Monday, October 31, 2011

Review: Every Other Day

Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Age Group: Young Adult
Published: December 27, 2011 by EgmontUSA (expected)
Format: eARC, 336 pgs
Source: NetGalley


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

Review: Dark Life

Dark Life by Kat Falls

Age Group: Middle Grade
Published: August 5, 2010 by Simon & Schuster Children's (originally published May 1st by Scholastic)
Format: Paperback, 304 pgs
Source: Purchased


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

A Long Vlog

I made you a vlog. It is 10 minutes and talks about everything and nothing at the same time. There are Lord of the Rings posters and an introduction to my cat and lots of eye rolling and things.

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

Review: Just Listen

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Age Group: Young Adult
Published: February 28, 2008 by Puffin (originally published 2006)
Format: Paperback, 371 pgs
Source: Purchased


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

Review: The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Age Group: Adult
Published: September 13, 2011 by Doubleday
Format: Hardcover, 387 pgs
Source: Library


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 RĂªves, 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

In which I ramble

This morning I woke up at 4:30. (I wasn't supposed to be up until 5, but the dog got a little antsy, so obviously I stayed in bed until 5 anyway.) Then, I threw on a jacket and some shoes and took my mom to the airport. I then returned home and slept until 10:30. It is now after noon. I have no idea how I have managed to spend the last hour and half, but I believe the internet is responsible. Oh well.

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

Review: Texas Gothic

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Age Group: Young Adult
Published: July 12, 2011 by Random House Children's
Format: Hardcover, 416 pgs
Source: Gift


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

Blargh. Edits. Blargh.

I have been in an editing frenzy for the past two days. I literally revised half of TSA (mind you that's only 20k words - it's a 40k MG after all), but STILL.

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 Standalone VS The Series

If you read YA or MG (and I'm going to assume that you do if you're reading my blog), then you've probably noticed the same things I have. First (not really, that's just where I'm going to start) there were vampires, so many in fact that lots of people, and the market in general, became overwhelmed by them. I am going to call this the Twilight Effect.

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

Review: Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Age Group: Young Adult
Published: May 3, 2011 by Harper Collins Children's Books
Format: Hardcover, 489 pgs
Source: Purchased
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

Review: Shift

 Shift (Shade #2) by Jeri Smith-Ready

Age Group: Young Adult
Published: May 3, 2011 by Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover, 367 pgs
Source: Gift


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

Time: Friend or Foe?

I'm a fast mover. I figure out what I want and how to get it and then I go for it. I was unaware of this fact a few months ago, and it actually took a friend telling me as much for me to see it. So I have grad school to thank for learning something new about myself, well, grad school and The Move That Wasn't. I came back and sat around for weeks trying to figure out what I was going to do next. The moment I chose to come home and not stay in New York, I changed everything. No more interning, no more plans to become an agent. I was completely lost.

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

Review: Hold Still

 Hold Still by Nina LeCour

Age Group: Young Adult
Published: October 15, 2009 by Dutton Juvenile
Format: ARC
Source: Gift


An arresting story about starting over after a friend's suicide, from a breakthrough new voice in YA fiction.

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.


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