Monday, March 28, 2011
In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.
Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one… until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow — between perfection and passion.
This was a really interesting book. The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking of L'Engles world where IT rules, where everything is kept so rigid and organized. It was certainly interesting to read about :) It was also rather frustrating for me, mainly because I honestly don't think I'd do so well in such a regimented place. Not my style! But, still, a fun book. I wasn't quite so drawn in by Ally's relationship with Ky. I actually liked Xander better, and felt that he was a more developed character in some ways. I will certainly be checking out the next book in the series, CROSSED, when it comes out this fall!
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
- I am a finalist in the Show Me The Voice contest. Very happy about this!
- I still can't get over the nice reviews I received for the ABNA contest. I kinda can't believe they were about my story. Except for the quotes. That kinda makes it real. Right?
- Thank heavens for caffeine. It makes the world a better place. Or at least once in which I might hope to get things done.
- I got Matched from the library finally (and it's one of the reasons I didn't get much sleep). Yay for the library finally coming through!
- Ryan has played Warhawk for two days in a row now. I'm a little worried. And kinda want to unplug the TV. Too bad he'd probably not like that. I still might do it.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Sixteen year old Anne thinks her life is pretty ordinary – until she smacks into handsome, mysterious, and okay, annoying Ethan on her way to chemistry class. Now Anne has powers she doesn’t understand, a history altering mission she may not want, and a growing attraction to this blue-eyed stranger. And Ethan- who at eighteen made some choices he’s starting to regret – realizes that Anne is the girl for whom he’s been searching – for a very, very long time. Stir in doomed Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia – who is definitely not quite as dead as the history books say – and Baba Yaga, the legendary witch from Russian folklore, and you’ve got DREAMING ANASTASIA, a contemporary YA fantasy that alternates between the voices of Anne, Ethan, and Anastasia as Anne and Ethan join forces to battle the bad guys and save Anastasia. Only problem is – no one’s quite sure who’s really bad and who’s good. And everyone has some secrets.
This was an okay read--I mean, the story was fun, and I liked the bits about Russian folklore (and who doesn't love the Anastasia story/myth? It's a good one!). The thing that kept it from being a great story was just that it wasn't that detailed or nuanced. Now, I'm not saying one must have these things in a book, but personally, I like them. Others I'm sure would find this to be a perfectly awesome book. I just found myself wanting more. More of the details of Anna's world, and especially more of Ethan's--he was a rather interesting character that I totally wanted to see and learn more of. Anyhow, an interesting book, and I'd recommend it to those who like a hint of Russia in their reading :)
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?The author has excellent writing skill. The characters and environments are clearly drawn and incredibly easy for the reader to visualize. But not only that, the author has manages to paint realistic emotions for the characters while balancing exposition, plot advancement and every other element. I was immediately draw into the world of Julia and her issues, emotions and everyday struggles. I felt like I had a connection with her -I cared about her and I wanted to know what was going to happen next to her.
What aspect needs the most work?It's hard to say since this excerpt is so well done. I think there were a few points where the action got a little hazy and I wasn't exactly sure what was going on. Also, the supernatural element that seems to be part of this story didn't quite seem to been explained here, or even given a little more attention so the reader would fully understand the main character's other-worldly leanings and the impact that has on the other characters.
What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?I really enjoyed this. It immediately pulled me in with instant, unexpected conflict and drew me into the main character's world by painting a fascinating and likable picture of her. The emotions conveyed her were particularly wonderful and compelling for the reader.
Given the current publishing market trends, I think this book has tremendous commercial possibilities. Not only is it well-written and have a wonderful main character, but it appears to be a YA paranormal romance, which is one of the hottest genres right now. But, unlike some of the published works in this genre I've read, it's actually good.
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?The piece grabs the reader with the first sentence. A tombstone is enough of an attention grabber as it is - but with the image of a person kicking that tombstone - the reader is instantly engaged.
And then this image, "...a crooked tooth in the rows of pearly white graves" - firmly places the reader in the scene.
And THEN - when this person who kicks the tombstone of a person she so very obviously cares about turns out to have wings? The reader has a great deal of interest in figuring out what's going on and exactly what kind of world this story takes place in.
Julia has a very strong voice and while her origins and backstory remain a mystery, she provides an excellent viewpoint for the reader. She may be centuries old, but she seems as new to this place/time as the reader, and her thoughts and experiences do much to help the reader fill in the blanks and feel a part of the story. "...just the feel of someone's gaze, heavy in the darkness. I'd spent enough time here alone to know the difference." Again, gives us detail about Julia and the setting. As does, "Every movement I made was like swimming in mud - the air was thick and heavy."
After accepting that Julia has wings (which took a while), the reader must start to wonder what she is and where she comes from. "Saving Marcy was my reward, and my price, for dying before I was born." This is a lovely phrase - one which both answers one question while asking several more...guaranteeing that the reader's interest level stays high.
What aspect needs the most work?While most of the prose flows very well, sometimes there are clunky phrases that could use some editing. Keeping in mind that this character and the reason not only for her existence but for her presence in the story are as yet unknown to the reader; a smooth flow to the events and details of the story is essential.
