Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Review: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crawley

The Story: 
It's the end of Year 12. Lucy's looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about. His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere. Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow's thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls. But the one thing Lucy can't see if the one thing that's right before her eyes. - From the book jacket.

My Thoughts:
I don't know why I've been so blind to the enormous talents of Aussie writers but I'm so glad that I took up the Aussie Author Challenge and got to discover little gems like Graffiti Moon. Written in the dual perspectives of Lucy and Ed and peppered with short poems by Poet, Shadows constant companion, Graffiti Moon is the perfect sweet summer read.
        The story follows Lucy and Ed's adventure to find the elusive graffiti artist Shadow and it happens over just one night. The plot is fast paced and the story is both engaging and thought provoking and very easy to read. Lucy and Ed are complete opposites in most ways and it seems almost impossible for the book to have a happy ending at first. It's hard not to give away any spoilers because the book is quite short and there is a pretty big reveal to the reader almost straight away. This is part of the charm of the story. Even though we know the truth, it's fun to go along with Lucy and Ed on their quest and spectate as they discover truths about themselves and about each other.
        I've mentioned before on this blog that I am very much a character driven reader and Graffiti Moon didn't disappoint in this aspect. Lucy is everything I could ask for in a heroine. She's naive but surprisingly tough and some of the things that she does in this book had me wishing I had someone around to high five. Ed is that rough but sensitive guy who lady luck seems to like messing around with and I loved that he didn't let it turn him into one of the bad men. There are a cast of supporting characters in Graffiti Moon, all of whom make the story richer. It's not hard to see why this book has won a stack of awards.


* I read Graffiti Moon as part of my 2011 Aussie Author Challenge.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Supernatural Showdown #1

 I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather lately and my posts have started getting less professional and more wacky, so first off, I have to apologise. Since the crazies are in my system anyway, I thought I’d inject a little fun debate into the blogosphere and play a book/TV battle game. The name of the game is to throw two supernatural beings from either books or TV together and have a little discussion about who we think would come out on top!
        For today’s showdown, we will try and settle the Vampire/Werewolf debate once and for all. You guys can probably tell from my previous posts and steadfast comments that I prefer my supernatural beings on the badass side. There’s no point being supernatural otherwise. Despite whatever else some (myself included) might say about Twilight, when you put the sparkling aside, they actually have some pretty incredible powers. Super speed, super strength, sight, hearing and sense of smell (I’m going to leave actually smelling nice out of the equation because that’s just good hygiene). 

Faced with these incredible powers, I don’t think the Twilight werewolves really stand a chance. Yeah they’re big, but so what? From what I've seen, Jacob isn't much more than a really huge dog. Not even in the same ballpark. To make it fair I’m going to put the Twilight vamps against the biggest baddest weres I can think of. I’m talkin’ the Lycans from Underworld. These guys are seriously scary and they don't mess about jumping around showing off their ripped chests. Not only are they bigger, stronger and faster than your average Joe but their bite also transfers the Lycan virus which means if you get bitten you're a goner.

 Who do you guys think will win in a fight? 

I have to give it to the Lycans. They are definitely higher up on the scary stakes and I don't think they'll be too interested in the fact that the vamps are super beautiful either. I'm really hoping some cyber genius who happens to stumble upon my blog will take up this idea and make a youtube clip with this very battle! Awesome.
Ok, that's my pathetic blog contribution for today. I promise I'll be more serious tomorrow.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Writer's Corner - YA Guys: The Good, The Bad and the Gorgeous

I think it’s about time we addressed mine and probably most YA reader’s favourite topic: The YA love interest. You would know him anywhere. He’s the often gorgeous bad boy with a mysterious past that every girl wants but only our MC can have. Or he’s the sensitive, often artistic soul, who is too tortured for everyone but our MC to understand. Or he’s the nice guy with the great sense of humour who our MC isn’t really that interested in until almost the end of the book when she finally see he or what he truly is. You’re getting my drift here aren’t you?
        The YA love interest is elusive. What works for one reader doesn’t necessarily work for another. Which is why the YA love triangle is so prevalent. Writers are smart cookies. They know they will maintain readership better if they have two love interests that readers could possible like.
        Where do you guys swing on the YA love interest personality meter? Are there any other common personalities you can think of? I am a sucker for the bad boy. I prefer Dimitri to Adrian, Gale to Peeta…etc

*Side note: Have maybe answered why I can’t seem to cross the best friend line easily. The best friend tends to always been the “nice” guy trying to win the MC over from said bad boy. Never works well for me.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Seeder's Poison Interaction: What's in a Name? (Credit Given!)

Hey guys! Those of you who read my blog regularly (bless you, I love and appreciate every one of you!) would have seen the tiny excerpt to the new dystopian book I'm writing. As discussed in another blog post of mine, I have real issues with naming things/people. I am just not good at it. Which for an author is pretty lame I know.
       But I was thinking, since you guys are so great and have helped me out immensely before, I could throw the floor open to you and ask for your ideas on naming a few minor characters for me!
       First, a little background. Seeder's is set in a world divided into three classes: The Seeders (or those who have all the power and control), merchants (upper class citizen's who deal in the trades and are spared from manual labour) and farmers (pretty self explanatory I think). Vague descriptions ey? It's because I haven't figured all the bugs out yet.
       My MC (Her name is Rory) must set out on a doomed quest with characters from each of these classes and I want you guys to help me name them. Keeping in mind that my dystopia will be hundreds of years from now, I need names for:

1 Farmer
1 Merchant
2 Seeders

If you could give me reasons why you chose your names (even if it IS that you looked up I know I did!) Successful names will be used in my book and will receive full credit if *when Lan when, you must always think in positive terms* my book is published/self published!

