Tuesday 28 June 2011

Pash, Pick or Pass hosted by Belle's Bookshelf

Pash, Pick or Pass is a meme hosted by Belle. If you've never played before, the idea is that you choose from a particular grouping of guys who you'd...well....pash, pick or pass on! This week's man meat comes from the world of True Blood. I have to put in a little bit of a disclaimer here because I've only watched a few episodes of True Blood and only because my husband made me so I'm only going off what I've seen so far plus these pics!

My Picks:

Pash: I will probably get raked through the coals for this but for me there is just something very 'Village of the Damned' about Alexander. Still it was between him or Stephen.
Pick: I don't know what it is but I seem to always prefer werewolves to vampires. Maybe it's that they're still alive...or the abs....

Pass: No comment required but I just cringe whenever he says "Sookaay"

Monday 27 June 2011

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

The Story:
Set in dystopian Chicago, Divergent tells the story of sixteen-year-old Beatrice or Tris as she later renames herself. Tris' world is divided into five factions, each embodying one particular virtue- Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent).  
        Once a year, every sixteen-year-old is tested on their aptitude for each faction and is given a choice as to which faction they wish to join. For Tris the tests only confirm her fears that she is different. Divergent.
        Torn between her Abnegation upbringing which tells her to be selfless and her natural instincts which want her to be brave, Tris risks everything and chooses to become Dauntless. During the following weeks of initiation, everything Tris knows about herself is put to the test and somewhere along she discovers that she is more than just the sum of her faction.

My Thoughts:
Let me dispel all the comparisons floating around the blogosphere right now and just say that for me, Divergent was nothing like The Hunger Games. Aside from the obvious dystopian theme and a strong female heroine, I thought the worlds were completely different. Tris' world seems less bleak to me despite the obvious oppressiveness of some of the faction's rules. The explanation of each faction is extremely vivid and I felt that for a while I was actually living in the darkness of the Dauntless compound training to be a Dauntless initiate. 
         Which brings me to my next point. Try not to be eating whilst reading this book because there is a lot of violence. I thought this aspect was very brave of the author. Normally in YA the fight scenes are semi-romanticized, but in Divergent it's all there page after page. And our heroine has a lot of it directed at her. 
        I'll be honest and say that I didn't know what to make of Tris to begin with. For the first half of the book, I found her to be dull to the point where I was kind of hoping that she was secretly some sort of cyborg. As the book progressed, Tris began to grow on me and I started to think that maybe her grey personality was a throwback from her upbringing in Abnegation. Slowly but surely, her reactions to the situations that she found herself in became surer and by the end of the book I was really rooting for her. I love a strong woman who will stick to her convictions and isn't always 'nice'. 
       I think the turning point in my dislike of Tris mostly happened because of her emerging feelings for her trainer Four. Four is without a doubt one of the most kick ass male characters in any book that I've read. Start running Mr Dimitri Belikov because you've got competition on your heels. It was so refreshing to read  about a romantic interest who has confidence in the heroine and believes in her ability. Four exhibits just the right amount of protectiveness without being overbearing and there is a depth to his character that speaks beyond his outwardly cold persona. The best thing about Tris and Four's budding romance is that there isn't another person getting in the way (read: I am over YA love triangles).
       Overall, I really enjoyed reading Divergent and am curious to see where the author will lead us in the next book.

What the?/Cover your eyes: Spoiler Alert
1. Did anyone else wonder where the trains came and went to?
2. I didn't understand some of the character's reactions sometimes. One minute Tris' dad is giving her a lecture about shooting people and the next he goes all commando....
3. I still have no idea what Divergent is exactly...

My image of Four:
Imagine Wentworth Miller minus 15 years and if you still can't see it, meh, it's Wentworth Miller! Sheesh.

Saturday 25 June 2011

Hunger Games Obsessiveness and My Handicap

OK, so one day into my new found writing challenge and the bearable dull pain in my right pointer finger becomes...well...unbearable. I realise I've been doing a lot of blog stalking lately, but do the writing gods really have to punish me with this infliction?

On a side note, I've run into a bit of a conundrum over the writing competition I entered. I was originally thinking I should write a 25,000 word monstrosity only to learn that last years winner had a total word count of 1000 words. What to do?

