Friday, April 17, 2015

Review: I'll Give You the Sun

My review of I’ll Give You the Sun, the winner of  2015 Printz award, by Jandy Nelson is below. Those strange noises you hear are nothing to be concerned about…it’s just me crying and dying over this book. 

Summary (from goodreads): Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

Rating: 5.0/5.0

How is it even possible for me to have another book worthy of a re-read? I’ll tell you how, Jandy Nelson decided to write I’ll Give You The Sun. 

Just like Jellicoe Road, I didn’t expect this book to hit me so hard. I didn’t expect to fall in love with this book. I started the book and though I wasn’t confused, it didn’t grab my attention completely. But somehow, the book snuck up behind me and practically consumed me because, once again, I was about 100 pages in and I couldn’t put the book down. (This was an actual problem because I had class at eight in morning after—I almost missed class). 

Past affects the present. Amazing characters and plots. Twins who are willing to do anything and everything. I loved it all. I’m doing my best to keep this spoiler free, people, but it’s so hard. I want to fangirl about everything in this book. 

I once again fell in love with the characters before the plot in this book. At thirteen,  Noah is the person I was when I was in high school (and kinda of even now). Jude was the person I wanted to be. At sixteen, Noah was the person I envied and hated. Jude was the person I wish I was courageous enough to be. 

Ms. Nelson does a perfect job in depicting a brother-sister relationship. I don’t have a twin, but I’m best friends with my younger brother and everything that happened with Jude and Noah—the jealously, the misunderstanding, making each other angry just because they could—I have been through it with my brother.

Then there was their passion for art. Both Noah and Jude are artists and I really connected with that. Now, I’m not an artist—I tried it for a couple of years because my sister was and is really into art—but the passion, devotion, and determination the two twins had. I saw their passion reflected in my own pursuits with writing and that was really cemented my love for the book. 

The plot also helped. I can’t say much without giving everything away, but I’ll put it this way. There’s a reason I loved both I’ll Give You the Sun and Jellicoe Road. There’s a reason I’m willing to read both again. It’s because both books had authors that knew how to tell not just one story, but two. Two stories that are intertwined from root to branch. 

Have you read this amazing book? What did you think? Please tell me you loved it :) 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Believing Myself

This is a short companion piece to what I wrote on Monday. I didn't want to leave like that and so this post was written *superhero pose*

I am a kick-ass writer. Excuse my language, but I need to say that again. I am a kick-ass writer. 

I know it sounds a little odd, but don’t worry I only really ever say that phrase in my head. I do say it many times to be honest. 

Like all writers, I get crushed by self-doubt and fear. It’s enough that I really can’t even think about writing when those negative feelings are present. It usually occurs in cycle so I’m good about knowing when a mood like that’s going to turn up. And while I haven’t found a cure, I’ve found  pretty good way of staving it off or at least reducing the blow. 

It’s with that simple statement: I am a kick-ass writer. 

Henry Ford said “Whether you are or you aren’t—you’re right.” Well I applied that to my fears and doubts about being a writer. So whenever I feel self-doubt, I deny it with the fact that I am a kick-ass writer. I repeat that phrase until I have some momentum and I can smile.

Our expectations and thoughts are a tricky thing. I’m very quick to assume the worst and I’m definitely more pessimistic than optimistic, but I realize with writing, I can’t be that way. Because if I’m feeling pessimistic about my writing, anything I write will be crap. And to ignore the self-doubt and the tiny little voice in my head that says I’m not good enough, I shout back that I am a kick-ass writer. And even though I’m not the best writer, I’m learning. And one day I really am going to be the epitome kick-ass writer. There’s nothing left to it. 

But until that day, I’m going to keep repeating that simple statement because it’s going to come true. It’s going to take some time, but I’m going to get there.

Do you guys have a quick way to pull yourself out of the spiral of doubt? Care to share? 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Doubting Myself

I’m going to be frank. There are a lot of days I doubt myself. It’s not just a simple—oh I can’t do it. It’s more like—nothing’s going to work out, what’s the point in trying, what if I do all this work and it amounts to nothing, etc. (I’m a tad dramatic).

And to make matters worse, it doesn’t just affect my overall mood, it affects my writing. I seem to cycle through different stages. 

Stage 1: After a week (or longer of not writing), I feel the urge to write. It’s a casual thing. Sort of an obligation. A reminder that writing should also be a priority of mine. It’s just a small idea in the back of my mind while I’m doing homework or studying (inevitably this occurs around or after times I’ve had my series of exams for school) 

Stage 2: My fingers twitch, my synapses are making new connections, etc. I need to write. On my home from class, I’m hit with a brilliant idea and I know how great its going to be. I can see all the scene playing out in my head.

Stage 3: This is after stage 2 has died down. I’m in more a hopeful state. I believe that this rush and hit of inspiration will be able to continue. I’m a little delirious and irrational. I believe that it can last a long time. I’ll be able to write as much as possible. 

Stage 4: I actually think about the logistics. The reality of wanting to publish and become an author. That what I want—my dream— hinges on everyone else saying yes (agents, publishers, readers). It’s depressing to think about it in those terms. There’s no point in me continuing my writing. It’s a waste of time. I should be focusing on something  that will actually be productive. 

Stage 5: Then that worry morphs into self-loathing. Am I stupid and irrational for wanting this? I’m not good enough to publish a book. I’m not good enough to even submit to an agent. I should focus on something that requires a little less of me being so vulnerable and open for rejection and pain. It infects me. It seeps into my entire life for some time. Ruining me. Making me sit on my bed every night with thoughts of why? I stop writing. 

Return to Stage 1 (and go through it all over again) 

It’s easy to let Stage 4+5 to take up the majority of life. We’re wired to remember the bad parts more than the best moments in our life. I’m guilty of falling into the trap of Stage 4+5. It sometimes takes me a month to get out of it, but the truth is, I pull myself out of it sooner or later. 

I recently read a post on PubCrawl (great website for writers!) and it said “Do what you love because you love it. Don’t let terrifying “what ifs” control your life”. I know I need to listen to this perfect piece of advice because I do love writing and I can’t let my fears hold me back. 

Do any writers get into slumps out there? Comment below if you’re comfortable sharing your own experience! 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Review: (On the) Jellicoe Road

This book. This book. (Imagine me shaking the book in front of you.) I never thought I would say it, but I have a favorite book. I don’t even know where to start. Characters, setting, plot, backstory. *Incomprehensible noises* It was all amazing.

Now that I’ve calmed down a little. Here’s my review of On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Summary (from goodreads): I'm dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.
Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs - the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.
And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor's only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother - who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

Rating: 5.0/5.0 stars 

I would re-read this book. It’s been a good two weeks since I’ve finished this book and I still find myself thinking about it. I’m planning on buying this book and all of Ms. Marchetta’s other books as a graduation gift for myself. This is how much I loved this book. 

