Friday, September 12, 2014

Beautiful People Linkup--September

The "Notebook Sisters" are co-hosting a linkup called "Beautiful People." Each month they announce a new set of questions to answer about your character so you can learn more about them.

This month, I'll be interviewing Hans Levarius, the alchemist, necromancer, and antagonist of my YA medieval fantasy, the sequel to The Sorceress. It is still untitled, though I'm planning to resolve that soon. I'd toyed with The Necromancer, but then that'd be two books in the series that have the same title as the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series. Anyway.

One quick note about Hans: When I was making my Pinterest board for the story, the person I cast to play his part is Benedict Cumberbatch. He looks a lot like him, and he'd be excellent at the straight-faced and low voice thing.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Hans Levarius


1. What is their motive?

Power, riches, your typical bad guy stuff. He's a little very bitter over his childhood, because his older brother was the clear favorite, and Hans often got the shaft.

2. What do they want, and what are they prepared to do to get it?

To kill the king of Stormcastle and become ruler. He then plans to take over the surrounding kingdoms, and so on, until all of England is his. Hans deals with blackmail and poison, so it's not very hard for him to get people to do what he wants.

3. How do they deal with conflict?

Hans is sneaky, so he doesn't usually have to deal with conflict directly. He has others do it for him until the time is right to reveal himself, and by that time, he'll have all the power necessary to take over.

4. Describe their current place of residence.

It's a small room in the king's castle. It has a bed, a wardrobe, a bookshelf, etc. What the king doesn't know is that Hans is hiding potion vials and spell books underneath the floorboards.

5. If they were writing this story, how would it end?

With him sitting on the king's throne, the crown upon his head.


6. What habits, speech patterns, etc. are unique to them?

He often speaks as if he's irritated, at least when Anya (the protagonist) is in the room. When he's alone with the king, however, he's very smooth and influential. He's charismatic in the sense that no one has a reason to distrust him and generally listen to what he has to say.

7. How do they show love? What do they like to do with/for people they love?

Love? Hans doesn't love. Love is weakness. Love means you're willing to sacrifice yourself for someone else. That's not Hans at all.

8. Do they have any pets?

Nope. He doesn't have enough time to care for someone/something else, not even a potted plant.

9. Where would they go to relax/think?

In his room in the castle, amidst his spell books and potion supplies.

10. What is their weapon of choice? (FYI: words, eyes/looks, and fists count as weapons too.)

Secrets, lies, blackmail, poison, anything that allows him to kill while remaining undercover.

What's your villain like? Leave a comment!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Looking For New Music

For my dad's fortieth birthday, my mom arranged for forty of his friends to send one of their favorite CDs to him so he could discover new artists. For my "CD" I created a YouTube playlist filled with songs that have influenced my writing in one way or another. I had a lot of fun seeing what people sent him, and I realized that I've been in a sort of music rut recently. I've been listening to the same stuff over and over again, and I'd like to find something new.

So I was wondering if any of you would like to comment and say what your favorite artists are. It can be a band, a singer, an instrumental group, anything you'd like. If you'd like to include a favorite song, too, that would be great. :)

I've also been really addicted to alternative stuff (Lorde, Melanie Martinez, music from the "Hunger Games" movies, music from "The Fault In Our Stars," music from "Parenthood" and "Gilmore Girls," etc.), so if you know of anything that's similar to those artists, I'd love to hear your suggestions.

(Psst. If you want to see a list of my favorite music, check out the "My Favorite . . ." tab at the top of the home page. Scroll down a little bit and it's right there.)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Sunshine Award

Thank you, nevillegirl, for nominating me! :)


Facts

1. I am constantly reorganizing the TBR shelf in my bedroom.
2. I am a huge fan of really creative practical jokes, but am often terrible at doing them (while keeping a straight face). But this past April Fool's Day, I created a fake e-mail address under the name Wendy Tyler and sent my mom an e-mail requesting to join her homeschool group with her two kids, Jamie and Alice. She didn't find out that it was me until June!
3. My all-time favorite name for a boy is Jamie.
4. I name my electronics, so if you ever hear me call my desktop Shelly, my laptop Lulu, or my iPod Piper, now you know why.
5. My "middle name," Isabel, is not legally my middle name!

nevillegirl's Questions

1. What book will you read next?

After City of Heavenly Fire, I will probably read Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

2. Do your parents, siblings, or any other relatives read your blog? What do they think of it?

Yes, yes, and yes! They all seem to like it, and if they don't, they haven't told me. ;)

3. What is the funniest thing you've seen or heard recently?

My friend Dave's responses to Facebook posts. He's hilarious. For example, my friend Jake recently posted a Facebook status (that turned out to be fake) that said, "I think I'm in love with someone. What should I do?" His advice: "I would definitely start by tattooing their name on your forehead and having your last name changed to theirs. Then try to get to know them as a person."

4. If you could choose, right now, to be either ten years young or ten years older than you currently are, which option would you pick?

Ooh, tricky! Ideally, neither, but I suppose I would choose to be ten years younger, because I could always relive the past ten years. But if I were older, I could never get those ten years back.

5. What is your quest?

To become a full-time author!

My Questions

1. Would you rather drink a liter of your least favorite soda in one sitting or eat a pound of fudge of your least favorite flavor in one sitting?

2. What book do you think is over-hyped?

3. What book have you reread the most?

4. Movies or TV shows?

5. Binge watching or syndication?


I nominate . . .

