Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Time is Not Your Friend

Insecure Writer's Support Group is a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh where totally insecure writers can get together and share the things that are making us go argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        I began writing as a hobby in 2010 and I started this blog in 2011. Since then I've written 3 incomplete manuscripts, done 2 NaNoWriMos and watch 3 friends publish their own stories. While I'm ecstatic for these friends, I can't help but feel like time is slipping away from me. It's been almost three years and I'm still no closer to publishing.
       Every time I come across an ebook I think sounds interesting I click on the author link and find that the author has already finished the series and has another series on the way. In fact, more people are self publishing than ever and it's getting harder and harder for indie authors to promote their books. It feels like the longer I wait, whether it be by choice or design, the more difficult my dreams of publishing are going to be.
       Does anyone else ever feel like time is slipping by too quickly?

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Blog Tour - Release Day - If Only We by Jessica Sankiewicz


Hey All,

I am so excited to be participating in the blog tour for the release of If Only We by Jessica Sankiewicz. Jessica is a great writer, awesome blogger and all round lovely lady. What's more, for the duration of the blog tour If Only We is available for 99c! Need more convincing? Just look below:

Synopsis:

They say all it takes is one wrong move and you lose the game. One false step and you’re trapped. One slip-up in your choice of words and you ruin a friendship forever. That is what they say. They say I lost.

I do not believe them.


At the end of the summer after graduation, Adrienne wonders what happened to cause her life to be in ruins. She isn’t getting along with her mom, her stepsister isn’t talking to her, and, to top it off, the boy she’s been in love with doesn’t want anything to do with her. She believes the turning point was a choice she made at graduation. When she wakes up the next day, she has been transported back three months to that moment, the one where everything started to fall apart.

Adrienne realizes she has been given a second chance—and this time she doesn’t want to mess anything up. Reliving the entire summer, though, turns out to be a lot harder than she thought. As the same days and weeks go by, she starts to see how simple decisions can make a huge impact on the world around her. Despite knowing some of what lies ahead, there are some things she didn’t anticipate. She thought she knew what mistake led her to where she ended up the first time. She was wrong.

And by the time summer is over, she discovers what was really at stake.


 Author Bio:

Jessica is the 28 year old author of IF ONLY WE, a YA contemporary coming out in October 2013. You can often find her either reading or marathon watching TV on DVD, her favorites being Castle and Veronica Mars. She frequently mismatches her clothes and giggles uncontrollably. She knows almost every Billy Joel song by heart. She collects books and toys, and she has an intense love of cats and lemurs. Currently in the midst of her quarter-life-crisis, she is still takin' names and getting very close to reaching an epiphany.

Want to know more?

If Only We on Goodreads
Author page on Goodreads
Author blog (on which there's an awesome giveaway happening!)
Facebook author page
Twitter 

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Not So YA

Insecure Writer's Support Group is a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh where totally insecure writers can get together and share the things that are making us go argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Two things have or are happening to inspire this months topic. One is that it's my birthday next month and I'll be leaving my 20s behind. The other is that I've discovered Wattpad, or more specifically what is popular on Wattpad and that just happens to be One Direction fan fiction.
       In the last few years I feel like I've become more detached to youth culture and as a result it has influenced how much I enjoy some of the more popular YA books out there. Sometimes it's as though I'm the only one who doesn't "get" how awesome a much hyped new YA release is. This makes me worry that the ripples of my maturing state of mind is going to flow into my writing and I'll get the most dreaded of review comments saying that it's clear I'm not a teenager.   
       I guess aging in inevitable though and I can only hope that there are others out there like me who will forever be teenagers at heart!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Formatting and Platforms and Urgh!

