april // wrap-up 2014

30 April 2014

made space this time. it's a couple of weeks until exam time so my scheduled posts have come in very handy as i've not written any posts at all this month [not counting the #ukyagames posts]. speaking of the ukya games, it starts tomorrow! i hope you all read them as it took me a very long time to put together and organize and right up! anyway. without further ado >>
UNREMEMBERED by jessica brody //   1/2
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by laini taylor [re-read]
Dreams of Gods and Monsters by laini taylor [asdfghjkl]
The Fearless by emma pass
A Tinfoil Sky by cyndi sand-eveland
The Geography of You and Me by jennifer e. smith
Shadow and Bone // Siege and Storm by leigh bardugo [re-read]
Seven Second Delay by tom easton
Skylark by meaghan spooner
Smart by kim slater
Trouble by non pratt
Just Like Fate by suzanne young & cat patrick
We Were Liars by e lockhart
Love Letters to the Dead by ava dellaria
I got the chance to interview LAINI TAYLOR. *dies a thousand deaths of happiness*
Nikki over at The Paper Sea was lovely enough to allow me to take over blog with craziness and gifs.
I discussed book photography with Hazel [Stay Bookish] on Nuz [Say it with Books's] blog.
APRIL reads:
The Blog Notes Project [the mile long bookshelf]
I'm Unproductive [feed me books now]
LOOK OUT FOR in may:
i. the long awaited #ukyagames project. starts tomorrow!
ii. a graphic [yay, nay? what do you think?]
iii. a couple more reviews
iv. another discussion
v. my ninth book haul
seven reviews and seven non-reviews. fourteen posts. not bad for four weeks i hope! this month i've been getting into a lot more excitement over booktubing. i really want to do it [but i'm not allowed] so sad face. some of my favorites are this video on reorganizing a bookshelf in order of colour [hashtag rainbow bookshelves ftw], and all the little book owl's videos. also *dramatic gasp* be prepared for a new blog look. yes. i know. i keep changing it. but hopefully i'll keep this one! lastly. I WANT A NEW BOOKSHELF. but i'm not allowed. apparently my room will look too *cluttered*. books do not clutter. it's a well-known fact *le sigh*. i wish i could have book shelves on the wall instead of a book case. but that will never happen and it is annoying me because all my books are piled and stacked anywhere and everywhere and even though they are all in colour order they're not at the same time because i don't have space. bookcases are limiting. #profoundthingsisay. but. who wants a bookshelf tour?  

