Friday, November 29, 2013

Review: Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher

Title: Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: March 18, 2003
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance, Action
Medium: Paperback, Bought

Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes was a compelling read. Somehow, I forgot to write a review of this novel on my blog, so I will have to make this review shorter than usual.

The plot was strong and interesting, full of mystery and heartbreak. It tells the story of a girl who mysteriously had her entire face burned when she was young. Her father tells everyone she dumped a pot of spaghetti on herself, but this turns out to be a lie. Her only friend is known as a fat kid, but after he gets on the swim team and loses tons of weight, he is scared she will think he's leaving her behind. And when Sarah is suddenly admitted into a hospital because she won't speak or move, her friend makes it his job to find out what really happened. This plot was gripping, intense, exciting. It was emotional and hit very close to home. Full if mystery, action, romance, all within a contemporary setting, makes for an eventful novel.

The writing was great. It was very realistic and creative, staying very believable throughout the entire novel. It weaves a story of a girl's seventeen year fight to tell what really happened to her, all while knowing she would never be pretty and that more serious things would happen if she did tell. With underlying themes of consequences, sticking up for your friends, being truthful, friendship, and more, this novel makes you question all that you know and makes you think for yourself. A wonderful read for anyone of any age, Staying Fat Sarah Byrnes is a great contemporary read. Magnificent. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! 2013

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Now, because it is a holiday and everyone is celebrating, I will make this a quick post.

I am thankful for...
My friends & family
My Life

And I'm thankful for my blogging life as well! I am thankful for each and every one of my readers.

I am thankful every GFC, every email subscriber, every Goodreads friend, every Facebook friend, every ML reader, RB friend, Google+ follower, all 1,270 Twitter followers, all 143 Facebook likes, everyone. You all make this blog what it is! 

So here's to you guys and here's until next Thanksgiving! May you fill your stomach with good food while surrounded with great friends and family.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Review: Under The Watson's Porch by Susan Shreve


Title: Under The Watson's Porch by Susan Shreve
Publisher: Yearling
Release Date: April 11, 2006
Genres: Middle Grade, Romance, Contemporary, Drama

Medium: Paperback, Won (For setting the Most-Books-Read-Record at school long ago)

Under the Watson's Porch was a fun, innocent, middle grade read. It was short, poignant, sweet, and a nice break from all the serious young adult I've been reading lately (I read Before I Die and The Fault In Our Stars. These books were both very serious and were very much tear-jerkers.) It was nice to get away from all the seriousness. This novel is the simple story of a girl and her new friend, whom her parents don't like. He's known around the town as a bad kid, although the girl sees another side of him, his good side. Together, they create a sort of weekly daycare for the neighborhood children, hidden under the Watson's porch. This plot makes for a look into the wonderful mind that is a child's. It's comedic, interesting, and sweet. Very enriching. Perfect for fans of Bridge To Terabithia and C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia style writing.

The writing was simple, yet kept the novel interesting and had it flowing at a great pace. Within the novel, you found yourself falling for the characters and caring for them, becoming angry when someone treats them different, especially when they treat the boy differently for being a "trouble-making foster-child." He writing is universal and ageless, a nice read for any age, anywhere. Perfect for fans of classic children's lit. It's also not too cutesy-cutesy as I expected it to be. It's richly written and (may I put it, ages like find wine?) Even though I am not in the age range the writer intended it's audience to be, I still enjoyed it. It was beautiful, refreshing, and timeless, also great for reading to siblings and all younger relatives and acquaintances.

This novel is original, cute, and refreshing. Perfect for younger children. Three stars.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013: Update 3

It's that time again, my blogglings! (That word sounds like aliens to me, for some strange reason. Anyway...)

It's the end of week three of NaNoWriMo 2013 and we are closing in on the end. I am so happy to have participated in my first year of NaNoWriMo, and I will definitely be doing it again next year! Next week, I will be bringing you the finale and (hopefully) be telling you that I completed the challenge of 50,000 words!

This week I have written considerably less. I did not write on the weekdays (actually, this entire month I have only written on weekends) because of school, extracurricular activities, family, etc. And this weekend, when I planned to write, I had my birthday to look forward to instead! Friday night, I picked up my friends and we all went to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on it's official release night! Then, we went shopping and they spent the night with me. The next morning, we went to the Santa Train, a tradition in my region, and I got to meet Kree Harrison (runner up of the most recent season of American Idol) and she wished me happy birthday! So this entire week, I have only gotten to write for one day: today. But, in that measure of time, I got quite a bit done.

