Saturday, 29 November 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014 update

Apologies for being MIA but I have been so busy participating in NaNoWriMo and guess what, it's all done! I wrote 50,567 words in 29 days and although my story was rather rubbish; accomplishing my goal of writing a 50k novel in November feels great. 

NaNoWriMo is short for 'National November Writing Month'. It's been my second year taking part and I love it. Thousands of people all over the world participate and I love the atmosphere and craziness that comes along with it. Writing 50,000 words in 30 days is a challenge. We all have work, studies or family commitments but the biggest challenge is having a story in mind. The point is to write your 50k in November, spill the story and not to edit until after you've completed the 50,000 words. After November, you can go back to edit and revise it but during the month you lock your inner editor and throw away the key.

Whilst I was writing this time round I realised that I have so many bad writing habits! My main weakness is lack of research and character sketches. I ended up mixing personality traits of one character in another, and it all got rather muddled up. I won't be revisiting this story to clean it up because there were way too many holes, but at least now I know that going forwards I must have a proper plan. 

I love writing but there's always a fear of putting words to paper because what if my stories are garbage? NaNoWriMo has taught me to be less afraid and just give it a try. If you mess up and write a crappy story, oh well, write another one and keep writing until one day you write one that's worth reading. 

Zed (:

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Review of House of Korba

House of Korba 
(The Ghost Bird #7)

By C.L. Stone


It's homecoming week at Ashley Waters, but Sang Sorenson has a lot more on her mind than dresses and crowns. Silas's troubled past—full of secrets he and his team thought they'd buried—comes back to haunt him, threatening to ruin everything.

Silas tries to deal, but guilt weighs heavily on him and Sang realizes she might be the only one who can help him keep it together.

Bomb threats have increased. They are followed at every turn. The principal is resorting to drastic measures to make sure they're all going to be kicked out. Pushed to their limits, Kota, Victor, Silas, Nathan, Gabriel, Luke and North, along with other members of the Academy, have finally had enough. This time, more Academy members are brought in to help hunt down the culprit, and keep everyone safe. It'll cost the boys, but in the end, even a bittersweet victory is better than disaster.

This time, they're getting what they need. All it takes is learning the line of when to let go, and when to never give up

The Academy, Together

Source: Goodreads

My Rating: 4.5 / 5

My Thoughts:

Every single time I read an Academy book by C.L. Stone I fall in love with the characters all over again. I love the concept of this girl that knows little to nothing about being normal because of her twisted mother who has always told her to never interact with strangers, especially boys, because they will hurt her. Sang's mother has scarred her, emotionally and physically, such that she believes it; until she meets the Academy boys. The boys change her beliefs and slowly she comes out of her shell. The only problem is that she's beginning to fall in love, with all nine of the boys in the academy 'family.' Sang knows this isn't 'normal' but she's never been like other girls and has no clue what normal is. The boys are falling in love with her too but they're conflicted because they're afraid of losing her and their academy family. Can they expect her to love them all?

House of Korba is Silas' story. We learn more about his blood family, and the secrets of his past. Dr Green mentioned in a previous book that they all came from broken families but it's still sad to learn about it.

Volto is back and he ends up helping sang. I'm trying to figure out who Volto is and as ive just finished reading 'liar' in the scarab beetle series, I suspect it might be Will?

One thing I missed in this book was reading about their general time in school. Due to the bomb threats, school was severely disrupted and although there were scenes related to school, such as football games and homecoming, the normality of classes was amiss. I also missed Sangs interaction with Karen and Rocky, they shared some amusing scenes in the last book.

In fact, I can't remember reading a scene with Marie, Sang's sister, present in the entire book. That was rather weird considering she's the only 'actual' family sang is in contact with, so you'd think she'd pop up somewhere, or that sang would think about her at some point, but no... That was probably my only real (but very minor) issue with this book. Given the family problems sang faced in the previous books, I found it odd and a little unrealistic that she had so little contact with any member from her actual family. I expected to hear from her father, stepmother or at least her sister in some way.

