Monday, February 23, 2015

Bitten, Kelley Armstrong

I recently finished Bitten, a urban fantasy novel by Kelley Armstrong. This book had been recommended to me awhile ago and I finally got around to reading it. This book was not what I expected. It surprised me at almost every turn. The TV series is quite different.

Living in Toronto for a year, Elena is leading the normal life she has always dreamed of, including a stable job as a journalist and a nice apartment shared with her boyfriend. As the lone female werewolf in existence, only her secret midnight prowls and her occasional inhuman cravings set her apart. Just one year ago, life was very different. Adopted by the Pack when bitten, Elena had spent years struggling with her resentment at having her life stolen away. Torn between two worlds, and overwhelmed by the new passions coursing through her body, her only option for control was to deny her awakening needs and escape.

But now the Pack has called Elena home to help them fight an alliance of renegade werewolves who are bent on exposing and annihilating the Pack. And although Elena is obliged to rejoin her "family," she vows not to be swept up in Pack life again, no matter how natural it might feel. She has made her choice. Trouble is, she's increasingly uncertain if it's the right one.

Like I said, this book surprised me. I wasn't expecting it to be so outwardly romantic which in retrospect sounds ridiculous. Anyways, Elena's an awesome character and she changes so much throughout the novel which I loved. In the beginning she is constantly trying to shrink herself down -- something very much in line with what a lot of women do. With Phillip she gets to be normal but she doesn't get to be herself. That is something I found pretty disturbing but quite realistic. And then, when she is called away, back to Stonehaven, she almost does a 180. And ends up hooking up with her ex-boyfriend/ex-fiance--the first night. That I found was shocking and not what I was expecting after watching the series on TV. Personally, their relationship I found unsettling. Mostly because as you find out, he is anything but the perfect boyfriend.

I don't really like their relationship. Much. I don't like how fast it was for Elena to hook up with Clay. I was kind of disappointed in that. But at the same time it makes her more real--more imperfect I guess. And it is pretty clear right from the get go that she and Clay have a lot of history-Philip, though nice-ish is more a rebound than anything else. To be honest, I don't really like Philip, he's kinda controlling and when Elena's with him she's always trying to shrink down. I don't like that. It is sad to read.

Her hold in the human world was all but gone when she stepped foot into Stonehaven which was different from how she acted in the TV series. In the TV series she holds on tight to that part of herself and stays away from Clay for as long as she can. While in the book, it is more like she splits up her life; she lives two lives, and steps into the one at Stonehaven completely, almost seamlessly.

Kelley Armstrong is a really great author. I adored her clear and definitive writing style as well as I loved the way that the Pack is so accurately depicted as a wolf pack. The behavior of the individuals is so much like a pack, it is almost strange to read about because it is so well done.

This book was good--full of adventure and romance, a strong story and character growth.
I'm really curious to see how it turns out. What happens next.  

Friday, February 20, 2015

Reading week: a break for sanity's sake and updates

Reading week has finally arrived and it could not have come at a more perfect time.
School work is piling up-I'm way behind on creative writing, falling behind on Science Concepts, Philosophy, Industrial Psychology, and my Senior Research Seminar--I'm so behind on that class I am going to attempt to write a passable Annotated Bibliography tomorrow, in preparation for the 25 page paper I need to write for that class.

Yes, life at school is oh-so-very stressful. And I'll be honest, I feel like I'm drowning. So this break is so welcome.

While I've been struggling with school and stress and disabledness, I have still found time to read. I don't think you understand--that that is more a matter of keeping my sanity. In the last two months I've been reading quite a bit.

A few of the titles being Bitten by Kelley Armstrong, Guide to Adulhood by Grace Heilberg (which was not what I thought it would be), Gameboard of the Gods (still unfinished) by Richelle Mead, and the final installment of (what is perhaps my favorite book series right now and has been since last year) The Ruby Circle.

The very last installment of the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead.

All I will say about this book series is that it is incredible--sure it has its faults...I can't think of any right now (unless you count ending as a fault), but it is incredible and that last book...well, it is surprising and so good. Like, it is incredible. You guys just don't understand. It is just amazing.

And, my heart is broken...I just don't want it to be over.

Which is how the spur of the moment decision to reread the series came about.

Whether or not I'll follow through with it is to be decided but I just need more-ya know?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Yuletide Greetings

It is December 17 already, Christmas is a week away almost less than a week away. And can I just say, I am still sort of dreading the holidays.

Because of reasons.

My family though is all excited about the holidays which leaves me as the odd one out. As well as emotional turbulence, I'm still not done my Christmas shopping, which eats away at me nightly--that's the thing about getting older, you're more worried about buying presents than Santa. I hate leaving things till last minute though.

I haven't really been looking forward to the holidays that much, to be honest with you, all the rush of gifts and perfect presents. It makes my head spin.  As well the holidays are a time to look back on what you've accomplished this past year. For me, I never seem to accomplish enough to make myself happy.

As some of you may know I had surgery back in June a couple days after my birthday and then because of the surgery I took some time off of school. Because I took time off school I didn't get to accomplish as much as I wanted to in that area of my life. But there was simply no way I could have went to school with the amount of pain I was in. Which I get, but still hate. Being isolated from the surgery and home most of the time has been hard, yet it is harder still, having my family around... constantly now that the holidays are here. I love my family but they are not always the easiest to get along with and sometimes they make my head spin.

