Saturday, December 29, 2012

Book Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Title: Grave Mercy
Author: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: YA (historical fantasy)
Why I read it/how I found it: The author was at a book signing I attended.

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

I loved the concept of this book. Assassin nuns. I was a little curious about how it would play out, but LaFevers nailed the building of the saints/gods and how they interact with the world. Also, serving the god of Death isn't as morbid as I thought it would be.

The beginning starts out exciting, and sort of...fizzled from there. I can sit through long books, as long as things are happening. It wasn't a snorefest, but it got to be a little much for me. And the mystery wasn't so huge to me. I guessed it pretty early on, although I'm sure some other readers were taken for a surprise.

I loved Ismae's character. We really got a depth and understanding to her, and she used her brains. She's tough and definitely a character to root for. Duval, the love interest, is also a pretty great character. Not the stereotypical love interest, which was refreshing, and the two of them had time to get together.

Other information: This is the first book in a three-book companion series. You can find Robin LaFever's website here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Brand New World Blogfest

Jaye Robin Brown has set up a blogfest in which we imagine that on December 22, 2012, we wake up to a whole new world. What would we want that world to be like?

I could go into personal wishes of mine (snakes are gone) but there is one serious wish that I think wouldn't be terribly hard, and hopefully in light of recent events, people will take action on it.

And that's this: people would raise their kids right.

There's a lot of wonderful people out there, which means there are a lot of wonderful parents. And sometimes, even wonderful parents can't stop their kid from going bad. But I noticed in high school a lot of the people I hung out with were people whose parents were present and taught them morals, which made me feel comfortable around them. Those whose parents were absent and didn't guide their kids were the ones I didn't feel comfortable hanging out with.

Again, I know some people who have been amazing parents, but their kid made their own choices and it didn't turn out so great. But I see even more kids who could be wonderful, if only they'd been taught the right way to go.

Imagine every child was taught love and consideration for others. Imagine every child was taught responsibility and respect. It's not that a lot of people aren't capable of it, it's that they aren't taught it at an early age from their parents.

That's what I would want in the new world. A strengthening of parents to child.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sites that help a writer

The internet can be a distraction, sure, but I've also found a lot of websites that help my writing in some way. Here are some of those:
  • Pinterest. I delayed getting one of these, because I thought it was so cliche to get one, and if I did, people would think I was using it for wedding ideas. But it's been really helpful in gathering visual ideas for my story. They let you have 3 secret boards, so no one else can see it, if you want to keep things private (like me).
  • Etsy. A lot of people post their crafts on this site. There's jewelry, clothes, costumes, and other bobbles. I found a necklace there that matches what I imagine an important necklace in my book to be.
  • Wordle. Copy and paste your entire book (or just a section) and see what words keep cropping up so you know what to avoid.
  • I can't get over suggesting this site for finding names. They have the best advanced search option I've ever seen.
What are some sites that you find help you in getting your writing better?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Project for Awesome 2012

My roommate made this video for Project for Awesome 2012! If you don't know what that is, watch the video and she'll explain it. :)
Thanks you guys!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Book Review: Reached by Ally Condie

Title: Reached
Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Dystopian
Why I read it/how I found it: Third book in the Matched trilogy

After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.

Both the books previous to this lack action. But for this book, when the Rising would take a place, I hoped for more stuff.

Everything's always just so peaceful, even though they're in a rebellion! When was the last time you were in a history class and a rebellion/revolution went about without violence? Fighting is at most hinted at, but never truly described. There's a little explanation about the Society's government (finally!) but even that is highly dissatisfying. Apparently they rule by committee. Really? Does that really get anything done? Even the Rising is unbelievable. The leader's this big huge secret, which I don't buy at all. People want a face to lead them, even if the mystery of the Pilot is what brings them in.

So instead of concentrating on all of the layers of a revolution, everyone just gets sick and Cassia and Co have to get a cure. This was a long, drawn-out process.

In addition, let's just say this: love triangles are B-O-R-I-N-G. I have never yet failed in knowing who the girl would pick. I wasn't surprised in this one, so that was a snooze, too.

Condie has undeniable skill in writing. Her words are poetry, her images sharp and clear, and just beautiful. 

I'm sorry, but I'm still stuck on just how calm everyone was through this whole thing, from the governments down to the people. I still don't like it. It's not realistic and brings out nothing for the dystopian genre. I think Condie's probably really good at contemporary, but as for dystopia, I just don't think she has the right tone or style for it.

Other information: The first book in the trilogy, Matched, is optioned for film by Disney. Ally Condie's website is here.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Business Plan 2013

This semester has been the craziest of my life. Just last night I finished the first draft for my honors thesis that's due on January 30, so I have a whole lot of work to do! Next semester I'm graduating (SO WEIRD) but I should have more time on my hands. :)

Today Marissa Meyer, author of Cinder, posted on her blog "Business Plans for Writers." And honestly, when I first saw this I thought, "Um...shouldn't this wait for New Years?" until I's December 13. WAIT, WHAT? Where did the time go?!

So anyway, I thought I'd make my own business plan, as Marissa Meyer did. To make myself accountable, this list is going on the side of my blog, so it doesn't get buried and forgotten. Here we go!

My 2013 Business Plan

  • Polish honors thesis
  • Apply to MFA programs
  • Re-write FORGET ME NOT
  • Outline FMN trilogy
  • Polish FMN
  • Blog 3 times a week and revisit Writer's Guide to the Hunger Games
  • Comment on at least 3 blogs every day.
  • Practice writing queries (no promises on sending any out, though, I want to be ready when that step comes)
And now, the all-important succeeding at this. Giving deadlines.

Apply to BYU's MFA program.
Rewrite, revise, and edit honors thesis
Blog and comment (this continued the whole time)

Turn in rest of MFA applications
Outline FMN trilogy
Begin FMN

Continue working on FMN

Finish first draft of FMN, send to readers

Keep up revising, blogging, commenting, and everything else! Re-visit for more specific goals when it gets closer

So yeah, crazy year up ahead for me. MFA. I wasn't sure I was going to post about it in case I don't get in. And maybe I won't, but I'm trying. I feel like, with so much uncertain in my life right now, that's all I really can do. Just try and try and keep on trying.

What goals do you have for 2013?