Monday, December 31, 2012

The Power of Six

The first day of my winter break I read I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore. Well, I just polished off the sequel The Power of Six. I think the length of time between this and my last post should speak for my opinion of it. But more on that soon.


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Number Four, going by John Smith has now teamed up with Number Six and his best friend, a human named Sam. Together they evade the evil Mogadorians and...well yeah. There's some tension between the three because both guys like Six. Meanwhile Number Seven aka Marina is trapped in a convent in Santa Teresa with her depressed guardian Adelina who's converted to Christianity and doesn't believe in the path of Lorien anymore. Marina is trying to survive and train herself while being incredibly bored.

While still an awesome premise, I was disappointed with the lack of character development. None of the characters changed. And to be honest, for all the action scenes and fighting and hundreds of Mogs being killed, I didn't feel like a lot happened. I was seriously intrigued by the idea of Adelina's conversion but it was never evolved past the first two chapters. Because I like the premise I'll read the next one but I'm sad it took me five days to read this book when I normally breeze through them.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Alchemy of Forever

Happy holidays to the blogosphere! I have spent this Christmas Day like many before it - reading. My family has a tradition of giving each other books since we're all addicted to reading, and we each finish a book in a day. This used to leave me exhausted, but now it's become common place.
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Today's pick was The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams. Seraphina Ames has been alive for over six hundred years, ever since her boyfriend Cyrus unraveled the secrets of alchemy that allow her to body hop with her soul. But she's finally come to terms with death, and refuses to take another body, because for her soul to occupy a body, the original soul must die. So she runs away from Cyrus. But while trying to save the victim of a car accident Sera accidentally takes over the girl's body. Then something happens that she hadn't counted on - falling in love with Kailey Morgan's life, and the boy next door.

It was the concept of this book I loved. It reminded me of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and I absolutely loved that book. So I had high hopes for The Alchemy of Forever. It fell kinda short. I never felt like the concept was delved into quite enough. I looked at some reviews on goodreads and the word that kept coming up was "brief." And I totally agree. While many of my reviews lately have said the books could have been shortened, I wish this one had been longer. Longer to develop Sera before she has to be Kailey. Longer to understand what it's like to live 600 years. Longer. I will be reading the sequel but I was sorta sad at the potential this book had.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars

Sunday, December 23, 2012

City of Fallen Angels

Sorry for the radio silence, guys. I was on vacation out of state and only had access to a computer when I was so tired I only had the energy to watch some Frasier before falling asleep to the sound of a faulty hotel fan. But I'm back with a review of the fourth book in Casandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, which has been described as a second trilogy.
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The Mortal War is over. Simon is a Daylighter vampire with the Mark of Cain which makes it impossible for him to be attacked without the attacker turning to salt. Alec is abroad with Magnus (he wears lederhosen, it's pretty funny), and Clary can finally call Jace her boyfriend (you know, since they discovered they weren't related after all). But things have hardly died down. Someone is trying to create more demon children, and people keep trying to attack and recruit Simon. And Jace is having dreams of hurting Clary which are slowly driving him crazy.

This book was light reading and definitely could have been shortened. I shouldn't have been able to put it down during the big climactic scene but I did several times. The ending, of course, was great and I'll be picking up City of Lost Souls as soon as it comes out in paperback. There were the witty one-liners you expect and enjoy in Clare's work, and some steamy stuff between Clary and Jace. Overall though I just felt things moved really slowly, even considering the book takes place over a couple weeks. Not my favorite of Clare's books, but still filling.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

Friday, December 14, 2012

Shatter Me

Silly me, I thought I would last till Christmas with only three books. Those three books are now read cover to cover, and I had to go back to my dorm and pick up other ones. Today's candidate - Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

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It has been 264 days since Juliette was locked in an asylum for having a lethal touch. Then she gets removed from the asylum by the Reestablishment so they can use her as a torture device. Her only friend is Adam, who she knew as a child and is now a solider for the Reestablishment. Juliette must try to resist being used so she can keep her sanity, and at the same time is getting closer and closer to Adam, who for some reason is the only person she can touch without killing.

Things I loved about this book: The psychological opening. The terror Juliette feels about this power she can't control and the ramifications of being hated for her power and also being incapable of being touched. Ever. Scary thought, right? Also, Warner, the head of a sector of the Reestablishment. He was soooo twisted, I wanted to see more of him. And the last half of the book. Loved it.

Things that I didn't really love: Parts of the writing style. While I have grown to have an appreciation for poetry, I think this book relied very heavily on metaphor and it clogged up the story line. And some of them didn't even make sense to me. That was a biggy with me. Also, lack of explanations. While the last half of the book totally redeemed itself in my eyes, I was a little angry that there was no speculation about HOW Juliette had a lethal touch. There was tons of "Why" but no "How."

Would sorta recommend, because of the premise and the last half. And the steamy romance. Adam is fiiiine.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Firelight

School breaks are exhausting, simply because I don't know what to do with myself. During the summers I work. During short breaks I generally travel. During long medium breaks? No idea what to do. So today I laid around, watched movies, and read Firelight by Sophie Jordan.

