Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Best of 2011... According to me

I can't believe it's already the end of the year. As an end to the year, I thought I'd put up a list of my favourites of 2011.

Favourite Reads of 2011:

 Why: A different take on Angels. Plus, there's the guy, Tucker.

Why: This has been the year of the dystopian novel. Divergent included a unique world full of danger, secrets and control. What more could you want?
 Why: This was the first sci-fi I read and I loved the mystery and danger taking place in space.

Why: I heard a lot about Liar Society before it came out and I wasn't let down. Secret societies, lies and death. The ingredients for a perfect mystery.
Why: Dystopian meets fantasy. This is like Xmen in a crumbling future, and I love Xmen.

Top releases of 2012 I can't wait to read:
Why: I loved Unearthly and can't wait to read the sequel.

Why: Reincarnation, a countdown to something and a murder... sounds enticing, doesn't it?

Why: An underworld and tempting fate. Just sounds tempting.

Why: Who doesn't love time travel?

Why: The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor... that pitch is just awesome

What are your favourite reads of 2011? What are you looking forward to?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Giving Giveaway


Since it's only a couple of days before Christmas I felt in the giving spirit and wanted to have a giveaway. This giveaway is a bit different. It will allow you to nominate someone else to receive a present. You will be able to choose whether the nominated person will receive a $20 gift certificate from Amazon or 2 books (which you can select).

But don't worry. Since this is all about the spirit of giving, you will also receive a choice of 1 book from Book Depository.


The contest will run until December 31st and the winner will be randomly selected on January 1st. I will email both nominated and the person who nominated to get shipping details. Good luck and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I'm Back






It is indeed a busy time of year with arriving back home, preparing for Christmas, preparing to move and preparing for a new job all at the same time.

I had a blast over in Japan. I did things I will probably never do again (yep, my brother even dragged me to a maid cafe... that was so... cutesy). It was also my first experience with Disney and Universal Studios and, even though it was in Japanese, I still thoroughly enjoyed all attractions and rides.

The best part of the holiday was that I got to spend my birthday at Disney. When we checked into the hotel I even got a birthday card from Mickey Mouse... I felt really special, and such a big kid.

Now I'm back and pretty much as soon as I was off the plane, the next day I was in the car for a fifteen hour car ride to look at the school where I'm going to be teaching next year... yeah, I've got a lot of homework because they managed to give me all the starting units that I can prepare for over the holidays.

Now, it's only a week away from Christmas and I'm busy preparing for a family Christmas, not to mention trying to arrange everything so I can move and start teaching late January. But, I always like to keep busy.

So, how has everyone else been?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Going Offline



For the next couple of weeks I'll be quite busy. Yep, I'm going to Disneyland (well, Tokyo Disneyland) for a long deserved holiday. When I come back I'll be fresh and ready to continue writing and blogging and everything else I've been neglecting.

So, for now, I'm signing off.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Review: Minder

Minder by Kate Kaynak



Synopsis (From Goodreads):Sixteen-year-old Maddie Dunn needs to learn how to use her special abilities before somebody else gets hurt. Ganzfield is a secret training facility full of people like her, but it's not exactly a nurturing place. Every social interaction carries the threat of mind-control.A stray thought can burn a building to the ground.And people's nightmares don't always stay in their own heads.But it's still better than New Jersey,especially once she meets the man of her dreams?

After getting attacked one night, Maddie Dunn does the impossible. She fights back with her mind. Her life is turned upside down, told she is a "Minder", a person who possesses telepathic powers, she is transported to Ganzfield, a secret training facility with people just like her, but they're not. The majority of kids here possess pyrokinetic (fire) powers and mind control, she is the only minder.

Here, she meets Trevor, a person who she instantly connects with. It could be the fact that he is also a loner at the facility. He is telekinetic, someone who can control objects with his mind. He also feels he is dangerous to be around, just like Maddie. They fall hard and fast in love as if nothing can tear them apart. But, there are some secrets bout this facility that are kept hidden and some enemies that want it destroyed.

Kate Kaynak has created an interesting world that is similar to X-men in many aspects, but also resembles an ordinary high school. There's the popular kids/bullies (mind controllers) and the lovable geeks (pyros). All characters a very well-rounded and it was good to see all the flaws and weaknesses that teenagers with such powers have.

Even though the relationship between Maddie and Trevor happens too quickly, and it felt a bit unrealistic at times, I felt they were the perfect couple. Both of them were outsiders at school. Maddie was the only Minder and Trevor was the only telekinetic, and both of them were dangerous to be around when they were asleep. It can easily be seen why both would turn to each other.

Minder is the fantastic introduction to the world of Ganzfield, and the perfect start to this series. The book was a quick read, packed full of emotion and turmoil. I look forward to picking up Adversary and the rest of the books in this series to see where Maddie and Trevor go next.

Source: e-book
2011 YA Reading Challenge: #30 of 50

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2012 Reading Challenges

This year I decided to participate in some reading challenges (most I'm actually winning at), and it has come time again to sign up to next year's challenges. I know I'm going to have a lot of commitment with a new job and everything, but that's not going to stop me from reading. For next year, I'm going to sign up to 4 challenges:


CHALLENGE OBJECTIVE:


  • To read & review a minimum of twelve young adult or middle grade debut novels between the dates of January 1, 2012 - January 31, 2013.
RULES & GUIDELINES:
  • You must have a Blog to post your reviews or be a member of Goodreads.
  • Your blog must be written in English.
  • Deadline to join is May 31, 2012.
BOOK GUIDELINES:
  • Must be a young adult or middle grade title.
  • Must be the author’s YA or MG debut, released in 2012.
  • If an author has a previous novel published for adults or children, they can still qualify for the challenge.
  • If an author has a previous YA or MG title, they do not qualify for the challenge.
Here's my list of books I'm aiming to read:
  1. Everneath by Brodi Ashton
  2. Tempest by Julie Cross
  3. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
  4. Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
  5. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
  6. Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
  7. The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams
  8. The Selection by Kiera Cass
  9. The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legend 
  10. The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker
  11. Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris
  12. Ditched: A Love Story by Robin Mellom
  13. Undeadly by Michele Vail
  14. Katana by Cole Gibson




Challenge guidelines:


