World After

by Susan Ee

Cover Beauty Score: 6 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 4 out of 5

Plot Blurb: Picks back up on the story of Penryn Young as she makes her way through post-apocolyptic San Francisco. After being kidnapped in the first book, Penryn's little sister has been experimented on and cut into pieces and sewn back together as some kind of super freak awesome monster thing. When her Frankensteinian little sister is rejected by the survivors of the camp where they find themselves, she runs away and Prenryn once again has to run across the state to find her. Of course, she also has her eyes on the lookout for her hunky archangel boy toy, Raffe, who still thinks she is dead from the end of the first book. Through all of this, they get tangled up in angel bureaucracy and game play, while finding out what the nefarious angels are really up to.

My Reaction: I loved the story. I did, I really did. Most of my love, however, I felt came from the first book and my loyalty to that one. I felt like the book was a bit overly cheesy at points, but that worked when the two main love interests were together. In World After, we find Penryn alone for a good 75% of the book. I mean, she's lame in a good way, but it only works as entertaining writing when she's bouncing that shit off of Raffe. Up until the point they are reunited, I really felt kind of bored with the story. I flew through the pages, knowing how good it would be once they were back in scenes together. And once that happened, it did not disappoint! Ee really has a way of writing their dialogue that captures the reader and lets them fall into the realistic banter of a young couple falling in love over mutually sadistic sarcasm.

I did enjoy the introduction of the sword as a character, but Pookey-Bear? Really? No. That didn't work. We got to see a bit of Raffe's past, which honestly I felt should have filled up the pages of this one. I understand that the reuniting of Penryn and Raffe was a major climactic thing, but it didn't have to serve as the major story arch of this book. In my humble opinion, we should have gotten that out of the way in the beginning-ish and then found something more important to work towards. Created some tension in the relationship... how fabulous would that have been?

I'd said it with the first one, and I'll say it again, though. How refreshing to not have a stupid triangle. Not all teen love stories need a girl being fought over by two hot guys. One is quite enough.

And Penryn was justifiably badass again. Thanks for a tough heroine that doesn't take shit.

So OVERALL? I'm glad I bought it hard copy for my library, but was expecting a little bit more. Maybe the next book will be just what I'm looking for and World After can be my convenient little stepping stone to that. In the meantime, I'm going to reflect on how many different stupid names she could have come up with other than pookey bear. I mean. Really?

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Reading leads to writing

Meg Cabot always makes me feel better.

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An existential predicament: to self publish or not?

So lately I've been weighing my options. After receiving another rejection that was my last hope really... it was the last agent that had initially requested the full manuscript. I really believe in this book. I really do. It took a lot of work to go from my first novel to the one I just finished and I stand by it! You have to believe in your work and the validity of your writing... otherwise you might as well be flipping burgers at the local MacDonald's. Not that there's anything wrong with doing that. But it's not writing books for a living, is it?

Naturally reevaluating myself has led to the decision that I've been mulling over the past few days/weeks. Should I consider self publishing? There is this stigma, I feel, that clouds over the concept. As in, if I self publish won't I just be trying to validate my work myself? But if there's one thing I've gathered from the various rejection letters it's this; agents reject your work not because your writing is bad or the story sucks... but sometimes they just don't click with the piece.

That makes sense to me. There are plenty of novels that I acknowledge are well written and seem to have a good premise, but when I pick them up to read them I just don't get that thing. You know. You're a reader. That thing that connects you to a book. And what good would an agent be if they represented a writer whose writing they didn't CLICK with?

They'd be no good, I can guarantee that.

So if finding an agent is almost a game of chance in some instances, who's to say that my book wouldn't be loved by readers if it got out there? It's a gamble to self-publish, but it can pay off so much more if you find your audience. I think I could find an audience.

Writing is an exploration. Sometimes you have to take paths you once thought you would never consider. But is self publishing such a bad thing in a world that is leaning more towards digital publishing everyday? I don't need huge printing machines to get my work to the public. Just my amazon account and a website. And maybe a blog.

Oh, wait. I already have one of those.

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Artistically Angsty

I've never been one of those people who likes to flaunt their insecurities and their hurts... it's just not how my family operates. We have to be near dying to be taken to the hospital, and God forbid you ask any of us to talk about our feelings. But here I go. About to launch myself into a pity party post. Let's just think of it as a cathartic release of pent-up emotion.

I haven't written anything new in the past however long because I feel a blank inside. After receiving some crippling rejections (two in a row that had actually requested the manuscript and gave me false hope... DEVILS!), it's quite difficult to pull yourself out of your artistic funk.

