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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Review: LINGER

I really wanted to love this book as much as I'd loved SHIVER.  I mean, when I read SHIVER, I went around telling everyone that I'd found the next TWILIGHT.  I mean, I freakin' loved that book.  So I guess it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that the sequel didn't meet my expectations... seeing as how high they were and all.

My main complaint about it was how slow and anti-climatic it feels.  SHIVER was full of mystery and danger and hard choices.  LINGER just sort of, well... lingered. We see more of Sam & Grace's puppy-love and get introduced to some new characters (who are actually more interesting), but it all just seemed very "middle" novel for me.  Like it's the set-up for the third book that could have been done in much less pages, but then you wouldn't have a book.

I had also read a scathing review of SHIVER suggesting that Sam and Grace basically had the same voice. So when I read this book, I was tuned into it.  And there's some merit to that critique.  The new characters who get a voice in this book (Isabel and Cole) are very distinct, but Sam and Grace just aren't.

I must say though, that even though the book was written from four points of view -- a staggering undertaking to say the least -- the chapters were seamless.  They flowed one right into the other, thoughts of one picking up where the last left off.  Stiefvater shows her talent for writing in the ease of transitions between narrators.

Still, I kept waiting the whole book for something to happen, and that didn't come until the very end.  When I pulled the picture off of Amazon, I also glanced at the review there, and it pretty much sums things up:

The wolves of Mercy Falls return in this sequel to Shiver (Scholastic, 2009), and familiar characters mingle with more recent recruits into the Minnesota werewolf pack. Sam, now cured of his werewolf affliction, is adjusting to year-round life as a human. His girlfriend, Grace, suffers from headaches and other symptoms that may be related to a childhood wolf bite. When her parents discover Sam sleeping in her bed, they ground her and threaten to keep the two apart permanently. Tremendous angst and declarations that parents just don't understand ensue. Meanwhile Isabel, whose brother did not survive the meningitis cure that saved Sam, feels a strong connection with Cole St. Clair, one of the newest members of the pack. In his old life, Cole was the lead singer of a rock band. This volatile bad boy is a welcome foil to Sam, who is sulky this time around. The addition of Isabel and Cole as narrators dilutes the intensity of Grace and Sam's relationship, and the spark between Isabel and Cole remains underdeveloped. The tantalizing possibility of Cole's true identity being exposed also deserves more exploration. The cliff-hanger ending suggests that the author will cover this territory in a future installment. Still, Stiefvater's slow-perk style of crafting suspense builds to a satisfying boil in the final pages. This novel works better as a sequel than as a stand-alone read, but it's still highly recommended for fans of Shiver and the blockbuster supernatural romance genre.Amy Pickett, Ridley High School, Folsom, PA
All-in-all, I unfortunately can only give LINGER two out of four Greek coins -- a mediocre ICBW rating.  Here's hoping that FOREVER delivers on all those promises LINGER made at the very end!

Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm sick

I hate being sick.  Especially with something like a stupid, little cold.  If I have to be sick, it might as well be a bad, can't-get-out-of-bed, kind of sick, rather than this I-wish-I-could-nap-all-the-time sick where hubby still thinks me capable of functioning and assisting with the household. *blech*

And while I'm at it, how is it even fair that my kids are the ones who went back to school and I'm the one who got the germs?  Not that I wish it was them instead of me, but... it's just not fair.  That's all I'm saying.

The only way this annoying cold could be worse was if I was a dude.  See proof below.  Hope your Monday is going better for you than my weekend went for me.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I Do Declare (Winner & an Award)

The lovely and talented Lisa D. Gibson at YA Literature Lover has bestowed upon me the "One Lovely Blog Award." And I'm tickled pink.  (I apologize. Something about this award makes me want to speak in dated lingo.)
But truly, I'm SO honored that a fellow blogger out there likes The (not quite) Daily Harrell.  *She likes me. She really, really likes me.*  Now if only I could get an agent to feel the same way.

Along with the right to deliver this silly acceptance speech come some responsibilities.  Three responsibilities, in fact.  They are thus:

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2. Pay it forward to fifteen other blogs you have newly discovered.

3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen. 
#1 is easy.  You got that in the first paragraph.  Sheesh, I'm good.