  1. This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2012 - Dec 31, 2012.
  2. As we would like to see quality reviews linked up to our monthly wrap-ups, only bloggers can enter. Sorry about that!
  3. Any genre, length or format of book counts, as long as it is a book that's been sitting on your shelf for some time now. Only books released in 2011 and earlier! NO ARCs and 2012 fresh-off-the-press releases allowed!
  4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  5. When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the 2012 TBR PILE Reading Challenge (You need to include the info + host list + challenge button. You can also grab the button code and add it to your sidebar!)
  6. You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  7. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2012, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
  8. At the end of each month one of the hosts will post a wrap-up. Every wrap-up will have it's unique theme, a mini-challenge, a giveaway and place for you to link up your reviews from this month. For each review you link up, you will get one entry in a drawing of one book of choice from Book Depository. It's open to INTERNATIONALS. For participating in the mini-challenge you will get +1 entry.
  9. If you miss a wrap-up post + giveaway, you can link up your reviews next month. Do not, however, try to link up one review twice - we will be checking ;)
  10. December is a wrap-up for the whole year. All the book reviews you linked up January-November + the ones you'll link up in December will be entered into a HUGE giveaway - 12 books, 12 winners, INTERNATIONAL.
  11. You don't have to follow all the hosts to join the challenge, but you do have to follow all of us to be entered in giveaways!
Levels:

1-10 - A Firm Handshake
11-20 - A Friendly Hug - I really need to catch up on my TBR list
21-30 - A Sweet Kiss
31-40 - Love At First Sight
41-50 - Married With Children
Some of the books I'm aiming to read are (these are the ones I've got on my shelves):
  1. A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
  2. Haven by Kristi Cook
  3. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
  4. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  5. Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Run's January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012.

The Rules:
  • Anyone can join.
  • You don't need a blog to participate.
  • Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post on Jamie's blog.
  • Audio, eBooks, paper, re-reads all count.
  • No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.
There are four levels:
  1. The Mini YA Reading Challenge – Read 12 Young Adult novels.
  2. The "Fun Size" YA Reading Challenge – Read 20 Young Adult novels.
  3. The Jumbo Size YA Reading Challenge – Read 40 Young Adult novels.
  4. The Mega size YA Reading Challenge – Read 50+ Young Adult novels. - I'm going all out and aiming for 50.

Details:
  • Runs January 1, 2012 – December 31, 2012 (books read prior to 1/1/12 do not count towards the challenge). You can join at anytime. Sign up on The Book Vixen’s blog.
  • The goal is to outdo yourself by reading more books in 2012 than you did in 2011. See the different levels below and pick the one that works best for you. Nothing is set in stone; you can change levels at any time during the challenge.
  • Books can be any format (bound, eBook, audio).
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • Grab the reading challenge button and post this reading challenge on your blog to track your progress. Please include a link back to this sign-up post so others can join the reading challenge too. You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you could track your progress on Goodreads or LibraryThing.
Levels:
Getting my heart rate up – Read 1–5 more books - I'm not going all silly, but I think I can get 5 more than I read this year out... hopefully
Out of breath – Read 6–10 more books
Breaking a sweat – Read 11–15 more books
I’m on fire! – Read 16+ more books

Friday, November 18, 2011

Out with the old, in with the new

Change is good, and I thought this blog needed a change and a new design. Thanks to the fantastic Lori at Imagination Designs who created a fantastic new design for me.

The design isn't the only thing I've changed this week. I finally decided to join Twitter. Yep, I never thought I would, but now I am.You can find me at:


So, what do you think of the new design?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Perfect Cast

I know when I write stories (and even read them), I love to have an idea of what the main cast will look like. I thought it would be fun to create a list of who I think the perfect cast would be for my novel, Shadow Embraced.


When it came to picking my main character, Scar, it was actually a challenge. Scar is feisty and really loves to fight. She also has a dark side which she continuously fights to control.

Even though Chloe Moretz (Kick Ass, Let Me In) is 2 years younger, I love the way she can play the violent roles and still show a vulnerability.






Next up is the love interest, Daemon. He is always in control, suave and really doesn't like to be kept in the dark about anything.

Chase Crawford would fit perfectly into that, not only from his role on Gossip Girl, but also because I loved him in the Covenant.




What can I say about Jynx (a.k.a. Snow as Scar likes to call her)? She definitely holds a grudge and isn't afraid of confrontations, or any consequences that may come from those confrontations.

For her, I think Elizabeth Gillies from Nickelodeon's Victorious would be perfect. From that show, she has already proved that she can play the scary character without losing any flair.



So, what about you? Do you like to picture what actors would be the perfect cast to fill your novels? When reading, do you place actors into the roles so you know what to visualise?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

YA Violence: When is it too much?


I, for one, loves reading and watching violent scenes. For some reason, all those action scenes really draws me into the story. This is probably why I love writing them. As I was having breakfast and discussing with my brother how to mutilate and kill the creatures in the sequel to Shadow  Embraced (yeah, not exactly a good eating conversation), it got me thinking about how much violence is too much in YA novels. I hate reading novels where they get up to the fight/action scenes and it's over too quickly, or don't use enough descriptions to really draw me into what's happening. But how much violence is too much?

Do you like reading violent scenes? Is there a point that you just want to stop reading or skip the scene completely?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A post in which I admit defeat


Okay, I know it's only the first week of Nano, but I do know when the sensible thing to do is give up. Just too many things have been thrown at me this month. In 3 weeks I go over to Japan (and the planning never ends),  not to mention work to pay for said Japan trip, I've got one Shakespeare course that I really, really have to pass, and now I have to also get things packed up so I can move at the end of the year. This week I received a call saying I've got a permanent teaching job for the start of term 1 in January.

So many things that I have to get done. That doesn't mean I'm going to give up on my Nano novel. I actually love the idea that my new time frame is to have it complete by Christmas time (so I'm just aiming to complete Nano in two months rather than just the one).

Yeah, so how is everyone else's November's going?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

So much drama means little Nano...


Why does November have to be a month packed with so much drama? I somehow injured my back at the end of last month and I'm also trying to finish preparing for a trip to Japan which is at the end of the month. 

And, if that's not a lot, my sister and her boyfriend has recently moved into our small 3 bedroom townhouse (that makes 5 people living under the one roof) and it makes it hard to concentrate especially since I need to walk on egg shells so I don't upset anyone, and now I've turned to going and sitting out by the pool to get some "ME" time.