Insecure Writer's Support Group is a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh where totally insecure writers can get together and share the things that are making us go argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I bought a new phone last month. I made the switch from Apple to Android. Not for any particular reason except that my old iPhone refused to display most of the Flash embedded websites I use to shop online.  It's been almost three weeks and I'm still waiting to get used to the phone. I'll be the  first to admit that I hate change. I hate change in technology even more. Thirty years from now I'm going to be that crazy old lady being auto-tuned on YouTube (or whatever weird futuristic equivalent of YouTube will be around) for complaining about how evil technology is. Sadly, technology is a necessary evil when you're self publishing and my fear is that I will never get the hang of it all.
      I am Will Smith's character in I, Robot. I just don't trust or understand technology and the closer I get to publishing my novel the more freaked out I'm getting. I've already settled on paying someone to format my MS for publishing because just the thought of it is giving me a headache. I'm lining up poor unsuspecting friends and relatives to spearhead my Facebook and Twitter feeds because I'm still accidentally sending all sorts of weird friend/other requests to people I don't know.
       When I started this blog I thought that all I had to do was make it look like I had it together here. It took me six months to realise I could change the settings so no anonymous spammers could leave comments.
       So I just want to know, where any of you guys as clueless when you started and does it get better?

Monday, 24 June 2013

Review: The Breeders by Katie French


THE STORY:

Sixteen-year-old Riley Meemick is one of the world's last free girls. When Riley was born, her mother escaped the Breeders, the group of doctors using cruel experiments to bolster the dwindling human race. Her parents do everything possible to keep her from their clutches-- moving from one desolate farm after another to escape the Breeders' long reach. The Breeders control everything- the local war lords, the remaining factories, the fuel. They have unchecked power in this lawless society. And they're hunting Riley.

When the local Sheriff abducts the adult members of her family and hands her mother over to the Breeders, Riley and her eight-year-old brother, Ethan, hiding in a shelter, are left to starve. Then Clay arrives, the handsome gunslinger who seems determined to help to make up for past sins. The problem is Clay thinks Riley is a bender-- a genderless mutation, neither male nor female. As Riley's affection for Clay grows she wonders can she trust Clay with her secret and risk her freedom?

The three embark on a journey across the scarred remains of New Mexico-- escaping the Riders who use human sacrifice to appease their Good Mother, various men scrambling for luck, and a deranged lone survivor of a plague. When Riley is shot and forced into the Breeder's hospital, she learns the horrible fate of her mother—a fate she'll share unless she can find a way out.
MY THOUGHTS

Best opening chapters ever! If I could say only one thing about this book it's that statement. Imagine what the rest of the story is like! I was hooked from the first sentence and as with all great books it's difficult to define why. Was it the incredibly high stakes? The strong and immediate point of view or the high impact writing? Possibly a combination of all three. After the quick start the pacing does slow down a little but I appreciated the chance to breathe and get my bearings on the setting as well as see Riley interact with her family who are the driving force behind all her actions.
       The Breeders draws you into a dystopian world where women are scarce and in high demand for their ability to have children. This was one of those premises where you have to suspend belief more than usual and skeptic that I am I just found myself going with it instead of questioning everything like I usually do. I'm still not convinced that all men are evil and would turn their wives/daughters/sisters in for a big bag o'cash but in this instance it didn't stop me from enjoying the storytelling. 
       Riley is a strong YA heroine. She's requisitly beautiful but in her world beauty is dangerous. She gets around pretending she's a bender and has to tape up her breasts every day. She's feisty but not rough and I liked that she could be tough without having to be a physically violent heroine. The thing that displays Riley's character the most is her relationship with her younger brother Ethan. Sometimes she's the rigid older sister wanting him to stand on his own two feet. Sometimes she's a stand in mum. Other times she's possessive of Ethan and gets jealous when he shows interest in other people. All traits which show the dynamic of their insular upbringing and adds a bit of realism to the story. As for Riley's relationship with Clay, I'm not completely sold. He's nice enough and says and does all the right things, I just think their chemistry should have had a lot more tension considering he didn't know she was a girl. There is one scene in particular when they have a moment which is huge and should have been a speed bump in the relationship for sure but Clay is just too accepting and accommodating. I guess I just prefer my YA boys with a bit more bite. 
       On the whole The Breeders was an engaging read. Consider it if you enjoy western themed dystopian with lots of action. I couldn't put it down and can't wait for the next installment.

