks like herself, every twenty-four hours predatory instincts take over and Kali becomes a feared demon-hunter with the undeniable urge to hunt, trap, and kill zombies, hellhounds, and other supernatural creatures. Kali has no idea why she is the way she is, but she gives in to instinct anyway. Even though the government considers it environmental terrorism.
When Kali notices a mark on the lower back of a popular girl at school, she knows instantly that the girl is marked for death by one of these creatures. Kali has twenty-four hours to save her and, unfortunately, she'll have to do it as a human. With the help of a few new friends, Kali takes a risk that her human body might not survive. . .and learns the secrets of her mysterious condition in the process.
Friday, October 28, 2011
Age Group: Middle Grade
Published: August 5, 2010 by Simon & Schuster Children's (originally published May 1st by Scholastic)
Format: Paperback, 304 pgs
Dive deep into the vivid underwater world of Dark Life!
The oceans rose, swallowing the lowlands. Earthquakes shattered the continents, toppling entire regions into the rising water. Now, humans live packed into stack cities. The only ones with any space of their own are those who live on the ocean floor: the Dark Life.
Ty has spent his whole life living deep undersea. When outlaws attack his homestead, he finds himself in a fight to save the only home he has ever known. Joined by Gemma, a girl from Topside, Ty ventures into the frontier's rough underworld and discovers some dark secrets to Dark Life. Secrets that threaten to destroy everything.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
I also talk about the new book I have started, which I have not talked about any where else.
I will not be insulted if you do not watch this. Though you might feel as if you wasted 10 minutes of your life if you do. The choice is yours. :)
Look at that ^. You know you want to watch a whole TEN MINUTES of that! LOL (I have no idea why I'm making that face...)
Monday, October 24, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: February 28, 2008 by Puffin (originally published 2006)
Format: Paperback, 371 pgs
Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything"—at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store.This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen's help,maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Age Group: Adult
Published: September 13, 2011 by Doubleday
Format: Hardcover, 387 pgs
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
I was planning on doing some leisure reading today, and by that I mean reading an eARC for you guys, but I think I'm going to go ahead and start looking over the latest draft of TSA so I can get it to someone this weekend.
I am incredibly nervous about this. She has never read it before (I really wanted a fresh pair of eyes), and she is also one of my best and closest friends. I wanted her to read it, not because of these things, but because she devours books as much as I do, is an English major, and has a knack for grammar and honing in on things that don't work in books.
I am also incredibly nervous because this draft is much better than previous drafts. SO MUCH BETTER. And I am afraid that I will get it back and have to do major revisions. Not because I don't like edits or want it to be ready now (though I really do want to be finished with this), but because I am a perfectionist. I will repeatedly change words just to figure out which one I like best. And then change it again.
Sometimes I need outside opinions to okay things for me and justify working on a project because I can be incredibly critical of everything I do. Too much so sometimes. I am nervous because the perfectionist in me thinks there will be nothing good about this book; that I will never be through editing it; that it will never even make it to an agent's slush pile.
So this is me, getting ready to reread TSA for anything that stands out (including grammar) before I send it off to be picked apart. And don't worry, I don't use parentheses in the book.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: July 12, 2011 by Random House Children's
Format: Hardcover, 416 pgs
Amy Goodnight's family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face.
Friday, October 14, 2011
20,000 words. 2 days.
I look psychotic, I'm sure.
Also, the muscles in my legs are incredibly sore. Who knew barely moving for two days could hurt so much? Don't answer that.
So because I forgot to write today's review, you get to listen (watch? read?) me ramble on about TSA for a bit.
Draft 4 is virtually complete as of last night. It is 40,165 words and 25 chapters long. I always knew it would be 40k, as is evident in the query I wrote for it over a year ago when it was closer to 32k. This makes me happy.
I am going to tweak a few things I know I left out or messed up and remembered but didn't go back for while I was editing because they were very minor. I'm going to reread the whole thing and see if anything major sticks out. And then I am going to send it to someone who has never read it before so I can get some fresh perspective before handing it off to one (or both) of the only two fabulous people who have ever read it and critiqued it. Then, Universe willing, I will be completely finished.
