Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Settling In

I'm back to the grindstone, juggling work and school and a social life. So far it's been really nice. I'm living with a couple friends, and besides the fruit flies that hitched on someone's fruit, it's been lovely. School is going to be crazy this quarter, with me being snowed in with reading almost constantly but having very little time in class.

I am feeling nostalgic on almost a daily level. I can't believe I'm in my senior year. College went by in a blink, I swear. And soon I'll be filling out applications for grad school and possible moving states for the first time in my life. It's crazy. This being an adult thing sure is a pain. There are days all I want to do is watch Disney movies in my pajamas and eat chocolate. Mature, eh?

I started this blog post wanting to talk about balancing writing. But you all know I've been blocked ever since Entranced closed. I really hope my classes and NaNo will help me get back in the swing of things. This year should see me finishing Poison Ivy for NaNo, which would be my fifth book. I might also have some free time to work on my writing more this spring. But more on that later.

Here's to a new year and a new set of challenges.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Summer 2014 Reading Project

I can't believe it's already that time of year again. This summer I set out to read around 30 books. This is the third summer I've done this, but I am sad to say that this time I did not succeed in finishing. Although, if you count all the books I edited for work, I did actually reach my quota. I adore reading, and this summer's selection was no different. I was just really busy most of the time and really tired the rest.


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Anyway, the genres from this summer include dystopian, fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi, romance, and memoir. As usual, fantasy topped the charts as the most common genre I read. However, the types of fantasy were varied and deliciously fun.

These are the books I would highly recommend to anyone entering a book shop or just browsing on amazon: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (fantasy), The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (fantasy), Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor (paranormal fantasy), Vortex by SJ Kincaid (sci-fi/dystopian), Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (fairy tale retelling), Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas (fantasy).

Huh, looking at those titles, it seems that fantasy was more prominent than usual on my list of favorites. You can check out the full list of books and their accompanying reviews by either looking at the Summer Reading 2014 tab above, or by hitting the Reviews label to the right.

It's hard to believe summer is over and school is starting. I'm entering my last year of college and time has gone so fast. I've loved all of it, except maybe getting sick. And all the books I've encountered throughout the years have just reaffirmed my love of the written word.

If you can, pick up a book today. It'll be worth it, I swear.

Popular

The full title of this book is Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek. I was given this book by a friend's mom who couldn't stop raving about it. I actually read it over a week ago, but I'm just now getting to writing the review. It's been a crazy week, guys. Lots of editing to do, and school starts tomorrow! I can't believe it, but more on that later.


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Maya van Wagenen is about to start 8th grade. She's the lowest of the low on her school's food chain, and she's well aware of it. But then she rediscovers an old book from the 50's about how to be popular. It's got some crazy stuff in it about wearing vaseline on your eyelids and being confident. But Maya decides to try it out. What has she got to lose? Set near the Mexico-American border, Maya tells her tale of growth in this memoir.

Maya wants to be less unpopular. I wouldn't say she aspired to being an apex predator (AKA a jock). I liked the background of the drug war and gang violence that surrounded her school, and her love of her teacher who entered her in all kinds of writing contests. Maya's journey to discovering the key to being popular wasn't what she wore or how she walked was heartwarming. Her building her confidence is something I think a lot of young girls could learn from. I thought the writing was a bit amateurish, but then again this was written by a fifteen-year-old. I also think the book would have been just fine without the pictures scattered throughout. But all in all this was a quick, enjoyable read about self-discovery.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Drought

Life has been a mix of crazy busy and very stagnant for the past couple weeks. I've been moving into my apartment and editing a lot for work. I've also watched a lot of netflix and hung out with my mom. 

And a strange thing has happened. I haven't wanted to read. I have many books on my shelf that have yet to be read, and some of them I'm sort of excited about. Others have been on my shelf for over a year without me picking up, but I was hoping to get to them this summer. I guess it's not going to happen.

As you also know, I've been going through a drought in my writing. I was going to use this summer to write Spiral, or my rewrite of Griffin's Song. And I've done a little of each, but I haven't had any inspiration. Which I know is no excuse. Writing itself would have probably jogged my inspiration.

I guess the point of this post is to say I'm floundering a little. I'm tired, and I feel like I spend all of my time in stories of one sort or another between editing, reading, watching shows, and occasionally writing. Reality seems sort of detached right now.

I'm hoping to pull out of the fog soon, but I don't really know how.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Natalie Whipple, Kiersten White Book Tour

It's been a busy week for signings! Last night I had the opportunity to meet Natalie Whipple, author of Transparent, Blindsided, House of Ivy and Sorrow, Relax, I'm a Ninja, and Trust me, I'm a Ninja. Also there was Kiersten White, author of the Paranormalcy trilogy, the Mind Games series, The Chaos of Stars, and Illusions of Fate.

I actually followed both these authors on their blogs for quite a while before picking up their books. And I'm glad I did, because both their voices shine through on the page. And discovering these two are close friends was just a perk. Natalie is blunt about the truth of being published, and Kiersten is sass personified. So you can see why I'd want to meet both of them.