seven questions with moria young // blog tour

29 April 2014

*fangirls* i love the dustland trilogy so much so you can imagine my excitement when i was offered to be a part of the blog tour for the final book- *jumps up and down* i'm not going to bore you with my random dances [i can't dance really] so without further ado, please welcome the amazing moira young to my blog as she answers questions about her writing process and the blood red road film [italics are needed because SQUEEE.] p.s for those of you who haven't read the books yet *glares*. guess what? i am holding a giveaway for the whole series! pp.s this is a long post. get some food first. and then settle down. :)
What was your writing process when it came to creating the characters of the Dustlands Series? Did you draw character profiles, brainstorm and use inspiration from people you knew - or did they all pop into your head fully formed? Who was the character that was the hardest for you to vivify?
The characters of Blood Red Road all grew from Saba's voice. As she spoke her story and I wrote it down, she told me about her father, her brother, her sister, her dead mother and so on. She seemed to know everything about everyone - and why not? it's her story - and so long as I listened to her and didn't try to steer the ship, it all just came very naturally. The one character who took longest to reveal himself was Vicar Pinch, her main antagonist. I was still discovering him as I was working on the last edits. DeMalo stepped into the story because I realised that if Saba's story was going to be told over another two books, she would need a powerful adversary. So he wasn't added to the narrative until almost the last moment. But he seemed to have been waiting in the wings because he just walked onto the page, fully formed. 
snape approves of salmo slim's sassy-ness...
and my alliteration.
In Rebel Heart, Salmo Slim rattled onto the page, driving his camel cart and singing. I didn't know why or what he was doing in the story until late in the second draft so I just let him do his thing until it became clear. He's a lively old guy; it was quite hard to shut him up. My willingness to meekly accept these character invasions drives my friend Sophie nuts. She says, "Moira! It's your book, you're in charge! When somebody turns up uninvited, stop and ask him what the hell he's doing there and don't let him alone until he tells you!" Slim knew precisely why he was there, turned up on the right page at the right time and hung in there till I figured it all out. I'm always the last to know.
The only time I did character profiles was during the writing of Raging Star. I'd done two months of preparation on plot, characters, structure and themes but around 10,000 words into writing, I realised that there was a very real danger of the book collapsing well before I'd reached the midpoint. And the trouble was with my big cast of characters. I knew the story would move forward as each character made decisions in pursuit of their goal so I had to go back and study them very carefully, one by one.
I have yet to experience the feeling of a character taking control over my writing. *sigh*. So how long did it take between you to have an idea for a novel and it becoming a published, bound book?
Blood Red Road took around four years to become what it is, but you have to take into account that I was a complete novice. First books often take years to write. I started work on the earliest versions of that in the autumn of 2006, various publishers bought it in the spring of 2010 and it was published in June 2011. I started Rebel Heart in August 2010 and it was published two years later in August 2012. Raging Heart kept me busy non-stop from June 2012 until this March, with publication in May so that's just a shade under two years. But these last two books were with well established characters so how long it will take to grow my next story, I really can't say. I'm hoping to start something in the late summer but at the moment I have no characters, no plot, no setting, no story, just the barest itch of an idea, so who knows?
Wow is all I can say, although I really want to become an author - the question is: do i have the patience?! What are the top five things someone needs while writing and why?
Well, all writers are different. I can only tell you what I need, and that is:
I need a space that is mine and only mine where I do nothing but read, write and dream. I wrote Blood Red Road at home and there were far too many distractions. I'm a champion procrastinator, so a space outside of the home is crucial for me.
I don't write quickly. I'd be surprised if I could ever produce a book a year; YA and children's publishing are notoriously demanding of writers.
I work with earplugs in. They don't just muffle outside noise, they seem to silence the chatter inside my head, which is invariably negative and damaging.
It's far too distracting, positively fatal for procrastinators. I have no internet connection in my little writing room. When I'm writing, I also give my mobile phone to someone in one of the other offices and get them to lock it in a drawer. They have strict instructions not to give it to me until the end of the day, no matter how piteously I beg.
Writing is such an intense process that if I didn't have my husband to take care of me,
how to write a book - panic
I would end up a malnourished, babbling mess. Wait. I do end up a malnourished, babbling mess. And that's with his wonderful support, so I can't think what state I'd be in if I didn't have him. I also depend upon my writers' group. We've been together for ten years, ever since we met at a City Lit writing for children course. We meet every two weeks and the simple fact is that I wouldn't be a writer without them. I couldn't do without my agent. She's lovely and kind and wise and the best in the world. She helps to keep me sane. Then there's my wider community of writer friends, all of whom know the ups and downs of the writerly life; I count on them for advice, cups of tea and a good old moan from time to time.
Mhmm. Yup. Internet. Procrastination. I know all about that...In what ways did your first novel change from the first draft to the last and do you wish you had kept any 'deleted' scenes in the final edit?
Oh, it went through radical changes. My first run at the story that would become Blood Red Road was called Dark Eden and was set in the Peak District of the UK during a new ice age at some point in the future. It was told in the third person and had dual narrator viewpoints: Alexander who lived in a tightly controlled hierarchical biosphere society and Saba, a cave dweller in the outside world, who lived in a clan system. I wrote about 20,000 words of that version. The only things that survived and went on were the names Saba, Lugh and Emmi.
The next iteration of Dark Eden was a sprawling, disconnected, absolutely hopeless draft written over three and a bit years. Saba was now the sole narrator, but her voice roamed all over the place, there was an unfeasibly long time gap between the beginning and middle sections and the story was confused, to put it mildly. But. It contained early versions of some characters; Maev
how not to write a book - panic