The only academy boy that irritated me was North. He's supposedly this big scary guy who is a softy at heart, but he comes across more creepy than sweet to me. The heart tattoo and the creepy stalker like watching was weird. I'm afraid he's beginning to bug me, but aside from that, loved this book as usual and I'm looking forward to the next book in April!

Zed (:

Favourite Quotes:

“Sang,” he bellowed into the phone. “I will shock who I want if I think they need it. Don’t let Silas intimidate you. Tell him to back off if you’re uncomfortable.”
“I’m uncomfortable with someone watching us without saying they’re going to do it and trying to shock other people, North.”

“Come on, Trouble. Let’s go before you start farting bunnies and rainbows or some shit.”

“When is it enough?” he asked. “We’re told to let go of the ones that don’t want help. How long do we try before we step back and let them do what they want? Before its hurting everyone else around you to keep that person around?”

He knew he had to work on that. Guilt was heavy to carry. Sometimes, you did have to let go.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Review of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Between #1)
By April Genevieve Tucholke


You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town… until River West comes along. River rents the guest house behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard.

Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more?

Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery... who makes you want to kiss back.

Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 4.9/5

My Thoughts:

I wrote and published this review agesss back, but for some reason it had reverted to a draft :S Weird...anyway, if you haven't read this already, here goes!

Seriously creepy; the perfect read on a cold, dark night. Normally I stay away from horror stories as such, and I prefer paranormal romances and although I wouldn’t classify this book as horror, it was definitely scary and gave me the chills. This story is full of mysteries, disappearances and secrets that I couldn’t help but tremble as I turned the pages.

The story is about two twins, who live in a run-down mansion. Violet and Luke's family used to be rich, but their parents have spent most of the inheritance on their travels and artistic temperaments. Although their parents are never around, Violet truly felt loss of a family member when her grandmother passed away not long ago, and it's only Freddie she actually misses because Freddie was more of a parent than anyone else. Violet is rather odd in that she wears her dead grandmother's clothes, but her oddness was rather enduring.

The twins have a love-hate relationship, mostly dislike, and are forced by circumstance to take care of each other. Luke finds his sister weird, especially her tendency to wear their dead grandmother's clothes, and Violet finds Luke's rude, sexist nature demeaning.

Money is running low, and there's no sign of their parents so she decides to rent out the guest house. And along comes River West. He appears to be the typical mysterious bad boy but strange things happen when River comes to town, and there's more 'bad' to him than first meets the eye.

The characters were very realistic, I loved and hated River at the same time, and felt sorry for him, especially at the end when the truth comes out. River's logic of justice and wanting to use his gift to punish those that deserve it, makes sense in a weird way. Yes, he's not going about it in the right way but it was more real this way. Heroes are so overrated anyway. Plus, the origami money animals that he gifted to Violet when he knew she needed money were a cute touch!

The creepiest parts are at the end and there were chapters when I was on edge, not entirely sure who would live and who would die, but you will need to read the book to find out more!

Zed (:

Favourite Quotes:

And what she found was God. God, and the Devil. Because one didn't exist without the other.

And I prayed to Freddie about the Devil. I asked her to keep my hand out of his. I asked her to keep me safe from evil. But, for all my praying, the Devil still found me.

'Violet, Violet. You curl up next to me, nap and leave. What is this, some sort of one-nap stand?' He smiled. 'Screw the movie. Get back over here.'
I laughed. 'You said you wanted to go. You said Casablanca was one of your favourite films.'
'I was sleeptalking when I said that. It's like sleepwalking, except you do it with your mouth.'

Then Luke stretched out his leg and kicked me in the shin. 'God. Please tell me you don't go around saying crap like that to everyone. No wonder no one in town ever talks to us. Wealthy families always have a crazy person or two. Is that really the role you want to play, Vi?'

'...It's easier to forgive someone for scaring you than for making you cry.'

'Yeah. I know, River. But at some point you're going to have to learn how to deal with injustice, like the rest of us non-glowers. It's part of life. You can't punish everyone.'
'I can try.'