(side note, I actually met Kiersten at a previous book signing and had to contain my squees when she said I looked familiar)

This book signing was less crowded than the Sarah J Maas/Marissa Meyer/Mandy Hubbard signing I was just at, which meant I got to ask more questions, but also felt like there should have been more people. Of course, there was an accident nearby clogging up traffic, so that might have something to do with it. And it being a school night for younger readers. Anyway, I got a seat up front and listened to these two friends happily chat about their books and their friendship and isn't Seattle supposed to be rainy?

It was a very enjoyable night with lots of laughs and a couple signed books. I'll be happy to see these authors again whenever they come to town.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sarah J Maas Book Tour

This week has been chaotic. I'm moving into my apartment and there's been building furniture and trying to decide which kitchen stuff I can't live without and packing and unpacking and oi. I'm tired, people. But! Last night I got to go to a book signing.

I love book signings. And I really need to start bringing some sort of laptop or ipod or some other wifi device so I can live tweet them. I love meeting authors and hearing them talk about their process. Even though I've been published and am working as an editor, there's still that element of peeking at the wizard behind the curtain.

Last night I trekked to a book signing that had Sarah J. Maas, author of the Throne of Glass series, Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles, and Mandy Hubbard, author of over 10 stand alone novels.

Now, I've met Marissa Meyer before, and as usual I was charmed by her quiet humor. She talked about how she hates picking names for characters, how she loves to outline, and how she tries to find something she understands or likes about each of her characters, even the villains.

Mandy Hubbard I have an old past with. Way back when I was querying Griffin's Song, I entered a pitch contest on YAtopia that was hosted by Mandy. I was a finalist, too! She said she loved True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle growing up, and GS reminded her of it. I think I ended up getting a form rejection, and I looking back I'm glad. Griffin's Song was not ready to be agented. Still isn't, now that I'm rewriting it. But being a finalist in that contest made me so happy. It made me think I was doing something right. It was motivation to keep trying.

And, for the author I've wanted to meet since I read Throne of Glass back in 2012. Sarah J. Maas. Rambly and cute and a chocolate lover, I loved hearing this woman speak. She talked about killing off her friends' bullies in her books, and how she came to love reading again. What most struck a chord with me though was when she talked about how she felt like she had two sides - the one who liked traditionally "girly" things like nail polish and cute boys, and the one who liked traditionally "boy" things like star wars and indiana jones. She said she felt like she had to choose between the two sides when she was in high school. It wasn't until later she realized she didn't.

One of the things I love about her MC Celaena is her ability to be badass and "girly." She loves a good dress and sparkly things, but she could kill you before you could blink.

I see a lot of myself in Celaena. I love shopping and makeup and I adored Barbies growing up. But I also went hiking and rock climbing, and to this day I geek out over anything Sherlock or Doctor Who or Firefly. I don't care if my shoes get dirty walking on soft grass. I did gaming for 6 years at my old barn, and there's nothing delicate about horseback riding.

It was such a fun signing, and I got to talk to all three authors and get two books signed. Happy sigh.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Of Triton

I ended Saturday night with a horrible headache that advil and wine couldn't fix. So on Sunday (which was gorgeous and the perfect temperature) I decided to take it easy for a while. My SO was over working, so I nestled up on the couch with Of Triton by Anna Banks, the sequel to Of Poseidon which I read last year. As usual, beware mild spoilers.


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Emma just learned her mother is a long lost Syrena princess who was mated to her boyfriend's brother seventy years ago. Emma knew she was a Half-Blood, but this takes things to a whole new level of weird. When her mom goes into the water to reclaim her birthright as princess in order to mate with Grom, the situation gets even worse. There's an imposter claiming to possess the power of Poseidon, and the Royal family's grip on the kingdom is getting shakier. Emma may be the only one who can fix the problem, and she'll have to if she wants to be with Galen, the Triton Syrena.

I love mermaid books. So it's shouldn't surprise anyone when I say I liked this book. I had some issues with the first one with Galen being possessive and how messed up the mating rituals in Syrena culture were. This book was a nice, quick read, partially because it dropped a lot of threads that began in the first book. Emma's half-bloodedness is taken for granted and not explored much further. Her grief over her friend's death and integrating back into high school are also dropped. Galen and Emma spend most of the book apart, so their romance wasn't able to annoy me. The writing is good, and Emma has some funny internal commentary. Galen's chapters in the third person present tense take some getting used to, but I think I just tuned it out after a while. The ending was...abrupt and sort of weird. It seemed tacked on in order to have some emotional upheaval, but it fell flat for me. And I wish the epilogue hadn't left it open for a third book. These two books stand well enough on their own. Overall a pleasant read for a relaxing day.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Heir of Fire

Oh, guys. Guys guys guys guys guys. I love Sarah J. Maas on a level nearing that of my love of Maggie Stiefvater and almond roca. I love her badass heroine assassin and her beautiful world and her food porn. She shows that you can be girly and kick butt at the same time. And I love that because I think that often heroines who are tough aren't allowed to be girly. And I want the world to know it's okay to be girly and tough and non-girly and non-tough. It's all good. Be who you are. Unless you want to be a serial killer. Don't do that. But I digress. As usual, this is a sequel, so mild spoilers.


