Monday, May 28, 2012

Where I Belong Book 14

"A heartwarming and witty debut novel about a spoiled city girl whose life is turned upside down when her father loses his job and she's shipped to Broken Spoke, Texas. Who knew country-living could melt this snobby ice-queen's heart?"

The blurb above is from goodreads. It's not what the back of the book says, but I think it's a better description. The back of the book mentions the total hottie Corrine meets at work and I went into this expecting a romance. It's not really, although there is romance in it. This book isn't what I expected, and at the bookstore I wasn't even sure I would like it, but it's about a NY girl stuck in TX, and I'm a TX girl stuck in WI, so I thought if I can't eat a decent burrito might as well read about it.

I'm glad I did. I really enjoyed this book. The first thing I noticed right off the back was the voice. It had a really strong voice that started immediately on page 1 and carried the story all the way through. I also enjoyed the Corrine's character transformation. The upper east sider forced to move to nowhere Texas really transformed from the beginning of the book to the end. She meets new people, and some of them are quite interesting even though she doesn't think so at first. My favorite character was probably Bubby who is interested in Corrine but does not become her love interest for quite some time. He's the quarterback, but he's an all around nice guy and smart. (I haven't met many genuinely nice quarter backs, but I like how the author was able to avoid the stereotype). (Disclaimer: previous statement was not a diss on quarterbacks. Merely, the sum of my personal experience). However,  I didn't like that the entire state of Texas was constantly judged based on this one small town. The book made all of Texas out to be vast farmland and there is a lot of it, but Dallas is huge. Famous landmarks aside, there isn't  much you can do in New York that you can't do in Dallas. And I felt there was lack of fact checking as the Corrine and her little brother were able to eat inside at Sonic.
As much as I loved watching Corrine interact with the other characters and seeing her change, I didn't really care for the end. Everything came together too quickly for it to seem realistic and last scene with Bubby and Corrine felt too open. If there had been an epilogue, I probably would have been more okay with this. The theme was tied up nicely, but I'm still kind of hoping for a sequel to finsih things with Bubby. This was a strong story with a great voice, but based on some craft issues and the ending I'm giving it 3 stars.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lola And The Boy Next Door Book 13

"Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door."

What I liked
This was a cute book. What I really like is Perkins' writing style. I love the way her secondary characters have as much depth as the mc and the world building. Paris was never really on my bucket list until I read Anna & The French Kiss. And Perkins gave Lola's world as much depth. One thing I loved was Lola's two dads. This is something a lot of people would have an opinion on one way or the other, but in the book there is no opinion to be had. They are really good parents interested in guiding her and protecting her not controlling her.
What I Didn't Like
Honestly, this book just didn't do it for me. It may be because Anna &The French Kiss set the bar so high. I think part of the reason I didn't like the book was because Lola was a very different character. At times, her daily costumes seemed a bit overboard, but I forced myself to dismiss this as I wore green lip stick around my eyes every day in high school. But I didn't like that she was involved with this much older band guy who didn't seem to have much of a future, and didn't treat her very well. And it the romance between Lola and Crickett a while to really get tense, because of all the interaction and Lola's connection to the previously mentioned loser guy. I'm not sure how to rate this book. I think the writing deserves one rating and the story deserves another one. So I think I'll just let you make your own decision on that.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Return to Paradise Book 12

"Caleb Becker left Paradise eight months ago, taking with him the secret he promised to take to his grave. If the truth got out, it would ruin everything.
Maggie Armstrong tried to be strong after Caleb broke her heart and disappeared. Somehow, she managed to move on. She's dermined to make a new life for herself."

Okay, I loved the first one so much that I had to have this one like the very next day. I went out to B&N (no good indie stores around) and they didn't have it :(. So I ordered it on my kindle. Must read!

I thought I knew how Leaving Paradise ended, but it turns out I was wrong. Also, I found the premise of Caleb & Maggie accidently ending up on the same trip together delightful. I still loved the voice and I liked some of the new characters that were added, but I don't think it moved as quickly as the first one. Also,  I found the make-out scenes to be a little bit more detailed than Simone's other stuff, and I didn't like that. But everything is resolved, except one thing at the end didn't make sense to me. (I can't say what, sorry). But I will say I didn't notice it until a day after I  finished the book and was thinking about it. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Final Days....

I'm so sorry I haven't been around to comment lately. I've been in a lot of pain and exhausted as I'm now 9 days past due to have my baby.  And I hate to say it, but I think comments might be slow for another week or two. I'm being hospitalized tomorrow, so that I can be medically induced into labor on Monday. I'll be out for a while. Sorry guys.

BUT I have scheduled a few book reviews for this week while I'm out so stop by ;)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Leaving Paradise Book 11

"Nothing has been the same since Caleb Becker left a party drunk and hit Maggie Armstrong, leaving her with a limp for the rest of her life. Caleb and Maggie are pigeonholed as RcriminalS and Rfreak.S Then the truth emerges of what really happened the night of the accident."