So, the first time I wrote and edited this novel, the final first edition came out at:

 346,091 Characters - 63,905 Words - 4,368 Sentences - 2,216 Paragraphs - 15 Avg. Sentence Length - 28 Chapters

 Now, three weeks into rewriting it, I have written:

 156,274 Characters - 29,066 Words - 1,857 Sentences - 817 Paragraphs - 16 Avg. Sentence Length- 9 Chapters

 And to recap, I'll begin editing in December, and start querying again in January, just in time for the big publishing boom. So fingers crossed and stay tuned for next week's update! :)
Now, I am beginning week four. This entire week, I am going to write every single day. It's the homestretch. I have only 1 3/4 days of school this week, since they are letting out early on Tuesday for the holiday. I will write my fingers to the bones in order to write the last 21,000 words. This may sound like a lot, but I've written 29,000 in just three weekends. A complete week is more than enough time to finish this bad-boy.

So stay tuned. Next week, I'll be giving the final update for NaNoWriMo 2013 and signing off it until next year. Also, be on the look out for a movie review of Catching Fire, The Perks of Being A Wallflower, and more (possibly even The Spectacular Now!) and more book reviews!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

It's My Birthday!!

Today is my birthday, fellow blogglings, and I am happy to share it with you guys. It's been an amazing weekend, best birthday yet. Kree Harrison (Runner up on last season of American Idol) told me happy birthday today and my family and friends got to spend the weekend with me, having fun and partying. I also got to go see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire with my friends and it was amazing!! I want to literally watch it again. (It had great graphics and was a deifinite action-packed thrill ride with intense scenes and tearjerker moments! Movie reviews of several movies coming soon!)

Anyway, I've had a great day and an even greater year. I know I've only been blogging for close to half a year with you guys, but I feel as if I belong here, and I'm looking forward to another year with you guys and many more after that! Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes and I'll be sending more interesting stuff your way soon!

-McKenzie xoxo

Review: Eve by Anna Carey

Title: Eve by Anna Carey
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: July 13th, 2012
Genres: Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Action, Horror
Medium: Hardcover, Bought

I began reading Eve with slight doubt. It wasn't that popular, yet was still relatively new, which seemed unusual to me. The cover was also very boring and uninteresting, and lacking that extra umpf. It looked very much like every other dystopian novel you see everyday on the shelves. Yet, the synopsis still interested me, so I took a chance and decided to pick it up. Let me say, I was hooked from chapter one. The plot is new, fresh, and interesting. It features the usual dystopian background a disease-ride place now called New America. The only difference is that the new government is taking the girls to schools to supposedly "learn" while the boys go to labor camps. The girls are being treated as little more than sows as they are sent to a permanent maternity ward where they are forced to repopulate the new world. Eve escapes along with Arden and another girl and soon they come across a troop of boys who have also escaped from their prisons. They meet Caleb and go in search of a refugee camp in on the coast. This plot keeps you hooked from chapter to chapter, playing with your senses as you face the complications of hunger, thirst, trust, being in hiding, sickness, all while heading to a camp you know very little about. It also has the underlying message that knowledge can sometimes be dangerous.

The writing was great, yet lacking in certain realms. Simple, yet interesting, making it easy to fly right through, because ultimately, it's impossible not to. It is action-packed and filled with fighting and running, as they fight to escape the king if New America. The writing has very little thinking, though. It is almost completely action scenes and dialogue (very little dialogue!) and no transition, emotions, or thoughts from the characters. There is no thinking behind their actions. The characters also evolve very little. If you likes stories like this, completely actions with little emotional reaction from your characters, then you will enjoy this novel. I however, wish their could have been more response from the characters, and less reacting like robots.

The characters (as you read above) have very little evolvement. But besides this, they are interesting. Eve, a simple, sometimes annoying girl, is often kind of dumb. I didn't like her character as much as I would have liked to. Arden was more like my type of character: a real bad-butt if you know what I mean. Caleb was also a different type of character. He was the strong, living-off-the-land type, protective with a soft side. He was a super cool character to get to read from, whereas Eve was one dimensional, slightly boring, and had the dumb-girl effect in me. Her character could have been developed a bit better.