My mom, my brother, and my sister are looking forward to the holidays while I have just been hoping to survive it. But as the clock ticks on, I find that I'm slowly able to feel some excitement in regards to this holiday. After reading more about this holiday, as in tracing back it's origins, I've found many stories about this season which have given me a greater understanding of where this holiday came from. And no, I'm not talking about the generally accepted version of saviors being born on Christmas in a barn.

The thing about this time of year is that it makes a lot of people sad, myself included, ever since December 12 2011. Christmas has never been the same since that date for my family and I.
Yet, something I read about this time of year on Tumblr has stayed with me about what this time of year is all about.

Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark on a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour. - John Boswell

After reading that I've felt more at peace with this time of year and found myself able to concentrate on this holiday season with more of an open mind. And that is why it is something I wanted to share on this blog.

Did you know the origin of this holiday was to mark the longest nights of winter and to signify that winter is slowly abating. Of course, this is if you trace the roots of the holiday backwards in time. The generally accepted meaning today is much different than what it was a couple hundred years ago. Though the same themes carry through.

This is the time of year when we come together with family and friends to feast and celebrate, we mark the fact that winter is almost over, that the darkness is ending. This holiday, like all of them, connects us to our past and to the people that have lived here before us.

And to me, that is something pretty incredible. So dear followers I wish you all well in this upcoming holiday season.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Thinking Woman's Guide To Real Magic

The Thinking Woman's Guide To Magic
Emily Croy Barker

Also known as: where has this book been all my life? 

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic

“It was one thing to read about a society obsessed with female purity—quite another to find yourself living in one.”

This book was epic, it was fantastic. It was impossible to put down. And it kept me up many nights until I was too tired to continue. It was smart and funny and I loved it. It was an epic fantasy.
There are so many reasons I loved this book. Nora was a great protagonist, she may not have been smart in regards to her love life, but it every other way she was savvy and very intelligent and honestly it made this book great.

Nora is smart, independent, savvy, and able, as a protagonist. She's a strong, human protagonist. Awhile ago on Tumblr there was this post going around about writing strong-female protagonists. In this little rant/post about strong females the writer said not to worry about writing strong-kick-ass female protagonists and instead write about interesting, complex, human female protagonists. Now while personally I believe that writing strong women and writing complex women are not necessarily seprate and excursive only to that, Nora embodies both ideals.
She is a strong protagonist in the unconventional way that she is herself--she is complex and human, she really effs up a couple times. So that is what I mean when I say she is human.

So this story begins in present day earth. We find out that Nora's has had a rough couple of months and things take a turn for the worse as she finds out her boyfriend, another professor, intends to marry another woman. Meaning he had been cheating on her while they were together. Nora is a professor at the local university, she's very intelligent but she's hit a dull spot in her life. Her life is far from perfect at home and it is far from what she imagined it would be. But, her life isn't exactly bad, but it isn't exactly outstandingly great.

On a weekend trip up to the mountains Nora stumbles into an alternate universe while going for a walk. She doesn't realize this at first, in fact, it takes a long time for her to realize that this new world is far from what she thinks it is.

But she is introduced to a fabulous new world that is vivid, imaginative, and becomes more startlingly real as the book progresses. And when she meets Illisa, she is enchanted.

Illisa is beautiful, perfect and graceful. And she takes Nora under her wing and introduces her to Raclin and this amazing new world that's full of glitz and glamour.

It is of course too good to be true.
Eventually the nightmarish truth about this new world is revealed. The further Nora is submerged in this world, the further it becomes clear that Illisa and Raclin are not who they appear to be. And then the real story begins. Nora is saved by Aurendiel after she finds out the truth about everything.

And then, she learns about magic.

Honestly, this book was fantastic. It was full of adventure, and though the beginning started off slow, it didn't last long and quickly captured my attention. As a protagonist I loved Nora. Even after all the horrid things she had been through, when she's finally safe in Aurendiel's manor, she is finally able to be herself again. Her curiosity returns and she begins to learn more about this new, fantastic world.

This is a great book that will make a great Christmas present.

Give it to anyone who likes fantasy, or adventure with a side of romance. And despite the tittle I believe this book would make a great gift for men who enjoy fantasy too because honestly the writing and the world building are fantastic.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Holiday Season approaches, NaNoWriMo comes to a close

Being that it is officially December the stores are finally justified in playing the same Christmas music over and over and over and over, on a loop and National Novel Writing Month comes to a close.

I'm proud to say that this year I won, completed 50, 000 words, which at time proved to be very difficult. But at the same time it was a lot of fun. I learned more about certain characters and their back story by forcing myself to write--unfortunately, lax writing times produced much garbage that will need to be weeded out. Don't expect to see The Complex on shelves any time soon.

Congratulations to all those that succeeded in their writing endeavors and props to all those that tried. Even if you didn't get your entire goal done in November, don't give up, and still give yourself a pat on the back. You did really well by even trying. Not many people would have. So, celebrate!

With November coming to a close and December 1st finally here, the fact that I can no longer complain about Christmas music is saddening. But other than that this month is off to quite a start. Minor crisis aside, this month--well, if you want honesty I have to admit that this month is looking grim, because as no one actually knows, I'm not a fan of Christmas. And especially as December 12th draws ever closer I feel that same sense of complete dread taking root in my gut. 

But other than that I've got some things to look forward to, mainly appointments with my disability specialist, a couple doctors, and a check up with the surgeon. The thing about this is that you're only really excited about doctor's appointments if you're have any sort of chronic pain problem. Of course, at the same time you almost always leave completely effing disappointed, because, guess what! The doctors can't actually fix you. And rarely do they successfully help you. 

