Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Graffiti Moon: A Review

I do not own this picture. I got it from Goodreads (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51VkwtP5SWL.jpg) for review purposes only.

Blurb from Goodreads (which I do not own but am using for review purposes only):

Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight, she's going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. He's out there somewhere—spraying color, spraying birds and blue sky on the night—and Lucy knows a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for. Really fall for. Instead, Lucy's stuck at a party with Ed, the guy she's managed to avoid since the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells her he knows where to find Shadow, they're suddenly on an all-night search around the city. And what Lucy can't see is the one thing that's right before her eyes.

Title: Graffiti Moon
Author: Cath Crowley
Source: Net Galley
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Tentative Publication Date: February 14, 2012 (first published August 1, 2010)

Genre: YA Contemporary Art Romance. Yes, the art descriptor is necessary, because it's not just a romance, it's a romance centered on an artsy passion. No magic but the magic of love, if you would.

Cover: I LOVE this cover. How pretty is it? I mean, really. It feels like you're looking into a world they've made for themselves which is full of color and splashes of graffiti. I'd say that'd be pretty spot on, though I don’t completely remember them chilling out in a tube. Regardless, I really like this cover. And I saw the old cover from the first release, which also got to the point well, but this cover wins, hands down.

The Plot: This whole book is based on a one night, city-wide search for the graffiti artist, Shadow. It reminded me of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, but with art, not music. Lucy and Ed search on the last night of Year 12, a night of partying for most, for the elusive graffiti artist that has stolen Lucy's heart, even though she's never met him. It's told in 3 perspectives, well really, 2.5; Lucy's, Ed's, and Poet's. I say 2.5 because Poet's part is small and consists mainly of poetry. I want to briefly go on the record and say that I normally abhor multiple perspectives. I normally feel like I never get enough perspective of whatever character I like the most. Graffiti Moon was different. Very balanced that way. BUT, this novel is a slow burn novel, if you're looking for lots of things actually happening action wise, this probably isn't your book. It isn’t boring; it's just contemplative.

The Romantic Element: This book is a very slow burn. It's got lots of cute moments and close calls, and it has all the nicely frustrating bits you'd expect from a good YA romantic movie. I liked Lucy and Ed, and the romance read realistic--they didn’t jump each other or fall instantly in love like you'd typically get. It had more of an authenticity as you wondered whether or not things would actually work out for them.

Carry-on Factor: You learn a lot about art from this book, in a similar way that I felt I was learning while reading Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard. At some points, I even paused to google artists because I just had to see the colors and awe-inspiring-ness that they were talking about, and since the art talked about is real (as far as I know all of it is), you can actually google it, which is a neat aspect. You're also reading about life in Australia, so you get to learn about that too.

Overall: This was a good "what the hell, let's do it, all in one night" adventure read. You stumble around with Lucy and Ed looking at art by the Shadow and Poet, and you learn a lot about them as you learn a lot about art. If you think that'd be your cup of tea, you wouldn’t be disappointed in the slightest. I do have to say that Crowley's writing is beautiful. I know I said only Poet's sections are actually poetry, but the whole book reads so lyrical that you could easily believe the whole book is poetry. So many quotables, I tell you. On every page, Crowley said something in such an original way, that I'd say that's worth the read alone. 

Now to leave you with a song to write by, "Yes" by Beyonce. I really like this song, and this cd (way better than any of her stuff since, imo)

Disclaimer: I did not receive compensation in exchange for this review. I do, however, have several Amazon affiliate links within this post. 

Happy Writing and Reading :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hourglass by Myra McEntire: A Review

Photo taken from Goodreads for review purposes only (http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1304810997l/9182478.jpg). I do not own this picture.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire
Source: Library
Publisher: Egmont USA
Publication Date: June 14, 2011

Blurb from Goodreads (I do not own this blurb. Used for review purposes only)

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

Genre: YA paranormal, no vamps, werewolves, or demons. It's a YA Time Travel novel. I've never read a time travel novel, YA or otherwise, so this smacked of originality. I'm semi-resistant to a lot of fantasy sounding books, but this wasn't anything like I expected.

The Cover: Really intriguing. I don't know if I would have been dying to read it based on the cover alone, but it does have an "Hmm, let's see what that's about" element. The girl's hair on the cover makes you know something will be off about the book, in a good way. I do like simplistic covers with a new element, and this book cover definitely applies.

The Plot: Emerson (love the name) is going through a lot, namely her parents' deaths and her unwelcome ability to see people from other time periods at inopportune moments. She's fed up with dealing with them, and her brother decides to help by bringing in Michael to give her ways to deal with what she's seeing. The plot was original to me. I hadn't read anything like it. It had enough plot movement to keep you from being bored with the sciency bits and to keep the pages moving almost by themselves. When one thing may have gotten burned out, something new happened between Emerson and Michael, or to them, rather, and that kept things really interesting. I love when a book can keep my attention.

The Romantic Element: Huge props to McEntire for her romantic prowess. She manages to make an awesome MMC (main male character), while having, you guessed it, a love triangle. Color me pleased. The love triangle really didn't feel contrived at all like some novels fall in danger of having, and she even had a gut-wrenching tension-y moment. I live for them, almost literally, when I read YA. I re-read that section like three times. Not going to lie about that.