I have found out some things:
  • It's hard to write when there's people around making noise.
  • It's emotionally draining to try and fit family and writing and holiday planning into the one day (boy, I was asleep before 8:30).
  • Sitting by the pool in Spring might be quiet, but my feet have been eaten alive by mosquitoes.
It's only the start of the month and I'm already tired. I'm just going to keep powering on and telling myself "I can do it!"

Are you having any better luck with Nano? What do you do to get away from distractions?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review: Shatter Me

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi


Synopsis (From Goodreads):Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. 


The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color. 

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now. 

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior. 

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in 264 days, not since the accident which made the reestablishment lock her up for murder. Juliette has the power to kill someone by just touching them. Locked in an isolated cell with no contact, Juliette thinks that's how she's going to spend the rest of her life. That is until Adam gets placed in the same cell as her. This must be a test or a trap because not only did they place a boy in her cell, his is familiar. Juliette knows him from some place before her life in the cell.

When the two are forced from their cell, only then does Juliette realise she was right. It was a test. Adam was planted in her cell, a direct command of the military general, Warner. Warner is obsessed with Juliette, ever since he discovered what she is capable of. He pulls her out of the life of solitary and gives her food and beautiful clothes, and the chance to have the world at her feet. The only catch is that she agrees to work for Warner and use her touch to torture his enemies.

And then there's Adam. He remains close to her, and is the only one capable of helping her escape. Juliette must keep fighting Warner's advances until she can get away or be forced to use her curse for his psychotic purposes.

Tahereh Mafi has created a thrilling debut in a dystopian society where the world is falling a part and diseases and food shortages are destroying the population. Even though Juliette is despised and feared, mostly by people who don't understand what she can truly do, she has remained strong and kind.  Juliette's voice comes through strong with every word, especially the contradictory thoughts that has been scratched out, such as:

It's a home, a centre for troubled youth, for neglected children from broken families, a safe house for the psychologically disturbed. It's a prison.


It's easy to see how all the horrors Juliette has faced could lead her to kill herself, but still she doesn't. Her life is the one thing she can control.

Adam and Juliette go perfectly together. Both of their lives have been hard and it is easy to see why they need each other to lean on, but then there's Warner who would do anything to have Juliette all to himself. He is venomous and would do anything to have power, which includes having the power Juliette has. Warner dangles all the enticing, but poisonous, fruit in front of Juliette expecting her to do whatever he wants because he can provide her with food and clothes and attention, the things she has not had in her life.

Mafi's writing is beautiful and unique. From the first word the reader is pulled into Juliette's head and stays there. It reads like it is actually inside a broken 17 year old's head. I really loved how Juliette still has a value of life, even though no one else has shown her any courtesy like that before. She is only one of the elements that makes this book a page turning rollercoaster.

With an X-men feel in a dystopian society, Shatter Me is an exciting read and I can't wait until the sequel to see more of Juliette and Adam.

Source: ARC courtesy of Allen and Unwin
2011 YA Reading Challenge: #29 of 50
2011 Debut Author Challenge: #14 of 20

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Let it Begin!


Where did the month of October go? It's now November and NanoWriMo has officially started down here in Australia and I'm hoping all my planning hasn't been in useless. This is the first year I've got a pretty solid idea about the novel and where I want it to go. All I have to do is meet the 2k limit I've set for me each day and I'm sweet.

And now I'm here, really trying to figure out how to start the novel... dang, I hate finding that first sentence. You can find me under cherry_chez over at the NanoWriMo site. Good luck to all those participating.

So, who else is getting excited about Nano? What sort of planning did you do for the novel? If you're not participating, do you have anything exciting planned for November?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ahoy! Sea Serpent?!? Blog Hop


Kerri over at Craft Junky has been working hard to organise a choose your own adventure blog hop. To catch the start of this story go here.

Do you still go?

The sea-slicked deck rattles noisily as an unseen force strikes the ship repeatedly. Balanced precariously against the rail you dig your nails into the siding desperately reconsidering the whole venture. The captain staggers wildly too stubborn to fall, glaring out at the ocean around him with blazing contempt.

Crewmen stumble about on deck desperate to know what is going on, they slip and tumble under the assault shaking the ship. You wince as one of the men collides with the railing before plummeting limply over the side. You can see spot where he hit the water bubble and roil but he doesn’t resurface. The remaining men give into panic as the ship starts noticeably titling towards your side. The dark sludgy water is a lot closer than it used to be.

Captain Contemptuous barks furious orders trying to bring his crew back under control. It looks to be working too. That is until the tentacles come smashing up through the deck like horrific mutant daisies. One by one, the greasy limbs drag the crew down through the floorboards, until all that remains is you and the captain. A tentacle gropes blindly at his leg looking to take him, without pausing, he removes a large knife from his belt and buries it deep into the creature’s flesh. The tentacle spasms beneath the blade, smearing bluish-black ichor across the remains of the deck as it retreat.

“You!” The captain screams swinging his blade in your direction. “You did this! You cost me my crew. I’m going to gut you where you sta-…”

Fwoosh!

A burst of water rockets up along the far side of the ship. The towering funnel continues upwards as if it were a dagger aimed for the heavens. A loud twisting roar of monstrous rage booms across the ship like thunder and for an instant the colossal wave stops moving entirely, and all you can see is the smouldering green eyes at its core, then that moment passes. The wave crashes down on the deck as though it were cement and not water suspended above you. The force sends you tumbling backwards over the railing.

You hit the icy water like a sledgehammer. Plunging down into its depths, your last glimpse of the ship is of a massive serpent entwining itself around the hull and Captain Contemptuous cursing angrily after you for bringing this beast down upon them. His rage maddened eyes glowing with the same luminous fury as the eldritch serpent consuming his ship.

The murky water presses in around you, crushing you with promises that something much worse than the serpent is waiting for you down here. Your world spins rapidly around you as you sink. You’re no longer sure which way is up anymore. Direction has no meaning in this oppressing black void.

You’re not sure how much oxygen you have left. If you don’t find your way back to the surface, you could die down here. Twisting around, you strain to see something in the darkness surrounding you. The icy blackness plays tricks with you. Is that area of black nothing ‘above’ you really lighter than that other patch of black nothing? Or is it your imagination? You struggle to push down your mounting fear as best you can, but nothing makes sense down here.

Suddenly an icy finger runs down your spine and you spin round to face this new threat. Floating there in front of you as clear as day is your beloved. Seemingly unaffected the cold depths, she smiles brightly at you. A luminous white glow surrounds her as she beckons you to follow her.