Without being able to write, I turned to obsessing over the Hunger Games instead and came upon this hilarious thread by Forever Young Adult. For anyone who is remotely interested in the great Peeta vs Gale debate, this is a must read.

I haven't finished Mockingjay yet, but I get the feeling that whatever happens (yes I have read every spoiler known to man) I will always remain:

Friday 24 June 2011

Working Weekend & Writing Comp

In the spirit of biting off more than I can chew, I have decided to enter a little council short story writing competition.

The catch is that I have less than a month to write roughly 25,000 and put them together in a way that not only makes sense but is good enough to win. It’s a bit of a pipe dream at the moment because I have serious doubts about being able to complete it on time.
So, to keep me motivated, I’ve added a little word count calculator to my blog and worked out that if I can write 1000 words a day, I should be finished in time. What am I writing about? Well, the competition scope is very broad but lately I’ve been inspired by this pic that I have been using as my profile so maybe something about fairies or water sprites.

If I don’t win, maybe I will post the whole story on my blog…although if I don’t win it might not be something anyone wants to read. 

To top it all off a friend from work has asked me to read and edit his fantasy novel. Which might be a good thing because if I'm reading I don't have to write and if I'm not writing I won't be tempted to check my blog every 5 minutes. I think I've developed scrollingfingeritis.

It's gonna be a heck of a busy weekend. TGIF!

Follow Friday (2)

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkie's View. It's a really fun way to get to know other bloggers and pick up a few new followers on the way.


This weeks question is: In light of the Summer Solstice, also known as Midsummer...let's talk about fairies. What is your favourite fair take or story that revolves around fae?

I would have to say that Cinderella is my favourite fairy tale. It had everything. A beautiful mistreated heroine, a fairy god mother, ugly step-sisters, a sinister step mother, Prince Charming, you name it!

The book that really brought my Cinderella nostalgia to mind is Ella Enchanted which is a bit of a retelling of the Cinderella story with a twist. Ella is a beautifully written headstrong heroine who doesn't wait around for Charming to save her. I know it's meant to be a child's book but sometimes you just gotta go with your inner child. 

Thursday 23 June 2011

Gone Pottering

It's official. I've gone a little bit crazy waiting for the last Harry Potter movie to come out. And with the announcement of Pottermore, I was literally hugging my knees and rocking back and forth waiting for the announcement.

Being the spoilerhound that I am, I googled all the possibilities and while I don't want to spoil it for anyone else, let's just say that I am glad that we live in a world of internet access. Cannot wait.

Until then, I thought I would put together a little homage to my favourite HP stylista Emma Watson. My has she grown.

Monday 20 June 2011

Editing is a MOFO

Had the day off today and fully planned to get stuck in to editing the last few chapters of my YA novel. Here's what I did instead:

Checked out these cool blogs


Tried not to read this book too quickly:

Tried to get through some of this book:

And watched these movies:

Lessons learned:
1. Book blogging/stalking is addictive
2. Ben Barnes should just be in everything. Period.
3. Magneto and Mystique rule all!!

As for editing? Maybe my writing workshop tomorrow night will inspire me.

Sunday 19 June 2011

Top 5 Supporting Characters

So I've been thinking a lot lately about some of the supporting characters in the novels I've been reading and how they are completely kick-ass awesome but tend to get left out of the limelight a little. This is my tribute to those characters who left a big impression despite their smaller roles (BEWARE- may contain spoilers).

I first thought of this post just after reading Last Sacrifice and it seems a little redundant now that Eddie is going to be a part of Bloodlines, but at the time I was seething. As much as I love Rose (my number 1 heroine), I couldn't for the life of me understand how the author could let her be OK with the fact that Eddie was thrown in jail. And hello Queen Lissa, try not to be so useless for once and get him the heck out! (as you can see I'm still holding on to some residual anger).
      Eddie is to me a mini Dimitri, minus the Russian accent and Strigoi experience. He's got it all. Dedication, loyalty, badass fighting skills, quiet thoughtfulness and a dead best friend he's guilty about not being able to save to give him the extra edge. I only hope that Bloodlines will cut poor Eddie some slack.