I am looking forward to them though because I have been struggling with a lot of stuff and I do believe that this doc will be able to help me in one way or another. Overall I'm feeling positive about this month, I'll be looking into the possibility of resuming my schooling as well, which believe it or not, I actually love. 

In honor of Nation Novel Writing Month coming to a close I've decided to answer the following questions that were sent out by NaNo staff; reflecting on how the month went and what I learned. 

National Novel Writing Month 

Personal Reflection Time

These questions were taken from a letter sent out from the NaNoWriMo staff; So You Participated in NaNoWriMo...; 

What are you most proud of achieving this month?

This month I'm proud of having reached and actually surpassed my goal of 50 000 words. I'm really glad that I decided to stick with it and write every damn day, even though, some day what I wrote was garbage.  

What did you learn about yourself as a writer?

I learned that I get distracted easily when I don't have an outline or a basic goal in mind for each chapter. Yet, it is almost impossible for me to write an outline. I find that it is really hard and very difficult to do, but when done it can help with keeping the novel and I on track as to where everyone is supposed to end up. I already knew that my stories are all character driven and that my characters are mysteries that I uncover. The characters are very life like in the way that they have there own stories but don't necessarily give up all their secrets at once. Some characters ended up surprising me. 

What excites you about this draft of your novel?

This draft of the novel excites me because it isn't finished yet. I reached the goal of 50, 000 words but the book is yet to be finished. I think that this draft, though, a rough copy, has much room for improvement. I believe that I've learned more about this world and these characters as I wrote it, which helps future me when I get to the revising and rewriting stage.

I think what was most important about NaNoWriMo is that I found out I can do it. I can set word goals and write everyday, even when I'm not feeling particularly inspired. I knew beforehand that I would be able to write 50 000 words in a month if I wanted to, but actually following through with it made it knowing I could very different. It was hard but worth it. The reward and satisfaction afterwards is elation, that feeling of awesome accomplishment really sunk that message in.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Nano Woes

It is November 15 today, November 15. 


Let that sink in. It is November 15 and Nano is currently kicking *pardon the language* my ass.

Yesterday I maybe wrote 150 words. No joke. That's it. And now today, is almost over and I've only written about 400. This is a problem. A big problem.

I think the majority of my problem with writing today and yesterday is because family stuff has occurred. And that is very distracting, if you have me on Tumblr, you would know more about that situation.

The story is stalling. It was at this great point; Tay was out but life was overwhelming her, now I need introduce her to Rose--this underground organization of sorts, the ones that helped break her out. But I need more information about them, what they do, there day to day life, and not to mention I need more information on Victorian era fashion. And those that know me, know that when it comes to fashion I am not the brightest.

Oh well, in order to inspire some creativity and motivation to just write--no matter how awful the first draft will be, here are some quotes and images via Pinterest.


To Prompt You Into Writing

"Just like our eyes, our hearts have a way of adjusting to the dark" -Adam Stanley
"Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open." —Natalie Goldberg

Writing is just as great a way to explore the world as reading is.Neil Gaiman on the simple rule of writing.  (24 Quotes That Will Inspire You To Write More)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Spotlight On Television: The 100

The 100 is currently on season two. It is a post-apocalyptic drama that started back in 2013 on the CW. It is based on the book of the same name, by Kass Morgan. 

Personally, I started watching The 100 this year on Netflix after surgery. And let me tell you, it is a pretty incredible show. I agree with what most of the critics say, this show has its fair share of stereotypes, but honestly, they make it work. Each character is relateable in some way and this show has a similar feeling and is reminiscent of Lost and Terra Nova.

I love the way they tell the stories in this show. As the seasons progress you get to learn more about each character`s personal story and you get to see what made them the way they are. What drives them and what scares them. We are introduced to Clarke and we watch her story unfold and understand why she is the way she is. But the story becomes even more complicated when we learn about Bellamy and Octavia, and learn more about the Ark and what it was like living in it.

The premise is extraordinary: this story begins 97 years after a nuclear war wipes out nearly all life on earth. The only known survivors are the people of the Ark. The Ark was created by the 12 space stations that came together after the war. Life on the Ark is hard. Any and all crimes are punishable by 'floating' unless you are under eighteen. 'Floating' is the horrifying practice of throwing any rule breakers out of an air lock.

Yes, even after a nuclear war us humans are still executing one another.
Unfortunately, under the circumstances, it is actually understandable why all crimes are dealt with so ruthlessly and punished so severely.

About 2, 400 people live on the Ark, they are ruled by the Chancellor and the Council. When the life support system on the Ark begins to fail--100 "expendable" juvenile delinquents are sent from the Ark down to Earth. The teens are aware that it's a test to see if the earth is habitable yet. They find out that for the most part, the earth is habitable.

The teens and kids land on Earth and begin to form a sort of community. Earth, a place they had only ever dreamed about and seen from space, becomes their home. Problems arise when two conflicting ideals emerge in the form of the leadership. Clarke and Bellamy are at odds over how they want this new world to work. Bellamy wants to be free of the Ark while Clarke who represents moral leadership wants to save them.

The teens become divided when half of them don't want the Ark to know that the earth is habitable and they begin to take off there sensor bracelets. The kids and teens soon discover that the dangers they will face are more than just that of their peers, in fact, the earth may be beautiful but it is not without its own dangers. And though they thought they were the only survivors they're not.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Blog Update

I have a tendency to change my blog around quite a bit because I get bored of a current running theme I have had for a while and I like the look of changing a fresh blog with different colors and fresh images. My current blog theme is moving into its winter phase I believe.