I will finally be able to write the amazing agent who requested it a while back and see if she's still interested in seeing it, AND I can pass it on to another awesome agent who made me promise her I would send it to her when I was done. I don't know if either of them will want to see it or will like it if they do, but TSA will finally be out there, which makes me incredibly happy.
Also, did I mention the new book? Because it's different and I like it and I can't wait to start focusing on it.
Oh, what's that? You want to know what it's about? Well, that's kind of a secret. But I will tell you that it's a mystery with a ghost and twins and . . . NO. I've already said too much. *crazy eyes*
Okay, I should probably stop embarrassing myself. In my defense, I was an editing Hulk-ish fiend for two days who hardly got any sleep last night. I'm allowed to be a tad crazy, right? RIGHT?
It's Friday. You lovely people have a wonderful weekend.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
The Twilight Effect kicked off a big trend in publishing not unlike dominoes falling. We saw a fixation on a new paranormal creature that resulted in an abundance of, for instance, werewolves. Like the vampires before them, they were suddenly everywhere, flooding the shelves at bookstores, becoming many teenagers' new obsession.
But this is not the aspect of the Twilight Effect I want to talk about. Not because it isn't worth talking about, simply because everyone else already has, and we all know that it will continue. People will fixate on one creature or genre until the 'next big thing' comes out. Rinse. Repeat.
The thing that has my attention these days is the abundance of series we have on our hands. It's almost like an epidemic in the fantasy and science fiction genres of YA. While we could blame this bit on JK Rowling, the Harry Potter books have been out for years without inspiring this mass desire for sequels. We can, however, thank Rowling for kicking authors everywhere into gear and bringing children's literature to a new level.
Now then: the series, and more specifically the trilogy. A good series is fantastic. It takes a lot of skill to craft multiple books with a self-contained plot and give each book a portion of an overlying plot arc. There are lots of characters to take into consideration, not to mention the MC's growth over, not just one book, but sometimes five or more. That being said, you can see how there can easily be a lot of problems with a series. They can go on too long, they can get saggy and dull in the middle, they can lose focus of what is important. They can stop being true to the characters.
And because of this, as a writer, you have to ask yourself if your story really has to be part of a series. Not all books do. If you're writing a trilogy because they're hot right now, and they are, then you're writing it that way for the wrong reason. You need to take a look at your story and decide if multiple books are necessary to tell the tale that you want to write, because if it's not then it's okay for your book to be a standalone novel. Really, it is.
In fact, as a reader, I'm getting tired of series. I'm not going to stop reading them any time soon (most of my favorite books are part of a trilogy right now or a longer series anyway), but I would like to read a nice paranormal YA that ties everything up and ENDS. I would like to not have to wait a year or longer for the next installment of a story (Hi there, Sookie.). I would like to be in the position of yearning for more of a character and NOT GETTING IT. Why? Because sometimes it's nice to just wonder.
At the end of Z by Michael Thomas Ford (my review here), something BIG happens and you want to know more. You want to know what the character does next, how he will react, but the author deliberately chose to leave his readers in the dark. And I kind of love him for it. I can imagine a hundred different scenarios now of how his story played out, and none of them have to be wrong. I can get to know that character on a more personal level because of that ending, specifically because it's left open.
I think authors (mostly in the science fiction/fantasy genres) have begun to turn their backs on the standalone novel in hopes of big book deals and huge sales numbers, but there is power in a single book. You can write a series, and you SHOULD if that's what your story NEEDS to be complete, to get all the details out there, but you really shouldn't be writing a trilogy (or any other kind of series) unless it's vital to your plot.
Just because there's a trend bandwagon, doesn't mean you have to jump on it.
What do you think? Are trilogies and longer series over done? Would you like to see more single title books?
Monday, October 10, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: May 3, 2011 by Harper Collins Children's Books
Format: Hardcover, 489 pgs
2011 Debut Author Challenge
Beatrice "Tris" Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place in mortal danger. Veronica Roth's young adult Divergent trilogy launches with a captivating adventure about love and loyalty playing out under most extreme circumstances.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: May 3, 2011 by Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover, 367 pgs
Aura’s life is anything but easy. Her boyfriend, Logan, died, and his slides between ghost and shade have left her reeling. Aura knows he needs her now more than ever. She loves Logan, but she can’t deny her connection with the totally supportive, totally gorgeous Zachary. And she’s not sure that she wants to.