THE RATING

5/5

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Reader's View: On The Subject Of Reviews


I've been spending a lot of time stalking Amazon reviews lately and one thing I've come across which has been interesting is the helpful or not helpful tags at the beginning of the reviews. It's got me thinking about what makes a good review.
       I'll be the first to admit I don't have any kind of plan when I sit down to review a book. Often I just type whatever comes to mind and hope that in the end it's coherent. I've gone through some of the reviews I've written on this blog and although they're okay, I wonder if they are what would be considered "helpful."
       As a reader of reviews I appreciate the time and effort that some reviewers put into writing a really lengthy piece. It's true that the longer the review the more likely there will be helpful thoughts in there, but do we necessarily have to always write an essay to get the point across? A lot of bloggers have short sub-headings in their reviews to give a one or two word summary of certain aspects of the book. For example explicit language, romance level, violence level and so on. Is this a more efficient way of approaching reviews, especially if you're strapped for time? Or does it not provide enough context?
      Clearly I am still have problems deciding how to structure my reviews so that they are both easier to write and so that readers get the most out of them. So give me a hand guys, what about reviews do you find most helpful? 

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Insecure Writers' Support Group: In The Beginning.....



Insecure Writer's Support Group is a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh where totally insecure writers can get together and share the things that are making us go argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      I don't know why I torture myself but I've been researching what makes readers pick up book and continue reading them and by and large there have been lots of comments about people giving books a certain number of chapters or pages before they tend to give up. If you're anything like me (and thank goodness there aren't more readers like me) you tend to pick up a book already on the offensive, practically looking for reasons to put it down in favour of other pursuits.
      I normally try and give a book a few chapters. If there's not anything in there that hooks me than I won't bother picking it up again. What I've come to realise recently is that my few chapters rule is majorly flawed because there are books which take a while to build up. Sometimes books have to get all of the boring stuff out of the way before the action really kicks in. I almost gave up on To Kill a Mockingbird because of the tedious first chapter and I'm eternally grateful that I didn't.
      Of course this has made me go through the first few chapters of my own WIP with a fine toothed comb and as a result I've done about three revision of the first chapter alone. I'm at a point now where I am thoroughly sick of my WIP but I live in perpetual fear that it's still not good enough and won't hook anyone in. So tell me, what are your rules for picking up a book? Are you one of those readers who can't stop reading a book regardless of how much you dislike it? Or are you like me mercilessly dropping books like flies?

Monday, 6 May 2013

Review Ghost Town


I want to apologise for the lack of book reviews on this so called book review blog. I wish I had a good excuse for it but if I'm honest it's just because I haven't really been reading any books and when I do I can't for the life of me concentrate on writing a review of it. I think for the most part I have been dreading writing reviews because I have OCD and it takes me forever to get what I want to say written and even when I finally write something coherent it's not exactly how I wanted to express myself. I have all the thoughts they just don't come out right.
        Then I go and look at all the other reviews the book I've read has gotten and some of them are so long and well expressed and I can't hope nor do I have the time to invest in something similar. That makes me feel like I'm doing a book, especially an indie book, a disservice.
        On top of that I get the guilts because I have accepted heaps of review books and I keep reading other books I've picked up which have piqued my interest more. So right now I'm working on changing my review policy so I don't get everybody's hopes up and I can manage better. I'm going to cut down my reviews so I don't feel like there's such a heavy weight on my shoulders when I go to write one.
       Hopefully that will mean I am more inclined to review books because at the moment reviewing just isn't fun anymore. Anyway, that's me, signing out for now.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Editing Nightmares






Insecure Writer's Support Group is a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh where totally insecure writers can get together and share the things that are making us go argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is going to be a short one because I am stuck in editing hell right now. Oh how I despise editing. If I didn't want to publish so badly I'd throw in the towel. Editing is the fuel that stokes the insecurity fire. Because there is no magic formula which tells you that a book is perfect and your editing is done. At some point I will have to just trust that I've done the best I can. 

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed" - Ernst Hemingway. You said it brother.


Friday, 15 March 2013

Reader's View: Back Off The Bad Reviews



Am I the only one who has noticed the trend towards denigrating 1 star reviews lately? Last year I read THIS POST by popular blogger J.A. Konrath in which he said, and I quote:

"Every one of those millions of reviewers who trashed a book deliberately did it to harm that book's sales. That's the whole point of a one star review. Someone yelling to the world "Don't buy this!"

