Tuesday, September 28, 2010

MGinaWeek: Day Two

I.am.exhausted. Who knew writing could be so mentally exhausting? I made my goal of 5k by 12:30ish again today but I didn't take nearly as many breaks and I really had to push myself through the last 1k. But, I made it. With 600 extra words to boot.

I'm not going to be able to write tomorrow morning and honestly, I'm not sure where I'm going with the story. I have approximately 15k to write and while I know how the story ends and a few things in between, I'm not sure if I can stretch those things that far. If it comes down to it, I guess I can start adding in a bunch of adjectives. ;)

Today's WC: 5602
Total WC: 10695

Monday, September 27, 2010

MGinaWeek: Day One

Today was the first day in my crazy plan of writing a middle-grade novel in a week.

I can proudly say that I rocked it. I began writing around 9:30 and by 12:30, I was finished. I wrote using Write or Die set on Gentle and Forgiving modes in 10 minute bursts. Every ten minutes I was able to get out 480-600 words. I took breaks inbetween where I'd get a drink, update my twitter, check a few posts, and then get back to work. It worked pretty well. I really hope I can keep that pace up the rest of the week.

My mind is completely exhausted at this point, though, so I'm going to relax and start an awesome book. Or maybe I'll reread an old favorite. I'm not sure yet. I'd like to do a little outlining before bed, just a few notes about the chapters I plan to write tomorrow, so it's on my mind when I go to sleep.

Today's Goal: 5000
Today's Wordcount: 5092

Hush by Eishes Chayil

Title: Hush
Author: Eishes Chayil
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Rating: 9/10
Inside the closed community of Borough Park, where most Chassidim live, the rules of life are very clear, determined by an ancient script written thousands of years before down to the last detail—and abuse has never been a part of it. But when thirteen-year-old Gittel learns of the abuse her best friend has suffered at the hands of her own family member, the adults in her community try to persuade Gittel, and themselves, that nothing happened. Forced to remain silent, Gittel begins to question everything she was raised to believe.

A richly detailed and nuanced book, one of both humor and depth, understanding and horror, this story explains a complex world that remains an echo of its past, and illuminates the conflict between yesterday's traditions and today's reality.

My Thoughts: Hush is a completely original, completely heart-breaking novel. I praise the author for writing such an eye-opening novel.

The beginning of Hush is a little slow and confusing at first, though mostly because I wasn't sure what some of the words meant. But once the story picks up, it's impossible to put down.

It was heartbreaking to read about the guilt and silence that the main character endured and it sickens me to think the people reacted the way they did. Some of the things they're taught about the non-Jews are so unfamiliar to me and it's hard to believe that people really believe those things and also kind of sad. The narrator is so honest and raw about telling everything that it's really hard to put the book down.

Overall, I highly highly recommend Hush!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Interrupt Your Regular Posts....

...for a week of writing-related posts.

You see, I've come up with this insane idea that I'm going to write a book this week. Not just start a rough draft but to start and finish one. It might be a crazy idea, I might not be able to do it, but I'm going to try my hardest.

My idea is a MG so I'm going to shoot for 25k, which breaks down to 5k a day. That's on the low side for MG but I always write short rough drafts so it's a good goal for me.

My plan is this - do school in the morning, probably for an hour or so, then write. A few days of the week I have hour-long class chats I have to attend so I'll take breaks for them. One of the things I love about cyber-school is that I don't have to sit in a classroom for eight hours a day and I have the opportunity to work ahead, which I did. Otherwise, I know there's no way I'd be able to even attempt this. I'll write until I hit 5k or until 3:30, depending on how the day goes.

Today, I'm just outlining and brainstorming ideas, as well as reading posts on writing to get me inspired.

Tomorrow, I begin.

I can't wait. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ivy Devlin Interview

Ivy Devlin is the author of Low Red Moon, a new YA paranormal murder mystery. She's graciously taken time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for us. Check out my review of Low Red Moon below this post!

