Saturday, December 31, 2011

Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

First, a reminder to enter my blogiversary giveaway.
Title: Shatter Me 
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: YA (dystopia)
Why I read it/how I found it: I followed Tahereh Mafi's blog, and heard about it there.


No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon.
But Juliette has plans on her own.
After a lifetime without freedom, she's finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she'd lost forever.

Have you ever read a book and thought, dang it, why can't I write like that? That's Shatter Me. The prose was beautifully crafted. I'd heard about the strike-outs before, and I wasn't sure how I'd feel about them, but even when the first one came up I didn't need to get used to it. It was a natural extension of the story and Juliette's character. I also really enjoyed the characters in this book. I can't say that Juliette will make it into my favorite protagonists of all time, but I do appreciate what she went through and the layers that Mafi put on her. She has anger, feelings of abandonment, loneliness, but she's always trying to do the right thing. For me, that's a crucial part of me liking a character--I'm all for the good guys. The love interest, Adam, was awesome--tough but caring. He turned out totally different than what I'd been expecting when first introduced. As for Juliette and Adam's relationship, I did have trouble buying the fact that they supposedly knew each other before, they both liked each other, but never spoke. They were sitting along the same chain fence for six years without any friends but never talked to each other? I didn't buy that part of it, but the rest I could get into. Mafi really knows how to write sexual tension. Whew! As for the villain, Warner, he was an interesting, twisted character. I really didn't like him, but in the good way that you're supposed to not like a villain. The few other characters, James and Kenji, I also really liked, with their own unique personality. This book has a lot of great action, and it's always moving through with hardly ever a slow moment. The ending though, I'm not sure how I'm liking it yet. I'll have to see how it gets incorporated into the next book to see if the plot development works or not.
Other information: There are two more books to this trilogy, currently untitled. Shatter Me has been optioned for film by Twentieth Century Fox. You can find Tahereh Mafi's website here.
On a non-book review note, Happy New Year! May 2012 be an awesome year for all of you.
And a song with Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon Levitt (in case you haven't heard it yet):

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top Ten Books I'm Glad I Picked Up in 2011

First, have you entered my blogiversary giveaway? You should.

Now, here's a list of my top ten books that I'm so glad I picked up this past year.

1. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
 Last year, I entered college and got into this mindset that I was too busy to read. Or, at least read things outside of my classes. I hardly read anything for fun. Then, a girl in one of my classes suggested this book to me. And I'm so glad that I picked it up. I remembered how much I loved reading, and how fun it was to lose yourself in a book. Paranormalcy re-vamped my love for reading with its characters and humor.

2. Divergent by Veronica Roth
I thought I was done with dystopian books for a while. But then I picked up Divergent, and man, I'm glad I did! I remembered how creative people can be and that I really do enjoy a good dystopian novel.

3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Before, I was never crazy about contemporary. But Anna and the French Kiss was just too much fun, and this book has made me more open to the genre to show that I can really love any type of book as long as it hooks me.

4. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
This book was so interesting and so intriguing, it had me getting shivers down my spine. I loved the complexity of Mara's character and I'm just so glad I got a chance to read it.

5. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
An awesome, thought-provoking read that made me think so differently about my actions. I loved this book.

6. Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
I'm glad I finally picked up the first series by Suzanne Collins, because the themes in her books are rare to find, and I feel that they are so important to read about. Plus, the awesome story doesn't hurt it at all, either.

7. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
This was an awesome book to escape into, and had such a great creep factor.

8. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
 I used to be afraid to read this book because I thought it would be too graphic for me. But I'm glad that I picked it up because it talked about an important and hard issue to bring up, but at the same time, it felt safe.

9. White Cat by Holly Black
I loved the interest in this book, the unique world-building, and the characters. It was a lot of fun to get sucked into this book.

10. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Ah, Wilde. So witty, and yet in this piece, so dark. This was an amazing look into vanity and sin, I'm glad I finally picked it up.

What are some of the books you're glad you picked up during 2011?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Blogiversary Giveaway!

Like the new look? Exactly one year ago today I was bored, home from my first semester of college, and thought hey, why not start a blog? So I did. And in my less-than advanced skill on the computer, I settled for the layout I had the past year figuring it'd only be for a little bit. And man, am I glad that finally after a year it is gone!

Anyway, you're probably here for the giveaway to celebrate with me my past year of blogging. What will I be giving away? Well, how would you like one of these:
 Signed by this lady:

This is Ally Condie, the author of Crossed in case you didn't know.
Aha, now I have your interest, don't I?

All you have to do is fill out this form. Before you go skipping along to it, I will let you know that you get extra entries for following this blog, following my new blog A Writer's Guide to The Hunger Games, and/or following me on twitter.