and the Free Hawks, the Pinches, Ike, Molly and Jack, mostly with different names. Towards the end, there was a lakeside scene between Jack and Saba. As I was approaching the last scenes of Rebel Heart, I thought, "Oh my God! This is where that scene belongs!" Bear in mind this was three years later. There was a deadly attack on the Free Hawk camp in that messy Dark Eden and it turns out that very event was necessary to Rebel Heart. Looking back, I can see that my subconscious was quietly making Rebel Heart while I was struggling with Blood Red Road.
It was a messy, confusing and difficult experience finding my way to and through Blood Red Road. But I learned the value of hanging on to even the most unpromising bits of writing. Now I always keep my deleted work in one document. It's like a big messy shed that I go ferreting in when I'm looking for something specific: "I know I described moonlight coming through a window, now where is it ...?"
That is a very radical change! Haha. Before you started Blood Red Road, had you attempted any other novels? And did you originally plan to make the Dustland Series a trilogy or did it just evolve that way over time?
I wrote a picture book followed by two humorous books for younger readers, which I thought might make a little series. I accumulated a fat file of rejection letters for those, which I've kept. 
rejection letters even affect a cat's mood...
So, I'd never attempted such a large writing project and there was an immense gap between the scale of my vision and my writing skills, which were very basic. I had to learn by doing and failing and trying again, over and over. If it weren't for the ongoing support of my writers' group, I would never have written Blood Red Road, let alone two more books. I certainly didn't plan for it to be a trilogy. If I'd known that's what lay ahead for me, I would have been so petrified I would never have written a word. I had only one goal and that was to somehow finish writing this (insert expletive of your choice) book that had dogged me for so long. But as I was nearing the end of three and a half years' work on that first book, I began to get an inkling that this was just the start of a much larger story for Saba, although I had no idea what that might be.
Rejection letters..I feel like I should prepare myself now for those...How did you go about writing your first novel and do you think the way you wrote and the speed that you wrote changed as you went along? Or was an equal time spent writing each of the three books?
I've talked about this a little bit above, but the main thing is that writing Blood Red Road taught me the necessity of solid, practical, craft skills. By the time I came to write the second and third books, I had a much better understanding of the narrative structure required to move and carry and turn the story and its multiple plot strands and themes. As for my writing speed, if I can write a usable 300 to 500 words per session, I'm satisfied. I'll just add that most writers say it never gets any easier. Every time you start a new book, it's terrifying and seems like an impossible labour. And every book comes to life in a different way. Some have to be squeezed from you, some fly out, some come in fits and starts and you just have to go with it and not fight it. You have to trust the process and write down some words of your story every day and eventually, at the end of it all, you'll have a book.
I need to trust the process. I need to trust the process. *mutters*. Finally, I have read that Blood Red Road is *hopefully* going to be on the big screen someday! What was your first reaction when hearing about that for the first time and do you have any qualms about it? Also, if you could pick any actors at all, current or otherwise, to play your main characters - who would you choose?
When my film agent called, the first thing she said was, "You better sit down." Luckily I did. My legs would have gone when she told me that Ridley Scott had read the unedited manuscript, loved it and wanted to meet me. I'd barely had time to understand that I'd finally finished this damn book, let alone the fact that almost overnight I'd become a person with agents and book deals, oh and there was the little matter of my husband only narrowly avoiding a heart attack in the middle of it all and coming home from hospital full of stents. From Easter to August 2010, I was in a constant state of mild shock. In those four months, my life changed completely.
moira was this you? ;p
Movies are in my DNA. My heart-on-sleeve adoration of them is clear on every page of Blood Red Road. In many ways, it's a sustained homage to every movie I've ever loved, including the films of Ridley Scott. So meeting him was a memorable, extraordinary privilege and a distinctly out-of-body experience.
Do I have any qualms about it? The honest answer is yes, some. But I accept that movies are seldom the same as the books they're based upon. I absolutely trust my producers, who are hugely experienced and passionate about this project, and we've got an excellent screenwriter on board. I know that everybody involved will do their best to do my book justice.    
Thinking of actors is good fun. I'd go for a classic movie star mash-up. Jack would be a combo of Clark Gable, Harrison Ford, Humphrey Bogart and Hugh Jackman, all in their salad days. Saba's a tough one; Sigourney Weaver crossed with Clint Eastwood by way of Jane Greer maybe? I expect they'll be mainly unknowns. Maybe a star will be born. Wouldn't that be something?
that would be something awesome! maybe i'll be that star - i could play saba and become rich and famous and buy a house with wall to wall books and go to BEA and..*le sigh*. nope. anyway! i hope you all enjoyed reading moira's answers but don't leave yet! you haven't entered my giveaway yet.. a Rafflecopter giveaway
terms and conditions
 Fill in the Rafflecopter below - please don't leave personal details in the comments section (for your own safety)
 This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL.
 You must be 13 or older to enter.
 I am not responsible for books lost or damaged in the post
 Giveaway ends on 31st May 2014 at 12am.

