Saturday, July 30, 2011

Book Review: Supernaturally by Kiersten White

Title: Supernaturally
Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: HarperTeen
Why I read it/how I found it: This is the sequel to Paranormalcy.

Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.
But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.
So much for normal.

Just as funny and entertaining as its predecessor, I can say that I really enjoyed Supernaturally. This book has a lot of great character development and exploration. Obviously, as this is Evie's story she discovers the most about herself, but I think that other characters were presented full-fleshed. We find out more about Arianna in this one, and we meet Jack, who isn't just a this-is-how-he-is character. I'd read a whole other book on Jack, I'd love to explore more of his complexities. Sometimes I did feel like I was just being tossed from one situation to another, but looking back it all came back together in Evie's growth more than for a plotline. And while there is a plot, this book is very much a character-driven book.

Other information: The last book in the trilogy is Endlessly and will be coming out next summer. Paranormalcy is also opted for a film. Kiersten White's website is here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Liebster Blog Award

I want to thank magpiewrites for this awesome blog award! It's so pretty! Thank you!

The goal of the award is to spotlight up and coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers. 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!

And so here are my five picks to pass the award onto. Be sure to check them out (their blogs of course, not in the other way, that might be awkward).

1. Lucy V. Morgan, who gives great writing advice.
2. The fun Rachel Searles with her awesome blog, Awkward Girl.
3. I'm excited for Ghenet Myrthil's blog, All About Them Words, and its new schedule.
4. Jenna Blake Morris and her blog Literally YA, which always has great insights.
5. Finally, the talented Kristin Lynn Thetford and her great blog, The Journey.

There you have it! Be sure to go on and spread the follower love! :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Grammar Nazi

I found this hilarious video on youtube called Grammar Nazis. Unfortunately, the video won't show on anywhere but youtube so I can only link you to it.

Being an English major, I come across the Grammar Nazi a lot. Sometimes, I think it's a little bit ridiculous how intense some people can be. Of course I support using correct grammar, but there are some really obscure rules and people don't adhere to them in speech (among them...who can really tell me when to use who and when to use whom? I never understood that).

However, I admit to having one not-very-well-known grammar rule that I'm a stickler about. That is the difference between using "good" and "well". It's come to the point where my younger brother mocks me and purposely uses the wrong word just to annoy me.

Are you a Grammar Nazi? Know any? Do you have one grammar rule you follow religiously?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Book Review: Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier

Title: Cybele's Secret 
Author: Juliet Marillier
Publisher: Alfred K. Knopf, imprint of Random House
Genre: Young Adult (fantasy)
Why I read it/how I found it: Came across it at the library and thought it sounded good.

For Paula, accompanying her merchant father on a trading voyage to Istanbul is a dream come true. They have come to this city of trade on a special mission to purchase a most rare artifact—a gift from the ancient goddess, Cybele, to her followers. It’s the only remnant of a lost, pagan cult.
But no sooner have they arrived when it becomes clear they may be playing at a dangerous game. A colleague and friend of Paula’s father is found murdered. There are rumors of Cybele’s cult reviving within the very walls of Istanbul. And most telling of all, signs have begun to appear to Paula, urging her to unlock Cybele’s secret.
Meanwhile, Paula doesn’t know who she can trust in Istanbul, and finds herself drawn to two very different men. As time begins to run out, Paula realizes they may all be tied up in the destiny of Cybele’ s Gift, and she must solve the puzzle before unknown but deadly enemies catch up to her. 

Review: I feel apathetic toward this book. I read it, and it didn't intrigue me or bore me. I didn't realize it when I picked it up, but this is a companion novel to Wildwood Dancing, which I haven't read. Perhaps if I read that I might have more of an interest in the world and the characters. I still understood everything, but still having that extra book might have helped to set up my interest. It was enjoyable going through Istanbul as Paula did, both during the Ottoman rule and as a woman. The social customs were interesting to discover. Many of the characters were also interesting, revealing different layers and pasts to them as the story went on, and many times the interactions between them was cleverly played out. However, once the climax was reached, there was still many, many pages to read of falling action, some of which I felt could have been cut or condensed. It was as if I read an extra twenty pages to what I really needed to read to feel satisfied.