Redoing my blog could be compared to cleaning up my room. Except I am cleaning up my blog and changing colors, not picking up stray clothes and books.

I have been looking into how to design my own graphics but let me tell you something: it is complicated. Trying to figure out all that stuff. So for now I am stuck using images and themes from Blogger. But that is okay because, although I would rather have my own, the ones from Blogger are very nice.

I have also been working on *attempting* to figure out how to work this whole adsense thing. Since I stopped blogging for quite some time it has gotten more complicated. Let's just say I have a lot of catching up to do on reading.

First Time Out After Surgery

I was asked to babysit. 
I needed Christmas money, and frankly, I’m bored of being at home, so I said yes. 
I had nothing better to do, anyways I’ve always gotten along with kids but still I was extremely nervous.  

It was so much more nerve racking than it should have been but that does actually make sense all things considered. It’s the first time I’ve been responsible for another child-human being since way before my surgery. 

I was sore. But I went.

Don’t get me wrong, it was hard. But holy TARDISMOTHER I survived! It was also fun and rewarding. It was hilarious at some points. We ended up in a giant fantasy battle, fighting against Milo the cat. Oh my god the imagination of a 9 year old boy. 

The only sucky part was, beside hurting a lot afterwards, was this following sentence. 

"…Well she’s younger than you, I guess *laughs* anyways, she’s off to university so that’s why we need a new babysitter." 

Sigh. I should be off at university not doing this…again….

I know…I know…when a human is given a list of five great things about themselves and one negative thing, they will focus on the negative. I know this. I`m purposely not thinking about it for that reason. But still it sucked. But that’s okay. I think I’ve come a long way in accepting myself as is. Sure, I could be like other people my age, but who wants to fit into the norm anyways. 

Still…those thoughts sneak up on you sometimes…

'If I was just a little different…if my wrists were just normal, if I could have finished high school when I was supposed to…if I was not disabled…if my dad had not done what he had done…ect…' Those thoughts are gone though. 

I’ve banished them and am left with this glow—it’s a sort of emotion similar to happiness actually. 

First big time out after a surgery and nothing horrible happened. 

I’m doing my mental happy dance right now. 

Which looks a lot like this 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

NaNoWriMo Week One

I've had a couple rough starts this past week in regards to NaNoWriMo but the last three days of week one actually turned out to be --really-- surprisingly amazing. Though life is really rough lately, my writing, has been better than it has in a long time.

My novel is really moving well, which is a nice surprise considering pacing and plotting have never been my strong suit.

I've reached this point where when I sit down to write I'm desperate to. I'm excited to start and it doesn't take me that long to really get going. My writing has reached a nice synchronicity and I've achieved a perfect flow. The story is working. The characters are working. And I'm learning more about this world and these characters the deeper I get. There is honestly nothing like that feeling you get when your story is coming together *nearly* seamlessly. The only strange thing is that this story is turning out to be something I didn't plan it to's better than I expected.

And I'll be honest, I'm pretty damn proud of the fact that I've not only reached my words/per day goal but that I've actually surpassed it. So hells yeah. I rock.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

NaNoWriMo: I already need a break

NaNoWriMo was off to a great-ish start. 
On November 1st at 12:01am I started writing The Complex--stayed up and wrote until I was too tired to go on. 

As you know, I'm writing a novel called The Complex, about a tough girl who has grown up in a prison/mental institution it is going to be a dystopian novel. 
This story is one I've had floating around my head for awhile now so it had been great starting it and fleshing this world out. 

November 1st was great--everything was flowing and moving and everything seemed to turn out just the way I wanted it to...flash forward to now. Everything is a big horrible disaster. 
I'm being over dramatic, sure; it isn't that bad, fine. 
But the story isn't turning out the way I want it to. It isn't flowing smoothly and that bugs me-a lot.

I'm on par with the suggested word count so everything is okay with that--I'm not behind yet, but it took a lot to force myself to write because so far my writing feels stiff and uneven. This world is a complicated one. 

But there will be days like that I'm afraid. 
It's inevitable. 

I already want a break. 
And another coffee. 

For now, I'll settle for going over to a family friend's house for a 'beading' party and a glass of wine.  

So how about you? How is your novel going?? 
Last but not least I bring to you some pictures and quotes from all over the internet to help you stay inspired. 

NaNoWriMo: The Complex

In the spirit of November I have decided to share the story I will be working on for National Novel Writing Month. 

The Complex



Tay has been stuck in The Complex her entire life. She was born there. And at eighteen, unless she escapes, she will be stuck there--mindless, her entire life as a nursemaid--lobotomized, taking care of other people deemed unfit for society. 
Help comes in an unexpected place when she begins receiving notes on how and when she needs to escape, there is a group outside the armored walls of the complex that want her. 
She has no idea why, she doesn't actually care--she'll accept there help until she's out--and then she'll ditch them, and run. 
Things don't go as planned when she realizes that ditching them is impossible--they'll let her go, sure. But she'll be found within three seconds. Somehow this strange group of rag-tag comrades have the ability and desire to keep her from being locked up back in the Complex. 
She learns the truth about the city, the people, and the government that controls all as she is exposed to the darkest depths of the city. 
Yet, even as she realizes the darkness and despair of the city, she soon realizes that not all is as it seems. And the people she is forced to trust, turn their back on her, smiling. 
Genre; Dystopian with scifi themes

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Celebrations

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is probably one of the most fascinating holidays in my opinion (as well as one of the best); it's known by many different names, some are All Hallows Eve, All Saints Eve, and/or Samhain.

