Friday, August 31, 2012

My Deep Thoughts about Cinder (Yes, I'm Going There)

At this point in 2012, everybody who knows anything about YA has pretty much read this book but me. I bought it when it came out, but I kept saving it because 1) I kind of just liked to look at the pretty cover art propped up on my bookshelf 2) I was too lazy to get up and pick it up, and 3) I was afraid that it wouldn't live up to the hype. 
Okay, it was mostly 3. MOSTLY. 
Anyhow, let me first give a synopsis: Cinder is a pretty girl living in New Beijing. She has a wicked stepmother, an evil stepsister, and she is forced to work and provide income for her spoiled family. But wait. Cinder is ALSO a cyborg. She's got a metal leg, a metal arm, and a bunch of computer information zinging through her noggin (yes, noggin is a word in the dictionary) all the time. When it becomes apparent that she is more than just an ordinary cyborg, she steps up to help save the floundering empire from an evil queen. How? By going to the ball and losing her slipper, of course! 

So how do I FEEL about this book? My emotional radar was pleasantly surprised, to say the least, that this version of Cinderella was just as endearing (if not as old fashioned) as the original Grimm's fairytale (Which, I might add, was always a favorite story of mine. I always wanted to read the part where the wicked stepmother took and axe and tried to knock off Cinderella...I had a strange taste in stories as a child). It was very modern, set in the future, after there's nothing left in the world but computers and droids and mind-numbing phone applications. 
(Of course, we DO have iPhones...)I admit that I predicted the outcome and the "secret" of the story within the first three chapters, but I did enjoy the twist nevertheless. Once I got past the word 'cyborg,' (for some reason that word brings to my mind an image of Silver from Treasure Planet), I was able to settle back and enjoy a story about a STRONG heroine who, although comes across a charming prince, doesn't need him to be strong and independent. 
So, yeah. In the end, it was probably the girl power thing that clinched it for me. 


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Favorite Quotations! (Well...Some of Them)


“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” 
― Jane Austen

Kate's Daddy had bought her a red BMW for her birthday. I found it to be an absolute miracle of God that Kate hadn't pancaked it yet. She drove like a blind person going into diabetic shock.

“It means 'Shadowhunters: Looking Better in Black Than the Widows of our Enemies Since 1234'.”
City of Bones
"I don't go out with strangers," I said.
"Good thing I do. I'll pick you up at five."
Hush, Hush 

My NAME is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to DIE! 
Princess Bride 

Remember, we're madly in love, so it's alright to kiss me anytime you feel like it. 
Hunger Games 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye. 
Jim Henson

“Walls have ears.
Doors have eyes.
Trees have voices.
Beasts tell lies.
Beware the rain.
Beware the snow.
Beware the man
You think you know.
-Songs of Sapphique From Incarceron 

“You and I were created by God to be so much more than normal…Following the crowd is not a winning approach to life. In the end it’s a loser’s game, because we never become who God created us to be by trying to be like everybody else.” 
― Through My Eyes (Tim Tebow)

There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”
― Linda Grayson

My hope and prayer is that everyone know and love our country for what she really is and what she stands for. 
John Wayne

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day by Day Armageddon

You know the drill: the world has been infected by an identifiable virus that turns all of the human population into mindless, flesh-eating zombies. Not transmissible by air or food or water, the disease spreads by a single bite. Our hero, a young American soldier in Texas, teams up with his neighbor to brave this freakishly transformed planet to do one thing, and do it well: survive. Their fight against the undead (who are, it might be added, exceptionally ugly and stinky) is a never-ending one. 

What I really thought was clever about this book was that it was written in day-to-day journal entries. It was fun to get inside of somebody's mind that way, rather than just having a first person narrative without that certain personalization. I really enjoyed it. Plus, the story itself was extremely believable because the main character was an ex-soldier who REALLY did know how to survive, and shoot a gun, and fly a plane, etc. Of course this was made possible by the author, who is an active-duty soldier right now (or at least at the time of the book's publication). 
Definitely a zombie book worth your time. Don't read it at night, though....unless you want to sleep with the lights on!

Friday, August 24, 2012

My Summer AKA My Birthday Giveaway (Just A Reminder)!

My birthday is right around the corner (September 6th) and I just wanted to celebrate by spreading the word about my big blowout giveaway. Sure, my birthday may be all about aging yet another year (don't ask my age - it's not polite!), but I love sharing the celebration with other people. Some of you have already entered this giveaway, but I just wanted to remind you that I'm ALSO giving away a brand new copy of the yet unreleased Tiger's Destiny by Colleen Houck - and you know I love my Indian princes!! 