Mom and Dad at "Sushi and Pizza."
nevillegirl at "Musings From Neville's Navel." (This is honorary, since you've obviously been nominated before.)
Cait and Mime at "The Notebook Sisters."
Skylar Finn at "Life of a Random."
storytellergirlgrace at "Storytellergirl."
Karoline at "As a Teen Writer."
MorningTime4 at "The Ups and Downs of My Not-So-Average Life."
Maria at "The Idea Catcher."
Shelumiel at "Whims and Ramblings."
Lydia at "Planet Lydia."

Sunday, August 31, 2014

August Wrap-Up

Books I Read

Mercy Mode by Em Garner

4/5


Recommended to fans of The Program and Divergent, zombie-lovers (though it will appeal to those who don't like our rotting friends so much), and both paranormal-newbies and paranormal-junkies. You can read my review of it HERE.


The Program by Suzanne Young

5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes books that make you cry, romance, Divergent, and dystopian books.

Four: A Divergent Collection

5/5

Divergent, quick reads, a chance to get into another character's head, short stories, anthologies, and anyone who is in desperate need of more Fourtris.

We Were Liars by E. Lockheart

5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes fluffy reads, terrible writing but a fun story, a cast of characters that you'll instantly love, a typical romance, and happy and predictable endings. I lied.

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

DNF

Blech. This whole book (or what I managed to force myself to read) seemed like a Harry Potter ripoff to me. I had so much more hope for these two authors, but it didn't really work out.

Movies I Watched

"Dead Poets Society"

5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes simple movies, inspirational messages, and a good cry.

"Aladdin"

4/5 

Recommended to anyone who likes a classic Disney movie and likes to laugh.

"What If"

5/5 

Recommended to anyone who likes Indie movies, likes to laugh, and a best-friends-first-couple-later kind of romance.

"The Hundred-Foot Journey"

5/5 

Recommended to anyone who likes Indie movies, likes to laugh, and loves good food. Similar to "Julie & Julia," this is not a movie to watch on an empty stomach!

Quotes I Wrote

I grinned. “Where are we going?”
“It’s a surprise.” And I could imagine the eyebrow wiggle that would accompany his mysterious tone. “But make sure you get all gussied up.”
I snorted. “Gussied up? Are we going square dancing?”
--Beneath the Moon and Stars

“Becca told me she thinks your mother is borderline.”
“Becca thinks everyone is borderline.”
“You know, she’s probably right. She is a psychology major.”
And when I didn’t answer, she laughed.
“I win!”
“What? How did you ‘win?’”
“Any time you can’t think of a response to something I say, I win.”
--Beneath the Moon and Stars

I laughed. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
“It doesn’t have to.”
“Why not?”
“Because life doesn’t make sense, so why should we?”
“I have a theory,” I said, ignoring her, “Oh boy, here we go.” I sat up. “Maybe we do make sense, and it’s everyone else that doesn’t. What if all the weirdos and freaks of the world are actually the normal ones, and the normal ones are actually the weirdos and freaks of the world?”
“You make my brain hurt.”
“The feeling’s reciprocal.”
--Beneath the Moon and Stars

"I need you to do me a favor. Marcus is having a party tonight and I couldn’t find the movies. Can you go to Wal-Mart and see if they have the movies? Quickly?"
"Yeah, ‘course. What’s your apartment number?"
"Two-twenty-one."
"As in B Baker Street?"
"Lane."
"All right, I'm going."
--Beneath the Moon and Stars

“That looks bad.” Lane sat down next to me and dragged my hand away from my mouth.
“Nothing you can do about it,” I mumbled.
“I can kill him. That’s always an option.”
The corners of my mouth twitched, but even that hurt. “That’s not an option.”
Lane’s eyes still burned with a fiery rage. “Why not?”
I pushed his hair out of his eyes. “Because you’d be arrested as a convicted murderer and I’d never see you again.”
“I’m sure there are visiting days.”
“Not an option, Lane.”
--Beneath the Moon and Stars

Obsessions I Acquired

Synthesia. I found a few piano tutorials on YouTube by accident, and now I'm hooked. It's a great way to learn a song before printing out the sheet music. I'm working on the "Doomsday" theme from "Doctor Who" and the "Sherlock" theme song.

My job at the Renaissance Faire. Technically I've been working there since June, but I only started working costumed weekends at the beginning of this month. It's so much fun! :) I'm actually leaving to go in a couple of hours as I'm writing this.

My YA contemporary romance novel, Beneath the Moon and Stars. I wrote over 15,000 words this week alone, and it's almost finished! I had no idea I would have this much fun writing a romance novel.

Picture of the Month

I went a little photoshop crazy.


How was your August?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Bookshelf Tag

I was tagged by nevillegirl and Karoline for this meme! :) Thanks, guys!

1. Is there a book that you really want to read but you haven't because you know that it'll make you cry?

I don't tend to avoid books because I know they're going to make me cry. In fact, sometimes that's a big plus for me. I love getting so emotionally invested in a book that the author could pull tears from me like that. It means I've really connected with the characters.

2. Pick a book that helped introduce you to a new genre.

The Host, These Broken Stars, and the Lunar Chronicles, along with "Doctor Who," all helped me to discover that maybe sci-fi isn't so bad. At least, not all of it.

3. Find a book that you want to re-read.

Harry Potter, forever and always. But other than that, I like to reread books before going to see the movie, so I'll probably read Mockingjay again soon.

 4. Is there a book series you read that you wished you hadn't?

No, I don't really have a lot of reading regrets, or regrets in general. And if I don't like the first book in a series, or I'm satisfied with the ending of the first and don't want to screw it up (like with If I Stay and Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, for example), I won't read the sequel(s).