The way that Ms. Marchetta weaves two stories together is amazing. I loved how perfectly everything with the two stories was set up. I don’t even know how many hours Melina Marchetta worked to craft this story, but I can tell you it couldn’t have been easy. I loved that as I read the book I could guess what was going to come next. There’s just enough information given to you so you can guess, but the reveal doesn’t come in the book for a couple of pages or even chapters later that you can’t help but doubt yourself. I don’t think I’ve ever been so worried while I was reading a book, honestly. It was predictable, but only because Ms. Marchetta wanted it to be that way. This is how you write an amazing book.

Then the characters. I wanted to be Taylor. I understood Narnie. I fell in love with Jonah. I saw a little bit of myself in every single character and connected to them all. Yes, the plot was amazing and that alone is enough to get you through, but in the beginning when there isn’t much to go on, you read because you love how tough and sassy Taylor is. 

I could go on and on about this book.

But I’m not going to lie. The beginning was confusing. I was frustrated because nothing was explained, but once I got about 100 pages in I was hooked. I literally read the rest of the book in one sitting and the whole time I was screaming at various moments throughout the book. I am so glad I kept reading. 

If you have this on your to-read list, bump it to the top. If you thought about reading it, do it. If you have no clue what this book is, read it. I promise you, you won’t regret it. And even if you do, that’s fine with me. It’s your opinion :) But seriously, read this book. 

Has anyone else read this amazing book? Please tell me I’m not the only one that adores this book? 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Long Road: Beta-Readers

Here’s the low down, peeps. (Yes, I just laughed at how ridiculous that sounds. It is yet another reason I love blogging. It’s good practice for making yourself vulnerable, but I digress). 

I’ve recently finished my first draft of revisions for my urban fantasy YA novel called THE LOY. This book is the book. And no, I don’t think it’s going to be published right away once I start querying. It might not even be received well by the agents I query in all honesty, but this book is my book. This the first manuscript I’ve loved and hated enough to get through revisions. This is the first novel I am going to query. This is the first book I’m going to feel the sting of rejection from. 

This is also the first novel I’ve let my friends read. (Technically they’re reading it right now.) I have my three closest friends reading my novel. This is what’s known as beta-readers. They love me enough to suffer through this first draft that isn’t completely perfect and they’re willing to give me comments and critique.

This is a huge step for me. Before this novel, the only people I let read my book was my sister (who is, undoubtedly, my alpha-reader—a person who looks at a writer’s drafts even before revision) and my brother. I stuck to my siblings because they’re safe. 

I know a lot of people say don’t have your friends or family read your novel, but I disagree. I need a buffer between writing and sending it off to a harsh critic who will rip it to shreds. Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t give my novel to any random friend or family member. There’s no reason for me to give my novel to my parents who don’t really enjoy reading unless it’s in Korean—their first language. And I definitely wouldn’t give my novel to one of my friends in my biochemistry class because he doesn’t like reading and he doesn’t even know what YA stands for. There are certain people you shouldn’t give your novel to.

But I chose these three friends to read my novel for various reasons. One is a screenwriter and loves films to the point where she talks about them for hours. My other friend is a rather critical reader and won’t put up with a book if it’s boring or annoying. Then my last friend reads the most YA in my group of friends and has the same taste as I do; she’s also amazing at giving feedback and critique without destroying my hopes and dreams. 

I need to have my friends as my beta-readers. I know they’re going to provide me with awesome comments and ways I can improve my novel. They understand how serious I am about publishing. They also know that I’m ready for critique and open for all suggestions, but my skin isn’t quite thick enough to handle the blunt comments that others may give. 

 Basically, my friends as beta-readers is like jumping down a flight of stairs into a nest of pillows. It’s going to hurt, but at least there’s some cushion.

Did you guys have a hard time letting people read your work? What’s your opinion about friends reading your work? Comment below! 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue

This is the review for the third book in The Raven Cycle. If you haven’t read the first two books in this series—The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves— (which I reviewed before) and you don’t like spoilers, stop! I try really hard not to have any spoilers, but I don’t want to upset anyone on the off chance that I did spoil something.  

Summary (from goodreads): There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up. Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.
Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

Rating: 4.0/5.0

It was a great book.

But it was setting up a lot of things. It was like watching a chess player contemplate all the possible moves before he actually moves a piece. Ms. Stiefvater was moving all of the pieces into place with this third book. While it was intriguing to read and I would literally read anything with the Raven Boys and Blue in it, there were sections of the book that dragged a little. 

The reason I got through it was because of Ms. Stiefvater’s writing style. It is amazing as always. I don’t know how she does it, but if I could spend a day in her mind, I would do it. There’s a certain way people view the world and I’m starting to wonder if Ms. Stiefvater’s view is a little tilted (in the best way). 

Other than the plot and writing style, I still loved reading about all the characters. It was yet another reason I couldn’t put the book down despite the plot. I am invested in these characters and I am not afraid to admit. And we get even closer to Blue and how her mind works. It was also great to see Blue and Gansey’s relationship bloom a little more. Adam’s finally taking control. And Ronan is his wonderful Ronan self. 

This book isn’t as great as the previous two, but it still definitely has it’s merits. It’s definitely enough to get all the readers to pick up the fourth and last book of the cycle, for sure. 

What did you think of Blue Lily, Lily Blue? Are you excited as I am to read The Raven King? 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Need To Read (2)

I can’t believe it’s already April. It’s my last month of college and so the list of books I absolutely need to read is a little short. I did this previously for March and found I spent less time trying to decide what to read and more time actually reading. This is definitely going to be a monthly thing. 

So onwards to my Need to Read for April!

1. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: I love Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle books (I even wrote reviews for the first and second book). I knew the moment I read The Raven Boys that I had to read everything she wrote or at least give every book a shot. I have a pretty good feeling that I’m going to love this book. And how amazing is that cover?

2. We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach: This was released not too long ago. I think I saw this book on a list on some article (I can’t remember exactly *shrugs*), but I’m excited to read this one. I’m trying to include more 2015 release books on my list and this has a cool concept. What would you do if you knew an asteroid was going to destroy Earth?

3. Across the Universe by Beth Revis: This book has been on my To-Read list for too long and I finally have a copy from the library, so I’m going to take the plunge. I usually love sci-fi books that aren’t hardcore sci-fi and I think I remember Beth Revis describing her book exactly like that, so I’m excited.

And there’s still one left over book from March—James Scott Bell’s Revision and Self-Editing for Publication. Hopefully I’ll finish reading that this month.

What are you planning on reading? Any books I should know about? Comment below! I would love to hear from you. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Camp NaNoWriMo: April 2015

Camp NaNoWriMo. Is there a better way to spend my last month of college? I think not!