Yes. I'm an artist. And in agreeing that I'm an artist, I also have to acknowledge the fact that occasionally (alright more than occasionally) we get moody. More than moody... artistically angsty would be the better term. It's difficult to immerse yourself in a career that is so personal and steeped in self-worth. My books are my babies. I pour my heart and soul into those puppies (not to mention hours upon hours of Quasimodo-ing over my laptop). Is it my fault that I fall into a comatose like depression whenever it seems like nobody is willing to stick their neck out to represent me? How am I suppose to hold my head high and tell people I'm a writer if nobody will pay me five bucks for my book to prove that I can make money off of my love?

So I suppose this is my reentry back into the real world and the realization that I got rejected, sure. Did it hurt? Absofuckinglutely. Will I keep writing? I have to. This is what I want to do with my life... I staked 20,000 in student loans on that bet and by God, I'm going to make it happen.

I've decided to use this opportunity to experiment in a few different genres. Perhaps I need an influx of freshness to invigorate myself for my future. Who knows... I could be the next Stephanie Myers... wait... nobody really wants that criticism. Let's try for the next Orson Scott Card. Except, you know, with more romance and gooey stuff.

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Writer's Block

Yes, writer's block is a real thing. A real, annoying, frustrating, way-of-life-threatening thing. And I'm currently going through that right now. I have this story in my head that I want to tell but I can't come up with a way to make it work. I wonder if perhaps I'm trying to force two people together in my story that don't belong together. Is that what it is? Can that even happen?

I found with my last novel that the story flows much nice if you create your characters. Make them real. Experience their entire life with them so you know how they'll react to the events you throw in their paths. As a writer, you are the world builder. You create the characters in your novel, yes, but then you let them react to the shit you throw in their face. That is how the story comes to life in a believable way.

So is my writer's block a result of trying to put my two characters together when they don't really belong? Now that I've defined their roles, I feel almost wrong going back and changing them in any way. Isn't that funny? Characters really are people, for me at least.

So... how can I get past this? Well, I think all sorts of writers have all sorts of ways to combat the stress of not knowing what to get out on the page. I've heard many people just start writing and hope that the shit that comes out will eventually lead them out of the dark. But I'm not sure I like that method. I hate writing complete shit. Why write crap that you're just going to have to throw away? My method relies on planning.

I take a big sheet of paper, or a large sketchpad and just go at it. I create idea spider webs and bubble charts and draw pictures and write dialogue snippets. Anything to help me imagine where I want to go in my head. This way, I can see the ideas form on a page before me. I almost write/draw my way out of the sticky situation and eventually I can formulate a way to get past what's blocking me. I suppose I work my way AROUND the block instead of forcing myself directly through it.

Hopefully, if you're a writer, you're able to find your own method. I would say ANYTHING is better than no writing at all. And that's really what it comes down to. You either let the block stop you. Or you don't.
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50 Shades of Grey

by E.L. James

this one's a doozy

Cover Beauty Score: 1 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 1 out of 5

Plot Blurb: Anastasia Steele is a meek(er) girl finishing up her college career and has to interview a huge CEO when her journalist friend falls sick. She meets Christian Grey, the CEO, and is immediately drawn to him. He starts to pop up around her and eventually proposes a scandalous deal with Ana which involves his kinky sex preferences and her servility. She struggles with the decision of whether or not to take him up on the offer throughout the book.

My reaction: Is the world slowly degrading its reading level on purpose? This was seriously the worst piece of dribble I think I've ever read in a published format. I mean, honestly, the writing was so horrendous that it was a joke. A literal joke. I seriously hope that the world is obsessed with this book merely for its comedic value. As I sit here staring at the keys on my laptop I cannot honestly decide where to begin my degrading commentary.

Shall we touch on the fact that James mentions the lip biting about five million times PER PAGE? It is annoying. I have a theory that women think lip biting is much more sexy than men think it is. Think about it. Whenever we want to appear sexy, we nibble on the lower lip, hoping it will force our man into songs of rapture and professions of love, but it never really does. Obviously James is completely obsessed with this concept. If I were Mr. Grey and the girl I was boning bit her lip that much I think I'd smack the shit out of her too.

The dialogue was horrible. Unreadable, really. The analogies make me cringe. Hot brownie fudge covered sex with a cherry on top? Really? I mean... really?

On that note, let's take some quotes I highlighted on my kindle (yes I had to read it in digital format to cover my embarrassment):

"Stalker, my subconscious whispers at me through the cloud of tequila that's still floating in my brain, but somehow, because it's him, I don't mind."  AND ANOTHER IN THE SAME VEIN "Stalking is one of his specialties." 
WHAT? How is it that stalking is an attractive quality? I understand you want your man to keep his eye on you and protect you... but stalking? That is not an attractive adjective, people. How is it that we are fostering this type of mentality? Him tracing her cell phone is just creepy. Not a joke. It's plain creepy.

