Month: November 2014

NaNoWriMo

Winner-2014-Twitter-ProfileOkay, so I lied. I forgot one very important countdown that I was participating in and that is NaNoWriMo and I just now finished.

I am officially a NaNoWriMo winner for the second year in a row!

50,000 words in 30 days on top of all my schoolwork was not easy but my final word count is 50,114 according to NaNo. Now I get a tee shirt and a cute little picture to put on my social media profiles. I am so happy about this accomplishment.

Unfortunately, it also means that I have nothing further to distract me from the goal of a finalized rough draft tonight for a paper due on Wednesday. *sigh*

Back to school work, I go.

Where is Home?

Home is where your heart is…

Callum McLaughlin

Upon a mountaintop so high
where crested eagles soar and fly,
we shall build a house of clay
that no amount of wind could sway.
But thunder cracks and rubble falls;
what good’s a house without four walls?

I’ll look upon your eyes in plea –
Where is home?

In oceans vast and stalwart blue
where everything feels fresh and new,
we could dive into the depths so deep
that no one but the great whales sleep.
But void of common scales and fins,
we’re doomed by curse of human skins.

I’ll look upon your eyes in plea –
Where is home?

Fires rage and villains chase;
we tell ourselves we’ll win this race
but still the floods and quakes and rules
chase away these hapless fools,
blinded by cement and brick;
a smoke and mirror worthy trick.

If only I had strength to see –
Home is by my…

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Official Countdown

‘Tis the season for counting the days. There are 26 of them until Christmas but that’s honestly not the most important one at the moment. Here’s what does count:

14 = the number of days until I will be in my home state again

2 = the number of presentations, papers, and finals exams (each) I have left to do

1 = the lightning talk I have to give on Wednesday for a class that I have come to seriously loathe

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd of course I’m excited about Christmas, but I’m more excited to get home and see all the wonderful snow that will hopefully be there when I arrive. Although not having another ice storm this year would also be nice.

Oh, I almost forgot:

21 = the number of days until I see my first Trans-Siberian Orchestra performance!! I just bought the tickets today and I cannot wait to experience that.

One of the many things I am looking forward to doing next month. The others include making the famous Webber gingerbread house, picking out and decorating the Christmas tree, and wrapping presents. All while relaxing in a house that smells deliciously of wood smoke and enjoying some peace and quiet while everyone is at work but me 🙂 So I guess having a short vacation will also be something I will enjoy!

Book Review: Pawn

pawnA dystopian that doesn’t feel so dystopian. As many of you know, I was having a bit of irritation with dystopians so I stopped reading them for while. Now, this doesn’t mean that I’m totally back on board with them but this book was pretty fantastic.

Aimee Carter is a great writer and she built a world within a world so well that I nearly forgot I was supposed to be fighting the good dystopian fight. The book follows Kitty Doe and the beginnings of a very dangerous game. Her eye color makes her a unique target for the “royal” family, it’s the one thing they can’t change, and the one thing they need to make her the perfect body double for Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece.

But Kitty has to give up everything she knows, including her boyfriend Benjy, to embark on the journey of being a VII for the rest of her life, instead of a III. And the only catch is that she needs to stop fanning the flames of the rebellion that the Lila has begun. It’s a fine line to walk but if it gets her off the streets and into a better life, isn’t that an acceptable price to pay?

As the plot whips and winds, you get completely sucked into the new world that is being built. Kitty doesn’t know all the dangers, like Katniss, nor is she allowed to chose her own life, like Tris. But that doesn’t stop her from trying to get what she wants and in that, I really admire her.

Kitty is strong and brave and loyal. She makes choices to protect the people she cares about, even if it means hurting herself in the process, although not to the extent that you want to smack her for being a whiny little twit. She learns her new role and place in society and embraces it as much as she has to in order to survive in the wonderfully screwed up family that is the Harts.

And of course, what YA book is complete without a love interest? Although the love triangle in this book wasn’t as pronounced, that made it well done. Knox is engaged to the real Lila Hart so Kitty must convincingly play the part of his fiance, all the while she wishes to do nothing more than run off with Benjy. Knox treats her well, however, and doesn’t give any indication that he wants more than she is offering. After all, Lila didn’t want to marry him either.