This is why I don't leave one star reviews. I think it is a shitty, mean thing to do."

Whilst the post itself does contend that people should be allowed freedom of speech and  leaving 1 star reviews is allowed by such entities as Amazon and Goodreads, the overwhelming tone essentially says people who write 1 star reviews are evil.

Today I came across THIS POST  which sets out to list the The Top Ten Best Books With The Worst Amazon Reviews. The article lists the classics like 1984, The Great Gatsby, Ulysses and War & Peace, posts quotes from the bad reviews and then goes on to poke fun at those reviews.  Does this not strike anyone else as being a tad bit hypocritical? Don't even get me started on the literary, elitist, snobbery. I am currently trying to reread The Great Gatsby. Four months and counting. I don't dislike it but these people make it sound like it's a cardinal sin not to enjoy the classics.

Maybe I'll feel differently about it once I'm published and get my own 1 star reviews but for the moment, I am really annoyed at the assumption and the conceitedness that  surrounds these people who poo-poo 1 star reviews. I've left a few 1 star reviews in my time. Not once have I done it because I deliberately want to harm someone's book sales. To be honest, I couldn't care less about authors as people when I read their books. I judge a book by its contents and if I don't like what I read, I am honest about it. Why should I have to wait and consider the impact it has on the author if I write a 1 star review? Reviewing isn't charity. Good reviews shouldn't be given just because you feel sorry for an author and worry about what it might do to their book sales.  If I go to a dentist and they knock out all my teeth should I go home and contemplate the harm I will do to their business if I complain or will I make my displeasure known? 

I follow many reviewers on Goodreads who have posted 1 star reviews. Far from being remiss about it, these people always write lengthy considered reviews outlining why they truly disliked a book. I don't see anything wrong with this. I also don't see anything wrong with someone simply giving a 1 star review and writing a short paragraph about it not being for them. Just like reading is subjective so too if the amount of weight a person puts on a bad review. If I see a 1 star review with no explanation I simply don't give it any weight. Sometimes a reviewer finds a book so abhorrent they lose their marbles and write their own novel of a rant. So what? I find overly positive reviews with heaps of .gif animations useless and a waste of my screen space. Yet I don't see any  authors complaining about those reviews.

Don't get me wrong, it's not as though I hand out 1 star reviews like it's going out of fashion. Believe it or not it takes a lot for me to give a book a 1 star review. I don't mind grammatical errors, formatting slips or even slightly mundane story telling. These things are forgivable to me. I get that writing isn't easy. What I can't forgive is impossibly stupid characters and gender self hating female protagonists.  But none of the consideration I go through when I write a review is "Hmmm I don't want this book to make any money so I'm going to give it a 1 star review." Because you know, my blog and Goodreads profile is so super famous that my bad review will convince everyone not to buy a book.

I don't know about you guys but I for one and sick of all the 1 star review trashing

Monday, 11 March 2013

Random Thoughts: For The Love Of Writing


Once upon a time I wrote a story. I did it for the love of writing. It was called Iron Willed and I managed to get to the second book in the series before I finally lost steam and it sort of died in a heap. A lot has happened since I stopped writing that story.
      I rediscovered dystopia thanks to The Hunger Games. I  discovered self publishing and all the trimmings that come with it. Including the one piece of advice that all the advice sites agree on. That self published writers need to write good stories and have them edited to within an inch of their lives.
      Now that I look back on said story I can see how much I've improved as a writer. I'm so glad that all this obsession hasn't been for nothing. And yet a part of me is a little sad because I can also see that all this precision has bled a lot of the love right out of my writing.
      I've always maintained that I'm not really a writer. I'm a storyteller that just happens to express herself through the medium of words. I would love to tell my story through film or art or possibly manga/anime but alas I am so much worse at those than I am at writing. So this is how my stories will be told.
      I am sitting here thinking about what a shame it is that I find myself focusing on the craft rather than the storytelling. I remember how quickly I wrote those books and how much fun they were to write. It was freeing to just let the words flow. The story isn't mind blowing. I'll never get professional accolades for it. In fact, I can see some discerning reviewer (like myself ironically!) who would tear it to shreds. But you know what? This is the one book that I don't think I'd care if a reviewer totally firebombed.
      It's a fun book filled with teenage romanticism, cool powers, impossible world building, a snappy heroine, a non romantic best friend and plenty of stereotypical sidekicks. And I love it. Every single bit of it. So I've decided I'm going to write it. Technicality be damned.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Writing Vs. Life