‘That’s not her.’  A weak voice issues from somewhere inside your head. ‘You need to get to the surface. Go up!’

She looks back at you, a look of concern spreading across her face as she drifts away from you. Her beckoning grows more frenzied the longer you remain frozen. Your indecision could wind up killing you. What do you do?

Do you: Follow your beloved

Do you: Listen to the voice urging you to go up


Go back: Stay where you are and hope it's friendly

Or Start over

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Review: Liar

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

Synopsis (From Goodreads): Micah will freely admit that she’s a compulsive liar, but that may be the one honest thing she’ll ever tell you. Over the years she’s duped her classmates, her teachers, and even her parents, and she’s always managed to stay one step ahead of her lies. That is, until her boyfriend dies under brutal circumstances and her dishonesty begins to catch up with her. But is it possible to tell the truth when lying comes as naturally as breathing? Taking readers deep into the psyche of a young woman who will say just about anything to convince them—and herself—that she’s finally come clean, Liar is a bone-chilling thriller that will have readers see-sawing between truths and lies right up to the end. Honestly.

Micah is a liar. Everything she says is a lie, so how can you know what she's telling is the truth? Now her "after school" boyfriend is found dead in Central Park, a place where they spent so much time together, she is forced to tell the truth. But how can anyone decipher what the truth is when everything else out of her mouth is a lie? Rumours start to circulate around the school about who killed Zach, but it's not just Micah who is being accused.

As Micah tells her story, there's only two questions left to answer. What is Micah's secret? And, what really happened to Zach?

What can I say about this book that won't give away all the secrets? Justine Larbalestier does an excellent job of creating a confessional type story told from Micah's perspective. From the first page where Micah promises to tell the truth all the way to the end the reader is kept guessing as they try to figure out which version of the story they should really believe.

Even though Micah is an unreliable narrator, it works. Throughout the story, Micah changes the story and announces that what she's told the reader has, in fact, been lies. This kept the twists and turns coming and had me thinking about what was really happening. Even some of the truths that I thought were lies turned out to be real, or so she leaves the reader believing. The story is split into three parts Before (Zach's death), After and family history. This helped build Micah's character and showed her motivation and reasons for why she's the way she is.

I can't really say much more about what lies or truths she did say without giving away any of the twists. I would recommend this to anyone who likes to be kept guessing or for those who likes to solve a good mystery, because that's what Micah is, a good mystery, as the reader tries to figure out if she is telling the truth, or everything is a lie.

Source: Audible
2011 YA Reading Challenge: #28 of 50
2011 Aussie Reading Challenge: #4 of 12

Friday, October 21, 2011

A new experience is always welcome

Out of all my university days I have never pulled an all nighter, so I decided what the heck. Due to work, I've been working through till 1 am and haven't managed to get much done, so I decided to stay up and get a 1500 word essay on Romeo and Juliet done.

Hey, it was me and my sister (yep, she stayed up too), with the entire season 1 of Pretty Little Liars and really boring indepth articles on Shakespeare. I made it and I am not even tired (5:30am here at the moment).

It's always good to allow yourself to know new experiences, especially as a writer. Now, if I need to know what it feels like to go without sleep for close to 24 hours then I'll easily be able to write one.

So, do you like to experience new things? Has anyone done the all nighter and been like me who's left their assignments till the last minute?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Endings: Happy or Sad?


Okay, don't get me wrong, I do enjoy a happy ending, but sometimes I actually like a story if the bad guy wins (if done well). I've seen several movies where the villain succeeds and I wouldn't have picked any other way to end on.

I think it's more of a challenge to end on a sad note and still leave the reader fulfilled, although I have never actually read any novels where the villain does win. I've been thinking about the pros and cons of happy vs sad endings, mainly because my Nano novel might not exactly end on a happy note (yes, I've already planned the ending). It's a Horror so I think I can get away with it.

So, what does everyone else think? Do you prefer happy or sad endings? Will you read a novel where the bad guy wins if it is done well?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review: Die for Me

Die for Me by Amy Plum

Synopsis (From Goodreads): In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life--and memories--behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.


Amy Plum has created a thrilling debut set in the romantic setting of Paris. Kate is struggling to deal with her parents deaths after they die in a tragic car accident. Moving to Paris with her older sister, Georgia to live with their Grandparents doesn't help her to feel less depressed. Instead of spending night after night out like her sister does, Kate recludes to Parisian art and reading at coffee shops.

When Kate meets Vincent, he helps her to move on and feel happy for the first time since her parents deaths. As she begins to fall in love with him, she learns that he is a revenant, someone who has died while protecting others and is destined to save the lives of others over and over again. Kate is pulled into a war that has existed for centuries between Vincent's revnants and those who are destined to destroy people. Kate must decide whether the safety of her own life is more important than Vincent.

From the moment I'd heard of Die for Me it was at the top of my list to-read, and I'm glad I did. The idea of Revnants were interesting. Beings destined to die over and over again so that they can rescue other people, now who wouldn't want to read that? Kate was an honest and typical teenager who's dealing with a lot of grief, but that doesn't stop her from doing what needs to be done, and she is also very protective of her older sister.

The relationship between Vincent and Kate developed at a believable rate, and with it being set in Paris, you can't go wrong. The twists and turns Plum throws at the two as they move through their relationship, which leads up to a thrilling conclusion. Plum has created a unique and thrilling paranormal romance and I can't wait to see where the story continues in the sequel.

Source: Audible
2011 YA Reading Challenge: #27 of 50
2011 Debut Author Challenge: #13 of 20

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Can't believe it's nearly November

This year I've signed up for NanoWriMo (again). For those that don't know, it's the National Novel Writing Month and the goal is to write 50k in one month. I'm lucky this year I have several ideas floating around, and I have already started plotting. This is a lot better than last year when I ended up having no idea at the start of November.

November is looking to be a quiet month for me with only one uni course and work to contend with, but since I'm going to Japan at the end of the month, I'll need to push myself to get more at the beginning.

So, what am I writing? A YA Horror by the name of The Making of Amber Wright (seriously I had the title before I even had the character for this one).

A mysterious girl with no memories and only a restaurant badge with the name Amber wanders into town and is taken in by the town doctor. As her memories begin to return she starts to question what is real and whether these memories are even hers. This is made worse by the appearance of faceless ghosts and creatures intent on getting to her.

