Sunday, February 27, 2011

Book Review: Shiver

by Maggie Steifvater

Synopsis: (From Powells)
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.
Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Why I chose this book:  I had heard great things.  And thought the cover was beautiful.  And yes, have actually been wondering what it would be like to read a YA werewolf story that didn't involved Bella Swan.

My Thoughts:
I had high hopes for this book.  I really did.  After seeing it all over the place and hearing great things about it, I thought I might finally have a book that "caught" me.  Why did I have to be mistaken? (Note, I think I may ramble here.  Read at your own intrigue.)

Ok, this book was not horrible.  It had a lot of redeeming moments that did make me keep reading.  I was very interested in how the whole story would pan out, and wanted too see it through to the end.  Yes, there have been books I just set down and never finished.  I did finish this one.

Why the lower rating then?

First: The first few chapters almost made me feel like I was reading some sort of bestiality love story.  Honestly.  Grace didn't know Sam the Wolf was in fact human... but she was strangely obsessed and, yes, in love with him.  And then there is this wolf, who stalks her and watches her.  All the time.  Every winter.  Even when she is changing her clothes... I actually felt slightly weirded out a few chapters in.

After that I thought it would pick up some speed.  Instead, the book proceeded to mainly focus on Grace and Sam chilling at her house.  She acts like her friends don't exist anymore, skips school, and spends most of the days sleeping and eating.  Uh, exciting?  I kept waiting for it to pick up.  I would get hints.  I would finally get excited something would happen.  Then no, they took a nap instead.

I did like Sam.  There was enough depth to him that I felt I could connect and potentially like this wolf man.  But Grace... I just didn't like her.  When it gets the point that one friend has gone pretty much missing, a boy in school has been killed, her parents act like she isn't even alive, (and oh the list goes on)... she doesn't even flinch.  Grace does not care.  All she cares about is Sam.  And granted yes, love does that to you.  But when one of your best friends suddenly goes strange, missing, wolf marks on her font door, all that, you would think you would at least check in on her and see if she is, oh, alive?  Not just leave a voice mail.  The fact that Grace held no real connections, or love, for anyone at all except Sam made me almost despise her.  I couldn't root for her, really, because she really had nothing to lose.

Phew.  Had to get that out.

As far as antagonists go... I believe the antagonist in this book was Winter.  As in snow and cold and brrr.  Every so often another living character would be set up to be the bad buy, but that would be short lived and pretty much unresolved.  There were some loose ends that never got tied, and that drives me nuts because I wanted to know what the heck those stories were.   Maybe they will be explained in Linger (book two)... but do I really have to wait and read that to feel complete with this story?

Oh, and though Twilight has seemed to set a precedence for insta-love that shall never be disputed... does every YA novel have to dapple in that now?  From the moment her eyes and his wolf eyes met, they were in love.  And after that, well... it fell into the "she wants to do it and he wants to be a gentleman" story line.  I don't know.  Overdone much?

Ok ok.  Like I said, I had things I did like.  I loved the idea of this story.  I had no issue with the fact that Stiefvater redid all the mythology behind werewolves.  I like the fresh take on things.  There were moments that made me smile and remember teenage love.  That made me mad and want to bite someone's jugular out.  That made me laugh.  Yet when it comes down to wanting to give an honest review... I just can't say that I loved this book.

Now, after going through even more reviews that I have discovered, I have come to find the same ratings as mine.  So I don't feel as bad.
I will most likely read Linger, someday, in hopes that it redeems my sadness.  Let us hope...

My Rating:

 (2 out of 5 stars)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Update and Interview

I know, I have been pretty horrid about updating.  This stomach bug that snagged my family has been nasty and refusing to leave.  A very unwelcome house guest indeed!  Everyone seems to be doing better now though, so I am hoping (crossing fingers hard) that this means I can get back to it!