*Disclaimer: Yes, I know this is technically cheating and that I have reached a new level of laziness, but to be fair, I have been sick :( Also, no guarantees that your character lives past this book, it is dystopia after all.

Over and out.

PS. Tried to create FB page. It wasn't pretty. Will attempt this space.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Guest Post: Which YA Heroine Are You?

Following on from last week's pretty fun guest post, I've invited BJ from Dark Side of the Covers to do a little presentation of her own. BJ's blog is completely awesome and I love that her reviews are sometimes interactive. It's a unique concept and it also get's the reader involved and tailors the results to suit the reader's answer. To a technophobe like me, it's almost like magic. Not to mention the fact that BJ is just generally a great blogger with a very refreshing take on YA books! She also has a weekly discussion on Sunday entitled "Let's Talk About...' which is way interesting. Take it away BJ!

There's been some great discussion here on The Write Obsession about YA heroines, and what makes a good one...which got me to we prefer heroines who resemble us, or heroines who represent what we wish we could be? I decided to hijack Lan's blog - I mean, ah, use this opportunity - to find out...and because I'm all about the interaction, that means it's quiz time!

Which YA Heroine Are You?

1. Your hair smells like...
A. Soap
B. Lavender
C. Citrus

2. Your idea of a romantic evening is...
A. Climbing a ferris wheel to look at the stars
B. Walking through the forest, hand-in-hand
C. Going for a run, then practicing your combat moves

3. The first thing you notice about a guy is...
A. His hands
B. His eyes
C. His moves

4. When you have money to spend on yourself, you...
A. Get a tattoo
B. Buy something for your sweetheart instead
C. Get a manicure

5. If you were to admit your greatest weakness, it would be...
A. Selfishness
B. Lack of confidence
C. Insensitivity

6. Which song title best describes your love life?
A. "Vulnerable"
B. "Love Story (Romeo & Juliet)"
C. "Oh Where Oh Where Could My Baby Be"

7. Your evening reading consists of...
A. Um...there's no time to read
B. Melancholy classics
C. Non-fiction

8. Your best friend is in trouble, so you...
A. Think of a way to get her out of it
B. Um...I don't really have any friends
C. Find out who is upsetting her and kick that person's ass

9. Your relationship with your mother is...
A. Strained at the moment, but you usually get along
B. Complicated; it seems like you're the adult most of the time
C. A ticking time bomb that neither of you knows how to diffuse

10. At the end of the day, you would...
A. Fight against impossible odds to save the ones you love
B. Sacrifice your life for the ones you love
C. Protect the ones you love, even from themselves, no matter what

11. It's the weekend, and you're...
A. Sneaking out for some adrenaline-inducing fun
B. Spending one-on-one time with the one you love
C. The life of the party!

12. When facing a difficult situation, you...
A. Keep quiet and think through all the possibilities
B. Ask your guy for his opinion
C. Jump in fist first - whoever is standing at the end can figure out the details.

If you answered mostly...

A's - You're most like Tris from Divergent - strong, smart, and on the path to self-discovery. You're a bit of an adrenaline junkie, and your inner moral compass complicates life sometimes, but you're starting to realize that you're stronger than you ever knew.

B's - You're most like Bella from Twilight - kind, compassionate, and a little reserved. Ignore the nay-sayers; we can't all kick butt all the time, and when push comes to shove, you do everything you can for the ones you love...and that's what makes a girl a hero.

C's - You're most like Rose from Vampire Academy - tough, brave and self-sacrificing. Your impulsive behavior gets you into trouble, but your fierce loyalty has earned you friends who will always have your back. Life isn't easy on you, but you're resourceful and resilient, and you'll always land on your feet.

Equal or near-equal combination of A's, B's & C's - You're complex, interesting, and definitely beyond the scope of this quiz. Have you considered writing a novel? You'd be a fascinating character...

So...what do you think? Are you most like your favorite heroine, or are your favorite characters the opposite of your own personality?
Thanks for playing! - BJ

Don't forget guys, if you liked what you saw here, hop on over to BJ's Blog and follow her too! She's totally interactive and I guarantee you'll be making a great blogger friend.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

To Facebook or Not to Facebook?: That is the Question.

Lani has been in my ear for a while about the wonders Facebook can do for a writer, but I have to admit, I've been more than a little reluctant. I have no doubts that Facebook is a wonderful platform to launch a writing career. My issue is my own ability to keep myself from unleashing my writing frustrations on my poor followers who will no doubt bear the brunt of my rejection rants.
       On my blog, I can carefully construct a calm sentence and I have to go through many obstacles in order to publish a post. Besides that, a smart alec remark on a blog is a waste of time. I fear the relative ease at which I could drop many such one liners on Facebook.
       Then there is the time wasting factor. Before the fun times that is my book blog, I used to stalk other Facebookers from my personal Facebook page. With my obsessive personality, I will no doubt turn into a crazy FB writer page stalker as well. This leads very little time for me to actually write.
       Do you guys have FB pages associated with your blogs? How do you cope with all the competing stimuli?