(That's the real reason I'm doing this giveaway. Indian Princes disguised as tigers. I can't resist.) 

There are actually 10 books in total that I'm giving away, and the winner will get to choose one. But since I'm very close to gaining that extra hundred subscribers, I might choose another winner! Yay! (the 2nd winner will win one of the 9 leftover books that I dish out!) 

The contest itself will only run for another couple of weeks, at which point I'll contact the winner and they'll have 24 hours to claim their prize. This IS an International giveaway, because if the winner lives outside of the US, they can request a Kindle copy of the book (if one exists) and I will substitute it for a "real" book. 
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Touching Smoke: My Take!

Let’s be honest. Life can be pretty complicated for a 16 year-old girl. Think of all the drama you experienced when you were that age. But wait. For Fallon Braedon, her life is about to be turned inside out and upside down to boot. After she finds herself alone and on the run from crazy people who love chucking fireballs at her head, she winds up with a super-cool, super-handsome guy named Isaiah. Oh, he’s the perfect guy. He has a motorcycle, he breaks countertops with his bare hands and, oh yeah, he can pack a major punch. Together, they unravel the mystery surrounding their existence, their “special” talents, and their origins.

I have been anxiously anticipating reading Touching Smoke for quite a while now. And now that I’m done with the book, I’m salivating, er, excited for more! I read it straight through in one sitting – it was awesome. I loved Isaiah, and Fallon possessed the same killer humor that Airicka Phoenix does: insanely awesome. ☺ I would highly recommend that you go check out this awesomesauce book and put it on your GoodReads TBR list. I LOVED it – and so will you! I promise. 

Get the book HERE!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Summer Book Haul!!!

Over the course of the hot summer months, I spent almost two solid months moving from one end of the state of California to the other. Yet somehow I found time to read. In fact, I've got nearly 80 books chalked off so far by this point. Not bad! 
So I'm going to give you a wee sample of the stuff I've reviewed. Some of the books were ones that I put off reading for years because I was afraid I'd be disappointed, while others were brand new releases this year that I saved to read while on vacation. 
So here you have it. My summer haul. I'll be adding more reviews over the course of the month (both August and September)!

The Death Cure
The time for lies is over. The tagline for this book is said quite well. Thomas and his friends have been in the captivity of WICKED after surviving the brutal Scorch Trials. Just one final test, they are told, and the world will finally have a cure for The Flare, the horrible disease that has killed most of the earth’s population.

Not so.
Thomas and his friends are through with the trusting, lab-rat crap. They break out of the WICKED facility and hit the airways in an attempt to escape and lead a normal life. But with WICKED on your tail, it isn’t possible. And besides. After Thomas sees what the world outside looks like, he’s not so sure that he wouldn’t mind making more sacrifices to find a cure for the Flare. Because planet earth is little more than a living hell.
The final installment of The Maze Runner trilogy ended on a high note. I adored the first book, devoured the second, then finally got my hands on the last book this summer. I was fascinated by the story world that James Dashner created and the super-high pace and adventurous tone of the novel is what initially kept me reading page after page, and eventually, book after book. I can’t complain about anything. It was a real pleaser from beginning to end. The only thing I was personally disappointed in was A) Thomas’s choice about his memories (I won’t give away any spoilers) and B) Two of the character’s deaths. 

The Incredible Journey 
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey was my favorite movie growing up. To this day it’s still my fondest childhood film. I loved it so much that I would wake up in the morning humming the theme song, and my dog Jessie and cat Luke would inadvertently become my stand-ins for Shadow and Sassy. So I found an old book in my closet titled, The Incredible Journey, by Sheila Burnford, and I had to read it. The book was penned during the early 60s, and like Born Free, it is almost like reading a book about taking a nature hike. I positively loved the animals; but unlike the Disney film, the dogs’ characters were switched around and the cat was a boy, not a wise-cracking female feline named Sassy. However, even though it was drastically different from the movie that I adore, it was still a wonderful book about the loving loyalty of animals. I nearly started crying in some parts, so strong was the characterization of the pets. A wonderful story with a happy ending – what more could you ask for? 

The Lovely Bones 
My name is Salmon, like the fish The first line in Alice Sebold’s literary drama is a great one, and it was actually what prompted me to pick up the book and read it. The story goes like so: Susie Salmon is brutally murdered by a slimeball named Mr. Harvey, who lives in her neighborhood in 1973. Quicker than you can say salmon she pops up in her own personal heaven, where she looks down on earth and watches her family unravel after her murder. And of course, she watches to see if her murderer is ever brought to justice. The result? A mess.

