“Vixen”

04/28/2011 at 8:56 pm (book recommendation) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I know that I disappeared again.  I’ve been really busy at work, and since I’m going back home to the East Coast for a little over a week, I’m trying to get all caught up at my job.  Unfortunately, staying late and the like totally zaps my energy and kills my writing motivation.  I would like to say that I’ll be better about posting after this week, but I’m not sure if that will be the case while I’m at home.  So, sorry in advance for my potential silence next week!

In the mean time, here’s a book review/recommendation:

“Vixen” by Jillian Larkin

“Vixen” takes place during the Jazz age, or the age of the flappers in Chicago.  There are three main characters, and the story is told from each of their perspectives.

There’s Gloria, who has a pristine reputation and is about to be married off, but she wants to live the life of a flapper, so she ends up living a double life.  There’s her cousin, Clara, who used to be a big time flapper in New York City, but is living a lie in Chicago, pretending to be a good country girl.  And then there’s Gloria’s best friend, Lorraine, who is jealous of Gloria, yet she is trying desperately to hang onto their friendship as it slowly slips away.

I thought the style of writing in this book was really good, and everything was so vivid and easy to picture.  I liked how much each of the characters changed throughout the book, especially Lorraine, even though Clara was my favorite.  I am definitely going to go out and buy the sequel when it’s out.

On a typical scale, I would have to give “Vixen” 4 out of 5 stars.  It had everything going for it, but in the second half of the book there was a major turning point that I found a little unbelievable.  I also wasn’t too blown away by the ending.  I felt like some of the coincidences that were leading up to all the characters going to the same place felt a little forced.  But all and all, it was a really well written book, with some really great examples of character growth.  I would recommend it to anyone who likes young adult, historical fiction, and some good romance.

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Happy Belated Easter, or Any Other Holiday You Might Have Been Celebrating!

04/25/2011 at 8:02 pm (book recommendation, Moday Check In) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This past weekend was actually really productive for me.  Even if I didn’t get everything done that I had hoped to.  I did manage to get all the scenes that I felt needed work in my novel fixed up along with everything my critique group suggested to me.  So what that means is that as soon as I get feedback from my last test readers, I’m going to start sending out query letters!

Also, this weekend I took a small break from “Boneshaker” by Cherie Priest, the book I was reading last week, and started reading “Vixen,” by Jillian Larkin.  So far I really like it.  All the lies and tension building up between the main characters is really great.  I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes young adult historical fiction, although, I do think that this book was written for more of a female audience.

And just in case anyone was curious, just because I’m taking a small break from “Boneshaker” doesn’t mean that I don’t think that the book isn’t good.  It just means that it wasn’t what I was looking for when I started reading it.  I was looking for something a little more lighthearted with some romance.  But from what I’ve read of “Boneshaker,” it’s very well written with a really strong female protagonist.  Her son’s not too bad either.  So if you’re in the mood for steampunk, and zombies, give it a try.

Well, that and going to and Easter party was my weekend.  Did everyone else have a great weekend?

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Impromptu Book Review

04/13/2011 at 8:15 pm (book recommendation) (, , , , , , , , , )

I know I mentioned before that I was reading “The Unidentified.”  Well, I finished it.  In fact, I finished it a few days ago, but I wanted to think about it for a little while because I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about it.

 

I liked the book, and for the most part I thought it was well written.  The main character, Katey, better known as Kid, was very likeable, and the world she lived in was vivid and easy to picture.  I did not like one of Kid’s best friends, as I mentioned before too, but I believe the author made her intentionally not likeable.

 

What made me unsure about the book was its ending.  It felt a little rushed, introducing key information right before it was used for the resolution of the book.  I prefer it when that sort of information is shown way earlier in the book, and then brought back up again when it’s needed at the very end.  I also didn’t feel all that much chemistry between Kid and the guy who she seemed to end up with at the very end of the book.  They felt more like they were just friends than anything else.

 

I had a few other issues with the end of the book too, but we are talking about the last 25 or so pages.  For the most part, up until that point, “The Unidentified” was a very enjoyable read, and I would recommend it to pretty much anyone who likes a good distopian novel that concentrates on world building rather than action.  And since I’m pretty sure that this was Rae Mariz’s first book, I imagine her later books are only going to be getting better, so I’ll be keeping my eye out for some possible sequels.

 

On a typical scale, I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars for its good characters (well, mostly), great world building, and fun to read style of writing.