Other information: As I said above, this is a companion to Wildwood Dancing. And although nothing else has come out yet, with a certain door open in Cybele's Secret I think more might be coming. Juliet Marillier's website is here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Symbols for Strength

Last Sunday Jaycee Dugard gave her first interview on TV with Diane Sawyer. In case you don't know who Jaycee Dugard is, she was kidnapped at eleven years old by a convicted sex offender and his wife, Phillip and Nancy Garrido. She was held captive in their backyard, raped, and gave birth to two girls without any proper medical care. After eighteen years, she was finally found and reunited with her mother.

In the interview Jaycee talks about the last thing she touched before being taken was a pinecone, the last thing that reminded her of her life before and who she was. Now she keeps a charm of a pinecone around her neck as a symbol of hope.

Jaycee said that in the shed she spent the first of several nights of captivity in, she could see moonlight streaming in through the window. Before, at her home, she would spend nights on the porch with her mom, and they would debate on which moon was better, the full moon or the crescent moon. There in the shed, kidnapped and bound, she saw the moonlight and held onto it as strength. When she later could leave the shed, at night she would stare at the moon and remember her mom, and hope she would see her again.

Besides just being human and having this story touch me, it also hit my inner writer. I think that it's common for humans, when going through a hard time, to find something that reminds them of better days, or someone they love, or the possibility of escape from the pain they're going through. Since it's our job as writers to put our characters through struggle and hard times, I really started to like the idea of giving a character something tangible to give them hope, as Jaycee had. Not only does it keep the situation more hopeful for the character, but the reader will also have some light to go by as well, instead of wallowing in suffering.

Have you used any symbols to give your characters strength? Do you have any in your own life?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent 
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Young Adult (dystopia)
Why I read it/how I found it: Once again, just heard a lot about it, and heard a lot of good things about it.

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Review: Holy. Freaking. Moley. I told myself before that I needed a break from dystopian, but I heard so much buzz about this book I had to read it, and I am so glad I did! This books is an incredibly unique dystopia, without all of the stereotypes that you often find in that genre. The characters were all fresh, individual, and realistic. Not one of them were flat, and so having them interact made for an engaging story. I loved Tris' character, because she was brave and selfless, but it wasn't done in a way that said, "Hey! Bam! Look at how awesome I am!" Of course, Tris was awesome, but it wasn't in a way that overdid anything or made it out as if she's a goddess but doesn't realize how great she is. Also, this book balanced action, social issues, internal conflict, and romance all very well. With everything in the mix, with the right amount of it, there were so many factors that made me keep on reading. And, please just rejoice with me for a moment, because you see THERE WAS NO LOVE TRIANGLE. *cue hallelujah chorus* That's right folks, you can make an intriguing YA book with romance, and keep it between two people. And it was an amazing romance. It didn't overpower the book, it was sweet, but not so much you feel nauseated. The end had me in tears, and so this book is very powerful emotionally.

Other information: The next book, Insurgent, is due out around May 2012, although nothing on that date is final yet. Divergent is also going to be on the big screen some time from Summit Entertainment. Evan Daughtery will be writing the script, and Pouya Shabazian, Doug Wick, and Lucy Fisher are producing it. Veronica Roth's website is here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Possession Giveaway Winner and more Harry Potter

First item of the day, the winner of the signed copy of POSSESSION by Elana Johnson goes to...Kristin Lynn Thetford. Congratulations! I'll be emailing you, and you have 48 hours to respond.

