Friday, April 30, 2010

The Friday 56: Dark Visions: The Possessed

Closest Book:  Dark Visions:  The Possessed

Author:  L. J. Smith
Page 56, sentence 5:  "A dream? Kaitlyn thought. No. It didn't make sense;  it couldn't be the whole explanation. Why should Lewis suddenly start having dreams that made him attack things? And what about the cold--it had disappeared as quickly as it had come;  the air felt fine now. And the drain smell, and that sound..."





Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
*Post a link along with your post back to Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Book Blogger Hop 4/30

 The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books so that readers and bloggers can get to know each other a little better.
In Jennifer's words:
This is a weekly event where book bloggers and readers can connect to find new blogs to read.  It's a great way to network with other bloggers and make new friends!  Every day I seem to find another book blog that I start following. In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blogger Hop to give us all bookies a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed!
So head over to the Blog Hop and have some fun! Thanks for stopping by!

Great News and Some Regular, Old, Everyday News

I GOT A JOB!!! Yes, finally! (And it's an *awesome* one!) I've been looking for a while, so this is a huge blessing. My time off was well spent though, blogging and writing and meeting all you great people (virtually, at least).

So what this means is...well, do you want the good news or the regular, old, everyday news first? I always like the less fun news first so let's do that.

In the next few weeks, I'm going to be busy shopping, finding an apartment, moving, etc. so there's not going to be a whole lot of time to read or review. Please stick with me! It's temporary, I promise. I love this too much to give it up. I have a lot (A. LOT.) of reviews in queue so you may not even notice I'm gone, but my meme participation and commenting will probably be slow/nonexistent. But I WILL be back!

Great news! I want to have a giveaway, well, two, actually. I have a whole bunch of ARCs that I don't want to move so I'm going to try to have a contest for those (hopefully before I move*), and then once I get settled in, I want to have a giveaway to say thanks to everyone for entertaining me and just being around in the blogging community. I haven't worked out the logistics (times, entry, countries, etc.) yet, but when I know a little more about the job situation and my start date, I'll figure that out. I can't wait to finally begin to repay the blogging community for their kindness in providing books to win while I couldn't buy any!

I touched on this in my 3-month blogoversary post, but I want to say it again:  You guys rock! Thank you all so much for being there when I thought the stress was going to drive me crazy. You didn't know it, but you helped me through some tough times and gave me hope for better days, just by being you. :-)

*Okay, I found out my start date, and there's no way I'm going to have time to add entries, let alone make it to the post office. It'll have to be after I settle in. :-)

The Tension of Opposites Trailer

Check out the trailer for The Tension of Opposites!

Amaranthine Review: Jacob Have I Loved

"Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated . . ." With her grandmother's taunt, Louise knew that she, like the biblical Esau, was the despised elder twin. Caroline, her selfish younger sister, was the one everyone loved.
Growing up on a tiny Chesapeake Bay island in the early 1940s, angry Louise reveals how Caroline robbed her of everything: her hopes for schooling, her friends, her mother, even her name. While everyone pampered Caroline, Wheeze (her sister's name for her) began to learn the ways of the watermen and the secrets of the island, especially of old Captain Wallace, who had mysteriously returned after fifty years. The war unexpectedly gave this independent girl a chance to fulfill her childish dream to work as a watermen alongside her father. But the dream did not satisfy the woman she was becoming. Alone and unsure, Louise began to fight her way to a place where Caroline could not reach.
Renowned author Katherine Paterson here chooses a little-known area off the Maryland shore as her setting for a fresh telling of the ancient story of an elder twin's lost birthright.
[from Goodreads]
 
Rating:   4 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Anyone who's ever felt isolated and alone
High point:  The captivating writing
Low point:  This novel makes the reader ache
Reader maturity:  10+
Favorite quotes:  "My beautiful and golden twin sister was adored by everyone except me--the one who should have loved her best."
"It is hard, even now, to describe my relationship to Caroline in those days...And yet, if we were not close, why did only Caroline have the power, with a single glance, to slice my flesh clear through to the bone?"

Jacob Have I Loved was one of the most emotional books I read in my younger years. To this day, it brings back those feelings of wistfulness and isolation experienced during the teen years.