Freddie often told me that you've got to be happy when you can, because life won't wait for you to take the time.

What I felt, though, deep, deep down in the darkest dark of my heart, was that I didn't give a damn if River was evil. I still liked him.
Maybe I even kind of loved him.
And maybe that made me wicked too.

Review of Far Far Away

Far Far Away
By Tom McNeil

It says quite a lot about Jeremy Johnson Johnson that the strangest thing about him isn't even the fact his mother and father both had the same last name. Jeremy once admitted he's able to hear voices, and the townspeople of Never Better have treated him like an outsider since. After his mother left, his father became a recluse, and it's been up to Jeremy to support the family. But it hasn't been up to Jeremy alone. The truth is, Jeremy can hear voices. Or, specifically, one voice: the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of the infamous writing duo, The Brothers Grimm.

Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next. But when the provocative local girl Ginger Boultinghouse takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a grim chain of events is put into motion. And as anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings...

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 4.7/5

My Thoughts:

*I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley*
‎A little boy called Jeremy who lives with his father, and can hear the ghost of Jacob Grimm. The town folk think Jeremy is strange, which I guess he kind of is, but he finds a friend in Ginger, another poor child who loves adventure and mischief, but has a very kind heart.

Jacob, the ghost, cannot pass on until he has fulfilled his unknown mission, and protected Jeremy from the finder of occasions. Very few people can hear the ghost, but none as clearly as Jeremy. And Jacob helps Jeremy in many occasions, mostly giving him comfort and telling him stories when things look bad.. and likewise, Jeremy is the only companion Jacob has.

This book showed me that appearances can be deceiving. Who would have thought that the fat, jolly baker has evil intentions and kidnaps, starves and kills children? 

I really enjoyed this book, the characters felt very real, and the story was very well written. A highly recommended read.
Zed (:
Favourite Quotes:
So why not mercy and justice to a sweet youth from an omnipotent and benevolent Creator? There are only three answers. He is not omnipotent, or he is not benevolent, or-the dreariest possibility of all-he is inattentive. What if that was what happened to my nephew? That God's gaze had merely strayed elsewhere?

Ginger said, "My grandfather says there's no point in travelling. He says all that happens when you go far, far away is that you discover you've brought yourself along."

Some in the town believed there was something askew in Jeremy's mind, some believed he was suggestible, and some believed his silver tooth fillings received transmissions from distant radio stations.

"Zounds," Ginger said. "They're almost too beautiful to eat." Then, smiling at the baker, she added, "Notice I said almost."
Marjory said, "I noticed you said Zounds, which I hope to God you will never say again."
Ginger regarded her. "How do you feel about Egads?"
Ginger smiled and sprang her little trap: "Then Zounds it is."

"Please don't let Grandpa find out I was gone last night, because I didn't do anything and he will think I did." She was quiet a second or two. "God bless Jeremy," she whispered, "and help me figure out a way to help him. And God bless Grandpa, but please don't put off calling him to you on my account."

Another boom of thunder, sharper, almost crackling.
Ginger looked up at the sky. "Maybe my granddad will get hit by lightening."
"Seems unlikely."
She shrugged and grinned. "A girl can hope."

Finally, I said, Jeremy, what is the matter?
"Everything's the matter!" he blurted. "Every single freaking thing!"
Ah. And may we consider them particularly, one by one?

The baker was nodding now, as if liking the plan more and more, but Mrs Bailey said, "No, no. A good-bye two hours before dawn or two hours after-it's all a good-bye."

After a long silence, Jeremy said in a quiet voice, "What did you do when your nephew died?"
I died a kind of death. My heart shrank and blackened and I died. Though I did not quite know it at the time. But of course I could not tell Jeremy this. I went on, I said. My life had changed and I had changed, but I went on.

After a time, Jeremy whispered, "The thing is, in fairy tales, when the heroes are chopped up or eaten by the wolf, they still come back to life at the end and live happily ever after. But this isn't like that. If we die, we stay dead."

Nothing, it seemed, was too cruel to be true.

