Friday, April 29, 2011

Book Review: The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner
by James Dashner

Synopsis: (From Powells)

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But hes not alone. When the lifts doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Gladea large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.
Just like Thomas, the Gladers dont know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night theyve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.
Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent upthe first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.
Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

Why I Picked this Book:  One night I was in a mad "must find more dystopians and other awesomeness" fix, and came across this one.  The plot really stuck in my mind.  I didn't buy it right away, but kept thinking about it.  Then Kimmel got it for me as a "thank you for watching my kids" present, and I gobbled it up!  And by the way:  The cover = Gorgeous

My Thoughts:
The Maze Runner finally set my thirst for a dystopian, set in crazy times with awesome back stories and great characters, to rest.  I couldn't stop reading it.  I wanted more.  I was mad at the last page, for it being the last page.  Then discovered that there are two more books and some of my anger left.  But only some.  Because I didn't want it to end.

I loved this story.  Though at times Dashner does seem to like to describe things more than just let the story flow, I felt it worked well with this storyline.  I can only imagine what it would be like to wake up, only able to remember your first name, and trapped in a crazy glade full of other teenage boys.  I would be taking in my surroundings as well.

I was part of this story.  While there was made-up lingo and phrases, Dashner did a great job of having you discovering them as the main character Thomas discovered them.  When you are confused, he is too.  Then gradually we all get it together and life is good.  Or as good as it can be.  Trapped in an seemingly impossible to solve Maze.

There was a hint of a love story, but it really never focused on it.  The plot wasn't driven by gooey eyes and love triangles.  It was driven by one thing: Survival.  I loved having the MC be male.  That seems to never exist anymore.  It was so refreshing.  The relationship between Thomas and Teresa is very lightly touched on, enough that you know there is something there, but don't gag with cupid arrows either.  I am figuring there will be more on it in the future books.  For this one though, I got just the right dose.

It felt... real.
I even got choked up at one point... I hope the characters felt me cheering for them.

The Maze Runner is a crazy, intense, different look on society and teenage boys.  Think Lord of the Flies meets Battle Royale (Hunger Games) with lots of Big Brother. 

Ok, I really dont know what else to say.  I could keep gushing, but that would make for a long review where all I want to say is: READ THIS.  I don't want to reveal too much, because I honestly want you to discover this book for yourself.  I was thoroughly pulled into this story and loved every second of it.  I am itching for more, and know I will reread this book many times in the future.  The Maze Runner is my first official five-star review on this blog, and it deserves it.

My Rating:
(5 out of 5 stars)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

WIP Day - Do you smell smoke?

I smell smoke.
Oh no, I think it's coming from... my brain!

On Monday I somehow managed to sit down and bust out the editing of 6 chapters, almost nonstop.

That included taking a small paragraph of descriptive thought and turning it into a nice chunk of dialogue.  (Writing dialogue is my "uhg" moment, so this was quite an accomplishment).  I also wrote in more to another scene that managed to get my hubby to cringe and say "Oh, what a creeper."  I think that's a win there! 

Let me tell you, by the end of that day, I felt fried.  I honestly think you could see the smoke curling from my ears, the last remnant of my now charred brain just pile of soot.  I forced myself to close the notes, put away the bleeding pages and turn off the computer.  My head hit my pillow, and I was gone.

Oh, but it felt so good.  So so good.
Kinda funny what actually brings joy to us writers, isn't it?

Now, since then I haven't seen much editing time.  My three year old is on an all-time high of "must make messes and talk back and run run run!" so my hands are full.  By the end of Tuesday (yesterday) I was so worn out from mommy-hood that I couldn't even will myself to glance at my book.

Sad day.

My goal for the week?:
Edit more!

I am aiming to get enough done that by this Sunday I just might be comfortable enough to send out some of those -gasp- query letters.  Scary thought there.  But it is something that needs to be done.  I keep putting it off because, well, it scares the crud right out of me. 

I know as writers we have to be strong and ready.  We are in the face of a ton of rejection, and very little acceptance.  It's just a fact of the writing life.  Still, we dream of people loving us.  Of seeing this baby of ours and adoring it so much that they can't NOT pick it up and love it and share it.  Or at least tell us we are awesome and give us a great high five.  Either way.  The fact that I am about to put myself in that spot where, it seems more often than not, I will get the "no thank you" response... uhg...

But the show must go on!
And on it will go.

Someone tell my brain, and my three year old, to work with me here.