"I don't remember reading about nipple clamps in the bible." OR THIS ONE "Holy Moses, he's all mine to play with, and suddenly it's Christmas." REALLY?
These are self explanatory, I think. I hope. Please tell me you think these quotes are stupid as hell.

"He's no gentleman. He has my panties." AND "Oh, crapola. Don't get your panties in such a twist... and give me back mine." 
This whole panties gone thing was weird. I hope these excerpts illustrate a bit of that. I mean... I can't even.. I just... There's nothing to say. And don't even get me started on how many times she gushes about her inner goddess. If I have to read one more thing about that bitch jumping up and down I'm going to throw my kindle against the wall. As a matter of fact, Ana seems to have quite a few voices running around inside her head. Perhaps we should be analyzing her for possible psychosis... multiple personalities maybe? It would explain a lot...

So in conclusion... the writing is horrible. Beyond horrible. If I were Stephanie Myer and knew that this was a fan fiction of Twilight... I think I might go jump off a cliff. It seriously makes the Twilight books look like classic literature. And anyone that can't understand that this book is horrid needs to go back to high school, Or middle school. Or possibly elementary, because that's where your reading level is obviously located.

In all honestly, I expected to enjoy this. I thought that I was being pretentious by holding my head high and not reading it. And it has nothing to do with the sex scenes... I'm a self professed lover of romance novels - I read sex scenes daily. The biggest thing that pisses me off about this is that it gives the romance genre a bad name all around. This is by far the most popular romance novel ever written and now the nation will assume that romance is a waste of time and it's the joke that society already thinks it is.

So thanks, E.L. James, for ruining the romance genre as a whole.

Somehow you made millions off of this, so I guess you're a fucking genius too.
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by Shannon Hale

Cover Beauty Score: 6 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 4 out of 5

Plot Blurb: We follow the story of Jane Hayes, a pretty sad pathetic girl that lives in New York and has become obsessed with the idea of Mr. Darcy and the Austen-like romance. Having gone through man boyfriends, she has almost decided to give up when her rich aunt leaves her a vacation to Pembrook Park... an estate in England where everyone dresses up in Regency everything and basically role play an Austenlike experience for three weeks. She goes and meets several gentlemen and struggles with her role playing life and her normal one. Lot of adorableness ensues!

My reaction: So I recently went to see Austenland in the theatres and was delighted with the movie. As an Austenite myself (pretty sure I've seen every costume drama the BBC has to offer) I thought that it was charming and hilarious and utterly fabulous for a rom com. I knew I'd have to try out the book and I wasn't disappointed! The writing was full of the author's voice, something that is sometimes difficult for me to grab in modern works. Many times a loud voice can throw me off a book, but this was adorable, I have to say. Lots of funny bits and I would have to admit some pretty classically cheesy scenes but I loved it.

Did I think Jane was a bit lame at the beginning? Yes. Was she able to redeem herself? In many ways, she did. The ONLY difference I would have liked to have seen would be that Jane should have had some alone time at the end BEFORE her man came after her and swept her off her feet. I mean, I'm all for getting swept off your feet, but the girl really did need to be happy with herself for a little while.

And let's be honest about Mr. Nobley here for a second. He gives completely unrealistic expectations of men. I'm sorry, but no guy is gonna be all "oh I want to fall in love and I'm in this for the long haul and can I please have your children." Those kinds of guys don't really exist. Do they? Honestly, who could really care when the guy is basically blowing romance crack into your face. No wonder Jane had fun on her vacation. I wanna get high on Darcy love too!

So I guess my only lasting comment would be... where can I sign up for this trip? Seriously. I wanna go.

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For Darkness Shows the Stars

by Diana Peterfreund

Cover Beauty Score: 8 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 5 out of 5

Plot Blurb: A loose interpretation of Jane Austen's novel entitled Persuasion. It follows the story of a young girl named Elliot North and her struggles to keep her family's estate afloat amidst hardships in production. This is set in a post-apocalyptic reality of the world where human's needs to progress and alter genetics have led to something called the Reduction. Aka, the offspring of the genetically enhanced humans came out mentally challenged. Elliot's story takes place a few generations into this new reality where her family kept the human's alive and flourishing because they rejected technology (we can only assume they were Amish or something back when societies flourished). And of course the love story... her friend Kai from childhood asked her run away with him to escape her overbearing father and the strict rules of their society. She didn't, choosing to remain home and look after her people, and four years later Kai returns, a wealthy explorer with a big secret.