I have been able to somehow manage editing three chapters during this sickness fiasco.  Its coming along, slowly but surely.  I just got feedback from one friend who read my super rough draft, with some awesome insights and some very much so needed encouragement.  You rock, you know you do.

There really aren't enough hours in the day.  You would think life could just allow you a few each day to do the thing you love... instead it seems to take those hours away.  I need to set an actual editing schedule, that works for me... Any advice?

And... another fellow blogger has posted an interview of me.  These aspiring author interviews are awesome.  Filling them out makes me realize how much I need to finish this WIP of mine, so that I can do actual author interviews someday.  Haha.  Not to mention I have been meeting even more awesome people out there.  (Yes, you, and you, and you.)

Brad is an awesome fellow writer and blogger.  We mutually follow each other's blogs (Yes... stalk) and I am very excited to have this posted on his!

Here's the link to Brad's page, and the interview.  Check it out!   
--> Click HERE

Monday, February 21, 2011

Blogging Award!

How many of you have ever seen those blogging awards floating around, and wondered how they are given?  I can sure say I have!  Well, a fellow blogger (we mutually follow each other) was recently awarded one, and I finally got to see how they are passed!  Now, she chose to not exactly name who she was awarding, but more so invited some of us to accept the award.  So, I still can't fully say I have actually "won" this yet, but still...

Stylish Blogger Award!

The rules:

1.  Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award.
2.  State seven things about yourself.
3.  Pass the award on to 15 recently discovered great bloggers.

So, firstly of course, thanks Sylvia for passing this along!  Its been awesome to "meet" you!

And here are the facts:
1.  I was born and raised on a tiny island in the cup of Washington state, called San Juan (not to be mistaken with the one in the warmer south)  While it is featured as a great place to vacation, and it truly is, living there can be... slow.  But I do miss it!
2.  I have to eat my mac and cheese with ketchup.  Without it, it just tastes wrong.
3.  I was engaged my senior year of high school, and married just two months after graduating.  No, not because of any pregnancy.  We were in love, still are, and that is more than enough reason.
4.  I used to sit alone, just to see if someone would talk to me.
5.  I cannot swim.  I can barely stand water.  And no thank you, I really don't want to learn.
6.  I have only been out of the country once, and that wasn't even to Canada that I could see from "my" island I lived on.  It was to Mexico... I want to travel BADLY, just need the moolah for that adventure.
7.  Mt Dew is pretty much my life source.  True Story.

And lastly... time to pass this on!  I am not sure if I will have 15 bloggers, but here are the few coming to mind as I tap this post out!  Enjoy the award!

1.  Keary Taylor (I know, not too recently discovered... but you deserve it!)
2.  Brad Jaeger
3.  Abby Minard (Above Water)
4.  Julia Broadbooks
5.  Alyson Green (Addicted to Heroines)
6.  Kelley Vitollo
7.  Kim Switzer (not to mention she was Portland's AWESOME NaNoWriMo 2010 ML!)
8.  Trisha (Word+Stuff)

I know I know, it said 15.  And I know more of you out there deserve a good award... but this is about as much as I can do today.  I had totally planned to spend this weekend diving back into editing my MS, but illness hit my home and today we are all finally recovering.  So, its time to go cuddle and eat something yummy.  If you are a new follower of mine, and really want a special award to make your day... feel free to declare this yours too.  Much love.

Happy blogging all!  You are all amazing and I am happy that I get to "know" you.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Aspiring Author Interview

Good morning all.  And I do hope its a good morning for you.  I spent all day yesterday sick as dog, and today my little two year old caught the bug.  Poor kiddo.  Needless to say, this post won't be long.  but I just had to tell you...

Awesome fellow blogger, Abby Minard, on her blog today has posted an aspiring author interview... of yours truly!  Along with everything else she blogs about (you really should take the time to read it, I love it!), Abby loves to interview fellow aspiring authors and let the world see who they are.  I feel very special to be added to her mix!  Go check it out... HERE!