OMG! I loved this book. I read the whole thing in one night. I didn't feel the romance really picked up until half way through the book, but once it did it was on. And even though the romance hasn't picked up the first half of the book moves just as quickly as the second, because Simone Elkeles has an amazing voice. I love the way she is able to write two different characters with two distinct voices. It was a quick and fun read, incredibly engaged and fast paced. BUT it wasn't Perfect Chemistry. Then again, what will ever be Perfect Chemistry.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Requests for Revisions: What's Your Take?

So not too long ago, I read an article (or it may have been a blog post, I can't remember) about how requests for revisions usually result in rejection. It was interesting/scary for me, because the day before and earlier that same day I'd received requests for revisions.

More confusing was the fact that the requests didn't say the same thing. I decided to focus on one that only addressed grammatical issues, because I felt that was something that would have to be addressed anyhow. I set to work and realized quickly that I wouldn't be able to do it on my own. Partly because I was overlooking/not catching things, and partly because some specific things I just didn't know. I hired a freelance editor. She  did a great job, but when I got her revisions back, I still had a lot of work to do. Sometimes just because I needed to understand why the changes were necessary and sometimes because though the changes were correct, I didn't like them. I felt for whatever reason it didn't work with my voice. Then I needed an alternate fix that had to be correct. I racked my brain to re-word things and re-work things until they worked and then e-mailed the editor again to make sure the new change was correct. (I basically knew, but I have 0 confidence. I need someone to tell me I'm right).

Some of the things the request asked for the editor didn't see a problem with, so I went back to the press and asked for clarification. Then I set to work again. All of this resulted in a rejection. The article was right. LOL. I'm not angry about it. I'm glad the editor took the time to point out some of the grammatical issues, because I wouldn't have noticed otherwise. Even though, I'd read it 3 times and a critique partner read it too. But being rejected after specific revisions is more disheartening than just being rejected in general.

I'm still working on the other requests. They were more complicated and I feel the end result is going to be the same. I'm trying to decide if I think continuing to revise this piece is worth it, or if I should just focus on something new. But I wonder what is your take on requests for revisions? Do you feel it's a good use of your time? Or is your writer time better spent on something new? Does it annoy you when the requests all go in different directions?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pregnant Pause Book 10

I bought this book, because there was a blurb that said something about a pregnant 16 year old wasn't sure she loved the man she married. With the question about whether she loved her baby's father, I thought this might be a romance. I kind of half expected it to be some fairy tale where life is hard for two teenagers who created a kid, when they're really still kids themselves but everything works out in the end. I wasn't discouraged by this. I love fairytale endings, especially since they rarely exist in real life.

I was wrong on every count. This is not a romance, though it does have romantic elements. Really, Ellie's life sucks. She was kind of forced into marrying her boyfriend who is just a couple of years older than her by their parents. And he's a jerk, and loser with a capitol "L." He could care less about their baby or his wife. He's never around and when he is, he's just a jerk. There is another guy who is flirting with Ellie. He seems like a better guy and she's interested in him. But she really wants things to work out with her husband. Besides, things aren't always what they seem. And more than her romantic problems is the fact that her husband's parents want her baby. Her sister wants her baby. She doesn't know if she wants to give it up.

Things get worse when her baby is born with a problem. All the sudden, the guy that wanted her is no where to be found. Her sister is on a plane before she's out of the hospital. Her husband is nowhere to be found and his parents aren't interested in a sick kid. Her parents refuse to help her with the baby. They'd rather be working with AIDS orphans in Africa. She's jobless and homeless with a baby. She thinks she's going to be forced to put her special needs baby up for adoption and doesn't know what will happen to it.

I don't usually read outside of romance, but I thought this was a really good book. It was a very realistic look at teen pregnancy, and the voice held my attention. I found myself unable to put it down several times, because I needed to know what happened next. I'm not sure I can say that about any other non-romance. And if I had a teenage daughter, I'd want her to read this, because this guy kind of talked Ellie into doing things she didn't want to and ruined her life in the process. (I don't mean just the baby, she got in trouble for other things because of him lots of times).

Monday, May 7, 2012

You Against Me Book 9

Jenny Downham's You Against Me is an interesting love story as well as just an interesting story.

Mikey's sister was raped by Elley's brother. All Mikey wants to do is bash the guy's head in, because he's a rich kid and is probably going to walk. Elley was the only person in the house when it happened. She knows something was off about that night, but she wants desperately to believe her brother's innocence. Their lives intertwine when Mikey goes on a revenge mission and finds Elley at home but not her brother.