An overall good book that kept me turning the pages, there are many kinds of love in this world and Kitty knows quite a few of them before it’s done. There is action and back-stabbing, attempted murder and saving graces. All of this is wrapped into a time and place that could become our own one day. The cost of freedom is high and maybe the world would be better if everyone was assigned a place…

Goodreads rating: 4 stars

My personal rating: 84

  • Writing style – 9
  • Plot – 8
  • Dialogue – 8
  • Personality of Main Character(s) – 8
  • Love story – 7
  • Invokes emotion – 9
  • Synopsis accuracy – 9
  • Consistent level of interest – 9
  • Stays on topic – 9
  • Accuracy of genre/genre blending – 8

Happy Thanksgiving

Just wanted to take a moment and wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving. I know the day is almost over and some of you might be covered in snow but today I am thankful for each and every one of you who follow this blog and listen to what I say and interact with me. I love writing and having people to enjoy that with in this community.

May this start to the holiday season bring you much joy.

…and may tomorrow bring my usual Book Review post 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday

top ten tuesdayIt might be late in the day but it’s never too late to do the top ten! November 25: Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR. Not sure if these are supposed to be winter themed or released in winter but here’s mine!

1) Captive by Aimee Carter – Just finished the first one and I can’t wait to read this next one. I’m hoping to savor it in between finishing finals next week!

red queen2) Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – I have been anticipating this release for months, especially after reading the tantalizing excerpt on Goodreads.

3) Heir of Fire by Sarah Maas – I’ve had this in my possession for a few days and have managed not to tear into it, an act of sheer will power, I assure you. Soon my torment will end and I will get to enjoy the 3rd installment of Throne of Glass.

4) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – One that has been on more lists than I care to recall. Hopefully, I will see it before the final movie hits theaters.

5) Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill – Ever since I read Horns, I have been itching for more Joe Hill and this one is making the list for that very opportunity.

6) Troubled Spirits by Teri Lee – A friend of my sister published this one and I’m excited to get my paws on a local author’s work, even if it’s not my usual banegenre.

7) Fairest by Marissa Meyer – Love, love, love The Lunar Chronicles. This is a bite to tide me over until I can finally have the pleasure of reading the actual book called Winter.

8) All Fall Down by Ally Carter – A new series to begin with the beloved Ally Carter, this time about a murder and a crazy girl, what could be more fun?

9) The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare – Bane is obviously one of the best characters Clare has ever had the pleasure to write so I can’t wait to see what stories he has to tell.

10) Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton – A new find about a world where nothing is what the protagonist thought it was…now this could get interesting.

Book Review: Snow Like Ashes

I don’t know about you but I enjoy a good book about a different world. Especially Primoria where thsnow ashesere is an entire kingdom that is in permanent winter! Not to mention ones that are dedicated to Spring, Summer, and Fall plus four others that get to appreciate all the rhythms of nature.

The book follows Meira and her exile: the life that has been cobbled together from the ruins of the Kingdom of Winter which was brutally taken over by Spring (ironic, yes?) sixteen years ago. She is with a ragtag band of rebels who managed to escape the labor camps that the rest of their people were forced into. Unfortunately, that means that they are responsible for intense and often frustrating burden of setting things right and giving Winter back to its people.

When half of the ancient locket containing the magic powers of their kingdom is found, Meria decides to disobey orders and go after it herself, creating more than one problem. But that’s not all the adventure in store for this young orphan. There is plenty of danger to be had in a world where magic and politics exist in spades.

If you want an action adventure story, one that isn’t about dystopia or the end of the world as we know it, if you want a love story about family and relationships that will knock the wind out of you on more than one occasion, if you want a strong female lead who never gives up, this book is for you.

Sara Raasch’s debut novel is amazing. It is well written, fast-paced, and makes you want to experience the world for yourself. Although I was disappointed that it contained a love triangle (as I’m rather sick of those), it was actually really well done. There wasn’t a ton of pining, longing, or indecision that lasted for 100 pages. Instead, Meira grudgingly accepts her fate time and time again, picks up the pieces of herself, and continues moving forward.

Meira is a great character who is far more capable than she thinks other people think she is. She is strong and willful, stubborn and courageous. There is fear but she doesn’t let that stop her. She takes risks and utilizes what she knows to be her best skills to gain the advantage for her kingdom. Truthfully, she is sometimes a pawn but even that won’t prevent her from doing what she thinks is necessary, even when she ends up in more trouble than if she had just listened.

The orphan is surrounded by interesting supports like Sir, her surrogate father who rescued her from the rubble of the capitol city, and Mather, the future king of Winter who she is desperately in love/best friends with, who help her in ways she doesn’t fully understand until the end of the book. She is also introduced to a handsome prince, his father–a selfish king, and the man who is trying to destroy everything the people of Winter have created, all of which shape various events in this book in their own way.