Taking all of this into account, Eve was the beginning of a great trilogy. Although I had a few qualms with the first book in this series, I still enjoyed it thoroughly. It was well thought out, creative, and thought-provoking about what decisions you would make if you were in the situation. It was interesting and a completely different world, keeping romance alive and other factors in play, while not overshadowing the action-packed dystopian world. A great story. 3.5 stars.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Arbitrate Tour Grand Finale!!

Everything has changed...

Arbitrate Tour Grand Finale!!!


It's one year later. And everything has changed. 

Remember The Second Chance Institute (SCI). Earth's benevolent non-profit by day, Thera's totalitarian regime by night. They've stepped up their game on Earth and on Thera--infiltrating political parties, preying on the downtrodden, and planning offensive maneuvers. And they're handing out more "second chances" than ever before. The SCI's abuse of their charter leads to Arbiter oversight and bitter consequences.

Remember Kira Donovan. Broken, burdened, and evading those who wish her harm, Kira enlists the Arbiters' help when forced to return to the clutches of the SCI and her angry, estranged love.

Remember Blake Sundry. Exiled, determined, and packing an agenda, Blake seeks assistance on Earth and Thera to use his newfound knowledge to bring down the SCI.

Remember Ethan Darcton. Overworked, emotional, and holding a grudge, Ethan hunts down his stolen property, but finds himself in awkward territory, stuck between the Arbiters and the SCI.

Full of action, competing agendas, romantic entanglements, humor, twists and turns, arbitrate is book #2 in the award-winning, bestselling daynight series.

Did you miss parts of the tour? Catch it all now!!!

November 1st
Colorimetry – Kick Off

November 4th

"This book left me with one of those awesome book buzzes!  There are a lot of books I finish and feel happy, this one I finished and my head is swirling, in a totally awesome way!"

Wondermom Wannabe – Review

"My favorite aspect of the book is how well the author layers in themes and symbolism so that whether you are a casual reader just interested in a good plot line or you are a literature fanatic who loves to dissect every aspect of a book, you will enjoy reading arbitrate. In fact, I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t like this book unless you read strictly non-fiction."

fundinmental – Spotlight

"I nearly killed him. I can still feel the weight of the revolver in my hands, the cool feel of the metal against my skin, my finger pulsing against the trigger.
I still want to kill him.
Gads I hate him.
I catch sight of my reflection in the mirror above my dresser and barely recognize what I see. Dark circles under the eyes, unshaven face, expression that screams failure. I hate that guy, too."
- Arbitrate

November 5th

Mythical Books – Interview

Having in view the course of events, the characters must evolve. They have real and palpable problems. How hard is to change them but keep the interest of young adults for the book?
I think that the only way to keep the interest of readers is to have the characters evolve. It was important to me that arbitrate have a very different feel and story than daynight. No one wants to read a rehashed plot. From day one, I knew that Kira would “break” post-daynight and that it would have a huge impact on everyone she cared about—that her choices would have long-impacting consequences. In arbitrate, Kira evolves from a relatively naive and idealistic teenager to a full-fledged adult. And Kira isn’t the only one who changes. All the characters change and evolve. It is one of my favorite things about arbitrate.

My Devotional Thoughts – Spotlight

“I’m angry at all of them. Every SCI leader. In fact Joshua gave me a list of those who are Earth-side. It makes for a great to-do list.” They all deserve to pay.
I’m done talking. It’s time for some action.
- Arbitrate

Reviews by Karen – Spotlight

3 Partners in Shopping – Spotlight

November 6th

Cuzinlogic – Interview

What Inspired you to write this book?
The series was inspired by a hike I took through the canyons of San Diego on a particularly hot day. I pondered how hot it would have to get before days and nights would have to be switched (sleep during the hot day hours and be productive during the night). From there, I thought about what kind of government would rule the ╩║night,╩║ and The Second Chance Institute was born.
For arbitrate, I did not want a rehashed plot of the first book. I knew how I wanted it to begin, end, and a pivotal scene in the middle. I loosely plotted it and then revised continually as I had better ideas.

One thousand one.
One thousand two.
One thousand three.
That’s all it takes to even out my breathing and steady my hand.
I shift the crosshairs on my target ever so slightly—from his heart to his hand—and pull the trigger. 
- Arbitrate

"I was not to be disappointed.  If anything I think arbitrate might be better than daynight.  There is so much going on in this story and Ms Thomason's expertly weaves all the different threads so that they entwine just where they need to in order to keep you in the story and moving forward to a conclusion which leaves you breathless and wanting more."