Everything that Louise tries to do, her sister beats her at. Caroline is manipulative and selfish, so skilled at her vicious craft that the blame always ends up on Louise. It's unfair, it hurts, and there's nothing Louise can do about it...until she decides to do something she knows Caroline would never do.

She comes into her own, physically and emotionally, but setting out to do a man's work in the absence of any brothers. In the end, she realizes that she has to create something entirely hers that Caroline can never take away. It's bittersweet, the lengths that Louise goes to become her own soul and free herself from the bindings of being Caroline's lesser half.

Anyone who has ever felt distress over being bested, jealousy of a sibling or general discontent (and isn't that everyone?) can find something to relate to in Jacob Have I Loved.

Title:  Jacob Have I Loved
Author:  Katherine Paterson
Genre:  Teen Fiction, Family & Relationships
Year:  1980
Book Source:  Purchased

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Awards During an Awesome Week

As if my week weren't awesome enough already (I don't know how it can be topped!), I have some awards to put up on the blog!

I received the Prolific Blogger Award from OutnumberedMama at Busy Moms Who Love to Read.

Prolific Blogger Award


Julie at A Small Accomplishment awarded me with the Beautiful Blogger Award.

Beautiful Blogger Award


Most recently, Velvet at vvb32 Reads passed on the Most Amazing Follower Award to all of her followers! Wow. Isn't it gorgeous?

Most Amazing Follower


OutnumberedMama, Julie and Velvet--Thanks so much for thinking of me!!

Want to Read Wednesday: Before I Fall

What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all—looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined.

[from Goodreads]

This meme is hosted by Boy with Books. I'll be spotlighting books I want to read, whether they've been out for 10 years or won't be released for another 10 months.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review of The Morning Gift

Twenty-year-old Ruth Berger is desperate. The daughter of a Jewish-Austrian professor, she was supposed to have escaped Vienna before the Nazis marched into the city. Yet the plan went completely wrong, and while her family and fianc√© are waiting for her in safety, Ruth is stuck in Vienna with no way to escape. Then she encounters her father’s younger college professor, the dashing British paleontologist Quin Sommerville. Together, they strike a bargain: a marriage of convenience, to be annulled as soon as they return to safety. But dissolving the marriage proves to be more difficult than either of them thought—not the least because of the undeniable attraction Quin and Ruth share. To make matters worse, Ruth is enrolled in Quin’s university, in his very classes. Can their secret survive, or will circumstances destroy their love?
[from Goodreads]
 
Rating:  4 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Anyone looking for a sweet love story, WWII romantics
High point:  The timing and layout of the misunderstandings
Low point: Ruth's character is inconsistent in the last few chapters
Reader maturity: 15+

The Morning Gift is a historically centered love story between Austrian Ruth and the English professor Quin. He marries her quickly so that she can be safely reunited with her family, intending to annul the marriage once her citizenship papers have come through. Along the way they have many misunderstandings, skillfully portrayed through Ruth's thoughts on the situation and then through Quin's.

Ruth loves life, loves beauty, loves learning and imparts her passion to those surrounding her without coming off as a Pollyanna. Quin is much more level-headed and takes everything in stride, at least until he realizes Ruth is something more than a friend. The evolution of their relationship and feelings for each other is gradual, creeping up on the reader as slowly as it creeps up on the two of them.

The surrounding cast amuses, as well as adding heart to the novel. Through the older generation, the reader learns about Hitler's actions and the hardships the persecuted in England had to go through. The novel is hardly a comedy, but it has its moments while outlining Ruth and Quin's relationship and describing the quirks of Ruth's family and fellow refugees. Ms. Ibbotson's writing is beautiful and flowing, capturing the light and laughter of Ruth and placing it gently beside her emotional anguish.

If you're looking for a simple, light love story or if you're interested in historical fiction, The Morning Gift is a great combination of the two.

Title:  The Morning Gift
Author:  Eva Ibbotson
Genre:  Teen Fiction, Romance & Friendship
Year:   1993
Book Source:  Purchased

Monday, April 26, 2010

Penitence Trailer

Check out the Penitence trailer!

Book Questionnaire

I grabbed this from Brooke Reviews, who got it from Gail Carriger's blog. I thought it would be a fun way to give you a better idea of my taste in books.