5. If your house were burning down and your pets and family were safe, which book would you run back inside to save?

One book?! I'd probably end up throwing my Harry Potter books out the window before I had to choose one.

6. Is there one book on your book shelf which brings back fond memories?

Aside from Harry Potter (because duh), the Calvin and Hobbes treasury always makes me smile when I look at it. I used to read the books under my blanket by the light of a flashlight, giggling at the crazy stunts they pulled. (Sometimes I still do this.)

7. Find a book that has inspired you the most.

Different books inspire me in different ways, though I'm always influence by any book I read, whether it's because I learn what not to do or I mimic the style of the author subconsciously. Harry Potter has always given me the extra push I've needed--and is quite possible the book series that started it all--but most recently, I was blown away by the beautiful writing and descriptions in We Were Liars by E. Lockheart.

8. Do you have any autographed books?

Yes! I have Eleanor & Park signed by Rainbow Rowell herself (thanks, Mom and Dad!), Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, most of our Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems, the Spiderwick chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, and several others.

9. Find the book that you have owned the longest.

That would be my very well-worn Harry Potter set. The bindings are so beat up, you can't even read the titles, and the first copy of the Sorcerer's Stone I owned ripped in half, so we had to get a new one.

10. Is there a book by any author which you never imagined you would read or enjoy?

Definitely The Host by Stephenie Meyer. I'd avoided it for so long because of the whole Twilight series that my bookish friends couldn't stand, but then I saw a preview for the movie and it looked really good. Soon afterwards, my best friend recommended that I read it, and she's usually right about that stuff, so I picked it up. Boy, am I glad that I did!

I tag anyone who wants to complete it!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Thank you, Robyn LaRue, so much for nominating me! :)





Rules

  • Thank and link the amazing person(s) who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate some other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
Facts

1. I've eaten--and liked--raw baby octopus.
2. I am a well-known klutz and space cadet.
3. I've ridden in a stretch limo.
4. I am a pantser and a procrastinator.
5. I dogear and deface write in my books, much to the horror of my other bookish friends. (Hi, Cait!)
6. I avoided "Doctor Who" for the longest time because, to be frank, I thought it looked stupid. I am now a proud Whovian and ship Ten/Rose more than any other couple (on TV).
7. Most of my characters have at least one trait from a person I know (including myself!).

I nominate . . .

Mom and Dad at "Sushi and Pizza."
nevillegirl at "Musings From Neville's Navel."
Cait and Mime at "The Notebook Sisters."
Skylar Finn at "Life of a Random."
storytellergirlgrace at "Storytellergirl."
Karoline at "As a Teen Writer."
MorningTime4 at "The Ups and Downs of My Not-So-Average Life."

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Half-Blood (a Book Review)

by Skylar Finn

Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout


Pages: 281

Amazon
Goodreads

This is the first Jennifer L. Armentrout book that I’ve ever read. And I have to say I’m impressed but...not blown away.

First, I want to make a quick note about the romance. If you take the blurb at face value, then it’s easy to assume that the whole entire book is all about a forbidden romance which is a very big turn-off for me. It’s not all about the romance though. Yeah, it’s a big part of it but not the whole story. So if you saw that and thought Meh this doesn’t sound like something I’d like, don’t let the blurb convince you to pass up this read.

Of course I’m going to talk about the characters first. ;) Alexandria (or Alex, as she would insist on you calling her) is our main character. She’s a risk-taker, super confident. But half the time she was putting her foot in her mouth, talking smack, not thinking of the consequences. She was a flirt, yeah, but she was loyal, determined, caring, and had the most epic humor and sarcasm ever.

Her personality was a contradiction and that’s what won me over and made me like her. She wasn’t always the nicest person, and she admitted it. This kind of character doesn’t usually work for me, but Alex was different.

Alex is a half-blood, daughter of a Hematoi or pureblood and a human. The Greek gods and all the new terms were so interesting to me! Half-bloods are super skilled fighters (or they have the potential to be) and they live to protect the purebloods.

Most of the purebloods completely disregard this fact and treat the half-bloods badly. Really badly. If you don’t become a Sentinel which is a daimon hunter or a Guard who protects the homes of the pures, then you become a servant in one of the pures’ homes. Which means, you’ll serve them all the days of your life made senseless by some potion.

These completely new society dynamics were very interesting to read about. The politics were there. The tension was there. And the history was also something I loved and would love to learn more about.

The ultimate enemy, though, was the daimons. The crazy, aether-sucking things that crave the Hematoi’s blood. I believe the daimons completely fulfilled the creepy, animalistic factor. And although they weren’t the most intelligent, with them running around (getting better at what they do) and the general sense of “danger” lurking around every corner, I don’t think the villain part was under-written.

The plot was a little slow to be honest, not slow as in nothing happened but slow as in all that happened was Alex training and figuring out her feelings for Aiden. While I was entertained, it wasn’t my favorite plot of a book ever. I did like how I learned a lot about the other characters through these seemingly inconsequential scenes though.

The romance, like I said before, isn’t as hardcore as it seems. I thought that, Alex being an accomplished flirt and wild child, the romance would be all about teasing each other (sexually, for lack of a better word) and the two of them kind of playing with each other’s hearts. But it wasn’t like that at all.