Deal Sharing Aunt – Spotlight

November 7th

"I'm so happy with where the story went romantically.  SO, so happy.  There were moments that just broke my heart too.  Such a roller coaster of great stuff.  I cannot wait to see where the next book takes me."

Bookwyrming Thoughts – Playlist
(Click on Bookwyrming Thoughts' link to see the playlist.)

     "Note that all these songs are not the ones I listened to while writing but songs that I feel represent the plot of arbitrate as best as possible. While writing arbitrate, I listened to a lot of Imagine Dragons, Fun., Bastille, Of Monsters and Men, Fall Out Boy, blink-182, My Chemical Romance, Two Door Cinema Club, and dozens of other fabulous bands."

Mel’s Shelves – Review

"If you like out-of-the-box dystopia which deviates from the "formula," pushes the limits and leaves you breathless, this is the series for you! As for me, I am now anxiously awaiting generate (book 3)!"

November 8th

Brooklyn Berry Designs – Spotlight

I’m looking for my next victim when the front door opens.
My visitor looks at me like I’m a crazy man. I’d plead insanity, but that’d be as big a lie as he told me. 
- Arbitrate

Is there a singular character that really touched your heart and why?
All three main characters’ stories touched me in arbitrate (I spent a lot of time crying), but for a singular character…I will say Madison. She’s a new character that appears and her backstory is heartbreaking. She has had to endure more in two lifetimes than most people could even fathom for one. I’d like to do a novella that tells her story in more detail.
November 9th

Fast paced, full of action and although it didn't go in the direction I expected, that made it even better.  After finishing this book it's still one of the best series I've read and I can't wait to see what's next in store for them all. 

Sweeping Me – Spotlight

Bound 4 Escape – Review

"This book is pretty intense. The plot is complex and there is a lot going on inarbitrate. On top of all that is going on in the world(s), Kira has her newborn babies and three men to deal with. Wow! She does figure out who she wants to spend her life with by the end of the book (my favorite…yay)."

Bookworm Lisa – Review

"Megan Thomason does a wonderful job at setting up a scene and bringing the right amount of information in play.  I love how she is able to work more information in later and leaving the reader engaged and waiting to see what happens next."

Gustosa Giveaway – Spotlight

The assailant dragged me to the main room and hefted me onto the table. I was paralyzed, unable to move, but still alert. My eyes were still open, yet my vision was blurred. I saw enough to see my attacker was a middle-aged, balding male. Taller than Blake, but shorter than Jax. 
- Arbitrate

November 12th

Spellbindings – Tens List
(Read the entire list on Spellbindings' blog.)

10 things the characters must keep in mind about the SCI.
1. They hide nefarious acts behind seemingly charitable ones.
2. The leaders have chess-player mentality, always thinking ahead several moves.
3. The SCI has people they answer to, so befriend those people...
Michael SciFan – Review

"Arbitrate, the newly released sequel to Daynight by Megan Thomason, is really amazing. It went in a completely different direction than I thought it would, and that was a nice surprise. I won’t say I was always happy about where it went, but in the end, I completely agree with the journey."

Indie Author How-to – Spotlight

A tall marble glass cat comes to mind. My mother got it for me as a housewarming gift. I stalk out to the living room and seize it. It’s heavy and awkward and the perfect accessory to mayhem.

The bathroom’s my next destination. I flip on the light switch and take a deep breath. Is it so wrong to want something to be more broken than me?

As I slam the cat into the mirror, the falling pieces clang out a musical masterpiece.
- Arbitrate

November 13th

Before it’s over, you’ll want to cry and/or cheer regarding multiple characters’ choices and the deadly or life-giving consequences—sometimes both for the same person. I think I’d better I leave it at that—awesome! 

What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?

My favorite scene is the last. I cried buckets over it. It is bittersweet and makes me run the full gamut of emotions from sorrow to hope; it has tender moments, irony, and defiance. A major character “grows a spine,” and it is glorious to see.