Logan and Zachary will fight to be the one by her side, but Aura needs them both to uncover the mystery of her past—the mystery of the Shift.
As Aura’s search uncovers new truths, she must decide whom to trust with her secrets…and her heart.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
And in that time of 'Oh crap, where do I go from here?' (Buffy musical episode anyone?) I figured I'd start over. Before I really decided I want to be on the other side of publishing, the non-writing side, I was preparing for graduate school. I even had a spreadsheet listing different aspects like tuition, financial aid, and the likes. I still have that spreadsheet, and while I didn't bust it back out because I'm not the same person with the same interests anymore, I did decide that grad school sounded like a great idea. ...Then things got a little crazy, but after a bit I got it all figured out and am now planning on heading back to my Alma Mater to get an MA in English while I continue to write, because let's be honest, writing was the only job that ever really mattered to me.
But the point of this post isn't to tell you how I made the decisions I made, it's about time. A lot can happen in a little bit of time, and sometimes that astounds me.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: October 15, 2009 by Dutton Juvenile
dear caitlin, there are so many things that i want so badly to tell you but i just can't.
Devastating, hopeful, hopeless, playful . . . in words and illustrations, Ingrid left behind a painful farewell in her journal for Caitlin. Now Caitlin is left alone, by loss and by choice, struggling to find renewed hope in the wake of her best friend's suicide. With the help of family and newfound friends, Caitlin will encounter first love, broaden her horizons, and start to realize that true friendship didn't die with Ingrid. And the journal which once seemed only to chronicle Ingrid's descent into depression, becomes the tool by which Caitlin once again reaches out to all those who loved Ingrid - and Caitlin herself.
Friday, September 30, 2011
Go forth; have a terrific Friday; and enjoy the lovely weekend!
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
So that's that.
I'm excited to tell you all that I've jumped back on the revisions horse and am going to start Draft 4, Chapter 4 today. Hopefully I'll get quite a bit done. It's amazing how easy it was for me to just pick back up with Taryn in The Sandman's Apprentice. I got 2 chapters done yesterday, putting me about 4,300 words into this draft; if I keep it up I should be done in no time and can move on to the more nit-picky things like word choice and sentence structure. And then, my dear friends, I can ship it off to be read and start something NEW. Which I'm dying to do because half-formed ideas keep coming to me and I'm trying really, really hard not to develop them into something real. *sigh*
In reading related news, I read Divergent on Monday. I sat down with it and read it all in about 7 hours (It's nearly 500 pages of totally fantastic characters and wonderful writing.). Expect a glowing review sometime next week. And go check out Veronica Roth if you haven't already, because she's literally made of awesome. I've also started my first Sarah Dessen novel (Just Listen)so we'll see how that goes. Oh! and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is out now. WANT.
Alright, your turn: spill. Made any great writing/editing progress? Waiting for any particular books to come out? Reading anything you think is brilliant?
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Format: Hardback, 384 pgs
Published: June 9, 2011 by Penguin (US release)
The unique life story of one of the most talented and inventive comedians, star of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Star Trek.
Zombies in North London, death cults in the West Country, the engineering deck of the Enterprise: actor, comedian, writer and self-proclaimed supergeek Simon Pegg has been ploughing some bizarre furrows in recent times. Having landed on the U.S. movie scene in the surprise cult hit Shaun of the Dead, his enduring appeal and rise to movie star with a dedicated following has been mercurial, meteoric, megatronic, but mostly just plain great.
From his childhood (and subsequently adult) obsession with science fiction, his enduring friendship with Nick Frost, and his forays into stand-up comedy which began with his regular Monday morning slot in front of his twelve-year-old classmates, Simon has always had a severe and dangerous case of the funnies.
Whether recounting his experience working as a lifeguard at the city pool, going to Comic-Con for the first time and confessing to Carrie Fisher that he used to kiss her picture every night before he went to sleep, or meeting and working with heroes that include Peter Jackson, Kevin Smith, and Quentin Tarantino, Pegg offers a hilarious look at the journey to becoming an international superstar, dotted with a cast of memorable characters, and you're rooting for him all the way.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: July 12, 2011 by Delacorte Press
Debut Author Challenge
Someone's been a very bad zombie.