For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a commitment to write 50,000 words in the month of November. The Camp versions occur in April and July. I participated in my first NaNo this past November and really loved it. Therefore, I signed up for Camp NaNo.

The biggest difference between the Camp and the regular NaNo is that you get to set your word count. Also you don’t have start a new novel. You could work on a WIP or you can revise one. It’s whatever you want to make it. 

I was thinking about revising my novel, but I decided against it because I found I haven’t been writing as much as I want to this year. Therefore, I’m working on a brand new, sparkling novel. Well, that’s a lie. I’m actually working on two different novels this month. 

The first idea I have I actually set aside for NaNo 2014 when another idea invaded my mind. It’s a fantasy novel with some dark elements. In my head it’s similar to Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo—a little bit darker and a little mysterious. But who knows how it’ll actually end up. I’m excited to see where I can take it though I still don’t have a clue where it’s going. 

My second idea isn’t exactly young adult since it’s about college students. The novel is most likely a product of my impending graduation and reluctance to leave college. I think it would be classified as New Adult in the marketplace, but I’m not entirely sure. The best comparison would be Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell minus the writing plus a lot of mystery, puzzles, and murder. 

I’m leaning towards the second idea. Especially since I’ve already written 10k even before Camp NaNo started, but I really don’t want to push aside the first idea once again. I know it’s going to be a great story, but there’s got to be a reason I pushed it aside just months ago. Maybe I’m not a good enough to tackle it yet? Or maybe I’m not exactly sure if I really want to write it? 

Either way, I’m going to work hard and try to write 40,000 words this month of April. Whether it’s in story idea number 1 or story idea number 2. I just want to write because I feel like it’s been too long. 

Anyone else participating in Camp NaNoWriMo: April 2015? Comment below if you are! I would love to talk to others through the month so we can cheer each other on! 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Excuses, excuses

Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. I know I haven’t updated this blog as much as I set out to for my resolution and I only have myself to blame for that, but I’m been busy. It all boils down to one word: school.

This has probably been the worst and best time of my college career. 

I’m graduating in a month (eek!) and this is the first time in about 15 years that I won’t be in school. It also doesn’t help that I’m graduating without my closest friends because I’m graduating a year early. And it definitely doesn’t help that I’ve lost complete motivation for anything remotely related to class. Worst of all, I really don’t know what I’m doing with my life or where I’m headed. To make it worse, it’s all anyone can ask me about.

But it is the best time I’ve had in college. One, I’m so close to being free (free I tell you!). Two, this past year, I’ve figured out some rather important things about myself. What I love. What I need to do. What I can’t survive without. For the first time in my college career, I’ve actually had some free time. I’ve explored my true passion and fallen even deeper in love with it (if that’s possible). I’ve been able to balance school, friends, reading, and writing. (At least I think I did a good job—we shall see once grades are released at the end of April). Nothing is better than being done with homework before it’s dark out because of the small amount of classes I’m taking. 

But I’m still busy. Stressful is an understatement some days. If you want to call my last semester terrifying, stressful, anxiety inducing experience of my life, then I will agree with you. I thought starting college was bad. 

Long story short—there have been too many things competing for my attention lately and I just haven’t had the energy or time to blog. I know it’s an excuse, but I swear I’ll do better. I’m going to try to stick to my resolution of updating my blog twice a week (I’m thinking Mondays and Friday). 

I’m not giving up. I made myself a promise and I’m going to work as hard as I can to keep it. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Long Road: Revisions

Getting a book ready to query is a long road. It’s easy to get discouraged at how much more I have to do, but today is not one of those days.

I recently completed my first revisions on my manuscript, THE LOY. (Notice how I said my first revisions. I have a lot more revisions to get through for this book to be ready.)

Revisions are different for every writer. There’s no perfect formula (trust me, I’ve looked and looked). Revising is tough. No other way to put it. Revisions for me will always be difficult. It's obvious how much I struggle with revising because up until this set of revisions, I would always stop a couple of chapters in because I got discouraged.

So being able to say that I have now revised a book is an accomplishment in itself. (One I’ll keep saying while I dance in my chair a little bit.)

In my first revision pass, I focused on perfecting the plot. This involved scraping entire scenes and chapters, cutting and adding characters, removing one subplot and beefing up another, etc. I did a lot in this first draft of revisions and I’m proud of myself. 

But what I love is that I get to do again. I never thought I would say this. I really didn’t, but I’m starting to grow fond of the revising process.

I’m excited to start my second round of revisions because I have so many other things to tackle. The plot isn’t quite where it needs to be in terms of pacing. The world building is a little lacking. Then there are all these characters that I haven’t really touched in my revisions. I can’t wait to start working with character arcs.The list is really never ending and for the first time, I don’t feel overwhelmed. I’m in no rush because I know I can make this story a lot better. 

And yes, I may not be able to get an agent with this story. I’m starting to see that it’s just a little too cliche and a little too unoriginal, but is that going to stop me? Hell, no! 

I started writing for myself and I’m going to continue to write for myself. And even though it’s my absolute dream to get published and share my story with others, my love of writing comes first. I absolutely love it. No matter what happens, I’m going to keep writing. 

Every book I write is only going to make me a better writer. So that one day, I will be ready for whatever’s out there for me. 

I’ve overcome my fear of revising (a long battle). That’s one large step down the long road and yes, I have a thousand more steps to go, but if I take it one step at a time, I’ll eventually make it.

Any one else struggling with revisions? 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Need To Read (1)

This is the start of a series of posts that I’m going to try to do early every month for the books I NEED to read. Not because I really have to. I’m still a new book blogger so I haven’t received ARCs or anything like that. These are books I need to read because I really want to read them.

Now onto my list (in no particular order other than what comes to mind first)! 

1. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray: It’s pitched as Orphan Black meets Cloud Atlas—two works I absolutely love. The cover is gorgeous. The second book is coming out sometime this year. Why wouldn’t I want to read this book? 

2. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: This has been on my TBR list for a long time. I’m a sucker for historical fiction. It’s one of the first genres I remember reading as a kid. I’ve also heard so many great things about this book and I am determined to read it this month. 

3. On The Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: I’ve heard this is a great book. An agent I admire loved this book. It’s not something I would usually read, but I’m trying to be more open to all sorts of books. It will be a great break from sci-fi and fantasy.

4. Revision and Self-Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell: It’s no secret I want to publish a novel one day. I’ve finished the first draft of revisions for my novel, but I know there’a lot more to do. This book is going to help me figure out what I need to do to make my novel even better.

What books are you looking forward to reading this month? If you’ve read any of these, what did you think? 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Writing and Life Collide

A lot of authors talk about how life influences your writing. Well, I never believed them. I mean I write about dragons and royal courts and occasionally the heart-wrenching relationship. There are no dragons or royal courts in my life. I have professors and classmates. And I can definitely assure you that I don’t have a heart-wrenching relationship. I have really close friends but never anything close to a romantic relationship. My life lacks all of those things. 