There is magic in these words and on these pages; it jumps out at you and won’t let go. There are plenty of secrets to go around and keep you on your toes plus a couple of twists that left me breathless, especially a character death. There is intrigue and mayhem, war and politics, often all happening at the same time. It’s a bit like Game of Thrones mixed with Eragon (minus the dragons) mixed with Legend: Sword fights, magic, and fighting for your country (kingdom).

If you liked The Lunar Chronicles, Shadow & Bone, and/or Throne of Glass, then this might be your next favorite addition to the bookshelf. It’s a book about fighting for what’s yours even if it’s been taken from you. About finding your identity within and your cultural identity from those who still knows what it means to be from there. It’s about knowing your worth even when others think you are worthless. And more than anything, it’s about finding a way to be true to yourself even when your life isn’t going as you planned.

Goodreads rating: 5 stars

My personal rating: 95

  • Writing style – 10
  • Plot – 10
  • Dialogue – 10
  • Personality of Main Character(s) – 9
  • Love story – 8
  • Invokes emotion – 9
  • Synopsis accuracy – 9
  • Consistent level of interest – 10
  • Stays on topic – 10
  • Accuracy of genre/genre blending – 10

Top Ten Tuesday

top ten tuesdayI’m officially slacking but I promise a day late won’t make me a dollar short so here’s the topic:

November 18: Top Ten Sequels I Can’t Wait To Get

Where do I even begin?  Not all of these are first books, some of them are series I can’t wait to continue. The first five are beginnings of new series and the others are ones that I’ve read more than one of and have new books coming out soon!

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch – I just finished this (and will have a review up tomorrow) and it is very well done. I loved the idea of a land of eternal winter (but not that bad kind like Narnia) and the twists and action kept me up reading at night.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu – Wow, wow, wow. If you haven’t read this yet, what are you waiting for? It’s dark and intriguing and sucks you in from the first page. Lu is superb and if you would like to know more check out my review.

Reviver by Seth Patrick – This is also a dark tale, similar in feel to Odd Thomas if you read those, about a guy who can communicate with the recently deceased and what means for his life. Fantastically done, for more info see my review.

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black – Clare teams up with a writing partner to bring a Harry Potter-esque book to life in a book way. It has magic and war and family ties. Want to know more? See my review.

The Rook (The Checquy Files) by Daniel O’Malley – What if you woke up and didn’t know who you were but your old self had left clues behind? In a world of magic, mystery, and intensity, Myfanwy isn’t a hero or a villain but desperately need to pretend everything is fine while hunting down whoever betrayed her at the ultra top secret government agency called Chequy. It’s a big long but worth getting into.

Capture The Flag by Kate Messner – I stumbled onto this book one day in the library and was unable to put it down. Three kids trapped in a snowstorm and the Star-Spangled Banner has gone missing, so what are they to do? Well have a romping adventure through the airport, obviously. It will make you laugh and jump and enjoy the ups and downs. Read it.

The Mortality Doctrine by James Dashner – If you have yet to read anything by Dashner or The Maze Runner just didn’t interest you, then try this series on for a try. It’s the future, not dystopia, and virtual reality. There are mysterious killings in the Sleep that happen in the Wake and one man might be behind it all. But in a fake world, how do you tell what’s real? Absolutely brilliant, see her for my review of the first book.

Finishing School by Gail Carriger – A finishing school where they teach you more than just how to drink tea and curtsey properly, that sounds like the place for Sophronia who is more interesting in climbing into dumbwaiters than coaches. The first book takes you on the whirlwind adventure in discovering her new school and place in society. After all, Mademoiselle Geraldine’s girls can’t marry (or kill) just anyone.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – If you haven’t heard of Cinder then you must be living under a rock. Everyone is revamping the classics, especially the fairy tales but few of them are doing it as well as Meyer. Her characters have depth and history and are interlocked in ways that you don’t expect. It is beautifully written, a real page-turner, and only slightly dystopian.

Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon – If you haven’t met Nick Gautier and you’ve been following my blog, we have serious issues. I don’t care if you start with this series or The Dark Hunters (which is actually the preferred starting point) but get reading some Kenyon. There is sex and mythology, New Orleans, hot guys who are badasses fighting on the side of good and mouthy Nick. This is the story of his youth which is why it’s better to start with The Dark Hunters so you understand a lot of it but this series is so amazing that I slam through them as fast as I can read and then regardless of how large they are, go back and reread.