Carry-on Factor: Hourglass will stick with you. Emerson was perfect-y enough to make you want to be like her but real enough to make you not hate her while you're reading about her. You get invested in her story, and Michael, and another character who will remain nameless but makes it worth looking forward to read Hourglass #2…

Overall: McEntire's spin on making YA paranormal romances new again is definitely appreciated by me. I'm looking forward to reading the next one as she did leave some things undone in the typical YA fashion. BUT, don't be afraid to start this book for fear of a cliff-hanger. McEntire did not leave us saying WTH, I promise. She just left some things to be resolved. That's all.

Have you read this book? If you did, what'd you think? If you haven't, do you want to? Let me know below! :)

Now to leave you with a song to write by, "Who Knew " by Pink. I was hooked on this song something crazy when it came out, still am. I <3 Pink.

Final Note: Huge congratulations are in order for Marlena Cassidy who won a copy of my book Glittering Ashes from The Character Depot interview and giveaway by J.L.Campbell! Thank you to everyone who entered, and I hope you check out my book anyways :)

Note: I did not receive any compensation in exchange for this review. However, I do have several Amazon affiliate links in this blog post.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Belated Intros

Hi, everyone. I'm already loving Rachael Harrie's Third Writer's Platform Building Campaign (open til the 31st), because I've found so many new great blogs from it, and so many great people have found my blog through it as well. SOOO. I want to give BIG hello's to all the new followers (and big big hello's to all my older followers because obviously y'all are awesome as well). It's really great to have so many new faces around to learn from :)

Today, I wanted to do something I've seen on a lot of blogs lately, the short and sweet getting to know you blog posts. Basically, the rules, as I saw them, are that I'm supposed to give you 3 obscure facts about me, and in return, I want 3 obscure facts about you in the comments. Let's get to know each other; the more people that comment, the more awesome this will be. Bring them on!

Here's my 3:

1. I break into song a lot around the house and out and about (really, I do), sometimes without realizing it. I once told a friend that I really liked this one song and had she heard of it, and she responded...Yes, you've been singing it every other minute for a week. Music permeates me, what can I say?

2. I love caramel iced coffee's from MckeeDees. I get them large and the world receives the consequences. (I don't drink soda, haven't in years, so caffeine is intense for me, and it shows lol.)

3. I am a catch-phrase fiend. I'm one of those people who has a new saying, something they say incessantly as in maybe a substitute for the word "cool," every week. Right now, I've been saying, "That doesn't make a lick of sense." You would think something like that wouldn't come up much in convo. You'd be wrong. I say it all of the time, or I say "like that would make a lick of sense." I think I said it to be ironic once because it sounded funny to me, and it stuck. I'm very self-impressionable.

You, in the comments below, give me 3 bits of golden nuggets of your own.

Now to leave you with a song to write by, "Mr. Saxobeat " by Alexandra Stan because it's Friday, and don't you just want to rock out privately or publicly to a dance jam? Well, if you did feel so inclined, here's a good song for just the occasion.

Also, another huge fantabulous thank you (covered in glitter) to J.L. Campbell for having me on her blog, The Character Depot. I did an interview and giveaway (drawing today, good luck to everyone!), and there was a great turnout for my book Glittering Ashes.

My slightly pouty bad news is that I can't blog hop today or respond to yesterday's comments (though I did read and enjoy them all) because I'm running about with my mother, but I will be back with a vengeance on Monday, no worries. Happy, happy, super happy weekend to everyone and everybody!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Boyfriend Is a Monster: A Review

Source: from Goodreads at http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51slhINC9%2BL.jpg

Bethany Farmer's life is a boring high school routine, and she likes it that way. Soccer, coffee, homework, more coffee, and no goofy romance. That is, until foreign exchange student Allein Atwood shows up in her Midwestern town, and her life turns epically weird. Allein has unearthly good looks, princely politeness, and a bunch of goofy, romantic pick-up lines. But is his country really so foreign that they don't know anything about soccer? Or coffee?

To her horror, Bethany is swept off her feet by Allein's spellbinding ways--and then knocked flat by savage creatures set loose into suburbia to hunt Allein down. Suddenly Bethany's normal town is twisted upside down, and nothing is what it seems. Can Bethany rescue her prince of a boyfriend and keep them both alive long enough to go on a second date?
My Boyfriend Is a Monster: Under His Spell (#4) by Marie P. Croall, illustrated by Hyeondo Park
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Graphic Universe/Lerner Publishing, Inc.
Tentative Release Date: October 1, 2011

This book was fun. I feel it was geared towards a younger reading set. If I had a younger cousin, sister, child of a friend who was around 10-13 give or take a few years in either direction, this book would be a complete slam dunk (i.e. fantastic Halloween present (does anyone do that?), birthday present, and "aren't you awesome?, have a book" days. And for those of us that don't fall into that age bracket (ahem, I'm slightly older than that…not that I act it), there were enough funnies to keep us entertained.