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At first I wasn't sure I'd like this book. The first few pages started out sort of immaturely. I can't think of another way of putting it. Something that would be cool in a movie but just didn't fly well with me. But as the book went on I came to like it.

Jacinda is a fire-breathing Draki, a human who can change into a type of dragon when stressed or threatened. And she's the first fire-breather in her pride in several generations. When her recklessness sends her and her family fleeing from the pride, she fears she'll be doomed to stop manifesting and become a human permanently. It's certainly what her mother and sister hope for. They enroll in high school and try to be normal. But Jacinda doesn't want to be normal. And the Draki inside her stirs when she's around Will, a hunter of her kind who doesn't realize what she is.

The idea of Draki is awesome, and I loved how many threads there were in this relatively short book. Jacinda clearly loves her family and is always struggling between wanting to be a Draki and letting her family be normal. I wasn't a fan of how often Jacinda changed her mind. Every other page, it seemed like. I felt like it stalled the conclusion. But I will definitely be picking up the sequel, Vanish.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I Am Number Four

So this summer I picked up what I thought was a copy of I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore. What it actually was, was The Lost Files, a companion book. Woops. Well I finally bought a copy of the real I Am Number Four, and I finished it off today.

It was really good.


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Four is from Lorien, planet much like earth, except the people are like the ones humans idolize in superhero films. And their planet is dead now, destroyed by the Mogadorians. Now 9 Loriens are on Earth, each with a protector, a Cepan, hiding from the Mogadorians. Three have been killed, and Four is next. He and his Cepan Henri hide out in Paradise, Ohio, waiting for Four (aka John) to develop his powers. In the meantime he hides his identity from his friends, the first friends he's ever had. Sam Goode, who's obsessed with conspiracy theories, and Sarah Hart, the most beautiful, kind girl in school and ex-girlfriend of Mark, who hates John. All of them are about to be swept into an extraterrestrial war, and most of them don't even know it.

I started this book yesterday. My classes are over and already I was finding myself at loose ends. So I read, and greatly enjoyed, I Am Number Four. It has some pretty cool powers and a good pace. A few things were less of a shock since I'd accidentally read The Lost Files. But I would definitely recommend this book.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Eyre Affair

Okay, so I know I said I was taking a break from blogging because I've been so busy, but I just finished a great book and wanted to tell you all about it! The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde is amazing. But we'll get to that.

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Thursday Next lives in a time where the line between fiction and reality is warped. Literature is of the greatest importance, with riots over too modern interpretations of Shakespeare and the like. Thursday is in her thirties with a rather stodgy career as a LiteraTec in the Special-Operations 27th department. She finds criminals trying to pass off fakes of important manuscripts. Until she is pulled into the theft of the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit by the third most evil man in the world: Acheron Hades. Soon Thursday is running through time trying to capture and kill Hades before he ruins great works of literature. Because, you see, if you make a change in an original manuscript, it changes them all, and Hades isn't afraid to kill fictional characters.

It took me several weeks to work through this book. It was recommended by a friend, and he lent me his signed copy. Well I was so tired of working that I sat down and polished off the last 150 pages today. The writing in this book is quirky. It jokes with itself. A character whose identity is constantly being changed is named Felix Tabularasa. There is a constant debate about who actually wrote Shakespeare's plays. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes classic literature and alternate history with sci-fi slants. I'll be picking up the next in the series after finals.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

Friday, December 7, 2012

Taking it Slow

Sorry about the radio silence, guys. This quarter is slowly grinding to a close, and I think it's running me over in the process. Not only have I been writing and rewriting papers, I've also been studying for finals because, surprise surprise, they are all on the first day of Finals Week. Which is, to put it mildly, terrifying.

I've said goodbye to some amazing professors this week. In one lecture we even applauded as he said farewell. If I hadn't been exhausted out of my skull I might have cried.

In light of the fact that I've been so busy, I haven't had any time to write. At all. Or edit.

So I'm taking a break for now. I will return, but I don't know how often I'll be blogging this month. I'm so tired, I need some time to sleep and recharge after a very tiring quarter.

See you later!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Na FINISHED NoWriMo

I have a very busy week ahead of me what with it being Hell Week and all. This includes a busy weekend, so I decided to grit my teeth, knuckle down, and finish NaNo. I had five thousand words to write in order to finish. I've certainly written more in a day, but I've been incredibly busy with school and it's been hard even to do the minimum for each day.

But, I did it. I sat at my computer with my legs propped up on my mini-bed and I wrote and wrote until I wrote The End.

Saddle Sore is a terrible book, as I've said in previous posts. But she's my fourth novel, and I can't believe that. I am still a teenager, though precariously perched on that edge, and I have written four books. And I am going to start working on my fifth over winter break. First I need to rest my hands a bit. As you can imagine, they're rather sore.

And so, I finally can tell ya'll about Saddle Sore.