Writing is my escape. I use it so that I don’t have to think about the various things going on in my life. They shouldn’t overlap. But recently I finished Draft Zero for my GUARDIANS story. It was my 2014 NaNoWriMo novel and I just got around to finishing up the last 20,000 words early this February.

I wrote 70k about a character trying to choose between two identities. Two choices that would take her in widely different directions. Once the decision was made, she wouldn’t be able to return. Therefore, she spends nearly half the book traveling through the desert (a translator, liminal phase) between her two choices. And she doesn’t even make the decision until much later, when she absolutely has to decide what to do with her life. 

Sound familiar? 

Probably not, but I’ll lay it all out for you. I’m a biochemistry major that loves writing. I have to decide between writing or medicine because I know I can’t have both. And even if I make that decision. I have to decide how much of my life I should devote to writing. Is it a part time or full time job? Is it going to my career or is it going to be a very time-consuming hobby.

I’ve been lulled into a sense of false security because I’m still in school (my liminal phase) and I know I don’t have very much time left to make my decision, but I’m waiting for the final blow in a sense. I waiting for someone to just scream at me and tell me what to do. 

I literally wrote 70,000 words about this decision I can’t make.

My character definitely made a decision, but I still don’t know what I want to do. 

Anyone else find that they unconsciously write parts of their life into their stories? How do you feel about it? 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: The Dream Thieves

I did a review for The Raven Boys a while ago! I’m going to try to keep this review of The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater  spoiler free, but if you want to be extra careful, I would suggest not reading this review if you haven’t at least read the first book. 

Summary: (from goodreads): Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. 
Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. 
Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...

Rating: 5/5 stars

Yes, you saw that right. I’m giving this book 5 stars, which means I would re-read this book and I hate re-reading books. (Let’s be honest, I’m most definitely going buy and re-read this series in the forthcoming years. That’s how much I love The Raven Cycle.)

What’s the reason I’m willing to re-read this book? Two words. Ronan Lynch. 

I love him so much. I didn’t realize I had a favorite Raven Boy until this book. I’m sure a lot of people felt this way. The Raven Boys was a great, interesting beginning, but it was the introduction to the world. We got to know the characters pretty well, but in The Dream Thieves we get to know Ronan very well. 

And everything I learned about him, only made him that much better. He’s a angry, tough guy. You know that from the start, but in the second book in The Raven Cycle, you find out why and how he ended up this way. I wouldn’t mind if there were four books on Ronan alone. That’s how much I love him. 

And it’s not just Ronan. Adam. Gansey. Noah. Blue. I love them so much. I just want to wrap them up in a blanket and hide them. To keep them safe from Stiefvater’s evil clutches.

And when the characters aren’t enough to keep you reading, the plot is. Oh dear, everything just got so much larger with the introduction of new characters and new threats. I couldn’t put this book down. I adored it. I will never not love these books. 

I can’t even formulate the words to review this book well. For that I apologize, but if you haven’t read this series, seriously you need to read it. You won’t regret it. 

What do you think about the 2nd book in The Raven Cycle? Who else loves Ronan Lynch? (I better see all of your hands in the air, right now.) 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


If you’re a new writer and you’re using Microsoft Word to write your very, very long novel, I just want to suggest a new program for you called Scrivener. 

Scrivener is a writing program from Literature and Latte and I absolutely love it. I didn’t realize how much I hated using Microsoft word until I used Scrivener for Camp NaNoWriMo 2014. It, unfortunately, isn’t a free program, but you can try it free for a month during NaNo. After that you have to pay 45 dollars to install it (there's a discount if you successful complete NaNo), but I think it’s worth every penny, despite the couple of negative aspects. 

1. Scrivener doesn’t take forever to load a document. If you use Microsoft Word, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. If you’re document is longer than a hundred pages, it take forever to load. I am not patient enough to wait that long. When I need to write, I don't have time to wait.

2. It saves automatically. I don’t remember how long it take the program to save your work, but it’s a couple of seconds. Let’s say you leave your computer and forgot to save. Well have no fear, scrivener is here. It will save your work automatically, so you don’t have to worry about whether you saved your document or not. 

3. You don’t need to make multiple documents.  Because Microsoft Word would load so slowly for me, I just ended up making a new document for every chapter I wrote. Therefore, every time I sat down to write, I would have to open up at least three documents—the previous chapter I wrote, any notes I had in separate document, and the current chapter I was working on. The beauty of Scrivener that you can create multiple documents under one binder. It’s all in one place and I don’t have to wait for it to load. I can just flip between the chapters I need or even open up a dual window for when I need to see two documents at once. 

4. It’s great for revisions. Not only can you color your documents (I use it to signify if I’ve revised a chapter or not), there’s also a fancy cork board feature where you all of your synopses of your chapters and scenes appear. It’s great to just move scenes and chapters around while in revisions without having to physically write down all of your scene summaries on notecards and lay them on the floor. 


1. All the “bells and whistles”. Scrivener is a program made for writing novels, screenplays, etc. It’s meant for writing longer pieces of works and therefore there are a lot of different functions to aid you on that long quest. So many that it’s easy to get distracted by all the little things you can do in comparison to Microsoft Word. If you get distracted easily, Scrivener might not be the best program for you. I mean Microsoft Word does get the job done :). 

2. It’s a little difficult to use. At least if you want to use all the “bells and whistles”. I still don’t know how to do certain things on Scrivener because I just don’t have the patience to go research it. In other words, there’s a steep learning curve. 

3. It’s frustrating to import other documents. I’ll be the first to admit that I still don’t know how to use Scrivener to it’s maximum potential. And one of those things I still don’t know is how to import other documents like my previous stories I wrote on Microsoft Word. I don’t know why but it always indents it oddly, therefore I have just given up on trying to import documents. If I really need something I wrote previously, I will look up everything I can to import. But for now, I refuse to be frustrated by this program.

Overall, I love Scrivener. I think there are more benefits for writers. I know some people don’t think you should buy Scrivener, especially if you’re just going to be using it like a word document, but I disagree. By having Scrivener, I use it every day and I learn more about it everyday. I may not know everything there is to know about Scrivener right now, but at the bare minimum I know how to write in it. That’s the most important part (the bells and whistles sure don’t hurt though). 

How do you feel about Scrivener? Do you prefer Microsoft Word or some other writing program? Comment below! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Review: The 100

I'm a pushover in terms of rating books...meaning I typically don't rate below 3 stars, but I did for this and I thought I wouldn't post this review, but all reviews (good or bad) help, right? 

Here's my review of The 100 by Kass Morgan. 