My reaction: Do you hear that? That contented sigh of relief? That would be me, happy to have found a book that re-establishes my faith in the YA genre as a whole. Being on my Austen adaptations kick of late, I really wasn't expecting much from this. But I was incredibly surprised and excited to get a book that knocked my socks off. The writing was fresh and honestly captivating and the author managed to retain the essence of the original Austen story! How lovely! The book had some very pretty writing, with lots of imagery, but she did so without overpowering it with poetic dribble. Although I enjoy poetic dribble every once in a while, it wouldn't have seemed right with these characters.

Kai, as a hero, is fabulous. I'm a sucker for the wounded silent types, and Captain Wentworth has always been one of my favorite Austen men. I feel like the author did an excellent job transferring him over to a teen hero, all without compromising the way he changes and grows as a human (genetic enhancements aside). So many authors these days think they can just name the characters the same and arrange them similarly to the original book and that creates a justifiable modern adaptation. I'm sorry, but no. They should take a page out of Peterfreund's book... it's the change in the characters that the readers fall in love with. It's their journey that we want to read!

I would argue that the original Miss Elliot in Austen's Persuasion was a bit more helpless at times and almost self-pitying. But it was a slight change to make Elliot more of a go-getter... it was a fabulous way to modernize her and make us fall in love with the character herself. I completely identified with her and loved her interactions with her childhood sweetheart! She had such gumption that it was falling right out of my kindle (definitely will be buying this one in paperback for my library thought).

So overall, I HIGHLY recommend you go out and pick this one up. You won't be disappointed... I promise. Seriously, the only think I can say bad about it is that it was a YA novel with not enough of the smooching I like. I would LOVE to have read this in an adult romance format... I feel like Elliot and Kai didn't get enough loving on each other when they worked everything out! But oddly enough, that's how I always feel at the end of Persuasion, anyways.

Excuse me while I go re-watch my movie versions and squeal in joy over one of the most adorable love stories ever created. And then maybe I'll move on to another of Mrs. Peterfreund's fabulous books.

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Epic Fail

the title of this book pretty much is a self definition

Cover Beauty Score: 3 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 1 out of 5

Plot Blurb: A modern adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Follows the story of Elise Benton and her family as they move to L.A. and she attends a new prep school (where her mom happens to get a job as the principal). Enter Derek Edwards, the son of a super high profile actress and a total douche (standing in as the resident Darcy). Following the typical Austen plot, the book re-imagines the situations to fit a high school environment in today's time.

My reaction: This book makes me worry about kids these days. Perhaps this is a pitfall of YA books... the fact that many of them are written so poorly. I swear that the books I fell in love with in my day were written better. Why did I read this book? I don't often go for a simple YA romance, but I had just been to see Austenland in the theatre last week and was in the mood for a P&P remake. I really didn't think this did the original story much justice. I feel like the author should have paralleled the events more closely, because it really did take away from the impact of the characters.

Was Derek as douchey? Not really, and this is where I think the book was really lacking. In P&P he really is a dick. I mean seriously. He sets out to destroy Bingley and Jane's relationship, but in this book that whole situation was reduced to a simple misunderstanding. In fact, it's passed off on another character entirely! Derek never did anything really wrong and therefore never had to atone for anything... therefore his character never saw any true development from the beginning to the ending of the story.

And did Coke have a plug in this book? How many times can the characters drink it. I think there's even one scene where they like seriously worship it. It was strange, to say the least.

So overall, I gave this book a poor rating. As a standalone story for love obsessed teenage girls that never get into trouble or do anything bad? Sure, I guess it can work. Although I would hope their literary taste develops as they get older. But if we're evaluating this based on an Austen adaptation? That's where it gets crappy for me. And it never got better.

And wishing on an airplane? Really? I think I just vomited a little in my mouth. Probably at the same time that Jane Austen rolled over in her grave.

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Across the Universe

Wow. Get ready for a painful review. This one's a doozy.

Cover Beauty Score: 8 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 1 out of 5

Plot Blurb: This girl named Amy joins up with her parents on some intergalactic mission to colonize a perfect world, starting the book off as she is frozen in a frozen sleep (obviously typical nowadays of any future long distance travel). She doesn't really want to go, but has to anyways to be with her family. Elder is the other main character, a boy that is born on the ship to keep order and become the "elder" or leader of the population that keeps the ship running throughout the years that the frozen people are sleeping. Suddenly someone starts killing off the frozens and/or waking them up. Amy is woken up way too early and she and Elder have to band together to figure out who is killing everybody.