Nikki has many interests, from her many clubs, to spending time with her friends (of which she has many), and getting over her parents' deaths. It's on a whim that she goes on a horseback ride with family friends while on vacation in Colorado. Instantly she's hooked, and decides to add horseback riding lessons to her ever-growing list of things to do. But as she gets more and more invested in horseback riding, things in the rest of her life start to slip to the background. And Grant, who works at her new family's ranch, begins to jostle for position. He introduces her to barrel racing, and she falls in love in more ways than one.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's Nov. 27th, and so it is time to rush

Have I mentioned how busy my life is? Here's what I've got going right now: Making a resume so I can apply to internships, a full class schedule, lots of history reading, writing poetry that's supposed to be profound, meetings, horseback riding lessons, keeping my room livable, keeping up to date on personal reading, and attempting to have a social life. And writing my fourth book. That's really what this post is about, trying to fit writing into a college student's calendar.

Last year I had it easier. I wasn't part of any clubs, I had a light schedule that fall and so was able to complete NaNoWriMo with ease. This year it's been harder. I've travelled, been much more socially active, and my schedule is as full as last winter when I had a minor break down and decided it was smart to take two upper level history classes at the same time. So, suffice it to say, keeping on track with NaNo has been difficult.

Here's how I do it: I write really late at night, pushing the midnight deadline for word count. As any college student, I like deadlines. They allow me to procrastinate and then rush forward when the deadline approaches. So most of my writing takes place at night. I also forego certain social activities so I can have some down time. Because life is exhausting.

I've very much enjoyed NaNo this year, but I'll be happy to start on Origins come December 1st.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for the books I have read which make me a better writer. I am thankful for my family who supports me in my desire to be an author. I am thankful for my college which provides me with amazing experiences. I am thankful for my friends who are quirky and weird and some of the best people in my life.
And I am thankful for cheesecake. Today's Thanksgiving dessert will be of my own creation:


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What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Books I Want to Read

Since I am in the final haul before Thanksgiving, I thought I'd do a post about the books I'd like to read. You've seen a lot of reviews of the books I have read, but here are some of the ones I have yet to mark off my TBR list.

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Of Posiedon by Anna Banks
Shadow and Bone by Laigh Bardugo
Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Crossed by Allie Condie
Gold Medal Summer by Donna Freitas
Firelight by Sophie Jordan
Cinder by Marissa Meyers
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

If you've read any of these books, feel free to leave a review in the comments!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Before I Fall

I am sick. Blame it on the colds sweeping campus, blame it on the very cold weather, blame it on the fact that I spent the weekend competing in 20 degree weather. Either way, I'm sick and down for a couple days. This gave me a chance to read for a while, since my brain is not capable of handling complex functions at the moment. My choice - Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.
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The first book by Oliver that I read was Delirium, a dystopian romance, and it left me a little disappointed. Before I Fall did not disappoint. This novel follows Sam on the day of her death. She's got it all, popularity, a hot boyfriend who never would have been seen with her before she was Cool, and wonderful friends. But today is a special day: her last day, although she doesn't know it. After her death Sam is forced to relive that last day seven times to figure out what happened and why. This will shake her beliefs about her friends, her boyfriend, popularity, and even life and death.

I loathed Sam in the beginning. She was cruel, vapid, dumb, and she seemed to break rules simply because they were there. But you were supposed to hate her. Her journey towards her big realizations meant she had to start out as the person you'd run away from in school. I greatly enjoyed this book, though it wasn't the most cheerful thing I'd ever read. That being said, I felt some of her days could have been pared down a little. One or two story lines cut. But I would definitely recommend.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Rolling Ball, Meet Head

In an earlier post I mentioned how this year the purpose of my doing NaNo was to kick start my imagination. I've been so busy with school and life that I haven't had the inspiration that got the ball rolling on my current Favorite WIP. In other words, I've been too grounded in realities to go outside the realm of normal.

And Origins is definitely not normal. Unless you think telekinesis is normal, or a guy with x-ray vision with a really creepy dad. Or a girl with superstrength. Or a crime wave sweeping Manhattan caused by superheroes.

I am in love with this story. I just haven't had the imagination to write it. So this year's NaNo project, Saddle Sore, is to help me get the ball rolling again. To remember why I fit writing into a full schedule. And so far it's working. Writing bad books really can help you write good ones.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Taking the Mickey Out of Your Brain

I am an English major. I was accepted into the program a couple weeks ago. I am also a history major though I haven't applied yet. Most of my days are spent reading and writing, for class and out of class. My typical day includes reading the blogging news, reading the news, working on last minute homework assignments, writing papers, reading hundreds of pages of history, this month I'm working on NaNo, while in other months I work on my Rest-of-the-Year book. I go to class and write down notes. I then type those notes into the computer.

By the end of the day my mind is so clogged with writing and reading I can't imagine doing any more. But I do. Not as fast as this summer, but I work my way through books. The thing is, even though I've clogged my brain with writing and reading, I still love it. I'm looking into internships at publishing houses or online journals, or any place that could get my foot in the market.

It just means I'm so tired by the end of the day that I barely have any energy. Did I mention I'm thinking of taking five classes next quarter? Yeah, maybe I should be locked up.

How does reading/writing factor into your everyday life?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Incarceron

As you might have noticed, I have not had time to read this past month. School and clubs have taken up entirely too much of my time. But this weekend, on a kind of vacation, I finally found the time. Sure, should I have been focusing on my history paper worth a third of my grade? Of course. But I needed a break from school. So I read Incarceron.