It felt real. Like when Alex talked about what she loved about Aiden it wasn’t his abs or his face (or yeah...she talked about those a lot too). It was about how kind and patient he was with her. I think he was the first person besides her mom to ever treat her that way no matter what and he was a pure. That’s HUGE. Those were the things Alex talked about when she talked about him to her friends and I feel like that was something totally new for her and it was adorable.

A quick note: If you’re not comfortable with more the more mature side of a couple that’s “in love” or “in serious like”, for example heated making out or almost getting really serious then you might want to skip this read, or just skip those parts. Just a heads up. :)

This book was a great, fast read that I would recommend to readers who love paranormal, all-things-Greek, headstrong main characters, and the ups and downs of dirty (“friendship”) politics. Oh, and I can’t forget the kick-butt fighting. Lots of that too. 





Actual rating: 3.75


About Skylar Finn:


Skylar Finn is the pen name of a recent high school graduate (who never gets tired of saying she's graduated). Her real name is top secret because she's secretly a spy. That does spy stuff. Secretly. When she's not spying, she blogs about books, life, and chocolate at Life of a Random. Skylar loves talking with bookworms about everything, so don't be shy. She's probably weirder than you anyways.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mercy Mode (a book review)

Mercy Mode by Em Garner


Released: August 26th, 2014

Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pages: 352

Seventeen-year-old Velvet has managed to patch together a new family for herself and her eleven-year-old sister after the raves of the Contamination--the epidemic caused by a wildly popular diet drink. They now live in their old house, in their empty neighborhood, with Velvet's boyfriend, Dillon; old Mrs. Holly, their elderly neighbor; and one of the Contaminated, the woman who was once their vibrant mother. But the Contamination seems to have returned, more people are falling victim, and the government begins to test people to see if they have the disease.

And Velvet has some symptoms . . . 

Amazon
Goodreads

I bought a copy of Contaminated last year and ate it up, so I was overjoyed when Em Garner sent me an ARC of Mercy Mode to read and review. And I definitely liked it as much--if not more--than its predecessor. Plus, it's set in PA, and reading a book that's set in someplace familiar is always a huge plus for me! But let's go into detail.

I've said it before: I'm not a huge zombie girl. In fact, I'm not even a huge fan of paranormal. But the Contaminated series has a way of making these zombie-like victims seem fresh and unique, while still keeping things familiar. This, I think, will make the book appeal to both undead junkies and paranormal newbies, like me.

As far as plot goes, I was actually very impressed. Often times, the sequel to a dystopian novel lacks in action and excitement (as shown by the first halves of Catching Fire and Insurgent). While it may not have been as riveting as I would've liked, I wasn't yanked around. Mercy Mode managed to keep things at a steady pace, and the final third of the book was successful in keeping me up far past my bedtime.

Now for my favorite part. Characters.

Mercy Mode doesn't have a large cast of characters, which I appreciate, because it gives me a better chance to connect with each of them in ways that wouldn't be possible if there had been more. Yes, Mrs. Holly did seem a little unnecessary to the story, but she was still strong and sassy for an old woman living in harsh conditions. Velvet's mother triggered a lot of sympathy from me, and Opal was the bright spot in a crappy situation. Cute, spunky, and, to quote Velvet, "sometimes a bit of a brat," Opal provided a lot of entertainment.

There was a character that did seem a little off to me. Dillon. He was sweet and tried his best to provide for his and Velvet's makeshift family, but he always seemed a little distant, something he hadn't been in Contaminated. But it's possible that he was written that way on purpose. He and Velvet were forced to have a somewhat rushed relationship, marrying solely for the purpose of benefits and more food, rather than love. Velvet herself often remarked that she and Dillon had been awkward with each other recently, and I don't blame them, under the circumstances.

My favorite character was Velvet. She was great. She appealed to me in ways that Katniss and Tris do, but without being a copycat, dystopian heroine. She's original and very much her own person. She's strong and feisty and would do anything for her family. She's fiercely protective of her little sister and puts herself through life-threatening danger to make things better for her.

So all in all, Mercy Mode is a fantastic and entertaining read that will appeal to paranormal and dystopian lovers alike, especially for fans of The Program and Divergent. I definitely recommend reading the series, and sincerely hope there is a sequel very soon!




Meet the author:



Em Garner writes books.

She began writing at a very young age, always preferring the stories about what goes bump in the night. An avid reader of horror, science-fiction and fantasy, she first turned her hand to short stories about the sorts of things that hide under the bed…and she kept right on going.

Now Em spends most of her time in front of her computer, writing away at all the ideas she has swirling around in her head and hoping she can get them into a story before she forgets them.

She loves zombies, unicorns, and rainbows, the color purple and the smell of roses. She hates the smell of lilies, the feeling of corduroy and biting sandpaper. (Well. Who doesn’t?)

She lives at the beach with her family, where she spends a lot of time reading and sticking her feet in the sand. She is afraid of sharks, but that doesn’t stop her from going in the water.

Connect with Em Garner:
Website: http://emgarner.com/
Twitter: @EmGarnerBooks
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emgarnerbooks1

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Beautiful People Linkup--August

The "Notebook Sisters" are co-hosting a linkup called "Beautiful People." Each month they announce a new set of questions to answer about your character so you can learn more about them.

This month, I'll be interviewing Anya Perriwinkle, the protagonist of my YA medieval fantasy The Sorceress. I actually completed The Sorceress last year, but am taking this opportunity to learn a little more about what happened during the two year gap in between the end of The Sorceress and the beginning of the sequel (which is not yet titled).


1. What does your character regret the most in their life?

Letting her friends come with her when she went to steal the magic emerald. Every day she kicks herself for it.