doorstep delights #9

26 April 2014

SMART by kim slater // i've already read this book and while i didn't think it was as good as i've heard people say it is i enjoyed it and finished it in one sitting. don't get me wrong i like it a lot i just wouldn't give it five stars. i give five stars very sparsely [unless the author is rainbow rowell, john green, marissa meyer or laini taylor..]
POPULAR: VINTAGE WISDOM FOR A MODERN GEEK by maya van waganen // currently reading. this type of book [written by a teen] makes me want to give up on life. because why can't i write a book. i fail every time *le sigh*. talking of the book though: it is enjoyable, funny, and a nice light read: perfect for exam times...
TROUBLE by non pratt // i finished this one a few weeks ago and really loved it. it's not the type of book i usually go for but because i'd heard such great things about it i thought i'd give it a try and i'm so glad i did. that ending though. 
SHADOWLARK by meaghan spooner // read it loved it nothing much else to say. the author's writing is stunning thank you uber muchly to debbie for sending me this you're awesome. :)
UNDER NAMELESS STARS by christian schoon // i squeed when i saw this. then jumped up and down. and danced. and stroked the cover [isn't it pretty?] i've not started this one yet but i really really want to. i also want a rikkaset. anyone?
THE DUST LANDS TRILOGY by moira young // FINALLY. FINALLY. I CAN READ THESE. *prances* the first book is one of my top ten ukya as you will see soon and i got the chance to interview moira young on my blog [read it here]. read them. everyone. *looks around with a commanding gaze*
IF YOU FIND ME by emily murdoch // if you've been reading my blog for a while you will know this is one of my favourite books ever and that i actually already have a hardback of this. however, a few weeks ago the lovely nina from orion gave me the opportunity to ask emily murdoch some questions, and then a while later a pretty hardback of her book landed on my doorstep. SIGNED. PERSONALIZED. *dances awkwardly on bed*.
DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE TRILOGY by laini taylor // *flaps arms* *dances* asdfghjkl. is all i can say. i won SIGNED COPIES of the first and last book [i won the whole series in hardback but the second book isn't signed] and the last book has A DRAWING OF KAROU DONE BY LAINI IN IT. As you probably know i've already read the first two and I recently did a post on my love for the characters. I DON'T WANT THIS TRILOGY TO END.
DANGEROUS by shannon hale // you all know how much i loved the goose girl, shannon hale's debut novel, so I AM SO EXCITED TO READ THIS.
THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME by jennifer e. smith // read it. loved it. review to come.
so that's my book haul for the month of april. what do you think of the new layout? do you prefer it? i thought it would be more interesting if i talked about the books i was most excited to receive and if i cut out the list of book titles it would make the post shorter. thank you so so much to all the wonderful bloggers and publishers who sent me books including: harper collins, electric monkey, penguin, non pratt, spinebreakers, debbie, piccadilly press, hot key books, andersen press, nina and emily murdoch, scholastic, strange chemistry and curious fox. *sends book shaped cake slices to you all*
what books did you get this month? have you read any of the books i received?

book review :: leopold blue by rosie rowell

25 April 2014

Title: Leopold Blue
Author: Rosie Rowell
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: January 2nd 2014
Book: For Review*
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Friendships, Coming-of-Age
Summary: Meg Bergman is fifteen and fed up. She lives in a tiny town in rural 1990s South Africa - a hot-bed of traditionalism, racial tension and (in Meg's eyes) ordinariness. Meg has no friends either, due largely to what the community sees as her mother's interfering attempts to educate farm workers about AIDS. But one day Xanthe arrives - cool, urban, feisty Xanthe, who for some unknown reason seems to want to hang out with Meg. Xanthe arrives into Meg's life like a hurricane, offering her a look at a teenage life she never knew existed. But cracks quickly begin to show in their friendship when Meg's childhood friend Simon returns from his gap year travels. LEOPOLD BLUE is an emotionally taut and beautifully-written story from a debut author with a mesmerizing voice. -goodreads