"...wings, saying a silent farewell as I closed my eyes. A brief moment of numb nothingness—gone far too fast, no matter how long I clung to the brief time I didn’t have any pain—and I was back to being able to blend in at school and work." This sentence doesn't flow very well - and I had to read it a few times to grasp what was going on. Julia's wings are disappearing, she experiences pain at all times, she tries to blend in with humans, and she works and goes to school. That's too much information for one sentence.
On a minor note, there is a Derek, a Frederick (only later it is made clear they are the same person), and then a razor named Fred. It would be less confusing if even just the razor's name was far different - or at least make for more variety.
What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?Though admittedly the first mention of "emerald wings" was a bit offputting, the piece has such a strong voice in Julia, and it is so descriptive, that I was able to suspend my disbelief and become fully engaged in the story.
The reader has only been given a few tantalizing details as to who she is, how she came to be, who or what has sent her here, and who Derek/Frederick is...and yet, she is a credible character that the reader can trust.
Even though Marcy is the character that appears to be in the most danger, the reader cares about her (at least for now) only as it relates to Julia's fate. Her mission seems to be to save Marcy...but the stronger message seems to be coming across that if she actually achieves it, Julia will be the one to be saved.
The contrast given between Julia, the centuries old....Sary? and Julia, the teenager who is thrilled to be noticed by a boy, is interesting. Which of these aspects to her is emphasized more remains to be seen.
This is an interesting story, one that certainly leaves the reader curious to learn more of.
Um, can I just add in a little YAY!!!?? Because these were great. I know the first bit isn't perfect, and I can make some small changes to fix things (actually, most of these comments have already been addressed). It just makes me happy that people liked it :) Now, can I get an agent to like it?? That does seem to be the question :)
Monday, March 21, 2011
I greeted his tombstone the way I always did—with a swift kick. The release of frustration was more than worth the sharp pain in my toes. The polished marble tilted to the left because of all my visits; a crooked tooth in the rows of pearly white graves.
I folded my legs under me, shuddering as the chill of the damp grass seeped through my clothes. “I keep hoping one of these days you’ll be here waiting for me.” The words were tradition. I couldn’t keep myself from hoping I’d come over the hill to find him leaning over his grave, wearing a sly smile. He died so very long ago, but I couldn’t stop wishing.
I leaned my head against my knees, longing for a few minutes of rest. A few minutes to pretend it was someone else buried beneath me. I tried to explain this to him, but tonight I didn’t have the will to pretend it was more than starlight that listened.
It took a long time to notice, building imperceptibly until I finally looked over my shoulder. Someone was there, watching me. It hadn’t been a sound that alerted me so much as the feel of someone’s gaze, heavy in the darkness. After so many nights spent here, I knew the difference.For just a second, I thought I saw Frederick’s tall form step from the shadows. My heart stopped and I started to scramble to my feet before the breeze scattered my wishful thinking.
(Also, why does livejournal have such a fit when I try to paste stuff in? I mean, obviously I'm doing the pasting, right? random...)
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Fifteen-year-old Ruby Oliver has had a number of unfortunate experiences lately. In the past ten days she has: lost her thirteenth boyfriend as well as her best friends, drank her first beer and got caught by mom, had an argument with a boy, did something suspicious with another, did something advanced with yet another, lost a lacrosse game, failed a math test, became a social outcast, hurt someone's feelings, and had stuff written about her in the girls' bathroom with graffiti. All of this leads to her having panic attacks and seeing a psychologist to help her deal with them.
While seeing the psychologist, Ruby talks about her home life and the experiences she has had with all her boyfriends. She reveals, among other things, that her best friend stole one of her boyfriends and that boys were denying that they had ever gone out with her. She also says that her mother has gone crazy with all the health food she forces everyone else to eat, her parents fight a lot over her, and they're way too protective of her. Will Ruby ever stop having panic attacks and be able to live her life peacefully?
(Reviewed by Ashley Hartlaub)
Have you ever read a book and have to set it aside a few times because you seriously think somehow your mother has been bound between the pages? No? Well, probably not with a YA book all that often. But, this book made me seriously think about my mom. Not to go into too much detail, but it's very strange to be the grown daughter of a mother who is dating. I mean, looking through Ruby's list of boys, I swear I started picking out my mom's past boyfriends. That was a little disturbing. And Ruby grumbles the same way (or, well, sort of) that my mom does. It's amusing, in parts, and other ways just makes me want to scream a little. I mean, I don't know, I've been married too long. I no longer have any hope or expectation for phone calls, or niceties, or anything like that. (Yes, being married is just that fun!) So, I spent most of the book thinking about that. I did like the ending and felt that it was really well done. I'm curious about the next books in the series and will see if I can snag them from the library. But, if I start hearing my mother's voice in the binding, well.... :)
Monday, March 14, 2011
- I've managed to win a query critique by an awesome person with far more patience than I have. It is now much more shiny and pretty. I will soon commence with more querying. Yay!