Oh, one more thing!  I finally hit 30 followers.  Nothing compared to some of you out there, but it sure made me smile.  Thanks for all your love!

Now, back to mommyhood.  Hopefully this will all get better and I will get my editing time I have planned for tomorrow (Kimmel, you better be ready!)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Inside the Actors Studio: Blogger Style!

I was reading a fellow blogger's page today, and saw this awesome Blogfest she is taking part in.  It was just too tempting, so I hurried over and signed up as well.  I honestly don't know too much about Inside the Actors Studio (I have to spend most of my tv time nowadays watching the kiddo shows... Hello there Caillo... again...) but these questions were awesome.  Enjoy!

   1. What is your favorite word?
    Clasps.  There is something about the "cl" at the beginning, and the "sps" at the end that makes me smile every time.

   2. What is your least favorite word?
    "No."  I hear it much too much from my almost three year old, and no I face the chance of hearing it even more, very soon.  I just don't like it!
   3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
    Smelling the rain, seeing it snow, getting so pulled into a book that I refuse to blink even though my eyes beg for it.  Hearing "I Love You."  Striking up that one awesome conversation that somehow, even though it is barely related, lights that flame of an idea in the back of my head.

   4. What turns you off?
    HUB Syndrome aka Heads up Butts.  Where someone refuses to read a book, see a show, talk about something, just because they decided it wasn't good enough for them.  Or heard from someone else that it was bad.  Give it a shot people... You might like vanilla, but chocolate is good too.

   5. What is your favorite curse word?
    I'm a stay at home mommy, so my curse words have evolved into "" "Shi-oot" and "Dang!"  Isn't it great?

   6. What sound or noise do you love?
    I love music, most all music.  Unless its rap. (I'm sorry, but I just can't stand the stuff.  I have tried... and it just does not work for me.)  And the sound of my boys laughing.  And rain... there is something about the sound of rain that always sends me some place amazing.

   7. What sound or noise do you hate?

    Temper tantrums.  Shouting.  My neighbors upstairs who, I swear, are training elephants...

   8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
    Well, I am attempting to become a true-blue author.  Working on that one... Aside from that, I grew up acting and miss it something fierce.

   9. What profession would you not like to do?
    Oh, most every other profession out there.  I get super stressed when I am in a "real" job (as if being a mommy isn't a special stress of its own, right?)  Add in anything dealing with numbers, math, or stupid customers, and I am gone.

  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
    *Holds out my published book* "Will you sign this?" ;)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Book Review: Birthmarked

By Caragh M. O'Brien

Synopsis: (From Powells)
Sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone and her mother faithfully deliver their quota of three infants every month. But when Gaia's mother is brutally taken away by the very people she serves, Gaia must question whether the Enclave deserves such loyalty.

Why I picked this book:  I have to say, I am not a huge fan of the cover.  I think it could have been much more amazing without the swirly strands of colors that block the image underneath... so for once it wasn't the cover that grabbed me.  I loved the idea behind it... Having to give up your child in the hopes of it living a better life, in a society you do not even understand.  I sat down at Powells to read the first page... and five pages later realized I just had to buy it.

My Thoughts:  
I thought this was a very, very good book.  It may be that I myself am a mommy, so the fact that it was based very much so around babies and raising a family kept me reading.  I have to admit, there were even some moments that I felt myself choked up and had to look away from the page.  Babies... they get me every time!

I felt the story line was very well played, though the middle did drag a bit.  There were times that I was tempted to skim, wanting to just 'get on with it,' and luckily the story did go on.