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Incarceron follows both Finn and Claudia in the Prison and the Realm. Finn doesn't remember his childhood, just waking up in the giant labyrinth of the Prison which was sealed against incomers hundreds of years ago. He is a thief, and a Starseer. One of the Wise Ones believes he will help them to escape the Prison which is both jailer and provider. Claudia is the daughter of the Prison Warden, doomed to the games of the court which lives under Protocol. Nothing ever changes or is allowed to progress. The two meet through discovering identical crystal keys. Together, they might just both Escape.

This was a nice hefty book that satisfied my need for pleasure reading. The Prison was very creepy and Protocol which made everything like the Victorian era was very cool, especially since it was all computer generated. I could have done with a bit more character development, but the setting made up for that. I would definitely recommend this book.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Writing Nonsense

The novel I'm writing for NaNoWriMo this year is purely for fun. I have no intention of trying to get it published, or even of editing it once I am done. I am doing NaNo this year to get my juices flowing. My time has been so caught up in history readings and poetry assignments that I simply haven't had the energy to work on the Apple-of-My-Eye project, Origins.

Saddle Sore, this year's NaNo contender, is fun. It joins together several subjects that I adore - horseback riding, and hot cowboys. It is a bad book. I'm enjoying writing it.

How's your NaNoing going?

Monday, November 5, 2012

NaNo Update

As some of you may recall, last year I completed NaNoWriMo in 10 days. I wrote the sequel to my first novel, and titled it Wind Chaser. I have a soft spot in my heart for that book. It's where my first heroine grew up and achieved her dreams. But it's a bad book. Because it's a NaNo book, and NaNo books aren't supposed to be good, they're simply supposed to be.

This year I'm taking things more slowly. I've stuck pretty close to the average words per day that is suggested. Why? Well, because this year I am much busier than last year, what with horseback riding and classes and life in general.

Speaking of life, I got a ribbon at my first sanctioned horse show! Yippee!! Reading for pleasure has basically stopped, but I still gaze longingly at those books on the shelf and tell myself "maybe tomorrow."

Hope your NaNoing is going well!

Today's goal: 8333 words

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Crunch Time

It's almost time for NaNoWriMo! This will be my second year participating in this glorious month of word vomit. I have two books planned out, and I'm not sure which of them I'll be writing yet. One is about horses, always a good topic with me. The other is a low fantasy novel about friendship.

The great thing about NaNo, as countless others have said before me, is how it gives you some accountability for getting work done. Also, it allows you to write badly. Because the important thing is just to write, not to worry about being brilliant, just get those gears churning.

Happy almost NaNo!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bucket Lists and Star Wars

Last night, on the first night I've allowed myself to completely relax in a while, I finally got around to watching  Star Wars (Episode IV: New Hope). I've been trying to get through movies when I've been home from school, which hasn't been much this year. But I know, as a proclaimed geek/nerd, I needed to see this movie.

Loved it. Han Solo, Leah, Luke, all of it. And in particular there was one part that I identified with very closely. The scene on Tatooine when Luke walks of his igloo-house thing and looks up at the sky and you can just tell he wants to be anywhere else in the world. See things, experience another place. Kinda corny, I'll admit, but it resonated with me.

I've had that feeling before. I love to travel, experience things, do things that scare the daylights out of me. My bucket list is 5 pages long. Funny how a movie would remind me how much I want to travel and do. Tonight it's Episode V.

NaNoWriMo is also coming up, so I'll be posting my progress more frequently!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tattoos And Debuts

As I have yet to do anything worthwhile in the book world this week besides realize I'd picked up the novellas accompanying I Am Number Four instead of the actual novel, I have a little philosophical post for today.

Tattoos are a lot like debut novels. You want them to be important, and mean something. You don't want to be that person who has a cartoon character on your forearm where everyone can see it, when you know in five years you'll be interviewing for a job and they'll give a confused look and politely shake your hand as you are bowed out of the office.

Debut novels are an author's chance to make a first impression. And I think that's why a lot of the time we writers freak out about which novel we want to have published first. Because it can determine the genre you'll be writing in for a while, especially if it's the first in a series. Our fans will recognize us for that genre, and probably expect it from us. Generally only the J K Rowlings and Kiersten Whites and Lauren Olivers can change genres. They're popular enough that their fan base will follow them from genre to genre. Most of us can't do that. I include myself in "us" because I am an optimist. I am not published. But I will be!

Think before you ink, and before you publish that debut!

Friday, October 19, 2012

YAtopia Relaunch

The blog YAtopia, manned by ten aspiring and some published writers, is being relaunched with some new staff! Follow the link below to check it out, and the prizes you can enter to win!

http://yatopia.blogspot.com/2012/10/yatopia-re-launch.html

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Um, what?

I have had piddling chance to write or read this week. Why, you ask? Well, because next week is midterms. Um, when did that happen? Didn't I just move back to school last week? It feels like it. And I've had even less chance, or inspiration, to blog. I feel bad coming on to blogger with no progress to report on Origins, or querying, or even reviewing. I have books to read, I swear. And I will be back soon with a review of I Am Number Four. And for those 20 of you out there who read this blog, I am sorry.

