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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: CLEMENTINE by Sara Pennypacker

So many of my book recommendations these days have come from the Storymakers '13 conference, and this one is no exception. Even though I had to leave Becca Wilhite's humor class early, I was able to stay long enough for her to recommend a couple books I knew would be fantastic, and CLEMENTINE was one of them.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Another Edition of Why I Stopped Reading

Wow! It's been so long since I did one of these. I think I've been lucky lately to have a bunch of really good books in my TBR pile.

Audience: Adult
Genre: Historical Fantasy, Retelling
Length: 260 pgs.

Where I Stopped: page 39

Why I Stopped: The novel set up this really lovely story, a retelling of a fairy-tale in this fun, historical setting. I totally dug it. And then something happened that seemed really out of place, too fantastic for the way it had been set up, that I just went, "Huh? Too weird." I put the book down and didn't pick it back up. I don't imagine I will either.

The lesson to be learned: In true fairy-tale style...leave breadcrumbs for readers so they aren't pulled from the story. You never want anything to pull a reader out of the world you've created. You want to immerse them in so deep they don't want to leave.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review: THERE, THEIR, THEY'RE: A No-Tears Guide to Grammar From The Word Nerd by Annette Lyon

One of the best classes I went to while at LDStorymakers Conference 2013 was Annette Lyon's Master Class on Grammar. I kid you not, her advice made THE GAME PLAN so much better. For instance, one thing she suggested was to take a mid-level look at your novel and check scene by scene by 1) Coming up with a one-sentence description of the scene (If you can't do that, too much is happening), 2) Asking if there's action in the scene, and 3) identifying the conflict. By doing number three for every scene, I came to realize that the conflict in a majority of the scenes was the same, and I ended up adding a major sub-plot and nearly 22k words.

Annette just published the 2nd edition of her grammar guide and put the word out there on Twitter that she was looking for reviewers. Guess who's hand shot into the air? Yep, mine. (Figuritively and literally--and you will understand the difference after you've read it too.)

Audience: Adult (Fiction Writers)
Genre: Writing, Writing Advice, Grammar
Length: 158 pgs.

Rating: ***** (Really Liked It)

Review: The book was everything I expected it to be. Although I did already know many of the rules in the guide, it did exactly as it claimed to: presented them in an understandable way for the average person. I even learned a few things! Annette also presents it in a fun way as well, making a stuffy grammar book lighthearted. It's a quick read, and thanks to the sections, you can use it as a quick-reference guide while writing. I know I'll be using it to double check things I'm not sure about. My favorite advice from the book about why grammar and style are important? "You want the writing to be invisible and your ideas to take center stage." So. True. I think I could write a whole blog post on why that's important. I think I probably already have. The best thing is, this book is only $3.99 for Kindle. You now have no excuse not to go out and buy it.

Source: I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for my honest review. 

Follow Annette Lyon's blog for more advice on writing and grammar
Buy There, Their, They're: A No-Tears Guide on Amazon.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review: BREAKING BEAUTIFUL by Jennifer Shaw Wolf (Walker Publishing, April 2012)

From Jennifer Shaw Wolf's website
I can still see his face, the way he tilted his head. How excited he was for me to see the gift. The pain spreads from the back of my head, cuts across my right temple and curls around the smaller scar above my eye. 
I’m saving something special to give you on your birthday.
My whole head throbs.
It hurts too much to remember.

  Allie can’t remember the night her boyfriend, Trip died.
She knows they were driving on the cliff road.
That Trip lost control.   
That she woke up later broken and bruised. 
That somehow, she survived. 
Allie lost everything the night her boyfriend, Trip, died in a horrible car accident—including her memory of the event. As their small town mourns his death, Allie is afraid to remember because doing so means delving into what she’s kept hidden for so long: the horrible reality of their abusive relationship.
When the police reopen the investigation, it casts suspicion on Allie and her best friend, Blake, especially as their budding romance raises eyebrows around town. Allie knows she must tell the truth. Can she reach deep enough to remember that night so she can finally break free? 

Audience: YA (clean)
Genre: YA contemporary, thriller
Length: 368 pgs.

Rating: *** 1/2

Review: Another book that I have really struggled with trying to rate it. It is so well written, so powerful, so emotional, it deserves more than 3 1/2 stars. But this is my blog where I post my opinions about things, and this book just wasn't for me. Issue books are hard for me--I can't take a step back. I know that they are important. I know they need to be out there. It's just that I shouldn't read them. I'm too tenderhearted.
It's a testament, however, to the fantastic writing and to the back-cover matter that I bought it anyway. I knew I wouldn't like it because it does deal with abuse, but I was so driven to know what happened that I had to read it. That's also why it should probably have more stars. Dang good writing.
I will admit to being a bit frustrated with Allie and how much and how long she holds things in. I suppose that's because I don't truly understand and that's okay. Again, powerful book.

Content: Rated 1-5, 1 being minor instances, 5 being text is saturated
Violence: 2 (Instances of violence are recounted throughout, but it's not graphic)
Language: 1
Sex: 0 (There is kissing)

Try this Do you like powerful, YA books? Try MIND GAMES by Kiersten White
Check out Jennifer Shaw Wolf's blog.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Review: SECOND CHANCES by Melanie Jacobson

So, you know I went to Storymakers Conference in May? Did you know I sort of went a little crazy when I got into the book store and saw all the books by all my favorites? SECOND CHANCES was one of them. And it's signed. (Melanie Jacobson thinks I'm funny!!)