When people start disappearing and only she can remember them, she starts to question "who exactly is Amber Wright?"


I'm actually looking forward to tackling this novel and can't wait for November to begin so I can jump straight in.

Who else is crazy has signed up to NanoWriMo? Have you got any idea of what to write yet?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's Spring for crying out loud!


It's Spring down here and it's hot, yet I still manage to get the flu. After spending the week in bed, as well as a trip to the physio... how I managed to throw my neck out in a coughing fit is a mystery to me. I'm back up and about, trying hard to edit Shadow Embraced and prepare for NanoWriMo... as well as complete my uni work.

I'll be back next week (I promise) with my regular posts. Expect a lot more about Nano since I've already got a fully formed idea, just need to do some last minute plotting.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness: October Signup

Book Soulmates hosts this fantastic monthly event which encourages people to sign up and give (as well as receive) the gift of books. If you haven't checked it out, jump over to book soulmates.

Rules
• Sign up each month you'd like to participate in.
• Show off your participation! Grab one of the buttons available :)
• Create a wish list and post it in the Google Doc located in each R.A.K post for the month. {Post on your blog, Amazon, where ever as long as there's a link to it.}
• If you choose to do a R.A.K for someone, check out their wish list and contact that blogger for their address.
• Please, once you receive a R.A.K., email or tweet {Vanessa} so that she can update the Google doc. There are a lot of requests for this!
• At the end of the month, SHOW US YOUR R.A.K!
Make a post saying 'Thank You' to whoever granted one of your wishes and share it with us :)

OPEN TO EVERYONE!
Let's keep our International bloggers in mind and in our hearts.
Remember, there's always the Book Depository and they offer FREE shipping!

My own wishlist can be found at the Amazon. I wish everyone a good October.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Making tough decisions





I've recently received some valuable feedback regarding the plot of Shadow Embraced, so I've been in major revision mode. But, along the way I've had to make decisions as to what to change and what I really want to keep.

During my edits, I've had to be very selective about which advice I follow. So, what I learnt during this process is:

Writing, and reading, is very subjective. One person may hate something, some element of the story, while another may love it. I have learnt this by being a part of a critique group. Not everyone is going to love the story.

So, how do you make the tough decisions when it comes to writing? Do you have anyone reading the story before it's complete?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why I've been missing... and back now...






That above picture explains it all. I've had my final stretch of uni wrapping up (as well as a new class starting), not to mention work finally kicking into top gear, so I haven't had time for much lately.

What I got done:

  • 8 weeks of readings I'd fallen behind in and posted a comment on the forum (in 2 classes)
  • 2 essays & 1 research project on how children learn
  • Working over 30 hours (while still studying)
  • Doing a Shakespeare test without having read the material (boy, that was fun)
  • 30,000 word (so far) major edit to Shadow Embraced, thanks to some fantastic feedback I received for it.
That's my previous couple of weeks. I'm now back (with only 1 course to go until I graduate), and I'm not going anywhere.

So, what has everyone been up to?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Review:Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Synopsis (From Goodreads): Beatrice "Tris" Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place in mortal danger. Veronica Roth's young adult Divergent trilogy launches with a captivating adventure about love and loyalty playing out under most extreme circumstances.

Veronica Roth has created an interesting world in Divergent where everyone is divided into five distinct factions based on five personality traits (brave, selfless, intelligent, honest and peaceful). When Beatrice is put through the standard test to identify which faction she must "choose", she discovers that she's a Divergent. She is one person that has the ability to choose from a number of factions, she also is told that if anyone were to learn her life could be in danger. When it comes time to choose her faction, she has to decide between her Abnegation family (selfless) and that of Dauntless (brave). What she chooses suprises everyone. She chooses Dauntless.

As the initiation starts, Beatrice (who decides to change her name to Tris) has to prove that she is as brave and strong as the others who only sees her as a Abnegation stiff. She soon learns that being a Divergent helps her succeed in the trials, but she has to learn why being a Divergent is so dangerous and who, if they found out what she was, will stop at nothing to kill her.

Divergent is a compelling debut that shows a structured dystopian world and the power struggle that could play out if one group would be given all the power. Tris and all the other characters all come alive. Just like the different factions, she is strong, brave and selfless (even though she doesn't think she is). Four is also a strong character who, even though he does things to pick on and make Tris stand out, really cares for her, and their rollercoaster relationship is  compelling.

The faction of Dauntless, there's no other word but, wow... the scenery Roth has painted inside the mountain and the actions, mostly which include jumping on and off speeding trains and jumping off cliffsides, really provided a thrilling read. Put that with the dangerous mystery of what Divergent really means, and why those who have been named it often are found dead, makes Veronica Roth's Divergent a page turning thriller. Anyone who loves Dystopian novels will definately love the atmosphere that Roth creates. I look forward to the next in this new trillogy.

Source: Audible
2011 YA Reading Challenge: #26 of 50
2011 Debut Author Challenge: #12 of 20

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Campaigner Challenge #1


Rachel at Rach Writes has posted the first challenge of the campaigner challenge. The goal is to write a flash story of 200 words or less using the opening phrase of "the door swung open". I've decided to challenge myself extra hard and (a big surprise) my story came up at exactly 200 words.

The child
The door swung open, revealing a small silhouette standing on the doorstep. A small girl in a white dress stepped forward. Rain dripped from her chestnut braids.

“Are you okay?” Danielle asked. A flash of lightning illuminated the sky. There were no cars or any sign of how this small girl ended up here at this hour. “Are you lost?”

The girl walked straight past Danielle. Her bare feet left wet footprints behind her. “It’s coming,” the girl whispered in a barely audible voice.

“What?” Danielle followed the girl down the hall. A crack of thunder echoed around the corridor, making her jump. “Do you want me to get you some help?”

“It’s coming.” The girl stopped in front of a closed door. Her small hands, turning the knob with ease, pushed it open. “You can’t hide.”

Danielle flicked on the light and looked into her room. Nothing out of the ordinary.

The girl moved over to the mirror.

Danielle couldn’t take her eyes off the reflection. The rotted flesh hung from the white bone of the skull. Sunken sockets, with no eyes, stared back.

“I’m coming!” the girl whispered as the lights flicked off and the door swung shut.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Top 100 YA Novels

This is a list that is making its way around the blogs at the moment. I found it at Becky's Barmy Book Blog and thought it would be fun to see which books I have actually read.