PS. Don't even get me started on Goodreads!

*Irrelevant note: Finished all my writing goals for this weekend. Woohoo. 

Saturday, 20 August 2011

SEEDER'S POISON Excerpt: Procrastination at its Best

Remember this morning/yesterday (for some readers) when I set those grandiose goals to finish off my first book? Here's what I've been doing instead. The first snippets of my dystopian novel titled SEEDER'S POISON. Can I have my procrastination award now please?

When I was much younger and being especially rebellious, my mother used to lecture me and say that there is goodness in everyone. Even the Seeders. I remember how she would pull me aside and clasp her earth worn hands to my mouth when the Seeders passed us in the streets, fearful of what I might say. My mother’s ivory skin and raven locks were a stark contrast to the fairness of the farming population, and I would catch the Seeders watching her, their greedy eyes narrowed and always resting upon the three leafed tattoo on her left cheek. Often the Seeders would harass us in town, despite my father’s merchant status and once, when she didn’t know I was watching from the oak tree above, my mother emerged shaken, the sleeve of her favourite dress in tatters, from the opulent house of the head Seeder.
Still she would sigh and press my grubby face to her skirts, reminding me that we were all of the earth and malice harboured would only fester and destroy what little peace our world managed to eke out after the wars. I still wonder if they would have spared her if they knew she was their steadfast advocate. Somehow I doubted it. I was just ten when they killed her. When her Wanderer brethren dared to rise up against the Seeders in their Citadel so far from our home in Region 4. I still wake shaken from my memories of the night they came to take her away. The night her screams shattered any softness her lessons planted in me. The night a small group of farmers broke their code of non interference to spare me a similar death to hers.  

Friday, 19 August 2011

Gone Writing!

Hi All!

In my mad quest to try and get my blog to a respectable status, I have sorely neglected my writing. I plan to remedy that this weekend by going into a writing frenzy. My goals are:

1. One last edit before I lay IRON WILLED to rest.
2. Finish my synopsis.
3. Query at least 1 agent.

Considering my severe lack of attention span due to a mysterious cold virus, the above are probably very lofty goals. I will try my best to achieve them nonetheless.

What does this mean for the blog? Not much really, I'll still be around. Stalkers gotta stalk. But as you can see, I am not doing FF this week as it takes up a huge chunk of my weekends.

See you on the other side.

*PS. Some of you may be wondering at the lack of reviews posted lately. It's this darned only reviewing books I finished/liked rule. Books unfinished:

Wither (closed book too many times = not interested enough)
Firelight (Bella flashbacks. May pick it up again)
Gregor the Overlander (tried it for Suzanne Collins but couldn't get into it) and finally:
Reread Vampire Academy for kicks!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Writer's Corner - Crossing The Best Friend Line

Here's another thorny one to discuss guys. How do we feel when best friends get together? I've grown up around a lot of boys, so inevitably I'm a bit of a tomboy. I prefer X-men and Transformers to Barbie and Top Model. My male friends have been like brothers to me, so the thought of having my female MC and her best friend fall in love feels a little...wrong. Don't even get me started on kissing a former best friend. I'm not knocking it, I just don't have any experience in the area and it's difficult to write.
        How do you suddenly wake up one day and decide that the guy you've grown up with, you know, the same one that ate crayons and pushed you into the sandpit, is suddenly irresistible? At the moment I cannot think of a single book I've read where this dynamic has been done well. I'm not talking just friend, but best friends. That one person who gets you and knows what you're thinking and just happens to be the opposite gender. So help me out guys, can you think of any books where the best friend line has been crossed successfully? How do you feel about this?

Review: Raw Blue by Kristy Eagar

The Story:
Carly has dropped out of uni to spend her days surfing and her nights working as a cook in a Manly cafĂ©. Surfing is the one thing she loves doing ... and the only thing that helps her stop thinking about what happened two years ago. Then she meets Ryan and Carly has to decide. Will she let the past bury her? Or can she let go of her anger and shame, and find the courage to be happy? - From the book jacket.

My Thoughts:
Raw Blue was a really difficult read for me at first. It deals with a lot of heavy topics such as rape, drugs and broken people, but I can handle all that. It was all the surfing jargon that really got to me. I almost stopped reading because of it. I understood that it was Carly's escape and the one thing that made her happy, but seriously, I just didn't care about the swell, the foam or the seagulls. Yes, I know that's a bad reason to get annoyed at a book but I couldn't help it. Thank goodness I decided to skim read instead of putting the book down altogether because I would have missed out on one of the best reads ever.
       Raw blue is a poignant and powerful story that explores the life and struggle of a young girl after being victim to a heinous crime. I thought Kristy Eagar dealt with this delicate topic superbly and though some of the scenes are a bit sexually graphic, I don't believe they were overdone. Needless to say, this book isn't really for younger teens and if you're still intending to read it, let this be a warning to you.
       As I'm finding with most Aussie author's recently, they have a way of creating characters that stay with you long before you close a book. Carly is shattered in more ways than one, and even though she prefers to keep to herself, many of her actions are involuntarily caring towards others. Like the way she always sets her cook's knife down in a certain spot so that no one can accidentally get cut or the way she is always trying to get anorexic Kylie to eat.I really liked her and thought she was very sweet for someone whose been through so much.
       Then there's Ryan. He's by no means a cookie cutter YA guy. Ryan is a surfer and ex-drug dealer whose done time in jail. Told you he wasn't typical. If you're starting to pull away at this point, don't. Trust me. Ryan's made mistakes but what I love about him is that he's actually learned from them and is trying to improve himself. He's not just impossibly perfect to begin with. And he never gives up on Carly, no matter what. I think the bit that sealed the deal for me was when, after they'd been intimate, Ryan still called Carly 'mate'. Totally an Aussie thing to do!
       I'm not sure how else to convey the brilliance of this book so I'm going to add two quotes that really spoke to me:

He pats the deck beside him with his hand. I sigh loudly and sit down with a thump. He takes my right hand and places it palm down on his chest. Then he traces around it with the pen, craning his neck to see, giving himself double chins.
       'What are you doing?'
        He shifts my hand away and starts scratching out letters on his skin. 'I worked out a tattoo - if I had one.'
        I look at what he's done. He's got the outline of my hand over his heart and in it he's written, Her.
        I want to tell him that he's blown me away, but I think he knows.


Whenever Ryan comes back it's great, then when he goes back to work it's awful...We've got rules for when he's away. If he's short and terse on the phone I have to know that it's nothing to do with me...and if we fight on the phone I can't just hang up. We have to sort it out that night because leaving an argument to fester is too cruel when you're away from each other. Some phone calls he doesn't say much and I know he's called just to hear my voice.

10/10 (surfing crap and all)

*There's a lot of Aussie slang in Raw Blue so if you do end up reading it and need some translation feel free to drop me a line!

** I read this book as part of my 2011 Aussie Author Challenge.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Sky Ink Giveaway and My Self Pity

I am sick. Literally. I have a cold like sickness. I'm not sure how it happened because I drink yukky celery, ginger, carrot and beetroot juice every day and still some alien form of super virus has invaded my system. Methinks it could be my latent super powers trying to kick in *hopes*
        Looking at the screen is making me a bit queasy, so if half of my blogging/commenting doesn't make sense, you've all been warned.
        To take my mind off said plague, I have been writing up a wishlist of books as it's my birthday soonish. Then I stumbled on the giveaway that Jinny of Sky Ink is holding and since two of my books are part of the prize I decided to increase my chances of winning and post about it on here!!
         Jinny is celebrating her rising blog star status and 100 follower benchmark by giving away some cool books. And it's international so I can enter! Woohoo.
        Be sure to check it out while I slowly pass out in front of this computer..........

Monday, 15 August 2011

Guest Post: The Normality of The Paranormal

Following on from all the blogger love I'm feeling at the moment, I've decided to ask a few of my favourite bloggers to do some guest posts for a bit of fun and some well deserved exposure. Given that I recently did a rant about the YA bashing I've encountered, I thought the first cab off the rank should be Nick from For Starved Novelist and Book Bingers. Nick's blog is hilarious and though his rapier wit isn't for everybody, I love that he's brave enough to put it all out there. And he does it respectfully which I can appreciate as opposed to just flipping me off without knowing a thing about the books I read. Take it away Nick!

Hey all,

If you were followers on my blog, I’d call you “loves,” but you’re not my followers. You belong to Lan. It’s very True Blood. She’s Bill, you’re Sookie, and I’m Eric. Although, who’s been watching this season? Looks like Lan might have some competition, but this is only a metaphor and alas I have not lost my memory to witchery thus you’ll probably stay Lan’s followers. Then again, this isn’t True Blood, so you could become my followers too. Oh, I don’t know if any of that made sense and nor do I care.

Here’s the point about the above: True Blood is a paranormal television show. I love it. I do not love paranormal literature, but I hear you do. I thought a good way to get more followers would be to savage their most prized reads. No?

Here’s why I don’t like Paranormal lit: they’re normal to nausea, especially YA paranormal. Put down your spell books and silver bullets. I have reasoning. It seems every paranormal paperback I pick up is more of the same. The cover features some pale female with glitter smacked lips or batted eyelashes or maybe she’s turned away, because her life is just so stuffed full of phantom turmoil/erotica. The story usually consists of someone coming to a new town and in said new town there are hidden supernatural beings or a supernatural being is the one coming to town. The supernatural one has an air of danger, but is irresistible (on a side note, that last sentence would accurately describe my affair with Lifetime’s Dance Moms). A romance ensues. I can’t love you. But you must! Yak.

You’re playing to stereotypes! Okay, maybe I am, but this is the impression I received from Twilight and Shiver and Blood & Chocolate and Paranormalcy and Hush Hush and Beautiful Creatures and Nightshade and Wicked Lovely and The Vampire Diaries and Wake and House of Night and Vampire Academy and blah blah blah.

I’m not pegging every paranormal book as following this formula, because I do love some paranormal lit. Breathers, a zombie love story, is one of my favorites. The difference between Breathers and the other titles listed above is that Breathers is smart. It doesn’t use the paranormal to dazzle, but to reveal truths about society. This includes the undead anonymous meetings, a rotting corpse obsessed with cosmetics, and the big question: do humans find success and progress in eating each other alive? Other favorites include Let the Right One In, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and The Southern Vampire Series.