#2 is harder because gosh, I have to pick just fifteen blogs and there are some really fantastic ones that I've only recently started following.  So here goes (I'm trying not to duplicate my Versatile Blogger nominees - so if you're not on here, you know why):
1. A Bibliophile's Paradise: she reviews books and lists give-aways
2. Courtney Reads: details & frequent reviews
3. A Little of This & That: a bit of everything literary by an aspiring writer
4. Carol's Prints: YA author and Bookanista
5. Creepy Query Girl: a fun blog & coolest name ever
6. Crossroads: books, stories, music and all things creative
7. DJ's Life in Fiction: aspiring YA writer blogs book reviews
8.  EbyssWriter: blog for beginning writers (and she interviewed me, which is like, WAY COOL)
9. Once Upon a Time in Writer Land: aspiring YA writer on her way to the top
10.  Project 52: 52 books in 52 weeks... you get the idea
11. Supernatural Snark: reviews, interviews, awesome name
12.  The Book Butterfly: detailed reviews & some give-aways too
13.  The Michelle Show: fellow lawyer & YA author. what's not to love?
14. The Writing of Jennifer Albin: new blog with some nice posts on craft
15. Lost in Believing: cool author and blogger (and she's only 14 - wow!)

#3 is a total pain in the rear and all of you nominees can hate me now because you're about to have to do it too. :p  So there!

Oh, but wait... you wanted to know who won my super-fantastic SOUL SCREAMERS give-away, didn't you?  Ha, ha, made you wait. (I'm feeling punchy tonight... it's lack of sleep.)
And the winner is ... *drums rolling on, and on, and on, forever... just get on with it, already!*
And while you're at it, check out her blog too!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Great Giveaway

Hello all - just wanted to spread the word about a contest that's closing at 9 PM Thursday on Oasis for YA.  You can win a signed copy of Shelena Short's THE BROKEN LAKE (sequel to the amazing THE PACE).  Just click here to enter.   I can't wait to dive into my own copy, as THE PACE was one of my absolute favorite books last year.  You should read them!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Copyright Insights

**Check this Out: I've been interviewed by Ebyss on her blog. How cool!**

Aspiring Authors Want to Know...
Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.

Did you know...
*  That everything you write is copyrighted whether you take the time to register for a copyright or not?  No formal notice of copyright is required.  (However, you will need to register if you want to bring a copyright infringement lawsuit)
*  You do not have to be published to have a copyright.
*  You cannot copyright the name of your book.
*  Copyright protection extends to the WAY you write down words and not your ideas.  Someone else can write on the exact same topic, they just can't copy the way in which you've ordered your words to do so.
*  The information you create on your website (and blog) are protected by copyright.  Your domain name is not.
* If you register your book and then make minor editorial changes, you do not have to re-register.  If you add another chapter, you would.
* There are separate filings for published and unpublished books, so if you seek official copyright protection prior to publication, you'll be paying two registration fees
* Generally speaking, copyright protection lasts the length of the author's life PLUS 70 years.
* Fan fiction technically violates copyright because it uses someone else's characters.
* To indicate you intend your work to be protected, use the (c) symbol or "copyright" [year] , [your name].


Monday, August 23, 2010

The Sound of Happiness

Happy Monday! Just thought I'd help everyone start their Mondays off right with some of the happiest screams I've ever heard. (Seven 4 & 5 year olds on one raft at our back to school pool party.) Enjoy.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Flashback Friday: Vacation

Hubby and I took a long-weekend type of vacation to Charleston, SC last weekend.  **DISCLAIMER: If you've ever considered visiting Charleston in August, DON'T.  It's really freakin' hot!  And I'm a Floridian, I know hot.**
 The last time I went to Charleston, I was about 15 and in high school.  My older step-sister, who was WAY too cool to vacation with her parents, stayed home with her dad so she could have an extra week of summer hangout time with her friends.  Like the summer's not long enough?

Despite staying in a low-budget hotel and eating at the Shoney's buffet for dinner every night, I actually had a pretty good time.  I remember touring the old houses and learning that wardrobes were made for holding clothes because residents were taxed based on the number of rooms in their home and a closet was considered a room.  I mean, that's a pretty cool fact, even for a 15 year old girl.

I remember going out to Ft. Sumter and thinking it kind of sucked.  Then we toured an old air craft carrier (the Yorktown, I now know) and that was pretty cool.  I vaguely remember cheese grits on a plantation and lunch in a really swanky restaurant called Magnolia's in downtown Charleston.  All-in-all, it was a good trip.  And I've always wondered why my step-sister thought she was too cool to go.

So what gives? Did your teenage self look forward to or loathe that summer vacation with the parental units?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Soul Screamers Review & Giveaway

If you haven't picked up Rachel Vincent's SOUL SCREAMERS series, then you're truly missing out.  And I'm going to give you the opportunity to catch up on the action by giving away three of her books -- the last one, My Soul to Keep, is even signed by the author.  But first, let me tell you why you should read them RIGHT NOW.