"I don't know," Jeremy said, as if to Ginger, though I knew he meant it for me, too. "You can try to be different, but in the end we always are who we are."

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Review of Cinder & Ella

Cinder & Ella

By Kelly Oram


It’s been almost a year since eighteen-year-old Ella Rodriguez was in a car accident that left her crippled, scarred, and without a mother. After a very difficult recovery, she’s been uprooted across the country and forced into the custody of a father that abandoned her when she was a young child. If Ella wants to escape her father’s home and her awful new stepfamily, she must convince her doctors that she’s capable, both physically and emotionally, of living on her own. The problem is, she’s not ready yet. The only way she can think of to start healing is by reconnecting with the one person left in the world who’s ever meant anything to her—her anonymous Internet best friend, Cinder. 
Hollywood sensation Brian Oliver has a reputation for being trouble. There’s major buzz around his performance in his upcoming film The Druid Prince, but his management team says he won’t make the transition from teen heartthrob to serious A-list actor unless he can prove he’s left his wild days behind and become a mature adult. In order to douse the flames on Brian’s bad-boy reputation, his management stages a fake engagement for him to his co-star Kaylee. Brian isn’t thrilled with the arrangement—or his fake fiancĂ©e—but decides he’ll suffer through it if it means he’ll get an Oscar nomination. Then a surprise email from an old Internet friend changes everything.

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 4.5/5

My Thoughts:

A total swoon-worthy read. As you can guess from the name, this is a re-telling of Cinderella but with twice as many twists and drama. Ella meets Cinder through her blog and their regular banter on books and movies makes them best friends. Neither knows the other’s real name, so Ella has no idea that Cinder Is in fact heart throb and movie star Brian Oliver. The day Cinder asks for Ella’s address to post her a signed first edition of her favourite book, she’s involved in a car accident that costs her mum’s life and leaves her crippled with permanent scars over her body.

I’m a sucker for love stories and I really shouldn’t have read this during NaNoWriMo because it’s too addictive to put down. I was waiting to find out when Ella would meet Cinder, what would happen, and so on. Of course there’s a happily ever after but Ella goes through so much and her pain was so real. People could be so cruel, and it was horrible to see how much she had to deal with, but I was so happy for her when she finally gets her fairytale ending.

One of the things I really enjoyed was the way the author explained Ella’s flaws. Although she had been through a lot, sometimes she caused the distance and bitterness between herself and others, especially her family. It made the story more realistic to learn that even Ella had a few things to work on.

Cinder (Brian) and Ella argue more than anything and their chemistry shone through the book. I liked the introduction of her friend Vivian’s gay fathers too, it was nice to mix it up. In the original story of Cinderella, Cinder’s animal friends help her dream come true, whereas here it was her step sister and friends. Cinder & Ella was an adorable and contemporary retelling of a much-loved classic.

Zed (:

Favourite Quotes:

“At least the stepwitches aren’t home. Jennifer may be tactless, but at least she tries to be nice. Witch One and Witch Two make the devil sound tame.”

“I can’t help it if all people want to talk about when they interview me is my abs and whether or not I’d consider dating a fan. It’s not my fault that I’m too damn good-looking to be taken seriously.”

EllaTheRealHero: Sure you can, rock star. You wouldn’t know normal if it bit you on your ridiculously good-looking face.
Cinder458: You’ve never seen my face. How do you know it’s good-looking?
EllaTheRealHero: Because no ugly person could have an ego as big as yours.

“There’s no way I’m going anywhere near the upstairs with Ana in the mood she’s in, and I really don’t care about Ella’s love life. Besides, she’s not supposed to be alone, anyway. What if she tries to throw herself off the balcony or something?”
Was there anyone in the world that didn’t feel the need to humiliate me?

“I didn’t realize upping our relationship to phone buddies would come with a boyfriend title. Does that mean I we ever meet in person, we’ll have to get married?”

“I don’t go out there much,” I admitted, laughing. “With my luck, we’d have an earthquake and I’d plummet down the cliff and live through it.”