2. What is your character's happiest memory? Most sorrowful memory? 

When the king let Anya and her friends join the army, of which she later became the leader.

3. What majorly gets on your character’s nerves? 

Misogynistic men who doubt her simply for being a girl.

4. Do they act differently when they're around people as opposed to being alone? If so, how? 

Anya tends to let her guard down when she's alone, lets herself cry more. She doesn't want to worry her friends, despite Ronald (her best friend) insisting that they worry about her anyway.

5. What are their beliefs and superstitions? (Examples: their religion or lack of one, conspiracy theories, throwing salt, fear of black cats.)

Anya nearly died once, and was stuck in between life and death, so she knows what comes after. But she refuses to tell anyone what happened. She doesn't believe anyone should know what's waiting for them after life on earth, and wishes she could forget herself.

6. What are their catchphrases, or things they say frequently?

"James, get off (insert name here)!" "James, don't swing your sword around like that, you're going to chop somebody's head off!" "James, pay attention when you're shooting your bow. Do you want Edward to lose an eye?"

7. Would they be more prone to facing fears or running from them?

Facing them, for sure. Anya's a perfectionist, so she never stops trying to make herself stronger, less afraid, better at a certain skill, etc.

8. Do they have a good self image?

She's appropriately confident in her abilities, though sometimes a little encouragement from her friends is necessary to make her see just how capable she is.

9. Do they turn to people when they're upset, or do they isolate themselves?

She mostly isolates herself, but she knows Ronald is always there if she needs a shoulder to cry on. And James is insistent on knowing more about what's happening in her life. He tries his best to break down the walls she puts up.

10. If they were standing next to you would it make you laugh or cry?

Um, neither, I guess. We'd probably be good friends. :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Nutty's Letter to the Humans

Many of you requested to see the letter that Nutty the squirrel wrote to the humans about installing electricity in his tree. Well, I finally got around to posting it. Enjoy!


Dear Mr. Human,

         

I’m writing you because I would like your help with a project. I’m attempting to install electricity in my friend Chippy’s tree, as well as my own. We would love to have heat—especially in the winter—and air conditioning—especially in the summer—as well as cable for the TVs we’re saving up for.

         

As you can see, I can’t do this on my own. While I may have opposable thumbs, I’ve never been to school—for some reason, most of the animals I know find school unnecessary, though I highly disagree—and don’t know a lot about installing electricity. I know it has something to do with wires and tools, but I have no idea how to actually make it work.

         

So could you please, please help me? I would greatly appreciate it.

         

Thank you for your time and I hope to see you at my tree very soon.

         

Sincerely,



Nutty the Squirrel

         

PS: I almost forgot to give you directions! If you walk outside—through the front door—and turn left, all you have to do is keep on walking until you reach the first cluster of trees. Look for the tallest redwood. That’s my house. If you still can’t find it, look for a small weeping willow. That’s Chippy’s house. See you soon!

PPS: I'm sorry for the messy handwriting. I would've sent you an e-mail, but I don't have a computer. Or internet. Or electricity. Do you see my problem now?

PPPS: Could you bring some peanuts with you?

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Bookshelf Tag

I was tagged by nevillegirl and Karoline for this meme! :) Thanks, guys!


1. Is there a book that you really want to read but you haven't because you know that it'll make you cry?
 
I don't tend to avoid books because I know they're going to make me cry. In fact, sometimes that's a big plus for me. I love getting so emotionally invested in a book that the author could pull tears from me like that. It means I've really connected with the characters.

2. Pick a book that helped introduce you to a new genre.
 
The Host, These Broken Stars, and the Lunar Chronicles, along with "Doctor Who," all helped me to discover that maybe sci-fi isn't so bad. At least, not all of it.
 
3. Find a book that you want to re-read.
 
Harry Potter, forever and always. But other than that, I like to reread books before going to see the movie, so I'll probably read Mockingjay again soon.
 
4. Is there a book series you read that you wished you hadn't?
 
No, I don't really have a lot of reading regrets, or regrets in general. And if I don't like the first book in a series, or I'm satisfied with the ending of the first and don't want to screw it up (like with If I Stay and Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, for example), I won't read the sequel(s).
 
5. If your house was burning down and your pets and family were safe, which book would you run back inside to save?
 
One book?! I'd probably end up throwing my Harry Potter books out the window before I had to choose one.
6. Is there one book on your book shelf which brings back fond memories?
 
Aside from Harry Potter (because duh), the Calvin and Hobbes treasury always makes me smile when I look at it. I used to read the books under my blanket by the light of a flashlight, giggling at the crazy stunts they pulled. (Sometimes I still do this.)
 
7. Find a book that has inspired you the most.
 
Different books inspire me in different ways, though I'm always influence by any book I read, whether it's because I learn what not to do or I mimic the style of the author subconsciously. Harry Potter has always given me the extra push I've needed--and is quite possible the book series that started it all--but most recently, I was blown away by the beautiful writing and descriptions in We Were Liars by E. Lockheart.
 
8. Do you have any autographed books?
 
Yes! I have Eleanor & Park signed by Rainbow Rowell herself (thanks, Mom and Dad!), Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, most of our Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems, the Spiderwick chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, and several others.
 
9. Find the book that you have owned the longest.
 
That would be my very well-worn Harry Potter set. The bindings are so beat up, you can't even read the titles, and the first copy of the Sorcerer's Stone I owned ripped in half, so we had to get a new one.