Now for a little bit more Harry Potter. Since last post was on the more serious side, I thought today I'd bring you some interesting Harry Potter facts, which I got from Harry Potter Secrets on twitter. These are just some of the cool bits of Harry Potter information you can find on this twitter.
  • The costume department tried in vain to produce Luna's radish-like earrings. Evanna Lynch (Luna) then made it by herself.
  • The Death Eaters was originally named The Knights of Walpurgis.
  • When Harry talked to Dumbledore in Deathly Hallows, the creature in limbo was actually Voldemort's piece of soul that used to be in Harry's body.
  • In order to acquaint himself with the trio, director Alfonso Cuaron had each of them write an essay about their characters. Emma Watson wrote a 16-page essay, Daniel Radcliffe wrote a simple one page paper, and Rupert Grint never even turned his in.
  • The Elder Wand was the only wand in existence that has Thestral tail hair as its core.
  • J.K Rowling once declined the offer to play Lily Potter.
  • Bellatrix has the distinction of being the only person in the series to duel all of the trio on separate occasions. She attacked Harry during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, she fought Ron in the sky during the Battle over Little Whinging, and she duelled with Hermione during the Battle of Hogwarts.
  • Muggle-borns are descended from Squibs who have married Muggles and whose families had lost the knowledge of their wizarding legacy.
  • Beside Molly Weasley, J.K. Rowling considered Neville might be the one to kill Bellatrix as revenge for torturing his parents.
  • Snape's portrait wasn't put into Headmaster office since he had abandoned his post. However, Harry made sure his portrait was placed there.
  • If you spell "Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi" backwards, it becomes: I show not your face but your heart's desire.
  • Harry is very distantly related to Salazar Slytherin, but is not a descendant of him.
  • Voldemort can't love because he was conceived under the effects of love potion.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Just another Harry Potter post...

I know everyone's going crazy about the fact that the last movie is coming out and writing blog posts about it. I wanted to as well.

But I couldn't.

I tried to think of something to blog about. Whether I should talk about some of my favorite characters (how do you even choose?) or background information on the myths J.K. Rowling put in the series, or perhaps writing techniques to pick up from the books.

I tried all of these, and I couldn't put my heart into it.

It's not because I don't love the series and I don't have anything to say about it (sometimes I think people would wish I'd just shut up about them). It's because despite how exciting this is, it's the end of an era. Of course, as Rowling said at the London premiere, Hogwarts will always welcome us back home, but there's no denying it's not the same now. And it's not because the books or movies have changed, or that the magic has faded. It's that with the completion of Harry Potter comes the completion of my childhood.

My generation had a very unique experience with Harry Potter. We always waited for that next book, that next movie, we grew up with the characters. I don't know if adults can really grasp how much this made our childhood, even as parents. The experience of a child and an adult are so different, even watching a child's excitement isn't the same as feeling it. My mom never blew out her birthday candles wishing for that Hogwarts letter even though she read the books. I did wish that, with all my eleven-year-old heart.

I've always been a huge bookworm. I've counted down the days for several books, bought them the day of their release, and waited for many movies that had been adapted from a favorite book. Yet Harry Potter stretched out for much of my childhood, opposed to any other book series I read before. Seven book, eight movies. Everything was a surprise, more than Christmas. When would they release the next book? When would we see a trailer for the next movie? What kinds of twists will be thrown at Harry and his friends? Who will survive the war? This occupied more than half of my life, and as I can't remember the first few very well, it feels like nearly all of my life. I've known little else, other than waiting for the next thing in Harry Potter.

Waiting is coming to an end. The final battle is near. Harry and his friends will all be grown. I've stepped with them through my entire childhood. They face the last evil in this movie, and childhood is done and over; Hogwarts is done. I'm done. I'm not a child.

But just as Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione, all send their children off to Hogwarts in the epilogue, I hope to do the same with my future children (someday far, far in the future). Just as James, Al, and Lily, Hugo and Rose, will have a different experience from their parents, so will my children. They won't know midnight releases and years of patience (if I'm lucky, they'll pick up the next book as soon as they finish), just as the Potter and Weasley kids won't know Triwizard Tournaments and Albus Dumbledore firsthand. But they'll experience Hogwarts as well, in a different way.