  1. Alex Finn – Beastly *
  2. Alice Sebold – The Lovely Bones
  3. Ally Carter – Callagher Girls (1*, 2, 3, 4)
  4. Ally Condie – Matched *
  5. Alyson Noel – The Immortals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  6. Anastasia Hopcus – Shadow Hills *
  7. Angie Sage – Septimus Heap (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  8. Ann Brashares – The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (1, 2, 3, 4)
  9. Anna Godbersen – Luxe (1, 2, 3, 4)
  10. Anthony Horowitz – Alex Rider (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
  11. Aprilynne Pike – Wings (1, 2, 3)
  12. Becca Fitzpatrick – Hush, Hush (1*, 2)
  13. Brandon Mull – Fablehaven (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  14. Brian Selznick – The Invention of Hugo Cabret
  15. Cassandra Clare – The Mortal Instruments (1*, 2, 3, 4)
  16. Carrie Jones – Need (1, 2, 3)
  17. Carrie Ryan – The Forest of Hands and Teeth (1*, 2*, 3*, 4)
  18. Christopher Paolini – Inheritance (1, 2, 3, 4)
  19. Cinda Williams Chima – The Heir Chronicles (1, 2, 3)
  20. Colleen Houck – Tigers Saga (1, 2)
  21. Cornelia Funke – Inkheart (1, 2, 3)
  22. Ellen Hopkins – Impulse
  23. Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl (1*, 2*, 3*, 4*, 5, 6, 7)
  24. Faraaz Kazi – Truly, Madly, Deeply
  25. Frank Beddor – The Looking Glass Wars (1*, 2*, 3)
  26. Gabrielle Zevin – Elsewhere
  27. Gail Carson Levine – Fairest
  28. Holly Black – Tithe (1*, 2, 3)
  29. J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  30. James Dashner – The Maze Runner (1*, 2)
  31. James Patterson – Maximum Ride (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  32. Jay Asher – Thirteen Reasons Why
  33. Jeanne DuPrau – Books of Ember (1, 2, 3, 4)
  34. Jeff Kinney – Diary of a Wimpy Kid (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  35. John Boyne – The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
  36. John Green – An Abundance of Katherines
  37. John Green – Looking for Alaska
  38. John Green – Paper Towns
  39. Jonathan Stroud – Bartimaeus (1, 2, 3, 4)
  40. Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Caster Chronicles (1, 2)
  41. Kelley Armstrong – Darkest Powers (1, 2, 3*)
  42. Kristin Cashore – The Seven Kingdoms (1, 2)
  43. Lauren Kate – Fallen (1, 2, 3)
  44. Lemony Snicket – Series of Unfortunate Events (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
  45. Libba Bray – Gemma Doyle (1*, 2*, 3*)
  46. Lisa McMann – Dream Catcher (1, 2, 3)
  47. Louise Rennison – Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
  48. M.T. Anderson – Feed *
  49. Maggie Stiefvater – The Wolves of Mercy Falls (1, 2, 3)
  50. Margaret Peterson Haddix – Shadow Children (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  51. Maria V. Snyder – Study (1*, 2, 3)
  52. Markus Zusak – The Book Thief *
  53. Markus Zusak – I am the Messenger
  54. Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time *
  55. Mary Ting – Crossroads
  56. Maureen Johnson – Little Blue Envelope (1, 2)
  57. Meg Cabot – All-American Girl (1, 2)
  58. Meg Cabot – The Mediator (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  59. Meg Cabot – The Princess Diaries (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  60. Meg Rosoff – How I live now
  61. Megan McCafferty – Jessica Darling (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  62. Megan Whalen Turner – The Queen’s Thief (1, 2, 3, 4)
  63. Melina Marchetta – On the Jellicoe Road *
  64. Melissa de la Cruz – Blue Bloods (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  65. Melissa Marr – Wicked Lovely (1*, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  66. Michael Grant – Gone (1, 2*, 3*, 4*)
  67. Nancy Farmer – The House of the Scorpion
  68. Neal Shusterman – Unwind *
  69. Neil Gaiman – Coraline
  70. Neil Gaiman – Stardust
  71. Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
  72. P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast – House of Night (1, 2, 3, 4, 5*, 6*, 7*, 8*)
  73. Philip Pullman – His Dark Materials (1, 2, 3)
  74. Rachel Caine – The Morganville Vampires (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  75. Rachel Cohn & David Levithan – Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
  76. Richelle Mead – Vampire Academy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  77. Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson and the Olympians (1*, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  78. Rom LcO’Feer – Somewhere carnal over 40 winks
  79. S.L. Naeole – Grace (1, 2, 3, 4)
  80. Sabrina Bryan & Julia DeVillers – Princess of Gossip
  81. Sarah Dessen – Along for the Ride
  82. Sarah Dessen – Lock and Key
  83. Sarah Dessen – The Truth about Forever
  84. Sara Shepard – Pretty Little Liars (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
  85. Scott Westerfeld – Leviathan (1, 2)
  86. Scott Westerfeld – Uglies (1, 2, 3)
  87. Shannon Hale – Books of a Thousand Days
  88. Shannon Hale – Princess Academy
  89. Shannon Hale – The Books of Bayern (1, 2, 3, 4)
  90. Sherman Alexie & Ellen Forney – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  91. Simone Elkeles – Perfect Chemistry (1, 2, 3)
  92. Stephanie Meyer – The Host
  93. Stephanie Meyer – Twilight Saga (1, 2, 3, 4)
  94. Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees
  95. Susan Beth Pfeffer – Last Survivors (1, 2, 3)
  96. Suzanne Collins – Hunger Games (1, 2, 3)
  97. Suzanne Collins – Underland Chronicles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  98. Terry Pratchett – Tiffany Aching (1, 2, 3, 4)
  99. Tonya Hurley – Ghost Girl (1, 2, 3)
  100. Wendelin Van Draanen – Flipped
* On my bookshelf, just waiting for me to get around to reading.

Okay, so I have more on my bookshelf than I've read. I've really got to get around to reading all the TBR pile that keeps growing and growing and growing. I think they need to stop putting out new, fantastic books so I can catch up.

So, how many books have you read from the list? Which books are you dying to read but just haven't gotten around to?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Nothing is original, it's just the way you twist it...