We’ve all heard about this book, some of you have probably read it, and I have put off reading it for several years. I tried watching the movie a couple of years ago and I turned it off as soon as Susie started walking through heaven and saw Mr. Harvey bleeding to death in a bathtub. Seriously. I never wanted to read the book because I thought it was would be just as gory. Turns out I was pretty much right. This book is honestly one of the most depressing pieces of literature I have ever read. Susie dies. Her murderer gets away with his actions (mostly). More women’s murders are recounted. Susie’s mother commits adultery and runs away for no apparent reason. Her sister Lindsay annoyed me. The only normal character was Ray Singh, Susie’s childhood crush, and even that ended up being tainted in the end. In other words, all of the characters washed into one. They were all the same: monotonous, flat, and depressing. 

So what am I saying?
This book was a hopeless look on life and loss. Rather than being inspiring, it implies that heaven sucks, because you’re stuck in a snowglobe-like world and you get to watch your family fall apart and everything is so perfect that you’re mired in a state of perpetual boredom. There was no hope for life after death, and no happiness was ever really attained. In the end, everybody settled for living with their grief, which came within them more than it did from Susie’s tragic murder. One poor choice after another was what made up this book. There wasn’t really a plot, just one sad paragraph after another about how miserable life is, how unfair it is that Susie’s poor mother had to take care of 3 kids (the tragedy!), how heaven is something like a black and white picture with glass instead of bars, how adultery is OK as long as it makes you feel happy, and how bad things happen to relatively good people.
I closed the book feeling like an anvil had been dropped on my head. There wasn’t a spark of happiness or optimism to be had. Whereas I had turned off the movie, I tried to plow my way through this “literary masterpiece,” and what I found was just a mush-bowl of hopelessness and mindless sex. Some masterpiece. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

How I Survived No Indoor Plumbing, Wild Children & Bears

Take a good look. That bear - yup, that one - is the identical twin of the furry gentleman I ran into up in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Okay, technically I didn't run into him. It was more like this: I was walking to the car with a bunch of garbage bags (we have to take them to the dump because there's no garbage pickup where we stay), and boom. I see a bear. In the middle of the day. He was a relatively little guy, and he was kind of ambling along like he didn't have a care in the world. 
But I, of course, have always been extremely wary of bears and I knew that being in possession of a bunch of garbage bags full of bacon grease and hamburger leftovers wasn't the most brilliant position to be in. So I booked it back onto the porch (5 steps away) and did the practical thing: 
"Dad! Dad, there's a BEAR!" 
I waved my hands around for a second and went back. By that time, the bear was gone and all that was left were its big paw prints. 

Moving on. I survived this mind-bending ambush from mother nature (okay, whatever, it wasn't an ambush but it sounds way more dramatic if I say it was), and lived to tell the tale of my nighttime experiences. 
 There's no indoor plumbing at our cabin, so every night if I wake up and have to run to the restroom, I follow this routine: 
I walk across the loft, climb down the stairs, feel my way across the bottom level and try not to stub my toe on the stove, go outside, take a moment to shudder and look for bears or cicadas (trust me, long story), then creep into the bathroom where a giant carpenter ant patrols every single night and enjoys going ninja on me and taking a bite out of my toe (he's really a softie at heart, though).

The second experience I had with wildlife was at the local Snack Shop where my mother and I decided to have lunch. As she ran inside to get our order, I stayed at the table to save our seats. As soon as she left, a cute little boy came up and smiled at me. 
How sweet, I thought. He's going to say hello.
Yeah, right. 
He grabbed my mom's drink, put his mouth on the straw and started taking a swig. 
I was so not into that. So I grabbed the drink back and said, 
"No." Then, "No." Then, "No, no, no, no, no!" 
(I'm not very articulate when someone surprises me) 
The dad got up and laughed, 
"Oh, sorry. *insert ignorant chuckle here* He'll drink anything in sight." 
Seriously. Apparently bears and raccoons aren't the only species that have a streak of rudeness in them. At least the baby ducks around the lake will wait patiently for you to throw them some bread crumbs. In fact, at least the animals leave you in peace! Please. Somebody get the parents an Etiquette for Dummies handbook. 