Other books in the Daynight series:

Daynight (Daynight, #1) Clean Slate Complex (Daynight, #1.5)
Daynight (Daynight, #1) and Clean Slate Complex (Daynight, #1.5)
Click to see these titles on Goodreads

Megan Thomason

Bestselling, award-winning author Megan Thomason lives in paradise aka San Diego, CA with her husband and five children. A former software manager, Megan vastly prefers writing twisted tales to business, product, and marketing plans. When she isn't typing away on her laptop, she's reading books on her phone--over 600 in the last year--or attending to the needs of her family. Megan's fluent in sarcasm, could potentially benefit from a 12-step program for road rage, struggles with a Hot Tamales addiction, loves world travel & fast cars and hates paperwork & being an insomniac.


"Grand Finale"


Nov 1- 24
$25 Gift Card
See Rafflecopter for restrictions.

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Update 2! NaNoWriMo 2013

It's that time again!! We are officially two weeks into NaNoWriMo 2013. It's time for an update! I've been writing nonstop all weekend (and I do mean nonstop). Beside me, I've had hot chocolate and popcorn-flavored jellybeans (meal of champions) and I've managed to make a big dent in the 50,000 words I'm supposed to write before the end of the month.

So, the first time I wrote and edited this novel, the final first edition came out at:

346,091 Characters - 63,905 Words - 4,368 Sentences - 2,216 Paragraphs - 15 Avg. Sentence Length - 28 Chapters

Now, two weeks into rewriting it, I have written:

128,046 Characters - 23,729 Words - 1,524 Sentences - 669 Paragraphs - 16 Avg. Sentence Length- 8 Chapters

And to recap, I'll begin editing in December, and start querying again in January, just in time for the big publishing boom. So fingers crossed and stay tuned for next week's update! :)

AND, because we are halfway through NaNoWriMo, here's a sneak peak at my book. It's copyrighted, so don't even try to steal. If you even consider yourself a writer, you won't steal. Authors who plagiarize are pathetic. So on that happy note, here's a sneak peak!

Without warning, he leaned down and pressed his lips to mine. Surprised, I pulled back a little, but soon found myself leaning into the kiss. Our lips began to move in sync, as we were with another. For once, I felt as if I belonged.

"You do," he whispered, pulling away for a second to whisper to my lips. "You do belong. In my world. And I swear, I will try and I will make it work, make us work, but first you need to hear the whole story.

Stay tuned for next week's update! :)

The Book Thief Movie Is Out!

It's here! It's here! It's FINALLY HERE. 

The Book Thief movie is finally here! 

Click here to watch the trailer for this amazing book!
And here to read a chapter sampler as well!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay (Book review)

Title: Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: September 11, 2011
Genres: Romance, Drama, Horror
Medium: Hardcover, Bought

Juliet Immortal is the modern retelling of a a classic love story, except with a little twist. Instead of Romeo & Juliet committing suicide to be with each other, Romeo instead kills her, and they both come into another body every century and try to kill each other.

The idea for this novel is most original and interesting.  Even if you haven't read the famous Romeo & Juliet play by the great William Shakespeare, this novel is still a pleasure to read. It mixes mild horror (ghosts and rotten Romeo corpses, of course) drama (literally, she's involved in the drama department; Oh the irony) and lots of romance. This novels weaves an intricate tale of a hundreds-year-old romance torn apart by lies and mistrust, and instead replaced by hatred and anger. Full of suspense and true romance, this novel is one for the next hundreds of years.

The writing in this novel was also very nice, to match the plot if the novel. Very consistent. It is old-timey and Shakespearean at times, while modern and fascinating later. It's enchanting all the while, however. Magical, beautiful, and romantic meet horrific, action-packed, and creepy. A beautiful page-turner that captures the elegance of the original play, while still giving it a modern twist. The writing is polished, flows well, and manages the two POVs well, while giving both main characters emotion and depth.

The characters are also a key point to why this book is such a treasure. Juliet's voice inside of Ariel is magnificent, and her character clearly expresses her reasons for mistrusting Romeo and his antics, thought she soon learns she may not hate him, but hate herself. This much character realization here and character change. Romeo through Dylan was also very interesting to experience, as he comes to terms with what he's done, including what he's done to Juliet, and begins to change from his pompous self just the slightest bit. Then it is gone. Ben was probably my favorite character, as he was inspirational in the way that he learned from his mistakes and how to move on from them, not dwelling on the past and letting them dictate his life.

Not everything is like it seems in this novel. A beautiful spin or the Classic Shakespeare tragedy, this novel brings you in their world and won't let you go.