It was a relief to, for once, not have a YA book based soley around "I love him and he loves me and we must fight for our love."  You know its true... too many books have been that way lately.  While I do love my good love story, I can get burnt out.  Gaia, the MC, has enough depth and mystery to her that you want to find out what her fate ends up being.  And the leading guy, Sergent Grey aka Leon, keeps you bouncing back and forth between contempt and gooey-at-the-knees-kiss-me-now emotions.  Birthmarked, while it does have budding romance in it, is mostly based around Gaia fighting to find and save her Mother, and later fighting for the entire idea of what family is.
My sole complaint is the slow slow moments, and a few what felt like loose ends.  I have read there is a book two coming out soon, so I am hoping those ends get tied up and nice tightly.  I cant definitely say it will be on my TBR pile.

Birthmarked is a great new dystopian to add to your stacks.  It is The Giver meets Big Brother, and by the end you hug your babies, realizing how happy you are that you do in fact get to keep them.  I recommend this book.

My Rating:

 4 out of 5 stars

(I'm sorry if this review felt slightly rushed.  I myself had my little babe tugging on my for attention, but I wanted to get this posted, finally.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines day, you book lovers you

Happy Valentines Day everyone!  Today is the day of roses, chocolate candies, expensive dinners, and cheesy cards.  It is also the day of loneliness, broken hearts, depleted hopes and spent checking accounts.  No matter what boat you are finding yourself in today, I wish you an amazing day.  If it is good, may it stay good.  If it is bad, may it get better.

Today… I am thinking about love.

We read books for love.

The discovery of love.  The ability to experience the love, then close the book and step away… to dream about the love.

We cheer as the characters fall in love.  Cry when they go their separate ways.  Wonder when she will finally realize that he is The One.  Wonder when she will wake up and leave him.  We see the sparks, the fireworks, the dwindling flames.  Their lips draw close and we hold our breath, anticipating that first kiss.  The last kiss.  We take their dreams and make them our own, we give them our dreams, we let the love envelope us.  And when we close the book we blink in the bright light: sometimes warm and fuzzy with the love, other times feeling the void that it left in our minds and souls.

Its not all about romance novels.
Steamy kisses and the prince coming in to save the day.
I rarely even pick those up, let alone read them.

Every story, most every single page-bound book you devour has some ounce of love inside.  And the love is one of the dominating factors that keeps the eyes reading.  We need that completion.  We need that adventure.

We need love.

On this Valentines Day, I wish you love.  If you have love in your life, cherish it.  Not everyone does.  I love my husband, and I love us: Who we are together, who we have become.  Say “I love you” today.

Then grab a warm blankie, find your perfect book, and give it some love as well.

 __________________________________________ <3

And, in light of the fact that I cannot send you flowers or truffles or a cute stuffed teddy bear holding a pillow heart... here is a small snippet (yet to be edited) from PN!

    Reed huffed a heavy breath, glancing out the side window then looking back to me quickly.  “When you know something Millie, you know it.  I have spent my life not knowing too much.  I don’t know my parents.  I don’t know what happened to them.  All I have is one name and some faded memories.”  He kept his eyes glued to the road ahead.  He tightened his lips, swallowing heavy against whatever thoughts were now flooding his mind.  “But then I saw you.  There was something, and I had to know it more.  I couldn’t take my eyes off you, and not only because of how you look.  You are… you are something I know.  I need you, because you make me feel needed.”
    Reed leaned closer to me.  His eyes burned into mine, his face soft.  There was a fire in his eyes that begged for my answer, but my mouth couldn’t move.  I couldn’t think.  I could feel his fingers holding mine, but my body suddenly felt like it had lost gravity and was floating far away.
    Pulling over to the side of the empty road, Reed threw the break, leaving the engine to rumble in the silent air.  Unclicking his buckle, he moved closer to me.  His hand rose to stroke my face, slowly cupping my cheek in a tender hold.
    “I need you Millie,” he whispered, his voice choked with emotion.  “I am falling in love with you, and I can’t lose you now.”  He leaned in closer, his breath warm on my chilled face.  I closed my eyes, feeling his presence envelope me...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Do you like me?