Having read hardly any novels set in South Africa in the 1990s, especially not told through the eyes of a non-black protagonist, I jumped at the chance to review this book – and while not an absolute favourite of mine, I did enjoy aspects of it. There were footnotes at the end of nearly each page describing some of the terms used which I found extremely useful, and, it was interesting to learn a few new words as well. (Who says you don’t learn anything if you read fiction!)
“Despair hovered in the doorways and oozed down telephone receivers. It formed a film over the eyes of those who had lived here forever, who would and could never leave. It was contagious.”
Meg was a complicated character for me, in terms of; I couldn’t really work her out. On the surface she was just a bored teen in a ‘dead’ village with nothing to do, shunned by most of the residents because of what her Mum did, and with no friends. But if you peeled back a few layers from her outer exterior, she was hurt, and depressed, and felt like nobody cared about her - which is why she jumped at the chance to befriend Xanthe.
Rebellious, ‘cool’, someone who didn’t care what she did and whether it was right or wrong, Xanthe set my teeth on edge and annoyed me within the first couple of encounters. Which I believe was the point, she was meant to be the girl that readers saw through her transparent words and lies, but who Meg viewed through rose tinted glasses (I hope that was the point anyway!). However, because Xanthe infuriated me so much with her thoughtless actions, and because Meg blindly followed her and did whatever she was told, Meg started to annoy me too.
“Without some miraculous intervention, I was in danger of getting stuck here being me for the rest of my life.”
The depiction of the world Meg lived in was described perfectly, and I felt like I lived there too – ducking my head every class to escape the teacher’s glares, lying on the dusty road trying to conjure up something to do amidst the lifeless area. The descriptions were spot-on, and fitted the tone of the book perfectly. However, again, the language tipped the scales slightly for me, every time I saw I swear word I would let out a small sigh. Why? I know I’m probably at the top of the list of pernickety readers who dislike swearing so don’t take this point too much to heart as I’m just an extreme (!!) but gah, why? What does swearing bring to a story? How does it benefit it?  *shakes head and slaps hand over mouth to stop rant*. One other little thing bugged me, and that was the punctuation errors, although I have an ARC so hopefully they will get fixed in the finished edition.
Leopold Blue was a book that created mixed-emotions for me. On the one hand, I enjoyed reading about the different attitudes to certain people and actions at that time, in that country, and I thought the characters of Meg and Xanthe were well developed. However, the unnecessary bad language, and the fact that after a while, the main characters started getting on my nerves made me slightly disappointed in the book - although I think the overall reason why I didn’t enjoy this book as I thought I would is because I’m not a fan of reading about the topics this book talked about. I still think I would pick up the author’s new book if she wrote another one, just to see if my feelings would favour towards it more than it did to her first,  but I definitely don’t think I would re-read this one; although I know a lot of people who I think would really enjoy this. My rating: 
*this book was received free of charge by Hot Key Books in exchange for an honest review.

