Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Shifter

So I finally got to go back to work! My cold sores are completely gone and I'm fresh as can be. I got to work half of the busiest weekend of the year, and now I'm on my days off. As usual, I have a lot of work to do. I have line edits on a book due at work in two weeks, and the second round of edits for Balancing Act due in a week. I'd also like to take time to go see Wolverine because...well...Hugh Jackman. And...ya know...yum. I also want to go horseback riding because I'm feeling all soft and squishy from a week spent in bed. But before all that, I decided to finish off The Shifter by Janice Hardy.


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Nya is a Gevegian on an island occupied by the Baseeri. She's also a shifter, an unheard of ability where she can heal people, take the pain, and shift it into other people. Most Healers can only shift pain into pynvium, and there's a shortage. Nya has to stay out of the notice of the Healers because otherwise she could become a weapon, shifting to people for the profit of others. But when her sister Tali is kidnapped, Nya has to come to terms with using her power, and what she's willing to to do get her sister back.

I bought this book last summer when I went to Powell's. I read a few chapters before getting distracted, and it was sitting on my TBR shelf for a while. Yes, I actually have a TBR shelf. It includes all the books I have yet to read, as well as series I have started but have not finished because the rest hasn't been released yet. Anyways. I got distracted and read a ton of other books. But I still wanted to come back to this one. And here are my thoughts. Cool premise, simple plot. There were times when I sped through 40 pages barely blinking, and times where I stopped and went on pinterest because things were slow or just weren't catching my attention. Of course, that might have been partly because I was exhausted and hungry. The last 50 pages flew by. I'll be reading the sequel for sure.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
Up Next: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Waking Storms

Hopefully yesterday was the last day of my solitude so I can get back to work. I spent much of the day polishing off Waking Storms, the sequel to Lost Voices by Sarah Porter. I read that book last summer, and it took me a little while to get into it because it made me so sad I needed to put it aside for something happier. But that's just how this trilogy is. It's not going to flood your tear ducts like a Jodi Piccoult novel, but it is going to make you desperately sad for the girls who choose to become mermaids.


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It's been three months since Luce saved Dorian, the only person to ever resist her singing. She's still ostracized from her tribe of mermaids, even though she is the rightful queen. The false queen, Anais, is running the mermaids down the wrong path, sinking way too many ships and ignoring the rules of the Timahk. This has caused the FBI to get suspicious of what's actually going on around there. Could there possibly be mermaids? Meanwhile, Luce and Dorian meet again and fall in love. But there's no way for them to truly be together while they remain different. Dorian wants her to find a way to turn human, but Luce is positive she doesn't want her legs back. Their love is forbidden, but maybe they could find a way to bring peace between humans and mermaids before war breaks out.

Oh, Luce. Poor Luce. Whenever she does something brave, like rescue one of the oldest mermaids ever from a trawler net, Dorian gets mad at her. He feels her life is somehow unreal, a fantasy, while he's living up on land trying to deal with the death of most of his family. I was so mad at him for that. How could he get mad that she'd saved Nausicaa, when Nausicaa is so cool. She has the world weary temperament of some older people I've met. They've seen it all, nothing can surprise them, and yet you must feel guilty for being unable to do so. I loved watching Luce come into her own as a singer, and even stand up to her old tribe. However, she got too dewy-eyed over Dorian. He was sooo not worth it, when he couldn't understand why she didn't want to give up the sea. Oh and the end. Oh when does The Twice Lost come out in paperback? I can't believe it ended that way. Would definitely recommend this series.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
Up Next: The Shifter by Janice Hardy

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Article 5

It's been gorgeous down here the past week or so while I've been trapped inside. But I'm sort of sick of hearing myself carp about it, so I'll leave it at that. I've gotten a lot of reading done, and I've even had a chance to work on Origins, and now my new SNI Poison Ivy. I'm still hoping to have one of these books completed by the end of the summer. I think I can do it. It might mean giving myself time to write instead of diving into a new book every other day. Speaking of which, I polished off Article 5 by Kristen Simmons last night.


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Ember Miller has been declared a criminal under Article 5 of the Moral Statutes now ruling the United States. She was born out of wedlock and now must be sent to rehab to get better. But Ember only has a mind for escaping and finding her mom, who will be tried as a violator of Article 5. And violators never come back. Helping her escape is a reluctant soldier named Sean who she blackmailed. There's also Chase Jennings, her childhood love who's now a soldier enforcing the Moral Statutes. As he tries to get her to a safe house they reconnect, and sparks fly.