10. Is there a book by any author which you never imagined you would read or enjoy?
 
Definitely The Host by Stephenie Meyer. I'd avoided it for so long because of the whole Twilight series that my bookish friends couldn't stand, but then I saw a preview for the movie and it looked really good. Soon afterwards, my best friend recommended that I read it, and she's usually right about that stuff, so I picked it up. Boy, am I glad that I did!

I tag anyone who wants to complete it!

The Bookshelf Tag

I was tagged by nevillegirl and Karoline for this meme! :) Thanks, guys!

1. Is there a book that you really want to read but you haven't because you know that it'll make you cry?
 
I don't tend to avoid books because I know they're going to make me cry. In fact, sometimes that's a big plus for me. I love getting so emotionally invested in a book that the author could pull tears from me like that. It means I've really connected with the characters.

2. Pick a book that helped introduce you to a new genre.
 
The Host, These Broken Stars, and the Lunar Chronicles, along with "Doctor Who," all helped me to discover that maybe sci-fi isn't so bad. At least, not all of it.
3. Find a book that you want to re-read.
 
Harry Potter, forever and always. But other than that, I like to reread books before going to see the movie, so I'll probably read Mockingjay again soon.
4. Is there a book series you read that you wished you hadn't?
 
No, I don't really have a lot of reading regrets, or regrets in general. And if I don't like the first book in a series, or I'm satisfied with the ending of the first and don't want to screw it up (like with If I Stay and Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, for example), I won't read the sequel(s).
5. If your house was burning down and your pets and family were safe, which book would you run back inside to save?
 
One book?! I'd probably end up throwing my Harry Potter books out the window before I had to choose one.
6. Is there one book on your book shelf which brings back fond memories?
 
Aside from Harry Potter (because duh), the Calvin and Hobbes treasury always makes me smile when I look at it. I used to read the books under my blanket by the light of a flashlight, giggling at the crazy stunts they pulled. (Sometimes I still do this.)
7. Find a book that has inspired you the most.
 
Different books inspire me in different ways, though I'm always influence by any book I read, whether it's because I learn what not to do or I mimic the style of the author subconsciously. Harry Potter has always given me the extra push I've needed--and is quite possible the book series that started it all--but most recently, I was blown away by the beautiful writing and descriptions in We Were Liars by E. Lockheart.
8. Do you have any autographed books?
 
Yes! I have Eleanor & Park signed by Rainbow Rowell herself (thanks, Mom and Dad!), Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, most of our Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems, the Spiderwick chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, and several others.
9. Find the book that you have owned the longest.
 
That would be my very well-worn Harry Potter set. The bindings are so beat up, you can't even read the titles, and the first copy of the Sorcerer's Stone I owned ripped in half, so we had to get a new one.

10. Is there a book by any author which you never imagined you would read or enjoy?
 
Definitely The Host by Stephenie Meyer. I'd avoided it for so long because of the whole Twilight series that my bookish friends couldn't stand, but then I saw a preview for the movie and it looked really good. Soon afterwards, my best friend recommended that I read it, and she's usually right about that stuff, so I picked it up. Boy, am I glad that I did!

I tag anyone who wants to complete it!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

July Wrap-Up

Books I Read

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott 

DNF


I really didn't like this book, so I'm not exactly sure to whom I would recommend it.


If I Stay by Gayle Forman

4/5

Recommended to anyone who likes books that make you cry, character-driven stories, romance, and stories told through an interesting format (half of the book is told through the eyes of the main character, Mia, as she walks around the hospital in a ghostlike state).

The Girl Who Was On Fire by Leah Wilson

4/5

Recommended to anyone who likes The Hunger Games, anthologies, and companion guides.

Coffee at Luke's: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest by Jennifer Crusie

4/5

Recommended to anyone who likes "Gilmore Girls," anthologies, quick reads, and companion guides.

Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown

4/5

Recommended to anyone who likes "Star Wars," quick reads, and cute picture books.


5/5

Recommended to all writers. This book was a fantastic help to me, not only with actually writing of my novel, but with editing, querying, and understanding what exactly agents and editors do.

Movies I Watched

"My Big Fat Greek Wedding"

4/5


Recommended to anyone who likes simple stories, has large, extended families, and likes to laugh.

"The Amazing Spider-Man"

3.5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes superheroes and action-filled movies.

"Epic"

4/5

Recommended to anyone who likes animated movies, action-filled stories, and likes to laugh. This movie reminded me a lot of "How to Train Your Dragon."

"What About Bob?" 

4/5

Recommended to anyone who likes simple stories, likes to laugh, and quirky characters.

Quotes I Wrote

“I still can’t believe it,” Celeste said for the hundredth time that day. “All of that money just from your blog!”
          “Mmm,” I grunted noncomittally, trying to focus on my book (Divergent).
          “I mean, you have a ton of followers, and probably thousands of views every day, but still. That’s a lot of money.”
          “Uh huh.”
          “I mean, that’s a lot of money. Like, a lot a lot.”
          I sat up in my makeshift bed. “Do you mind? Tris is getting knives thrown at her by who I suspect is the potential love interest.”
          Celeste ignored me. She rolled over onto her stomach on her bed. “You should totally post about this on your blog.”
          I rolled my eyes. “I’m not posting about how much money I made on my blog.”
          “You don’t have to say how much exactly. You could always just be vague about it and—”
          “No.”
          Celeste shrugged. “All right. Whatever.” She picked her book up from her nightstand (The Fault In Our Stars).
          “Spoiler alert,” she said. “He is.”
          Hiding behind the pages of my book, I grinned. “Thought so.”