Rules of this survey - no two answers can be the same book, all books must be fiction.
  1. Book next to your bed right now:  The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness and English Trifle by Josi S. Kilpack (for review)
  2. Favorite series:  The Mediator by Meg Cabot...or maybe the Heather Wells mysteries by Meg Cabot...or the Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray
  3. Favorite book:  I Sing the Body Electric! by Ray Bradbury
  4. The one book you would have with you if stranded on a desert island:  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (this is my favorite book too, but I'm not supposed to repeat)
  5. Book/series you would take with you on a long flight:  Harry Potter 1-7 by JK Rowling, especially book 7 because I've been reading it for over a year now. Even though I like it, I just can't get into it.
  6. Worst book you were made to read in school: There was one in college about getting stuck in a clothes rack...but in high school, definitely The Republic by Plato. It took me a whole summer to get through and even after weeks of class discussion, I'm not sure what it was about.
  7. Book that everyone should be made to read in school:  Fahrenheit 451 (I don't really like it, but it's got a great message and introduced me to Bradbury) or Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  8. Book that everyone should read, period:  The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  9. Favorite character:   Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice
  10. Best villain:  Circe from the Gemma Doyle trilogy
  11. Favorite concept series:  I've been on a dystopian/steampunk kick lately...
  12. Favorite invented worldthe London of Soulless--vampires, werewolves and parasols
  13. Most beautifully written bookHeavenly by Jennifer Laurens or The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
  14. Funniest book:  The Year my Life Went Down the Loo by Katie Maxwell
Which of the above questions was hardest to answer? 10 and 13 (and, of course, 3 and 4 were a toss-up)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wannabe Writers #13

Wannabe Writers is a meme created by Sarah of Confessions of the Un-published!

One of my goals right now is to move my literary ambitions out of the box and onto the shelf, by which I mean that I no longer want to ignore  how   much I enjoy writing. I love the idea of this meme, and I'll quote from Sarah's post here:

I often find myself searching the web for information during my struggles as a new writer.   So I wanted to start a place where us future young-adult authors can come together to  ask those questions, share our stories, and get feedback.


I'm  going to be offline for the day, but I will read your lovely comments and get back to y'all on your blogs ASAP next week. :-)

Where I am in the writing process:  This week was pretty exciting. I was contacted by an agent who read my first 100 words in a contest I entered, and, though I didn't win, they piqued her interest. She asked me to send a query and my first 10 pages so...I did! Of course! :-D I'm pragmatic to a fault at times, and I realize that this probably isn't my break (Who gets agented on the first try???), but I'm excited to see how it turns out. Hopefully I'll get some good feedback on either my query letter or the first section.

Umm...yeah, I spent some time trimming the fat off my query letter (again!). Every time I look at it, I see something else extraneous and chop it off! Of course, after that, I sent it off! While I added a little to Novel #2, I didn't have a whole lot of time to write because I had to take my dad to get stitches after he had a bit of a construction accident...and THEN I spent a day in my very first writer's conference/workshop. It wasn't anything I hadn't already read somewhere, but the vocal presentation of the information was somehow helpful, like it enabled my brain to file away certain things that it couldn't before.

Bottom line--I didn't write as much as I wanted, but I had some other cool writer-y experiences this week.

My current problems:  I'm having serious interest issues. It's not writer's block or a lack of ideas, and if I can get myself to sit down and write, my fingers fly. However, the past few weeks (excuses aside), I've been more interested in reading than reading, which is great for the review section of the blog but not so good for my more serious writing aspirations. What do you do when you're just not interested? 

Question(s) this week:  What do you give up in order to write? 

I was just thinking about this earlier in the week! I give up my reading time, which is, I think, why my brain is rebelling right now. I can either read or write, and finding the balance between the two takes work.

I give up any hope for a normal existence, not that I was particularly normal before I started writing regularly...

I give up sleep on those nights when I'm on fire and going to bed would mean death to a dream.

I give up nice fingernails from banging the tips on the keyboard when I'm too sleepy to type with proper form.

I give up any time I might have to pursue my other hobbies, like playing the piano.

I give up my boredom when I'm waiting at the store or the doctor's office. That's prime plotting time!

I give up my worries. When I write, I'm free.