Summary: (from goodreads): In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth's toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland... before it's too late.
Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they've only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they're haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust - and even love - again.

Rating: 2.5/5.0 stars

I love The 100 TV Show on CW. Reason one why I picked up this book. Reason two: I needed something to tide me over before I could start watching season 2. Reason three: I thought that the book would be great because it would reveal more about the characters I love and hate.  

The 100 wasn’t what I was expecting. The story is told from four main characters’ point of view, which wasn’t confusing, but it also didn’t help me. There was a lot of switching of viewpoints, so I didn’t feel close to any of the characters. Then again, the changing viewpoint was the main reason I kept reading. I didn’t breeze through this book because I wanted to know more about one character over the next, I was just reading to find out what would happen next. 

But nothing happens. Literally nothing happens. The 100 make it to Earth and that’s it until the end. There’s no growth and the “high stakes” (specifically the “radioactive” Earth) was too far removed to actually seem like a threat. It wasn’t like the Earth had a knife in its hand to hunt the 100 down. It was just there. This ever present, looming threat. It made for a boring book.

Also everything that was interesting (at least in my opinion) had already happened. Ms Morgan uses flashbacks to relay important information, but I’ve never been a fan of flashbacks. If you have that many flashbacks, shouldn’t the book be about that? The conflict in the flashbacks were more compelling than the present one.

I think the only reason I really kept reading was because I loved the concept. I was already attached to some of the characters—namely Bellamy and Clarke from the TV show.  I relate to how protective Bellamy is of his younger sister, Octavia. I would do anything for my younger siblings. And I relate to how serious and down-to-business Clarke is because that’s how I am. 

Overall, I didn’t enjoy this book and largely because there was no plot. The was a “dangerous” setting and a whole cast of characters that didn’t really grow or change throughout the story. But here’s to hoping the second book will be a lot better though. I’m far to attached to TV Bellamy and Clarke to not at least try and read the second book. 

Anyone else love the TV show, but not the book like I do? Comment below if you want to talk about either the TV show or the book. (By the way, if you couldn’t tell, I ship Bellarke, so hard and I haven’t even seen the second season). 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Exception to the Rule

Publishing is hard. It’s a long, windy, seemingly never ending road. You have to finish a book. You have to revise said book. You have to query agents. You have hope an agent will say yes. Then you and your agent have to submit your manuscript to various publishing companies. You have to hope again for that glorious yes, I want it. Then you might get a book deal. Then once that’s done, you have repeat all the steps after getting an agent. 

I know it’s hard. I know it’s going to take time. I know that authors that I look up to, spent a lot of time and money to get to where they are. Some of them even took ten years to get their first book published. I know it won’t just work out for me. I have a long road in front of me and I’m taking steps towards that end goal everyday. 

Still I can’t help but hope that maybe I will be the exception to the rule. I know it sounds foolish and crazy, but there are some authors that seemed to have all the luck in the world. They get their first book they ever wrote published. The publishing company puts a lot of their advertising efforts behind it. It just seems like those authors have it all. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not discounting those authors at all. There’s a lot we don’t see behind the scenes. I don’t know how much time the author put into writing their book. I’m sure it’s a lot of time. I don’t know what was going on in their life at the time. I’m sure they were juggling more than just writing a book. 

But I do know that some authors—the very rare one is the exception to the rule. And I sometimes dream my path will be like that. Who doesn’t like the easier path? Who doesn’t like to believe that their top choice agent is going to love you book? Who doesn’t want to believe that their ideal publishing company is going to come knocking on your door? 

Who doesn’t want to hope? 

I think that’s why publishing and writing scares me. Because I do have these hopes and I know in the back of my mind, it won’t end up that way. The path to publishing is long and I’m not going to be that author who gets the secret password to get into the party. I’m not the best writer and I don’t have the most unique ideas. There’s really no reason I should be the rare author. 
I know that. Logically I know that, but I can’t help but hope. Just maybe. Just maybe I’ll be the exception to the rule. 

Anyone else feel this way? Is there anyway to gently remind yourself the norm isn’t this way without completely dashing your hopes and dreams? 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Review: Crash Into You

Happy Valentine’s Day! Even if you don’t have a valentine, I’m sure you have tons of books (who needs anything else). Here’s my review of the romantic, swoon-worthy Crash Into You by Katie McGarry. 

Summary: (from goodreads): The girl with straight A's and the perfect life—that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy family…and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker—a guy she has no business even talking to. But after the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind. 
The last thing Isaiah needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks. But when their shared love of street racing puts their lives in jeopardy, Isaiah and Rachel will have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.

Rating: 4.0/5.0 stars

I’m a big fan of Katie McGarry. She pulled me in with Pushing The Limits and Dare You To (the first books in this universe), and I’m glad to say that Crash Into You has gotten ever better. If you need a romantic YA to read, you need to pick up her books.

Yes, Crash Into You has a little bit of “instant-love”. Yes, there’s the classic “bad boy” who cares a lot more than he lets on and “good girl” who wants to break out of her shell.  Yes, its is filled with events that really wouldn’t ever happen in real life (but then again why are we reading fiction if we were satisfied with reality). But I went in knowing and wanting these things when I picked this book up. 

Out of the three books by her I’ve read, Crash Into You is definitely my favorite. It may or may not have to do with my weakness for “bad boys” like Isaiah :). But at the heart of the story, it’s a book about friendships, family, and love. 

I loved reading about how passionate Isaiah and Rachel were about cars. I loved that the book revolved around Rachel trying to live up to her parent’s expectations—what person (teenager or adult) doesn’t have to deal with that. I loved the little snippets of how the other characters were doing.

One of things I didn’t like about the book is how protective the men in Rachel’s life were of her. Not only her brothers and father, but also Isaiah. I think it’s a fine line between overprotectiveness and just plain controlling. The line wasn’t exactly crossed here, but there were moments in the book that I raised my eyebrow at their actions. Aside from that, Crash into You was everything I wanted and needed to read to get out of a slump. It made me flail and squeal and shout at the book, so I’m definitely going to pick up her other books if I wasn’t convinced before. 

Thoughts? Anyone else read Katie McGarry's books?

Monday, February 9, 2015

First Draft Podcast

First Draft is a podcast created by Sarah Enni. She’s taking a road trip across the U.S. and along the way she’s interviewing YA/MG authors about their experiences with writing, publishing, and life in general. The interviewees are authors like Marie Lu, Libba Bray, Beth Revis, Meagan Spooner, and many others. 

This is the best podcast about writing I have ever listened to. Okay, I haven’t listened to any other writing podcasts, so I guess I'm not the best judge. But none of the other writing podcasts enticed me enough to start listening. There are great podcasts out there for all sorts of things, but sometimes talking about writing is…a little boring. Even for writers. First Draft Podcast isn’t like that. 