I finally gave in and made a Facebook page for my writing.  I was going to edit tonight... but I think wasting all that time making the page wasn't a... waste...

If you like me, and want to click an awesome little thumbs up to prove it even more, click on over to my page here.  (Or to the left under my followers you will see a link also.  Ha, followers... Ok yes, I am tired.) I can't make a custom url name for it until I get at least 25 likes, so for now its a ton of lovely numbers.  At least its something!

Along those lines... how many of you out there Tweet?  Honestly, I have a Twitter page and I think I update it about once every few months, if that.  I have been thinking of making one to link up with all my writing... but do you think it is actually worth it?  Facebook and this lovely blog already steal enough time of mine as it is... And the idea of a site that is only there for posting sentences at a time of random thought... nothing else... I just can't decide if it should be done.  Thoughts?

Well, my head is pounding.  My kiddos were at their all time crazy highs today, and my brain is feeling it now.  I was hoping downing tons of chocolate would help.  As happy as my taste buds are now, my head is still crying and crying.  It looks like this is as much writing as I will get out tonight.  Sorry poor PN... I owe you my weekend, I am thinking.

Off I go, to read one of my new books!  (Yes!  I finally used my Powells giftcard my hubby got me for Christmas and treated myself to four new books!  As if I don't own enough as it is... Right now I am totally devouring Birthmarked.  I am sure a review will come in no time!)


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stare at the internet...

Oh blogging world... you are too easy to get lost in.

Another great post that made me chuckle.  Over on Tahera Mafi's blog, this awesome posting from a few months back made me laugh and realize: I'm not the only one.  I won't post the entire list here.  To read it, go on over to her blog by clicking... here!

Love the last few bullets though:
90. read until your eyes bleed.
91. stare at your book.
92. stare at the internet.
93. stare at your book.
94. stare at the internet.
97. cry.
98. cry.
99. cry.
Oh, and as for me... can you tell I am still procrastinating?  I WAS going to wake up nice and early today and dive right in.  But my kiddos slept in, and I just needed to take advantage of that rarity and gather a few for z's myself. 

It felt great, in case you were wondering. 

Tonight I have no actual plans though.  So if all goes well and if I slap myself enough times, I will edit another few pages, chapters, something!

Total side note:  Upon checking my traffic and audience for this here blog, I noticed I have quite a few hits from places like... South Korea, Canada, Germany, Australia, Slovenia, UK, Russia... how crazy is that?  I would LOVE to know where some (all) of you are from!  So if you are reading this, even if you never post a comment, leave one and let me know where my blogging readers are sitting! 

Happy writing.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I need a Kick

A swift kick.

And I am not talking about the awesome kick of waking up, as shown in Inception.  Though that would be nice... I never feel fully awake anymore.  (Inception... Oh man I do love that movie.  Not only does it totally send your mind on a "I cannot even blink anymore or I will miss something" ride, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt managed to move himself quite comfortably onto my Yummy list.  Yes, I have a yummy list.)

No, when I say kick I am meaning a very swift, unforgiving kick in the dairy-aire.

I have pretty much slacked so much you wouldn't even think I have a novel waiting to be edited.  I hate it.  I think about it all the time, I say I want to do it, I feel guilty about not doing it...  Then I find I have been staring at Facebook for about 30 minutes, or clicking StumbleUpon, or zoning out completely.  My writing time has become Mr. Inexistent time.  And it sucks.

But I can't seem to change it.

Writing friends out there:  Is it normal to read your MS to many times that you just hate it?  That every sentence starts looking like crap to you and all you want is to ditch it and move on? 

I am in the infedelity phase, full force.

Of course, sitting here blogging about it really isn't helping me at all.  I laugh at myself... chuckle chuckle.  

I am thinking I need to revamp my schedule.  Reassertive my drive.  Put butt in seat and do this thing already, because it will never be done until I make it done.  Shiny new ideas... stop tempting me! Please? 