 

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“The Shifter”

04/11/2011 at 7:55 pm (book recommendation) (, , , , , , , , , )

“The Shifter”

By Janice Hardy

 

I know I’m not getting this up on Friday like I said I would, but I kind of got too busy on Friday to do really any blogging.  I had to head up to Sacramento to visit my sister for one of our last long runs before the marathon we entered, so I really didn’t get much done then.  But here’s my book recommendation for last week.

It’s been a little while since I’ve read “the Shifter,” but I loved the voice and personality of Nya, the main character.  Even when she’s faced with tough decisions her quirky personality shines through.  Plus all the other characters in this book have their own unique personalities as well that help keep the book moving along.

The setting of this book is very exotic, and very easy to picture.  The other thing that I found really neat was Nya’s unique magical ability of being able to shift pain from one person to another person.  It is because of this ability that Nya is thrust into dangerous and morally questionable situations, and it also because of this ability and her quick wits that she is able to get herself out of those situations, only to find herself worse off from where she started.

The basic plot of this book is that Nya’s sister, Tali is training to be a healer at the Healer’s Guild (something Nya can never do, since she can’t put pain into a of strange kind of rock that healers deposit it into after healing someone; all she can do is shift it into another person).  While at the Healer’s Guild Tali goes missing, along with many other healers, so Nya has to try and find her.  What makes the situation harder is the fact that her strange magical ability has attracted the attention of the Healer’s Guild and the Pain Merchants, which are the two most powerful groups in the city.  With healers going missing, that’s not the sort of attention that she wants to have.

There’s a lot more to it making Nya’s situation more urgent than just that, but I don’t want to give too much away.  If you want to find out more you’ll just have to read it.

The ending of this book I felt was fairly strong, even though it was a first book in a series, and when I was done I eagerly was waiting for the sequel.  My biggest complaint is, when is the third book coming out?!  I would also like to note that “The Shifter” is an all right title, but Janice Hardy’s original title “The Pain Merchants” sounds much more intriguing.

Even though I’m only really supposed to be recommending a book because of its interior content, I have to admit I would have totally bought this book for it’s awesome cover as well.  I love it!  But that’s a post for my illustrator blog when I finally get that up.

To wrap this post up, I’d give “The Shifter” five out of five stars.  I loved the plot, the characters, and the setting.  I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

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Bad Best Friend Syndrome

04/07/2011 at 8:41 pm (book recommendation, Reading) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

The other day I started reading “The Unidentified” by Rae Mariz, and for the most part I really liked it.  The style of writing is easy to get into, the main character, Kid is someone I can relate to, and one of her best friends is likeable too…but it’s her other best friend who I have the problem with.

 

Ari, the bad best friend, is flighty and unreliable, and she only has one common interest with Kid, and even that she doesn’t seem really all that into anymore.  Plus, I don’t think Ari sounds like a good person.  I get the feeling that she would totally sell out her friends to achieve her goals.  So I don’t really understand why Kid is friends with her in the first place.

 

The thing is, “The Unidentified” is not the first book that I’ve read that has this bad best friend syndrome.  Earlier this year I also read “XVI” by Julia Karr, and it had the same problem.  There was also “The Iron Thorn” by Caitlin Kittredge that I was reading and put down for a while, and in that book I just wanted to reach into the pages and punch the main character’s best friend in the face.

 

So, what’s up with this?  Has anyone else come across this trend, or am I just gravitating to the only books like it?

 

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Weakened from the Weekend

04/04/2011 at 5:11 pm (Moday Check In) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

It has now been two days since I’ve posted a new blog post, and what I’ve accomplished in that time is really not as much as I had hoped.  I wanted to adjust my novel so my main character showed the growth she was lacking that I talked about, and I also wanted work on some of the other suggestions that my critique group gave me, but unfortunately, the weekend was not nearly long enough.

 

I did manage to write another section in the novel I’m working on with my sister, so now that is over 50,000 words.  Yay!  And I fixed up a different section of my novel.  It was one of those sections that I thought I had changed a while ago, but must’ve just made a mental note to change it, then promptly forgot.  Oops.

 

It’s actually a scene that I’m quite proud of.  It’s real creepy, was totally not planned at all, and just sort of wrote itself.  But after it wrote itself, I kind of sort of forgot a tiny, little detail that would make the whole thing make sense.  But now it’s all fixed, so I’m happy.  But seriously, the scene gave me chills just writing it, so I can’t wait to share it with everyone.

 

This weekend I read most of “The Secret Hour” by Scott Westerfeld.  Since it’s not a particularly long book I had hoped to finish it, but I’ll just have to do that tonight after I’m done posting this.  I do like the book so far, because it has a really unique idea, but I’m not loving it.  So when I’m done with it, I’m probably not going to go rushing out to buy the next two books in the series, but I’ll talk a bit more about that when I do finish it.