I've been told plenty of times that nothing is original anymore. Well, they are sort of right. Most things have been done these days, but anything old can be given a fresh light with how the writer twists the idea.

I write paranormal and horror, so I always look for ways to describe old creatures or legends in new ways. In my current WiP I even have a unicorn bent on killing my main character (that's mainly because my brother dared me to put a unicorn into the story). Well, my twist on the old unicorn (apart from it being a savage beast), is that it's actually a were-creature. Yep, it's a man who can transform into a unicorn.

How does one take an old creature/theme and give it a new twist? These are some ways I think up my twists:
  1. Research
    All themes, legends and creatures have many differing origin points. A good way to find an original twist is to look at the different elements in each of the points and mix-and-mash until you have something different and unique.
  2. Mix the old with the new
    All the creatures used came from old tales. So, the trick is to see where they fit into the modern society. Add some technology, modern dress and emotions, and you've got a different creature.
  3. Move in the complete opposite direction
    Have a look at what the standard creature or legend looks like and do something or add something totally different and unexpected (take my unicorn for example). 
  4. Insanity does help
    Well, as a writer, it's okay to be a little bit crazy. I always love thinking up new and unexpected ideas for my stories that (I hope) haven't been done before. But, when I'm in writer mode, I can become a bit obssessed and think about these things constantly. Yes, even when I'm at work I'm thinking about the best way to kill a water elemental in the bathroom (that was a messy deal) or kill a unicorn. Yes, I hear voices and I'm proud of that.
So, how do you create original twists to your writing? Where do you get your ideas from

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I'm a campaigner





That's  right! I'm a campaigner!

Rachel Harrie over at Rach Writes has created a wonderful opportunity for any blogger/writer/author who wants to get their name out and meet other like-minded bloggers. This is a fantastic way to build an online presense and I can't wait for the fun to start.

So, if you're a writer and a blogger, come join in the fun.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Review: Stolen

Stolen: A letter to my captor by Lucy Christopher

Synopsis (From Goodreads): Amelia knows one thing... she's dead. She doesn't know how she died and she doesn't know who she was before drowning. She is forced to relive her death over and over in what she can only call nightmares. But, when she finds a boy, Joshua, drowning in the same river she did, she knows she has to help (but doesn't know how since she's already dead).

Lucy Christopher has created an intense tale of kidnapping and survival written as a letter from 16-year-old Gemma's eyes to her captor. Gemma is on her way home to London from Bangkok when she is kidnapped. When she wakes up, she finds herself in the Australian outback.

Gemma soon discovers that even if she tries to run, there is nothing or nowhere she can run to. As she gets to know her kidnapper, Ty, she has to find the will to survive if she ever wants to see home and her family again.

Christopher has beautifully written a story on such an intense topic. The letter allows the readers to become close and to understand her emotions as she becomes conflicted over whether to hate, pity or care for Ty. Ty is indeed an intriguing character. Yes, he did kidnap her, but he was always kind to her and did not force her to do anything she didn't want. In his mind, he kidnapped Gemma to get her to a better place.

The Australian outback is painted perfectly. Even though I'm Australian, it is some place I haven't bee yet, but the scenery surrounding Gemma and Ty created vivid images which made Gemma's survival and need for Ty even more apparent.

For such a serious topic, Christopher has created a captivating story that paints the intense scenario that is all-too real through the eyes of the victim. Overall, Stolen was a non-stop rollercoaster as the reader becomes close to Gemma, and even Ty, as she tries to escape, survive and wonder if she's ever going to see home again.

Source: Audible
2011 YA Reading Challenge: #25 of 50
2011 Aussie Reading Challenge: #3 of 12

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Writing out of a corner

My brother always tells me that when I write my MC into a corner all that is needed is guns, ninjas or zombies. I'm not sure I agree with the three methods, but it is true - sort of. One way to get out of a corner is to create an action that forces the character to move, to do something that will power the plot along.

I'm always getting into trouble where my character has too much reign over the plot that they end up in some situation or circumstance that I can't see any way out of (yeah, one of my MC's in a story I've benched at the moment decided they wanted to act all crazy and dangerous that they got put in a padded cell... now that's a corner. I think I'll just chuck a ghost into the cell with her, which does work since it's a ghost story).

That's not the only corners a writer can encounter. What about needed to defeat a foe when the hero is so at a disadvantage that there's no way out. This is where I'm at with my current WIP. My MC (after sneaking out of the house) goes to a club and is attacked by a water nymph who's actually made of water. What's the worst place to get trapped with this sort of creature? Yep, a bathroom... so, now I have to figure out how to kill a creature made of water in a room of water, and she's only got a lighter, a can of mace and a pocket knife.

Wow, that sounds like a case for Magyver. Oh well, whatever the solution is, it's going to be messy.

So, how do you write your characters out of corners? Have any of you found your characters up against villains that have no obvious weaknesses? Any suggestions on how to kill a creature of water?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review: Hereafter

Hereafter by Tara Hudson

Synopsis (From Goodreads): Can there truly be love after death? 

Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.

Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.

Thrilling and evocative, with moments of pure pleasure, Hereafter is a sensation you won't want to miss.


Amelia knows one thing... she's dead. She doesn't know how she died and she doesn't know who she was before drowning. She is forced to relive her death over and over in what she can only call nightmares. But, when she finds a boy, Joshua, drowning in the same river she did, she knows she has to help (but doesn't know how since she's already dead).

When Joshua makes it out of the river alive, they form a bond and he focuses on trying to find out who Amelia was when she was alive. After the two discover that Joshua can only see Amelia because he is a seer, someone who's purpose is to hunt ghosts and exorcise them, they have to fight the coven headed by Joshua's own grandmother, avoid another ghost determined to get Amelia to himself and discover the truth about Amelia's death.

Hereafter was definitely a different paranormal romance. Amelia is already dead so no one apart from Joshua can even see her. This romance proved to be interesting and developed well.

Hudson has created an intriguing debut with lots of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. Eli, the ghost determined to get Amelia, is a devious villain, while Joshua is sweet and caring. These two guys are the only ones that have any real contact with Amelia and it makes the story interesting to see which side she will choose. Even though the love story between Amelia and Joshua is a bit silly with the fact that she is a ghost and Joshua is not, the tension between them is enough to continue reading.

Hereafter is a fast read with great characterisation and an original spin on the paranormal market. I look forward to reading more about Amelia and Joshua's romance in the next book.