Book reviews and doodads are coming up this week! I managed to read about 8 books while on vacation, so I'll have plenty to talk about. It's great to be back, peeps! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Polyvore Creations (I'm in Love)

Have you ever heard of a website called Polyvore? I hadn't. That is, until my friend Victoria Smith from Confessions of a Twenty Something Fiction Writer mentioned it on her blog and all of the sudden, BAM, I was in love. I thought I'd share two of the little creations I made for two fictional characters of mine. I kept things simple: clothes and accessories on plain white. And in case you didn't notice, I love elegant style. :) 


Willow by writingwoman featuring wool coats



Rose by writingwoman featuring a striped sweater


Monday, August 13, 2012

Turn Your Novel Into a Blockbuster (Seriously)

Have you ever dreamed about turning your novel into next summer's blockbuster film? Certainly peeps like Suzanne Collins and Stephenie Meyer are at the top of the list of people who got to fulfill that dream. You're probably thinking, Of course their novels got made into movies. Their publishers were Scholastic and Knopf, plus they sold millions of copies. That will never happen to me.
Puuuhlease. Enough with the self-pity! You have what it takes to turn your novel into a blockbuster movie, or at least get some money when a studio wants to option it. Still not convinced? Allow me to shed some light on the subject, er, topic. 

You read it right. You need to build a book that is ready to be translated into film. An excellent example is The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Collins was a script writer for Nickelodeon before she decided to become an author. When she did, her writing was very much like a script: short, quick, powerful and straight to the point. Notice how pretty much all of the dialogue in the movie came straight from the book - even more so than Twilight, because Suzanne's book was so script-like that it could almost act as the script (Collins did, in fact, co-write the screenplay for the film). Another tip? A book that is on the shorter side is more likely to be optioned than a book that is 500 pages long. Of course there are exceptions to this pattern, but you get my point. You simply heighten your chances a little bit if what you're aiming for is an eventual movie deal. Either way, simply putting a book out there is like tossing a raffle ticket into a giant fishbowl: you have a chance of getting picked, even if the odds are against you. 

Another, more attractive option is to actually write a script. Script writing has a lot of rules and formatting dos-and don'ts. You have to learn how to shave off all those extra words that you use in a novel and throw them out the window when you're writing a script. It's a whole different ballgame - one that I actually prefer in many ways to writing a novel. But each one has its own difficulties and boons. 
I'll be talking about how to write a script or a screenplay when I get back from vacation, but for now, we'll leave it at this. 
Have a good one. :) 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Agent in The Alley: Pitch Contest!!!

Today is the day! We at NA Alley are hosting a pitch contest for all of you aspiring authors! Lauren Hammond of ADA Management Group will read all of the pitches and subsequently judge. She'll be requesting partials or fulls from the pitches that catch her eye! Here are the rules, courtesy of Bailey Kelsey at the Alley. :) 

Your manuscript must be complete and polished, and it must fall into the New Adult (NA) category to be considered. The submissions window will open August 8 at 12:01 am EST and will remain open until 75 pitches are submitted OR until 11:59 pm EST. To enter, you will be required to submit via comment the following:

  • Name:
  • Email:
  • Title:
  • Genre:
  • Word Count:
  • Blurb:
  • First 250 Words:

Your blurb should be the meaty part of your query, not over 200 words, and make sure you spend the next several weeks polishing your whole manuscript, not just that first 250 word excerpt Lauren is looking for. You do not need to follow our blog to participate -- but if you want to stay up-to-date on further details about this pitch contest, and be informed about future contests, you really should. (follow NA Alley right here.) 

There will only be a limited window of time for entrants to get their pitches in. To have a chance at this once-in-a-blogspot opportunity, go to the NA Alley Homepage by clicking on the highlighted link. You will also get a lot more information about entry requirements and rules. 

Share the news on Twitter, Facebook and on your blogs - 
and GOOD LUCK! :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

What's Up With Me!

Would ya look at that? It's that time again! The What's Up With Me time. It's mid-August already, and I can't believe how fast summer is going by. Le sigh. I thought I'd take a moment to fill the world in, and by extension, the universe, on what I'll be doing for the next couple of weeks. This will be the first time in a year that I haven't tended to my blog pretty much every single day 

First of all, I'm going on vacation. We have a nice (ancient) cabin up in the mountains near where I live. How ancient is the cabin, you ask? Well...the bathroom is still outside. And so is the shower. 
Yeah. Moving on. 
Up in the wilderness (it's more like a very nice campground with cabins), I won't have any internet connection for a couple of weeks, so if you contact me and I don't reply, don't worry. I'll get back to everybody when I have a computer in my hands again. 

Second, the blog will have plenty of posts going up while I'm gone. I wouldn't leave it dormant. I shudder at the thought. While I'm up in the mountains, I'll be chilling under the trees, yelling at the Mockingbirds to put a lid on it in the morning and dragging myself up the 52nd consecutive hill on the hiking trail while my brother holds up a Tootsie Pop as motivation. I'll also be reading (a lot) and writing (probably a lot) and coming up with a bunch of new material for the blog (also a lot). I'll post some pictures of my trek into the Sierra Nevadas when I get back. Until then, peeps, enjoy the blog and the posts and I shall soon return.