mini-reviews :: unremembered & fire and flood

23 April 2014

Series: Unremembered #1
Title: Unremembered
Author: Jessica Brody
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Publication Date: February 27th 2014
Pages: 320
Book: For Review*
Format: Paperback, Finished Copy
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Time-Travel.
Find: amazon || goodreads || the book depository
Summary: Sixteen-year-old Sera is the only survivor of an explosion on a plane. She wakes up in hospital to find that she has no memory. The only clue to her identity is a mysterious boy who claims she was part of a top-secret science experiment. The only adult she trusts insists that she shouldn’t believe anything that anybody tells her. In a tense and pacy novel exploding with intrigue and action, Sera must work out who she is and where she came from. Eventually she will learn that the only thing worse than forgetting her past is remembering it. -goodreads
I'd wanted to read this series for ages before I finally got my hands on them. I'd been subject to the hype surrounding them and their release and when I finally got both Unremembered & Unforgotten I dived upon them eagerly. (& isn't the cover art beautiful?). Unremembered for me was both a satisfying and dissatisfying read. I couldn't really work out whether I enjoyed it because I wanted to enjoy it and because it wasn't bad, or because I genuinely loved it. In hindsight, i think it was a mixture of both.
I always have trouble writing reviews for books that weren't horrible, but didn't floor me with its stunning storyline/characters either. Unremembered is one of these books.
The characters were perfectly easy to understand and connect with, the plot was intricate enough to be interesting but the main fault was a rather big one for me - and that was the fact that the story-line was too well thought out. You can always tell when a story-line is not well thought out enough, there are gaps in the plot, you are constantly confused as to what's happening, but this one was the complete opposite: I could almost predict what was going to happen next, I did, and that what made the book lose a little of it's obvious charm.
Overall, Unremembered was an enjoyable book with a well-written romance. Jessica Brody's first venture into the world of sci-fi and contemporary is an agreeable one, and while there was definite room for improvement, I will be picking up the next book and am more than curious to see what happens next. I would recommend this to fans of Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza and Eve & Adam by Micheal Grant and Katherine Applegate. My rating: 1/2

Series: Fire & Flood #1
Title: Fire & Flood
Author: Victoria Scott
Publisher: Chicken House
Publication Date: March 6th 2014
Pages: 320
Book: For Review*
Format: Paperback, Finished Copy
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance
Find: amazon || goodreads || the book depository
Summary: A modern day thrill ride, where a teen girl and her animal companion must participate in a breathtaking race to save her brother's life—and her own.
Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She's lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she's helpless to change anything.
Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother's illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there's no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.
The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place? -goodreads
I always try to venture into books with a clean mind, so I don't start comparing and contrasting books with each other - so I take books for what they are not what I think they should be. However, with Fire & Flood, it was almost possible to do that there were so many links and similarities to other books, namely: The Hunger Games. Now I have no problem with that. Just because Suzanne Collins wrote a good, and successful book doesn't mean no-one else can have the same sort of idea as her and write their own take on the subjects she covers. Just because someone does something once doesn't mean it can't ever be done again. How many times have you read a book similar to another? Hundreds. J.K Rowling took inspiration from many books for the Harry Potter Series, but there is a fine line between taking inspiration, and taking too much inspiration. Fire & Flood is balancing right on that line. Similarities are scattered everywhere between the pages. A fight for survival. There can only be one winner. Contestants have to wear special gold pins.......

Thankfully, the similarities sort of petered out as I read, for which I was very grateful otherwise I don't know whether I would have carried on. There were, obviously some unique elements to the book. I'm not saying it was a complete copy, it was just, similar. There were lots of characters in Fire & Flood. Almost too many to count. And while it was nice to meet so many people, I could never really connect to anyone or have time to analyze them which was a slight problem as I like to know my characters. The twists and turns, well, they were good. I did not expect them to come at me, nor did I expect the bugs..*brushes off coat*.
In conclusion, Fire & Flood has a creative plot with a large cast of characters that I look forward to getting to know more in the next book. With a few too many similarities to The Hunger Games, it was a slight disappointment, but is a great read for those looking for action, adventure, suspense, and BUGS. *evil cackle*. My rating: 
*thank you to Macmillan and Chicken House for the free copies of these books in exchange for honest reviews.