Supernatural Saturday: Review of Chosen

Dark forces are at work at the House of Night and fledgling vampyre Zoey Redbird’s adventures at the school take a mysterious turn.  Those who appear to be friends are turning out to be enemies.  And oddly enough, sworn enemies are also turning into friends.  So begins the gripping third installment of this “highly addictive series” (Romantic Times), in which Zoey’s mettle will be tested like never before.  Her best friend, Stevie Rae, is undead and struggling to maintain a grip on her humanity. Zoey doesn’t have a clue how to help her, but she does know that anything she and Stevie Rae discover must be kept secret from everyone else at the House of Night, where trust has become a rare commodity.  Speaking of rare: Zoey finds herself in the very unexpected and rare position of having three boyfriends. Mix a little bloodlust into the equation and the situation has the potential to spell social disaster.  Just when it seems things couldn’t get any tougher, vampyres start turning up dead. Really dead. It looks like the People of Faith, and Zoey’s horrid step-father in particular, are tired of living side-by-side with vampyres.  But, as Zoey and her friends so often find out, how things appear rarely reflects the truth…
[adapted from Goodreads]

Rating:  1 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Teen girls, vampire aficionados
High point:  Slightly different take on the classic vampire tale
Low point:  Immature writing style and predictable relationships
Reader maturity: 17+

Chosen was really hard for me to get through. I sped through it, just wanting it to be over with. The sad thing is that P. C. and Kristin Cast aren't bad writers and the story is decent, but the execution, particularly in Chosen, leaves a lot to be desired.

One of my complaints about Marked and Betrayed was that they have a lot of needless mature content and they use crass terms to describe the "mean" characters. To me, in Chosen, the main character was described by those words far better than the token mean girl. At least the mean girl changes for the better! Zoey falls...and falls fast.

That brings me to a new complaint. In the previous two books, Zoey made some dumb decisions, but she also showed some character growth. In Chosen, she floats along, being tugged around by whichever guy she decides is hotter (which is whichever one she's with at the time) and worries faintly about being abandoned by her friends but not enough to actually explain to them why they found her in some less than honorable situations. I found it incredibly frustrating that her maturity went into a back-slide.

On the up-side, mean girl Aphrodite turns out to be pretty okay, which was hinted at in Betrayed. I would like to get to see more of her in the next book. 

Betrayed was a step up from Marked, but Chosen loses any upward progress made by its preceding novel. I still have Untamed to read as part of the four book set, but it's going to have to be amazing to get me to continue the series.

Title:  Chosen
Author:  P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Genre:  Young Adult Horror and Suspense
Year:  2008
Book Source:  Received as gift

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Friday 56: Dark Visions: The Strange Power

Closest Book:  Dark Visions:  The Strange Power

Author:  L. J. Smith
Page 56, sentence 5:  "She was more than half expecting Marisol to say, 'What are you talking about?'--which would mean that it had all been a dream. But instead Marisol shook back her mahogany hair and said, 'Oh, that. Didn't you get it? That was a joke.' 'A joke?'"







Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
*Post a link along with your post back to Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Book Blogger Hop 4/23

 The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books so that readers and bloggers can get to know each other a little better.
In Jennifer's words:
This is a weekly event where book bloggers and readers can connect to find new blogs to read.  It's a great way to network with other bloggers and make new friends!  Every day I seem to find another book blog that I start following. In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blogger Hop to give us all bookies a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed!
So head over to the Blog Hop and have some fun! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Want to Read Wednesday: Dark Flame

At the start of this mesmerizing new installment of the Immortals series, Ever is helping her friend Haven transition into life as an immortal. But with Haven drunk on her new powers and carelessly putting them all at risk, their friendship becomes more and more strained. At the same time, Ever delves deeper into magick in order to get control over her enemy Roman and free Damen from his power. But when the spell she casts on Roman backfires, she’s bound to her deadliest enemy. Frantic to reverse the spell the moment the moon enters a new phase, she finds her efforts are fruitless—there’s a strange, foreign pulse coursing through her, one that propels her toward Roman. Desperate to break free of this terrible curse before Damen or the twins can discover what she’s done, she turns to Jude and delves deeper and deeper into dark magick, ultimately risking everything she knows and loves—including Damen.
[from Goodreads]

This meme is hosted by Boy with Books. I'll be spotlighting books I want to read, whether they've been out for 10 years or won't be released for another 10 months.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Review of Incarceron