Beliefs regarding this day range in diversity and have changed drastically over the years. But all traditions carry the basic theme that during this night the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead are thin, which with some beliefs, enables those that have passed on to the world of the dead, to come back on this night--usually for about three days, the day before Halloween, Halloween, and the day after.

Some countries light candles and place them on a window sill to guide spirits of loved ones home, others leave food on the porch for any hungry spirits, and one story I've heard stated that towns, people will gather with torches (the light attracts the spirits) and they will march with the spirits out of town. The draw back 'the veil thinning' is that evil spirits can cross into our world too. And that is where the carving of pumpkins and turnips, and dressing up comes into play. It is believed that dressing up as something 'supernatural' can hide you from evil spirits or that dressing up or --'gusiing' as it was once called-- scares them away. As said, the beliefs on this differ widely, and some of the more fascinating stories come from older traditions. The most common thing to do is crave!! Whether it is apples (to tell your future), or pumpkins and/or turnips (to scare away evil spirits), carving is one thing that all celebrations tend to include. Including our modern traditions. Even though our modern traditions have changed over time.

Anyways, whatever your traditions and/or religious beliefs, and whether or not you buy into any of these out-there beliefs and traditions I hope you have an awesome, safe Halloween night, eating candy, trick-or-treating, and "using humor and ridicule to confront the power of death."

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Goodreads and NaNoWriMo

Today this post comes to you in two parts 

Part One: The Goodreads Reading Challenge 

If you do not know what the Goodreads Book Challenge is here is the basic run-down. It is a challenge/goal that you set for yourself regarding how many book you are going to read in the following year. When you join Goodreads you have the option of setting your a goal as to how many books/novels you are going to read in the coming year. If you are an avid reader and active Goodreads user or a giant dork like me, you will know that this challenge/goal can be both very fun but very stressful. As, I do not like not-meeting my goals.

For the past two years I have become an active user and for the two years I have set a seemingly attainable goal of 101 books. Yet, last year when trying read about 107 books I fell short and failed to reach my goal.
It was very sad. 
I, apparently, way over estimated the amount I read. Also, did not think to include textbooks in my profile. 
And this year, according to stupid goodreads, grrr, I am 45 books behind my goal. 
That, you see, is very frustrating for me. As stated, I do not like not reaching my goals. 

Failure seems to be mounting every day. Why is that? I love reading, I adore it. 
Here are my excuses. 
-I had surgery on my wrist--this excuse is valid in my opinion, I fell behind in reading because I could not exactly pick up a book without some difficulty--so fine, I give myself a 'pass' for that one
-Personal problems are vast and are yet unresolved--life my friends is complicated 
-I've changed what I read--I've been reading more classics and books that are more complicated-- some involve doing work
-Some books, specifically Self Improvement books, I don't add to my Goodreads profile  
-By putting so much emphasis on reaching that goal I often stress about it
-And, admittedly, I probably watch too much TV 

The thing is for awhile there I kind of forgot that really it should only be about the quality of what I read rather than putting so much emphasis on the quantity of novels I read...

Of course, I am still somewhat determined to reach that goal. But I am thinking that next year I will rethink adding a number to the Goodreads challenge. It is kind of stressful, logging on to see those big old reminders that 'I AM 45 BOOKS BEHIND' 

So what is there to do? Reading marathon or actually step outside of my house...?

Part Two

NaNoWriMo: To write or not to write

If you knew me you would know that really the only thing in life I want to do is write stories that touch and inspire and help people. So Nanowrimo is always a great opportunity for us lovers of words to sit down and write a novel. I have participated in it three times--won twice, lost once. Two years ago for example I met my goal of writing a 50, 000 word contemporary story. This year for some reason, now that I have time to participate, I suddenly felt wary and anxious of doing so. But mainly because this idea that has been floating around in my head is kind of a big one. One I think could actually be pretty great.    

I have been wrestling with making a decision about participating in NaNoWriMo for the past three weeks. Should I do it, should I not. Of course a myriad of excuses had come to my mind as to why I should not do it. I would not be able to keep up--I would end up falling behind in the work I have to do, ect, ect. But I managed to banish them. They were all pretty lame excuses anyways with a very flimsy foundation to begin with. All that is left now is that desire to write. But as well as that, lingering under the surface, I still feel that apprehension that is sort of like fear.

What if I fail? 

What if I get half way through this story and have no idea what to do next? 

What if it is a total disaster!

All those thoughts I believe are completely normal. But they are all just reasons why I have to do it--who knows, maybe this novel I am going to write will be a total disaster the thing is I will not know until I try! And National Novel Writing Month is the PERFECT opportunity to try my hand at writing a novel. God knows, I have the time. 

For all those with similar feelings, rejoice!
For you are not alone. 

There are things you can do to silence those nagging questions or worries. Creating a basic outline of the story, get to know your characters a little better, highlight key points, important moments, things that have to happen in order for the story to move forward. In other words, PREPARE! 

I believe though, that no matter what stage of your writing career you are at it will always be scary to write or start a new story, because at least in my case, writing is a personal thing. You create worlds out of your head, after all, it doesn't get much more personal than that. You usually have to understand life in order to bring a character to life. You will always have that fear that you will fail or let people down. It is just apart of being human, though.