Nathan Bransford posted a great post this week about separating confidence from self-doubt.  I think he channeled my thoughts lately and wrote that post just for me.  (Hey now.  I am allowed to be selfish every so often, right?)  If you haven't read it yet, give it a good scan.  I loved it.

"Confidence will give you the strength to doubt yourself."

And of course... Keep writing!

Monday, April 25, 2011

And the Winner is...

Hello all! 
Well, I have pulled down my handy-dandy writing hat (seemed all to appropriate for this occasion), put all your entries into it on little pieces of paper, and have drawn the winner of my first ever Give-Away! 

Ready to see who it is?

Without further ado, the winner of a digital copy of both Branded and Forsaken is...

I will be in touch with you soon.

And, since I am in just a great Monday mood, I decided to do ANOTHER drawing!
Oh, surprise huh?

This winner will win a digital copy of just Branded, the first in Keary Taylor's Fall of Angels series.  But trust me winner, you will be wanting Forsaken before you know it!

And now, the lucky winner number two is...

Congrats!  I will be in touch with you soon as well!

Thanks to all of you who had fun in this Give-Away with me.  I must say, it was a smaller turn out, but I am hoping that will change soon!  I have plans.  Oh, I have plans.

What are my plans you ask?
Well, I have another digital Give-Away up my sleeve, that I just may surprise you with at any time.  Keep your eyes out!

Along with that, as soon as I hit 100 awesome followers, I will have another contest, with an awesome prize.  That prize will be revealed along the way... so get me some followers and show me some love!  Why... well... because I love you. (aw)

Along with that, I am contemplating ACTUAL book Give-Aways.  You know, printed and bound with papery goodness.  Here is my Q for you:  Would you be interested?  At all?  Let me know!

Again, congrats to the winners!  I hope you enjoy your goodies.  Make sure to tell me what you think!

And to leave you... I will share this link from a fellow blogger.  I love this idea... I think I need these words plastered in my writing den.  Enjoy and have a great Monday!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Anniversay, Evil Editor!

What? A post on Saturday?  What gives?

I just wanted to wish a quick Happy 5th Anniversary to Evil Editor!  Blogging for five awesome years, and still going strong.  You are my hero! 

I follow this blog and every so often let myself get lost in the scrolling adventure through all the posts.  It's a great blog to discover, follow, and devour.  Find the time, and do it!

In celebration of five years blogging away, Evil Editor is having a PARTY.  Give-aways, games, puzzles and awesomeness.  And it's just for this weekend!  So, amidst all the hard-boiled eggs and chocolate bunnies, if you find the time, click on over and join the party!  I am there right now!

Oh yes... and Happy Easter to you all as well!  Here comes Peter Cottontail...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Book Review: XVI

By Julia Karr

Synopsis: (From Powells)

Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world-even the most predatory of men-that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a sex-teen is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past-one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.

Why I Picked this Book:  I first saw it posted on my cousin (in-law)'s blog and it caught my attention.  After reading its blurb, I just had to get it.

My Thoughts:
XVI is set in the future, where girls are literally stamped with the announcement that they are now 16 and legal to have sex.  Sex is almost rampant, taking over all the ads and commercials (called "verts" in the book) and is even taught in school. 

Say what?  Yes, they teach it in school.  Positions, how-to, the whole she-bang.  (she-bang, get it?)  Talk about an awkward class...

I was intrigued by this premise.  We know the way this world is going... I wouldn't be surprised if a future similar to the one in XVI comes true.  Everything is about sex.  Admit it.  Have you seen the controversial Vogue spread, with young girls posing as adult models?  What happened to innocence?  That is what XVI was questioning.

The ability to make choices for yourself.  To decide when you are truly ready for that "next step."  In XVI's society, the tattoo makes that choice for you.  Intriguing.  And scary.

Nina, the main character, bugged me.  There, I said it.  It was nice seeing how adament she was about not wanting to have sex yet and standing up for those beliefs.  But man, I just couldn't fully sympathize with her. I don't want to nit-pick too much on this.  Let's just say she seemed too wishy-washy to me.

My biggest issue though was the world building.  I couldn't fathom exactly how this society would let this happen.  Girls stamped like cattle.  The rapes brushed off, just because they are "sex-teens."  The mysteries of the girls who are shipped of for their internship training and rarely ever return... no one questions so many things.  It was just... strange. There was so much I was dying to know more about, that barely even got touched on, if ever explained at all.

Now that I think of it though, maybe it could be a good thing that a lot of those things were left vague.  Made the world even more scary, because it wasn't explained and full believable.  Hm...

There was a lot of repetition as well.  Saying it once was good.  Twice made the point.  Ten times... I think some could have been cut and made the story much more effective without the need to skim.  But that's my personal opinion.

And the ending was... rushed.  Not what I had been dying for, at all.  But it did wrap up the story.  Dot dot dot.

Honestly though, I can look past *most* of that and really like this book.  I am scared of that possible future.  I know it can happen, which makes it even worse.  People too blindly just let the "verts" around them tell them what is normal and desired.  What if it leads to... this?  Please, no...

(Note: I feel this book should be read by a more mature reader.  With all of the almost nonstop talk about sex... I just think the younger YA readers should wait a bit before picking it up.)

Ok, phew.
I did not hate this book.  I think that a reader out there, craving to read a ton of thoughts about sex and the question of what choices we should be allowed to make ourselves, should give this book a read.  I just wasn't fully satisfied with it.  I felt it was missing just a bit too much.  The idea and story line was so awesome sounding and really got my mind spinning.  It just needed more... completion?  Protection?  (Ha, sorry the second bad bad pun... I am on a roll.)

My Rating:

(3 out of 5 stars)

I feel the need to remind:  Three stars is not bad.  It is average.  It is saying that I liked this book, that there were things I loved, but it may not be one I may pick up again to devour.  I gladly keep it on my shelf though, and will loan it to you to read anytime.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

WIP Wednesday - Bleeding pages

My brain.  My eyes.  They are.  So tired.
But that's a good thing, right?

I have now finished sifting through my beta feedback, thought about what they all said, and plugged their thoughts/corrections into my already bleeding paper edit.  Its a beautiful thing. 

You know, I have dreamed of being a writer my entire life.  And I always knew it would be hard work, full of lack of sleep, self-esteem issues and too much rejection.  I severely underestimated the exhaustion of editing though.  Really, this is insane.  I keep reminding myself that it is for something amazing. 

Even if no one out there ends up really liking this book. 
Even if every agent and publisher completely rejects me. 
Even if I now become scared of ever writing another word again... this is all for something amazing. 

Because I love it.

And so, on we go!  I am heading back to my trusty word doc, to plug my corrections in.  Rewrite sections.  Delete paragraphs.  Exciting, isn't it?  Once this round is done, I only have one final sweep left... then we will all see what happens with this thing I call a book.

Question:  What do you all think of sites like Authonomy and Inkpop?  I have had people ask if they can read more of PN, but man I am paranoid of the internet.  It is so easy to steal things and claim them as your own.  I would hate that happening with this baby of mine.  It is tempting to load some of PN onto one of those sites, but I just don't know... Give me your thoughts?

Non-WIP related:  I am pretty excited.  A friend of mine, Vince James, is a photographer.  And he is pretty dang good at it.  Next month I am going to have awesome photos taken... of me... writer-style.  Oh you know: With my netbook, red pens, scrolls of paper, and insanity. 

(Ha, to catch the true writer me, I should have him sneak in a midnight.  PJs, bags under eyes, stacks of Mt Dew, and that crazy twinkle in my eye.  ...No, I would NOT want that documented, as funny is it may be... or would I...)

I am on a mad search for a typewriter.  You know.  Old school, classic, all metal bohemith.  I don't know why, but I crave having photos with it.  Call it a head nod to where crazy writing has come from.  Sadly, I am having no luck.  Goodwill just looks at me like I am crazy.  Craigslist has them, but they are pricey.  So... I keep looking.  I have a couple of weeks.  Hopefully the typewriter will find me.

Want to check out Vince's work?  Just click here.  In the Portland area and wanting great photos of your own? Call him!  Once we get mine all done and spiffy, you know I will show them off for all of you to see.

Ok, that's it for now.  My kiddos are tugging on me, hubby is in bed (he got a wisdom tooth yanked yesterday, plus one bad tooth.  Poor guy) and I need to find something to eat. 

Don't forget!  Enter to win a free Kindle copy of both Branded and Forsaken by Keary Taylor.  It closes this coming monday... Just do it! (And to remind you, you don't need a Kindle.  The app is free to download.  Hint. Hint.)

And I still need your votes!  I am now in second place, which just will not do at all.  Go here and scroll down until you see my awesome line "In Prison Nation, the truth can't set you free" and VOTE!  Please?  Voting closes Sunday.

Have a great day you awesome bloggers you!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Give-Away Time!

Hello all!  Happy Monday to you!

Guess what.  Today is my 101st post.  Crazy!  In celebration of my new obsession of posting ramblings onto the internet for all to read, I thought doing a give-away would be perfect.  And, being as I am a financially tight writer, my first give-away will be a digital one.  Ebooks... you are taking over, really.  But you also make give-aways that much for fun!

And so, without further ado, my very first give-away will be:

Branded and Forsaken by Keary Taylor

Keary is not only an amazing author with so much potential and ideas up her sleeves that they are about to burst, but she is also a good friend of mine.  Branded has been having fairly great success in Kindle sales over in the UK, hitting top selling lists for its genre.  Forsaken is book two of the Fall of Angels series, and is amazing as well.

What is Branded all about?
Jessica’s had the nightmares for as long as she can remember. Nightmares of being judged for people who have died, of being branded by the angels. Her friends and family think she’s a crazy because of it all. Yet she carries the mark of the condemned, seared into the back of her neck, and hides it and herself away from the world.

But when two men she can’t ignore enter her life everything changes, including the nightmares. The two of them couldn’t be more different. She will do anything to be with one of them. Even tell him the truth about angels, why she never sleeps, and the scar on the back of her neck. But one of the two has set events into motion what will puller her toward her own judgment and turn her into the object of her greatest fear.
 - From Keary's blog

Yes, it's a good read.  It's a great read.  Keary has self-published this series and I know that someday it will pick up and do amazing things.  Forsaken takes place directly after Branded.  And book three, Vindicated, is now slotted for release next year.  (Write Keary, write!)

You know you want to read it.  And guess what... here's you chance! 

The winner of this give-away will win a Kindle copy of both Branded and Forsaken.  That's right, both.  They will be all yours, to devour and love and recommend to everyone you know.  If you don't have a Kindle, don't worry.  You can download the Kindle app for your computer, some phones, and other readers, by going here.  And its all free!  (Free is good...)

You know you want to enter.
Here is how:
  1. Yes, you have to be a follower.
  2. Leave me a comment. (A loving one will make me smile even bigger though I can't promise extra points for it.)
  3. Make sure to leave your email address in the comment so I can get in touch with you if you are the lucky winner!
Want some bonus points? 
  • Blog, Twitter, Facebook about it... 1 point each (Please provide the links so I can see)
  • Refer a new follower... 1 point each (Must list who you referred)
  • BECOME a new follower... 1 point (For being awesome)

This give-away will end in one week, April 25th, at 8AM.  At that point I will do things the old fashioned way: Throw all the entries into a hat and draw the winner. You have until then to enter!

Once I get to 100 followers, I will do another give-away, of another Kindle book.  Ooo... yes.  So, get me to 100 and find out what it is!  I have other future contests and give-aways up my sleeve as well (do I smell actual books being mailed to possibly you?), so let's do this thing and find out what else waits!

Oh!  And do make sure to make it over to Disgruntled Bear's blog and vote for my Awesome Line!  ("In Prison Nation, the truth can't set you free.")  I need your click!  Mine is the number 20, just scroll down, and click!  Please?  With cherries on top?

And once again, Happy Monday!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Book Review - Across the Universe

Across the Universe
by Beth Revis

Synopsis: (From Powells)
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone?one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship?tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn?t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming. 

Why I Picked this book:  I had seen it at the bookstore when perusing once and almost grabbed it, but my arms were already loaded.  Then Keary started telling me how much she loved it and how I just needed to read it... so next time I hit the store, I got it.

My Thoughts:
Across the Universe is a captivating story about space travel, secrets, and teenage love.  It was very nice reading a new take on the same old thing.  In all my perusing of current YA novels, it seems it has become fairly rare to come across a scifi book that is about space travel.  Across the Universe is about just that: a ship shooting across the universe to settle a new planet.

Amy has been put in a frozen stasis, told she will wake up when the generation ship lands in their new home.  Thing is... she has woken up early.  Someone defrosted her, and now she can't be refrozen.  Then the murders start... other sleepers are being defrosted and killed.  *enter suspense music*

The society on the ship is intriguing.  It was set up to be a generation ship... a couple hundred years where the people live and die as they keep the ship running.  A Plague hits the ship, at some point, cutting the population to almost nothing, and forcing their way of life to change.  Elder, the other main character in this book, is now in line to be the next leader of the people.  And he is questioning everything that he has been taught.

This society is intent only on living.  They work.  They eat.  They procreated every twenty years.  Oh, and by procreating... they pretty much turn into wild animals in heat, having sex whenever and wherever the mood strikes them.  There are moments where Elder and Amy are literally stepping over the bodies as they... yeah... you get the image.  I must say, I wasn't expecting that.  Not to mention the hidden drug-controlling aspects and screwed up history lessons.  Oh, and slightly power hungry leader to boot.  Hello, a dystopia on a space ship!  Very cool.

One thing I truly appreciated was the sheer lack of a love triangle.  Thank you Beth Revis... thank you.  Though there are parts of Amy's character that I didn't get along with, I was grateful that she didn't instantly fall in love with two boys and battle for pages about who was worthy of her affections.  It was a very very nice change.

I think one of my few issues I had with this book was the POV.  It's in first person, which of course isn't bad.  My issue was that there were two protagonists, and almost every other chapter was from their respective POVS.  Though the chapters were labeled for each, I still had a rough time with it.  Personally, I find it hard to really stay in a story and connect to the entire plot and emotions if you keep being forced to change the point of view over and over.  If I had a choice... I think I would have chosen Elder over Amy, for main POV.  Since I didn't though, at times I felt out of my element, so to speak. 

Still, that's almost all that I honestly have to complain about.  Yes, there were some plot issues and man the last chapter almost left me fuming (sorry, I won't post any spoilers.  Just had to say... a bit confused by the final wrap-up!)  This is a book I am very happy to keep on my bookshelves and just may read again someday.

The reason why I didn't give it a 5 Star rating then?  Like I said... the POVs, the ending... I guess they just weren't quite there for me, personally.  But the story, regardless, is worth a good read.  I seriously battled for some time on whether to give it a 5 star... that's how close it was.

(Note... I advise it for a slightly mature reader, mainly because of the humans-in-heat moments.) 

I am very much looking forward to reading more works from Beth Revis.  She created a world on a ship that I could believe, and I hope that she has more creations up her sleeve just waiting to trap us all.  This is hopefully a glimpse into the promise of YA SciFi re-awakening.  I recommend this book.

My Rating:

(4 out of 5 stars)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Look! Another Pitch Contest!

I thought about waiting to enter until Monday, when I am scheduled for a post here anyway, but I just don't want to wait!  Plus, going off schedule every so often isn't a bad thing...

YAtopia is hosting another agent pitch contest!  And so of course, I just had to enter.  Us writers are all attention whores, at different levels and in our own rites.  Plus, I am proud of PN... and I am getting to that point where I do want to start sharing it with the world! *gulp*

Go check out the contest!  It will run until either midnight of the 21st or when they hit 150 entries.  I love you YAtopia, and your awesomeness... keep it up!!

Ok, back to the schedule... :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

WIP Day - The next leg!

This will be a speedy post today.  I have construction workers running rampant in my apartment, finally replacing all of the windows.  Someone call the exterminator!  Luckily, hubby is still home for a bit, giving me this small amount of blogging time before I have to get back to keeping my two little guys away from the excitement.  How I long for a house... or a second car.


Good news!  I finished my paper edit!  Go ahead... join me... *HAPPY DANCE*

I spent a good chunk of this last weekend editing away (when not editing the maternity photos that I just took for a friend.  Love preggo bellies!)  By Monday I only had about 17 pages left, and I managed to bust them out and close the red, bleeding book just before the new episode of House clicked on. 

Yay me!

It sure felt good to finish that round.  I know I have a ton of work ahead of me.  Now its a couple day break for my poor brain, then I dive right back in.  Plugging my edits into the word doc.  Going through all the beta comments and seeing what else I missed.  Plugging THAT in.  Phew!

At this moment in time, I have feedback from five of my betas.  Still waiting on two... but if I don't get that soon, oh well.  I think I have enough to really see what this creation of mine did.  I am very excited to go through their thoughts.  And nervous.  Kinda nervous... Really nervous.

As of now, I am thinking that Friday I will start back in.  We will see if my brain allows.  I just may have to force it.  Being as I have never gotten this far... I have no idea how long it will take to edit.  Or for my head to explode.  Which ever comes first, I am sure it will be epic.

Ok, hubby is tapping his watch.  Time to skidaddle.  Have a good day, fellow Bloggers and awesome readers.  (Oh... and as a heads up... something special is coming for the next Mash-Up Monday post.  Can you smell a... give-away?... * Smile.*)

And now I leave you with... some Beta comments!  *Cheer*

Monday, April 11, 2011

TBR Sharing Time

Hello TBR shelf.  How nice to see you so full and happy.  What's that?  You have stories to tell?  Well, I am all eyes!

I thought it would fun today to share a quick post, just showing off my TBR shelf.  This is the shelf that books get lined up in my room, to await their turn to be devoured.  Right now there are 20 books sitting on this shelf, with many others hiding in the ranks along my wall-long shelf on the other side of the room.  Now... which one to read...

I am such a book addict.  Honestly, I think I have bought about 6 or so new books in just the last couple weeks.  I get awesome deals and spend barely anything on them... then they sit on that shelf and wait.  I know I will read them all, someday.  But in all reality, I really do love seeing them there, waiting.  Welcome home book, you will be happy here.

I find it funny.  This time last year, I very clearly remember sitting on the ground in front of my book shelves, completely frustrated because I had nothing to read.  Really.  I hadn't bought books for so long, and the few on my shelves that I hadn't read yet just weren't pulling at me at that time.

I read a quote, somewhere, from someone (love the vague-ness?) about how you should always have books on your shelf that you have never read.  Even if you never will read them, never plan on getting to them, they should be there.  Because you never know when suddenly, some day, that will be the exact book you need.

Now, since I have really dove back into writing, along with keeping up this oh-so-fun blog, I just can't get enough.  My brain feels happy, my eyes tired, and my shelves full.  Its a beautiful thing.

Along with this TBR shelf (oh, for those of you totally lost.  TBR = To Be Read) I also have e-books I have been downloading.  I figured it wouldn't hurt to gather some of those up, and many of them aren't even available in print.  I have joined up with a great site too, where I can request a chance to read a book, some in pub already and some ARCs as well (Advanced Reader Copy), then post my review.  So far I am been approved for five books... and plan to start in on one of them very very soon.

At this moment in time I am about a third of the way through XVI.  When I am not editing my own MS or beta reading for a friend.  Then... we will see!  Do you see any books in this stack you would like to read a review on?  Any awesome books you would like to recommend to me that you don't see here?  (Oh, you should see my wishlists...)  Here is your chance to recommend and request!

How about you?  Do you have a massive TBR pile that is crying for your attention?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Book Review: The Dead-Tossed Waves

The Dead-Tossed Waves
by Carrie Ryan

Synopsis: (From Powells)
Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. Shes content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabrys mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabrys generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mothers past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

Why I Picked this Book:  To be honest, I bought this one before The Forest of Hands and Teeth (My review here).  The cover was very simple and eye-catching, and I loved the synopsis.  I had never read a zombie story before, and thought this would be a nice start.  It wasn't until my sister-in-law asked me why I bought book number two first that I realized there was one before it... Oh well!

My thoughts:
This book definitely sucked me in much more than the first one in the series.  I knew from the beginning that Gabry was going to be somehow related to Mary (just from her name alone) and so was not surprised at all when you come to find out that Mary is, in fact, her mother.  Nice little connection there.

I felt the story progressed much more smoothly than before as well.  It started with some action, some "oh no" moments and posed questions that you wanted the answers to.  Gabry makes one choice while hanging out with friends, and that one choice ends up changing the course of her life along with all of theirs.  It really does well in showing how every small thing we do affects our future.  Even in face of the undead.

Gabry was a much more like-able character than Mary was in book one as well.  Though she did seem to take too many things to heart, and blame herself a tiny bit too much for everything that happened (honestly hon, not everything is your fault!), I actually wanted to root for her and see a good ending happen.  Improvement, yes?  Along with that, more was revealed about Mary and what happens to her is told... I almost feel like you get a better grasp and feel for her character in this book than in the one where she was the main protagonist. 

As all YA books seem to be going now a days, a love triangle is set up.  (You have heard me rant about those... I will spare you it.  For this review at least.)  While this love triangle did seem to have more depth and difference in it than others, I still couldn't say it worked for me.  I did easily pick which guy I wanted to root for.  And I could see the advantages and disadvantages to each suitor.  Still, I have yet to see a love triangle that really works for the story it's in.  It always just feels kind of... cheap to me.  While Carrie Ryan did a much better job this time with the love story aspect, it was still a love triangle... I don't know what else to say.

Now for the zombies.  I do like how Ryan doesn't focus solely on the zombie part of the story.  You get enough creep factor to know the undead are everywhere, without spending the entire 400 something pages only reading about moaning and biting and scientific know-how.  I love zombies.  Really do.  I think I prefer zombie over vampire any day.  (Take that Edward!)  While I would like to see a tiny bit more interaction and emphasis on the moaning fallen, I feel Ryan does touch very well on the initial creep factor.

I would have liked to see the plot work out more on how mankind will either win back their world or lose it completely.  I know it's acceptable to just have a story that "this is the world now" and its not going to get better... but I would really like to see more.  More back-story.  More hints at some sort of future.  There is another book to come though... maybe it's all there. 

Oh yes... A great cult is introduced as well, one that makes you cringe at their beliefs yet find yourself oddly pulled in at the same time.  I don't want to give away too much... but really... *shudder*

In my opinion, The Dead-Tossed Waves is a step up from The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  Carrie Ryan is definitely getting better with each book.  I cannot wait to read book three in the series, The Dark and Hollow Places, as soon as I am able to get my little hands on it.  I again battled with which rating to give this book, but I will let it go up this time.  I think it earned it nicely. 

I recommend this book.  If you have read book one and walked away slightly disgruntled, give this one a shot.  And if you haven't read them yet, try them!  Though not perfect, I find this world that Ryan has created very enthralling and cannot wait to see where it will go next.

My Rating:

(4 out of 5 stars)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

WIP Day - Birthdays and Queries

I apologize about the later in the day post.  I usually try to post in the mornings, and was totally planning on doing so today.  Then I got a call from my sister-in-law, who is in my area visiting some family.  It was so awesome getting to see her and her three kiddos (the youngest is only about three weeks younger than my youngest... it was so cute watching the babies crawl after each other!)  They just left, and I finally have turned on my computer for the day.

Yes.  Gasp.  I haven't turned on my computer today until 4:30 pm.  How strange.  How unusual.  How... Ok Computer, I still love you. *hug*

WIP update time!

The paper edit... goes on.  I am a bit over half done now.  Last week started awesome.  I was reading/editing about 20 pages a day and cruising along nicely.  Then the end of the week rolled around.  I was confronted with the fact that I did not have a query as of yet... and was suddenly needing one.  So, I spent all day Thursday crafting that.

Let me tell you, they don't lie.  Writing a query is *almost* as hard as writing the whole dang book.  I don't know how many times I rewrote every word and read it, over and over.  My head was spinning by bedtime... but I think the finished product is as great as I can get it.  Any more tweaking, and it will fall apart like a tower of toothpicks.  Thanks Keary and Brad, for giving it an eye over for me, their input, and their kudos!  You so totally rock.

Needless to say, my paper edit got pushed to the back of my mind.  By Friday I was just craving hubby time.  Then Saturday was spent prepping for my son's birthday on Sunday.  He is three.  He is three... How crazy is it that my son is three?  It was a great day and we had tons of fun... and my WIP spent yet another cozy day inside, unopened.

Well, now a new week has begun.  Although I am not in as awesome a stride as I was last week, I am moving forward once again.  I have gotten beta notes back from one of my other readers (yay!) and looking over her notes made me realize how much I really do want to finish perfecting this creation of mine. 

My goal was to be done with my paper edit by now.  Alas, that didn't happen.  But it is going.  I know I will have better news next week.  I must.  I must I say!

How about you?  Are you cruising along nicely with red pen in hand, or have you become increasingly distracted by the spring sun?  Do share!

And... just because he turned three... I must post a photo of my son at his birthday.  I try not to post many images or info about my family.  This is a writing blog after all!  But this warrants a proud mommy moment:

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spotlight: Indie Cover Designs

Let's all be honest here.  You do judge a book by its cover.  I know we have all been taught not to... That what is inside is what truly matters.  But if the cover doesn't grab your attention, if it doesn't make you want to reach out and inspect the book, more likely than not you won't.  I am a huge cover judge.  I admit it.  The prettier/more fantastic the cover is, the more likely I am to check out the book (that and the title... catchy titles are a must.)

That being said, I felt today's Mash-Up Monday post deserved to be about Indie Cover Designs, by Keary Taylor.

A bit about Keary:
Keary is a stay at home mom, in Washington.  When she isn't busy keeping up with her kiddos and life, she is writing.  And I mean writing.  This lady has four completed novels under her belt, and she is only 23 years old.  Branded and Forsaken, books one and two in the Fall of Angels series, are both up for sale on Amazon, and both very much so worth reading.  She is now busily editing her fourth book, titled Eden.  And, I might add... it will be worth the read for sure as well!

Keary, for the time being, has decided to go Indie (self-published) and she is rocking it.  She has recently hit some top selling kindle lists in the UK and is slowly growing in popularity as her books pick up speed in the fan world.  To boot, she does all her own covers.  And they are beautiful.

It turns out that her hidden passion is graphic design, specifically cover design.  So, recently, she decided to indulge on that and make it a public talent.

Introducing Indie Cover Designs

It is hard enough being an Indie author.  Everything is funded out of your own pocket.  All the publicity and pushing... done by you.  Throw in the cost of designing a cover as awesome as your book... and your head can spin right off.

Keary knows this.  And she is offering, what I believe, very reasonable prices for a beautiful cover.  (She will also design the spine and back cover for you, for just a little bit more.  Totally worth it!)  Keary also makes banners, posters, all that fun stuff to help promote your work.  I know from personal experience that Keary is amazing to work with.  She takes your idea, and makes it real.  She listens very well and works hard to make sure that the created cover is what you dreamed it would be.

I know how tough it can be to design something amazing.  I myself dapple in graphic design (something I may show off more... someday...) and know I could never have the patience to do it as a career.  Keary can, and is.

I recommend Keary and Indie Cover Designs.  Go check her out and see what I mean.  If you are Indie, and are looking for a fantastic cover, Keary is your lady.  She is just getting started, but I believe she has a great path ahead of her.  Both with her cover designs, and her amazing books.

Way to go Keary!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Disclaimer to the post before this...

Hello all!
I need to post this.  I was going to wait until later today, but I just can't.
My most recent post was a major major major APRIL FOOLS joke.  If you scroll to the end of that post, past the blank space, you will see that.

There is no way I could ever stop writing, even if for some ungodly reason I wanted to.  It is part of who I am.  It always has been, and always will be.  I am a writer.  Even if I get rejected by every agent in existence.  Even if my book sales are minimal and I get showered with bad reviews.  I will not stop.  Ever.

I will just strive to be better.

So, to those of you who may have read that post and missed the tag at the end, I promise: I am here to stay.  You couldn't get rid of me if you wanted to.  Don't fret. 

But hey... its the first successful April Fools I have ever accomplished.  So... go me. Ha.

Ok ok but really.  Disclaimer over.  Worries settled.  Tears dried and concerns gone, yes?  Good. 
Now... go back to having an awesome day.  And smack me if you really must.

Time to be Honest

This is a post I have been putting off posting.  I feel guilty in the fact that I have led everyone on for so long now, and it is time to be open and honest.

After these last few weeks of editing, I have sadly come to find that writing is not for me.  As much as I do love the random ramble, the process of story creation and perfection has taken its toll.  I am exhausted, stressed, and unhappy.

I have been pushing through it, hoping to find the joys of writing once again.  And trying to find a way to not disappoint my friends and followers out there.  You.  All of you.  But I cannot lie anymore.  There comes a time in life when you have to realize that what you thought was talent and drive is nothing but a hopeless dream.

I need to stop fooling myself and live back in reality.  Honestly, what is the likelihood that this "writing" will lead anywhere?  I have been reading so many blogs and sites and books.  It is an almost impossible industry.  If you do get picked up by an agent, you still have months or maybe even years ahead of you before your book comes into print.  And even then, you aren't guaranteed anything.  And if you self-publish, well... welcome to what everyone is doing.  The market is flooded.  And what is the chance that your book will be better than the other thousands that are coming out almost daily?

Then comes all of the rejection.  From the agents, the publishers.  The readers.  The bad reviews will no doubt roll in and with each one you read, you will realize that that is one more person who has denied you.  All of this hard work, all of this insanity, all it most likely will lead to is sitting and bragging that you wrote a book that no one will read.

Not to mention that is this quest for my writing dream, my home has fallen to mess.  My dishes are always stacked a bit too high, my laundry has to wait longer than it should to be cleaned, folded, and put away.  My kids wonder if I love my computer more than them.  Is that all truly worth it for these few thousand words I have spat out?

It is with a heavy heart, that I must say goodbye to this dream, and this blog.  I need to wake up and smell the roses, so to speak.  I have been a dreamer for too long.  It is time I let reality settle in.  As much fun as it might have been while it lasted, this is not the life for me.  I am not destined to write great things and see my words in print.  I must accept it now, before it gets too late and my heart shatters.

Goodbye my writing friends.  It has been good knowing you.  I will miss you.





Oh man, if you really believe all that, then you don't know me at all!  Yes, all those words typed above are thoughts that whisper in my mind.  What artist isn't tempted with those "rational thoughts"?  But hey, its not stopping me!  There are good things around the corner... I just don't know what corner yet.

I love writing.  I crave it.  I breathe it and dream it.  I talk about it nonstop too anyone who will listen.  I could never STOP writing, even if my very life depended on it.  I will be on my deathbed someday with Death standing over me, tapping his foot impatiently.  And all I will say is "Cool it Death, give me a moment.  I need to finish this sentence."

Still, I had to post it.  I hope you didn't believe it... for too long.  Have a great April Fools Day today everyone, and get some writing done!

Oh, and dear muse, please please please do not punish me for my lie.  I love you... I'm sorry.


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