Triskele Launch! Blog Tour


A Week of Interviews and Giveaways!

November 16 - 22 Preview

16 – Literally Jen - Wolfsangel by Liza Perrat

17 – Beck Valley Books - Ghost Town by Catriona Troth

18 – Deal Sharing Aunt - Overlord, The Rise of Zenobia by JD Smith

19 – The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something Year Old Girl - The Boxset from Gillian Hamer


20 – Brooke Blogs - Boxset by JJ Marsh


21 – Colorimetry - Triskele Trail

22 – Grand Finale


1 Signed Paperback,
2 eCopies...

Wolfsangel by Liza Perrat
Ghost Town by Catriona Troth
Overlord, The Rise of Zenobia by JD Smith

1 Signed Paperback of any one book out of each series, 
1 eBook Boxset of each, 
1 eBook of each book in both series...

The Charter, Closure, Complicit by Gillian Hamer
Behind Closed Doors, Raw Material, Tread Softly by JJ Marsh

Print copies available to win in US/Can/UK. eCopies available Internationally. Open to those who can legally enter and are able to receive winnings. Winners will be drawn randomly on Rafflecopter. Winners will be awarded according to their preference in the order they are drawn. If there is no preference indicated, they will win according to the consecutive posting order. Winners will be announced on Rafflecopter and notified by email after the giveaway has ended. They will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The odds of winning are determined by the number of entries. This giveaway was organized by the authors of Triskele Books and Prism Book Tours: and sponsored by the authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Promises To Keep by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (Book review)

Title: Promises To Keep by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, slight Romance
Medium: ARC paperback via Random House Teens

To be quiet honest, I attempted to read this one not long after I received it around March. I got a chapter, two chapters on, and I couldn't go any farther. I put a bookmark in it and shelved it. Then I realized the other day how many ARCs I had yet to read, so I pulled out this one. I'll admit, I had a slightly easier time getting through it this time, but it still wasn't one of my favorites.

The plot was quiet boring to me. Vampires, shapeshifters, uninteresting characters trying to save the world, you know, the usual. The MC was somewhat interesting, but barely. All in all, the characters felt very flat and unimaginative. The plot was very slow and not good for holding anyone's attention. The only reason I stayed with it is because I have some sort of motto that states I cannot DNF a physical book without attempting to force myself first. So I got through it. The ending was much better than the rest of the novel, but it was lacking in everything else. 

The writing was good. Wasn't extremely amazing, but wasn't bad either. This novel had good premise, but could have been so much better. It was just very... Slow. And a little boring. I really wish I could give a better review, but I just found this novel lacking. Maybe another work from this author would be better. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013 Update: Week 1

It's time for a NaNoWriMo update! We are a little over a week into this year's national writing incentive and I'm here to share with you what I have accomplished in this first week!

First of all, I'll repeat what I posted at the beginning of the month. Instead of writing a completely different book this November, I instead decided to rewrite what I believe is my best novel ever. After writing it for the first time back in 2011, I attempted my first trial of the Big Payoff: getting published. I sent my query out to hundreds of agents from all over the country, and actually had a handful who were interested, but couldn't take on another novel at the time. So I quit querying and began working on other works. Now I return to it, since I cannot keep my mind off of it. I believe that once I rewrite this and actually fix the plot to flow better, and change some of the events around, maybe I'll have a chance at hooking an agent and getting this thing published.

So, the first time I wrote and edited this novel, the final first edition came out at:

346,091 Characters - 63,905 Words - 4,368 Sentences - 2,216 Paragraphs - 15 Avg. Sentence Length - 28 Chapters

Now, one week into rewriting it, I have written:

53,955 Characters - 10,019 Words - 626 Sentences - 262 Paragraphs - 17 Avg. Sentence Length
- 3 Chapters

With three more weeks, I'm sure I can get this novel finished. I've already got about 1/6 of it done (by word count) Once I get it written and I've puked all I can up onto the paper, I'll begin editing in December, and start querying again in January, just in time for the big publishing boom. So fingers crossed and stay tuned for next week's update! :)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Review: Wake by Amanda Hocking

Title: Wake by Amanda Hocking
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin 
Release Date: April 16th, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Drama
Medium: Paperback, bought

I was slightly skeptical coming into the Wake series and the world of Amanda Hocking. I had never read any of her work before, or any books about mermaids or sirens, so this was a pleasant surprise for me! 