Kate Grable is horrified to find out that the football coach has given the team steroids. Worse yet, the steroids are having an unexpected effect, turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless flesh-eating zombies. No one is safe--not her cute crush Aaron, not her dorky brother, Jonah . . . not even Kate!
She's got to find an antidote--before her entire high school ends up eating each other. So Kate, her best girlfriend, Rocky, and Aaron stage a frantic battle to save their town. . . and stay hormonally human.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Oh well. Also, I will probably be removing ratings from former posts just to keep things consistent.
In related news, review of Bad Taste in Boys coming Monday!
Thursday, September 22, 2011
I want to be editing TSA. I want to be working on all the book ideas I have. I want to be querying.
Despite everything, I'm going to resume editing The Sandman's Apprentice. I miss it; I need to finish it; and I'm not going to let the lack of a desk stop me any more.
In other news, reviews to come next week. I'm working on 4 of them and reading Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore, meaning that'll be review number 5.
So how is everyone? Read any good books? Come up with any amazing book ideas lately?
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Thursday, September 1, 2011
1. City of Glass, Cassandra Clare - Loved it. Every bit as intriguing and wonderful as the first two books in the Mortal Instrument series. Still a tad predictable, but plenty of surprises to keep you on your toes. Super excited to read the final book in this series and begin the prequel series that starts with Clockwork Angel.
2. Radiance, Alyson Noel - I found the concept very cool and enjoyed the first bit, but I thought the character development was VERY rushed; yes, it is a short book, but if your snotty preteen is going to completely change into an understanding, caring, and enlightened individual it needs to be believable. I didn't buy it, and it ruined the whole book for me. Am hesitant to read anything else by this author since I have heard her other series, based on the same family, also fizzles out.
3. Sookie Stackhouse Books 1-11, Charlaine Harris - Absolutely wonderful. I read all 11 books out so far (of which there will only be 13 total), and I loved everyone of them. I was a little concerned the writing and characters would get stale, and I had heard that some of the books were infuriating, but this only seems to be the case if you're actually waiting a year between each book since many details can be forgotten. Also, Harris has a tendency to leave some major things out between books, making you wonder if you've missed something only to be fully informed of what occurred later on. An interesting trick, and one that I'm not terribly fond of, but it doesn't ruin the series at all for me. Loved every single book. On another note, the books have little in common with the show (True Blood), just FYI.
4. Parasol Protectorate Books 2-4, Gail Carriger - This series may be the greatest thing since tea was discovered, and I really like tea. I cannot say enough good things about the writing and the plot and the characters; they're all fantastically crafted. I love the chemistry between the characters and the relationships between them all, good and bad, and I absolutely love the world-building: paranormal, historical, steampunk? Yes, please! I will admit that book 4 wasn't quite at the same level as the first 3, but I only say that because it's written a little differently than the others; the characters and plot are still positively wonderful.
5. Bad Taste in Boys, Carrie Harris - This book is actually going to get a review since it's a 2011 debut and was fairly recently read, but I wanted to go ahead and tell everyone that it's super awesome, totally adorable (despite the whole zombie thing), and hilarious.
6. Nerd Do Well, Simon Pegg - I don't do a whole lot of non-fiction, but I'm currently reading Simon Pegg's autobiography and absolutely loving it. Pegg is behind such hilarious films as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Paul, as well as staring in Mission Impossible III as a nerdy IT guy and the new Star Trek reboot as Montgomery Scott, AKA Scotty. If you like Simon Pegg, you'll want to read this. (And I usually don't advocate books I'm not even finished with, so that should tell you something.)
Thursday, August 11, 2011
I've read one book since the New York fiasco, and I've been struggling through another since before the big trip, can't seem to finish it. And it's not that it's a bad book, I like it, I'm just having a hard time getting through it. I'm having some writing problems too. Fun.
I want to write. To edit. But I don't have anywhere to do it. I have a bed, and I've had about all I can take of trying to work on a book in bed. I can't do it any more. I need a desk, a table, somewhere I can spread out and think. And I don't have that. I don't have a car to get to the library either, and it wouldn't matter anyway, I can't focus in a library. One of the perks of working in them I guess, can't even do homework there because as soon as I step foot in one I start thinking about the books that are improperly shelved and the chairs that need to be pushed in and a dozen other things that need to be done.