Genre: Graphic Novel YA Paranormal Romance. Because, wouldn't it just be fun to see the dark and brooding handsome MMC (main male character), or at least what someone else thinks of when they write about that kind of character? I was thoroughly entertained by how they depicted him, and the character's responses to him at that (but I'll get to that).

The Cover: I like the coloration of the cover more than some of the content of the cover. Park and Croall do interesting things with color (or rather without color), and I would have liked to see them how they are depicted in the non-actions scenes. BUT, I completely understand their choice to go with the action-y version of Allein and Bethany. How great is his name btw? Can I just pause to say, big lols? Okay, I did.

The Plot: The plot seemed pretty straight forward, and I was worried it would even be predictable, but the choices in the characterization of Bethany kept that from happening. The graphic novel manages to make fun of itself and the genre that it's in (YA paranormal romance), and that entertains me (ahem, see my note about the funnies for the older peoples). It has an awareness of itself as being a part of that genre, and Croall has Bethany react to things differently then one may expect.

The Illustration (a necessary review element for a graphic novel): I liked how it was drawn. The color choices, the lack of color choices, really enhanced the book, and frankly, I just dig the way that comics/graphic narratives can convey things with less--less words, less pages, less time, less frames, than most writers really can. Croall and Park handled that well, and I like how they didn't stick to the strict "box frame" style.

The Romantic Element: It's absolutely swoon-worthy for the younger set. No doubt about it.

Carry-on Factor: This was an easy breezy kind of read, but it left a girl power-ish sentiment that would be a positive one for young female readers.

Overall: This wasn't a deep read, and it wasn't supposed to be, but what it does do is entertain. I laughed a bit; I admired the crafting of it; and I liked the against the grain choices they made in the characterization of Bethany. I would call it really perfect for a beginner YA paranormal romancer---feel free to buy it for your youngin's lol.

Now, I know I've played this song on here before, and it's a different kind of paranormal, but it's kind of perfect for the title of this book, "Zombie" by Natalia Kills. "I'm in love with a zombie…does he want me for my body or does he want me for my brain?" Come on. It's freakin' hilariously perfect. 

Also, another reminder for any new readers, old friends, or random stoppers-by-ers, you can still comment on J.L. Campbell's interview with me on The Character Depot and be entered in to win a copy of my book Glittering Ashes. The drawing is tomorrow, so hurry on over, if you'd like! 

Disclaimer: I do not own the picture, blurb, or video used in the making of this blog post. I did not receive compensation for this review, although I do have several Amazon affiliate links within this post.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wanderlove: A Review

 Picture Source: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41GtnctYikL.jpg*

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Delacorte BFYR
Publishing Date: March 13, 2012

Blurb from Goodreads*:

It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry into this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story

I chose this book because I loved the cover. I had a hankering for a YA contemporary, so when I saw this title, I thought, "This is what I was asking for."

My version of the blurb: When Bria, the artist, decides she wants to break out from the norm and travel abroad, she wasn't expecting a middle-aged tour group to be her companions. But after meeting a care-free, ponytailed, free-spirit, travel-bitten backpacker Rowan, and his sister Starling, Bria will find her own adventure and a way to find herself away from her fighting parents, best friends, and heart-breaking ex-boyfriend.

Genre: YA contemporary/romance. I wouldn't say contemporary romance because the story is a lot about traveling (the love of) and Bria finding herself. So even though romance is important in the book, there's a balance between the story and the romance.

The Cover: I like it. It caught my attention. It's simple, but effective. I think it's spot on to what the book is about, and Bria's description matches the cover perfectly to me.

The Plot: This book is travel heavy. If you're into travel at all, this is the book for you. I felt like I was in the islands with Bria, that Rowan was guiding me as much as he's guiding her. It's very setting heavy, because the fun of the book is that you're traveling without the plane fees. If you haven't been bitten by the travel bug, it might not be as interesting to you, but if you've even wanted to just pretend like you could up and go off to wherever, this book will be fascinating. Bria is a novice traveler on an exploration, and you can be too as you travel along with her and Rowan.

The Romantic Element: This book is definitely a slow burn in the romance department. Bria and Rowan travel, and you get little bits of them. You want to read the book to see if anything will happen between them, and it keeps you guessing if it really will.

Carry-on Factor: The descriptions of the setting made the book. Hubbard seemed well-versed in the places described, and after finding out that she really does know about back-packing, the book seems pretty authentic in that respect. I know I've gained knowledge about places, and in some instances, I feel like I could have been there.

Overall: This is a travel YA. If you've been looking for a no magic, backpacking adventure, then this is your book. From the opening, you're with Bria as she goes off the grid, finds friends, and tries to find herself. If that sounds like something you'd dig, then this book wouldn't disappoint.

Now for a song to write by, which is eerily perfect for this book, "Kihei Town" by The Throwdowns. I found this song randomly a while ago. I love the laid back vibe. Perfect for Wanderlove!

*I do not own this picture, book, or the book blurb taken from Goodreads. The use of these things are for review purposes only. 

Disclaimer: I did not receive anything in exchange for this review (or any review), although there are several Amazon affiliate links on this blog post.