This book came out during the boom of dystopian. And the action never stops, which is good. But I had one big problem with this book. Nowhere is it explained why the world is dystopic. There's mention of a war and large cities being abandoned, but no explanation of why there was a war and how the US is situated in the world now. There's no explanation for how the Moral Statutes replaced the Bill of Rights. Has the government been overthrown and this is in place, or did it evolve from within? I don't know. Maybe it explains it in Breaking Point. As for the big twist, I guessed it long before we got there. Normally I don't care if that happens. When you read so many books, you tend to get a sense of where things are going. But in this case, I was just sort of ready for Ember to figure it out. I'll read Breaking point because Article 5 had some good action sequences.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars
Up Next: Waking Storms

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Something In the Air

I don't know what it is about the coastal air, but I always do my best brainstorming out here. Last year I finished writing Balancing Act while the sun shone down , and the next day I came up with the idea for Origins. There have been half a dozen or so failed stories as well. During the school year I think I had one book idea the entire time. It might be because my brain is focused on academics, but it just wasn't conducive to my plotting books.

Well, last night before going to bed I was struck with a prologue. Just a few short sentences that I quickly typed up and then vowed to think about more in the morning.

"There were many things I never expected to happen on my wedding day. For instance, I never expected blood to cake my mouth, and my lip to be split, so even smiling would send a fresh dribble down my chin. I never expected my bouquet to be daisies. They're such smelly flowers. I never expected my dress to be lavender and covered in scorch marks.

But most of all, I never expected to love my husband-to-be."

Of course, my brain interpreted "morning" to mean "startle her awake at 6 in the morning on her last day off work before the busiest weekend of the year and make her have so many ideas she can't possibly fall asleep."

Long story short, I spent an hour this morning typing up part of the first scene of Poison Ivy, a dark fantasy novel about two feuding families trying to come to a truce by joining the eldest and second eldest children in marriage. Ivy is the second eldest of the Blackwood family, with the ability to make things grow. She is engaged to Carr, the second eldest of the Agresta family. Her elder sister is engaged to Darcy. Ivy hates them all, but as secrets come into the open and family wounds are opened, she must rely on, and even trust, the Agresta brothers with her most precious secret of all.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Raven Boys

Still sick. Whoop-de-doo. Today is day four of being stuck in bed trying to get over these cold sores. I don't mind, not really. I know it's necessary, and putting my body through physical stress will just keep me down longer. And it has been nice, having time to read and work on book stuff. I spent a good portion of yesterday reading The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I've loved her since The Scorpio Races, for her exceedingly unique worlds and characters you fall in love with because their reactions make sense because of who they are, not because the writer tells us how they feel. The Raven Boys is no different.

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"There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on Saint Mark's Eve," Neeve said. "Either you're his true love... or you killed him." This line sets the tone for The Raven Boys. Blue is the daughter of a psychic, and she's been told if she kisses her true love he will die. And she hates the raven boys of Aglionby school. They are rich and stuck up and entitled. But nonetheless she is drawn into their search for Glendower, the ancient Welsh king who's said to have been buried along a ley line in Virginia. With Adam, the scholarship boy, Ronan, who doesn't care if he lives or dies, Noah, the smudgy one, and Gansey, the young man in an old man's life, Blue sets out to discover where Glendower is. Along the way they encounter death, time, and many stranger things in between.

I love Maggie Stiefvater. Her worlds are so cool, and she writes about things I would never even be able to dream up if I tried. The link between energy and a Welsh king said to be sleeping thousands of years? So cool. And Blue being an amplifier to energies around her? Even cooler. God, there is not one thing about this book I would change, which has got to be one of the first times I've ever thought that. The characters are deep and intriguing, with quirks that are unique and yet somehow fit perfectly. The secondary characters of Blue's aunts are just as cool. And the cover? Gorgeous. I normally don't care too much about covers, but this one is beautiful in ways I can't even imagine. I can not wait until The Dream Thieves comes out. In fact... I think I'll go pre-order it now.

Goodreads Rating: 5 stars
Up Next: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Vanish

So I went and got myself sick. Well, I have three, yes, count em three, cold sores. And it *SUCKS.* My lips look like I took a bicycle pump to them and I have to use a straw to avoid dribbling liquid down my chin like a freaking baby. I am also not allowed to work while sick, so I'm bedridden until these stupid ugly sores go away. I hate this. I hate hate hate being useless and not being able to work when that's the reason I'm here.