Reason #1: The Book Description. The description of book one, My Soul to Take, alone should sell you on the series.
She doesn't see dead people, but...
She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.
Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about the need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next...

Reason #2: The Stakes are Incredibly High.  Just when you think things can't get any worse for Kaylee, something does.  Her situation always feels impossible, and yet is resolved with believability.  These books are absolute page-turners that you won't want to put down.  I just finished book three over the weekend, and it was great. In fact, I'm so invested in the characters, I really care about what happens next.  There will be a book 4, right???

Reason #3: Original Paranormal Characters.  You won't find any vampires or werewolves here, but there is plenty of original paranormal goodness, complete with alternate worlds, friendly grim reapers, and super cool powers.

Overall, I give the series 4 out of 4 Greek coins: a prized OMG! rating.
I could continue to gush about these books, because I enjoyed them all and even got the free, digital prequel (the one book I will not be giving away as part of the contest).  But you'd probably rather just enter to win them now.  So, leave a comment with your name, e-mail, and links for your chance to win.  You get +1 for commenting and +1 (up to 3) for every tweet, blog shout out or Facebook post.  **Sorry, open to U.S. residents only**  Contest will stay open until next Thursday, August 26th at 9 p.m. EST.  Good luck and happy reading!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Flashback Friday: Teeny-tiny Anniversaries

As you may have read on Wednesday, I celebrated my nine-year anniversary on Wednesday.  So naturally, when I went into flashback mode this week, I got to thinking about how in high school we would celebrate every teeny-tiny anniversary that came along. One month, two months, etc.
 I mean, in the grand scheme of high school, that was a pretty long time for a couple to make it.  And looking back, I don't have a freakin' clue what I did or didn't do for any of those anniversaries.  But I do remember they were important, gosh darn it.

And a quick internet search confirms times haven't changed much.  Today's young adults are still angsting about whether writing a poem for one month is too much. Or whether the boyfriend already having other plans on the two-month anniversary tolls the beginning of the end.

It's sort of amusing now that I'm "old," but when you're only 16 or 17, milestones are a big deal.  I mean, at 16, two months is a full 1/96th of your life. :)  So here's a reminder YA writers... if you MCs are coming up on a month or two (or more) of dating, your girl probably ought to care about it a lot and your boy probably ought to think it's just any other day.  That's MHO, anyway.

But more importantly, since I can't remember by own itsy-bitsy milestones, will you share yours with me?  I want to know the sweet, silly, amusing ways you celebrated.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Passive Voice: An Evil Whisper

** Image snatched from MistRaven at **

When I set out to write this post about one of my personal vices -- passive voice -- I thought of it like an evil whisper.  This little voice in my head that calls to me, saying, "Your writing will be more lyrical if you say it like this -- passively."  So I went looking for a picture that would represent an evil whisper and I found this lovely work of art, appropriately titled: A Whisper is Heard.  

The freakin' title is passive voice.

For those of you saying, what is passive voice anyway?, there are two ways to identify it: 
(1)  a sentence is passive when it has no actor.  Take the title again: A Whisper is Heard.  Were you to see that sentence in a book (and without a picture), you'd have no idea who heard the whisper.  The sentence is missing an actor.
(2) according to some UNC professors, you can always spot passive voice if you look for: form of "to be" + past participle = passive voice
For example:
The metropolis has been scorched by the dragon's fiery breath.
When her house was invaded, Penelope had to think of ways to delay her remarriage.

But if you follow that up with, yeah so?, here's the reason passive voice will get you into trouble: it robs your writing of clarity.  Take the Penelope example above.  By changing the sentence to: After suitors invaded Penelope's house, she had to think of ways to fend them off., your reader now has no question about who did what.  

And here's another problem: passive voice is just... passive. We're in the business of telling stories. It's critical that our words convey the urgency of our tales in the most direct way possible.  By using active voice, you can up the tension and import of your words.  For example, The dragon's fiery breath scorched the metropolis

I'll leave you with this final thought from The Columbia Guide to Standard American English (1993):
Active voice makes subjects do something (to something); passive voice permits subjects to have something done to them (by someone or something). Some argue that active voice is more muscular, direct, and succinct, passive voice flabbier, more indirect, and wordier. If you want your words to seem impersonal, indirect, and noncommittal, passive is the choice, but otherwise, active voice is almost invariably likely to prove more effective.