The contest will be closed next Thursday on January 5, 2012 (wow, we're going to be in 2012!).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dream Team: Gilmore Girls Edition

A few months ago, I made this post about who from NBC's The Office I'd pick for the jobs that go into making a book happen. This post is the same idea, only this time using the character's from Gilmore Girls.
Jess Mariano as my CP. He published his own book on a small press, and he knows his stuff. Besides Paris, he was the one who could keep up with Rory when she talked books. He'd give amazing feedback.
Paris Geller as my agent. She gets whatever she wants. She might be intimidating, but that's why she'd be awesome with getting me the best deal. The insanity with dealing with her would be worth it in the end. I think.
Rory Gilmore as my editor. She already has background as an editor on the show, too, and she's always constructive with her criticism but supportive as well.
Olivia (one of the most obscure characters, I know, but she was still in the series) as the cover designer. She's the one character who's most artistic and I think she would be able to make an amazing design for the cover.
Richard Gilmore in charge of marketing. He knows business, and as he showed in the episode with Rory's mock business group, he knows how to appeal to younger audiences, too.

This is my dream team according to the cast of Gilmore Girls. I think I would be quite satisfied with this crew.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I have a childish habit

I've been writing forever. Or at least what my nineteen years feels like forever is (which, to some people like my mother, isn't so long to them). But, for as long as I've had the ability to put pencil to paper and form words, I've written. And so of course, as a kid, I didn't know proper terms like manuscript. I just wrote stories, that's what I called them, that's what everyone else called them.

Now, ten years later, and I still fight back to write or say "story" when I refer to my own work. But I'd rather say "my story" instead of "my book" or "my manuscript." I don't know what it is. I want to be grown-up and professional, out of my self-illustrated cover and table of contents smudged in pencil and into real shiny covers and formatting. But I can't let go of my stories. Maybe it's habit, and maybe it's something else. Maybe it's holding on to the excitement and thrill I got as a kid writing down the people and places in my head. It may also be that I've always focused on the actual story and not the writing (which, of course I learned a few years ago is actually important).

Now that this is out in the open I just might keep on referring to FORGET ME NOT as my story. Because despite everything I know now, it's really that child-like excitement that keeps me writing.

(And for kicks, here's a picture from my childhood)
Me and my brothers. First day of 3rd grade for me. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Red Ryder BB Gun

I hope you all are doing well. I just got over the flu (blech) so I've been a little out of it the past few days. But I'm just glad I came down with it before Christmas and not during.

Last night, my family and I watched the classic movie, A Christmas Story. It's one of those movies that we just have to watch every year. I think it's funny watching it in the retrospect of a more adult-like person now and reminiscing more than being the kid. And last night, I reminisced on my own Red Ryder BB Gun.

Well, not an actual one of those, of course. But the one present that I want so badly I would have done nearly anything to get it. For me, my ultimate Christmas gift would have been a kitten. I knew my parents would never give me a cat, but hey, Santa was the one giving gifts at Christmas, not the parents. I knew if I were really good, I'd wake up on Christmas and under the tree there'd be a cute little kitten under the tree sleeping in the early hours of the morning. My mom told me that Santa wouldn't get me a cat because he also knew what my parents didn't want me to get. But I believed so much that I'd get a kitten. This happened for several years until I realized just how accurate my mom was in that Santa wouldn't get me a cat because my parents didn't want one. I'd pretty much given up.

Then I went into middle school. And uh, yeah, I guess you can imagine the type of 'tude I got. My dad was puzzled about it, but thought that maybe if I got a cat like I'd always wanted, I'd be loving to the cat, and therefore more loving to my family (they were really the only ones who got the 'tude from me). So, after many months, he finally convinced my mom to get me a cat. I didn't wake up on Christmas to a kitten sleeping under the tree, I had to wait until January to pick one out, but it was still considered one of my Christmas presents.

And so after many, many years, I finally got my own Red Ryder BB Gun.

What Christmas present was your Red Ryder BB Gun? Have you given anyone the present they wanted more than anything?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Some Lesser-Known Christmas Songs

If you're anything like me, around the halfway point between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you're going CRAZY because of all the same Christmas songs playing again and again and again, the same tune and words just with different voices and arrangement, or that same popular song played on the radio fifty times a day (how many times am I expected to hear Taylor Swift whining as usual about her freaking boy issues during Christmas?!)...

First, I really do like Christmas music. But the situation above makes things a little tiresome for me about this time. That's why I want to introduce you to some Christmas songs you might not know, and if you do, your ears probably haven't been boxed in by them yet.

This one is my all-time favorite (and this original version specifically). Mary's Boy Child by Harry Belafonte. I have so many childhood memories of listening to this song during Christmas and marveling about how miraculous Christmas is.

I was raised on The Beach Boy's Christmas Album. This is one of their songs, Little Saint Nick. I LOVE dancing to this and decorating the tree:

And, for a last one, Christmastime by Hilary Weeks. This one is so cozy and makes me think of all the amazing things that Christmas is:

On a completely unrelated note, I would like to proudly declare that I have not yet been put under torture submission to hear any of Justin Bieber's Christmas songs. It's a beautiful, wonderful feeling to be free of such horrid pop culture.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Major Blog Award Catch Up

I don't know what it was about last week, but I received three blog awards!