What gave you the original idea for Low Red Moon? Do you feel that Avery and Ben's story is complete or will there be a sequel?

I was inspired by Little Red Riding Hood! I thought "What if...?" and just went from there :-) As for Ben and Avery, I hope there's more to their story...

The YA market seems to be saturated with paranormal romance. Did you ever think about that while you were writing? What do you think sets Low Red Moon apart from all the other paranormal romance out there?

I agree that YA and paranormal seem to go hand in hand these days, but I didn't think about that when I wrote Low Red Moon--it was a story I felt I had to tell!

As far as what makes Low Red Moon different, I've been told my werewolves are very different! But more than that, I think what Avery goes through, and how she gets through it, is different. Not knowing a lot about YA paranormal, I didn't think of "rules" to follow or anything like that.

Name five of your favorite paranormal books and your 5 favorite paranormal boys.

I actually haven't read much YA paranormal, but I'm fond of Melissa de la Cruz's Blue Blood series, which I think is a very cool take on vampires, and I like Cassandra Clare's books a lot as well.

If you had to choose one song to describe Low Red Moon, what would it be?

Low Red Moon by Belly, of course! (It's what gave me the title!)

If you could bring one of your characters to life, which one would it be and what would you do?

I don't think I want to bring any of them to life, actually--they're all pretty complicated and I like to take things nice and easy :-)

What are you working on now? What can we expect from you next?

I've got a few things rattling around....

In your opinion, what's the easiest and hardest thing about writing paranormal?

I think it's all easy in the beginning--and then really hard when you have to start tearing up what you wrote and rewriting it. (Does that make sense?)

What advice do you have for aspiring writers, particularly those writing paranormal?

Go for it!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin

Title: Low Red Moon

Author: Ivy Devlin

Publisher:​​​​​​​​ Bloomsbury

Rating: 7.5/10


The only thing Avery Hood can remember about the night her parents died is that she saw silver—deadly silver, moving inhumanly fast. As much as she wants to remember who killed them, she can't, and there's nothing left to do but try to piece her life back together. Then Avery meets the new boy in school—Ben, mysterious and beautiful, with whom she feels a connection like nothing she's ever experienced. When Ben reveals he's a werewolf, Avery still trusts him—at first. Then she sees that sometimes his eyes flash inhuman silver. And she learns that she's not the only one who can't remember the night her parents died.Part murder mystery, part grief narrative, and part heart-stopping, headlong romance, Low Red Moon is a must-read for teen paranormal fans

My Thoughts: Low Red Moon had a lot of potential. It could've been a fantastic novel that combined a murder mystery with paranormal romance. Unfortunately, I felt that it fell a bit short.

My main problem with Low Red Moon was that it's such a short novel. There really wasn't any room for much development of any kind in the novel, particularly in the romance. That left it feeling like Ben could have been replaced with any paranormal guy and it felt like a number of those "girl falls for a guy because he's hot and intriguing, guy has no personality" romances. While that occassionally works, I felt like this story had the potential to be so much more. I would have loved to see Ben developed more and a true romance actually take place.

However, while Low Red Moon wasn't as amazing as I would have liked, there were some good parts to it. For one, the murder mystery was well done. It really kept me guessing as to who the murderer was and I didn't figure it out until right before Avery did. The werewolves in the story were also rather unique.

Overall, Low Red Moon and Ivy Devlin definitely have potential. If you really enjoy paranormal romance, definitely give this one a try. I look forward to seeing more of Ivy Devlin!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Supporting Your Favorite Authors

One thing I've been thinking about lately is what else I can do to support the authors I love and promote the books I adore. Sure, there are the basics - buy the book, post your review, and tell your librarian about it - but after you've done that, what else can you do? I can't buy 50 copies of every book I love. Sometimes I'm not even able to buy one. But, I still want to support the author and help their book sell like crazy because it's amazing.