ten things a writer could do without // blog tour & giveaway

22 April 2014

Today I have the lovely Hillary K. Grigonis here to do a post on her top ten things a writer does not need when trying to pen a book. Her debut novel is called Kaleidoscope Me and she has very kindly sent me a copy to give away to one of you lucky readers. And for those of you who don't win, well it's your lucky day because until April 26th the Kindle version will be just £0.99 at Amazon.co.uk! So what are you waiting for? [actually, read this post first...]
Summary: Jadyn’s world twirls out of control after her mother dies in a car accident and her forgetful Great-Aunt Nadine moves in. Her dad is never home and her best friend doesn't even know half of it. Jadyn is trying to keep it all together for her little brother, Trenton. But when Aunt Nadine disappears with Trenton in the middle of a snowstorm, Jadyn may be the only one who can. -goodreads
There's a lot of things a writer needs. A good idea. An excellent editor. Constructive criticism. But there's also a lot of things that a writer does not need. Here's ten things (that I may or may not have experienced) that haven't really helped get the words on the page.
1.      An average day. It's tough to write after a ho-hum day. I write best when I'm either feeling really happy or really sad. Writing emotions when you aren't feeling any, that's hard. If I need to do some writing, I'd rather have a bad day than an average one.
2.      Distractions. I'm supposed to be writing, but there's so many cool things on Facebook and Pintrest right now...
3.      A dreamless sleep. A good percentage of my ideas come from dreams. Strange dreams, abnormal dreams, any dream. The project I'm working on now is from a dream that was just one sentence.
4.      Writer's block. Maybe it's real, maybe it's not, but it's tough to be a writer when the words aren't flowing.
5.      Ideas where notebooks and pencils cannot survive. If someone invented a waterproof notebook, they might become rich. The best ideas always seem to come in the shower. Or in bed. Or anywhere that's not at a desk trying to actually write.
6.      Coffee. Contrary to popular belief, not every author survives on coffee. I actually hate the stuff. I'll take my caffeine in a large, icy Pepsi, thank-you-very-much.
7.      An overly harsh inner critic. Critics, in general are good, especially in the editing process. But when your worst critic is inside you saying all kinds of nasty things about every word you put onto the page before you even have a first draft, it's not helpful at all.
8.      A cliché. Sometimes, there's just a phrase that explains everything perfectly—which is why it's been used a hundred million times. Notice the cliché, and then find a way to say it better. It's not as easy as it sounds.
9.      A fragile confidence. There will always be bad reviews. A writer needs to be able to take negative criticism and use it to keep growing, not as an excuse to give up.
10.  A forced project. Nothing is tougher than trying to write on a certain topic or genre when you're uninspired. If you don't have the inspiration for cool science fiction story, you're not going to write the next Hunger Games, sorry. Forced writing, well, it just sounds forced.

This is just my list (Coffee may be the #1 one thing on another writer's list of absolute necessities). 
Readers & writers; what would you add?
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do you read the posts of all the blogs you follow?

20 April 2014

today i wanted to talk about something that has been bugging me for a while. a few weeks ago i was going through my blog roll trying to find someone's recent post and i couldn't, because of all the other blog posts clogging my feed. i say clogging because no, i don't like it, and i know i could have just searched the person's url but i wanted to see if i could actually find it. i never managed to. the reason being i have followed, in the entire time i have been blogging, well over 300 blogs. and no. i don't read them all. i think i read every post of maybe..20 blogs? so i was wondering. why do we follow all these blogs [apologies if that's just me!] but never read their posts? i do it because:
i. at one point i read their posts. now they don't interest me.
ii. at the beginning of blogging i followed a lot of blogs. because. i didn't really know what i was doing. literally. every blog i found that slightly related to my interests i followed. i regret it now.
iii. giveaways. yep. i do that. i try to read that persons blog afterwards because otherwise i feel bad as i don't like people who follow just for giveaways so why would anyone else? but. i hardly get any time to read blogs and after a while i forget.
i have a personal blog that i made a while ago, but i don't really get time to update it so i won't leave the link! on that account i only followed blogs i knew i loved the posts of, so now, it's really easy for me to find the blogs i want. every week i go on that account, scroll down to the last post i read and go on up from there, reading all the new posts. i enjoy it, because i love to read what these people have written. and that's what i want to do on this blog. *hopefully* when blogger stops being annoying and lets me do what i want to do, i'm going to delete all the blogs i follow from my blog roll that i don't read the posts of, and leave the ones i do. i would have liked it if i could have just deleted all the blogs i follow and start fresh but unfortunately blogger doesn't have that option.
p.s if you are confused about the discussion image then you obviously don't know me very well. hehe. my alter ego is zuzana from daughter of smoke and bone by laini taylor and she is described in the book as a 'rabid fairy' - hence the name.