Reminder: Don't miss out on a chance to win a copy of my book Glittering Ashes! Stop by my interview at The Character Depot and comment--that's all you have to do to enter. Drawing is Friday! Thank you much :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Author Interview and Giveaway (YAY)

Today, instead of writing a post of incredible awesomeness, I'm directing you to a blog of incredible awesomeness, The Character Depot, which today has a interview with me and a giveaway of my book Glittering Ashes (the blog title link will take you there). (BIG Thanks to J.L. for having me!!)

I'm SUPER encouraging y'all to check it out and enter to win (all you need to do to enter is comment on my interview post, and the drawing will be done on Friday).

Tell all of your friends, family, and strangers you pass on the street, won't you? lol.

Thanks, everyone! Have an awesome writing day.

And because I can and want to, I'm still leaving you with a song to write by, "Impossible" by Shontelle because I <3 this song, and writing can sometimes seem impossible (to do, to be successful at), but it doesn't mean it ain't worth while, right? 

I've also joined this Writer's Platform-Building Campaign on the Rach Writes blog. It's basically a blogger meet and greet, and it seems pretty neat---okay, I'll stop now, but if you're interested, definitely check it out :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Born At Midnight: A Review

Before I get to my post, I wanted to pause to make a quick announcement. On Monday, I will be doing an author interview on J.L. Campbell's amazing blog, The Character Depot. She is also hosting a giveaway of Glittering Ashes that goes with the interview, and all you have to do to enter is comment on my author interview that day. How amazing is that? I want to thank her for having me, and don't worry, I'll remind y'all on Monday to run over there to read the interview and enter! Okay, now back to the regularly scheduled blog post...

Today, I'm doing another book review. Yes, I, too, am amazed, lol. I finished all of Gayle Forman's Where She Went on Wednesday, and you can too if you happen to have an un-busy day, and I had been chugging through Born At Midnight by C.C. Hunter for a while and happened to finish it yesterday. 

Hunter's Born At Midnight is a YA paranormal romance/Bildungsroman-ish (coming of age story). 

My version of the blurb is that Kylie Galen, in the midst of a family ordeal, is dealing with her own personal struggle to find out who she is and why she sees what she sees. When her mother sends her to Shadow Falls camp to work things out for herself, Kylie is mortified because everyone at camp is a delinquent weirdo, or at least has been labeled as such, and Kylie doesn't feel she fits the bill. While Kylie tries to find out more about herself, she also finds friends, loves, and has a few realizations while solving a mystery of sorts that flows through the novel (as well as the mystery of finding out who she really is).

That was surely more complicated than Hunter's own blurb, which you can find by Googling or clicking on the book picture above, but I like blurbing, and I feel like it'll tell you more about the story than a book's usual sales pitch. (And I hate spoilers, so I would never want to do that to anyone, no worries).

The Cover: I like this cover. It's simplistic, which I love, but it's also eye catching. I tend to like metallic looking things, and really, I like the spine of the book more than the front, but that's a personal preference. Either way, I don't have any real complaints about the cover, and the girl could be Kylie, so it's appropriate.

The Plot: This book is probably longer than a lot of YAs I've read lately, 398 pages. So there's a lot put into one book here. Lots of drama, lots of mystery, lots of love triangly goodness, if that's your cup of tea. As far as the plot goes, if you like paranormal, coming of age stories, Hunter is what you'd want. It reads like a slightly more in depth teen TV drama. I could see it as a TV series, with all of the paranormal stuff that's on the CW and MTV and such now. For us readers who moonlight as teenagers when we read, it might read a little young, but it's pretty spot on for the intended audience, I'd say.

The Romantic Element: Because there's a lot of this in this one. I asked for lots of love drama, Hunter delivered. There's exes, a love triangle, and complications. I wasn't full on swooning the entire time I read this book, but there's a lot of romantic element to work with here. My only complaint (and it's little and maybe nitpicky), is that you, as the reader, may like just one of the romantic players in Kylie's life, and so all of the drama might not be as appetizing. But, if you just like reading about love drama, the book has more than enough to satisfy.

Carry-on Factor: Born At Midnight is the beginning of the Shadow Falls series; so while everything is pretty much tied up plot-wise by the end, Hunter has to leave some things to pull you into the next book. It's a good, paranormal coming-of-age, so if that's what you're looking for, Born At Midnight is where you can find it. It just has to be a paranormal coming-of-age that you're looking for.

Overall: Hunter did a lot in 398 (print) pages. She introduces Kylie, her family, and secondary and love interest characters to the point that you feel like you could know a lot of them by the end. That's impressive to juggle that many balls in the air. If you want to read paranormal YA, the kind of paranormal YA that deals with finding oneself and finding others in the process, Born at Midnight (Shadow Falls Novel) will not disappoint.

Have you heard of this book? Read it? Want to read it? Let me know below.

Now to leave you with a song to write by, one I don't personally own, but I kind of want to because it was unexpected for me, Lil' Wayne's "How To Love" (For 69 cents through this link to Amazon). He's singing, not rapping, just in case you didn't know about this song. I had to go with a love themed song. Completely necessary, people. 

P.S. I got this book from the library and did not receive any compensation for doing this review (some of the links are affiliated links, however).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Where She Went: Review

Today, it's time for another book review. After much cajoling by people online, I was encouraged to read Where She Went by Gayle Forman, the follow-up novel to If I Stay, which I read earlier this year. 