Got it?  Do you find you struggle with passive voice in certain points of your writing more than others?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Blog Carnival: Using Your Senses

Sense of Taste

Oasis for YA is having a blog carnival today and each of the Oasis Ladies was assigned a particular sense.  I have taste. Maybe a little harder than the others, but oh so luscious.  Here are the rules of this particular carnival: You've just graduated from high school and your awesome parents have taken you and your boy/girl-friend on the trip of a lifetime to the Seychelles Islands off the coast of Africa.  This (picture above) is the view from your hotel window.  You have ONE paragraph to describe the setting, and you can use only ONE of your senses. Go.

Here's my paragraph on taste:

The tingle of Justin's toothpaste - a remnant from our stolen kiss - still lingered on my lips  as I took my first sip of strawberry-coconut juice.  Cool and creamy, the freshness burst alive on my tongue, and I immediately swore off plain orange juice forever. In fact, I'd thrown my whole diet out the open-air window when I looked over the room service menu. Thank God. I lifted a forkful of toasty pancakes, dripping in gooey-sweet cane syrup, and melted like the hand-churned butter drizzled over my meal. The spicy kick of Andoiulle sausage links perfectly balanced the sugary goodness of the pancakes, delighting all of my taste buds into dancing in the same fluttery little bursts as the sun reflecting off the ocean surface.

To join in the Carnival, write your own paragraph (using any sense you like) and post it on your blog.  Link back to your blog in the comments to the Oasis for YA carnival.  Also, check out the posts by fellow Oasis ladies Sheri (touch), A.E. (sight), J.A. (smell) and Nikki (sound).  And just like that, you can be a Carnie too. Happy Friday, everyone.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

It's a Great Day!

Lots of great things have happened on August 4th throughout history.  For example, in on August 4, 1983, Yankees player Dave Winfield accidentally killed a seagull while warming up before the fifth inning.  Or on August 4, 1956, Elvis released "Hound Dog." I know... these are major events. Oh... and in 1961, Barak Obama was born.  That's right, today's the President's birthday.  Happy Birthday, Mr. President.

But none of those events are the reason today is a good day for me.  Today is awesome because it's my 9th wedding anniversary.  My husband, Holt, is my rock.  He's my best friend, my sounding board, my support  system.  He's an awesome father too.  I couldn't be any luckier to have him -- so I thought I'd tell the world!

"I am two fools, I know: for loving and for saying so." ~ John Dunne

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tuesday Tales: The Flag (Part III)

***Image from***
And now, the conclusion of "The Flag." If you missed parts I and II, you can find them here.

     “Breathe him in Lindsey. Now!” Brogan yelled. But could I do it before he ripped Brogan’s neck wide open? I had to free Brogan first.
     “I don’t know who you think you are, waltzing in here and using my name, making assumptions, but I won’t stand for it. It’s me you’ve come for. Let Brogan go.”
     The Carth put his head near Brogan’s and spoke in his ear. “You hear that, little Flag? She loves you enough to sacrifice herself so you can be free. Charming.”
     “Let him go, or so help me, I will end you.” My fists clenched at my sides as I worked to steady my breath; so it would be ready when I needed it.
     “How about a trade? Did your mother teach you about trading, little Lindsey?”
     I nodded, recalling my mother’s edict to never trade with a Carth.
     “You see, Lindsey, I had a child once. But she was stolen from me. Can you guess who that child was?”
My eyes snapped closed as the breath rushed out of my chest.
     “Oh, I’m sure she told you your father was a human, like the rest of the Catchers. But you’ve always known different, haven’t you? Deep down, you thirsted in ways other Catchers don’t. You’re not like the rest, Lindsey. You’re part Carpathian, part mine. You yearn to drink.”
     “I don’t believe you. Carths lie. You’re lying.”
     “Oh that I were, Lindsey. You see, your mother saved her own Flag once, much like this.” The vampire ran his fangs along Brogan’s neck. “She traded his life for a night in my bed, and you were the result. And then she stole you from me. I’ve been tracking you all these long years. Imagine my surprise to find you in bed with your Flag, as foolish as your mother.”
     Anger raged through me. He’d preyed on my mother’s love, forcing her to bend to his will and produce a child, only to plan to raise me among the darkest of our kind. I pushed the air out of my lungs until they were empty, preparing to breathe him in and end the mind game, when the vampire’s teeth sunk into Brogan’s flesh.
      “No!” I screamed.
     “Take me and you take him too,” the monster spoke around his prey. “Don’t even think of breathing too deeply.”
     Tears streamed down my face. “Anything. I’ll do anything. Just let him go. What do you want?”
     As his teeth eased out of Brogan’s neck, Brogan went limp in his arms. He easily pivoted Brogan out of my reach when I rushed forward.
     “I want you to come home with me. To be the daughter I should have had all along.” The Carth tossed Brogan’s ragdoll body to the bed and grabbed my shoulders. Eyes like pools of hate bore into mine. “No more Catching, Lindsey. No more saving the humans from darkness. You will be darkness. You and Brogan, together in the night. What do you say?”
     I looked around him to Brogan, still lying prone the bed.
     “He’s dying, Lindsey. The only way to save him is to change him. Would you let him become like us alone?”
     “Stop saying my name! Stop talking about us.” I wrested free of his grasp and ran to Brogan’s side. His heartbeat weakened with each pulse.
     “Time’s running out. Do you love him enough to save him?”
     Brogan’s words replayed in my head: Would you rather live saving the world, or die knowing you’d tasted love? Silent tears streamed down my face as I walked to my father and answered. “Yes. Yes, I’ll save him.” And then I breathed in, more deeply and fully than I had ever breathed in another soul. I drank his life for my mother, for me, for all the people he had harmed. And for Brogan –whose sweet, perfect love I had tasted while we lived.
     My father’s soul grasped and clawed its way down my throat; like raging fire it scorched my lungs as it passed. I collapsed on the floor, his spirit like poison in my belly, and I felt his life negating my own. As the darkness of eternal sleep wrapped around me, I knew I would do it all again, for gladly would I die to have tasted Brogan’s love.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Just didn't feel like writing a happy ending for this one. Though it's sort of peaceful in an odd way.