First, thanks M.E. for the Liebster Award!

Second, thank you Crystal Licata for One Lovely Blog Award!

I've gotten these two awards before, so I'm passing on giving them out again, but seriously guys, I love it when people think of me when they give out awards.

And so last of all, I want to thank Krista for the Beautiful Blogger Award!

And so for this award I'm passing it on to five awesome bloggers!

1. Jaye Robin Brown
2. S.P. Bowers
3. E.R. King
4. Erin
5. Ruth Josse

Again, thank you M.E., Crystal, and Krista. And be sure to follow those I've passed the award on to. :)

As for me, I'm in finals week. I'm hoping to finish mine by tomorrow, but I might be pushing it as late as Thursday. But after that, I am FREE and going back home to California where there is relative warmth in comparison to where I am now and most other places in the U.S. And once I'm done with finals I'm going to start work on revising FORGET ME NOT. Isn't it the most wonderful time of the year?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Book Review: Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Title: Forgive My Fins
Author: Tera Lynn Childs
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: YA (fantasy)
Why I read it/how I found it: MERMAIDS

Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

MERMAIDS! I haven't read a book about mermaids ever, I think. Unless you count the Hans Christian Anderson story. But, anywhoo, I will say to this book that I loved the world it created. My favorite part was diving down in the sea to go to Thalassinia and seeing how Childs structured their world. That was fantastical and magical and I loved it. for the rest of it...I was not as wowed as I'd hoped starting this book. Generally, I don't have too much of a problem with MC's annoying me. But I did with Lily. She had these "problems" and got all woe-is-me about them, when frankly I didn't see them as too much of a problem if she stopped being so idiotic and stubborn. I'll have you know I've never called an MC a whiner before, until I read Lily. She complains a lot and thinks her life is the worst ever. Overdone. I can't even see why Quince liked her. He was pretty cool, and made most of the book okay to go along with, but why he was attracted to Lily, I will never know. I wished that the plot would have been a little less predictable, but was. Very much predictable. I knew what would happen about fifteen pages in.

Other info: This has a sequel, Fins Are Forever. Tera Lynn Child's website is here.

If you happen to have read an awesome mermaid book, please let me know about it! I'm dying to read a book about my favorite mythical creature that I can gobble up and adore!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Top Ten: Book Covers

All right, so this has nothing to do with improving writing like my other Top Tens, but this one's just too much fun! :) I may have loved the book, I may have hated it, or fallen in the middle, this list is just of covers that I think are beautiful.




4. For me, this one is all about the actual book cover. A computer screen can't give justice to the sheen and color of this one:




What about you? What are some of your favorite covers?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Book Review: Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins

Title: Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: MG (fantasy)
Why I read it/how I found it: Sequel to Gregor the Overlander.

In the months since Gregor first encountered the strange Underland beneath New York City, he’s sworn he won’t ever go back. But when another prophecy, this time about an ominous white rat known as the Bane, calls for Gregor’s help, the Underlanders know the only way they can get his attention is through his little sister, Boots. Now Gregor’s quest reunites him with his bat, Ares, the rebellious princess Luxa, and new allies and sends them through the dangerous and deadly Waterway in search of the Bane. Then Gregor must face the possibility of his greatest loss yet, and make life and death choices that will determine the future of the Underland.

I really love this world that Collins created. She always manages to show that nothing is black and white, everything has gray. This theme especially rings true in this second book of the Gregor series. I find myself very involved in the different creatures in the Underland, not just the humans, and finding ways this works in our own world. I loved the characters in this, too. Boots is just as adorable as ever, I loved getting to know Ares more, and Twitchtip was another awesome addition to both the theme and the cast of characters. I appreciate what Collins is able to explore here for younger readers, which I frankly think kids aren't being exposed to early enough these days. The ending is really thrilling, and goes for a total twist that you never expect. I'm looking forward to finishing this series.

Other information: This is the second of fives books in the series. Suzanne Collins's website is here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Last night I officially completed the first draft of my W.I.P. Time to blow the horns! WHOOOO!!! Personal Novel Finishing Month has been a success.
So, for anyone who's curious (and me to record):

Working Title: Forget Me Not
Genre: YA Fantasy
Idea came: March 4, 2011
Bumps along the way: I started to write it seriously around April, but had to scrap it mid-June and start over.
Finish date: November 30, 2011.
Word count: 67,000
Brought to you by: Josh Groban, Josh Groban, and oh yeah, Josh Groban. I couldn't listen to anything but him for some reason. Especially this song:

For those curious about the premise of it, let's just say that when I heard this song I was kind of freaked out about how well it fit my MC's situation:
(As you might tell, music is huge for me when it comes to writing).

And right now is really the perfect time for me to be finishing up my first draft, because now I can focus on my last week of class and finals week. Then over Christmas break I'll be able to dive right into revising.

So since November tends to be a productive month for finishing projects, have any of you finished a draft lately?