Here are just a couple of reasons why I love First Draft. 

1. You can start and stop anywhere. I can’t listen to an hour long podcast straight through. I don’t have the patience or time to listen to podcasts in one sitting. But I love listening to podcasts while I’m walking to class, eating alone, browsing the library for more books, etc. I’ve listened to other podcasts like Serial and Welcome to Nightvale, and let me just say that its hard to pause and play where ever you are. First Draft isn't like that. It’s easier to remember what happened in a podcast because it’s like your friend is confiding in you. The details just stick in your brain. 

2. It’s not a strict interview. Sarah Enni does an amazing job weaving in the standard questions (where were you born, what have you written, etc.), but those questions only make up the foundation. There are many times that podcast veers off track, and I love it. It’s a conversation. It’s like Sarah and the author are just sitting beside you in the coffeeshop. You’re the little bird on their shoulder while they discuss all the up-and-downs of their life and writing. I don’t have any close writer friends, but First Draft gives me a taste of what it would be like to have a friend I can obsess about writing to without having to stop and explain the writing jargon.

3. It’s inspirational. Listening to these authors talk about their path to publishing and how much they truly love their jobs, it makes everything seem possible. It makes writing and eventually publishing a book seem possible. It makes me feel like I can accomplish my dream (it might take years and years, but I'll get there eventually). And every podcast, Sarah ends with asking the authors what their advice is for aspiring writers/newly published authors. Even though I read a lot of those posts with best piece of advice from famous authors, there’s something different hearing an author truly say the advice. Hearing it aloud makes it more real.  

4. But it’s also realistic. The podcasts aren’t all just about their success with publishing. It focuses on the path to becoming published. They talk about all the struggles associated with writing. How hard it can be. How you have to preserve. How sometimes life just gets in the way. The podcast is realistic, but the realism is what makes it so inspirational. It puts things into perspective. 

If you’re an aspiring writer or an avid reader who loves getting to know the masterminds behind great books, First Draft is for you. Wow that’s a horrible pitch, but I feel obligated to leave it in because it’s true. It’s an amazing podcast—thank you to Sarah Enni and all the other authors that contributed to it. I’ll be anxiously waiting for each episode (even though I still have about 10 episodes to catch up on). 

What do you guys think of First Draft, if you listen to it? Any other podcasts about writing I need to listen to? 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Revising Update

Do you guys remember that post about my reluctance to revise? Well I didn’t actually start revising until ten days after that post. I did everything to procrastinate starting the revision process. (It was actually really productive procrastination because I read six books in that time.)

Then I meet up with my local Emerging Writer’s Group. I don’t know what happened, but it was the push off the cliff I needed (and yes, cliff because there’s no going back now). I think it was talking with other writers. They were polishing their query letters, talking about their finished manuscripts, and discussing what agents they wanted. It got my heart racing (even more than when I see this cute boy I know). 

I’m not ready for query letters. And I know my book isn't the best it can be. Usually when I remember that fact, I get a little disappointed. Especially because others around me are so much farther along on "The Path" to publication. Strangely enough, that night I wasn’t disappointed. It was the jolt I needed because that night, I went straight home and started revising. 

And since that day I revised about 2000 words every night until this week when school overtook my life with exams, quizzes, research papers, etc. But the overall picture (the great, beautiful, amazing, rainbow-in-the-sky picture) is the fact that I have 38k revised. 

38,000 words. It’s the most I’ve ever revised. 

Even though I have a good 62k left for this draft and even though I know I’m going to need to do at least another two revisions, I’ve never been this happy. And I don't see this happiness leaving anytime soon. 

I’m starting to figure out my own process for revising and I’ll eventually post something about it once I’ve been revising for longer than 2 weeks. But one thing that really helps me get into the revising mood is playing music. Not just any music. 

Actually it’s only one song: "Scream My Name" by Tove Lo for the Mockingjay soundtrack. 

“When I'm dead and gone
Will they sing about me? 
Dead and gone. 
Will they scream my name?”

I think it’s rather fitting for revising. By revising this book and having the courage to pursue publishing…well I’m leaving my mark on the world. I’m screaming my own name. I’m screaming at the top of my lungs to anyone who will listen. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Re-reading Books

Another reading quirk of mine. It may be worse than my last one (about spoilers). I’m just going to get it out there. 

I loathe re-reading things. H-A-T-E, what does that spell? Yep, I hate it that much. 

But I feel like I have to be fair. It’s not just books I hate re-reading. I hate re-watching movies and TV episodes. I hate re-reading research articles I know I should look at again because no one (and I mean no one) understands those articles the first time around [unless it’s your niche of the science world]. I also hate eating the same meal twice in a row. I hate listening to lecture podcasts if I already went to class. It’s just the way I operate. 

But you don’t really care about all those other things.

There are a variety of reason why I hate re-reading things.

1. Boredom strikes me easily 
This is a fact about me; I get bored really really easily. I hate just sitting around and not doing something productive or new. This hits me hard when I start to re-read a book. I mean I read the book before and I have a decent memory, therefore, I remember reading said book. Thus, I end up skimming, which definitely defeats the purpose of re-reading.

 2. No patience
I have no patience. Zilch. Zero. Okay, I’m definitely exaggerating here, but I’m not a patient person (which is horrible to want to pursue a career in the publishing industry, I know). Now what does that have to do with re-reading books? Well I know the plot and so I know what parts are really great. The scenes that make you read faster than you think you can and that give you goosebumps. I know where those are and in order to get there, I have to get through other parts of the book. Parts that were great the first time I read it, but are dragged out the second time. Having to go through the entire introduction and crucial layer of the foundation is like waiting in a long line for a movie that starts in ten minutes. You just want it to go by faster. And because I’m not patient enough to deal with it, I will inevitably stop re-reading no matter how hard I try. 

3. Re-reading is wasted time
I know people are going to disagree with me, but for me, re-reading books is a waste of time. I know reading a book more than once should give you another perspective on books. I know that I’ll be able to pick up on the symbols and foreshadowing and other little gems in books if I read it a second time, but I can’t do it. Re-reading a book is time I could be spend writing or doing something more productive. Better yet, I could be re-reading a new book! Why should I re-read a book if I already remember the basic plot line and characters? Sure, I know the feeling and being pulled into that book’s world is amazing, but I can get that feeling (and new ones) from other books. And the list of books is never-ending.  

This is also why I don’t give out many 5 star reviews. Because the 5 star reviews are only for books that I can see myself re-reading in the future. So it’s got to be pretty damn good. But because of my special classification, all 4 star books are ones that I would recommend to my friends and people in the street. 

This isn’t to say that I don’t re-read books at all. I have re-read books (especially when I was younger). The one book that I have read many many times is Homeless Bird by Gloria Whealen. It probably helps that the book is Middle Grade (MG) and I can power through it in about an hour. But I have re-read books….I just can’t think of any recent books. 