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Okay, rant done. I'm just a bit frustrated. This happened last year too and it took a whole week for the *one* sore to go away. Now I have three and I'm in pain. So, I'm understandably grumpy. There is an upside, I suppose, though. I've had time to catch up on work. Yes, folks, that's my life. When I'm not able to work I get to catch up on work. I reviewed some submissions yesterday and edited my new project from Entranced. Today I decided to do a bit of recreational reading, and finished off Vanish by Sophie Jordan. This book is the sequel to Firelight, which I think I read last summer. I picked it up because it had draki, which is awesome. Well, here we go.

Jacinda has fled back to the pride with her mother, sister, and Cassian. Thank goodness Tamra manifested for the first time ever and is a shader, otherwise the hunters Jacinda revealed herself to would remember them and their secret. Back with the pride Jacinda has to face ostracism from the pride for abandoning them, as well as try to give up the idea of being with Will. She feels a bit of a pull around Cassian, but Tamra likes him and she could never do that to her sister. Jacinda wants to be free, but suddenly being with the pride feels more like another cage.

Um, this book. Where to begin. It's short, which makes sense because not a whole lot happens. Jacinda waffles between Will (who's barely in the book) and Cassian a lot. And she feels guilt, but then not guilt because she wanted to be free. I liked this book because it has a cool concept in the different kinds of draki. Shaders, visiocrypters, firebreathers, etc. It sounds awesome. But I left this book feeling more confusion than anything. What do the draki look like? Maybe I just haven't read enough books with draki in them, but I would assume they're a bit bigger than humans, and scaly like dragons, right? Well, it seems like they retain their hair. Which is weird, not going to lie. I just can't picture it. Also, why does everyone love Jacinda? Will, Cassian, and his creepy cousin Corbin all love her. And I couldn't see it. She just seemed angsty to me. There were a couple scenes that got my heart moving moderately faster than normal. I'll be picking up Hidden to finish it off, but I'm not jumping up and down over this one.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars
Up Next: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Lost Hero

My edits of Balancing Act are turned in! It's been a crazy week. First with the edits, then getting assigned my next project at work (spoiler: it's pretty cool). Then add to that my day job which has been hectic, and that my family and a friend came down and visited on my days off so I was going going going until around midnight for two days, I am exhausted. This is all to explain why it's been over ten days since I finished a book. I'm going to keep slowly working through Inkheart, but I'm also reading other books as well. This week's pick was The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan.


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Jason woke up on the bus with no memory of who is he is or how he got there. But apparently he's best friends with the mechanical genius Leo and has a beautiful, persuasive girlfriend named Piper. And suddenly they're being attacked by storm spirits and defended by Coach Hedge who suddenly has goat legs. Now the three are in a place called Camp Half-Blood, and discovering they're all demigods. But Jason can't help feeling like he doesn't belong here. Set on a quest to free the queen of the gods, Hera, Jason tries to unwrap his memories, which have been taken from him for a reason. He just wishes he knew what it was.

It's no mystery that I love Riordan's books. I read them a bit backward, going through the Kane Chronicles before Percy Jackson and the Olympians. So it's no surprise that I enjoyed this first installment which deals with the Roman and Greek aspects of the Olympians. I also loved delving into the idea of charmspeak, a power of the children of Aphrodite. I felt pretty ambivalent toward Jason. He was a very take charge, loyal kind of guy. Really, I liked Leo the most. His relationship with his mom, how screwed up his life has been because of Hera, and his secret ability as a child of Hephaestus. All pretty awesome. And he had a great voice. Can't wait to read The Son of Neptune!

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
Up Next: Vanish by Sophie Jordan

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Editing Balancing Act

I couldn't think of a wittier title for this post. I just wanted to check in so ya'll wouldn't forget me. I'm still reading Inkheart, slowly but surely. However, it's going to take me longer than usual. You see, I'm finishing up the first round of developmental edits on Balancing Act for my awesome editor Emily. It was slow going at the start there. I was in the middle of a crazily busy week at work, and I was exhausted every day when I got home. But then I hit my days off and now I'm cooking.

It's weird, trying to look at Balancing Act objectively. Now that I'm an editor, I see a lot more of the mistakes. I think this is because I've always been very attached to my work, and there was the possibility of sometime it being published, but I didn't have to worry about being perfect just now. Well, that sometime is here now. Which is still hard to believe. I keep saying it and telling people, but it still doesn't seem completely  real. I don't know if it will feel real at some point, maybe when I get my cover, or when I get the ARCs. Maybe it will only feel real when I see it sitting on a Kindle/Nook.