So what do you think? Am I an idiot? Am I judging the listed books unfairly OR do you simply enjoy what I find redundant? Got any other titles to help persuade me… to the dark side? Yeah, I said it. Sorry! Let me know all this and more in the comments! Follow @ .For Starved Novelists and Book Bingers

Thanks for reading,

There you have it guys, Nick's take on Paranormal YA. I know you're all itching for a rebuttal and I don't want to stifle anyone, but since we're all friends here, I only ask that you play nice :)

Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Write Confession: IRON WILLED Excerpt

I've been banging on for months that I'm writing a YA novel, and I bet you're all sick of it! I would be if someone kept going on and on without showing up with the goods. So here's a bit of a confession: I've been too scared to show anyone my work. If it gets panned I'll have to think about more editing which I am so exhausted of. Our recent discussion about kick ass YA heroines got me thinking though. Would Rose or Katniss be too scared to take this kind of leap? Maybe, but I bet they would do it anyway.

So here it is. I probably should put this segment into some perspective but if I did that I might as well have just given you guys the first chapter. You're a clever bunch. I have faith that you'll figure it out.

An excerpt from my unpublished novel IRON WILLED:

Claudia and I had just run around the training track twice when a voice called out to us from the stands.
‘Hey girlies. You can run but can you actually fight?’
In a dimly lit room I doubt I would have been able to tell him and Rex apart. He was just as big, but instead of Rex’s warm expression and wide smile he had a sneer on his face.
‘Leave it alone Will, they’re just trying to get you into trouble,’ Claudia warned.
‘I’m getting sick of being picked on,’ I said through gritted teeth.
‘Fighting them won’t stop them from picking on us. We need to walk away. When they realise that they can’t get to us they’ll leave us alone.’
I doubted that very much, but numbness started to permeate my mind causing me to rethink the idea of beating this guy to a pulp. I even started to feel sorry for him. 
It was too much. She’d gone overboard with the feeling control and I snapped out of it throwing her a stern look.
‘Sorry, but we can’t risk them kicking out another one of us.’
Other officers had started gathering, hoping to witness another fight. Seeing their eager faces I realised that what Claudia had said was probably right. They wouldn’t leave us alone if they knew that we were so easily goaded.
‘Let’s go C.’ I said gathering up my jumper.
I really had made up my mind not to make trouble, but when Claudia bent down to pick up her water bottle he made the mistake of patting her on the ass.
It really said something about us that her first reaction was to jump up in surprise and mine was to grab him by the hand and break his fingers. I’m nowhere near as strong as some of the boys but my ability allows me to concentrate enough electrical charge that I can turn it into physical strength.
            From what I could make of Rex’s memories that one time he tried to leech my powers, he and his sisters had been taken away because of abuse. This was the man who’d put them through it.. As he yelled in pain from the broken fingers I slammed my foot into his chest just below his ribcage. He toppled over, winded and gasping.
‘God damn Willow,’ Claudia yelled.
My mind clouded with foreign but familiar memories of big hands shoving a preteen Rex down a flight of stairs. Just like in my nightmares, the attacker turned and advanced on a little girl no older than eight. Her faun like eyes widened in terror and in between memory and reality I caught a chunk of his hair and forced him flat against the floor with my knee. Making sure that I spoke softly enough so that only he could hear, I said, ‘You’re lucky that it’s me you’ve pissed off this time and not Rex. I know what you did and if he finds out you’ve touched Claudia he is going to kill you. Think about that.’
I straightened up and motioned for Claudia to follow. She did so silently, disappointment evident in her eyes. I didn’t care anymore. They already thought we were freaks. No one said anything as we left but they all parted to let us pass. Dad used to say that fear wasn’t the best motivator, but it was better than nothing. I might have the empathic power of a brick wall, but even I could see they were afraid.

There you go. I want you to love it but if you don't that's okay too. How else will I learn?

* In other news, do you guys ever read a book that's written so well it makes you question whether you should bother writing anymore because you feel like nothing you can produce will ever be that good? I'm feeling like that every time I pick up a book these days. Not good motivation at all!!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Kudos and Time Trials........

I've become so much more aware of time differences in other countries since I started blogging. As I type right now it's 1:47pm Saturday in Australia. Which means it's about 11pm the day before in general in the US and 5am in the UK. I only mention the US and UK because it's where most of my blogger friends are from. I'm finding the time difference to be very disruptive to my posting and commenting efforts. I post and comment while everyone is asleep and they do the same for me. It's like we're perpetually playing a game of blogger cat and mouse. Actually that sounds kinda fun....
      Anyway, I guess the point of this post is to say: If I don't respond for a while, don't despair. I'm probably in dreamland conjuring up my next great novel. But I'll be back in the morning and will return all your comments.
      In other news, I've decided that from now on, if I read and review a book that was recommended to me by another blogger, I am going to add a link back to the other blogger's page. It only seems fair and I am all for blogger kudos right now.

Have a great Saturday everyone.

*This is completely random but if I see one more TEAM PEETA icon I think I'm going to scream.

Friday, 12 August 2011

And The Blogger Award Goes To.......

You guys! I never thought this would happen in a million years when I started blogging but I've been given my first blogger award. Wheeeeeeee!! I can't believe it. I never thought anyone would bother reading my admittedly angsty brand of blogging but I've made such awesome blogger friends on here. Thanks so much to Lani @ Sleepless In Samoa who nominated me for this award. My only complaint is that I can't nominate her for an award back because she deserves that and more!