So I haven't touched my book in forever, and it's driving me nuts. Why? Because about a year and a half ago I started writing it, and about six months after that an agent wanted to see it when it was done. It's been a year and she still hasn't gotten to see my book. Why? Because I was a good student. I went to class and to work and I focused on graduating with a good GPA so I could get a good job to support me while I wrote. And what good did that do me? I'm back in my mother's house working 14 hours a week so I can save up for a car, grad school, and half a dozen other things that I won't ever be able to afford on 14 hours a week.
I try to be positive. Try to keep my head up. Say it's all good and push through what ever is getting me down. But this time? I dunno. This time I can see what I want and I can't figure out how I'm supposed to make it happen. Because I need money to make things happen, and it just isn't there. I'm running out of positive thoughts and energy and things just keep getting worse. So I keep applying for jobs and hoping someone will call me, but no one has. And without another job, it won't matter if I can afford the Praxis tests and the grad school application fee, because even I do well and get accepted I won't have a car to get anywhere and I won't be able to pay for an apartment in another city, not to mention tuition.
I worry and I plan and I try to come up with some way to make everything work. And I keep trying to focus on the good things. But it keeps getting harder and harder to stay positive. But I'll keep trying, and I'll keep searching for another job, and I'll keep hoping we win the lottery so for once in my life I won't have to worry about money.
So that's where I've been, too busy trying not to drown to read and write and edit and blog. Hopefully I'll have enough peace soon that I can get back to my regularly scheduled programming and write you guys some reviews and read your wonderful posts and be there for you all. In the mean time I'm going to keep focusing on trying to stay afloat and figuring my life out.
I do, however, want to say thank you. You guys have been great, and I appreciate all the support. Coming up with a new life plan isn't exactly the easiest thing in the world to do, and it means a lot having you guys to talk to and knowing you care. Muchas gracias, mis amigos. Muchas gracias.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
I came back from NY. I tried to get a job. Finally got offered a position as a part-time Circulation Assistant at the main branch of the public library. I signed on. During the interview process and waiting period, I began to look at grad school. On Tuesday I did my training at the library in preparation for starting next week. The day after my training I spoke with the main advisor for the program I was looking at. She told me I could either start this fall or wait until next summer. I could not stand the thought of waiting.
Cue frazzled me into calling and emailing everyone about enrolling in classes. By the way, classes start in about a month.
Did I mention the frazzled flailing? There was quite a bit of it. The flailing has subsided a bit now.
Anywho, that's what's up with me. I just got a job at the library and now I'm trying to get into grad school. Oh, right, I'm going back to get licensed to teach English for those of you who were wondering. Woot for lots of hardcore education classes!
How are your summers going?
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: August 3, 2010 by HarperCollins
Format: Hardcover, 440 pgs.
Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books—but we are real.
Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. we have lived among you without you knowing.
But they know.
They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.
But they know.
They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.
I am Number Four.
I am next.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
As you all know, I left for New York on Thursday to move into a nice apartment and begin my journey to become a literary agent. After roughly 1400 miles, 23 hours, 8 states, and 1 hotel room, my mom and I arrived in New York. We got a whirlwind tour of the house and met the landlords. Everything was great. It was a nice apartment in a good neighborhood. I couldn't have asked for more. We unloaded all of my stuff (which was a lot of crap) and then we set out to the nearest Target for groceries and last minute supplies so that I could survive for a bit on my own. My mother was going to leave in the morning. As it turned out, we didn't get to bed until after 11 PM, and she was entirely too exhausted to leave in the morning. I am so glad she didn't.
Saturday when we finally got up, we decided to walk around the neighborhood a little and head into Manhattan so Mom could see Central Park before she left. At this point, I was looking at New York from an entirely different perspective. Previously, I had been a tourist. I had looked at the metro and all the people and the tall buildings as something I found interesting. Surely, I thought, I could live here. It's different, but I can handle it. Walking around Manhattan and Brooklyn and looking at it as if it were my life now was a completely different experience, and it was one that changed everything for me. I THOUGHT I could live in New York, especially out in Brooklyn where there are actual houses and the neighborhood is not so different than what I'm used to. I THOUGHT I could deal with being surrounded by so many people constantly while feeling completely isolated. I THOUGHT I was made of tougher stuff.