My reaction: How does some of this dribble get published? I mean seriously. I read this book because of the gorgeous cover- let's face it, I'm a sucker for beautiful purples and pretty stars. I was also going through my dystopian faze and was excited for a unique space themed romance YA. This writing was passable, at best, and I felt like I was reading something written by a middleschooler. That being said, it got a 3.8 out of 5 on goodreads overall, so somebody has to have a taste for this writing, I suppose. Let's ignore the fact that it bounces back and forth between Amy and Elder's povs, but I just couldn't get into the voice, if it was something the author was going for on purpose.

Both of the characters were whiny and underdeveloped from the start, and I have to say that I found the romance lacking in every department. The whole flower thing? I mean, come on! I gave this one a chance, I really did. I tried to get past the predictability of the thing, but I just couldn't soldier through it enough for it to redeem itself (if it ever manages to do so). Therefore, I have to admit that I stopped reading at the halfway mark.

Overall, if you find yourself siding with my opinions on the majority of books then I certainly warn you away from this one. Go spend your money on something with more talent. You certainly won't find it with this one.

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Oh dear...

I haven't blogged in a while, but that's because I've been out in the real world trying to find a job. What? I don't write for a living? Why yes, my lovelies, I would love to write for a living, but until I can find an agent and subsequent publisher for my fabulous novels, I'm afraid I must defect to the real working world.

And so that brings me to the veterinary field. Just out of college my job was as a veterinary receptionist and my husband's job just forced us to relocate to Florida a few months ago. I'm just now getting around to finding my way about and looking for a good job to supplement our income. One would assume that a good veterinary receptionist would be an easy job to find, but alas. It is not to be. My search continues and I can only hope that somebody will snap me up soon! I mean, what is an English Literature major to do but clerical work? Seriously. Somebody tell me what an English degree is worth unless you become a famous author?

Diddly squat, that's what.

But I did love my major and I refuse to be sorry for it. I will never give up on writing, and somebody perhaps I will become an agent or work for a publishing house if I cannot survive on my writing alone.

However, everyone knows that perseverance is the name of the game in the publishing world. I firmly believe that my new book is quite good! I did a great job with it, and I'm very proud of it. It just stinks that we have to wait so long to get a reply from agents. I have full manuscripts out with two? Maybe three right now? And you know what? That's better than nothing at all!

So have patience with me, if anyone out there is reading me. We can't all be superstar bloggers, now can we. I will keep you posted with books I read, for certain, but it seems that my writing career is on a slow note at the moment.

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It Happened One Autumn

So today I'm reviewing the romance book entitled It Happened One Autumn by the fabulous Lisa Kleypas.

Cover Beauty Score: 6 out of 10
Good Reads Score: 5 out of 5

Plot Blurb: Lillian is an American heiress who is in England with her sister and parents looking for a lovely titled husband to land, as many American heiresses were keen to do in the day. She has a group of friends, the wallflowers, who have all committed to one another to help each other find husbands. They all attend a country party at the house of Marcus, Lord Westcliff, who absolutely hates Lillian for all she represents. They keep getting thrown into one another's paths and when Lillian buys a magic perfume, she is amazed that it seems to work on the stuffy Westcliff. Romance and hilarities ensue.

My reaction: To start, Lisa Kleypas is one of my favorite romance authors of today. It's hard to find someone who is newer on the scene and offers a fresh voice to the historical romance genre, but this woman can pull it off. The Wallflower Series, especially, is incredibly funny and heartfelt, and I would recommend it to everyone! Although they can each stand alone, it's such a fun experience to read them all together.

Lillian is a bit difficult to get to like at first, as she's a bit of a ball buster. She does what she wants and flaunts her craziness, forcing her sister into the situations with her. But that is where Marcus comes in. He has a stick up his ass at the beginning, and you almost don't like him for it, but he respects others at least, which is where Lillian falters. However, their story is so charming and Kleypas writes beautifully enough to carry you through it. And ultimately, Lillian is able to grow throughout the book with Marcus' help. By the end, you see how she becomes a woman and realizes that she can be herself and live her own life without disrespecting others and the different lifestyle of British nobility. In the process, there are some pretty funny situations that you'll laugh at and enjoy!

All in all, if you want a funny, engaging, and romantic story, this one is for you. Marcus is one of the most attractive heroes I've read in a while, which is refreshing. He's a good hero. A good man. See? The bad boys don't always have to be the sexiest ones! As Colin Firth so eloquently stated in Bridget Jones when Rene says "nice boys don't kiss like that," "OH YES THEY FUCKING DO!"
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The silence

I think one of the most difficult things about submitting your work is the interminable silence that follows when you have your standard number of queries out there and you are waiting to hear back. Thankfully, I at least have my full manuscript with about three agents right now. But the silence stinks. A lot. What do agents do when you give them your work? Do they sit there and just look at it for months? Does it sit at the bottom of a large pile of all the other work they requested fulls for? I'm pretty sure little goblins come and take the printed out version and turn it into mulch for their caves. And then faeries go and steal the mulch back and weave it back into a functioning work and redeposit it on the agent's desk. Then in six months, which is of course how long this process takes, the agent can finally take a look at it and give you a reply. Which will, of course, be a nicely formed rejection.