The rules of the award are:
1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all - have bloggity-blog fun.

I'm having a hard time choosing who to nominate because there are so many I want to give it to. In the end, I decided on bloggers that I've built up a good friendship with, who always give great advice and comments and who have put up with my recent rants with much patience and good humor. Here are my nominees (in no particular order):

BJ @ Dark Side of The Covers: BJ is one cool lady. Her blog is the most interactive one I have seen in the blogosphere and I love popping over and having a look around. Her reviews are funny and engaging and she has a great sense of humor. I can always count on BJ for an honest review and to tell me things that other reviewers don't!

Ashley @ Bookaholics Anonymous: Ashley is my go to lady for all things Vampire Academy, so I'm bugging her a lot with my constant Rose & Dimitri talk. Ashley is writing a very cool vampire book at the moment so I feel we have a bit of a connection there too. I very rarely warm to people straight off but Ashley is so genuine and nice that I felt I knew her right away.

Beth @ Sweet Books'n'Stuff: Beth's blog name describes her perfectly. She is a very sweet lady  who always finds the time to visit my blog. Her insights are always on the money and I love that she is a bit obsessive about TV shows the way I am. Plus she has a cute dog and I'm a dog person.

Jinny @ SkyInk: Jinny's blog is my inspiration to keep reading. She is an overachieving reader and I love her for it. Jinny has introduced me to a great many books that I would never have heard of and her reviews are always in depth without giving anything spoilery away.

Alexia @ Alexia's Books and Such...: I'm not sure anymore if Alexia found my blog or if I found hers. I just got a comment on my blog one day and that was it. That's what's so great about her. Even though her readership is pretty big Alexia always finds the time to return a comment. Alexia's reviews all types of books and I count on her to widen my reading net. Yeah I am lazy :)

I realise that if this were an Oscar's speech they would be cutting over my acceptance speech with music but it's my blog and I'll babble if I want to. Thanks again guys for being such great blogger friends!

Follow Friday (9) - Reading Habits

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkie  and Alison Can Read. 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: How has your reading habits changed since you were a teen? or if you are still a teen what new genres are you in love with currently?

This weeks question is super easy! I've been reading the same kind of books since I was thirteen. YA fantasy (paranormal/urban and everything in between) is still my favourite genre although lately I have been getting into much more dystopian and contemporary stuff thanks to the recommendations from all my great blogger friends. I'm loyal like that :)

How about you guys?

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Writer's Corner - YA Heroines: You Said A Mouthful Sister!

I've been concentrating a lot on male characters lately so I want to bring the discussion back to the more popularly used female MCs. There are so many diverse opinions on what a perfect female heroine is, that I get a headache thinking about it. Phrases like Mary-Sue and author wish fulfillment get bandied around a lot and it's enough to make anyone go a bit loopy. Everyone has a differing view as to what a great character is, and it's especially difficult to write an MC who appeals to a lot of people.
        For example: I love Rose Hathaway of Vampire Academy. I think she's a determined, intuitive and kick ass chick. Recently, during a bout of major obsessiveness, I was reading some VA reviews on Goodreads and came upon a review where the writer described Rose using the C-bomb. That really threw me for a bit of a spin. I can understand why Rose wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea but to describe a character in that way, to me at least, they would need to be some sort of family murdering rapist or something.
       Also, I'm a little bored of the shy, selfless, smart but romantically oblivious YA heroines. Part of me is just itching to write a clever, ruthless heroine who doesn't blink at the idea of poisoning someone who abuses her physically. The other part is trying to suppress these slightly sociopathic tendencies.
        So now I have to ask you guys, who are your favourite heroines and what makes them so great?

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Mockingjay, I Can't Even Review It ...


I have no words. For a writer/blogger, that's got to say something. OK, maybe I'm over exaggerating. I do have words. I'd just prefer to keep this blog PG. This is the fifth draft of a review post I've tried to write in the last couple of days. Yes, I know that sounds crazily obsessive but to be fair the word obsession is in the name of my blog so I feel I can take some liberties. In the end, I decided I couldn't do it. This is not a review. It is merely a list of things I think/FEEL after finishing Mockingjay (CLICK AWAY NOW if you haven't finished reading the series):

1.  Suzanne Collins is, if nothing else, an author who knows to to make her readers question everything.
2.  I cannot stand the thing Katniss has become.
3. F-bomb to Finnick, Boggs, Prim and everyone elses pointless death.
4. Gale is neither cold nor heartless and I have stockpiled dozens of quotes to prove it, but I think I'd be walking the path into dangerous crazy territory if I open that trapdoor.

I will however allow myself this one concession:

'I wonder how she'll make up her mind.'
'Oh, that I do know.' I can just catch Gale's last words through the layer of fur. 'Katniss will pick whoever she thinks she can't survive without.'

Yes, Katniss certainly did make her choice based on survival. I don't mind that she ended up with Peeta. I really like Peeta. If anything, I think Peeta is too good for her. What burns me is Gale's character assassination when all he has ever been is supportive of her. I wish she would have taken the purple pill. ARGH! Massive case of the the biggest pot in the world calling the kettle black.