If I Stay, if you hadn't heard of it, was a book about Mia, who after suffering a HUGE tragedy, has to be painfully aware of everything going on around her as she decides whether or not to stay on earth.

When I first read about If I Stay, I thought it would be hokey. The premise sounds good, but it also sounds hard to pull off, right? Well Forman did. It's a weirdly poetic, purposefully awkward, heart-wrenching kind of book. It's not something I clamored to read or had to tell everyone and their mom about when I finished, but it was extremely well-written and had a soft power to how it was told. If you wanted something emotionally charged and out of the regular, If I Stay is your book.

Where She Went is no different. The book is basically a slightly later on in life follow-up to If I Stay. Where If I Stay is from Mia's point of view as she works through everything, including watching her boyfriend Adam watch her, Where She Went is from Adam's point of view after he has everything he supposedly could want but still isn't happy. He's trying to reconcile his thoughts about Mia, and they have one night together, years after the first book, to figure out who they are to each other and what all happened between them.

I loved Adam in If I Stay. He's the rocker, literally, who has the heart of gold. Music is paramount in both books, and it was refreshing to see a YA really championing having a passion for something, and having a dream to be big in something. So, reading Where She Went was great for me because it was Adam all the time. I think Gayle Forman, overall, had a decent grasp on a 20-year-old hot guitarist male perspective.

Oh, and for those of you who were like me and had read If I Stay, but hadn't gotten to Where She Went yet, If I Stay dealt mainly in the past, out of necessity, through flashbacks. I'd say Where She Went dealt in the past of Adam too, also out of necessity, but also dealt a lot with his future anxieties.

I liked Where She Went more than If I Stay, but you need to read If I Stay to get the full weight of Where She Went.

Okay, here's for the traditional review points:

The Cover: Pretty. Doesn't make me clamor for it, but it matches the mood of the book, so it's effective.

The Plot: Like I said, Forman can write. Well. And it shows in this book. Her ability to weave in and out of the present without giving the reader whiplash is something worth reading about.

The Romantic Element: Confusing in this book. I don't think that's the right word. Romance is obviously there, and it's more authentic feeling than most, but overall, I felt more like saying "Hmm" than "Awww" at all times. It's still a good romance, but I liked the romance in If I Stay better, personally.

Carry-on factor: A lot of people love Gayle Forman, and they have lots of reasons to. If I Stay stuck with me. Where She Went fills in the gaps left from If I Stay. I'd say If I Stay has more carry-on factor, but Where She Went is the rest of the story, so you have to read it if you've read If I Stay.

Overall: Like I said, if you even remotely liked If I Stay, Where She Went is a must. If you like emotions, not just romantic, for a charged story, then these are your books and Gayle Forman is your writer. It's not about action; it's about loss and life and passion and talents, and love. So if that sounds like something you'd dig, these books, especially the second, are done well enough to satisfy. Good emotional reads all around.

Now let me know what you thought of If I Stay or Where She Went below, or if you're just now hearing about them, are they something you'd like?

Now to leave you with a song to write by, "I'm Not In Love" by 10 CCs. It is old school, funny, and I just like it as an untraditional romantic song. So, I feel it's appropriate, lol.

Note: I got my copy of Where She Went from the library, and I did not receive any compensation in exchange for this review (except if I sell any books through affiliate links). Thanks!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Media Inspiration Please

Hey, everyone? How's tricks (or basically, how are things going for you as of this moment)?

Today, I wanted to talk about why I watch what I watch and read what I read. I like to be inspired by things, and I think inspiration can come from anywhere at any time, if you're paying attention and willing to look.

When I watch TV, I like watching things (mostly reality TV) about people doing stuff I can't do, or stuff I want to do in a madly obsessed way, or things I'm remotely interested in.

I love cooking show competitions because in another life, I would be ALL ABOUT having a restaurant (fun fact: I like coming up with restaurant concepts and catch phrases, just cause. AND, I might be doing something with that eventually). Right now, I love

Top Chef (in all the ways it comes)
The Great Food Truck Race (Cannot explain my <3 for food trucks = EPIC)

I love really any competition that has something to do with being creative (see my <3 for Project Runway and Platinum Hit).

And I even love watching things I would never be caught dead watching on my own, so big thank you's to my dad and fiancé. They make me watch anything and everything on A&E--and I do love me some Storage Wars).

When I read, I want to be inspired by amazing authors who say things in new ways, by plots that I would never think of ever ever, and by books that keep me mesmerized for days. A lot of people I read about on these writer blogs get performance anxiety from reading something amazing. They say a lot of "Wow, I can just give up now because I'm never going to be that awesome."

I think that the exact opposite of what it should do. Amazing people, in any capacity, should inspire you to bring new things to your writing, to write differently than you thought was "acceptable," and to want to be better and the next big awesome thing.

So now, I ask, what inspires you? Photographs, TV shows? Movies? Amazing, amazing books? All of the above? Something not mentioned? Let me know below.