Do you guys re-read books? 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Plotter or Pantser

The famous classification. Are you a plotter or a pantser? (I always found it similar to the genes vs. environment debate in science) One isn’t more correct than the other. People have to take a stance when they talk about this classification; whether they believe themselves to be one or the other is a different story. It’s hard to solely be one thing: plotter or pantser. 

But what are these terms exactly? In short, they describe the way you write. Plotters write their novel with a plan. This means you could have the major beats of your story planned out or you could have a detailed, precise outline of everything that’s going to occur in the book. You could have it on your computer screen as you type away or you could have it printed out so you can cross points off once they’re completed. Plotters more or less know what’s going to occur in their books. 

On the other hand, there are pantsers. Pantsers “fly by the seats of their pants”. This means said pantser plops her butt in a chair and writes as fast as she can that particular writing session. There’s no plan or outline. Pantsers are usually people that like the freedom of not knowing what’s going to happen next. They let the story take the controls and just write as the events come to them. If you ask pantsers, what’s going to happen at the climax of their story, most cases they’ll shrug because they honestly don’t have a clue.

As for me, I’m not either. Well I thought I was a pantser until I really thought about my writing process. I definitely don’t sit down and write out an outline before I start a new idea. The first time around, I write all of my books without any idea where I’m going. That’s why I call them Draft Naught or Draft Zero. I literally do not know what’s going to happen in the overall plot except for maybe a chapter or two in advance. 

This is also the reason why I can’t completely classify myself as a pantser because I do plan a little. Just a tiny bit. Because there are scenes, ideas, characters, etc. that convinced me to start writing. So when I start writing, I have an idea or premise or a character along with a couple of “darling” scenes that I need to get to. In that way I do know what’s going to happen, but how I get there? Well I might as well be wearing a blindfold. 

So I’m definitely not a plotter. I’ve tried sitting down and writing outlines, but those are projects I’ve abandoned and most likely won’t get back to (even though I tell myself the exact opposite). But I’m also not a pantser because I usually have some idea of what’s going to occur. Sometimes my brains works too fast for my fingers and creates scenes when I know I can’t write any more. Then I put those scenes on a sticky note for the next day. This is arguably a small plan of attack. 

But does it really matter whether you’re plotter or pantser? No matter what you classify yourself as, you still finish the book, right? You still write as much as you possibly can. So if you don’t know what camp you fall into, don’t worry. It’s really hard to be in either classification and not toe over the line. If writers didn’t do that, we wouldn’t have the books we have today. 

Are you a plotter or pantser? Or a mix of both? Comment below! 

*Fun fact: Scrivener kept auto correcting pantsers into panthers, so if I missed one in this post, I apologize, but it should make for a very amusing sentence. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Review: The Raven Boys

So, I think I’ve decided that I’m going to try and review at least 25 books this year. I see a lot on Twitter that authors appreciate good or bad reviews (but let’s be honest, I’m not critical enough to give a bad review) and I would really love to help authors out. Also I know when I’m on the fence about books, I’ll go look up a review or two to make my final decision, so I hope this helps readers out there too! 

Here’s my review of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. 

Summary: (from goodreads)
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive. Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars. 

Why didn’t I read this sooner? I’m literally sitting here, trying to figure out where* I got the idea in my head that Maggie Stiefvater isn’t a good writer because I was absolutely blown away by The Raven Boys. It was so creative and unique and overall just amazing. 

While the premise of the novel is what drew me in, the thing that really made me fall in love with this book were the characters. Ms. Stiefvater is genius. I don’t know how she does it, but the characters she’s created were so well-developed. Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah. I can’t explain it. I just felt like I could pluck them out of the story and I would be able to have a conversation with them. The only adequate way I could explain how I feel about Blue and the boys would be this: *flail and fangirl*. The characters alone were enough to convince me to read the rest of the series. 

That wasn’t the only element that I loved. The entire plot of The Raven Boys was great. The pacing was perfect (at least perfect for me). To be honest, after finishing the book, I just wanted to curl up with it and cry. Just a little. Because how I can I ever be as good as Ms. Stiefvater? Digression, sorry. 

Another thing I loved about The Raven Boys was just Ms. Stiefvater’s writing style. I’m not one for long descriptions or imagery. A perfect example of this is how I’m not a big fan for Laini Taylor’s writing style (The Daughter of Smoke and Bone) though I do love her stories Stiefvater’s style was just creative enough in the combinations of words and creation of similes/metaphors that I actually stopped reading The Raven Boys at times, just to re-read a beautiful piece of prose. I don’t re-read things--it's just not a thing I do. But The Raven Boys made me re-read things and I have a feeling I might re-read this entire book during the summer this year when I have a little more free time. 

For now, I can’t wait to start reading The Dream Thieves (book 2 of The Raven Cycle). 

*After contemplating this for nearly two days, I figured out that one of my friends doesn't like Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style in Shiver and therefore will not read any of her other books. Goes to show you only need a seed to be planted for an idea to form (no matter how wrong said idea is). 

Please tell me you loved The Raven Boys as much as I did! Or feel free to disagree with my opinion. Someone should just comment so I can fangirl about this book. Seriously. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Teenage Writers Suck!

I read John Scalzi’s “10 Things Teenage Writers Should Know About Writing”  about a week ago and now that it’s had time to simmer in my mind, I’m ready to talk about it. 

First off, if you’re a teenage writer, I highly recommend reading this article (linked above). And if you’re not a teenager, but you are a writer, I still suggest you read the article. Don’t worry, you don’t have to read it to understand this blog post. This post is more about my reaction and my experience with writing. 

I started writing novels (no matter how crappy they were, they are still novels) when I was about 14. I distinctly remember the moment I decided that I was going to write a novel because I had a standard one subject notebook and a pencil in hand. I took both, sat on my stairs, kicked my feet back and forth (there are spaces in between the steps that you can put your legs through), and started writing. I haven’t really stopped since then. I definitely started as a teenage writer. Now that I’m twenty, I’m definitely not a teen, but that’s not the way I feel. 

When I initially read the article, I’m going to be honest, it stung a little. What is it that people always say? That the truth hurts. But the main point of the article is that when you first start off writing, it’s going to suck. Especially if you’re a teenager (but that doesn’t mean others aren’t susceptible to this). It’s just a fact of life. I mean I look back at the first novels I wrote out by hand and while they’re entertaining (because they’re so bad), there isn’t much there. No plot. No character development. Nothing. Nada.

But it’s okay. Reading this article helped me realize, that all other writers go through a phase like that. Scalzi mentions that it takes about a decade (a very long decade) or so to truly master something. It could be playing the piano, dancing, or opera-singing. It’s going to take time to get good at something. And going along with that logic, I should be a decent writer by 24—so I have about 3 years and 3 months left for this decade deadline. 

