I finished Death of the Mad Hatter by Sarah J. Pepper, three days ago and have been sitting on this review. I kept thinking about it... over and over. I generally like to give at least a bit of critique for an author, (let's face it, no one's perfect), but I was completely unable to come up with anything that didn't feel like an absolute nit. You can read my review on goodreads and I can't recommend this book enough, pick up a copy via the links below.
This book was absolutely fantastic! From the moment that you finish the first page you are hooked on Wonderland candies and caught up in its madness. Alice Mae is a young Overworlder who falls into Wonderland as a child and is set on a course to rescue it from the evil Queen, Hearts, rule. When Hearts sends her to retrieve Ryley, the heir to the Wonderland thrown, many years later, a prophecy is set in motion and lives are changed forever.
Ms. Pepper wrote a perfect homage to the original with this book. The characters are deep and detailed, silly and mysterious and yet real and easy to relate to. Alice is classically spacey and carries that spirit of the source, but at the same time has a crazy side to her personality that replaces some of the other classical characters that didn't make it into this retelling. Wonderland and its ties to the Overworld are just as delicately described so the reader knows at all time which world they are in.
The writing style and the sentence structure are we balanced to have the same flair for the dramatic and utter random quality that the original had while still being able to stand on its own and offer a new generation a fresh look at Wonderland. As an Alice veteran, I was very pleasantly surprised with the way the story was told and how it captured a feeling and style I didn't know I craved from an Alice spin-off.
People are often surprised when they find out how much I read.
I read to escape, to leave my life and live through others. To wield a sword and love a vampire. I visit far off lands and experience things I would never have the means to in real life. I read as therapy.
Recently, I came across an article by Lucy Horner on Bibliotherapy and how books have the power to heal the mind in ways most non-readers do not understand. I've pulled a few of her tips that I have used in the past, but make sure to check out her full article from Huffington Post and stop by her website.
Commit to memory one or two lines from poetry.
Poems learned by heart can stay with you long after other things have gone, and, in the words of a wise university lecturer of mine, they will even keep you strong if you have to spend time in prison.
Reread a novel that made you smile the first time round.
Rereading a favorite book "reignites" the positive feelings we felt on our first reading and results in a "renewed appreciation" of the experience, research suggests.
Choose a feel-good book to help lift your mood.
If you've been feeling a bit low recently, or if you'd like a quick pick-me-up from fiction, spend some time with a book solely for the purpose of feeling good about yourself.
What do you read (for pleasure or therapy), has it helped you over come difficult life situations?
Share your favorite picks in the comments below and your reasoning for picking it.
Who knows, maybe your pick will help another person overcome something they are working through.
As a break from the reality I have been experiencing lately, I decided to read/review a fantasy novel. "Unknown" by Melissa Pearl was given to me through a goodreads book club for review.
In a world covered in darkness a light falls to earth and awakens two Seekers who will help return a god to earth and smite the darkness, restoring balance to the world. We follow the journey of the Seekers as they make their way across the lands acquiring allies to help them return their god to earth.
All of the characters from main to supporting were well described and deeply believable. As I was reading I found myself cheering on or ranting at each character in turn for an action they did. Kyla is a strong stubborn young woman who you can't help but cheer for as the book progresses. She doesn't have much of a character arc in the first book, but she starts out so strong to begin with. I hope to see more in the next two books. Jethro and Kyla have been friends since birth and as the pair grow older Jethro begins to pull away from the young woman replacing his childhood friend. When the two are thrown on this journey together we see the most character growth from Jethro as he finally learns to listen to his heart and reconnect with his childhood companion.
Unknown's world is filled with magical creatures and fantastical regions. In book one we are transported to a sand canyon, a water jungle and the beginnings of a frozen desert. All of these locations are so richly described that the reader does not need to expend much effort to visualize them. As having to describe in enough detail multiple settings can be, this story did so flawlessly.
What a wonderful idea! I saw this on twitter this morning and even though I am 4 days behind I will be tweeting and updating this post as the month goes on. Check out my #bookaday picks below and make sure to leave yours in the comments as well!
Do you have any #bookaday reads? Post your favorite 1, 10 or all 30. Let's see if we pick any of the same ones! Leave your picks in the comments below.
I found "Out of Time" by Monique Martin through an amazon sale mail, and I'm so happy I picked it up! It is currently on sale and I highly recommend it. To see more reviews, and my own, visit the book on goodreads.
Elizabeth and Simon are student and Professor studying the occult. One day Elizabeth drops of some graded papers at his house and they are transported back in time to the 1920s. There they must learn to blend into a society far different than their own. The learn quickly to act as if married, find a job working in a speak-easy and that admitting their feelings for one another could save them both. Simon is a closed off older man who has loved Elizabeth from a far for a long time, his self worth has kept him from reaching out to her for years and only their close quarters and her stubborn heart can get him to open up and admit his feelings.
Romance is the main heart of this story and it is extremely well written. The characters already have feelings for one another when the book begins so there is virtually no insta-romance syndrome. The paranormal and time-travel themes are sprinkled throughout the story giving the reader enough of the topics to satisfy their appetite but not overwhelm the main attractions in the story; the character development.
The writing was beautiful, well worded, easy to read style without making a high level reader feel board. There were very few typos and no repeated conversations used to lengthen the page count.
What does the Program Include?
The program comes with a wealth of benefits and resources. There are workbooks (for download and purchase) aimed at varying grade levels filled with inspiration starters, writing prompts and story building tools. Just like with the vanilla NaNo program there are also pep-talks from other authors providing advice, words of wisdom and uplifting support. And of course I can't forget their friendly and supportive community! The writers who participate in NaNoWriMo are some of the most supportive people I have ever come in contact with. Their forums, twitter and live-streams have kept me company many late nights and given me that last push I needed to cross the hurdles before me.