Trust me, this is hurting me a lot more than it's hurting you. Truly. Ow.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Editing Voice

For all of you out there who have edited your own work, or someone else's, you know you have a certain way you like things to sound. It is hard to set aside our own style and adjust our editing voice to someone else's tune. Of course, there will be times when you're right to use your own voice - perhaps you are the world's leading expert on dialogue punctuation. In that case, you'd be right to use your own set of skills. It takes an outsiders opinion to show an author how a piece is seen.

Now, if you're the world's leading expert in writing about fungus, and you're editing a paranormal romance about fairies and werewolves, this is probably not going to help. Might want to save that knowledge for your own book. About fungus. Not sure how you'd use that. ANYway! the point is that everyone has an editing voice. Bringing in someone else's opinion is a good thing, though you fungus experts may want to hold off.

I personally like commas. A lot. Probably too much. This reflects in my writing, and my editing.

What's your editing voice?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Riddle Me This

Nearly half way through the month and only five posts. I don't think I've been this busy or uninspired to blog for many a month. Was it just August when I was worried about blogging too much? Well, anyways, due to massive amounts of reading assignments and a day spent with friends ending with a possible concussion, I haven't had much time to read for pleasure. I Am Number Four is still in my purse, begging to be read.

So for today I give you one of my new favorite poems by Jonathan Swift. I think you'll like the answer.

In youth exalted high in air,
Or bathing in the waters fair,
Nature to form me took delight,
And clad my body all in white.
My person tall, and slender waist,
On either side with fringes graces;
Till me that tyrant man espied,
And dragg’d me from my mother’s side:
No wonder now I look so thin;
The tyrant stripped me to the skin:
My skin he flay’d, my hair he cropped:
At head and foot my body lopped:
And then, with heart more hard than stone,
He pick’d my marrow to the bone.

To vex me more, he took a freak
To slit my tongue and make me speak:
But, that which wonderful appears,
I speak to eyes, and not to ears.
He oft employs me in disguise,
And makes me tell a thousand lies:
To me he chiefly gives in trust
To please his malice or his lust.
From me no secret he can hide;
I see his vanity and pride:
And my delight is to expose
His follies to his greatest foes.
All languages I can command,
Yet not a word I understand.
Without my aid, the best divine
In learning would not know a line:
The lawyer must forget his pleading;
The scholar could not show his reading.

Nay; man my master is my slave;
I give command to kill or save,
Can grant ten thousand pounds a year,
And make a beggar’s brat a peer.

But, while I thus my life relate,
I only hasten on my fate.
My tongue is black, my mouth is furr’d,
I hardly now can force a rod.
I die unpitied and forgot,
And on some dunghill left to rot.

Answer: A pen.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Checking In

Hey, I'm sorry to have gone missing for a few days there. I have taken on many more projects this year at university, and this week was particularly busy. Lots of reading, bonding with my floor-mates, and attending meetings. On the plus side, it appears as if I am almost half-way done with my history major! And I applied for my English major. Terrified. I hear back next week.

So I will be back, hopefully tomorrow, with a review of I Am Number Four. This weekend isn't as busy as some of the next ones will be, so I'm hoping to get in a good dose of pleasure reading. And writing. I really need to work on Origins. A scene has been bobbing around my head all week but I haven't had time to write it. And perhaps I shall tweak my outline for Saddle Sore, this years choice for NaNo.

What's been keeping your life hectic?

Monday, October 8, 2012

I'm Not Weird, I'm Quirky

So this weekend I went home for the first time since arriving back at university. And what did I do, might you ask? I made cookies, crocheted, did homework, and wrote. I nearly doubled the word count of Origins, and meanwhile snacked on peanut butter and nutella cookies. Can you say yum? Because I can.

Today I read an interesting post over on Natalie Whipple's blog about writing standalone novels. She says that she's a bit scared of debuting with a standalone when the YA market is dominated by series. I completely agree. Most of the books I have in my mind are standalones. For those of you who have been with me for a while, this includes Balancing Act (complete), Water Dance and Fire Crackle (incomplete), and Wings (incomplete). My first two books are part of a duology.

Origins is the first time I've decided, and even outlined, a trilogy. My mind generally doesn't work that far in advance. I like to be surprised by my characters and where they're going. But Origins hit me like a train and demanded I give it more attention than one book. I now have twenty pages just of character profiles and outlines, which I spent this weekend refining a bit.

While most people would go out into the big world, especially with the gorgeous weather we've been having here in the Pacific Northwest, I stayed inside and finished off the first chapter of Origins.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Throne of Glass

I believe I've mentioned it in the past, but back when I was just a munchkin, I was obsessed with fantasy novels. You can thank Tamora Pierce for that. Of course, I have widened my spectrum since then, but I do love me a good fantasy novel. Throne of Glass is a good fantasy novel.

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Celaena Sardothien was the empire's most renowned assassin before she was betrayed and sent to die in a salt mine. That is, until she is sought out by the Crown Prince and his Captain of the Guard to compete for the title of King's Champion. Along the way Celaena develops a strange attachment to both of the men who saved her. They help her train for the trials she must endure, and help her keep her sanity. But meanwhile, her competitors are dying off one by one. Celaena needs to discover who is murdering the kingdom's best assassins, or risk being the next victim herself.