Image by Mellow Strawberry
Poor little Neville. I loved you from the start and while I agree with the Luna love that seems to have swept Harry Potter fans, you will remain my favourite. At first, I liked Neville because of his penchant for herbology as I'm a bit of an avid gardener and florist. But the more the books continued the more Neville came into his own. I had to suppress a little fit on the train when Neville joined Dumbledore's Army and by the end of Deathly Hallows there is no arguing with the fact that Neville is nothing short of a hero.
       Harry might be the famous Boy Who Lived but Neville had a tough time growing up as well. And he had to do it without the best friends and extra support.

It doesn't bode well for a character when the author doesn't give them a last name. You can probably tell by now that I have a bit of a weak spot for underdogs. Mathew was the first misfit to reach out to Elspeth when she arrived at Obernewtyn. Matthew can only be described as a hopeless optimist and a fiercely loyal friend. I was so looking forward to seeing his character develop and then rip! the author had him captured by slavers only to reappear as snippets of Elspeth's dreams.
           Disappointment couldn't accurately describe how I felt when this happened. Especially since his name wasn't even part of the character glossary in my copy of the fourth book in the series, though I'm hoping this was an error of some kind. Some internet sources have even started to speculate that Matthew is the Destroyer that Elspeth is fated to encounter in her search for the beforetime weapons. I refuse to believe this could be true. He will always be the little misfit boy with a lilting accent and a slight limp to me.

I don't know what it was about him but Thresh really hit a nerve with me. I was sad when the other tributes (even Cato and Clove) died but something about Thresh's death seemed so hollow. He received so little page time but every mention of his name spoke volumes for his character. District 11 had already given their thanks to Katniss for trying to save Rue and she told him so, but Thresh spared her life anyway.
      There was a bit of a Boo Radley feeling about Thresh and I like to think that his actions played a major part in Katniss' survival. I'll say this for the author, she sure knows how to pack a powerful character in a few pages. R.I.P Thresh. We will always remember your sacrifice.

OK. This last one is more me being wishful than anything else because Jenna has the potential to be absolutely rockin'. Instead, the author has her tailgating vibrant and sarcastic Sophie without having any of it rub off on her. I mean, come on lady! You are a freakin' vampire. Less of the pining and more of the fangs. PLEEEAASE! Jenna needs a big dose of WWBD (What Would Buffy Do?)
         I thought the trip to England would be a good backdrop for Jenna to really come into her own. Instead she just played house and made nice with another vampire. Huh? Huh? *tears hair out*
         Come on Jenna. I am expecting big things from you in the next installment. Please don't let me down.

So that's my list. Feel free to drop by and let me know which supporting characters get you going.

Over and Out.

Friday 17 June 2011

Follow Friday Newbie!

Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View. It's an amazing initiative and I'm so glad I found it because there are so many interesting bloggers out there!

This weeks question: Genre Wars! What's your favourite genre and which book in that genre made it your favourite?

This is a deceptively hard question. I would have to say that at the moment my favourite genre is dystopian because I am utterly obsessed with The Hunger Games. I'm sure this will change when I pick up my next book! 

I would love to hear your comments.

Happy hopping. 

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Random Rambling of a Procrastinating Writer

So you’ve probably figured out by now that I’m very new to this book blogging/review business. See lack of notable numbers of reviews.
I started the blog as a way to connect with other avid readers and to share my thoughts on the books that I’ve read that I can’t seem to stop obsessing over (Hunger Games Trilogy & Vampire Academy Series to name a few). It is also meant to be my outlet to share frustrations and triumphs along the road to (hopeful) publication but it’s fast becoming another writing project to me. Which is great for writing experience, but I keep getting distracted by all the other amazing blogs and reviews out there.
For example, I was reading Rebecca-books blog last night and then decided that I NEEDED to go and watch the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice again so there went the rest of the night. (BTW Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle ARE Elizabeth and Darcy. No arguments accepted).
I was probably one of those kids that got distracted by flashing lights and pretty colours because I seem to lose my train of thought very easily. Being connected to the internet 24/7 doesn’t help either. The sheer volume of book review blogs our there are mind boggling, but in a way comforting. Reading is not a dying pastime as many would have us believe.
I digress though, this post is meant to be about my work in progress (see how easily I get side-tracked?). Am I the only one who has an ideal about what being a writer involves? Possibly sitting in a chic coffee house with a laptop open, typing away diligently as the world rushes by? Instead I’m snatching a hour here and there between full time work, friends, family, tv and of course reading. No wonder I’m quickly descending into a stark raving insomniac.
Still, there’s a silver lining in there somewhere and that lining is an almost finished YA urban fantasy novel. Scary but also satisfying at the same time. Hopefully it won’t all be in vain.