Incarceron -- a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery. It is a terrifying mix of high technology -- a living building which pervades the novel as an ever-watchful, ever-vengeful character, and a typical medieval torture chamber -- chains, great halls, dungeons. A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison -- a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists. But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device -- a crystal key, through which they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn's escape is born ...
[from Goodreads]
 
Rating:  4.5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Steampunk junkies, dystopian fiends and fantasy fans
High point: Incarceron--it never ceases to amaze
Low point: Some of Claudia's story dragged
Reader maturity: 13+

Incarceron is a wondrous blend of science fiction, fantasy and steampunk, all whirled together in a dystopian society, where the rich don't have to abide by the rules. The commoners are required to dress and live according to an old-fashioned code of conduct and technology, while the wealthy can afford contraband medicines to fight the old-fashioned sicknesses. In this land, there exists a prison, Incarceron, a social experiment of epic proportions, gone wrong behind the prying eyes of those Outside. Claudia, the Warden's daughter, discovers a key and through it is able to talk to Finn on the Inside. Claudia tries to escape a prison of her own as Finn fights for his freedom from Incarceron.

I loved every minute of Incarceron! The book took me some time to finish because I was trying to draw out my enjoyment of it. Claudia is a headstrong and willful character, and the reader learns about her strengths and ambitions slowly. She starts out two-dimensional, the face that she shows the world, but quickly reveals herself to retain her humanity. Finn was the more interesting of the two, as the reader tries to piece together his past along with him. His adventures and travel companions were also more entertaining and dangerous than Claudia's.

Parts of the ending were predictable, especially those regarding the Queen's behavior, but the ending as a whole was a grand finale, leaving the reader satisfied but eager for the sequel, Sapphique.

Incarceron is both an epic-style read and a fun one. The world is completely different from our own, but we're not tugged along on a gut-wrenching journey. Part of the fun is figuring what's going to happen next and trying to discover the mysteries of Incarceron and the Outside before the Claudia and Finn do. I can't wait to get my hands on Sapphique!

Title:  Incarceron
Author:  Catherine Fisher
Genre:  Teen Fiction, Fantasy
Year:  2010
Book Source:  Won from Loves to Read

Monday, April 19, 2010

Getting to Know: Chi

I found this on QueryTracker and thought I'd showcase some of the characters from Novel #1 in an attempt to make sure they're different enough from one another. Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the characters, per their requests.
  1. How old are you?  18
  2. If the house burned down, what one thing would you want to take with you?  My medicine book.
  3. Describe your hands.  My hands are smooth, the color of warm honey latte. They are powerful healers, beautiful. I do many wonderful things with these hands.
  4. Describe your nightstand, dresser, or bathroom counter. What’s on top of it? In it?  My nightstand holds my medicine book, a glass of water and a flashlight.
  5. What is your favorite food?  Mmm, my mother's cozido √† portuguesa.
  6. Describe your economic/political status.  I was born in South America to American parents. They sent me away to school after my mother decided I was getting too wild for my own good. Currently, I am...well, I suppose you could say I fly under the radar.
  7. Where do you have a scar or birthmark? Describe circumstances surrounding your scars. I have no scars, but I bear the marks of my family, brilliant white scrollwork tattoos from my neck to my wrists.
  8. What is the last book you read? What did you think of it?  Things Fall Apart by Chenua Achebe. It is the current reading material for the students I teach. I find it brilliant and very moving.
  9. Do you have an embarrassing habit?  No, of course not. (Zee:  She's not kidding, either.)
  10. Give one vivid memory of a parent or parental figure.  My mother and father danced together with the other villagers under bright stars. The whole world spun, launching our spirits into the sky to be free for the coming year.
  11. What is a dream (in sleep) you often have?  My great-great-grandmother was a medicine woman, and she comes to me sometimes from the land beyond to impart wisdom and guide my way.
  12. Do you have a lifelong dream or aspiration?  To be of service to mankind.
  13. How do you go to sleep, and how do you wake up? (i.e. position in bed, etc.)  I fall asleep listening to sounds of silence in my swamp and wake up to the chirping of birds and laughter of children.
  14. What is the last thing you wrote?  A lesson plan.
  15. What grosses you out?  Selfish people.
  16. Who is the person you like the least? Why?  Either the Ferraras for trying to kill my best friend or Jay, for being the immature imbecile he always was.
  17. Tell me about the last time you cried.  I do not cry.
  18. What is something you feel guilty about?  Nothing. I learn from my mistakes and move on.
  19. Describe what you do when you look in a mirror.  White-blond hair, caramel skin and sparkling eyes. My tattoos glow from within and undulate under the noonday sun.
  20. Describe yourself sitting in your favorite spot.  My favorite spot is underneath a weeping willow, where I am hidden and find moments of respite from the pain of the poverty surrounding me.
  21. Tell me about a very treasured item. My medicine book was passed to me from my grandmother, who received it from her grandmother.
  22. Do you have a nervous tic or habit?  No, of course not. (Zee:  When she's angry, her dreadlocks writhe like snakes.)
  23. Tell me about your siblings…if you have them.  I have none.
  24. What is your favorite smell?  Saffron and cinnamon...but separately.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Wannabe Writers #12