I really enjoyed Wake. The plot was actually very nice. It centers around a girl who finds herself naturally attracted to water. When taken in one night by three beautiful girls, she is forced to become one of them. She soon finds herself turning into one of them, only to make the choice: either become a siren and use your beauty and voice to entice men, only to kill people to sustain yourself, or refuse not to become one, and have to die. The plot was very thought out and pleasing, giving me everything I wanted and a few plot twists mingled in. In showed what happens when your are forced to make desperate decisions involving the ones you love. With underlying plot ties of family, friendship, budding romance and heartbreak, all within an nice plot. Very good.

The characters were very interesting as well. Gemma was a strong, independent character that reminded me much of myself. She was mature and thought of her family and friends before herself, and was determined to do what was best for them. Harper on the other hand, kind of got on my nerves. She's was overpowering, bossy, and annoying. Of course, she acts this way to help fill in for the position of Gemma's mother, but still. Daniel instantly caught my eyes, and I say, I'm already excited to see more of him in the series (ecspecially since I saw a depiction of him on the cover of Tidal, a sequel to Wake) and I must also say that Alex's sexy nerdy character also interests me. I can't wait to see what happens to the characters as the series progresses.

The writing was also very good. Lacking a little, but still good. Interesting and original, it was about an unusual topic, while still keeping it believable. It was easy to read and the writing was flowing, smooth, and hard to stop reading. There were very few times in which I could actually stop reading. It was that good. It wasn't the best novel I have ever read, but it definitely isn't the worst. This series is sure to be one of my favorites, and I cannot wait to get ahold of the sequel. Overall, this is an original series with a flair for mythology, showcasing both the beauty and ugly of an old myth. With interesting characters and smooth writing and a good plot line, this series is perfect for anyone wishing for an escape from reality.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel (Book review)

Title: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: October 18th, 2011
Genres: Horror, Action, Romance, Fantasy
Medium: Hardcover, bought
Dearly, Departed is a timeless love story set in the year 2193, in New Victoria, where ball gowns, bonnets, and carriages are reinstated. Graceful and beautiful, Nora Dearly and her family and friends live in a world where marriages are assigned,  women are expected to agree and be tranquil, and daily life is to be peacefully, perfectly, boring. That is, until zombies begin to roam the world.

The plot is very intricate and well-planned in this novel. Similar to steam punk, this novel is a royal love story set 180 years in the future, featuring the Victorian age of simplicity and timeless beauty, and of course, the "ageless" beauty of zombies. War ensues between New Victoria and the Punks, a group of pro-zombie, good-guy-zombies who guard the borders. When a new breed of killer zombies attacks Nora and her family, she is kidnapped to safety by the Punks, as they hunt for her father, who may hold the cure to the zombie disease being spread. While war ensues, the women become strong and fight alongside the good zombies, fighting against the bad guys who have taken her father hostage. With an unbeatable army-themed plot mingled with family, romance, friendship, survival, and war, this novel is sure to keep you on edge.

The writing is very systematic and interesting. Great dialogue and switching of point of views. With an original plot and setting, and characters who demand your attention, it makes for a great zombie-action-romance. A perfect mix of Warm Bodies, The Walking Dead, etc. and Twilight. The romance in this novel is not that of Twilight, however, in the way that this romance slowly transforms from repulsion to attraction, and creates a hardened couple bonded through the apocalypse. The writing is very detailed and interesting, creating a whole new world and variation on the topic of zombies. I can't get over how detailed this plot is, and how thought out the sci-fi-turned-Victorian principle is. Action-packed and yet pretty at the same time, with both strong male and female main characters, it makes for a great unisex read. 3.5 stars.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (Book Review)

Title: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Publisher: Penguin Group
Release Date: January 10, 2012
Genres: Drama, Contemporary, Romance
Medium: Hardcover, bought
The moment after finishing Looking For Alaska, I knew I was going to read more of John Green's work. So when I finally got the chance to purchase The Fault In Our Stars, I jumped at the chance. 

The Fault In Our Stars was as beautiful as Looking For Alaska had been, if not more. Yet again, his novels feature a beautiful, devastating plot that is impossible to stop in the middle of. This novel recognizes disease in a way never seen before. It features a tragic love story which centers around two teenage cancer survivors. Before reading this, I knew very little about cancer. It was very insightful to read a story in the point of view of a disease-stricken girl, as she battles the "not-really-battle" and finds happiness in her small world devoid of many freedoms. Insightful and quite intellectual, this novel not only features romance and struggle, but also drama as the two teens decide to travel to a foreign country to meet the author of a book that has inspired both of them, all while dealing with their disease, and trying to decide how everything fits in their individual lives.