I was wrong.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I have job/internship prospects. I have some money. I have all of my unread books and my TV (but none of my DVDs--you can only fit so much in a tiny car). Life is good.
And soon, SOON, I will return, my friends. I will blog about bookish things and, HOPEFULLY, writing and revisions and editing type things. I will post reviews again. And believe me, I have plenty to review. We will have good times again, dearest readers. We will discuss books and articles about books (I'm looking at you WSJ) and what makes books good and how to do things well. I'm not sure if I'm being intentionally vague or not, but there will be THINGS, and you will like them.
In the mean time, the Oxford comma (aka the serial comma) is apparently no longer recognized as legit. I for one have no intentions of giving it up. So here's to the serial comma, may it never (or at least in my time) go out of style or fall out of use.
And for those of you who will be getting an early start on the weekend, HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!!!! Enjoy yourselves, and stay out of trouble. ;)
Friday, June 24, 2011
She likes to stretch, my Kidda.
She also has a tendency to fall asleep while stretching.
Sometimes, she likes to maintain the pose for pictures. She's an attention whore. :)
And just to show you that my cat isn't the only crazy animal in our household, I give you my brother's favorite dog: Behold the Jabberwocky!
While I was not the one giving her the bath, she held me responsible.
She swore revenge: the price? My braaaains!
But Zombie Jabbers was not satisfied.
Jabby goes by quite a few different names, in case you hadn't noticed, and she did get her revenge. She kept me awake until 3 AM the other morning barking and howling for no apparent reason. Now I don't know what kind of dog she is, but she's a weird one. Her lower jaw juts out a bit and she has one tooth that kind of sticks out of her mouth all the time. She's got coarse hair and long legs and big eyes... and I've decided she's a cross between a few different things.
So there you have it. I bet you never thought you'd see a Wookie/Ewok/whatever-Fizgig-actually-is crossbreed, but I have proof they exist. I do.
Anywho, I thought I'd share a little fun with you guys today since I don't seem to be around much anymore. I hope the animals in my family have spread a little laughter today. Have a good weekend!
Monday, June 20, 2011
Just kidding. And if you have no idea what that was about, you clearly haven't read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and should go check it out from your local library.
Now then, if you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I signed a lease for a place in Brooklyn. I leave for New York next Thursday and move in to my new room July 1st. I am excited. I am also slightly terrified. Brooklyn is 1400 miles away from my hometown, meaning I will be at least that far away from my mother and just as far away (and in some cases even more so) from my closest friends. My life is about to get quite a bit more complicated. On a brighter note, I'll be living here:
The landlords live on the first floor. The 4 bedroom apt that I will be sharing starts on the 2nd, and I will be on the 3rd floor.
That will be my neighborhood in about 10 days. Did I mention how excited I am? Because I am. So. EXCITED.
On the 30th, my mom and I will start driving to NY in her tiny little Scion. It will be stuffed with as many of my worldly possessions as we can possibly fit. I will probably be forced to leave behind quite a few of my books and DVDs, at least for a little while. BUT, I have an apartment. I have apartment-mates.
I am also still unemployed. I suspect I might be working at Target to pay the bills, but I'm not giving up on getting into publishing. Not in the slightest. I believe (and I will keep telling myself this) that the only reason I don't have a job lined up is because I still have an Arkansas zip-code and there are lots of other applicants who do not have that problem. Here's to hoping living in the state where I'm applying for jobs will make a difference.
So that's what's up with me. At some point I'll stop freaking out enough to get you guys some reviews, and since I recently read 13 books in about 11 days, I've got plenty of material. Of course, I'm thinking I'll probably review the entire Sookie Stackhouse series as a single entity rather than review each individual book since I read them back to back. But yea...
How is everyone's summer going? I don't really celebrate Father's Day, but I hope you all had a lovely weekend with the men in your lives.
Monday, June 6, 2011
...Finished? Good. So now that we're all on the same page, I'd like to take a minute to express my own opinions and then point you in the directions of a couple of other things to read.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Published: February 4, 2010 by Razorbill
Format: Paperback, 278 pgs*
When the principal announces that every senior must participate in a mandatory year-long Marriage Education program, Fiona Sheehan believes that her life can't get any worse. Then she marries her “husband”: jerky jock Todd, whose cheerleader girlfriend, Amanda, has had it in for Fiona since day one of second grade. Even worse? Amanda is paired with Fiona's long-term crush, Gabe. At least Fiona is doing better than her best friend, Marcie, who is paired up with the very quiet, very mysterious Johnny Mercer.