Wannabe Writers is a meme created by Sarah of Confessions of the Un-published!

One of my goals right now is to move my literary ambitions out of the box and onto the shelf, by which I mean that I no longer want to ignore  how   much I enjoy writing. I love the idea of this meme, and I'll quote from Sarah's post here:

I often find myself searching the web for information during my struggles as a new writer.   So I wanted to start a place where us future young-adult authors can come together to  ask those questions, share our stories, and get feedback.


I'm  going to be offline for the day, but I will read your lovely comments and get back to y'all on your blogs ASAP next week. :-)

Where I am in the writing process:  I picked up the pace this week! It wasn't my best week ever, but there was marked improvement. After getting some feedback about my new opening, I was trying to figure out how to rework it (and getting very frustrated), and then I realized that my old opening might be better...Everything regarding that particular item is extremely muddled up in my head. Finally, I just sent the blasted manuscript off to my beta reader to let her give me her opinions/suggestions. I thought she might have some better ideas since she's read the 63,000 words after the opening. 

Oh, yeah, I also did some work on the other novel. Love it! I'm starting to worry that the 2nd half of it could be a novel in its own right though. Surely I didn't write 30,000+ words of introduction??


My current problems:  My thoughts are all muddled up. I can't figure out how to fix anything because I can't get a clear picture of the problem. Feedback has been helpful, but it refuses to settle down and organize itself neatly in my brain so I can work with it.


Question(s) this week:  Character descriptions. How do you describe a characters appearance? And how do you work it into a story without making it sound fake? How much is too much? Why can't I just say "she had blue eyes blond hair" the end? And where do you work it into a story? When your MC (main character) first meets said character? And where do you work this in for your MC? And do you even need to work this in for your MC?

There are lots of ways to introduce character descriptions, but please...don't use the mirror method. I've found myself laughing of late every time I read a book where the character stops to study him/herself in the mirror. Just...say...no!

In my first novel, when the MC meets some of the other characters, she's in awe of how gorgeous they are when compared to her so she studies them pretty deeply--hair, eyes, nose, mouth, build, etc... In my second novel, the MC is much more confident and the descriptions are pretty brief, like things you would take in when trying to tie names to faces--hair and eye color, height, clothes, etc. The amount of description depends on the MC's personality--how much they would notice and what they would consider important.

As for describing themselves, Zee (from Novel #1) hates her appearance so it comes up when she's being self-deprecating. She doesn't stare at herself in the mirror (see above!), but when she's ruminating, she obsesses. In Novel #2, the description comes up when my MC is explaining something about her world and fitting in, creating a natural opening to discuss two aspects of her appearance. A few other descriptions are sprinkled throughout the novel. Hair texture, height and build happened to show up later on. They were simply part of the scene;  I didn't set out to include them.

I think it's important to have a general description of the MC. I've read some novels where they were left as blank slates (to reflect the reader, I guess), but it left the MC a little...well, blank. To me, real people think about how they look from time to time. I don't need to know about every freckle or scar, but a few descriptions give me the scaffolding to build my own image.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Friday 56: The Once and Future King

Closest Book:  The Once and Future King

Author:  T. H. White
Page 56, sentence 5:  "Tilting was a great art and needed practice. When two knights jousted they held their lances in their right hands, but they directed their horses at one another so that each man had his opponent on his near side."







Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
*Post a link along with your post back to Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Book Blogger Hop 4/16

 The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books so that readers and bloggers can get to know each other a little better.
In Jennifer's words:
This is a weekly event where book bloggers and readers can connect to find new blogs to read.  It's a great way to network with other bloggers and make new friends!  Every day I seem to find another book blog that I start following. In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blogger Hop to give us all bookies a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed!
So head over to the Blog Hop and have some fun! Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Amaranthine Review: Island of the Blue Dolphins

In the Pacific there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea. Around it, blue dolphins swim, otters play, and sea elephants and sea birds abound. Once, Indians also lived on the island. And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind.
This is the story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away. But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building a shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs. It is not only an unusual adventure of survival, but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.

[from Goodreads]
 
Rating:   5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  MG readers
High point:  Karana and her dog
Low point:  The middle of the book is a little slow for younger readers
Reader maturity: 8+
Favorite quotes:  "Below me Rontu was running along the cliffs barking at the screaming gulls.P-elicans were chattering as they finished the blue water.But suddenly I thought of Tutok, the island seemed very quiet."
"They were black eyed like a lizard's and very large and, the eyes of a lizard, could sometimes look sleepy."

Island of the Blue Dolphins follows Karana, an Indian girl accidentally left behind on her home island by everyone she ever knew. She's resilient and strong, building a safe home for herself and training a wild dog as a companion. This is one of those books that stays with the reader forever and can be enjoyed time and time again.

It's hard to float a story on the actions of one person (and her dog), but Scott O'Dell manages it, keeping the reader invested in Karana's fate through storm and sickness. She's a very thoughtful character, as well as intelligent. Her cleverness keeps her alive on the island, as she hides from hunters and seeks refuge from hurricanes.

We're invited into her deep thoughts, about life and family and her struggles to find the courage to keep going. Her scarce human interactions, once finished, leave her lonelier than ever, but she remains calm and determined. Island of the Blue Dolphins is a fabulous book for children up through young adults. Younger readers will enjoy Karana's adventures on the island, and older readers will see the world in a slightly different way.

Title:  Island of the Blue Dolphins
Author:  Scott O'Dell
Genre:  Children's Fiction & Literature
Year:  1960
Book Source:  Purchased

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cleverly Inked Birthday Phenomenon

I'm certainly not the first to spread the word, but in case you hadn't heard yet...Cleverly Inked is giving away a ton of books for her birthday! Up for grabs are:

The Owl Keeper: The Owl Keeper hardback  
2 bookmarks  
2 postcards  
4 business cards  
ceramic hand-painted owl from Argentina

Janni Lee Simner

Bones of Faerie paperback Thief Eyes hardback
Num8ers Hardback
Quaking paperack (signed)
Peace Magnet
Imagine keychain
Mousepad
14 Quaking tattoos
By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead hardback (signed)
Anti harm pin
beautiful crochet bookmark
Sea Change hardback (signed)
the Less-Dead hardback
2 Madapple hardback
7 I Heart You, You Haunt Me bookmarks (signed)
7 Chasing Brooklyn bookmarks (signed)
5 Three Rivers Rising postcards (signed)
1 Class of 2010 bookmark (signed)
5 Karma book samplers (signed)
Forget-Her-Nots:
9 large bookmarks (signed)
6 small bookmarks
4 pins
7 postcards
1 Language of Flowers; Kate Greenaway used in the book by her MC (signed by Amy Brecount White)
5 The Secret Year bookmarks (signed)
1 Julia's miniature journal from The Secret Year
The Body Finder:
10 stickers
10 stickers
10 bookmarks (signed)
1 bag for books
25 And Falling, Fly bookmarks
25 And Falling, Fly Damned Tattoo's
The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren paperback (signed)
11 Lifted bookmarks
10 Miss Match/The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren bookmarks
2 Business Cards
Angel Star:
1 Angel Feather
6 bookmarks
2 Octagram cards
6 The Mark bookmarks (signed)

Joelle Anthony

Restoring Harmony:

3 postcards

3 magnets

3 business cards

3 post-its


Bryan Davis

3 Starlighter paperback (signed)

15 Starlighter bookmarks (signed)


Janette Rallison

My Double Life (ARC)