This month I had the good luck to have quite a few long weekends off. Wow you must have gotten so much writing done I hear you say. If only that were true. Every Friday I'd mentally prepare for a long session of story telling only to wake up too late on the Saturday, do to many unrequired chores and spend way too much time agonizing over irrelevant things.
       I love writing. I know that writing breeds more writing and once I start it's hard to stop. It's the starting that is difficult. Because sometimes, as much as I love it, writing just can't compare with the other things going on in life. Or at least, I can't seem to give it priority over other things even though I know I should.
      In Melbourne, it's coming to the end of the most perfect summer that I can remember. It's been almost two months of beautiful weather which means my garden is bathed in sunlight all day long and is just begging to be enjoyed. So I do.
      Then there is the TV that's just begging to be watched and the chores that need to be done. I'm also trying to break a really terrible reading drought at the moment as well so I'm constantly picking books up and putting them down.
        All in all that doesn't leave too much time to do any writing. It's always at the back of my mind that I should be sitting down and getting all those words written. Each day that I write nothing is another layer of anxiety that I feel. That's my insecurity this month. I'm worried that I can't just make myself write despite everything else that I can do, which is what needs to be done if I'm going to reach my goal of publishing something this year.
         What about everybody else? What are your insecurities this month?

Monday, 4 March 2013

Publishing in Australia



I've been at this writing lark for a little under two years now and even in that short amount of time it feels like the entire publishing industry has changed so much. When I first decided that I wanted to try and publish, I was under the impression that my only option was to go the traditional route and do the whole agent, then publisher, then years of editing thing.
        Frankly, it scared the heck out of me. Not only because it's such a difficult process to begin with but because of the lack of control that I hear writers have over their own work. Then I met all you wonderful bloggers and writers and discovered the world of self publishing. Now it feels like I have all the options in the world. I only need pick one and go for it (Ha! Because it's that easy!)
       I've made it my goal this year to publish at least one thing I've written. Being Australian, I think that brings with it a whole different kettle of challenges than it would if I were from say the States or the UK. For a start the market is a lot smaller here and it could take years for a book to prove itself in Australia before international publishing is considered. For another, self publishing hasn't caught on the way it has elsewhere so I still get those blank looks from anyone when I mention Kindle or Kobo or Nook.
       I don't even want to delve into the scary world of self marketing, formatting, book covers and everything else that goes with it. I am neither an artist nor an accountant and I am the absolute worst at following any kind of advice unless it is written in easy to follow steps and everything happens exactly as instructed. Not exactly a stellar start point for a writer. But despite all that, I have a dream and I will see that dream to fruition no matter what.
       So, I've decided to document my Australian publishing journey on this blog. I will write about everything that I do in order to get my work out there. So that all those writers who come after me don't have to suffer the same kind of anxiety that I have been! And if anyone comes across anything that might help me, please feel free to post it in the comments :)

Watch this space!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Review: Sanctum by Sarah Fine




THE STORY

A week ago, seventeen-year-old Lela Santos’s best friend, Nadia, killed herself. Today, thanks to a farewell ritual gone awry, Lela is standing in paradise, looking upon a vast gated city in the distance—hell. No one willingly walks through the Suicide Gates, into a place smothered in darkness and infested with depraved creatures. But Lela isn’t just anyone—she’s determined to save her best friend’s soul, even if it means sacrificing her eternal afterlife. As Lela struggles to find Nadia, she’s captured by the Guards, enormous, not-quite-human creatures that patrol the dark city’s endless streets. Their all-too-human leader, Malachi, is unlike them in every way except one: his deadly efficiency. When he meets Lela, Malachi forms his own plan: get her out of the city, even if it means she must leave Nadia behind. Malachi knows something Lela doesn’t—the dark city isn’t the worst place Lela could end up, and he will stop at nothing to keep her from that fate.