Pranks, fights, misunderstandings, and reconciliations ensue in an almost Shakespearean comedy of errors about mistaken first impressions, convoluted coupling, and hidden crushes.
This is yet another book I picked up in New York (a year ago)
The cover screams teen drama, and that's precisely what you get. Jerks, jocks, cheerleaders, rockers, love, betrayal, pranks . . . this book has them all. And there are parents. Real ones. Ones that get involved and actually have a role in the book. Oh, and real characters. Johnny Mercer isn't your hot jock or even the mildly attractive sidekick. He's just your average Joe, and Fiona's not exactly gorgeous either.
My biggest critiques are in the marriage class that seems incredibly unlikely (although incredibly hilarious) and in Fiona's best friend Marcie, whose actions don't always come across as being true to her character. Obviously I got over the interesting plot easily, as I enjoyed the book, but Marcie was a little harder to overcome; her unbelievable words and actions felt jarring to me on more than one occasion.
All in all this was a fresh, spunky read that I enjoyed. Props to Walker for creating a great YA novel for real young adults.
Visit the author online.
Buy the book: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Friday, May 20, 2011
Trying to get to my seat before commencement.
Diploma. I has one.
Me with my gorgeous little sisters. Marie, left, and Autumn, right.
Alright. So that's a short look at my college graduation. Good times. I have yet to receive my actual diploma in the mail yet, but I have a pretty holder for it when it does come in.... Anyway, I wanted to include a picture with my sisters because Marie is actually graduating high school tonight! EXCITING! I'm incredibly happy about this, as I would not have been able to make it to her graduation if my own hadn't come a week before hers. YAY good universe karma! Autumn still has another year to go, which means she had better pick a college soon. :) (Marie decided to go to my Alma Mater. I never thought that could make me happy haha.)
In other news, I have been applying for jobs and searching for an apartment. You'll know more when I do. Promise. Also, might I just add that preparing for a cross-country move is hard. I don't even know how I'm going to get most of my stuff up there. Crazy. Umm. Yea. that's where I'm at now. Upacking, repacking, packing more things, rearranging things. It's awesome.
How have you been? What are you up to? Did you miss me as much as I missed you? :P
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
I am ready to be done; don't get me wrong. Totally ready. However, I've never not been in school. I'm 21 years old and I've been in school since I was 5. I don't remember a time without it. And now comes the job search (which is incredibly difficult from here in Arkansas haha) and the apartment hunt (also difficult). I'm thrilled. I cannot wait to be finished with classes and out there doing what I love, working with books.
So I apply for jobs, and wait on the knot in my stomach to go away or at least get a little better. But it doesn't. And I'm not sure that it ever will. So that's where I've been. Trying to make it through one day at a time. I should be able to get you wonderful people some reviews this weekend. (I've got three for sure I need to post. I'm really behind. My apologies.)
Anywho, how are all of you doing these days?
Friday, April 1, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
In the mean time, I have begun work on what I have dubbed Shiny New Project. About a month or so ago, this boy popped into my head. I don't know where he came from. I didn't know his name or anything about him. I just knew he had a story, and he wanted me to tell it. And this is how he came to me:
"I was ten when the world ended. Well, sort of. My sister Laney was thirteen. She'd remember it better than me, but she never even made it to fifteen. She wasn't the only one."
That little guy had me. He did. but I'd promised myself I wasn't going to work on anything else until TSA was out for crits. And I didn't. So TSA got shipped to my lovelies, and Shiny New Idea became Shiny New Project. I wrote the first chapter (a whole whopping 3 pages) the first night without knowing anything more than those four sentences. Now I know a whole lot more.
This new book is some odd version of a post-apocalyptic/dystopian, and I say odd because the world has literally just ended, and the whole point of the book is the formation of the dystopian society/-ies. It's gonna be so much fun. No supernatural abilities. No paranormal creatures. Just people. Living in a futuristic world that's fallen to pieces around them.
So, what're all of you fine people up to as of late?