mini-reviews :: the glass bird girl & the divergent companion

17 April 2014

Title: The Glass Bird Girl
Author: Esme Kerr
Publisher: Chicken House Publishing
Publication Date: May 1st 2014
Pages: 304
Book: For Review*
Format: ARC
Genre: Middle Grade, School Stories, Mystery
Find: amazon || goodreads || the book depository
Summary: The first in the exciting new Knight's Haddon series ...
Orphan Edie is sent by her artdealer uncle to Knight’s Haddon School, to investigate the disappearance of a precious glass bird belonging to his secretive client’s daughter, Anastasia, an unhappy Russian princess. But what Edie uncovers instead is a dangerous mystery that only the girls themselves can solve. -goodreads
When Edie is sent to a boarding school to investigate the reasons behind Anastasia's problems settling into her new 'home', she is both excited and apprehensive. She knows she is only their because she has been set a job but she wants to embrace her new surroundings and life without her troublesome cousins. Along the way she makes both friends, and enemies, and gets caught up in a plot that she doesn't really understand at all - but has to make sense of, if she wants to protect Anastasia.
The book was written very simply, being a Middle Grade book, and while I am used to the more complex and descriptive Young Adult novels, it was a refreshing change to relax while reading. A little too simple for my liking though as I would have liked a bit more substance to the story, but I was soon engrossed in the mystery surrounding Anastasia, and the unexpected twists were a welcome appearance.
The Glass Bird Girl was an exciting, short read that I whizzed through in one sitting. With a mixture of Enid Blyton-esque boarding school books and also a hint of mystery like her Famous Five stories, it was sweet, simple and satisfying: a perfect read for 9-12 year olds. Fans of The Wolf Princess may like this book. My rating: 
Title: The Divergent Companion: The Unauthorized Guide
Author: Lois H. Gresh
Publisher: Macmillan
Publication Date: February 18th 2014
Pages: 192
Book: For Review*
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult, Companion Novel
Find: amazon || goodreads || the book depository
Summary: The first companion guide to the blockbuster bestselling Divergent trilogy—soon to be a major motion picture
Written by the New York Times bestselling author of The Twilight Companion and The Hunger Games Companion, the book takes fans deeper into the post-apocalyptic world created by Veronica Roth—a dystopian Chicago in which humanity has organized itself into five factions, each with its own core value to uphold. At the age of sixteen, Beatrice Prior must choose to which one she will devote her life.
The Divergent Companion includes fascinating background facts about the action in all three books—the third book, Allegiant, publishes in October 2013—a revealing biography of the author, and amazing insights into the trilogy's major themes and features. It’s everything fans have been hungering for since the very first book! This book is not authorized by Veronica Roth, Katherine Tegen Books, or anyone involved in the Divergent movie. -goodreads
The Divergent Companion was one of my first DNFs in a long time, and while I generally have a strict rule that I will never not finish a book, but I just couldn’t read this one. I couldn’t. I requested this book purely on the basis of the goodreads information they had for this. Let’s just say I will never do that again for a book I don’t know much about. I thought it would have quizzes, plural, not the one that I found; (although there may be more as I just flicked through the entire book.) which even then wasn’t a very good one in my opinion as the results were not complete. Which faction would you be placed in if you lived in the ‘Divergent’ World? Yes have Amity, Dauntless, Candor, Abnegation and Erudite as results. But what about Divergent itself? Surely you should have a paragraph explaining the ‘inconclusive’ result that shapes the whole series?
me trying to read this book.
Secondly, info dump alert. I had no idea this book was a factual commentary on all the ins and outs of the creation of the Divergent world’s scientific research, and let’s just say it wasn’t a very pleasant surprise. I am not the type of person to read books like these, I’m sure a lot of people are, including hard-core Divergent fans (one of which I am not. Yes, I enjoyed the book, I fangirled over it and the characters, but this is worse than the analysing I have to do for my English Lit exam!)
The only thing I did read was the little boxes of ‘Character Insight’s’ for all the main characters. That I enjoyed. That was something I expected. So, needless to say I won’t be reading The Divergent Companion again, it will probably go to a good home if I can find one (shout if you think you’ll enjoy it) or will get carted off along with the already humongous pile of books destined for my local charity shop...wait...will it? Is it a proof? *checks*. My rating:  1/2
*thank you very much to Macmillan and Chicken House for sending me these free of charge in exchange for honest reviews.