So, authors, what can we, as bloggers and readers, do to help support and promote you and your book(s)?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Haunted by Jessica Verday

Title: The Haunted
Author: Jessica Verday
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Rating: 7.5/10
An impossible truth. An impossible love.

After a summer spent reclaiming her sanity and trying to forget the boy she fell in love with--the boy who must not exist, cannot exist, because she knows that he is dead--Abbey returns to Sleepy Hollow, ready to leave the ghosts of her past behind. She throws herself into her schoolwork, her perfume-making, and her friendship with Ben, her cute and funny lab partner, who just might be her ticket to getting over Caspian once and for all.

But Abbey can never get over Caspian, and Caspian has no choice but to return to her side, for Caspian is a Shade, and Abbey is his destiny. They are tied not only to each other, but also to the town of Sleepy Hollow, and to the famous legend that binds their fates--a legend whose dark truths they are only beginning to guess....

My Thoughts: After finishing The Haunted, I'm left with mixed opinions, just as I was with The Hollow. On one hand, I absolutely the storyline and I'm a total Caspian fangirl but, on the other hand, I feel like the novel could be cut in half.

The Haunted has an extremely slow start. I felt like the first half of the book could almost be condensed into fifty or so pages because while a lot of it was re-introducing the characters and the story, a lot of it just dragged on for too long. I also felt like, once again, the characters never fully developed. We spend half of the novel waiting for Caspian but once he shows up, we never get to know him well. The minor but still important characters also never seemed to develop fully and I feel like the story could've been improved if we did get to see and understand them more.

That said, once the story finally picks up, it's hard to put down. The story takes some turns that readers will never expect, especially near the end. The tension and romance also picks up, which I loved. Verday managed to keep it realistic without being overly sexual or creepy (those that read The Hollow will understand the creepy part) but still keeping tension. I am officially rooting for Caspian! The ending, as I mentioned, is completely unexpected and will leave readers wanting the next installment NOW.

Overall, The Haunted was an improvement on The Hollow and I'm looking forward to Book 3!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (5)

Michelle Jaffe
December 7, 2010

Instead of celebrating Memorial Day weekend on the Jersey Shore, Jane is in the hospital surrounded by teddy bears, trying to piece together what happened last night. One minute she was at a party, wearing fairy wings and cuddling with her boyfriend. The next, she was lying near-dead in a rosebush after a hit-and-run.
Everyone believes it was an accident, despite the phone threats Jane swears were real. But the truth is a thorny thing. As Jane's boyfriend, friends, and admirers come to visit, more memories surface. Not just from the party, but from deeper in her past . . . including the night her best friend Bonnie died.

With nearly everyone in her life a suspect now, Jane must unravel the mystery before her killer attacks again. Along the way, she's forced to examine the consequences of her life choices in this compulsively readable thriller.
Thrillers usually aren't my thing - I'm too easily scared - but this sounds absolutely amazing. It also seems like it'll be a nice refresher from all the paranormal "thrillers". The cover is absolutely gorgeous, as well. Creepy, though!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Vampire Diaries Season 2 Premiere!

I rarely watch TV. We only have one in our house and it's usually being claimed by my brother or dad and there's just nothing on that I care about. Nothing, that is, except for Vampire Diaries. When Thursday rolls around, I fight for the TV. This past Thursday, which was the Season Two premiere, was no different. I absolutely adore this show! Unfortunately, none of my friends watch it so I have no one to discuss it with, so I thought I'd post about it here.
What did you guys think? I don't think it was the best episode but there was certainly a lot of twists I didn't see coming! And Damon, ahh, I felt so bad for him! Kathryn and her "I never loved you. It was always Stefan" speech. I think she was just saying that to set Damon against Stefan, though.
I can't believe Damon killed Elena's brother, even though he was wearing the ring. I'm interested to see how that affects the Damon/Elena relationship. It's not like she can totally avoid him...
The ending...whoa! Is Caroline actually dead or did she still have vampire blood in her?
What's going to happen next week??