From Deseret BookAfter walking out of a thankless job at a prestigious marketing firm, feisty California entrepreneur Louisa Gibson is going into business for herself. Lou’s pioneering venture, The Mormon Bachelor, is a reality dating web series sure to be fabulous advertising for her new marketing firm. And as a bonus, she can solve a problem close to home: while Huntington Beach is crawling with eligible, sun-bronzed Saints, they’ve forgotten the vital skill of dating. Lou hopes the reality show will finally inspire this group of hangout enthusiasts to pair off. But shortly before filming begins, the unthinkable happens—Trentyn, a.k.a. The Bachelor, gets a girlfriend. And Lou needs a new leading man—fast.
Enter Nick, Lou’s devastatingly handsome ex-boy- friend. He’s the stereotypical actor: shallow, self-serving . . . and perfect for the job. A whirlwind of dating ensues, with Nick at the center of it all. Things are going according to plan—that is, until Lou is forced to step in as a substitute bachelorette, becoming an unwitting cast member on her own show. Despite Nick’s attempts to reestablish their friendship and the growing spark between them, Lou is determined to keep her distance. The show must go on—but what’s a girl to do when the Mr. Wrong of the past just may be the Mr. Right of the future?
Audience: Adult (Clean)
Genre: LDS Romance
Length: 216 pgs
Rating: *****
Review: This one could possibly be my favorite of Melanies. I loved the main character, Louisa, and Nick is so wonderful as the antagonist...ooops, I mean love interest. Both are really different from any of Melanie's other main characters. It has the awesome trademark wit I've come to expect along with a unique love story! (The Bachelor from the POV of someone behind the scenes.) So cool. Pick this one up. You'll definitely love it.
Source: Bought it via the LDStorymakers 2013 Conference Bookstore
Follow Melanie on Twitter.
Buy SECOND CHANCES at Deseret Book.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review: MIND GAMES by Kiersten White

I put this book on my TBR list, like the tippity-top of my TBR list, as soon as I knew it would come out. Then it came out and Storymakers was right around the corner and I was feverishly trying to finish editing THE GAME PLAN so it would be ready to pitch. Finally, I just bought it and set it on my desk as a incentive. Then, when I got back from Storymakers, and I had even more edits for THE GAME PLAN, I still moved it to my To Be Read Soon pile. (It sits by my bed, and I always pick up the next book in the stack when I need one.)

From Kiersten White's Blog"A brutal, exciting gem of a book." --Holly Black, NYT Bestselling Author 

Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future. 

Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways…or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.

In a stunning departure from her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy, Kiersten White delivers a slick, edgy, heartstoppingly intense psychological thriller about two sisters determined to protect each other—no matter the cost.

Audience: YA (Clean)
Genre: Speculative Fiction, Fantasy
Length: 237 pgs

Rating: *****+ (I absolutely loved it)

Review: I loved PARANORMALCY by Kiersten White, and a little while back she wrote a blog post an how, while MIND GAMES was very different from anything she'd ever written, it was also still pretty similar--in that it involved a "strong, smart, snarky heroine."
But Fia is very different. She is so beautifully broken that it hurts to read about her--in a good way. You just ache for this girls and then cheer for them. You can do it! You can make stuff better! This book made me really think and really feel and really want to read the next one right now. But I'm told (by Kiersten herself, seriously) that I have to wait until next February. Which is forever and ever away. 

Source: Bought this book via Amazon.

Try This Do you like out-of-the box YA? Try Robison Wells' VARIANT.
Check Out Kiersten's blog, where you will probably laugh your pants off.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Review: EMMA: A Latter-Day Tale by Rebecca H. Jamison

Publication Date: August 13, 2013

From Amazon: Emma's her name and matchmaking is her game! Quirky life coach Emma wants to help her first-ever client, a lonely nanny named Harriet. But all of her attempts at matchmaking result only in embarrassing miscues and blunders, leaving the pair disheartened and confused. This modern take on the Jane Austen classic shows that sometimes the greatest match is the one we make for ourselves.

Audience: Adult (Clean)
Genre: LDS Romance, Retelling
Length: 256 pgs

Rating: ***+ (Liked it and some)

Review: I love Jane Austen. And I really like the modern retellings that pop up. It's always fun for me to read the story and wonder, "How will that do this...?" This retelling of Jane Austen's Emma was very good. The characters were true to Austen while still fun, modern versions. I especially loved how the author reincarnated Harriet. Emma and Justin were great versions of their former selves as well. Jamison did a great job with a big ensemble cast, while still making it Emma's story.

Source: Received an ebook copy of EMMA: A Latter-Day Tale from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Try This: If you like retellings check out THE ORCHARD by Krista Lynne Jensen.
Check Out other books by Rebecca H. Jamison at Cedar Fort.

About Me!

I've been writing since I was old enough to grasp a crayon--my grandma even has an early copy of a "book" I made her. I have a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wyoming and will (hopefully) soon be starting a graduate program in English. When I'm not breaking up impromptu UFC fights in the living room or losing miserably to my boys at Uno, I'm ... well, writing or editing, of course! I'm married to my best friend, and we have three rambunctious but simply amazing little boys.


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