MY THOUGHTS

The Basics:
Sanctum started off as a gripping read and although the plot and romance took a sour turn for me, the writing was easy to read and flowed well. I really liked the way Fine described the surroundings in the afterlife and the world created in Sanctum had so much potential. I enjoyed the action scenes the most because they were so intense. There wasn't any sense of going easy on the violence to spare the characters and that made it all seem much more realistic. Sadly, there wasn't enough action for me and too much time was spent on huge chunks of back story and love fluff.

The Disappointment:
After reading the sample of Sanctum I had really high hopes that Lela would be much like Rose from Vampire Academy. Lela's had a rough upbringing and Fine hints at some very traumatic experiences in Lela's life that has molded her into a tough no nonsense girl. Lela even has a parallel best friend named Nadia who is very much like Lissa from  VA. Sadly, I felt the same way about Nadia as I did with Lissa. That she was useless page fodder to gain sympathy and create depth that wasn't truly there. We're told from the first page of the book how amazing Nadia is but for most of the novel Fine doesn't really show me anything redeeming about Nadia. We learn that Lela feels as though Nadia saved her but after having read Sanctum I'm not sure what that was. At the point where Lela and Nadia meet Lela has already mostly gotten her life together so I guess Nadia may have saved Lela from loneliness? For the most part I thought Nadia was a selfish, whiny character who treated Lela like dirt for the first few scenes. As a reader, I still don't understand why Lela risked everything for Nadia.  Others have mentioned that this book deals with the issue of suicide but I don't really see that coming through. Nadia's reasons for taking her own life aren't really dealt with except in a superficial I wasn't as perfect as everyone thought I was kind of way.

Lela begins as such a strong willed character but half way through the book she does a complete one eighty turn and Sanctum becomes a gushy YA romance trope. Lela is meant to be street savvy but she makes a heck of a lot of stupid decisions and it seems that the ultimate goal of the villains in Sanctum is always to get in Lela's pants above their other evil plans. Even the so called good guys who are essentially dead can't resist having a crack. 

The only truly redeeming quality of the book is the world that Fine has created. It reminds me quite a bit of the Soul Society in the manga Bleach and had so much potential.  Though again I was disappointed by the lack of explanation about many facets of the world building and I still don't exactly understand what the Mizikin are. I tend to judge a book by how many times I fell asleep reading it or how many pages I've had to skip because the plot isn't going anywhere and sadly this is one where I had skip quite a bit. I'm not going to even go into the deus ex machina of an ending.

The Romance:
Insta-love. All consuming and without explanation. I can't even go into this without getting annoyed. The first time we see Malachi I was fist pumping because he was so badass and then two pages later he's been watered down. For the rest of the book Malachi turns into this moody, lovesick teenager who will risk everything he's worked decades for to save Lela. I place this romance on par with my distaste for Bella and Edward. Not happy.



THE RATING

2.5/5

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Writer's Corner: The Trouble With Dialogue



Wow, it feels like forever since I did my last Writer's Corner post. It's not because I've had less writing insecurities that's for sure. Amongst other things I've been struggling a lot with the dialogue in my books. I worry about the voice, the vocab and the inevitable Aussie vernacular that permeates my MS. Earlier this week I read THIS POST on the Novel Publicity website about the many ways in which dialogue can enhance your writing.
        It hit me after reading the article that all my characters whether young or old, rich or poor, male or female, all sound exactly the same. I can't seem to disengage from my characters to imbue them with their own sense of self. So invariably everyone turns into subdued caricatures with various levels of sarcasm to their speech. In other words, they are all me supplanted into a MS and given an overcoat of background.
        I hadn't noticed this so much until I started reading a few American western themed books with vivid characters who speak in their beautiful southern drawls.It made a noticeable difference to my enjoyment of the story. I just don't get it. I love different accents in real life but somehow this doesn't translate into my writing. Granted it's difficult to really have people with accents in a futuristic dystopian world where everyone is meant to be quite homogenized but still, I don't do it in the stories I write that are set in this modern age either. 
       Besides the fact that everyone sounds the same, I feel like I've fallen into the trap of using dialogue as a way to sneak in excessive info dumping. I admit to being one of those readers who love dialogue and I prescribe to the rule of more is more. But even I can admit that when the dialogue goes for two thirds of a page and it's all exposition, that it's probably excessive.
       So let's say I am dialogue deficient. How important is dialogue to your enjoyment of a book? Not just in terms of character distinction, but how much do you think is too much dialogue for a book? Can you forgive a book that has strange dialogue or is it a deal breaker?

