Tuesday 28 February 2012

Gone Writing........

Excuse my absence guys. I have a serious case of writer's unblock and I need to go with the flow now before it dries up. In other news, my fingers hurt...

Back soon.


Thursday 23 February 2012

Writer's Corner: Polite Conversation: Religion

They say that there are three topics you shouldn't talk about in polite conversation: sex, politics and religion. But you guys know by now that I can be pretty impolite sometimes so what the heck! Let's talk about it anyway.
         I don't deal with politics in my writing. I find the whole idea pretty boring and am instantly turned off when anyone starts talking about it anyway.
         I've already discussed sex (or my lack of ability to write about it) and let's face it, sex is a super hot topic in YA on any given day so I'll steer clear of that little gem this time.
         And then there's religion. Let me lay some foundations first before I get into the dilemma I'm facing. I think religion is many things. Sometimes it's interesting, sometimes it's inspiring, other times it's rigid, exclusive and I don't think anyone can argue that it can be destructive.
        I was raised a Catholic but have grown up into what I can only describe as Agnostic. It's not that I don't believe in anything, it's just that if there is a God (and by this I mean any supreme being and not the Christian god exclusively), I'd like to believe that he's cool and won't smite me for being too imaginative in my story telling. Because if he does and he made me who I am, well really...it's kinda his own fault isn't it? So as you can see, I am a pretty relaxed semi religious person.
        I'm cool with some of the stuff the bible says, some of the other stuff not so much. I don't believe it's a true account of anything. I don't believe anything is a true account of anything anymore (thanks to Photoshop and other technology). I dunno, I just think it's good sense to be a bit skeptical about things these days. Other people are not. Said people have recently told me that they cannot support or promote my new story idea because it may possible involve retelling some things that may or may not have happened according to the Christian bible.
        You see, my new story ideas as I think I've already mentioned, is about angels. Some are fallen (what's an angel story without them?) and some are not. I don't say anything awful about the Christian religion, I'm just using their skeleton for the base of my story. If anything, my book will help to promote what the bible is already saying. I personally don't see anything wrong with that, but I'm pretty biased. Besides, there are so many angel books these days, mine will be like a drop in the ocean. So I wanted to throw it out there and ask you guys. Do you get offended when you read a book about angels that doesn't match what the bible says? Would it put you off reading a book? Wouldn't Ben Barnes totally be hot as a fallen angel? (Bhahaha that one's just to see if you're paying attention!).
*On another note, it was very difficult to write this post without going into a bit of a cynical rant about modern day Christianity and organised religion so you guys should be proud of me!

Monday 20 February 2012

Monday Updates

- Books I've started: Hammered by Kevin Hearne, Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews and Across The Universe by Beth Revis.
- Have done almost nothing about my review books which is fast becoming a mountain of guilt that is weighing me down constantly. Time to do something about it.

- Still trying to write those last chapters of Seeder's Poison but struggling. I have somehow turned into that person who talks and talks about doing something but never actually does it.
- Dreamed up a good back story to my angel book. Dreams are such useful things. Don't worry, it's got nothing to do with sparkly emo vampires.
- Can I take a second to beg you guys who have captcha  comments enabled to get rid of it? They've changed the format and it's now so hard to make out what those letters are!!!!

- Besides Gossip Girl I haven't watched any TV all week. How good am I? But don't be fooled into thinking I've been writing. Oh no. I have just discovered online shopping. Some people are just gluttons for punishment.

- I think I've taken procrastination to a new level. I keep getting emails and reading them on my iPhone and then completely forgetting to get back to people later on. Then I set myself a mental reminder to do it and it never happens!
- Not so sick anymore, so have been able to go out and about a bit without feeling like a dementor is sucking my soul out.

In other news, Tammi at Young Adult Book Reviews and I are thinking of hosting a whole month of The Hunger Games appreciation events in March. Would anyone be interested in doing a read-a-thon, book and movie reviews and such? Drop me a line if you are. It's going to be an exciting month of awesomeness. I am so excited about this movie even though I'm still cursing the casting choices

Saturday 18 February 2012

Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

The Story (From Goodreads):

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color. The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now. Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

My Thoughts: 

 Shatter Me is one of many YA books recently that has made me feel like crying because I must be at that point where I'm too old for this sort of $hit. I didn't have high hopes for this one because:

1. Look at the hideous cover.
2. Many bloggers whose opinions I respect haven't had good things to say about it. 

Looking back, I don't know why I forced myself to finish reading it. To be fair, I really believe that if Mafi decided to cut the gimmicky, metaphoric nonsense prose, her writing could be very enticing.  Instead, the unnecessary strike throughs just felt like one giant telling not showing horror. Maybe it would have helped if I was convinced for a second that Mary Sue Juliette really could have been crazy. But crazy people don't give a rats about whether their new cell mate is super hawt. They're too busy peeling the skin off their own faces and eating it (which coincidentally, is what I felt like doing at certain parts of this novel).
          Suffice to say, I didn't connect with any of the characters in this one. Least of all Juliette. Show me any teen who has gone through what she did and is still such an overbearing goodie goodie and I will show you where I keep my giant chest of leprechaun gold. And to top it all off, Juliette is also unbelievably gorgeous, a fact that she seems oblivious to despite every male character falling over his feet to point out to her any chance he can get. On that note, lets talk about the female characters in this one. Oh wait, there aren't any! It's difficult to be a special snowflake with a Katniss or a Rose as competition isn't it? Better not risk the limelight and not have any other leading ladies at all. 
       I could go on but I fear I've had a major subjective review relapse. I don't think I was the target audience for this book at all. 