--Cosmo


“Math,” she sighed. “Or, as I like to call it, Mental Abuse To Humans.”
          “Homework troubles?”
          Yes. Did I not make myself clear?” Celeste rolled over onto her stomach and swung her legs in the air, like she was riding a bike. “How do you get your homework done so fast?”
          I turned back to the computer and opened up Google to check my e-mail. “I don’t spend the first hour home playing Flappy Birds.”
          “Hmm,” Celeste said, chewing on her lip. “See, that’s something I can’t cut out of my life. Can’t I stop, I don’t know, cleaning my room, instead? That would be a much easier way to save time.”
          “Not while I’m living here.” I moved the mouse around, as if that would make it load faster.
Celeste flopped over onto her back again. “Le sigh.”

--Cosmo

Obsessions I Acquired

"Parenthood." My mom and I are zipping through this show, and I love it! :)

"Torchwood." A fantastic "Doctor Who" spinoff, though I'd definitely recommend it to older kids who have a higher tolerance for violence.

"When We Were Young" by Lucy Schwartz. I actually prefer this theme song to the other one "Parenthood" used. :) I think it fits the overall mood of the show better.

Picture of the Month


I finally updated my profile picture. The one I had before was about three years old. How do you like the glasses? ;)

How was your July?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

55 Questions About Books and Reading (Part 2)

See Part 1 HERE.

28. Favorite reading snack?

I have a sweet tooth when it comes to reading snacks. I like cookies, ice cream/milkshakes, and anything chocolate. As far as drinks go, I like hot chocolate and tea.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.

The Maze Runner. It didn't meet the high hopes I had for it. :P And, like I said before, I couldn't get into The Book Thief.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?

It depends on who's reviewing the book.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?

As long as you don't tag the author when you share it on Twitter or something along those lines--I hated TERRIBLE BOOK by @AuthorOfTheBook. Check out my review! = NOT OKAY--and the review is well thought out, I'm okay with it. But if you write, "this book was just plain teribul and i dont need 2 give any more explunassion," that's not a good review. You need to have a reason for disliking the book, you can't just bash it.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?

Portuguese, I guess, since my parents both speak it fluently.

35. Favorite poet?

Erm, I don't really read poetry. Not exactly my thing. But I think spoken word poetry sounds really cool. :)

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?

When I was younger, 30+. Now, I usually limit myself to five or so (usually less).

37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?

Ha ha, a lot. Tons of times. There aren't enough days in the week to read everything I want to get to!

38. Favorite fictional character?

Hermione Granger. :)

39. Favorite fictional villain?

Voldemort, Bellatrix, and Umbridge.

41. The longest you’ve gone without reading?

Maybe a week? Usually because of book hangovers or being super busy with real life stuff.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.

Recently, The Alchemyst, The Book Thief, and Ender's Game. Also couldn't finish Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?

Not much, but if people try to talk to me when I'm reading, obviously that's annoying.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?

The "Harry Potter" movies, "The Fault In Our Stars," the "Hunger Games" movies, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," and "The Help."

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?

The "Percy Jackson" movies. *bangs head against desk*
46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?

Maybe 50 dollars.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?

Before reading, never. While reading it, I'll sometimes skim ridiculously long and most of the time pointless descriptions. This is the one thing that infuriates me with the Mortal Instruments series. There's a reason why those books are such beasts! They could probably be cut in half if she didn't take the time to describe the exact texture, smell, and history of the curtains in Clary's room, or something along those lines.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book halfway through?

If it's boooring.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?

Yes, though I often reorganize it for a brand new, shiny system. At the moment, my TBR shelves are organized alphabetically.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?

Um, keep them. Definitely keep them. (Unless I have duplicates, then I'll give them away on my blog.)

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?

The Twilight books, just because there are so many other books I'd rather be reading. But I really want to form my own opinions on them so I can talk about them with my blogger friends and actually know what I'm talking about. 

52. Name a book that made you angry.

Catcher In the Rye. Holden was such a whiner. I wanted to smack him.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?

The Host by Stephenie Meyer. (Thanks for the suggestion, Kirsten!)

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?

The Maze Runner by James Dashner. Blah, blah, blah. Such a mediocre book.

55. Favorite guilt-free pleasure reading?

Um, all of my pleasurable reading is guilt-free. ;)

Your turn! Feel free to answer some or all of the questions on your blog/in the comments.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

55 Questions About Books and Reading (Part 1)

Stealing this from Nevillegirl! :)

1. Favorite childhood book?

Harry Potter. Always has been, always will be. I also used to love the Magic Treehouse series and all of the American Girl books, especially the Samantha ones.

2. What are you reading right now?

To Kill a Mockingbird (with my mom), City of Heavenly Fire, Coffee at Luke's, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?

Right now, surprisingly, nothing.

4. Bad book habit?

I write in my books. I underline, draw little hearts, the whole bit. I also eat and drink around my books.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. (Yes, I had to look up how to spell her name, and no, I have no idea how to pronounce it.)

6. Do you have an e-reader?

I had one, but it broke (through no fault of my own!). :P So now I have to resort to using my iPod, which has a pathetically tiny screen. Luckily an iPad is on the way for me (thank you, Vavó)!

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?

People actually only read one book at once?! Who has the time for that?!

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?