There were times when it could have had more romance for me, but that probably would have been hard given the situation. Elley learns who Mikey is fairly quickly and he knows that she knows. They both feel they shouldn't be seeing each other given the situation with their families, but they both want to see each other. I think that's played well. One of the things I liked most about this book was the character growth. Elley allows herself to explore the truth and see her brother for who he really is, which isn't the hero of a big brother she thought he was. And she grows enough to be able to stand up against her whole family and tell the truth. Mikey realizes that he can't solve everything with his fist and that his desire to seek revenge for his sister was more about himself. He didn't want to feel helpless, and he thought he could be the hero.

The British English was hard to get past for this American girl. The hardest part was the British slang which I have no familiarity with, although my husband who speaks Indian English (closer to British English than American English) immediately understood the slang. The other thing I didn't like was the loads of detail. Don't get me wrong, I love detail. It brings characters to life and makes worlds real, but lots of things the author described I found unnecessary, like Mikey sitting on the pot. I don't need to know!

All in all I give this book a 3 star rating.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Are Your Stories Driven by Plot or Characterization--Katheryn Rivas

Today, we have a guest post from the awesome Katheryn Rivas. Please spread the word.

Do you write stories driven by plot or characterization?

Which do you like more, a story with a well developed beginning, middle, and end or a rambling story
the follows an untraditional narrative path? This is the main question that separates plot-driven stories
from those established around the actions of characters. Authors usually design a compelling story around
an interesting plot or a fascinating character, either of which is capable of being the centerpiece in the
structure of a great tale.

Plot driven stories are those that follow a set of events established or hinted at somewhere near the
beginning of the story: a character has a quest that they have to complete in order to save a loved one,
one unsuspecting person suddenly becomes the key to thwarting some dark plot, or some catalyzing
event sets things in motion. These are stories where one-dimensional characters abound, usually for the
point of furthering the overall plot of a story. Everything that occurs in plot driven stories occur to move
characters onto the next phase of the main plot.

For instance, you might read a story where a young girl from a modest upbringing unexpectedly becomes
the heroine to overthrow some dreadful agent of evil. Once the general plot has been established (the
girl must defeat the agent or else something awful happens), every event and character you read about
will advance that plot in some way. The girl might meet some wise master of magic to train her for her
impending battle; she may befriend some foreign allies who know certain details of this evil agent’s lair,
and so on. The point is that this story is designed to follow an overarching plot that must be fulfilled by
the characters within. There’s a starting point and an ending point to these stories and you’ll know very
clearly when they occur.

Character driven works of fiction are quite another animal. These stories don’t operate under any
conventions of plotting or narrative structure. These stories start with a character—usually one with a
bunch of quirks or a troubled past—and function to slowly unfold the intricacies of that character as they
interact with other characters in the story. Sometimes you can never really tell where a character-driven
story is going, which can be either a blessing or a curse for a reader. The author might build up a character
with a mysterious past only to kill them off in the end, leaving you wondering what their real story might
have been. Alternately the author could make a character that resonates with you to a chilling degree
because they devote so much time to fleshing out the thoughts and feelings of that character, rather than
putting that character through a complex plot to see how they act.

Character driven stories are rarely satisfying in the conventional sense of listening to a story; there is no
set beginning, middle and end to these tales. But they also give the author unlimited freedom to go on
tangents, explore the unknown, and experiment with styles and themes that wouldn’t normally work in
a conventional, plot-driven work. They’re not for everyone, but they’re a nice alternative to typical plot-
driven fare every now and again.

How do you structure your stories?


This guest post is contributed by Katheryn Rivas, who writes for online universities blog. She welcomes
your comments at her email Id:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Plot Point Tuesday: The Hunger Games

With A-Z over plot point Tuesdays are back! (If I miss next week, you can assume I'm in labor). This week we're breaking down The Hunger Games, and I had a hard time with this one. It's got a complex plot and subplots. If you think I'm wrong, I probably am. Feel free to correct me in the comments.

  1. Inciting Incident-- Katniss volunteers to take Prim's place, and Peeta is chosen for the hunger games.
  2. First Turning Point-- During the training session, Katniss shots an apple out of a roasted pig's mouth which shocks the gamemakers and secures her a high score.
  3. Second Turning Point-- The games begin.
  4. Midpoint-- Rue (the young girl Katniss has allied with) dies and the gamemakers announce there can be two winners this year if they're from the same district. She and Peeta can both live.
  5. Third Turning Point-- Katniss & Peeta face Cato, the last remaining tribute, and a pack of genetically engineered wolves at the center of the games.
  6. Climax-- The gamemakers announce there can only be one winner, so Katniss and Peeta decide to both eat poisonous berries and beat them at their own game.
  7. Resolution-- The gamemakers announce that both Katniss and Peeta are winners before they actually eat the berries. They spit out the berries and go home victors. Except some crazy stuff they didn't know about happened while they were in the games, but that's another book.