Now to leave you with a song to write by, "Daisy" by Brand New off of their album Daisy

I cannot explain to you in human words how much I love Brand New. They are practically untouched as my favorite band. If you can't get inspired by their lyrics, check your pulse. (that sounded pushy, but I am way passionate about them. Sigh).

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Apartment Romance

Earlier this week, I saw an amazing movie. I want to watch it again because it has so many quotables in it. <3 I love quotable bits. The movie is called The Apartment:

It came out in 1960, and it's in black and white. I know, some of you out there will be like me, very judgy, and might want to back away now. BUT, it was amazing.

Here's a sloppy blurb by me: A man decides to pimp out his apartment to the higher up men at work that have all these mistresses but no where to take them. The plan works to help him get ahead, but he falls for the elevator girl in the mean time, only to find out that she has an affiliation with his apartment already. Hilarity, romance, innuendos, and issues ensue.

I really liked it, and you should check it out if you have the chance. Funny side-note story, I told my mother about it, and she told me she had just picked up that movie that very day at the library, but had put it back because it was black and white. Weird huh? She then got it from there, watched, and loved it. Okay, back to our regularly scheduled blog post…

This movie got me thinking about what it is about romance that makes me clamor to read it. With very few exceptions, I'm not a big romance movie person. I have to want to watch something predictable to get into them, and I have to be forced by other parties to watch them at all (mostly). But, with books? You all know by now that romance is a must for me. A big must (also mostly).

I like:

  • Non-traditional
  • Hard to attain
  • Complicated but sweet
  • All worth it for their first moments


And I've read love stories in all kinds of their variations (chick-lit to Ya to horror with some lovey bits), and I never get tired of it. Seeing how people make a connection and come together in all kinds of circumstances just is the bee's knees for me.

So, now I ask you, because I really want to know, do you have to have romance in the books that you read? What makes you like that element (or hate it)? OO, and if you have examples, then, you're awesome. Let me know below.

Now to leave you with a song to write by, which is perfect for this occasion, "Nicest Thing" by Kate Nash. If you never listen to any other song I list on here, listen to this one. It's worth it. ---à strong words for an AMAZING song.

Also: I really want to get the word out about my book, Glittering Ashes (The Dark Artist Series), and I have some things in the works already (VERY excited about that). So, if you're interested in receiving a free ebook copy in exchange for a bookie blog review, let me know (below or by email). Also, I'm more than game for author interviews if you want something to fill in one of the days on your blog :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Write Environment

How important is your writing environment? Are you someone who has to have the things on their desk just so, and everything exactly how it was last time? Do you need music? Absolute quiet? Crowds of people to ogle? Complete solitude?

I read a lot about people's optimum conditions (and if you can't tell by now, I read a lot about writing habits in general, lol). A lot of people I read about write fiendishly when the moment hits. If the muse is talking, all they need is a piece of paper and a pen, or lipstick and tissues, or a marker and the nearest arm.

I'm the same way at a certain point, but not always. When I am first brainstorming a story, or right after a dream, I get flooded with all these ideas, normally about a different wip than the one I'm working on. I will run (okay, yes, literally) to my brain book (or to a sheet of paper if the book is absent), and I will write furiously until everything is on the paper. It may or may not be like an exorcism. Probably not like one at all, but it sounds more mysterious if I leave that as a possibility.

But when I'm writing, really writing, I do like to have some things a certain way. I like quiet, absolute quiet, or close to it. I have to be somewhere that's not my room.

Being outside of my room is important, apparently, and I've just come to this realization recently. I spend a lot of time here, and when I write, it's bloggy writing, or academic even. It's not creative, and I don't know why, but that's typically how I think it'll stay.

When I write at home, I write on the off-limits couch. The couch that one has for purely decorative purposes. It's in front of windows, not that I really look outside much during, but I think the unfamiliarity of the couch is the equivalent of me being at the library, the main place I've been writing lately.

I wrote all of Glittering Ashes (The Dark Artist Series), with the exception of a few library trips, on that couch.

But, other than quiet and not being in my room, I'm not that picky. But, I want to know if you are. What do you need to finally get the words down? Anything specific? Or, are you one of the lucky, wherever I feel like it, scribblers? Let me know below.

Now to leave you with a song to write by, "Singing Brigdes (We All Fall)" by Matchbook Romance. (They're Voices CD, handcrafted addictive genius. I <3 it.)

Favorite lines, if you're curious " I tried to sell you a heart before you saw the world" and 
"I will sing a melody until the fluid starts choking me
And when my eyes are paralyzed I'll stare up at you my star
That I could never reach"

P.S.  I just found this link on the writing habits of great writers, most of which I'm unfamiliar with, but cool nonetheless. Thanks @elizabethscraig

Monday, August 8, 2011

Defining Book Success

Quick Glittering Ashes update: It's now available for sale at (click location title for links)
Apple's iBooks (so you can get it on your iPad or iPod)

Now back to your regularly scheduled blog post :)

Hey, everyone. Today, I want to write about success. On Friday, I wrote a review of Divergent (Divergent Trilogy) by Veronica Roth, which I consider to be a huge success in the YA world.
It has:

A huge readership (every YA book blog I've seen)

295 amount of reviews on Amazon (226 of which are 5 star)

Everyone says GREAT things about it (me included)

Movie rights have been sold--not a guaranteed marker of greatness, but darn close to it for me (because how awesome is that?).