Something else that can be done and something I do quite often is search for inspiration. Inspiration can come on a walk, in the shower, at night or in reading. Quotes from other writers or painters or musicians are some of the best ways to stay inspired. 

So this NaNoWriMo I am going to be writing a novel called The Complex. I invite you to share your experiences and your stories in the upcoming month, and I encourage you to WRITE WITH ABANDON. WRITE YOUR STORY, DEAR READERS, AND I WILL WRITE MINE. 

I wish you a safe journey into the uncharted territory that is the beginning of a new story.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice 

“I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.”

“The loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable - that one false step involves in her endless ruin - that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful - and that she cannot be too much guarded in her behavior towards the undeserving of the opposite sex.”

Pride and Prejudice

After reading this book there is no doubt in my mind that Jane Austen was a pioneer in her time. Not just in the fact that she, herself lived an inspired life filled with her fair share of adversity but her books have been known to contain atypical, strong, and lovable characters.
Pride and Prejudice was an incredible novel--this story is a heartwarming story filled with the complexity of relationships in a Victorian era setting. This is more than just a typical love story, where boy meets girl, and girl falls in love. It is also a story about the love of sisters, fathers, daughters, and mothers. And that is what makes it a truly beautiful novel.

This is the first Austen book I have fully read. My decision came out of a desire to read more classics. Honestly, I adored this book.

Throughout Pride and Prejudice I laughed quite a bit, Elizabeth, I believe will forever be one of my favorite protagonists. She's witty, honest, intelligent, and very atypical. She's a strong woman in an era where it was not socially acceptable to be so. It was better to be docile, submissive, and lady-like. It was more important to follow the complicated social protocol and Victorian Morality.

Mr. Collins is the perfect example of Victorian Morality. When Lydia runs off with Wickham he states in a letter to Mr. Bennet that it would be better to see Lydia dead than unmarried and running around with Wickham. There is a perfect example of Victorian Morality.

Pride and Prejudice revolves around the two elder sister's Elizabeth and Jane Bennet. Elizabeth is witty, charismatic, intelligent, and the favorite of her father. Jane, would be the second favorite of her father; she is kind, beautiful, forgiving, and the favorite of her mother.

To thoroughly enjoy and appreciate this novel I suggest that you read about the Victorian and Regency eras. Because once you do, you will be able to comprehend just how incredible this novel is.
If you do not understand much about the Victorian and Regency eras you will have a difficult time picking up on Elizabeth's subtle acts of rebellion as it is woven throughout the novel subtly, which causes many people to miss it.

For me, after finishing this novel, it is easy to see how Elizabeth is one of the most beloved of all Austen's characters. Elizabeth, is a strong headed, atypical character, and she goes against the social mores of her time in many ways. From speaking her mind at a dinner with Lady Catherine, to refusing not only one but two offers of marriage. She does not settle. And she keeps to her values, no matter what. She does not blindly throw away what she deems to be important at the first offer of marriage, when many women in her time, would. And that is what is so incredible about her. She refuses to become engaged to Mr. Collins first, knowing she would not be able to stand him, and his quiet insulting ways. And then she refuses to marry Mr. Darcy, because it would contradict her beliefs and values. The fact that she refuses him is huge. He's wealthy and has status, all the things that women in her time are bred to love, adore and strive for. But, she refuses him.
I hope that future readers of this book can contextually grasp the hugeness of that.

I loved this book, for the story but also for the strength of Austen's characters, and the 'human-ness' of them. All their failings, strengths, prejudices, beliefs, all makes them incredibly human, and incredibly real.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Gospel of Winter, Brendan Kiely

A fearless debut novel about the restorative power of truth and love after the trauma of abuse.

As sixteen-year-old Aidan Donovan’s fractured family disintegrates around him, he searches for solace in a few bumps of Adderall, his father’s wet bar, and the attentions of his local priest, Father Greg—the only adult who actually listens to him.

When Christmas hits, Aidan’s world collapses in a crisis of trust when he recognizes the darkness of Father Greg’s affections. He turns to a crew of new friends to help make sense of his life: Josie, the girl he just might love; Sophie, who’s a little wild; and Mark, the charismatic swim team captain whose own secret agonies converge with Aidan’s.

The Gospel of Winter maps the ways love can be used as a weapon against the innocent—but can also, in the right hands, restore hope and even faith. Brendan Kiely’s unflinching and courageous debut novel exposes the damage from the secrets we keep and proves that in truth, there is power. And real love.

The Gospel of Winter is an incredible novel by debut author Brendan Kiely. The Gospel Of Winter is a book that shows you the destruction of family and perverse way that religion can be used against innocent children. This novel touches on a lot of troubling issues, for a lot of people this book will ring too close to home, but despite all that, it is one I'm glad I read.

This was a very difficult book to read because of the subject matter but one you should read if you want to better understand the mind of someone who has been severely abused. The first thing you need to know about this story is that it deals with some heavy issues. The clerical abuse scandals that shook the world have not been forgotten, and likely never will be. And this story masterfully manages to deal with the issue of power and trauma and sexual abuse but these themes do overpower the story at times. Which is why anyone who is going through the difficult healing process should probably stay away from this book until they feel comfortable enough to deal with a lot of triggers.