Jennifer Laurens

2 Heavenly paperback

1 Falling For Romeo paperback

1 A Season Of Eden paperback

2 Spiral Journals Real Angels DON'T Fall

3 Season Of Eden bookmarks

3 Heavenly bookmarks

1 T-Shirt Real Angels DON'T Fall

2 Posters


Natasha Friend
For Keeps (ARC)

Melissa De La Cruz

Van Alen Legacy; Blue Bloods Series book

Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus

2 Dedication (signed)US ONLY

2 The Real Real (signed)US ONLY


Adele Griffin

The Julian Game (ARC Signed)

The Knavehearts Curse; A Vampire Island Story paperback (Signed)


Beth Fantaskey

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side paperback (signed)


Jessica Leader

2 Nice and Mean bookmarks (signed)

Gail Carriger

Changeless book (signed)


Angie Frazier

5 Everlasting bookmarks (signed)
2 Everlasting pins

Shari Maurer

5 Change of Heart mini soccor balls


Meridi Myer
Titus and Atreus paperback (signed)
Titus and Atreus bookmark (signed)


Sarah Beth Durst

10 ICE postcards (signed)


Amy Huntley

The Everafter hardback (signed)

3 bookmarks (signed)


Elizabeth Scott 
2 Love You Hate You Miss You hardback (signed)

Maria Semple
This One is MINE paperback


Anne Spollen

Light Beneath Ferns paperback (signed)


Melissa Walker

Lovestruck Summer book (signed)


Chloe Neill
Firespell book (signed)


Jeaniene Frost

4 Night Huntress Series bookmarks

2 business cards

4 bookplates (signed)


Zetta Elliot

2 A Wish After Midnight paperback


Simone Elkeles

Perfect Chemistry paperback

Rules of Attraction hardback


Lisa Grace
Angel In the Shadows hardback (signed)

Makeup Glamour Brush Set from Mary Kay Cosmetics ($28)

Mary Kay Triple Action Lip Enhancer ($15)

Erica Hayes
Shadowglass; The Shadowfae Chronicles paperback

Shadowglass bookmark


Christine Johnson

6 Claire de Lune stickers


Catherine Fisher

4 Incarceron paperback (ARC)


Laura Bynum
5 Veracity hardback


Jenna Black
20 Glimmerglass bookmarks


Heidi R. Kling 14 Sea bookmarks

Barbara Dee

this is me from now on paperback

2 swag pouches (so cute)


 
Which breaks down to 
50  Wonderful Authors
53 books and too much swag to count!

Grand Prize winner get to choose 10 books Plus a Mega Swag pack

Second place winner will get to choose 8 books Plus a Mega Swag Pack

Third place Winner will get to choose 6 books Plus a Mega Swag Pack

Fourth Place Winner will get to choose 6 books Plus a Swag Pack

Fifth Place Winner will get to choose 5 books Plus a Swag Pack

Sixth Place Winner will get to choose 5 Books Plus a Swag Pack

Seventh Place Winner will get to choose 4 Books Plus a Swag Pack

Eight Place Winner will get to choose 4 Books Plus a Swag Pack

Ninth Place Winner will get the remaining 2 books Plus a Swag Pack.
Then it will continue on until they are all gone :)  

How will this work? The Grand prize winner will get to pick their choice of books first, Then the second place winner will choose. The the Third Place winner will choose and so on like that till no more books.



Ends 5/13.

Want to Read Wednesday: The Tension of Opposites

It’s been two years since Noelle disappeared. Two years since her bike was discovered, sprawled on a sidewalk. Two years of silence, of worry, of fear.

For those two long years, her best friend Tessa has waited, living her own life in a state of suspended animation. Because how can she allow herself to enjoy a normal high school life if Noelle can’t? How dare she have other friends, go to dances, date boys, without knowing what happened to the girl she thought she would share everything with?

And then one day, someone calls Noelle’s house. She’s alive.

A haunting psychological thriller taken straight from the headlines, The Tension of Opposites is a striking debut that explores the emotional aftermath of a kidnapping on the victim, and on the people she left behind.

[from Goodreads]

This meme is hosted by Boy with Books. I'll be spotlighting books I want to read, whether they've been out for 10 years or won't be released for another 10 months.