The Rating:

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Writer's Corner: Epic Fail Endings

Peeps, I am so close to finishing my NaNo novel, I can almost feel the characters of my next novel getting impatient. Before you get all excited, I want to point out that I've been at this writing stage now for about two weeks and can't for the life of me come up with a big finale ending.
      My problem is that I can't stand cliffhangers. At least not the kinds that make you want to throw a book across a room. On the other hand, I still want to leave a few interesting threads that may entice people to come back for the second book.
      I have to confess, I always get this strange kind of serenely calm feeling whenever I've just read an epic book and it gets to the last chapter or the epilogue and things slow down a little for you to catch your breath. It's kinda nice to know that after weeks of turmoil, characters that you've grown to care about are finally going to get a bit of a break. It makes me wonder if I would get the same feeling if the super exciting climax (i.e all the physical fighting and stuff) occurred five chapters earlier and the rest of the book was about political intrigue? Because that's how my story is shaping up to be.
         I know the answer is to probably try and make the political stuff as exciting as possible but how do you write that kind of thing and make it more enticing than someone being chased through a forest and fighting for their life? It almost makes me want to employ the time honored soap opera trick of giving someone amnesia for no reason...
         I'd love to know what you guys think about books where the excitements ends quite a while before the actual ending of the book. If you can't picture any, think The Hunger Games where a whole section of the book is more about the aftermath. As always, I am all ears!

Monday 13 February 2012

Tagged By Jenny!!

Every once in a while, someone like Jenny gives me some love and tags me in one of the floating blogosphere memes. I love answering the questions, but I'm too lazy to think of any of my own!! Plus I am sick with the flu AGAIN, so I can't be trusted to be coherent. So here goes:

Jenny's Questions For The People She Tagged

1 What is something you dread?
Public speaking. It's not that I'm horrible at it, it's just that I have no filter and I'm not very PC so I just end up saying whatever I'm thinking...

2 What is your favorite food?

 Is this a trick question? It's be quicker if I say what I don't like. I don't like cheese, except on pizza.

3 What kind of car was your first car?

A Toyota. I've always driven Toyota <insert Asian driver joke here>

4 Picture taker or camera hog?

Picture taker for sure.

5 Do you have any pets?
Yes, I have a doberman (See above). Her name is Tallis. My husband named her after some Australian rugby player. (Don't feel bad she's on a leash that day. My parents were looking after her for an hour at the time while I signed her up to puppy socialization class and my dad fed her 4 hotdogs which is a lot for an eight week old puppy).
6 What would you do if you got to meet your movie star crush?
That's for me to know and the restraining order lawyers to find out...haha that's a joke and you're smiling but somewhere out there Ben Barnes and Gerard Butler are feeling a chill up their spine! <-- seriously, I am delirious.

7 What would you do if you met your literary crush?
I'd have to fight off Kate Daniels for him and you know what? In the end, I'd probably just chicken out and run away!!

8 Socks on or off when you sleep?
Off! Off! Off!

9 What book(s) have you been mad enough to throw across the room?
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. See THIS POST for some major book angst.

10 What book(s) have you hugged to your chest in love?
 Anything by Melina Marchetta.

11 What was the name of a childhood stuffed animal?
I didn't have many toys when I was a kid but once the sisters at my church gave me a Arista doll. Arista in case anyone doesn't know is Ariel from The Little Mermaid's sister. My younger sister got the Ariel doll because she was younger. Blah. Anyway, despite being a mermaid, her job was being a martial arts instructor or a rock climber thus paving the way for many of my current literary heroines.

I hope you enjoyed a sneak peak into the crazy world that is my brain. Thanks again for tagging me Jenny!!

And The Winner Is.....

a Rafflecopter giveaway   Thank you so much to all those who participated and gave me some much needed insight into this topic. Congrats to Christina!

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Double Review: Magic Burns & Magic Strikes by Illona Andrews