This book deals illustrates how a priest has power over people and how young children can be victimized by someone like this. This book also shows how an entire community can be completely blinded to the abuse that goes on under the guise of power and goodness. This novel showed how the mind can repress memories. But what is most important, is that this novel shows the toll that this form of abuse can take on someone. It shows the ramifications, it shows the emotional and physical toll it takes on the body and soul. And for that I say well done. This book is definitely worth reading. But as I said before, if you have any prior experience with traumatic abuse I would suggest thinking long and hard about whether or not you can handle this read.

This book makes you feel.
Though out this novel we are privileged with watching Adian change and grow. We watch how he deals with the trauma, how he represses it, and denies it, and attempts to ignore it. He goes through everyday motions, and he pretends to be okay--to be normal. But then, slowly, we watch how it changes him, and eventually we watch him accept it. Adian goes through exponential growth throughout this novel, as does his mother, while some characters end up falling, they rise. From surprises and the shocks, to the sad realizations that come with father Greg and James and Elena, this book will take you on highs and lows, at a rapid fire pace.

I was lucky enough to get a copy of this novel from the "Goodreads: First Reads" challenge, and though I love this novel, if I'm being honest, I also hated it. It is an emotionally driven novel dealing with a seriously heavy subject, one that hits very close to home.

This is the story of Aidan, a pill-popping, high schooler trying to cope with the dissolution of his an already flawed family. But there's something he's forgetting; something that lies underneath the surface of his mind. Something he's not saying. Something he can't say.
He's a mess.
And we watch him as he follows this self-destructive path and watch him as he attempts to deal with stuff way beyond the level that any human being, never mind a kid, should ever have to deal with.

There are really only two people in the world who he believes and trusts to understand him: Father Greg and Elena. But throughout the book these two people Adian trusted the most, fall in almost every way imaginable. I can't say that Father Greg and Father Dooley's betrayal surprised me at all, but Elena's did. By the end of the book we get some resolutions in regards to a few of the problems but a lot is left undone. All that we can hope is that per his last intentions, Adian does speak up and get help. I hope that the author will be writing a sequel to this book, it is something I'll be looking into. I would love for Adian's story to continue.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Television Spotlight: Castle


    Mystery writer, turned sorta-cop-detective hunts down killers with the NYPD's, Detective Beckett, in order to find inspiration for his next book.

    Highlights in this series

  • Firefly references 
  • His love of ice cream 
  • Laser tag 
  • The espresso machine

Nathan Fillion, as Richard (Rick) Castle 

Stana Katic as NYPD Detective Kate Beckett 
Tamala Jones as Lanie Parish 

Jon Huertas as NYPD Detective Javier Esposito

Seamus Dever as Detective Kevin Ryan

Molly Quinn as Alexis Castle 

Castle is an American crime drama television series; following the lives Richard Castle and Kate Beckett. Castle, a wealthy best-selling mystery author played by Nathon Fillion, is called into the NYPD to consult on a case when he decides that Detective Kate Beckett, played by Stana Katnic, is his muse.

I have to say it is an awesome show. You ever hear of binge-watching TV? 
Well, that is what I've done with this series and what you will probably do. It has become my favorite because honestly, Castle, is just so awesome. Not only is it entertaining but it is actually very engaging, you really end up loving the characters.

Honestly, Rick Castle is just hilarious.
He's a complete dork. Like so many awesome people, he comes up with wild theories, believes in ghosts, is a best-selling author, plays poker with James Patterson, and by god, he name-drops like any proper nerd.

Honestly, I`m not that into cop shows, I mean I've watched Criminal Minds on and off (because, well psychology is fascinating) but because Nathan Fillion is in it, I decided to give it a try. He is always awesome--I'm a huge fan of him and his work. The cast is fantastic, they bring the character's to life--and I believe you'll enjoying watching how they grow and evolve over the seasons. 

The series is on season six right now, he's still working with Beckett, writing, and procrastinating.
This series focuses mainly on the relationship between the Castle and Beckett. But it also focuses on the lives of the other characters, it also focuses on the murder of Beckett's mother and how Beckett has learned to cope with it.

This show is a must watch.
It is hilarious.
It is engaging and it is fantastic.

Destiny's Blood, Marie Bilodeau

Destiny's Blood

Destiny's Blood
By: Marie Bilodeau 

Layela Delamores wants nothing more than to settle into a quiet, peaceful life, running a small flower shop with her twin sister, Yoma. But Layela is tormented each night by terrifying visions that she cannot remember when she wakes. When Yoma vanishes, Layela is certain that her nightly visions hold the key - but only her sister's thieving friend, one of the last survivors of the ether races, can unlock them. Layela suspects that her friend isn't telling her the whole truth, instead sheltering her from her own visions. 

Ripped from the safety of her flower shop into a universe of smugglers and assassins, Layela must pursue her sister across space in a desperate bid to overcome the destiny of destruction foretold in her dreams. But without full knowledge of her visions, Layela has no way to prevent them from coming to pass. And the fate of a whole world is on the line: the mythical First Star is on a path to self-destruction and the annihilation of all life. 

Unless Layela finds a way to stop it. But to stop it would mean sacrificing her sister. 

Or herself.

Destiny's Blood

I think in some way we can all relate to Layela's desire to lead a normal, peaceful, and/or fulfilling life doing what something we truly love. Buying and opening her own flower shop is a dream come true, it's something her and her sister worked for and something that Layela believed they both wanted. But as Layela finds out, her twin sister has other plans. 