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Clearing by Heather Davis

Title: The Clearing

Author: Heather Davis

Rating: 9​/10

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

In this bittersweet romance, two teens living decades apart form a bond that will change their lives forever.

Amy is drawn to the misty, mysterious clearing behind her Aunt Mae’s place because it looks like the perfect place to hide from life. A place to block out the pain of her last relationship, to avoid the kids in her new town, to stop dwelling on what her future holds after high school.

Then, she meets a boy lurking in the mist—Henry. Henry is different from any other guy Amy has ever known. And after several meetings in the clearing, she’s starting to fall for him.

But Amy is stunned when she finds out just how different Henry really is. Because on his side of the clearing, it’s still 1944. By some miracle, Henry and his family are stuck in the past, staving off the tragedy that will strike them in the future. Amy’s crossing over to Henry’s side brings him more happiness than he’s ever known—but her presence also threatens to destroy his safe existence.

In The Clearing, author Heather Davis crafts a tender and poignant tale about falling in love, finding strength, and having the courage to make your own destiny—a perfect book to slip into and hide away for awhile.

My Thoughts:​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ The Clearing is like no other book I've ever read. It was sweet, romantic, clever, heartbreaking, and so many other adjectives. I couldn't put it down and the ending left me with tears in my eyes.

I loved how Davis combined history and present-day without adding any vampires or werewolves or magic in there. Well, I can't say no magic because I guess certain elements ARE impossible, but not the magic we usually see in books, if you want to call it that. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​It's just kind of...there. And it works. And I loved it.

The plot managed to be completely realistic, yet completely original, at the same time. Davis did a fabulous job at making the impossible realistic and I loved that. She created characters that are easy to love and a few to hate, as well as a romance sure to break your heart. As I mentioned, the world-building was fantastic and that, along with the romance, really just brought everything together.

The ending, while almost expected, brought tears to my eyes. It's a fantastic ending to a fantastic novel and will leave you wanting to start all over again.

Overall, I highly recommend this one!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Calling All Brightly Woven Fans!

If you've read and loved Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken and want to possibly help with a sekrit project, please send an email to harmonybookreviews[at]yahoo[dot]com ASAP!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis

Title: Whisper
Author: Phoebe Kitanidis
Publisher: Balzer and Bray (Harper Collins)
Rating: 8/10

I'd love a cup of coffee. . . . I wish she didn't hide how pretty she is. . . . I hope she didn't find out what Ben said about her. . . . I wish I knew how many calories were in a bite of muffin. . . .

Joy is used to Hearing Whispers. She's used to walking down the street and instantly knowing people's deepest, darkest desires. She uses this talent for good—to make people happy and give them what they want. But for her older sister, Jessica, the family gift is a curse, and she uses it to make people's lives—especially Joy's—miserable. Still, when Joy Hears Jessica Whisper I want to kill my Hearing dead, and kill me too if that's what it takes, she knows she has to save her sister, even if it means deserting her friends, stealing a car, and running away with a boy she barely knows—a boy who may have a dark secret of his own.

Whisper is an exhilarating debut novel from talented newcomer Phoebe Kitanidis.

My Thoughts: There are so many unique and awesome books releasing this year and Whisper is definitely one of them! Kitanidis combined supernatural powers, a little romance, and sister relationships to create a book that's sure to keep you entertained.

Whisper was a little slow to start but once I grew attached to the characters, I didn't want to put it down. Kitanidis did an incredible job at showing the complex relationship between the two sisters. In fact, she did a superb job with all of the relationships in the book, whether it was the mother/daughter relationship, the sister/sister relationship, or any of the other many relationships in the book. I also loved the variety of characters in the book, even though I really wanted to slap some of the supporting characters for being so ridiculous sometimes.

Overall, I recommend Whisper for those loving paranormal but sick of vampires and werewolves.