Source: NetGalley
2011 YA Reading Challenge: #24 of 50
2011 Debut Author Challenge: #11 of 20

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm back

Wow, the two weeks have flown by. I can't believe it's the end of August already. This is what I've been up to in the last couple of weeks:

* Finished Teaching. As soon as I was done (and finished the 2 assignments that were due tha same day), I was on a 9 hour overnight train trip.

* Had the most important interview in my life, the one that tells me whether I'm suitable to teach or not. Really freaked out about that one. I'm glad to announce that on my 12 hour car trip home I received an email that said, "I have been recommended as suitable to teach". Yay!

*Finished reading 5 books. Yeah, they've been audiobooks, but they are a lifesaver when I haven't had time to sit and read.

* Wrote 6 new chapters of Dark Sight. The car trip really helped, especially when my father refused to let me drive.

* Out of fun and boredom, I created mock covers for Shadow Embraced and Dark Sight. You can find these on the right column.

What I still need to do:
* Catch up with Uni so I'll actually pass it.

* Get back to reviewing for my crit group.

* Finish Dark Sight b mid September, which is totally possible since I actually have an outline of what I want to happen (and my mc is being very cooperative).

So, what has everyone been up to while I've been gone?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

MIA... taking a break

I know I haven't been around much lately, but when life gets in the way it "really" gets in the way. I'm in my 3rd and final week teaching (which is going fantastic... but tiring), and apart from that there's uni which I'm so falling behind in and work (I can definitely do without the 10 hour nights over the weekend).

As soon as I finish teaching this Friday, I'll have to rush and get my teaching portfolio ready and on Saturday catch a 12 hour train ride down south to attend the official interview that will tell me whether I'm suitable to teach (YIKES).

So, I'll have to go on a break for the next 2 weeks until I catch up and finally get some sleep. See you all when I get back.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

July Wrap Up

It's been a very busy month. This month I started back at uni, as well as going out on my final teaching practicum which is taking up the majority of my time, but I'm loving it.

What I read:
  • Stolen by Lucy Christopher
  • Human.4 by Mike Lancaster
  • A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young

Books I bought:
  • Yeah, I'd rather not go there. With all the bookstores closing (how sad) and able to get books for $1-2, it meant I needed a shopping trolley to remove the books I managed to get my hands on.

Writing
  • Finished my final (hopefully final) edits of Shadow Embraced and have been querying.
  • Started writing my new YA Horror, Dark Sight.

R.A.K.

This month I sent out one book to Anna @ Anna's Book Blog.



I look forward to signing up to R.A.K in August.

So, how has everyone's July been?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kids aren't dumb

I write young adult stories so I always try not to talk down to my readers, but it's only now that I'm in the classroom that I realise how smart they are, especially when they think you don't know what you're talking about.

The amount of questions I've been asked just trying to gauge my knowledge of the subject is phenomenal. so, now I know, even though I write paranormal and horror that I really need to know my world and characters inside out or else the reader will not be satisfied.

How do you prepare to write? Do you know the world before you start or do you jump straight in?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wish me luck


Today I start my third and final teaching prac, the one prac that is more important than the other two. If I can prove myself competent after one week, I'll be in the classroom by myself - without the supervision of my mentor teacher. YIKES!

If that's not scary enough, in just 4 weeks I'll be sitting for my teaching interview, which I need to pass. Ooh, I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it's a scary kind of light that reminds me that next year I have no idea where I'll be, but I'll be a new teacher in a classroom full of teenagers...

Life just keeps moving forward.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Back to the Dark Ages

The electrical company are doing work on the power poles and I received in the mail a letter saying the power was going to be switched off for the majority of the day. This is not goo. How am I going to live.

And precisely at 8, in the middle of doing this post, the computer and everything goes dead. Now I need to figure out how to entertain myself for 8 hours. Isn't it funny how we've become so reliant that electricity is an essential need.

Would you be able to survive without electricity? What would you do to entertain yourself?

P.S. I love my iPad...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A week of highs

I don't know if I really should be feeling this way, but I'm feeling great. After suffering chronic migraines for most of my life and nothing has ever worked that the doctors prescribed, my boss suggested a naturopath.

She has placed me on a very strict diet. It's been 2 weeks since I've had any caffeine, sugar, fatty foods, anything with colours or additives... pretty much any of the nice stuff. And, I'm feeling great.

It also helps that my mind has been so clear that I'm powering through my new story, and Shadow Embraced is getting great feedback and requests.

Boy, if I knew cutting out all of the bad stuff from my diet would have this effect, I would have done it a while ago.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Just what I needed...

Well, after no more than 3 hours sleep due to seeing the final Harry Potter movie (which definitely lived up to my expectations), I am feeling more energised that I've been for a while. I've been in a sort of slump at the moment when it came to writing and I didn't know which project to tackle or what to write next, but as soon as I got home all the ideas started flowing.

Ooh, I can't wait to start writing it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The end of an era



It's been a decade, but now the countdown to the final movie is nearly over. It's premiering here at midnight and I am eagerly anticipating it. I've had my 12:04 cinema ticket for the past 3 or so months. I actually feel sorry for the cinema workers because the cinema I'm going to is having a massive marathon of a run for the final film tomorrow. The cinema is going to stay open 24 hours showing a session every hour throughout the day.

Even though I was practically grown up when I discovered Harry, I've read all the novels and seen the films. I remember picking up the first one (and I didn't even know it was the first one, so I was lucky there) in college when the first three were available and quickly devoured those.

It's going to be sad when the journey is over, but I'm hoping the movie definitely lives up to all the excitement and thrills that it definitely deserves to go out with a bang.

So when did you discover Harry (if you discovered him)? Is anyone excited to see this final film?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The end of the book store






This is the sign that here, down in Australia, has been seeing a lot of at shopping centres. The two main giant book store chains (Borders and Angus & Robertson) are all closing their physical stores, but are still continuing in the online market.

This is sad, but also good as a book buyer since I've managed to get so many books for 50-85% off that I'll probably never get around to reading. So, is this the way the future of book companies are going to be. No more brick and mortar stores, but all online with more available e-books than actual physical books? I'm very impulsive so I liked walking into a book store and picking up some random book that I'd never heard of before and walking out with it, not really expecting to buy anything.

What do you think? What do you think is the future of brick and mortar stores?
 
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