I'm sorry if this post was scattered, but it's a strange time and I can't seem to organize my thoughts.
Last thing though, a little something from BYU's Divine Comedy, which I think sums up the Potter generation to perfection.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

2/2 Book Review: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

First half of the review here.

Second half of the review: I'm in a puzzle over what to make of this book exactly. I'm impressed with Martin's world-building skills. With a high fantasy like this one, world-building is crucial and Martin introduces ideas and setting effortlessly. And the characters are as vivid and real as the people I know in life, with all sorts of interesting strengths and weaknesses. There are some pretty disturbing plot elements that I really could have done without, and could have been modified to be less disgusting but still do the job it needed for the plot. There are three more books, and I'm unsure yet if I'll continue reading, mostly because these books take up so much time I feel I've lost reading a few books in my life because of how long it takes to read one of these. But, dang that Martin, he made me attached to a few characters that I want to see live and succeed.

Other information: As said before, there are three more books to this saga (with more forthcoming), and HBO has a series of it on TV. George R.R. Martin's website is here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Signed Possession Giveaway!

Last month with Elana Johnson's book signing of Possession only a ten-minute drive from BYU campus, I was able to go and get an extra copy signed to giveaway here. If you haven't heard of this awesome dystopian yet, here's the synopsis:

Vi knows the Rule: Girls don’t walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn…and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi’s future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself. But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they’re set on convincing Vi to become one of them….starting by brainwashed Zenn. Vi can’t leave Zenn in the Thinkers’ hands, but she’s wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous: everything Zenn’s not. Vi can’t quite trust Jag and can’t quite resist him, but she also can’t give up on Zenn.
This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

Just fill out this form and you'll be entered into the giveaway. Once again, it's not necessary to follow the blog, but you get an extra entry if you do. Also, this is once again US-only. Get your information filled in by July 14, and I'll be announcing the winner one week from now.
Good luck!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


A late happy Fourth of July to you! I love this holiday. And I can predict pretty well what's going to happen on the Fourth of July every year, because of the tradition my family has followed for longer than I've been alive.

My grandfather was in the Navy, and so he was stationed in San Diego, and so my dad grew up in Coronado, which back then was a real Navy-based town. My grandparents stayed there all of this time, and so for years now, my family on my dad's side have always gone down to Coronado for the Fourth of July. In the morning we go to the parade, then during lunch into the afternoon we'd all go onto the military base and skip the crowds and go to the pool or the beach. From there we'd go back to my grandparents, have a barbeque, and then head out for the fireworks. Afterwards, we'd all go home and wait for next year when we'd all get together again.

Some things have changed. My sister has her own family now, and she lives too far away to come down with two little kids. My uncle has moved back to California from Minnesota, and so we get to see some of his family now. Pretty much all of the grandkids are older now, and a new generation has come up. And this year, my aunt's family couldn't make it. It's definitely changed, but still a lot of it is the same.

As I've been going through the process of watching my family get older and grow up, I've enjoyed our traditions even more than when I was younger. It gives us something to adapt and share with the new ones coming up, and to see that same child excitement I lost as a teenager.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

1/2 of a Book Review: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Title: A Game of Thrones
Author: George R.R. Martin
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Fantasy
Why I read it/how I found it: A lot of people talked about it since HBO launched it as a new TV series.

Review (so far): Well, this book is about 800 pages long. And they aren't even Harry Potter 800 pages. This is tiny type, and pretty close together, so I'm around page 450 now. With that said, I still feel like I could be tearing through the pages of this, but I'm not. I'm guessing it's the writing, because I do enjoy the plot and I love the dimensions of all the characters. Like real life, this book has very few "good" and "bad" people in them straight out. I don't feel that I can give much of an in-depth review with a little less than half the book to go, so we'll see how I feel next week.