I am now going to go and blog stalk Forever Young Adult because they seem to be the only salve I can find to soothe my outrage.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Misc Monday: Bubblegum YA (Can you see me??)

This post is inspired by something I read on Lani's blog and also something that has really ground my gears for months now. It's that funny face or that uncomfortable smile someone makes when you tell them you're reading/writing a YA sci-fi/fantasy instead of a great literary novel.
          You see, I am starting to get very serious about my writing so I've joined quite a few writer's groups both online and in real life. Maybe I'm just being overly sensitive but I get the distinct feeling that I am being ignored. Or I'm not being taken seriously because of the genres that I read/write. The reaction I received when I told my writing group I was writing an urban fantasy was less than stellar. You can literally hear the cyber crickets chirping after I've posted something to the group in my various online writer's groups. 
         After much deliberation and blog stalking, I've decided I no longer care. So what if I'm not reading the next great literary novel? So what if the cover of my book has a vampire or a fallen angel on it? No I don't think I would prefer to be critically acclaimed but hardly read.
         To all those who scoff at young adult fantasy and sci-fi : BITE ME! (pun intended).

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Review & Mini Author Interview: The Beast Call by Anne Tibbets

The Story: 
Seventeen year old Dray is no ordinary human. But possessing a magical capability to talk to animals in a land where magic is feared, is dangerous. When Dray's adventure hungry brother leaves the family farm to join a rebel militia, Dray follows him, but as Dray discovers her natural warrior capabilities, and word of her magical talents are discovered by the revel General, Dray becomes an intricate part of the revolution, and the evil King Nuro would like nothing more than to see her destroyed. - From the authors website.

My Thoughts:
I woke up one morning to a request from Anne Tibbets to review her ebook. After doing a little dance and feeling very book bloggery, I started to worry that I wouldn't like the book and therefore wouldn't be able to review it. I have a little policy of not reviewing books I dislike you see. Thankfully, I didn't have to worry. The Beast Call reminded me very much of the Tamora Pierce books I've grown up reading, complete with a strong heroine with the ability to communicate with animals.
        The pacing of The Beast Call was very quick and the plot was full of interesting twists. I loved that it was told in third person perspective from many different points of view. For me, this allowed for a certain amount of character development even though the novel was quite short.
        I really liked Dray as a heroine. She was a reluctant warrior and her loyalty to her brother above all else was admirable. Some of the creatures in the enchanted forest were a little Narnia-esque and the addition of the flirtatious centaur to the story really got my attention.
        My only issues with The Beast Call was that it was possibly too short for such an epic story and Dray didn't really have much of a connection to the beasts that she commanded even though she could control them. At times, I was a little disturbed by her lack of concern for their well being, as she persuaded them to fight and die for her cause. I would have liked to see her with at least one constant animal companion.
        Overall, The Beast Call was an enjoyable read and the writing was great. I was quite envious of some of the physical character descriptions and would recommend this book to anyone who has enjoyed Tamora Pierce and Isobelle Carmody.


The Mini Interview:

1. As an author, where do you find your writing inspiration?

I know this might sound completely cornball, but I find my inspiration from within.  If I feel especially sensitive, it's a good day to write an emotional scene.  If I feel a bit cranky, it's a good action day.  When I'm lucky, what I'm feeling coincides with what I'm writing.  I get myself a cup of coffee, read a page or two from where I left off, and let myself ride the wave of what needs to come next.  When it works, it's wonderful.  When it doesn't, it's best to take the day and do something else, because most likely I'll end up rewriting whatever I'd written anyways.

2. What's the best advice you've ever received?

Another writer at my publisher and I were emailing back and forth lately, he gave me great advice: It's a marathon, not a sprint. So many writers and authors want to reach J.K. level on their first novel right out of the gate. So not gonna happen. In fact, it didn't happen to J.K. either. Keep writing, he said. Keep at it. Eventually, you will find your readers, or your readers will find you.  Until then, keep searching for ways to reach them. It's good advice. Thanks, Alan.

3. What's next for Anne Tibbets?

Come the end of August I am working on rewrites for a Dystopian. Then off to finish the sequel for "The Beast Call," called "The Beast Reign." It's going to get pretty busy pretty quick, but I prefer it that way.

And finally, Anne is one of those cool authors who blogs. You can find her and info on her upcoming projects here

Friday, 5 August 2011

Follow Friday (8) - The Book That Changed My Life

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkie and Alison Can Read. 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: Talk about the book that most changed or influenced your life (was it a book that turned you from an average to avid reader, did it help you deal with a particularly difficult situation, does it bring you comfort every time you read it?)

Before a work colleague recommended Vampire Academy to me, I'd kinda lost hope that there were any good books left to read. I was going through a particularly rough patch at the time and it was whilst reading Vampire Academy that I decided to try writing. I ended up loving it and writing has been a lifeline for me ever since. Maybe there is no real correlation between the two events except for circumstance but Vampire Academy will always hold a special place in my heart. Incidentally, I also discovered the wonderful world of book blogs when I went online to see if there were any other obsessives out there debating the Dimitri vs Adrian dilemma. Turns out there are one or two ;)

What about you guys? I'd love to know what books had a similar effect on you.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Review: Wolfborn by Sue Bursztynski

The Story:
Etienne, son of a lord in the kingdom of Armorique, goes to train as a knight with Geraint of Lucanne. Geraint is brave and kind, a good teacher and master - but he has a secret that he has kept from his family. He is bisclavret, a born werewolf. When Geraint is betrayed, Etienne must ally with the local wise-woman and her daughter, themselves bisclavret, to save his lord. But time is running out. If Geraint's enemies have their way, Geraint will soon be trapped in his wolf form.
            And Etienne has his own secret. The decisions he makes will change his life forever… Inspired by a medieval romance, this engaging novel forces us to question everything we thought we knew about werewolves. - From the book jacket.