Monday, 18 February 2013

Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman


THE STORY

In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would "unwind" them. Connor's parents want to be rid of him because he's a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev's unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family's strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can't be harmed -- but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.

MY THOUGHTS 

First off, big thanks to Sherre of Beckoned by Books for recommending this book to me. I am speechless after reading this book. All words seem inadequate to describe how I feel so I'm just going to have to muddle through and hope that it all comes together as a coherent review in the end.

The Belief Suspension:
One thing I've noticed when reading dystopians is that I have a really difficult time suspending belief when the premise of a series hinges on the generalization of the entire human population. Notions like love being a disease and all women becoming walking wombs just doesn't cut it with me. Likewise, if I really let myself think about it, I can't seem to dispel the nagging voice in my head that keeps trying to remind me that there is no way the entire world would agree to unwinding. It seems a very implausible solution for both pro-choice and pro-life campers to agree that killing a child at sixteen is somehow okay just because their parts will be reused. And storking, where unwanted children are left on other people's doorsteps and if you don't get caught the family has to take care of the baby, is just downright idiotic. I could go on for a while about all the medically impossible parts of this book but what I'm really driving at is that despite it all, I was somehow able to suspend belief and just read the book for it's sheer entertainment value. Which is saying a lot considering I am usually the first one to call bullshit on a  lot of stuff in  books.

The Multiple POVs
I'm usually a complete multiple POV hater. I can't stand getting invested in a character and situation only to have it shift when the story is building momentum. Unwind is one of the few books I've read where the multiple POVs was a huge advantage. Especially during a particular scene close to the end where I believe being able to switch into secondary character's POV made the whole book all the more powerful. Shusterman is able to do something I don't believe many authors can boast and that is to create layered characters who you can despise one minute and then feel sorry for the next. No one is truly evil and that makes everybody's actions so much greyer.

The Romance
Some might say that there isn't enough romance in this book but I thought it was perfect. There was no angst, no misunderstood conversations masked as plot advances.  It was blissfully simple. A boy and girl like each other. There are is no confusion about it. I found this refreshing after trolling through so many DNF books. 

All The Other Stuff
Despite the fact that my rant paragraph is much bigger than my other paragraphs, I really enjoyed this book. I loved the non stop action and the fact that everything that could possibly go wrong did.I know there's a sequel to the series but Unwind ended so perfectly for me and had me thinking so long after I finished it that  I don't know if I could put myself through it again.


THE RATING
4.5/5

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The DNF

Hey All,

So I've been a bit quiet lately. But just to prove I haven't been squandering my time away from the blogging world I've decided I'll start doing posts for some of the books I don't end up finishing. I've debated whether I should give them ratings anyway despite not finishing them because it's a little unfair of me. Then I realised it's my blog and I'll rate if I want to! Here goes:

Ash by Melinda Lo

I'd been looking forward to reading this book since the first day I started blogging and someone recommended it to me. It's meant to be a Cinderella retelling and that was the thing which drew me the most. Unfortunately, despite being well written and imaginative I just couldn't muster up the excitement for it. Then I came to the realisation that I haven't finished a single fantasy novel in a few years, even from much loved authors. I think I've just become too much of a dystopian girl to appreciate fantasy books anymore. Which is not the fault of the book but mine. 

The Rating: 3/5
 Awakening by Karice Bolton

This book makes Twilight read like War and Peace. I made myself slog through it because I have been doing a lot of research into books about angels. Biggest mistake ever. The plot reads like this.

1.Girl works at restaurant.
2. Boy is super hot and comes into restaurant.
3. Girl is reminded by sometime friend about recent murders.
4. Boy shows up at girls house after midnight without being told where she lives and invites her out.
5. Girl and Boy are in love.

Just no.