Definitely. I have way more to read now! When I was younger (maybe 10 or 11), I had to resort to picking random books off the shelves at the library for new books to read. :P

9. Least favorite book you read this year so far?

Since I'm sure you've already read (several times) about how much I loathed Catcher In the Rye, I'll skip over that and jump right in to The Alchemyst by Michael Scott. I tried to get into it, but I just couldn't. :P It was too boring, the writing was sub-par, and the dialogue was jerky. I also couldn't get into The Book Thief.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?

Other than rereads, I'd have to say Cress! :) LOVED that book!

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?

Probably less than I should. :P Book clubs help me to do this, and sometimes I'll make a point of reading non-fiction or classics, or something else I don't usually read. I have to go out of my way to read something different, otherwise it's very easy for me to fall into a rut. I'm glad I tried science-fiction again, because I discovered that I don't dislike sci-fi, I just don't like the hardcore stuff. (For example, Ender's Game was a dud for me, but I LOVED the Lunar Chronicles, These Broken Stars, The Host, "Doctor Who," and "Torchwood."

12. What is your reading comfort zone?

Fantasy, dystopian, and recently, contemporaries, all YA.

13. Can you read in the car?

Most of the time.

14. Favorite place to read?

In my room, on my cozy chair with my funky lamp. :)

15. What is your policy on book lending?

I only lend books to my family members and BFF. I also kind of hate borrowing books from anyone except them, because it makes me feel pressured to read those books first. :P

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?

No.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?

Um, yeah. (Don't hate me!)

18. Not even with textbooks?

I don't think so, since I'll probably end up selling them later.

19. What is your favorite language to read in?

I can only read in English.

20. What makes you love a book?

Great characters, witty dialogue, good writing, and anything that evokes strong emotions. I love books that can make me laugh out loud or sob (or, better yet, both!). Also, if it causes me to have a book hangover afterward or be rendered speechless when I try to review it, I know it's good.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book? 

See number 20. If I know a friend of mine likes a specific genre or style, and I read a good book that applies to that genre or style, I'll recommend it.

22. Favorite genre?

Fantasy! :)

23. Genre you rarely read but wish you did?

Sci-fi, I guess. I've really gotten into it with "Doctor Who," "Torchwood," the Lunar Chronicles, and These Broken Stars, but I've yet to find anything else worth reading. :P If you have recommendations for me, I'd love to hear them!

24. Favorite biography?

I don't read a lot of biographies, but the one I read about John Lennon--John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth--was pretty good.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?

Do how-to-write books count?

26. Favorite cookbook?

I don't have one.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)? 

Harry Potter, always. Cress, The Fault In Our Stars, and These Broken Stars also make the list.

Part 2 coming soon! :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Top Ten Fictional Characters I'd Want On a Deserted Island With Me

I'm participating in Top Ten Tuesday with "The Broke and the Bookish"! :) This week's prompt is: Which ten fictional characters would you want on a deserted island with you?

http://www.brokeandbookish.com/2014/07/top-ten-characters-id-want-on-deserted.html

1. Katniss and Gale from The Hunger Games.

Cheating already! ;) But really, I wouldn't want just one or the other. Peeta fan or not, you can't deny that Katniss and Gale work extremely well together when they're hunting in the woods. Katniss can hunt, Gale can build snares. It's the perfect combination when you're in desperate need of food. Plus, Katniss has *SPOILER ALERT* survived two Hunger Games, so she's no stranger to danger or wild animals, even mutant ones *END SPOILERS*.

2. Hermione from Harry Potter.

Hermione has probably read every book in the library, and then some, so she's bound to have some information on poisonous foods, building a fire, and just surviving in general. She, Harry, and Ron had to camp out in the forest in the dead of winter for quite some time in the Deathly Hallows, and they survived. And if she has her wand with her, we could probably just transfigure a tree into a boat or something. Or disapparate off the island.

3. Tarver from These Broken Stars.

Tarver was a huge help to Lilac during their first few days together when they were stranded on a strange planet. It was the sci-fi version of a deserted island, and he was awesome! And he's a military guy, so if we were to come in contact with a wild animal, I know he'd have my back.

4. Jace from The Mortal Instruments.

Jace is probably the best shadowhunter there is in the series. He'd probably also know some rune that could help us out, too. Like with Tarver, he'd be great to have around if something decided to attack us. I'd be very well protected.

5. Thorne from the Lunar Chronicles.

He and Cress were actually stranded on a desert in Cress, so he has some experience with isolation and surviving in the heat. Plus, he's hilarious, so he'd be great for some comic relief. He's also an escaped criminal and hasn't been caught yet, so he can definitely survive on his own.

6. Cress from the Lunar Chronicles.

Though Cress may be small and not very strong, she's crazy good when it comes to technology. Hand her a port screen and she'd have a ship coming to save us in no time.

7. Ian from The Host.

Ian and the rest of the human community has managed to survive on their own in the desert for a long time, farming their own food and stealing supplies. He'd have no problem building us shelter and making sure we have something to eat and drink.

8. Flora and Ulysses from Flora & Ulysses.

Flora is super smart and resourceful for a ten-year-old, and she knows how to prevent all sorts of disasters from reading Terrible Things Can Happen to You! Plus, Ulysses is a superhero, so he'd find some way to get us out of this mess.

9. Four and Tris from Divergent.

They're from Dauntless and are constantly fighting for their lives. They know how to handle a gun and don't shy away from danger. Who knows what we'll find on this island?

10. Hedwig from Harry Potter.

And, if all else fails, Hedwig could always send somebody a message to come and rescue us. ;)

Who would you want with you on a deserted island? Leave a comment! :)