No, no, no... I cannot be negative! But if you are positive you run the risk of jinxing yourself, so it is all a big game of fates. Which side of the coin will it land?

Or is it?

Writing is not for the feint of heart. It takes dedication and self control and persistence... but most of all it takes faith. Faith in yourself and the quality work of the novel you've slaved over for weeks and months and in some cases, years. Never lose that faith in you. You are a writer. A writer. Be proud of that.

And so I must remind myself that silence is a good thing. If they aren't offering to represent you yet, at least they're not rejecting you! Keep that chin up and keep on typing...

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I thought I'd devote a little time to write about my new novel that I've been outlining. How do I outline such a thing? Well, I'm glad you asked. I generally work very diligently on forming my characters. Characters are what drive the novel. They make it real for the reader. If you have a character that doesn't seem believable, then your book will be absolute crap. They are real people! They have to have wants and needs and fabulous emotions. They have to not understand what it is they really want and your book is the way they learn this about themselves. Your character must grow in a way that reveals their legitimate wants in life. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes a great book.

So what have I been working on lately? It's a stand alone novel that takes a character from my previous book. I'm actually quite excited about this one. I feel like the third shot is going to be amazing. With book one I had no idea what I was getting into, book two I had a plan of attack and it worked! and book three makes me feel like a pro veteran.

The past week I've been devoting my time to research. Since I love the historical romances, I definitely want to stick with those for a while. But that requires quite a bit of accuracy, as you can imagine. My life is filled with the Victorian era 24/7 it seems. I like the late 19th century, so full of change and progress for Britain. I've learned quite a bit about the government and Parliament. I'm excited to have a novel that steeped in such richness!

So here I go, off into the wild blue yonder to write my little heart out. Things really are coming together, I feel. I've been getting great feedback on my second book that's been going out, so obviously I'm quite excited and motivated to start this one. Allonsy!

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Angelfall: Penryn and the End of Days

Today I'm going to review a book that I absolutely ADORED! In fact, you seriously need to read my review so you can convince yourself to check this one out too!

Cover Beauty Score: 6 out of 10
Good Reads Score: 5 out of 5

Plot Blurb: The book starts with a young girl, Penryn, and her crazy mom and her cripple little sister surviving the the post-apocalyptic streets of Los Angeles. We soon learn that the angels have come to earth and have brought about something like the biblical Revelation where the angels are killing humans. Essentially society is completely destroyed and there are scavengers and cannibals and other gross apocalyptic stuff. So as Penryn and her mom and sister move across the city they encounter a few angels attacking one white winged angel. Penryn ends up kind of helping him, but the evil angels/demons get away with her little sister in the process. Her crazy mom makes a run for it and leaves Penryn to help this one angel that is almost (but not quite) dead. Penryn essentially blackmails the guy, Raffe, and together they make their way across the countryside to try and find her angel-napped sister.

My reaction: I have to admit, this sounded a little cheesy when I first picked it up, but it was free on Amazon Prime so I thought I'd give it a try because the reviews were so awesome. And boy, was I not disappointed! Literally the only negative thing I can think of is that it was so short. The writing was concise and to the point, yet incredibly funny! I felt like Penryn and Raffe had such good chemistry that it literally carried the entire book. Their relationship was very believable, and thank God there is a YA romance out there that doesn't revolve around a triangle. How sick am I of the best guy friend being in love with the heroine? I'll tell ya, really tired. It's been too long since I've seen a book where the two leads hate one another and grudgingly come to love one another. This, my friends, is a tale as old as time, and it just works.

In regards to the writing itself, I think it was very well done. It could be considered a little choppy, but that seemed to work with the story. I find myself a lover of flowery wording... I prefer prose that borders on poetry, and this book certainly wasn't filled with that. But the plotting was well done, and there were some twists that I didn't see coming, for certain. It was surprisingly graphic, which added a touch of realism and horror that was great for the book.

In all, by the time I finished the thing I was looking for the second one to buy right away. I was bummed to discover that not only does the second one not come out until October (bummer!), but this is Susan Ee's first book. What? How has she not written anything else? Are you ready for this?