The Rating: 1/5
Catalyst: The Passage of Hellsfire by Marc Johnson

If I had been offered this book for review a few years ago I'd imagine it would totally be my thing. But as with Ash it has fallen prey to my preference for dystopian novels. The premise is not new but it does tick all the boxes for a coming of age epic fantasy. And what epic fantasy doesn't have a cool dragon in it? This one has been given the awesome name Cynder which was a standout part of the story for me. The worst bit is the heroes name: Hellsfire. Even though it wasn't quite my thing I would recommend it to those who enjoy epic fantasy.

The Rating: 3/5
The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry

To be honest, I went into this one without a clear understanding of what the plot was really about. It sounded interesting though so I gave it a go. The Earthquake Machine is well written and has a touch of the psychedelic but I think it's more of an adult book than a YA book which was what I had though it was. I enjoyed reading it as Lowry is one of those authors who has a way of making mundane every day things seem interesting. But in the end the plot meandered too much and I'm too dense to appreciate the underlying themes.

The Rating: 3/5

Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep

After reading the first quarter of this book I had to stop lest I lose all faith in the sisterhood. I don't know if Estep hates women or if this is a disturbing YA trope that has gained popularity. Our heroine Gwen is constantly calling her female classmates sluts and whores because they dare to have a social life while she is constantly bemoaning how much of a loner she is. There is a reason for this. Every time Gwen opens her mouth she is a rip roaring bitch. I wouldn't want to be her friend either. For someone with the ability to touch an object and sense its history she refuses to believe that the other kids at her school are descendent from warriors and Gods. Because you know, she's the only special one. Don't even get me started on our Spartan hero who despite needing to sign mattresses to keep all his conquests in order, is painted as being dark, mysterious and hot. Do I need to point out the double standard?

                                                          The Rating: 1/5


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Raggedy Chan Book & Doll Giveaway!!


Hey All!

Author Camille Picott is celebrating the release of the illustrated version of her Middle Grade book Raggedy Chan. Raggedy Chan: An Illustrated Adventure is now live on Amazon for $1.99! From Thursday Feb 7th - Friday Feb 8th, you can download the book for free. This Middle Grade fantasy contains 40 full-color illustrations from artist Joey Manfre. To celebrate Raggedy Chan's release and Chinese New Year, author Camille Picott is giving away a limited edition Raggedy Chan book + doll set.

Book Description: Emma Chan-McDougal receives a special gift from her Auntie Gracie: a rag doll named Raggedy Chan. But Raggedy Chan is no ordinary doll. She is a beautiful Chinese princess who lives in a jasper palace on the enchanted isle of Kunlun. The peace of her island home is threatened when Drought Fury steals Winged Dragon, bringer of rain. Without Winged Dragon, Kunlun will wither and die.

To save her stricken homeland, Raggedy Chan sets forth alone. Her quest leads her to America, where she meets people who distrust her because she’s different. Can Raggedy Chan adapt to the strange ways of this new land and rescue her beloved dragon?

In this modern fairy tale, Chinese-American author Camille Picott draws on her heritage to weave a story of magic, adventure, and sacrifice. Raggedy Chan: An Illustrated Adventure contains forty full-color illustrations.

To enter, simply do your thing on the rafflecopter  widget below. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group:


Insecure Writer's Support Group is a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh where totally insecure writers can get together and share the things that are making us go argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First off, Happy New Year!!

I’m so glad that I’m kicking the new blogging year off with an IWSG post. This is the year that I’ve decided I am going to publish my first book. No more excuses.

The only thing standing in my way is that I’m very much daunted by the self-publishing process. I am by no means tech savvy. It took me months to get my blog up to speed (it’s still not exactly whiz-bang but it’s functional!) I don’t know how I’m going to cope with all the technical aspects. Not to mention all the other bits and pieces that go along with it. I’m going to need to figure out how much to price my books, do my own self-promotion, beg people for reviews, console myself when I get bad reviews and worst of all figure out how the Australian and US tax treaty works.

There you have it folks, my insecurity for this month and possibly for the next couple of months at least. Despite this, I’m hopeful for the coming year and excited about the possibilities. Looking forward to sharing everybody’s first insecurities of the year!

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