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Review: Exile by Rebecca Lim

Title: Exile
Author: Rebecca Lim
Genre: Paranormal YA
Release Date: May 2011

Exile is the second book in Rebecca Lim's Mercy series and takes up shortly after the events in the conclusion of the first book.

Mercy 'wakes' inside the body and life of eighteen-year-old Lela Neill. Mercy has little recall of her past life, except her memories of Ryan which come back to her after a particularly insistent push from her immortal beloved Luc. In order to find Luc, Mercy must make contact with Ryan, whose feelings for her haven't dulled despite their untimely separation.
My Thoughts:
I started reading EXILE thinking that it would be written in the same formula that MERCY was. That it would be a mystery wrapped up in a bit of romance and soul searching on Mercy’s behalf. I turned out to be both right and wrong.

EXILE is a lot more laid back than MERCY was and the plot is much less pace driven. It is a very introspective book and Mercy spends a great deal of her time travelling the celestial universe in search of answers to who she really is.  Once again the author’s prose is infallible and  I think the way the author writes saves EXILE from being a little on the slow side.  

Mercy’s new body host is Lela Neill, a young lady struggling to hold on to the shreds of her life while her mother is fighting a losing battle with cancer. Lela works at the awesomely named Green Lantern cafĂ© where most of the novel is centred. I won’t put in any spoilers but it’s fair to say that from the get go, Lela seems to be a genuinely nice person and I was saddened by the ending. The supporting characters are a mixed bunch of equally lost souls, who I came to really care about by the end of the book. Luc’s presence is less dominant in this book and I was glad for that because I have started to really dislike him, if not for his pushiness, than because of what Mercy’s brothers have been trying to tell her about him. Ryan continues to be a source of much swooning for me, but I will admit that even my very accepting YA mind finds it difficult to grasp that he and Mercy could be so much in love after less than two weeks of knowing each other. Maybe I’ll just focus on how gorgeous he is.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed EXILE and would definitely recommend it.  Am very much looking forward to the next book in the series.

Saturday 11 June 2011

Review: Mercy by Rebecca Lim

Title: Mercy
Author: Rebecca Lim
Genre: Paranormal YA
Release Date:1 November 2010

As an angel exiled from heaven and doomed to return repeatedly to Earth, Mercy is never sure whose life and body she will share each time. Her only clue to her forgotten past are the vivid dreams of her beloved Luc, who is both tender and terrible.

Mercy 'wakes' inside Carmen's body on a school bus bound for Paradise, a small town where everyone knows everyone else's business. Carmen is everything Mercy is sure she's not. Small, painfully self-conscious and plagued with eczema.

When Mercy meets Ryan, she is instantly drawn to him for his resemblance to Luc and his unwavering belief that his twin sister Lauren, who was kidnapped two years earlier, is still alive. Together Mercy and Ryan must unravel the mystery behind Lauren's kidnapping before another girl disappears and before Mercy's curse makes her 'wake' in someone else.

My Thoughts:
Let me start off by saying that I am not big on novels about fallen angels. Usually they tread on the very thin line between ecclesiastical and downright creepy. Having said that, Lim writes the way Lea Michele sings. Absolutely amazingly (sorry! had to get a Glee reference in there!). Her writing is almost like poetry and I found myself flying through the book, eager to find out what happened next, to the point where I forgot to have dinner.

Mercy isn't your average angel. I love that she is more than a little jaded and is so unlike the idea of a typical angel that she seems almost...human. Mercy is flawed, sarcastic, at times uncaring and I love her all the more for it. Ryan has the requisite good looks of a typical love interest and it's refreshing that he knows it. When he comes out with this gem: "Got a crush on me, have you? That was quick work. You'll get over it; plenty have," I knew he was a winner.