The writing of this novel is tremendous. Intellectual, interesting, and emotional, like usual, John Green's writing inspires and encourages. It centers around recovery and the aftermath after death and how different characters respond and deal with their pain, both mental and physical. A classic contemporary novel for the ages, bound to be popular and appeal to individuals for years, as we strive to understand the disease and its prisoners. Written in the beautiful point of view of a sixteen-year old victim of cancer, you are brought through several instances of pain, laughter, love, sickness, health, and family. Ambitious with raw honesty and quite moving, this story is a love story for the ages. Compelling and richly written with characters of depth and emotion, The Fault In Our Stars should be read by every human being, in order to better understand many things, including life in general. Five stars.

Plot Overview: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Interview with Jessica Sankiewicz (Author of "If Only We") Blog Tour stop!

Next Page Reviews is a stop on the If Only We Blog Tour! Keep reading to find an exclusive author interview and more!

Synopsis:They say all it takes is one wrong move and you lose the game. One false step and you’re trapped. One slip-up in your choice of words and you ruin a friendship forever. That is what they say. They say I lost.

I do not believe them.

At the end of the summer after graduation, Adrienne wonders what happened to cause her life to be in ruins. She isn’t getting along with her mom, her stepsister isn’t talking to her, and, to top it off, the boy she’s been in love with doesn’t want anything to do with her. She believes the turning point was a choice she made at graduation. When she wakes up the next day, she has been transported back three months to that moment, the one where everything started to fall apart.

Adrienne realizes she has been given a second chance—and this time she doesn’t want to mess anything up. Reliving the entire summer, though, turns out to be a lot harder than she thought. As the same days and weeks go by, she starts to see how simple decisions can make a huge impact on the world around her. Despite knowing some of what lies ahead, there are some things she didn’t anticipate. She thought she knew what mistake led her to where she ended up the first time. She was wrong.

And by the time summer is over, she discovers what was really at stake.
Interview with Author Jessica Sankiewicz!
1: Favorite Guilty Pleasure: Kissing scenes in movies and on TV. I eagerly anticipate seeing my favorite couples kiss for the first time. I sometimes watch my favorites over and over again.
2. Movie/TV Show I can watch reruns of and never get tired of: This one is hard! I'm such a TV junkie... It's a toss-up between Castle and Veronica Mars. I adore Nathan Fillion, but I am pretty much like Veronica Mars.
3. Favorite Hobby: Crocheting. I'm not very good and have no clue how to read patterns but it is very soothing.
4. Adventurous Activity I Have Never Tried (But Want To!): Chase a tornado. I used to have an obsession with tornadoes when I was little and had this dream of becoming a storm chaser. I don't think I would want to be a storm chaser anymore, but it would be exciting to do it once.
5. Something Popular I Have Never Tried (But Also Want To!): Running. It seems like half the people I know either run or have been participating in marathons in the last year. I especially like the idea of doing The Color Run.
6. Biggest Fear: Big spiders. I can handle (and tolerate) the little ones just fine. I am willing to let the tiny ones live in corners as long as they keep to themselves.
7. If I could travel back in time, I would... go back to the 70s, see Billy Joel in concert, and meet him after the show because he's awesome.
8. Favorite Music: I listen to such a variety, but I often go through obsessions with techno and anything with amazing piano playing. The album currently in the CD player in my car is All's Well That Ends Well by Chiodos, an example of great piano playing.
9. Favorite snack to munch on while writing? M&Ms. I actually have a dispenser, which currently needs a refill.
10. If I had to describe my novel "If Only We" in less than 10 words, it would be... Never underestimate your impact on the lives of others.

Jessica is the 28-year-old author of IF ONLY WE, a YA contemporary. You can often find her either reading or marathon watching TV on DVD, her favorites being Castle and Veronica Mars. She frequently mismatches her clothes and giggles uncontrollably. She knows almost every Billy Joel song by heart. She collects books and toys, and she has an intense love of cats and lemurs. Currently in the midst of her quarter-life-crisis, she is still takin' names and getting very close to reaching an epiphany.