Angelfall was rejected by too many agents/publishers that Ee decided to self publish this beauty. WHAT!? How did anyone pass this puppy up? I hope they are kicking themselves in their little tushies because Ee is now making a considerable percentage of her profits because she decided to go the self-publishing route. And I'm thankful for that, because then we wouldn't have this wonderful story to enjoy!

On a side note, this certainly gives struggling writers (hello!? me!) some hope. If my agent/publishing house dreams don't pan out, I can always self publish and tell all those naysayers to shove it!

Just kidding. (sort of).
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And there it is...

The thing that every writer dreads will come has finally caught up to me. After two weeks of dread about submitting my queries and only hearing two positive requests (partials! eep!) I finally received a rejection. And this was from one of the agents who loved my query last year! She said her door was always open to future queries, and I had big hopes for that one. Alas, my dreams with her were not to be. I'm struggling with this ridiculous waiting game. I feel like a guy on a fifth date and I know if someone would just let me into their bed it would be fabulous! But I keep getting cockblocked at the door.

Ok so maybe that analogy is not the most eloquent, but it's the truth!

So what's my plan now? Well I talked to some writer friends and have established a query plan that goes something like I send out a new query for every rejection I receive. That means I have to pick a new agent today... currently I have 15 out there floating around and only three have actually responded so far. I wonder if I'll hear back from all of them eventually.

So the rest of my day will consist of starting my new manuscript (holy hell, am I there already?!!?), sending out a new query, and scrubbing the crap out of my kitchen floor that has some Godforsaken stain on it from the adorable rug I bought from Pier One. Any ideas for that? I thought not.

Fighting the writer blues.
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It's hard not to get excited...

I hope I'm not alone when I say that I am hard pressed not to get really excited when I receive requests for my manuscript. I have to admit, my last book felt like an exploration into the writing world. I learned how hard it was to actually finish an entire novel and how to discipline myself to write every day to finish it. But I will be the first to admit that I didn't know much about plot development or characterization. Sure, I can write. I've always been good at that. But I wrote that first book without any idea of where it was going in reality.

I never understood how authors could say 'I let the characters take me through their story.' How can they do that? You created them, you ninny! But with this second book, I really honed my craft. I studied and read and read and studied before I attempted to do another one. I really knew my characters as people before I decided they were perfect for one another and crafting something that would throw them together. And in doing that, I was able to understand that the characters CAN take you on their journey.

And so I'm happy that this second time around I'm getting a little more of a positive response from the agent world. Queries are awful and hard and difficult, but when they ask to see a little more, you just can't help wanting to jump up and down. You are validated! Your idea, at least, doesn't suck!

Now to start that waiting game where they decide if your writing is crap. I think I'll send up a prayer to sweet baby Jesus to keep his eye out for my work. Like Jesus reads romance novels.
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The Iron King - Iron Fey Series

So today's review comes from a book I read a while ago, but I'm currently in the middle of the second book in the series. I read The Iron King by Julie Kagawa about two months ago...

Cover Beauty Score: 8 out of 10
Good Reads Stars: 3 out of 5

Plot Blurb: Follows the story of a girl, Meghan Chase, who is bored with her life (and honestly I found her life in the beginning pretty boring) and she has plans of her job for the summer and all sorts of craziness. She lives far away from school and isn't very popular, she really only has one friend named Robbie who is a little weird. Long story short, she comes home one day and her little brother, who she loves, has been replaced by a changeling. Her friend Robbie reveals he's really from the fairy kingdom and is in fact Puck from Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream and he's been charged by Oberon (king of the seelie court of the fairies) to protect her. Turns out she's the daughter of a fairy king! So she goes there trying to find her brother but then realizes there's something huge that's attacking the fairy kingdom and it has kidnapped her brother too! Adventure ensures... yadda yadda yadda.... Oh yeah, and there's a hot prince that helps/is a dick to her along the way.

My reaction: I honestly wasn't blown away by this story... The beginning was really slow, so much so that I almost put it down. But after she got to the land of the fairies, things sort of picked up. I love that Kagawa is true to the maliciousness of the fairies, because that's how they really are in legend. She's obviously done a lot of work on this to make it realistic (yes, in my world, fairies are realistic). Once we meet Ash, the unseelie court prince, it starts to pick up a bit. I never really liked Puck, he seemed fake.

So I made my way through Meghan's story and it really had a lot going for it by the end. The plot was very imaginative and I really enjoyed the idea as a fantasy enthusiast. I like that Meghan really became a sort of kick ass chick and saved the world and all that, and the chemistry between her and Ash was well done. But by the end, I have to admit that I was resolved it wasn't good enough to read the rest of the series.

But then I read a review from a guy that had similar tastes as me who said this series was his absolute favorite. What had I missed? Which is why I am now in the middle of The Iron Daughter (#2 in the series) and it is fabulous so far. I don't know what happened, but Kagawa suddenly understands her characters much better!