If any of you have any tips, tricks, love or kicks, send them my way!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dating a Novel

While perusing fellow bloggers' posts and links, I got directed back to good old Nathan Bransford's awesome site. (Oh Nathan, I am happy you have decided to write now, but man I was excited to someday send you that query... onward and upward!)

This is a post he did back in October of last year, and after reading it, I realized oh how true every inch of it was, instantly forcing my husband to listen to me read it outloud to him as I laughed and side-commented. 
So, I just have to share it here with you, of course!


The Nine Stages of Dating a Novel


there you are, just staring at your computer or eating your carnival corndog or spacing out in the middle of a conversation when it hits you. A SHINY NEW IDEA. it’s beautiful and original and nothing like the rest of them and for a perfect moment you can already see your future together. you know you have to have it before someone else does and your next move is going to be critical. luckily, enough people commented on your blog today that you’re feeling confident. extra-attractive. you decide to make it yours.


everything is surreal. you can’t stop thinking about it no matter how hard you try and let’s be honest – you don’t really want to. you’re convinced that this time everything is going to be different. this is The One. the one that’s going to make agents cry over you, editors throw money at you, bestseller lists around the world make room for you at the top. maybe you have a title already? maybe you’ve even written a really excellent first paragraph? you don’t care. none of that matters. the only thing that really matters is Oprah is going off the air. she has no idea how much you were looking forward to that interview.


things are still pretty good. you’ve told Facebook and Twitter and the only five friends you know in the real world that you’re writing a new book and people seem moderately interested which is already better than last time. you haven’t really started writing yet, but you will. in fact, you’ve already got the first chapter written! and the more you read it, the more you’re convinced you’ve never written anything quite as incredible. you can’t wait to dive into the story! SERIOUSLY. you can just feeeeeel how amazing this is going to be. maybe you should buy a new outfit to celebrate.


well! you've written a few chapters! but GOSH you are just so BUSY these days and the kids are so CRAZY and work is just HECTIC and you've discovered all these really awesome websites recently and it's now become a "thing" of yours to refresh your email and update your Twitter and "Like" at least five things on Facebook before you open up that Word Document. but it's not like you're avoiding it or anything! it's just -- you're having a bit of a rough patch! but you'll work through it! you'll figure out this plot twist! well, first you'll figure out a plot but then! then things will work out! you just need to find a way to communicate your needs! relationships are ALL ABOUT DIALOGUE!




you didn't even see it coming! I MEAN GOSH THINGS WERE GOING SO WELL! but there it was. sitting on the outskirts of your imagination the whole time, teasing you with promises of what could be. ANOTHER SHINY IDEA! it was wearing a flippy skirt and red lipstick and it sounded so intelligent you couldn't help but fall for its false proclamations. but you were too dazzled to realize that this new SNI was only a distraction. it was fleeting. unfulfilling. a concept with no tangible form. a cheap thrill with no literary value. you feel cheated. you feel dirty. YOU'RE SO ASHAMED.


you messed up. you never meant to leave but things were getting tough and maybe you have a problem with commitment and really, it was a mindless fling that meant nothing! you realize now what a mistake it was and how wrong you were to leave. it wasn’t like anything even happened! it was just a moment of weakness and NO YOU'RE NOT THINKING OF THE OTHER ONE RIGHT NOW you already said you're sorry SO SORRY YOU SWEAR IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN YOU ARE NOW FULLY COMMITTED TO SEEING THIS PROJECT THROUGH NO MATTER WHAT.


blood. sweat. tears. so many expletives. a million points of compromise, hopefully lots of kissing. really excellent dialogue. stupid digressions you'll edit out later. adventures you weren't expecting, secrets you didn't know you had, new things you never thought you'd learn. BUT YOU DID IT. you stuck it out. you wrote a freaking book.


i hear you're expecting a sequel?

(Original post on Nathan's site here)


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