That I loved: The banter. Especially between Celaena and the Captain of the Guard, Chaol. Also, the friendship between her and the princess of one of the conquered kingdoms, who knows more than she seems to about the banished magic.

Other: I thought it could use some trimming. Not much, just here  and there. More filling out of the character who wants to sabotage Celaena because she wants the crown. For playing such a key role, I didn't know much about her. And finally, more dialogue on the part of the two men in their personal scenes. Most of it was internal narrative.

Overall, would definitely recommend to anyone who loves fantasy and a sassy heroine.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Scorpio Races

It took me over a week to read this book. Who knew University would be so tiring? I'm loving my classes, and the teachers seem nice and encouraging. So last night, after I'd finished my homework, I sat down and finished off The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.

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I'd heard through the grapevine that this book was incredible, but that it starts off slow. I ended up agreeing. The cast of characters was well fleshed out, and the setting was impeccable. It just took a while for the ball to start rolling.

Puck Connolly lost her parents a year ago, and since then she's been struggling with her two brothers to get by on their meager wages. She loves to horseback ride more than anything. Sean Kendrick is a four time winner of the Scorpio Races, a vicious annual race in which the meat eating water horses run along the beach on the day they want to return to it the most. Puck's brother is about to leave for the mainland, and if she doesn't win, she'll lose the house. Sean wants to be free of his employer Malvern, but he wants to bring Corr, his water horse, with him. If he doesn't win, he'll lose both his job and Corr.

My favorite part of this novel was the interaction between Puck and Sean. They interact during practices, and eventually form a strange friendship. By the end of the book I didn't know who I wanted to win. And that's great. I wasn't sure what ending would make me happiest, and the one that happened almost made me cry. Puck and Sean had very distinct personalities, which were evident not just in their words. I would definitely recommend it.

Goodreads Rating: 5 stars
Next up: Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas

Monday, October 1, 2012

In Which I Rant

I don't often let my temper get the better of me. In fact I have never, to my knowledge, yelled at someone. This of course excluding when I was a small child and yelling was the "in thing to do." And I am not often tempted by anger. What will get me going though, is that condescending little smile I get when someone asks me what my major is, and I say "History and English."

They don't get it. They think I don't know that I won't make a lot of money on this path. They think I don't understand that there aren't many jobs in this field. They think I'm stupid because I chose to go into humanities instead of something like computer science or engineering.

Well, they'd be wrong. I'm very aware that the chances of making it big in the publishing game are slim. That's why I'm honing my craft now so when I do get published (and I will) it will be not a good book, but a great book. I know there aren't many jobs available. That's why I'm looking into internships, and getting as much editing experience under my belt as possible. And, as for being stupid? I took math and science all through high school, staying a year ahead of where I was supposed to be. I am not an idiot. I choose to study English and History because those are the subjects I love. And in the words of Confucius, "choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."

I love writing, editing, and history. That is all.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Thoroughly Planned SNI

The minute I finished off the first draft of Balancing Act, I was wondering what my next project should be. I have a list of book ideas, some more fleshed out than others. But it wasn't until I had a dream (cliche, I know) that I knew what was next.

Jane Rossi has been known as Plain Jane since she was a child. All of her appeal is in her mind. Jane is a telekinetic who has no idea how she got her powers. She can move objects, and even change them a bit. But her mother tells her no one can know. But Jane slips, and she comes to the attention of Alistair Montgomery, a distinguished gentleman who wants her to use her powers to fix his son Brian's eyesight. She does.

Two years later Jane's mother is keeping her under house arrest as a crime wave sweeps through their native Manhattan. But no regular walls can keep Jane inside. She sneaks out and runs smack dab into the criminals. And Brian is one of them. And he has X-Ray vision. Jane had accidentally created the first superhero, and he is now a criminal.

I spent weeks researching and plotting this thing out. I have the powers of each character restrained and fleshed out. The first book has a general outline for me to follow, and I have my explanation and back stories for everyone. I even have a small idea of what happens in the sequels. Now I just need to write it.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Eon

In case you missed yesterday's post, Eon by Alison Goodman was the last book I read for my Summer Reading Project. It is a hefty book at just over 500 pages, and took me a bit longer than usual to read. However, this should be attributed to the fact that the days had been spent moving into my new home at college, and meeting new people.

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This novel follows Eon, a sixteen-year-old who has been training for years to become a Dragoneye apprentice. This means that, if chosen by one of the twelve energy dragons, he would serve as a conduit between the realm of energy, and the human world. It's a powerful position, and only one boy is chosen every year. But Eon has a secret. He is actually Eona, a girl, and forbidden to bond with a dragon because women are unsuited to channeling the energy. Eona is drawn into the intrigue of court after bonding with the Mirror Dragon who has been lost for five hundred years. If her enemy, Dragoneye Ido, discovers her secret she will be killed. Of course, she might just be killed in the upcoming revolution.

This book has a lot of threads. Eon struggles with actually being Eona, and has pushed femininity so far down that she can barely remember what it is. She is also having trouble connecting with her dragon and balancing the duties of being a young Dragoneye with no one to train her, and having the possibility of a revolution revolving around her decisions.