The book itself is very fast paced, jumping into the action almost straight away. The budding romance between Mercy and Ryan is quite understated and this is a major positive because this is where other fallen angel books tend to slap it on a bit thick, thereby increasing the ick factor. Mercy's relationship with Luc is a little on the dramatic side and I tend to see it as less of a romance and more of a grapple for dominance which Luc is clearly winning at this point. I hope this changed in the second book.

The mystery of Lauren's disappearance lends a bit of well balanced intrigue to the plot and the obstacle of poor Carmen's bottom rung social status made me smile more than once. My only minor criticism is that the book is quite short and there were a few plot points that could have been fleshed out to make the story more believable. Like when Ryan sees Mercy glowing in the moonlight, she gives him some offhand explanation which he doesn't believe and then the scene cuts away and Ryan seems to suddenly accept that Mercy can do a full body ET??

On the whole though, I found Mercy to be thoroughly enjoyable and am very much looking forward to the sequel 'EXILE' which is next on my reading list.

Monday 6 June 2011

Review Policy

Please fully read the below information. Any requests that don't meet the requirements will be automatically deleted.

Welcome to The Write Obsession.

As a writer I know how difficult it is to get reviews. Especially those early ones that count for so much. As a reader and blogger I understand what it's like to be inundated with review requests. To try and strike a balance between helping authors and burning out, I've created the system below:

Step 1:
Read the list of my reading likes and dislikes

Step 2:
If you believe your book fits my criteria send me an email at lc.novel@gmail.com telling me that you would like me to review your novel. Add your Amazon link. I'm pretty good at ferreting out information so no need to give me a big pitch or a chunky synopsis. Just a hello and this is my novel and here's the link is fine.

Step 3:
If the book link interests me I will download the sample. If the sample is keeps me reading I'll buy a copy of your novel.

Step 4:
I will read and review your novel and post it on my blog, Goodreads and Amazon. (If I remember I'll also tweet and share it on FB). I will email you when this is done.

*Note: I am fanatical about being able to be honest about my thoughts on a book. Therefore, please make yourself comfortable with my review style before sending a review request. Please make sure you really think about the things I've listed in my likes and dislikes list and whether they apply to your story.

Just because I've been able to finish reading your novel doesn't mean it will automatically receive a 5 star rating. Please do not leave comments on the review of your book on my blog, Amazon or Goodreads. Even if they are positive comments. My reviews are for fellow readers and I  don't want my them to feel uncomfortable in any way. 

- YA and Middle Grade, NA if it's not a smokescreen for YA with sex, some adult fiction
- Urban Fantasy
- Sci/Fi
- Dystopia
- Fantasy
- Steampunk
- Some romance/contemporary but it would depend on the individual novel.

- Minority characters
-  Fiesty/Strong female characters. I prefer female POVs as I find I can relate to them better. Having said that I do read from male POVs too.
-Nature and the envirnment
- Super powers

- Love triangles
- Romances masquerading as other genres. If the world is falling apart and you're getting shot at, I don't care how hot the hero is. 
- Too stupid to live heroines/ Damsels in distress
- Girl on girl hate for no reason other than over a guy. I cannot stand female shaming of any kind.
- Misogynistic/stalker guys disguised as alpha males
- History
- Time travel

 Besides being a reader, I am an avid writer, TV watcher and book blog stalker. As you can imagine, this means that it takes me a while to whittle down that big pile of books to read. Unfortunately, it also means that I can't be specific about how long it will take for me to read and review your book. If you're looking for a review by a certain deadline, you're probably much better off going elsewhere.

If the above hasn't scared you off and you would like me to review your book, please feel free to contact me via lc.novel@gmail.com

Sunday 5 June 2011

About Me

Hi There,

My name is Lan (pronounced La-r-n) Chan. Welcome to my little blog.  

I am a writer, gardener and professional procrastinator based in Melbourne, Australia. I'm still waiting for my super powers to manifest but until then I spend my free time writing young adult novels featuring strong female protagonists, minority characters with a particular interest in dystopias and urban fantasy. My debut novel POISON, the first in my WIND DANCER series is due for release in September 2015.

I am more than happy to do features/interviews at other blogs. Or to just chew the fat and obsess over gardening and books. Feel free to drop me a line at lc.novel@gmail.com.

Happy Obsessing!