I'd say there's a lot of reasons to think that the Divergent (Divergent Trilogy) is an extremely successful book.

To me, success is about people liking your book and being passionate about it once they read it and having a large readership because people want to pass that magic on. The movie rights being sold is amazing, but having tons of people read it and like it will always be the most important factor of success, in my book.

What about you? What do you think constitutes success in the reading world? Can you name a showstopper book of success? I'm thinking Twilight [Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)] (love it or hate it) and The Hunger Games (awesome). Let me know below.

Now, to leave you with a song to write by, "Imma Star" by Jeremih, where he explains success in a different arena :) 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth: Review, & A Request

Hey, everyone! First, thanks for all the comments on my last post. Really amazing turnout. And big hi's to all of my new followers :)

Today, I want to do a book review, which may or may not be necessary because the book I'm reviewing is practically an addiction for the YA community/blog world. Divergent (Divergent Trilogy) by Veronica Roth.

Blurb (Taken from Goodreads--Disclaimer: I do not own anything having to do with Divergent by Veronica Roth. This description was taken from Goodreads to promote the book. No compensation was given in return for this review, and I got this book from the library.)

"Beatrice "Tris" Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place in mortal danger. Veronica Roth's young adult Divergent trilogy launches with a captivating adventure about love and loyalty playing out under most extreme circumstances."
I tried avoiding this book for a while. I first saw it in Wally World; I noticed it because the cover was different than something I'd seen before. I picked it up, got the dystopian vibe, and I put it down.

Then it exploded on every blog I've seen for months. Everyone <3s it something ridiculous, and when I read it, I really liked it too.

It was dystopian, but instead of making the girl a "less than smart" person who has to figure out x, y , or z about her Society that ain't quite right, Tris, the MFC (main female character), in this book was normal, kick arse, and strong. You have to love that. I'm not saying some of the stereotypical elements of the new dystopian thread of YA weren't there, but they were handled in an original way that didn't make me want to vomit.

So here's a roundup of some of the key elements:

The Cover: Major points for being different. Wasn't something that looked like something I had to read, but the cover made me pick it up. I was hypnotized by it, I suppose. Good overall.

The Plot: Good stuff. Really good. I wanted to read it to see what would happen. Roth crammed action, tattoos, friendship dynamics, and romance, along with a maybe-not-so-attainable goal of becoming part of a rather intense group. It may have started a little slow with explaining all of the faction dynamics (you'll see what I mean), but it definitely made up for it after about 2.5 chapters in. The beginning is necessary, and the rest of the plot--intriguing enough to keep the pages turning at an alarming rate.

The Romantic Element: Because, come on, if I'm reading it, there has to be one. Divergent (Divergent Trilogy) was good in this aspect. Four was a great MMC (main male character), and the romance was a slow burn--pretty much the best kind (which I posted about here). You wanted to read the action-y bits to get to see the romantic bits, BUT the action bits were just as good, if not better. The plot made the romantic bits that much more exciting.

Carry-on Factor: Do I want to read it again OR do I want to read the follow-up? In this case, the latter applies, and yes, I will read it. I really want to. Can we arrange for that to be sooner than later? AND, it’s already a buzz online that it's being made into a movie, so jump on the bandwagon, people, so you can say you read the book before you watched the film and blah blah blah.

Overall: Completely worth reading. It was more original than a lot of the options that YA is getting these days. I support the purchase/library checkout. If for nothing else, it'll definitely keep you entertained for the x amount of pages (without lag time in the middle--HUGE plus)

What did you all think of Divergent (Divergent Trilogy)? If you've read it, do you agree with my take on it or what would you change/add to what I've said above? Let me know below!

Note: I decided to change up how I review books. I'm always going to be honest, but the star rating system seems a little harsh (example: Stolen by Lucy Christopher is COMPLETELY worth a read, but my review here may or may not have gotten that across in the best way).

Now to leave you with a song to write by, "Bye Bye Boyfriend" by FeFe Dobson. I <3 the beginning, and I've been known to listen to the first 30, and then start the song over…and over…and over…sorry to all of my friends who have had to deal with me :)

P.S. I'm now looking for book bloggers to review my book, Glittering Ashes (The Dark Artist Series) (write-up in "My Books" tab above and by clicking on link). If you're interested in getting a free ebook copy in return for a review, please let me know below or by email (writtled @ gmail . com---minus the spaces). Also, I really, really (really) want to do author interviews. They seem amazing to me, so also contact me if you want to do something to that ends for your blog post one day. Thank you! And I look forward to hearing from all you wonderful people :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Writing Goals: Bee's Knees or Puh-lease...

Today, I want to talk about writing goals.

Do you have them?                                                                                                 

Do you LIVE by them?

Or, do you prefer to write when you feel inspired (by your muse or otherwise)?

Writers deal with extreme guilt complexes (me included, and many others from what I've seen). Writers set lofty goals, normally in the form of daily goals, and then, if the goal isn't reached, the writers hang their head in shame, falling down a spiral where even more writing doesn't happen.

Or maybe that's just me.