It's intricate, detailed, and I think it could have been pared down a bit. Everything is very formal, which I loved, because that's how it was. You could only say specific things on specific occasions, and you had to bow a certain way depending on rank, and if you were of equal rank you had to bow to the elder of that rank. It's complicated. I loved Eon's struggle with Eona. I was a bit confused by the channeling of the energy, but I've heard it's explained more thoroughly in the sequel.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
Up next: The Scorpio Races

Monday, September 24, 2012

Summing it Up

Well, I did it! I finished my Summer Reading Project on the very last day. The last book? Eon by Alison Goodman (review to come tomorrow). This summer I set out to read 34 books. And I did it. Using my spare time on my days off from work, my lunch breaks, car rides, and even before falling asleep in my dorm room, I did it.

It's been amazing. I've gone through fantasy, paranormal, science fiction, dystopian, historical romance, contemporary teen lit, classics, and I can't honestly say I had a favorite book. Some certainly stand out, though, the ones I would very highly recommend, and here they are:

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Legend by Marie Lu (dystopian), Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (paranormal fantasy), The Selection by Kiera Cass (dystopian romance), and The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan (egyptian fantasy). Either because they were edgy, funny, exhilarating, or mind-boggling, these books sparked my interest in their sequels, some of which have not yet been released. Humph.

It's been a great ride, and my eyesight is now three times worse than it used to be. Oh well! Time to pick up the next book.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Beginnings

Well, I am back at school. Granted, classes don't start for a few days, so I have some time to settle in, get to know my new roommate, and finish my Summer Reading Project.

It's been a crazy summer. I've read so much my eyes got three times as worse, and I've finished the first draft of my third book. I've gone ziplining. I've ridden a camel. I had a minor surgery. I worked a full time job. And I didn't do homework, thank goodness.

I'm looking forward to the new school year, my sophomore year. What are my plans, you ask? Well, read even more. I'm not even close to finishing my TBR pile. I want to write books 4 and 5. Details to come later. I want to progress down the path to finding an agent. And I want to maintain a decent GPA, sleep, and have a decent social life. Seems reasonable, right? Probably not. But I'm going to try.

Here is to a new school year, and the books that come with it!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Building

I am somewhere between a pantser and an outliner. I get an idea and I just go with it, but I like to outline on the side so I know where I'm going. But at the moment I am going full outline mode. Why? Because I think I've found my next project, and it's a sci-fi trilogy. What does that mean? Lots and lots of research. I'm writing out character sketches, backstories for every major character, doing general plot outlining for each book. And I've been reading up on telekinesis, neurotransmitters, astigmatisms, and Hell's Kitchen.

This is new for me. I'm not sure why I'm not just leaping into the writing. But something about the story tells me I'm going to want to plan it out. I want to know my characters inside and out before I put fingers to keyboard.

I'll tell you more about the idea later on, once I've determined I'm going to stick with it. It's been a busy few weeks.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

During my adolescence (which, granted, is probably not done) I gravitated mostly towards high fantasy and romance novels. The most obvious example of this is my obsession with Tamora Pierce, whose books take up an entire shelf of my bookcase. But over the past year I've drifted more towards Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Historical Romance, and even some Paranormal. But I jumped back into fantasy with a healthy dose from The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson.

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This novel follows Elisa, a princess of Orovalle, who compares herself to her older sister and finds her own nature wanting. But she is the bearer of a Godstone, a gem planted in her navel at her naming ceremony by Him. This means she is destined for an act of service to God, but Elisa has no idea what it is. She just wants to be left alone to her books, her praying, and her sweets. But that changes when she is married off to the King of Joya-Arena, and is subsequently kidnapped by hill people. Elisa battles her doubts about her faith, her worth, a forbidden love, and discovers the world outside the palace is very different than what she expected. It doesn't help that she bears the Godstone. Most of the bearers die young.

What I liked about this book: it's unflinching weaving of faith and magic. Sometimes I feel authors shy away from having a religion in fantasy books that resembles modern religion. I also liked watching Elisa go from a frightened young girl to a decisive young woman (much unlike her husband). The world was well crafted and I didn't know camels' humps drooped if they get dehydrated...

What I found frustrating: lack of character descriptions! By the end of the book I know if a couple characters are tall or attractive, and I know Elisa is chubby. That's about it. I like having descriptors; it makes the characters more real to me. But from what I've read on other reviews, this is a personal thing.

Read it. I highly recommend it.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tired

It's been an exhausting few days. My body has been fighting off a bug of some kind and, while I haven't actually gotten sick, I've been lethargic. It's like I can feel the virus trying to take over. Bleck. But I've been sick often it's just like a walk in a park, granted a rainy park.

The result of this lethargy? I've gotten basically nothing done. No writing, no editing, no critiquing, and virtually no reading. Instead I've been doing stuff that doesn't require, well, thinking. I've been watching movies I've always wanted to see but never got around to (Pretty Woman, Indiana Jones series). And I've been crocheting. Crocheting so much that my hands stiffened up.

I promise I'll be back with reviews in a day or two. I just need to rest. I think the summer finally caught up with me.

Reading: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bleeding

The past few days my dream world and my awake world have been colliding more than usual. You know that feeling when you realize you're in a dream? Suddenly everything seems possible and you can manipulate the scenario of the dream. I get that a LOT. About half the time I'm conscience of that fact. But something different has been happening.