The Story (Taken from Goodreads):
Magic Burns                 Magic Strikes

My Thoughts: 
I read both these books back to back and in very short order so I'm being a bit cheeky and reviewing them together. It's difficult not to write an insanely gushing review whilst in the midst of some crazy book love but I'll try and stick to my blogoratic oath (patent pending on this term. Hahahaha) <--- Yes, sometimes I like to amuse myself. 
      The world building has gotten much better as the series has progressed. I thought the explanations of the magic/tech shifts and the different factions in new Atlanta were well done in the first book, but everything really came together in these next two installments.
      Plot wise, these books are non stop action, with Kate going from one life threatening situation to another. This is real urban fantasy and not just Harlequin romance in disguise. Speaking of romance, have I told you lately how much I adore Kate and Curran? I just can't gush enough about how funny, sarcastic and quick Kate is. She's vulnerable in an 'I've had a really horrible past,' kinda way but you'd never know it unless you really knew her well. She's tough as nails but she also cares about people. By and large, I think if I had to put her in a list of favourite heroines, she'd probably come out on top. I probably shouldn't talk about Curran because I don't want this blog to turn into a Harlequin romance. Let's just say that I usually get so annoyed with slow romances but I've been converted.
       My only criticism with these books is that there's not really much consistency in terms of magical/shapeshifter power supply. One minute someone is described as being super dooper strong and kick butt and then next, Kate is able to wind them with one single kick. On the one hand, Curran is able to tear someone's head off with his bare hands and yet, he and Kate seems pretty evenly matched despite him being a hell of a lot bigger and stronger and supposedly faster. It's a little hard to believe is all I'm saying. 
       Overall though, I am 100% on board with the Kate Daniels series and I can't wait to read the rest.

My Thoughts:
10/10 for both!

Saturday 4 February 2012

Review: This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

The Story (from Goodreads):
Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein. They are nearly inseparable. Growing up, their lives are filled with imaginary adventures...until the day their adventures turn all too real.
They stumble upon The Dark Library, and secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies are discovered. Father forbids that they ever enter the room again, but this only peaks Victor's curiosity more. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is not be satisfied with the various doctors his parents have called in to help. He is drawn back to The Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. Elizabeth, Henry, and Victor immediately set out to find assistance in a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help create the formula.
Determination and the unthinkable outcome of losing his brother spur Victor on in the quest for the three ingredients that will save Konrads life. After scaling the highest trees in the Strumwald, diving into the deepest lake caves, and sacrificing one’s own body part, the three fearless friends risk their lives to save another.

My Thoughts:
Firstly, I'd like to thank Cathy from Abnormally Paranormal Reviews for bringing this book to my attention. Without her, I would never have known about this book nor would have I bothered to read it as I'm not big into horror. Click HERE to read Cathy's awesome review.
      I don't know what to say about This Dark Endeavor. I was never a big fan of Frankenstein but the idea of reading about Victor's journey to becoming such a literary monster intrigued me. I expected to read about an unlikeable boy who was bad to the core. Instead, what I got was a heart wrenchingly realistic portrayal of the many small deeds and motivations that would lead a normal person into committing a terrible act.
      This Dark Endeavor is first and foremost an adventure. It follows Victor and his friends on a journey to discovering the elixir of life. Along the way, we learn about the fierceness of Victor's devotion to his brother Konrad, his unflinching though not wholly unexpected love for his distant cousin Elizabeth and the beginning of his obsession with alchemy.
      Maybe I have a little (lot!) of darkness in me too because I identified so much with Victor. There are a million little thoughts and ways in which you could see his darker side starting to appear but in all honesty, I would have thought and acted in the same way. You can see that throughout his life so far, Victor has felt that he is not as highly regarded as his brother Konrad. So when Konrad comes down with a mysterious disease, Victor is motivated not only by love for his brother, but also by an ambition to be a hero. To be the one who saves the day.  Totally understandably in my opinion.
      I can't speak highly enough of the characters in this book. I loved them all, good and bad. I especially loved Elizabeth who is so worthy of the admiration that she receives from Victor. Though their romance is doomed from the beginning, I couldn't help but hope for some kind of dramatic author's license to give them a happily ever after.
      I can totally recommend this book to any reader, even if you haven't read Frankenstein.

The Rating:

Thursday 2 February 2012

Writer's Corner: Tense Abouts Tenses (Oh! And A Giveaway)

If you guys haven't figured out by now that I am using you as guinea pigs for my writing exploits...well...I am :)
      This week, I've been completely agonizing over the dreaded tenses. During my extensive internet procrastination time, I've been reading up on the use of past or present tense in first person novels and which one is more popular. It seems that first person/present tense is the YA equivalent of the literary tense world. By that I mean that it gets a pretty bad rep.
       There are a lot of arguments against first person, present tense. The most common one by far would have to be that it's born of laziness and doesn't allow for additional character scope. I won't go into all of the arguments, but suffice to say, as a predominantly first person POV writer, I am slightly freaked out by this.
       Of course, I am aware that first person/present tense POV is pretty popular in YA books these days, but when I grow up from writing YA, I want to try and branch out into other age ranges and I'm not sure how my affinity for first person/present tense will translate. Not to mention the other difficulties I have writing distinctive female MC's. 
        Here comes the guinea pig bit: I want to do a survey  of what you guys think is the best tense and POV to read or write is. To sweeten the deal, everyone who posts a comment with their opinion will go into the draw to win a book to the value of $15 dollars from The Book Depository. Anyone can enter as long as TBD delivers to their country. The giveaway ends on 12 Feb 2012. I will draw the winner on the 13 Feb 2012. Don't forget to leave your email contact address.
        I'm looking for your honest opinions so don't be shy in saying what you really think. 

Good Luck and thanks guys! You're the best!