But even though writing goals may cause me excess stress, I still stand by them. If I didn't set goals for myself, I wouldn't get anything done.

Personally, I like "it'll be done by this date" goals more than daily goals necessarily. It's easy for people to get overwhelmed, so I think it's better to have a finish line in sight rather than to solely worry about what you need done each day.

I know, that sounds kind of silly, because daily writing goals would seem to only help you in reaching timed goals, but to me, I can write furiously for a day (1000s of words), and then I could write nothing the next day. And I want that to be okay, and it is if I give myself a "done by" date. It's about the end goal and how good that feels, and not about thinking of how many words you have left.

Here's some links if you want goals set for you (and you provide the amazing words):

Nanowrimo (writing a book in a month during November...Great forums)
Camp Nanowrimo (A Nanowrimo for the summer time, which is on write now)
Fast-Drafting (doing your novel in 2 weeks)
Milwordy (a million words in one year)

What do you do for writing goals? What's your reasoning behind the goals you set or why you don't set them at all? Let me know below!

Now for a song to write by, "Bulletproof" by Evan's Blue, because you need to be bulletproof for kick-arse writing goals…Yep, that's what I'm going with to play this song I like. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Author Info/Branding: What's It To You?

This is something that's been coming up a lot for me lately since I've recently published my first book through Amazon and Smashwords. People want to know how to get their name out there, where they should go to do that, and how to market themselves and their name as a brand.

I'm not the first person to be an authority on the subject, but seeing as it's something I've been seeing everywhere, I wanted to know your thoughts on it, and I wanted to leave a few of my own.

I don't think about who the author is or what other books the author has written until I finish the first book. If I like the book, and especially if I love the book, I then scour the internet to find out everything about that person. This may be because I want to emulate their awesomeness, but I also suspect that many other do something similar.

When I know an author is the bee's knees, I want to know what else they've written and what they're like. BUT that's not something I care about if I didn't like the book first.

I would say that unless the author is scandalous (for typically bad reasons), I don't care who they are until I get to the end of whatever I'm reading. Branding for me is something that happens AFTER they've kept my attention for 200+ pages.

I'll go so far as to say that for me, I do not want to know anything about the author until I've made my own decisions about the book. I won't even look at what they look like, not that that would make a difference, but I want the book to be it's own entity, completely devoid of everything but what I see in front of me, until I finish it.

When I do end up looking them up, I always want to read the "how I did it" story. It's the story where they say, "I got this idea and blah blah blah." I love those. If I really like them, I'll search them out on Twitter to see if they say anything interesting (beyond just responding to people), and then I'll follow them if they are interesting. I'll almost always follow a blog if they have them, and I'll look around the blog to see what else is brewing for them.

That's my typical M.O. So as far as branding goes for authors, it IS important, but it shouldn't precede the book's importance to me. But if the author ends up being rockstar, I'd love to more about them AFTER I read the book.

What about you? Do you like to know about the author up front? Would it bother you if they didn't have a blog/Twitter/internet presence? Let me know below!

Now to leave you with a song to write by, "Breakdown" by Plain White T's. Intense, but still catchy like all of their stuff.  

P.S. Here's where you can find me online, if you're curious :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Slow Burn Romance

Today, I want to talk about slow burns in novels. I live for them. I'm talking about how this pertains to romance here, because I hate slow burns to action in, say, thrillers, or something. The only time I like a slow burn, or a slow build, is in the romantic elements of a book.

If you rush the mushy stuff, if it comes on too quick, my gag reflexes act up. I hate when the main girl sees the guy, falls in love on sight, and he reciprocates immediately (not being gender specific here, with either or any gender, it's annoying). Ugh. The fun is in the chase, people.

The same basic principles can happen:

Girl or boy sees the person.

Fireworks ensue. The person is awesome possum amazing, and they are in love immediately.

Now here's where the changes happen: I much prefer if there are obstacles that get in the way of the other person liking them back immediately. The other person could be taken, could hate them for whatever reason, or could even just not know (a classic), but something has to keep the person from saying, "OMG, I too have just realized that you are amazing. Let's live in drama-less bliss for the next 200 pages."

Want to know an annoying fun fact about most books that I read?

You all know I'm a romance junkie, especially in YA. I prefer the story to go beyond just the romance, but as long as there's romance, I'm a happy camper (unless it happens too early).

Well the annoying fact is that most books with the AMAZING romantic scenes use them sparingly. I've read some great books voraciously just hoping person A and B can have a moment together. The payoff is way sweeter when they do, but I always finish the book thinking I would have begged to have more of A and B and less of everything else. But really, I wouldn't. Their absence makes my heart go fonder and all of that jazz.

I'm reading Divergent (Divergent Trilogy) now by Veronica Roth, and it's a slow burner, and I am liking it. It has a good enough story that I can read and want to keep reading, but I'm living for snippets of Four at the same time. No spoilers, please.

Do you all like slow burn romantic books? Why? And do you know of any amazing ones? I'd be much obliged if you left them in the comments below.

Now to leave you with a song to write by, "Addicted"by Kelly Clarkson, because I like it, and it works with my romantic addiction, I'd say. 

P.S. I changed up the blog layout and background. Do y'all like it? :)