Monday, August 2, 2010

SIREN book review

SIREN by Tricia Rayburn
I can tell you that I was VERY excited to not only receive my first ARC, but for it to be of this book.  (Granted, I got the ARC about the same time you could buy the book, but who's counting?)  The cover is so amazing, I knew I just had to read it.  (And yes, I buy wine that has an attractive label too.)  I wish I could say I was enchanted by the story as I was its cover.
 Here's the plot line:

Seventeen-year-old Vanessa Sands is afraid of everything--the dark, heights, the ocean--but her fearless older sister, Justine, has always been there to coach her through every challenge.  That is until Justine goes cliff diving one night near the family's vacation house in Winter Harbor, Maine, and her lifeless body washes up on shore the next day.

Vanessa's parents want to work through the tragedy by returning to their everyday lives back in Boston, but Vanessa can't help feeling that her sister's death was more than an accident.  After discovering that Justine never applied to colleges, and that she was secretly in a relationship with longtime family friend Caleb Carmichael, Vanessa returns to Winter Harbor to seek some answers.

But when Vanessa learns that Caleb has been missing since Justine's death, she and Caleb's older brother, Simon, join forces to try to find him, and in the process, their childhood friendship blossoms into something more. 
Soon it's not just Vanessa who is afraid.  All of Winter Harbor is abuzz with anxiety when another body washes ashore, and panic sets in when the small town becomes home to a string of fatal, water-related accidents . . . in which all the victims are found grinning from ear to ear. 

As Vanessa and Simon probe further into the connections between Justine's death and the sudden rash of creepy drownings, Vanessa uncovers a secret that threatens her new romance, and that will change her life forever. 

I found the story a little hard to get into; probably about three or four chapters in before it really picked up for me.  I must say though that once it got going, the story really moved along.  It definitely ended up being one of those up-all-night, page-turners.

And just when I thought I was falling in love despite the slow-ish start, there were some logical failings at the end that left me spinning.  ***SPOILER ALERT***  For example, Vanessa thinks she gets headaches because she's "connected" to Zara -- but she's connected to Paige and Raina and Betty the same way as she is to Zara.  Why does she only get headaches around Zara?  And how the heck did Vanessa (or anyone else for that matter) survive being frozen alive?  If you can explain these things to me, I'd appreciate it, because I really wanted to love this book.

Some of the high points were: the fast-moving plot, as I mentioned.  Really three-dimensional characters.  Vanessa and Justine were multi-layered and the reader got to peel away layers like an onion. I loved that.  The romance between Nessa and Simon. Who doesn't love a good romance?
Overall, I still give the book 3 out of 4 coins (a URA* rating) and am really only disappointed because I wanted to like to MORE than that.  I suspect that I'm becoming a very fussy reader.  And yes, Ms. Rayburn, I am waiting on the sequel already...