Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I didn't get a review up on Monday. I was going to get up and write it early Monday morning, but, uh, that didn't happen. There WILL be a review on Friday, and it shall be for Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. Because, in case you hadn't noticed, I don't always read books as soon as they come out (which explains why I won't be completing the 2011 DAC, oh well).

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

Tangled Tides: War of the Underwater Worlds

Today is a very special day, and, no, I'm not referring to all the sales taking place for the time honored tradition that is Black Friday. No, I'm talking about the release of a very good book by a very awesome person: Karen Amanda Hooper's Tangled Tides. (In case you weren't here on Monday, you can read my review here.)

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

Happy Holidays!!

Hi, you've reached Amanda's blog; she's not here right now, but she hopes you'll all have a fabulous Thanksgiving full of fun, food, family, and friends. Your regular blog hostess will return on Friday for the Tangled Tides launch party. In the mean time, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: Tangled Tides

Tangled Tides by Karen Amanda Hooper

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

Review: If I Stay

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Age Group: Young Adult
Published: May 6, 2010 by Definitions (originally pub'd 2009)
Format: Paperback, 224 pgs
Source: Purchased


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

First Drafting

It's 3PM and I've only been up for a few hours. My sleep schedule is worse now than it was when I was still in college, and that's saying something. I usually try to get these posts up earlier in the day, but I don't seem to be up at all in the mornings anymore. My bad.

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:

Chapter 1
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

Review: The Body Finder

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Age Group: Young Adult
Published: February 15, 2011 by HarperCollins/TN (first published 2010)
Format: Paperback, 328 pgs
Source: Purchased


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

Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Age Group: Young Adult
Published: July 6, 2010 by Scholastic (first published 2008)
Format: Paperback, 374 pgs
Source: Purchased


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

Writing to Music

It's been a while since I talked about music on here, and since I spent all morning tweeting back and forth with someone across the pond about good scores to write to, I thought I might as well blog about music today. (Note, I tried to post this earlier and, despite saving, Blogger deleted half my post and then froze me out for a good 45 minutes. So this was supposed to go up over an hour ago.)

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

Review: The Near Witch

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Age Group: Young Adult
Published: August 2, 2011 by Hyperion Books CH
Format: Hardcover, 282 pgs
Source: Purchased
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

Review: Darker Still

Darker Still (Magic Most Foul #1) by Leanna Renee Hieber

Age Group: Young Adult
Published: November 1, 2011by Sourcebooks
Format: eARC, 336 pgs
Source: NetGalley


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.


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