- I have joined a new critique group at the behest of my best Betta (go alliteration!). They rock. It is awesome. I've spent a lot of time reading their work lately. I need to find a better balance so I can actually get back to my WIP.
- Maybe after I actually FINISH my DISSERTATION. Yes, that did need caps. Introduction & conclusion. I needs to do it. I WILL do it. Soon. I hope. Right after I grade papers and tests all week.
- I gave a talk at a regional conference this past weekend. It didn't suck. I am decidedly happy about this. I am not so good at the public speaking (unless I'm teaching--I wish someone would explain to me why it is that I can get up in front of 400 people to discuss Hardy-Weinberg and be totally chill, but getting up in front of 100 people to talk about my research generally leaves my stomach in a serious knot. Go figure.).
- I got a call from an agent a couple of weeks ago! No, not to offer representation (trust me, this would have been big blog/facebook/phone-call worthy news). But he was just calling to offer suggestions on Travelers. Talk about super nice! I'm still kind of shocked that really happened. Very awesome. And then last Friday he emailed me with a link to another time-travel book similar to my own. And requested the full of Colors. Yay! (I have my fingers crossed so tight it hurts!)
- I have almost survived TA'ing another quarter of ANT153. This deserves some kind of metal, I think. Preferably something shiny and chocolate.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet of her kind, she nearly pays with her life, only to be spared by a beautiful stranger sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki--a descendant of dragons whose ability to shift into human form is her best defense.
Forced to flee into the mortal world, Jacinda struggles to adapt. The one bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away - if it dies she will be left a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.
Oh, wow, did I love this book! I haven't stayed up reading until the wee hours of the morning in quite some time, and I did so twice this weekend. Love, love, loved this! I mean, it was just so unique and I loved the characters and Jacinda's issues, her family, and dealing with everything. SO Freaking COOL (or hot, really, but yeah!). Anyhow, I'm really itching to get my hands on the next one, but am going to have to wait a while--boohoo! Though seriously, check this one out. It was awesome!
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Family secrets. Lost memories. And the arrival of an ancient magical ability that will reveal everything.
Sixteen-year-old Katla LeBlanc has just moved from Los Angeles to Minnesota. As if it weren’t enough that her trendy fashion sense draws stares, Katla soon finds out that she’s a Stork, a member of a mysterious order of women tasked with a very unique duty. But Katla’s biggest challenge may be finding her flock at a new school. Between being ignored by Wade, the arrogant jock she stupidly fooled around with, and constantly arguing with gorgeous farm boy and editor-in-chief Jack, Katla is relieved when her assignment as the school paper’s fashion columnist brings with it some much-needed friendship. But as Homecoming approaches, Katla uncovers a shocking secret about her past — a secret that binds her fate to Jack’s in a way neither could have ever anticipated. With a nod to Hans Christian Andersen and inspired by Norse lore, Wendy Delsol’s debut novel introduces a hip and witty heroine who finds herself tail-feathers deep in small-town life. (From Goodreads)
Ugh, that is a lousy description of the book, but the best one I could find. Oh well. Anyhow, this was a fun read and I rather enjoyed it. I really am not a fan of the cover, but the writing is solid and the characters a lot of fun. I did find myself wondering if the author had ever actually lived in Cali with some of her references (seriously, we're not all like that), but that's okay. Some of the "powers" that Kat gets I found to be somewhat creepy, but I was engaged enough to keep reading. I will definitely be picking up the next book!
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Nora should have known her life was far from perfect. Despite starting a relationship with her guardian angel, Patch (who, title aside, can be described as anything but angelic), and surviving an attempt on her life, things are not looking up. Patch is starting to pull away and Nora can't figure out if it's for her best interest or if his interest has shifted to her arch-enemy, Marcie Millar. Not to mention that Nora is haunted by images of her father and she becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened to him that night he left for Portland and never came home.
The further Nora delves into the mystery of her father's death, the more she comes to question if her Nephilim bloodline has something to do with it as well as why she seems to be in danger more than the average girl. Since Patch isn't answering her questions and seems to be standing in her way, she has to start finding the answers on her own. Relying too heavily on the fact that she has a guardian angel puts Nora at risk again and again. But can she really count on Patch or is he hiding secrets darker than she can even imagine?
Okay, I'll admit that I really didn't particularly like the first book in this series, Hush Hush. I mean, it had some good points, but it just didn't draw me in a whole lot. The same goes for the second book. I enjoyed it, and kept reading, which is a good thing, but there were elements that bothered me from the get-go. I think the main one is Nora herself. I have a hard time placing her character. Fitzpatrick keeps referencing Nora as some goodie-two-shoes, and every action Nora then does completely blows that out of the water. Nora managed to do some seriously stupid things in this book, and I often found myself wondering WHY. That shouldn't happen. The action should organically grow from the character's life and beliefs, not be forced. Anyhow, that bothered me. Patch has always been a rather rough character, but I just don't find him all that appealing. Also, I found myself re-reading some of the details because I was so utterly lost on what was going on. This is probably more a factor of lack of sleep than anything else though :) Anyhow, I will pick up the next book in the series, but I did find this one lacking in some departments.