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I had a small surgery a couple days ago, nothing serious or life threatening, but enough that I have a few stitches. And I'm not supposed to elevate my heart rate while I have them. I was in the middle of a nightmare, being chased from my house by a guy with a gun when I realized in my conscience self that my heart rate must be becoming heightened. And I woke up. I told my father and he laughed so hard he almost cried.

Then this morning - and I swear this all connects to writing - I was in the middle of another weird dream. I was swimming in a pool that was also a library, and I had telekinetic powers. Long story short, I woke up seriously pondering a question of tracking abilities of telekinetics in big cities versus large natural spaces. This is something I need to consider when creating the world for my new WIP (tell ya'll about it later). So, to wrap it all up, writing has now gone from taking up a large portion of my daily life, to invading my nightly life. I think I can officially call myself a writer now!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Million Suns

I read Across the Universe by Beth Revis earlier this summer, and if I recall correctly I praised the writing style, but thought the book could have been a bit shorter. My comments are similar regarding the sequel.

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A Million Suns starts up three months after Amy was unplugged. Now she's struggling with being the only "different" person aboard Godspeed, and her lack of choices. Things heat up when she discovers a trail of clues her enemy left her from beyond his icy tomb. Clues that could reveal what's truly wrong with Godspeed, and why they haven't reached the new planet yet. Meanwhile, Elder is trying to take over the post of leader of the ship, which meets with resistance from the newly drug-free residents. Elder must decide if he can rule without the mellowing drugs, or if he's capable of ruling at all.

I read the majority of this book in one day, thanks to a very minor "surgery" I had which involved stitches. I'm not supposed to exert myself, especially not within the first 24 hours following the procedure. So I laid in bed watching The Big Bang Theory and reading this book. There's a bit of a lag in the middle, and I found some parts repetitive. But there was suitable tension and it was definitely not a sophomore slump. I really want to read the final installment, and will be following Revis' blog for updates on its release.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Next Up: Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Clockwork Prince

A couple days ago I went to the ophthalmologist and discovered that my eyes have gotten worse since I got glasses last year. Not surprising, as I've been reading and writing with a vengeance. And what did I do to celebrate needing glasses full time? I read Clockwork Prince, the sequel to Clockwork Angel by Casandra Clare.


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Clockwork Prince follows Jem, Will, Tessa, and their fellows at the London Institute of demon fighting Shadowhunters, as they race against the clock to find Mortmain, also known as the Magister, who is building a clockwork army to destroy all Shadowhunters. Also, Benedict Lightwood is trying to take over the Institute by claiming a woman cannot capably run it, and Tessa is further confused by her attraction to Jem and Will. One boy is dying, the other pushes her away at every turn, but wants her just the same.

I have read a lot of Clare's work this summer, and this book left me feeling much like City of Ashes - just slightly underwhelmed. There's some great character interactions, and I laughed out loud a few times. And the development of the V between Tessa, Will, and Jem makes complete sense to me. But.... not much happens. And when not much happens in a near-500 page book, I'm disappointed. I will certainly be picking up Clockwork Princess because of the ending. Gah, the ending was good.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars
Next up: A Million Suns by Beth Revis

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

If only the description of the book were more enticing, I might have picked this book up and read it back when I first saw it last year at a Tamora Pierce book signing. I had heard of it, sure, and knew it was a best seller. But I didn't understand why.

Now I do.
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Karou means hope in the language of the Chimaera. But Karou is human. Blue haired, an excellent artist, and a current resident of Prague, she receives languages for her birthdays. Karou balances two lives - a human one where she is an art student and friends with Zuzana, and her secret life where she deals in the trafficking of teeth to Brimstone, her foster father who is a Chimaera. Karou doesn't know anything about her life, why she exists, why she is the only human trusted by Brimstone, or why he needs teeth. That starts to change when she is attacked by the angel Akiva, and he sees something familiar in her.

This book was amazing. The descriptions were fluid, and the dialogue witty. And when strong emotionless Akiva collapsed in tears I felt it like a palpable thing. The depth to the characters is compelling, and by the end all I wanted to do was pick up the sequel.

But, alas, it doesn't come out till November. *Grah!*

Would HIGHLY recommend.

Goodreads Rating: 5 stars

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Return of the King

Okay, so my eyes have been starting to ache from all the reading I'm doing, so I decided to listen to The Return of the King on disc. I love audio books. They are great for car rides or when your mind is too tired to even focus on a page.

The Return of the King was a great finale to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I enjoyed it much more than The Two Towers, partly because there was less trudging through harsh land with no hope ahead. There was some, mind you, but it didn't feel like there was as much.

My favorite part would have to be the last few chapters, when Merry, Pippin, Frodo, and Sam return to the Shire and set everything right. By the end of the book I had that swelling happy sensation. The ending made sense, and it was well written. And I felt joy for the characters I had come to love along the way. Pippin for his ever-happy nature and wise-cracking. Merry for his devotion and kind heart. Sam for his stalwart companionship and practicality. And Frodo for his pain, and determination to do the right thing even if it kills him.

I can now officially say that I've read The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and just polished off my 27th book of the summer. I have an eye exam in a week.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars