Friday, September 30, 2011

Book Review- Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Product Description:

The first book in Richelle Mead's brand-new teen fiction series - set in the same world as Vampire Academy.

When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive - this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone's out for blood.

My Review:
Okay, so I have some mixed feelings about Bloodlines. Overall, I thought it was a good book, a nice start to another one of Mead's addictive series. I enjoyed the fact that we were still dealing in the same world with Moroi, dhampirs, and Strogi. I also liked the fresh perspective that Sydney offered. I absolutely loved the fact that Adrian was a huge part of me some Adrian!

Now onto my issues with the book. Keep in mind this is merely my opinion, to which you may not agree when you read the book. I understand that building up a character is incredibly important, but some things need to be censored accordingly to the target audience. I'm referencing Sydney's issues with her weight. She focuses so much on the fact that she isn't in the same league as the thin, perfectly built Moroi girls. She even goes so far as to think that being a size 4 is too big. This is a book that young, impressionable girls are reading, and I think they have enough about what is deemed acceptable in society's eye that they don't need it jammed down their throats in a fictitious they go to in efforts to temporarily escape their reality full of judgments and criticisms. I'm certain it wasn't the author's intent to hone in on this and make it a big deal, but several times throughout the book, Sydney references her size in a way that makes her feel inadequate in comparison to Jill and other Moroi. 

It took me almost half way through to get engulfed in the book. I know that it's because the whole situation needs to be set up for the series and we needed some back story, and I understand all that. There was a pivotal part about half way through that lets you in on what the premise of the book is about, the controversy so to speak. Sadly, it was at this time that I knew who the bad person was. Case solved. But I had the rest of the book to get through. I enjoyed the development of relationships between Jill and Adrian, Sydney and Jill, and Sydney and Adrian. I had a few parts that I hadn't figured out, such as the motive, but once you know who the bad person is, it makes the motive less thrilling. 

My Rating:
I give this book 4 stars. I would have given 5 if not for the predictability and the sensitive issues I pointed out above. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Review for Wicked (Celestra Series, book 4)

I've been a big fan of the Celestra Series since the beginning, and it doesn't stop with Wicked. Fast paced, drama-filled, love engulfed pages of pure delight pretty much sum it up. So why only four stars when the previous three books I had given five? Well, I have to be completely honest when I say some parts of the book had my brain tangled. I felt like some of the book was rushed and hopped up on too much caffeine. It was a whirlwind of drama and action that was sometimes difficult to keep up with.

I was pleased that Skyla seemed to finally make a choice between her three suitors. The whole Chloe situation makes you want to rip her pretty dark hair right from the scalp. The now undead Chloe wields something over Gage and Skyla's head that lasts throughout the entire book while she plays marionette and Gage is her little puppet.

When dealing with a series, a tad bit of a refresher should be given when you throw a character's name out that isn't a lead or even a secondary. I had to take a second to try to remember exactly who one or two people were and exactly what the situation was that they were in the last we heard of them in Burn. A few brief sentences would be enough to clue in the reader with ease, but there isn't any of that type of recap. The ending was good--not the cliffhanger I was expecting, but nonetheless good.

Ms. Moore's creativity is what landed this book four stars. Some of the situations and metaphors that are used are simply brilliant and make you wonder just how she thought of some of the stuff she did. She has an eloquent way with describing things, a way to make you fall in love with the characters, and that is worthy of high praise.

I do look forward to Vex, and hope that Skyla will be able to keep me on the same page and not scratching my head.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Return to Crutcher Mountain- Book Review

   Product Description
No one with Jessie’s history of childhood trauma could make it through unscathed, and Jessie is no exception. As recounted in Appalachian Justice, Jessie is an adult survivor of horrendous childhood abuse suffered at the hands of her stepfather. At the age of thirteen, on a stormy night on top of Crutcher Mountain, Jessie was rescued by reclusive mountain woman Billy May Platte.

Now, at the age of forty-seven, Jessie is a success, at least by all outward appearances. But underneath it all, Jessie still struggles to reconcile the broken pieces of her past. Little does she know, Billy May’s dying wish may just bring her the peace she so desires.

In honor of Billy May’s final request, Jessie has invited an agency that works with children with developmental disabilities to establish a wilderness retreat on top of Crutcher Mountain. Everything has come together beautifully, until a series of strange events threatens to shut down the operation.

Unsure what to expect, Jessie returns to West Virginia in search of answers and finds more than she bargained for. Along the way she falls in love with the residents of the Platte Lodge for Children, none more so than ten year old Robby O’Brien, a freckle faced, earnest little boy who was diagnosed at birth with Down Syndrome and who, upon the death of his grandfather, finds himself alone in a scary world.

As Jessie searches for answers, determined to save not only the Lodge but Robby as well, she must open her heart to the truths she discovers and place her trust in a lonely little boy. It’s only by doing so that she can save herself. 

My Thoughts:
As a fan of Clayton's prequel, Appalachian Justice, I was excited to learn more about Jessie. We get to know her as an adult, grown up and successful in her career--unsuccessful in other areas of her life. We learn how her past has molded her, despite the love and kindness Billy May provided. The damage is in her soul, buried deep and righting the wrongs that were done to her so long ago proves to be a near impossible challenge.

The return to her childhood town, a place where both demons and angels in her life hailed, she is summoned by someone for some unknown reason. Lured there by attempts at harming the center for children with disabilities, Billy May's dying wish, Jessie had no choice but to return and find out why someone was sabotaging the healing place. 

The story has many layers, revealing the complexities of life within the seemingly simplistic small mining town. We get to meet up with some familiar characters, as well as meet some new people that have a profound impact on Jessie's life--both past and present. 

Jessie learns so much about herself now and how it relates to her past. There were quite a few shocking revelations that made you see just how dysfunctional Jessie's family was. There were also a few heart-warming surprises along the way, making Jessie see things in a whole new light. 

My favorite character was of course, Robby. I fell for this little boy for his big heart and witty commentary. I found myself laughing on several occasions as I imagined this little boy saying the things he did. He was such a delightful addition.

The character development was inspiring to watch as the story progressed. I enjoyed this sequel very much, and I definitely recommend you to put it on your to be read list.
Although this book does well as a stand alone, I think reading them in order would be best so you can truly understand and appreciate the story as well as the memorable characters. 

My Rating: 5 Stars 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Does Scenery Matter When You Write?

I've been in a bit of a writing funk over the past few weeks, and it is getting rather annoying. I want to write. I make a few notes about my story, have a few ideas, and then when I sit down to pull the words together, my muse is suddenly mute. I don't care for mimes, though I would take my muse playing a mime versus playing mute any day. At least then I could play the guessing game as to which direction I'm supposed to roll.

I got to thinking...does scenery play a part in your inspiration when writing? I sit in a chair in my living room with my dogs at my feet. It isn't the most comfortable of spots, but it usually works. I often sit in silence because the distraction of music or television veers me off course and I am even less productive. I have a few scenes in which the characters are outside so I have contemplated taking my laptop down by the river and sit under a tree for awhile. Taking in the sights and sounds might help spark something.

Where do you write? Do you change it up according to the scene you are writing? Does your mood or your character's mood influence where you decide to do your writing session?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Character Name Change

I'm hammering away at the keyboard working on my current WIP when it dawned on me that one of my character's name seemed rather bland. As if someone was trying to tell me something, I caught a recent video post by none other than the humorous Jackson Pearce who talked about choosing character names.

The truth of the matter is, the name you chose for your character can make or break your story. If you pick something too boring, the reader has a hard time falling in love with that guy/gal and rooting for them. If you pick something too off the wall and ridiculous and the character doesn't live up to the name, then readers feel cheated.

Example: If I gave my leading man the name Barrett, which means brave or bear, the reader would expect a strong-willed, confident character. So making him a sensitive soul and out right Momma's boy wouldn't do the name justice.

So, back to my bland secondary character, Gregory, Greg for short. It just stood there on the page and had no life. The name Greg was as black and white as the letters used to create it.  There was no depth, no shades of gray, definitely no color. Greg had to go. After laughing along with Jackson's video, it became completely obvious. With seven chapters securely under my belt, I took the plunge and changed his name. Now, my secondary character has a name he can carry with pride. It also has a great meaning that significantly plays a part in the overall story. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Had the Strangest Dream

If you are one of the fortunate, sometimes not so fortunate people that dream vividly and can actually remember your dreams when you wake up, you belong here.