So should you read it? Definitely! As I said, push through the beginning and it redeems itself. Besides, you need to get through this one to get to the awesomeness of the second book!

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Query Away...

Queries are an interesting thing. I feel like there is no real 'correct' way to go about writing them, and yet every agent has a special way they like it submitted. In general, my method is to write the body that introduces the reader to the story... then I'll go in and add personal details pertaining to the agent in particular that I'm querying. I thought I'd provide a few rules that I find helpful when I go about the process:

Rule #1
Always always ALWAYS make it personal. Some agents may skim over your words, but always make an effort to speak to their heart. Research the person, see who they represent... add that into your query! I once received the nicest rejection with some great advice and she mentioned that it was my lovely query that intrigued her to respond in the first place. So is IS worth it!

Rule #2
Don't go longer than one page of Times New Roman 12 pt font. I've heard some people say the query should be as short as 200 words, but I honestly don't see how that can happen. I generally aim for a page or under, which ends up being around 600-1000 words. You don't want them to look at the letter/email and be all 'there's no way I'm reading that.'

Rule #3
Remember the structure- One small paragraph with salutations and on the basics of the book (word count, genre, title). Two or three paragraphs describing the book (GET THAT INCITING INCIDENT IN THERE!). One paragraph about your individual accomplishments (awards, school, anything that makes you stand out) and a little polite groveling.

So it's finally that time... I've come to the end of my second manuscript and finished editing and am now ready to send out my queries! Why is this always so scary? In today's world, self-publishing is making headway with crazy speed so even if I get rejected and rejected and rejected I feel like I can stick it to them by becoming famous with my self-published masterpiece!

But I have to say that would be a big step. Part of getting approved by an agent and eventually a publisher is the validation of the entire thing. But why do we, as writers, torture ourselves with the rejection? It's widely known that everyone has different tastes and God knows how many times I've heard that JK Rowling was rejected a bajillion times until she was living on the streets with only the rats and her children for comfort. Seriously though... How many times can you take rejection without having your heart ripped out?

But onward and upward! I have finished my query for my second book in record time, only revising it about a hundred times. So with my head held high I sojourn on into the wide blue yonder... praying that someone will find my story as beautiful as I think it is!

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Mortal Instruments City of Bones

Blurb on plot: Clary, the leading lady, witnesses what she thinks is a murder in a club in New York City where she lives with her mother. Her dad died when she was little (or did he?) and her mother is way overprotective. She essentially figures out that what she witnessed was these other hot youngsters killing a demon. In fact, because she can see them she finds out that she is a demon hunter as well. Her mom gets kidnapped and there are some demon fights and obviously she falls in love with the guy that does the killing, leaving her best friend (who happens to be a nerdy guy) to pout frequently.  

Review: My first reaction to this book is meh. I know that we have to have these things to keep young adult audiences happy, but is it too much to ask for a writer that really stands out? Don't get me wrong, this is a great idea for a story! The plot was well thought out, except I felt like the ending was a little too quickly resolved. I worry sometimes that all editors are looking for is a crazy idea and the writing be damned. I have to admit that I struggled through some parts... I mean come on! I couldn't help it! And don't even get me started on the female teen protagonist that has to have a best friend that's a guy. What girl do you know of that only has one friend that's a guy? Yeah. Nobody. I swear, it's like the fifteenth YA book I've read with this element. I'm sorry, but any girl that has a best friend who is a guy is thinking about him in a romantic sense. It would never be the other way around. I think I would have just liked to see Clary kick a little more ass. I like my leading ladies in my YA fantasies to have some major butt-kicking power stored up in them. Jace just kept saving her over and over.
 ***SPOILER*** And I think the element of the incest thing was just too much. I don't care what happens in the other books... I just will never get past the fact that at one point they thought they were brother and sister and were still all over each other. Bleh. And they would never get past it either. Just saying.

So should you read it? Overall do I think it's worth taking a look at? Sure! It was entertaining, if only to see if Clary would eventually grow a back bone. Besides, don't you want to be able to say you know what it was all about when you see the movie? You know you do!
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The beginning of a beautiful adventure...

So this is it, then. The beginning of my trek down the road of book reviews and writing about writing! I'm excited to get started and interested to see where this goes. Hopefully I will have enough discipline to keep this up to date as well as my own manuscripts... but we know that in order to write one must write. And write and write and write and write! I hope that I can give some great reviews that people will enjoy as well as some good info about writing in general, as I'm new to trying to get published and my journey can give people insight that I'm looking for right now someday. Well then... allonsy! ;-) Jess
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