Here's How to Sign-up
Anyone can sign-up for NaNoWriMo, and if you're a youngster or an educator who wants to incorporate this event into your classroom, they have you covered. There is a step-by-step guide on registering a young writer and how to set a customizable word count goal for maximum chances of achievement.
Here's How to Donate
The month the YWP is raising funds to upgrade their website. Their goal is 50k and so far they have raised 32k. They are only running this drive until June 23rd so help support the writers of tomorrow and pledge whatever you can.
If you are unable to donate, help spread the word about the donation drive instead via social media and using #ToAFutureWriter.
If you were able to donate (or not) post your social media information below and lets get the conversation started!
As I've been working (slowly) through the first round of content edits in Keeper's I have been toying with the idea of whether or not I should change the point-of-view that the story is told in. I really like the idea of using second person in a few places and I may look into creating a few temp passages to see what I think of them.
Example: You’re late. Heart pounding, you race up the stairs as the train enters the station. You weave around the slow-moving people milling on the platform and dash towards the train, throwing your body through the doorway with only a moment to spare.
2. Second person gets personal.
One way to experiment with second person is to write as if the story is a letter from the narrator to “you,” reflecting on past events and current feelings, asking questions. This technique isn't necessarily “pure” second person, as it pairs “you” with the narrator’s first-person point of view, but it allows you to dip a toe in the second-person perspective. At the same time, it gives readers a peek into a relationship, a memory, and a character’s emotions.
Example: You told me to meet you at the bar. Things hadn't been going well, but I couldn't put my finger on what exactly was wrong. Did you plan on breaking my heart that night? We locked eyes as I walked through the entrance, and I knew things were coming to an end.
3. Second person stretches your skills and surprises readers.
Because it’s not often used, the second person point of view feels fresh to readers. And for writers, it means a new way of telling a story, a different way of revealing character. In this way, it offers a new perspective for writers and readers alike.
Have you written anything in the second person point-of-view before?
What about changing up your story's POV after its been written?
Leave your thoughts and preferences on point-of-view in the comments and let's get this conversation going!
Vacation is over and now it's back to our regularly scheduled program! On one of my many flights I read The Fire Within by Racquel Kechagias. I received this book from the author via one of my book clubs on goodreads in exchange for an honest review. You can find my review and others here. Overall, it has great story potential but it is in need of a much better editor to polish it up.
Anna is a young woman who is betrothed before birth to the Vampire King, Victor. He life growing up was a rough one filled with only a few true companions and not much love. When it comes time for her to marry she is offered multiple men by her father who attempts to back-out of his deal with Victor. Luckily, Anna falls for him anyway...
All of this sounds very YA and not bad so far, here's my problem. Just like when Anna picks Victor over the other men, the story was riddled with unexplained choices or actions. There was very little of the character's thoughts portrayed to the reader and more of us being shown the outcomes. A third through the book we are introduced to the world of fae, mer-folk, etc. While they were interesting to read about it was never really clear if all of this was a known societal thing or if they were hidden races, just one example of how the plot was hindered by the writing.
The reason I kept reading was the villain in the story, Christian. He was deeply emotional and just more compelling than all of the other characters combined (though I did want to know more about Shade and his past). Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the end of the book as his character was mostly neglected after the mid-point in the book. Seeing as how the story ended I am holding out hope for the second book to feature him more.
My main issue with this story is the editing... or seeming lack of it entirely. There were grammar errors, tense errors and WAY too many point-of-view switches. All of this made it extremely difficult to get into the book and I found myself wanting to skim more than read. The story has real potential and if expanded upon and spread out a bit, more explanations, and fewer POVs it could be a great read.
In the spirit of never giving up and reaching that finish line at the end of the long road that is publishing a book, here's an article that can help to illustrate one view on writing and its pitfalls.
THE 7 DEADLY SINS OF WRITING
Intellectual laziness is something all writers are prone to: as in writing the same type of book, and doing it annually. Like great art, books aren’t ever finished—they’re abandoned. (In other words, don’t just finish writing a first draft and call it a day.)
2. Trying to be a good student
It’s a thrill to rope a lot of cool forensic facts in the research process. But the danger is in going home and regurgitating all of them in your novel—“When really thrillers are all about entertaining. …” Keep that story moving forward.
This occurs when you sit down to write and follow your outline exactly. Some people use an outline like a frame, and merely embroider within it. Outlining is fine, but sticking too closely to it can stifle your story. “If you do outline, you have to be aware of the problems that that kind of thing can cause."
4. Denying jealousy
“I try to not allow myself to be jealous of other writers and the books they’ve written,” Rose said—but in fact, she believes it’s a good thing to let some of that jealousy seep through. So don’t bottle it up. “I think it’s really healthy to let yourself have the full range of emotions.”
5. Focusing too heavily on the business
One of Sandford’s friends obsesses over the business end of writing—his friend writes a book, and then gets lost in all of the trappings of business and promotion … “to the exclusion of actually writing novels.”
6. Not reading books
Reading is essential for writers. A study that said that 23 percent of people in the United States want to be writers. If all of them read 10 books a year, “We’d all be doing a lot better.”
There is a difference between imitating a book, and being influenced by a book. It’s valuable to figure out why you think certain things work in the books you read, and why others don’t.
What would your sin be from the list above (or create your own)?
Leave your answer in the comments below and if you're not a writer leave the topic you're sinning on as well.