Anyways, work is going well (both of them). I love being an editor, I love that I get to see Balancing Act take flight when this time last year I was still writing it.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Fateful

I am so tired. So tired. I'm pulling a long week at work, but today is the last day. Then I have two days in which I plan to edit Balancing Act quite a bit. I'm doing the first round of revisions from the notes my awesome editor Emily gave me. I also plan on getting my hair cut, seeing Despicable Me 2, horseback riding, and sleeping. Or some subset of the these things. But before I do all these things, I decided to read another standalone book. This time, I chose Fateful by Claudia Gray.


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Tess has no plans to remain a maidservant forever. In fact, after she and her employers get off the boat in America, she intends to hand in her notice. But her plans to lay low and collect her wages at the end of the week are hindered when she becomes the target of the evil Mikhail, a werewolf who wants to kill her. Her only protection is Alec, a first class passenger on the ship who is trying to stop Mikhail from forcing him to join the Brotherhood, a pack of dominant werewolves who are like a mind controlling version of the mafia. But they just have to survive 5 days aboard the ship before they can escape. But their journey is fated to be disastrous, and starts when they step foot on the RMS Titanic.

I know it's weird and depressing, but I love learning and reading about the Titanic. It was such a representation of social hierarchy at the time, as well as the luxuries that were experienced in first class versus third class. I've read two books set on the Titanic before this one, and every time the end where the ship is sinking gets my heart pumping. I can imagine the crew going down with the ship as the band played on. Men putting their wives in the too few lifeboats and sacrificing themselves. It pulls at my heart. Fateful did a bit of this as well, but I thought it took a long time getting there. The sinking of the Titanic is very close to the end, whereas I expected it to take up a more significant chunk. Spellcaster is still my favorite of Gray's books, and I can't wait for Steadfast to come out.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars
Up Next: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Thing About Truth

I swore I was going to slow down with the reading. But here I am, not even a month into my summer reading project, and I'm a third of the way done. But really, I did try to slow down this time. It's just that The Thing About Truth is a fast read. I mean, really fast. I picked this book out because I read Two-Way Street a few years back and loved it. I generally like flashing forward and back in time, as well as dual perspectives.

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Everyone has secrets, especially Kelsey and Isaac. They both just got kicked out of their schools and are starting Concordia Public. And they hate each other. He thinks she's a stuck-up snob, and she thinks he's a brat. Circumstances bring them together to plan Face It Down Day, a day when the people of Concordia Public and Concordia Prep get together and try to foster community in an attempt to end their long feud. As they work together, Kelsey and Isaac become closer, until it seems like nothing can come between them. Nothing but the truth.

This book was decent. I enjoyed the banter between Kelsey and Isaac. It was a quick, fun read. Nothing like Insignia where you really have to think to keep up with what they're saying about the neural processors. I did have some problems with this book, though. I chuckled a few times at the inner dialogue, most of the time because it's the sort of things people would think but never ever ever say because it's not polite or fair. 1) I wanted to know more about the secondary characters. Chloe and Marshall could have been so awesome if this book had been 100 pages longer and had taken the time to develop them. 2) The ending was anti-climactic. I was left going... wait...that's it? That's the big secret the entire plot is based around? 3) Rex. Who is this guy? He's Kelsey's ex, we know that, and that he cheated on her. But for being such a big part of the plot, he had maybe 2 pages of face-time in the entire thing. I wanted more. All in all, I still like Barnholdt's books, but I liked Two-Way Street more.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars
Up Next: Fateful by Claudia Gray

Friday, July 5, 2013

Insignia

Normally I would try to stretch a 400+ page book over more than two days for the sake of my eyes. Considering how fast I've been going through this summer's reading project, my eyes are bound to get exhausted, and fast. But...I was hooked by Insignia by page one. I read over 200 pages on Wednesday, then finished it off the next day. I can't wait to read Vortex. But I'm getting ahead of myself.


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Earth is in the middle of World War III, but so far there have been no casualties that the people know about. All battles are fought in space, and are directed by people on Earth. Different companies have pretty much taken over, and the governments are really just puppets. There's one secret that's being kept from the people. The teenagers in charge of the battles have had neural processors implanted in their brains so they can interface with machines. They are part computer. It effects their intelligence, their personalities, their looks, makes them stronger, more powerful. And Thomas Raines has just joined their ranks. He's been thrown into the Intrasolar Forces with a new neural processor. For the first time in his life, he's important, he has friends, maybe even a girlfriend. But it could all collapse.