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Celaena Sardothien has left Adarlan for the shores of Wendlyn, the home of the Fae, a land where magic is still practiced. She needs answers about the Wyrdkeys from the queen of the Fae, Maeve, but first she must prove herself worthy by training with Rowan. Her training makes her face the horrible truths about herself and her past, and whether or not she can get past them to keep her promise to her dead friend Nehemia. At the same time Dorian and Chaol are in Rifthold, Dorian trying to keep his magic a secret from his father, and Chaol about to leave for his ancestral lands. But the rebel groups are surrounding them, and if they want to help Celaena they may have no choice but to expose who they are.

Oh this book. Manon Blackbeak and her wyverns. Celaena and Rowan. Oh, guys, I just love them all. I wish there had been more space for Dorian and Chaol, but there just wasn't with everything going on. I loved Celaena's inner turmoil in this book and how more layers of her personality are explored, so you see a real transition from the flirty, mysterious assassin from Throne of Glass to Heir of Fire. She's just...oh I love her. She's so tough and flawed and funny. I'd like to think we'd be friends in real life. And Rowan. His story just killed me, and I want to know more about him. But no romance with him and Celaena please! Uh uh! I am completely team Chaolaena. Even if he has a hard time accepting her, I want them together so bad! I guess if I were to pick one character I wasn't totally sold on, it would be Sorscha. I think she was good to Dorian and soothed his pains and everything, but she felt more like a plot device than anything. Okay, so I could go on about this book for ages so I guess I'll sum it up because this review got more scattered than I'd intended. Heir of Fire is slower paced than the previous two books in the series, but a good, hefty middle book that left me craving the next one. I hate that it's year away. If you haven't picked up this series yet, do it now. Please. It's for your own good.

Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
Up Next: Of Triton by Anna Banks

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tiger Lily

I received a very special delivery today! A copy of Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas, author of one of my favorite series, the Throne of Glass. I had my SO over for a couple days and we spent quite a lot of that time reading. So I decided to read a book the I could finish before HoF got here. That book was Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. I didn't expect to love it as much as I did.


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"Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell. Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything--her family, her future-- to be with him. Wen she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her won trive, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter." - Goodreads

I was sad for this entire book. Because it's beautifully written and gorgeously sad, and I loved how wrong and how right Tiger Lily's relationship with Peter was. It just...words can't describe. I've read some reviews of people who didn't like this take on Peter Pan because he was older and not supposed to understand love or girls etc. Honestly I think a retelling should take what liberties it wants as long as it does them well. And this book did them well. Oh, Tiger Lily's heartbreak is so realistic and so in character. And I loved the idea of having it all told from Tink's perspective. I felt so bad for her that no one listened to her and that she couldn't talk. Yes, it's not the fastest paced book and the climax isn't really climax-y, but I loved the way Anderson put sentences together. And to make me feel content and sad at the same time for an entire book is quite a feat for any author. Bravo, Anderson, bravo.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Testing

Well, I did it again, guys. I stopped reading for about a week. I have no excuse. I watched a lot of netflix and played a lot of nonograms. I slept a *lot.* I also spent time with my best friend who is moving to another state this week. Which happens to be how I received this book! Her mother suggested it and lent me a copy so I thought I should get a move on. I don't know about you, but I always get anxious when people keep copies of my books for a long time.


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Malencia has been chosen for The Testing. This is a rigorous set of tests by the government to determine who should be the next leaders of the government. Only it's a lot more deadly than Malencia could have imagined. All she has going for her is what she learned back in the Five Lakes Colony and Tomas, a classmate who's just as able as she is. Malencia has to pass The Testing, or die trying.

Honestly, this book is a quick read. It deals with survival in a sort of similar way to Ashfall, without spending too long going into the specifics. However, while this is a quick read I have never read a book so similar to the Hunger Games, and I've read quite a bit of dystopian as my reviews will attest. And I know there are only so many frameworks for novels, but this one was so similar that I couldn't help but be bothered by it. Forget the cliched oppressive government and the stereotypical charred landscape from an unexplained war. For me the biggest problem beyond the parallels between it and the Hunger Games was that it had no heart. I cared about Katniss. I didn't care about Cia. She had almost no personality of her own but was merely a narrator of what happened. I didn't believe her caring for Tomas, and by the end I didn't care if she survived The Testing (who kills off the best and brightest in a failing government? Also a flaw with the concept of this book). I wanted to like this book because it was recommended to me by a friend. And in some ways I did. I liked that the writing was tight and the action fast paced. But in the end I don't think I'll be reading the next one. I've already read Catching Fire after all.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: Fever by Lauren DeStefano