The thing is that I don’t feel like my writing hasn’t gotten that much better to be honest. I only started getting serious about writing when I entered college. So it’s only been about 2 and half years. I haven’t found my “true writing voice”. I haven’t been rejected by anyone because my writing is safe and sound on my laptop. I don’t write everyday like all authors suggest doing. I haven’t read enough writing craft books. I still don’t know “how to revise” a novel. There are so many things that I have to work on. And some days are harder than others to take that at face value. 

I guess the point I’m trying to make is new writers suck! Maybe not every new writer, but my writing was/is horrible in many respects. I’ll be the first to admit it. But I find solace in the fact that everyone goes through this phase. And on a spectrum from novice to master, I definitely fall in the middle with a little more weight towards novice. It gives me the motivation to work harder and suck a little less. 

I’ll just leave you with this quote.

What do you think about Scalzi’s article? How do you stay motivated to keep writing even though it may “suck”? 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: Burn for Burn

Today, I’m reviewing/recommending Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian.

Here’s the Goodreads summary because if I were to write my own, I feel like I would spoil something, and I really don’t want to do that. (Unless you specifically ask me to spoil something for you. I have no qualms about that as you guys saw from my last blog post)

Postcard-perfect Jar Island is the kind of place where nobody locks their doors at night, where parents can sleep easy, knowing their daughters are tucked away safe and sound in their beds. But bad things can happen, even to good girls . . . and sometimes, the only way to make things right is to do something wrong. 
Lillia used to trust boys, but not anymore. Not after what happened this summer. And she’ll do whatever it takes to protect her little sister from the same fate. 
Kat is over the rumors, the insults, the cruel jokes made at her expense. It all goes back to one person--her ex-best friend. Someone needs to teach her a lesson, and, with Lillia and Mary behind her, Kat feels up to the task.
Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she’s not the same girl anymore. Now that she’s got friends who have her back, he's going to be in big trouble.
Three very different girls who come together to make things right. Will they go too far?

Rating: 4/5 stars. 

Let me just start off by saying, that I finished this book in one sitting. Yep, I started at 10 o’clock at night and finished at about 1:45 in the morning. I initially picked up the book because I could tell I was going into a small book slump induced by the massive amounts of fantasy/sci-fi I was reading. Therefore, I wanted a little “slice of life” as my brother calls it. It’s just the way I read books: a "real-life" book thrown into the mix to keep my interest in reading piqued. Even though Burn for Burn isn't completely void of fantasy or magic. 

Either way, I was introduced to Burn for Burn after following Jenny Han on twitter. Burn for Burn actually caught my interest because the premise sounded similar to Revenge (a TV show) and I’m a huge fan of that show. And boy, it didn’t not disappoint. 

It was everything I wanted it to be. It has the perfect amount of revenge so I wasn’t bored and the revenge was the perfect amount of pettiness in combination with things that could actually get them in trouble (like serious trouble). It has amazing characters with rather valid grudges. Also, it definitely helped that one of the three main girls, Lillia, is a Korean American girl (like me!). It’s not something I see a lot in YA books and I really enjoyed it. Furthermore, the pacing was great; pacing is one of those things that make or break a book for me. A lot of books move a little too quickly for me and when it isn’t done right, I feel like I’m just panting for breath after a run. Burn for Burn wasn’t like that. It wasn’t too fast and it wasn’t too slow. It was just right. 

My only complaint was that some of the secondary character’s motivations and behavior felt a little off/fake. I think that will fade as the series goes on. Its a lot to juggle—three main characters and a whole boat of secondary characters. I’m excited to see more of the three main girls and all of the other characters in the second book. 

Last thing, the cliffhanger is practically a siren’s call to read the second book. So, if you’re going to read Burn for Burn, I suggest having the second one as close as possible. I completely regret not checking out Fire with Fire, but have no fear, I’ll be reading it soon! 

For those of you that have read Burn for Burn, what did you guys think? Any other books by Jenny Han or Siobhan Vivian that you would recommend? Any other books like Burn for Burn or Revenge I should pick up? 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Endings and Spoilers
I have a confession to make…I read the endings of books before I finish the book -ducks out of the way of flying books-. Sometimes I even open up to a random page in a book and read a couple sentences. Never more than a page, but always a line or two. It’s not because the story is boring me. It’s probably the opposite. The books I love are the ones that I want to read faster and slower at the same time. 

I was just reading The Offering, which is the third book in The Pledge Series by Kimberly Derting. (I would recommend this series to anyone who has a love of dystopias with a sprinkle of magic involved). I’m 75 pages into the book and I have every intention in finishing the book. I swear I do. And just as I close the book to go do some homework, I find myself flipping to the back of the book. Specifically the last page. Then I’m reading the last page or two.

The ending is, theoretically, the best part—where all the subplots and main plots are wrapped up nicely with a fancy schmancy bow on top of it. It’s where we find out if it’s a happily ever after or a horrible cliffhanger that leaves you groaning. I shouldn’t read the ending, yet it’s a temptation I cannot resist. It’s a habit of mine that I can’t seem to break. (I was doing well until The Offering, honestly. An four book record of not reading the ending or looking ahead.)

But actually thinking about this little “quirk” of mine, I realize it makes sense why I read the ending once I’m about 100 pages into a book. It’s like a safety net to catch you as you’re walking across the tightrope. I guess reading a book isn’t as dangerous as walking across a tightrope, but it put a pretty picture in your head, didn’t it? Or it made you roll your eyes seeing as how it’s a hot mess of a cliche. I’m getting off point. Either way, if I read the end of the book, I know what’s going to happen. I know that everything ends up okay (or maybe not). I know that it’s worth it to read the book and take my time doing it. And most of all, it helps me to keep reading. 

The only time I don’t read the ending of a book is when I read a book in one sitting. It happens a lot more than you would think. I’m pretty much a binge-reader meaning that I used to only read during breaks and summer when I didn’t have homework to interfere with it. But now that I’m writing and reading during the school year, I realize I still have binge-reading tendencies (i.e. reading a book in one sitting). All or nothing like an action potential, baby. Because I read so many books straight through, in one sitting. The ones that I actually have to read chapter by chapter are the ones that inevitably end up in my “to-be-finished-eventually” shelf on Goodreads. But if I know the ending or have an inkling of what’s to come, I’ll be more motivated to pick the book up and actually get to that point. 

Maybe I’m just validating my actions, but it’s what I do -shrugs- What are you going to do about it? And don’t worry, I promise I won’t blurt out any spoilers. I have a lot of practice, one of my closest friends absolutely loathes spoilers.

Does anyone else read the ending before finishing the entire book? Or do you hate all spoilers like reading a single line near the end that reveals little to nothing about the book? Comment below!