My Thoughts:
It's been a long time since I've read a book by a female author written from a male perspective. My brain is telling me the last one was The Outsiders by S.E Hinton but that can't be right, and if it is, it means I'm old because that was in high school. Anyway, the reason I mention the female author/male character dynamic is because I often find it puts me off an entire book if it's not done well. Thankfully, Wolfborn doesn't fall into that category. Etienne's voice was both believable and likeable and I found the premise behind the novel fascinating.
        Wolfborn works on the assumption that being a werewolf is a gift from the gods and if you stay in your wolf shape for too long, you will lose your humanity. Its one of the rare werewolf books I've read that features the idea that werewolves need an article of their human clothing in order to revert back to their human form. Sue Bursztynski weaves this aspect into an interesting novel that deals with complex ideas but is also easy to read.  
       I think my favourite part about Wolfborn was that it was in effect a retelling of a twelfth century story that has it's basis in Irish and Arthurian folklore. This made me imagine that once upon a time the story could have been based on a true account and I did a little dance. Yes it makes me happy thinking that werewolves could be real. 
       Sadly, the novels ending kind of let the book down in my opinion.  The last few chapters focused mainly on Etienne's romance with Jeanne, the wise-woman's daughter, and I thought it was a bit unnecessary. The climax and struggle had already ended by that point and I wasn't sure why the novel was still continuing. Possibly to highlight that even love might not be strong enough sometimes to override a wolf's innate urge to be wild and run free.
      Overall, I enjoyed Wolfborn and recommend it to anyone who's looking for an interesting but more traditional werewolf tale without the teen drama.

Sue Bursztynski is a blogger as well! You can find her blog The Great Raven here

This book was read as part of my  2011 Aussie Author Challenge.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Wednesday Writer's Corner - YA Love Triangles...Yay! or Nay?

I've been mulling over this question for many months now. You see, I suck at writing love triangles. There must be something chemical in my brain that stops me from being able to do it. After a long hard think, I believe I've finally figured out why I'm so bad at it. It all boils down to this question: What do I do with the Third Wheel (as he/she will now be known) when the hero finally decides who they can't live without??? I tend to get really emotionally involved in my characters and the thought of leaving one high and dry makes me feel a bit sick.
        Traditionally, the options for getting rid of the third wheel are:
1. Death. Dramatic, but I guess it solves a lot of problems.
2. Third Wheel turns evil, thereby making it easier for readers to part with them. This is not an option I'm keen on at all. It seems like a bit of an easy way out. More so than killing off a character for some reason.
3. Third Wheel disappears and is never heard from again. I just find this option strange because invariably there will be many readers who prefer Third Wheel to the hero's choice and would like to know what happens to Gale, I mean, Third Wheel.
4. Third Wheel falls in love with someone else who is so perfectly matched to them that it seems ridiculous that they ever loved the hero in the first place. I'm undecided about this option, but at least it's a bit softer than the others.
5. The hero doesn't end up with either love interest. This one is seldom used from what I can tell, but when it's done right I think it could be a viable option.

What are your thoughts guys? Can you think of any other tragic endings for our Third Wheel? How do you feel about YA love triangles?

Monday, 1 August 2011

Miscellaneous Monday: Blogger Etiquette....Follow Friday Aftermath

Pic courtesy of Love That Etiquette

For over a month now, every Friday I've participated in the Follow Friday meme hosted by Parajunkie and now Alison Can Read. It's the most awesome meme and has put me in touch with so many amazing bloggers. My TBR pile has grown exponentially and I now have too many books to read as opposed to thinking no cool books had been published in years! Through FF, I met Lani at Sleepless in Samoa who is just the best blogger in the world. Seriously, check her out!
        But I digress, this post is meant to be about what the etiquette is for those people you've followed that don't follow you back. You know the ones. You've hopped onto their blog. Made the effort of following and leaving a comment and....nothing. Zip. Zilch. The first couple of weeks, I was pretty new to blogging and sort of let it go, thinking they must have forgotten or not checked their updates. But then I'd see their new posts and feel a bit bewildered. Then there are the ones who check out my blog and still don't follow. I used to let these go too, thinking that they'd come back later.
         Not anymore my friends. I'm a month older and wiser now and I have a lot less time to spend sorting through updates for people who have no intention of playing fair. If blogging were football I would be the quarterback. I spend a lot of time on blogs reading and commenting and I don't want to waste the effort and anguish anymore. Now I give people a 3 day grace period, and unless they haven't been online,  they get the cut. Brutal but necessary.
         I tend to be a bit Libran about it. A friend once said that I look at life on a scale of justice and indecisiveness. As a Libran, this kind of rudeness just doesn't sit well with me. I'm really interested in what others do in these circumstances. Let it go or give it the heave ho?