 

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a serious book buying addiction.  It’s even worse than my addiction to Cadberry Cream Eggs!  And sadly, all the Borders within reasonable distance of my apartment are closing down, so I’ll only have a used bookstore and a Barnes & Nobles to feed my addiction.  In the mean time though, I’ve been taking clear advantage of the liquidation sales, and I spent a large part of my Saturday at Borders trying to narrow down how many books to get at that time.  I ended up with four for under $20.  🙂

 

The final thing I did this weekend was run 22 miles.  It was not fun.  The park that I went running in was crowded and hot, and the only thing that made the run alright was that my sisters, and brother and law were suffering with me, and my boyfriend joined us for the first part of it.  That, and I had a Cadberry Cream Egg waiting for me for when the run was over.  But seriously, those 22 miles, and the after affects of them took up pretty much my whole Sunday, and that’s what I blame for my lack of writing at that time.

 

Well, that was pretty much it for me this weekend.  Did anyone else get some good writing or reading in?  Any books they would suggest I look for in Borders before it’s gone?

 

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“Starcrossed” My First Book Review

04/01/2011 at 7:56 pm (book recommendation) (, , , , , , , , , )

"Starcrossed"

“Starcrossed”

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

 

This being my first Friday book recommendation, I’m not exactly sure how I should go about doing this.  What I am sure about is the book I have chosen for today.

 

I finished reading “Starcrossed” about a couple of weeks ago, and I loved it!  I loved it so much that the first opportunity I got after finishing it I jumped online to try and see when the next book was coming out.  But my search was sadly fruitless, and I couldn’t even find the title of the next book, let alone a date it’s supposed to be out by.

 

It’s about a thief named Digger, and she’s pretty much on the run (as a lot of thieves are in fantasy books), but she manages to get herself in as a handmaiden to a noble girl.  While she’s living her double life, one of the nobles finds out about her being a thief, and uses that information to blackmail her into working for him.

 

For those of you who are like me and love a good young adult fantasy novel with a strong female protagonist, pick up “Starcrossed” and give it a read.  You will not be disappointed.  Digger is a great main character, although she can be a little cold at times, do to all the hardships she has had in her past, and she is surrounded by a great cast of supporting characters, all with their own unique, individual personalities.  The setting is very easy to picture, and I find it incredibly fascinating that the world has multiple moons.  I also like how the magic is very important to the story, but it doesn’t overshadow all the other subtle details weaved into the plot.

 

“Starcrossed” caught me a little by surprise.  I was expecting a story that was lighthearted and full of humor, but even though it turned out to be a little darker than I expected, in no way was I disappointed.  I would definitely give his book five out of five stars.

 

I hope this review/recommendation was helpful without giving anything too important away, and I’ll have another book to suggest to read next week!

 

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Development & Growth

03/31/2011 at 9:44 pm (Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Not all that long ago, my critique group ripped apart…I mean gave some nice, helpful suggestions for chapters 7 and 8 of my novel.  The main suggestion that I took away from the whole thing was that my main character should have undergone more character growth and development by that point.  So I went home afterwards, shed a few tears over the fact that my novel is not perfect, YET, then I sat down and started thinking about character growth in other stories I’ve read and loved, and how I should show it in my novel.

One of the books I’ve read that I feel has some good character development is “Alanna: the First Adventure” by Tamora Pierce.  In this book, Alanna has to develop confidence in her abilities as a warrior, and face off with the bully who torments her throughout most of the beginning of it.  A little later in the book, she has to face her fear of her own magic in order to save a friend.

It doesn’t sound too complicated until I start thinking about how I should do something similar in my novel.  Also, on a side note, if you have not read the Alanna series (“Lioness Quartet”) you are really missing out.  I loved those books along with her “Wild Magic” books as I know I’ve mentioned before.

Now for character growth in my book, I would say that the biggest fault that my main character has is her inability to get close to people and develop real relationships.  Sure she gets along with everyone all right, but there’s no one she would actually call a friend.  So, I guess the easiest way to show growth is maybe have her admit to having developing feelings for the guy she works for.

Another option would be to give her some sort of fear or weakness to overcome towards the beginning of my novel, but I’m not sure I really want to go and do that since I like my main character the way she is and that may take a whole lot more reworking than is probably necessary.  I might take another look at my beginning later to see what faults she has to work with though, but I do think having her develop a real relationship with someone would be the way to go.  Has anyone else run into this problem while working on their novels too?

Just a quick side note to all my potential readers, I did not actually cry after my critique…ninja assassins don’t cry.  And another note, my critique group is really great, and I appreciate all the help and advise they have given me.

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