Saturday, October 27, 2012

Book Review: Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Goliath
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Illustrator: Keith Thompson
Publisher: Simon and Pulse
Genre: YA (steampunk)
Why I read it/how I found it: Third book in the Leviathan trilogy

Alek and Deryn are on the last leg of their round-the-world quest to end World War I, reclaim Alek’s throne as prince of Austria, and finally fall in love. The first two objectives are complicated by the fact that their ship, the Leviathan, continues to detour farther away from the heart of the war (and crown). And the love thing would be a lot easier if Alek knew Deryn was a girl. (She has to pose as a boy in order to serve in the British Air Service.) And if they weren’t technically enemies.

The first book, Leviathan, was a little harder for me to get into because a lot of it felt like introduction. But I'm really glad I stuck through with this series, because Goliath was amazing! There's a lot of angst and action, and I love Deryn's character. Even Alek grew on me, when I was apathetic toward him before. Seeing this alternate version of history wrap up was exciting and unpredictable. The illustrations are as brilliant as ever, and they make me wish every book had pictures with them.

Other information: This is the last book in the Leviathan series. Scott Westerfeld's website is here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I am a library addict

Hello, everyone. My name is Jenna, and I'm a library addict.
Provo, UT library. Yeah, it's gorgeous.
Libraries are free. They have so many things there: books, movies, CDs, TV shows, and all of them you can borrow for free. When I get inside a library, I buzz with the knowledge that I can take out up to fifty items without dropping a single penny. There's no guilt like a bookstore, because I'm not spending any money on this stuff, so if a book turns out to be bad, what does it matter? It was free anyway!

This may not seem like a problem, but believe me, when walking home with an armful of books you can barely carry, and then come back home to the mountain of books from your previous library trip, this becomes a problem. There's no way I could read all of these before they're due back, unless my professors decide hey, why give the students homework? Or make them come to class? And so sometimes, I have to return a book before I've read it which disappoints me, and other times I hold onto a book for weeks and weeks, making me feel guilty for hoarding it.

Oh, and other cool stuff that libraries do? They have author visits. So you can meet the actual person who wrote the book you read! I've met amazing authors like Lois Lowry, Ally Condie, Shannon Hale, Marissa Meyer, and a whole lot of others because they came to a library. Only if you want a signed book (which I have an addiction to as well) you need to buy a book and suddenly, this whole thing is a lot less free. Help! I'm going broke!

And then they do stuff like hold writing groups. Which, believe me, is great, except when I have a paper and two proposals and a test and a presentation to do! I go, and I feel guilty I'm missing out on school. I don't go, and I'm cursing my lack of time, wishing I could be there.

My name is Jenna, and I'm a library addict. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New Writing Routine

So I've come to my final year of college (yeah, weird) and for my honors thesis, I'm writing a book! I almost feel professional (minus the agent, book deal, editor, and all that stuff) because for the first time, I have a real deadline for a full book. I started off the year determined to do well in this.

But home is distracting! Friends coming over, roommates doing fun stuff, social media, you know the temptations. Now I've buckled down.

I set a word goal for the day, and I don't leave campus until that is complete.

This works for me because I like home. It's warm and there's food and it's a place to rest after a long day of classes and work. But by staying on campus, I'm still in the mindset of work mode. I have to keep typing until I hit that word count, and only then can I eat food and play around on facebook and start my other homework.

It's nice, here though. One of the buildings has comfy chairs with foot stools, an outlet, and no distraction from the strangers around me. It's working out great and I've gotten to my word goal every day so far!

What do you do to keep distractions at bay while writing?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book Review Catch Up

Still really busy, but wanted to get together some reviews that I did for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge. I'm only one book away from meeting the 12 book goal!

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen:

Orphaned fourteen-year-old Sage is taken from his orphanage to aid a noble's plan to impersonate an assumed-dead prince after the rest of the royal family has died. He has to compete against two other boys, and those who doesn't get chosen will die, when the one who does must commit treason.

Sage's voice is excellent in this. I loved the characters in this and the inner conflict that Sage has with his own family and his past. This book is tightly plotted with nice twists that I wasn't expecting. A great book for boys who might be difficult to be persuaded to read.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

This book takes place in the Russian-inspired land of Ravka, where the "Fold," an inhospitable, dangerous, and dark place, separates the country from the "True Sea."  When  being attacked in the Fold, Alina lets out light to protect herself and her best friend Mal from the dark creatures, she is discovered to be the Sun Summoner, the first in hundreds of years. Her magical power is more than rare, it has the potential to get rid of the Fold and bring light to Ravka again. With the Darkling, the most powerful "Grisha" in the land, she learns to unleash her power.

While this has many similar elements to fantasy novels with the protagonist discovering her power, the unique situation and setting brings an added layer to this novel. The magical system is of a standard kind, with just enough explanation of how it works to keep the reader free from confusion. The plot goes along not slowly, but not quickly, either, at the beginning. Halfway through, the speed is at a gallop. The two opposing relationships Alina has with Mal and Darkling make excellent foils to each other, illustrating a deep, understanding relationship opposed to one based solely on the lure of power.

Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell

Chloe Camden, a junior who winds up doing a project on helping a radio show with promotion. This all happens just after Chloe's two best friends decide they can no longer stand her, and end up ditching her and spreading nasty rumors. But Chloe's upbeat personality won't be dampened, even if her grandma's Parkinson's is getting worse, and the boy she likes won't communicate with her.

Chloe's a fun, upbeat girl who always looks at how to better a situation through laughter. Her experiences with friends, family, and crush reflect what many teenage girls go through themselves. Sometimes I felt like her positive attitude diminished the pain she was actually feeling, but at the same time her character was refreshing among snarky teenage voices out in the YA market. Her life doesn't come to perfection, but it does come to happiness and plays out in a rather realistic manner. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I'm baaack! (hopefully)

Life has been, well, insane.

Let's just say: craziest semester of my life so far. But I'm hoping to get back into blogging again, because I miss it!

I'll be catching up with some 2012 debut author reviews and sharing more of my thoughts and writing updates. My life's going through some momentous changes soon (namely graduating from college in April) and it's going to be opening up in a very exciting and sometimes nervous-making way.

That's all for now. Tell me, what have you been up to while I've been buried in real life stuff?