I can't even begin to describe how much I loved this book. It had an exquisitely thought out world with countries in coalitions and how big business has taken over the world before this new war. It's dystopic, as well as science fiction. It's amusing that I'd chosen to read this book next, because that night I had a dream about virtual reality and hooking into computers. Well, this went beyond my wildest dreams. Tom is rash and arrogant and makes the wrong choices sometimes. But he is always loyal to his new friends. He fights logically and there's this Applied Simulations thing where you can play out old battles like Troy, or be put into the mind of a wolf to take down a moose. So. Cool. And there was stuff about programming that I actually understood because I have programmer friends. My one teeny tiny problem with this book was the character of Heather. And it's a completely biased opinion. I just want to read one book where a Heather isn't a bitch or a ditz or part of a clique. We're not all bad you know... But other than that, absolutely adored this book.

Goodreads Rating: 5 stars
Next Up: The Thing About Truth by Lauren Barnholdt

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Evernight

I read Claudia Gray's Spellcaster a little while ago because I'd seen her at a book talk and decided to give it a shot. I ended up loving it. So I decided to try out Gray's first series - the Evernight Series. It's paranormal romance, which I've sort of started to avoid. It's not that I've read a lot of it since the market is flooded, but because I'm not especially drawn to paranormal stories. They have to be damn good to draw my attention. But I liked Spellcaster, so I thought, why not?


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Bianca has been uprooted from her small town life and taken by her parents to Evernight boarding school. Her parents are both new teachers there, and Bianca wants to support them. But she hates Evernight. It's creepy and she wants nothing more than to get away. In the process of running away, she runs into Lucas Ross, a fellow student. Suddenly, things at Evernight seem a little brighter. Things around school are still strange, and if the biggest secret of them all gets out, it could ruin everything for the school, for Bianca's parents, and for Bianca.

Hm. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. I think the big twist in the middle (spoiler alert) where it turns out Bianca is a vampire, has known she's a vampire, and almost everyone at Evernight are vampires, was pretty cool. I didn't see that coming. I expected the rest of the school to be vampires and Bianca a helpless human. But at the same time...I can't believe Bianca didn't think about her situation for half a book. There were definitely things I liked, and I'm glad this is a longer series because I think it would be good to see Lucas's and Bianca's relationship deepen and become more complex. That being said, I liked Spellcaster more. I can't wait for Steadfast to come out.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars
Up next: Tempest Unleashed

Monday, July 1, 2013

Shadow and Bone

When I first heard about this amazing book called Shadow and Bone, I was a little skeptical. Okay, a lot skeptical. It didn't sound like my kind of book. But every time I went through the staff recommendations at bookstores, it kept popping up. It also has a high rating on Goodreads. So I thought, what the heck, I'll give it a go. It started off a little slow because I've got two jobs and I like to sleep on occasion. Might as well be honest, I love to sleep. And it's been getting harder to do between my day job, my job as an editor at Entranced, keeping up my presence online, editing Balancing Act, writing Origins, and doing my Summer Reading Project. But it quickly picked up.


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Alina was orphaned as a child with only one good, constant thing in her life: Mal. They grew up together, joined the army together, and traveled together. And Mal never knew that Alina had feelings for him. But all of that must take the back seat for Alina when it comes time to cross the Shadow Fold, a stretch of darkness filled with terrifying creatures bent on killing everyone. During an attack as she and Mal cross the Fold, Alina exhibits the powers of a Grisha, a sort of magician/scientist. But she's unique, and has a power no one else does. She's a Sun Summoner, and her powers could be the only thing that can turn back the Fold. Suddenly Alina is taken from Mal and tossed into a world of opulence and intrigue at the palace of Ravka. The Darkling, the head of he Grisha, thinks she can change the world. Alina's not so sure.

Where to start with this book. The writing is so fluid, I barely even noticed I was reading I was going along so fast. I honestly can't remember if there was any point where I stumbled or thought "oh, that's a bit awkward." Alina is flawed and honest with herself about her flaws. She knows she's acting like a schoolgirl by hanging on to thoughts of Mal when he's never expressed any interest in her. And she realizes her own significance and yet powerlessness when it comes to the Darkling. He could kill her if he wanted, very easily. Oh this book. On the cover of my copy there's a quote by Veronica Roth (whose books I adore) that says "Unlike anything I've ever read." And it's true. The idea of the Shadow Fold is unique to me, and so are many of the magical aspects. I would definitely recommend it.

Goodreads Rating: 5 stars
Up Next: Evernight by Claudia Gray