When Yoma goes missing, Layela finds her life in upheaval; her plans are altered and her life is changed. Yoma and Layela are joined on their journeys by their Breganda friend, Joshomere. As orphaned children they lived on the streets together, took care of each other, and fought to survive. 

Marie Bilodeau's rhythmic narrative is what drives this story. Her strong, inventive narrative pulls you in, and creates an engaging story.
She has a way of telling us stories that enables us see how and why each character behaves the way they do. She gives us the full scope of each character which is something I enjoy about this book. 

Each character is very human in the way they make decisions and react to what comes their way. But at the same time, in many cases her characters are stubborn and tend to stick to tradition. Even when they maybe shouldn't. 

This book was good; it was exciting, and Marie's descriptions of her worlds were clear and vivid. The details and imagery that Marie uses is my favorite part of this book. She manages to craft amazing landscapes and describe vivid war scenes. 

I think this was a character driven story in some ways--though I wasn't always fond of some characters, you ended up caring what happens to them. With a lot of changes in the point of view in which this story was told, it was kept interesting, though at times I found it distracting.  The setting, story, plot, and pace were so well done, again. Like, Marie's other books the story is always moving. I've learned to admire that about Marie's writing; her stories are very plot driven, they are fast paced, and are always filled with very distinct characters. 

So, these characters were awesome--at times, frustrating, considering the fact I didn't agree with them all the time, they're stubborn. As well, sometimes they felt somewhat flat, they didn't change or adapt much, instead stuck with some stereotypes--such as the captain goes down with the ship. Of course, eventually, you actually learn to like the fact that the characters do stick to tradition. Overall, I loved the characters, they were hilarious. And quite often, out of this world. 

The Breganda race was probably the most inventive and amazing race within this book. I absolutely loved their culture and beauty. I hope that in the next book we'll be able to explore and discover more of it. The Kilta were interesting, terrifying though. 

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the detail, the setting, the characters, and especially, the worlds that Marie created. This book was an adventure--exciting and, at times, heartbreaking. This book reads like a movie. Which, is a good thing. If you enjoy reading science-fiction or adventure you should pick up this book. It is a great summer read to be honest. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Eve, Anna Carey

The cover is what drew to the book in the first place, I first found out about it on Inkpop, a old site Harper Collins used to own--a site I will never not miss. 

So this is book is going to be another in the Book Cross Over I'm doing with J.N. Cahil over on her blog.  
This is the same Book Cross Over we started back in 2013--hence the logo.

Eve (Eve, #1)

    The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus and the vaccine intended to protect against it wiped out most of the earth’s population. Little more then two percent of population remains. And, the virus killed more males then females; the males that are left, are vicious only wanting to use and abuse the young, impressionable girls. 

Eve owes everything to the King, for he is the one who, after the world fell, put it back together and established the wonderful School that protects Eve and her classmates. 

So the book starts the night before Eve, and her classmates graduation. Eighteen-year-old Eve is perfect, seriously, she is the golden girl. But, the night before graduation after witnessing one of her classmates desperate and successful escape, Eve finds out the truly horrifying truth about her intended future. 

With the help of one kind, yet sad teacher, Eve runs from the twisted safety and security, of the only home she’s ever known, leaving behind everything. 

And so, Eve begins her journey. 

Eve; she is the perfect student, the perfect friend, the golden girl. But this perfect girl has her sheltered world rocked when she finds out what happens behind the closed doors of her precious School. Women are bred to breed. And that is where this book starts. 

Eve finds out what really happens to the girls who graduate her school and after seeing the horror and corruption, she runs.  

The thing is, the odds against Eve surviving are slim. She's thrust into this wild, unpredictable world that she is not accustomed to. Think, Wall Street Girl thrust into the middle earth--that Eve.  

Cue, Caleb. 
Caleb is rough and he's strong, literate *surprisingly* and the most horrifying fact of all, he is a he. He, is a man. Men, the thing which Eve fears most thanks to some psychological brainwashing via. School.

Caleb lives in the wild with a small group of people and after saving Eve from her sad attempt at making a pet, they end up sticking together. Along with Arden, x school rival, Eve and Caleb attempt to make it through the wilderness.  

My Thoughts 

Eve, oh my, she is a difficult character to like in the beginning. She's pompous and rigid with the rules, she's judgmental. But at the same time it is hard to dislike her because she tries to do what is right and most times she doesn't know any better--this fact alone makes her a very relateable character. 

Eve is a very imperfect hero that so far does fall into the 'damsel in distress' category but you have to hand it to her, she does show impressive strength as well. She's been separated from everything her entire life, and she finds out that everything she has learned for the past eighteen years was all a lie. Her beliefs regarding men make being saved by Caleb more traumatic then almost being eaten by her 'pet'. 

Caleb is the opposite of Eve in every way imaginable and he is the one who is constantly challenging her past knowledge and bias. Eve rises to the occasion at times and falters to it many times. 

This book was hilarious, at times, thoroughly enjoyable. 

The book could be slow but it was such a vastly different book from other YA Dystopian-fiction books, I've read. Which is why I really did love this book. 

The problem is this one thing happens and Eve completely, utterly let me down. 
I am torn between wanting to read the next book and wanting to boycott Eve's decision by not buying this book. And yes, I realize how little sense that makes. 

I really liked this book, bordering on 'love' and I'll probably be picking up the next book in the series. 

I recommend you read this book if you are look for some light Dystopian, adventure, romance reading. 

Now to check out J.N. Cahill's review on this book follow the link below: 

J.N. Cahill's review of Eve