I am a dreamer, hard dreamer, crazy dreamer, all the time every night kinda dreamer. I amuse my friends and family with the loony recaps of my mind's previous night's escapades. I generally only have to start with the words, "I had the strangest dream," and they giggle knowing it's going to be something off the wall. 

It's me. It's one of my quirks that I wouldn't trade for the world. Why? Because as a writer, often muses come out of our dreams. If you missed yesterday's post, I talked about Holy Sh*t Moments, and how muses can strike at the most inconvenient times. Dreams can be one of those times, especially if you can't remember it when you wake up. You know you had a brilliant dream that would be an excellent book idea, but for the life of you, you just can't remember what it was. Muse lost. But, I'm one of the lucky ones who gets to remember, in awesome clarity no less, everything in my dream. Trust me when I say, sometimes I wish I didn't remember because the rest of the day I'm looking over my shoulder for the guys holding the little white straight jacket. Yeah, my dreams are crazy at times.

In fact, I had the strangest dream one time that I was the MC who did things completely out of character of my real life. It was a beautiful love story that came with life lessons, hilarity, and great detail of a place I've never been, and people I've never met. I wrote three pages when I woke up. Since I am currently working on a paranormal series, a love story doesn't quite fit in at the moment. However, it is waiting for me when the time comes to make it into a beautiful book. 

My hubby and most of my friends don't remember their dreams; if they do, it is fragmented. So, this bit of information got me writers tend to remember more about their dreams when they wake up? Are you a writer and one who can recount last night's tales? I'm thinking that is a plus for our imagination, being able to create fantasy worlds to bring back to real life. What do you think? Are writers in fact more blessed with remembering their dream than say the average Joe that works in sales?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Holy Sh*t Moments

You've wanted to be a published author for as long as you can remember - it's your passion, it's your dream, it's on your bucket list. Having your stories in the hands of others is important to you, no matter what label you put on it. 
You're going about a typical day and something strikes you as, "Hmm, that'd make for an interesting book", so you jot it down in you pretty little notebook along with the fifty other ideas that went nowhere fast. You keep saying, "One day, I'll sit down and write a book," but that day has yet to come. Or has it?

Maybe you've taken your muses and sat down to write, only to stare at a blank piece of paper or computer screen until your eyes became so sore you wanted to rip them out. You think to yourself, "I know what I want to say, but the words won't come out". Alas my friend, you have experienced your first case of writer's block. It's okay; it happens. You ask how can this be writer's block when you haven't even written anything? Doesn't the block usually happen mid-stream? For some, sure- but in your case, your muse just wasn't ready. 

There will come a time- trust me, it's not always convenient for you- that your muse will strike and starts talking so fast you can barely keep up. You'll race to find the nearest piece of paper and pen so you can make your notes. You're probably thinking right now, how is this different than any other time? This time, the note which normally consists of a mere two lines now fills five pages front and back of notebook paper in the course of ten minutes. Oh yeah, your muse wants to talk, and you better find a seat and make yourself comfy because it's going to be a long night. 

I can talk about muses and how they come and go, how they are overly chatty like the annoying sixteen year old girl that says "like" and "seriously" as a part of every sentence, when other times they give you the silent treatment like your shoddy ex-boyfriend for no damn good reason other than 'because he felt like it'. But, that's not what I want to discuss. I want to talk about where you were, what you were doing when your muse hit at a completely inconvenient time. 

On of my muses (for my current WIP) actually came to me when I was disgustingly sweaty from cleaning all day (I clean hard!) when right there in mid-sweep, the words came in a constant stream without warning. I hadn't even been thinking about books or writing. But, they were there and going to dissipate if I didn't do something with them, and fast. It was a Holy Sh*t moment! I literally dropped the broom, scaring the dogs as I lunged for my laptop, cursing it to power up faster.
Not even five minutes later, a beautiful poem was born. Not just any poem, but a poem that told the story from start to finish of my new series of YA paranormal romance. 

I know there are some good holy sh*t moments out there.
What's your story? 

Leave a comment below and let's share some laughs.