Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Personal Update

Hey readers! The holiday season is in full swing and I don't know about you but I have been busy! I think life got crazy for us back in early October and hasn't let up since. It was around that time that my husband and I decided we were ready for a bigger house. We tried to buy a house in our neighborhood (which I love) but the seller was asking too much and not accepting any lower offers. I was bummed because I really wanted the house but then my husband said "Why don't we build?" and I said, "Okay. Why not?" On my birthday, October 16th, we started the paperwork to build our new home. And ever since then life has been insane!

As for my writing well let's see. DEFENSIVE GUN did pretty well with agents. I got 1 PR and 7 FR, three of which led to R&Rs and two I am still waiting to hear about. I really liked the agent notes on those R&Rs and have been incorporating the changes into my MS for the past month or so. I think DEFENSIVE GUN is much better and I can't wait until it's perfect and I can resubmit and start querying again! I've come into four amazing critique partners over the past few months as well and their input has been invaluable. All in all, my writing is getting stronger and I am optimistic that this MS will be the one. And if not? Well, that's ok because I have some ideas brewing that I am really excited about too!

As for reading books....well, things have been a lot slower on that front than I am used to. I re-read the Hunger Games series because, why not? I LOVE those books and Collins' writing inspires me. I've been doing a lot of reading for my critique partners and have started a bunch of popular YA books from my TBR pile but I haven't finished any of them. I've also picked up several books I thought looked good only to realize I'd already read them!! I guess when you read about 3 books a month for over 4 years that's bound to happen, right? 

So that about catches you up! Hope all is going well for you, my reader. Keep reading, keep writing and have a happy holiday season!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Book Review: The Divergent Series: Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant

*dusts of blog*

Hey there readers! Today's book review is on a series I love (and it's also a NYT best selling series that's getting made into a movie!) 

I first started this series back in 2011 when book 1, DIVERGENT, was released. I can't remember if my sister suggested I read it or if I saw an early review of it on EW's Shelf Life but for whatever reason I decided to give it a go. I was hooked from the first sentence. Veronica Roth immediately takes readers into this dystopian world with her opening scene of our MC Beatrice looking into a mirror and getting her hair cut (something she's only allowed to do once a year). Right away I was interested. Why does Beatrice never get to look in a mirror? Why does she only get to do it once a year when she gets a hair cut? Those questions led me to keep reading and now, two years later, here I am having just finished ALLEGIANT and having SO MANY EMOTIONS! There's an indescribable feeling you get when you stick with a series and read each book as it's released. Two years is a long time to invest and when the payoff is as great as it is with the DIVERGENT series, it's well worth it. 

Beatrice is a remarkably relatable character whose arc over the three books is tremendous. She starts out as a regular girl who wants to please her parents but recognizes something in herself that wants more. In a very brave move for such a restricting world, she goes against what's expected of her and makes a decision that shapes the rest of her life. The world of DIVERGENT is expertly written and described with vivid imagery and realistic dialogue and relationships. Secondary character leave a lasting impact as well as drive the plot forward. The romantic relationship between Beatrice (Tris) and Tobias (Four) is one that feels real and sweet. It never tries to be more than it should and it always stays true to the type of romance that fits the world the characters live in as well as the situations they are put in. 

Let me tell you a little bit about that world and those situations... 

Where Tris lives is in a city that is divided into five factions: dauntless, candor, abnegation, amity, and erudite. Each faction represents a specific virtue--bravery, honesty, selflessness, peacefulness, and intelligence. Each child is raised in their parent's faction (you marry within a faction) but on their sixteenth birthday, the child takes a test that determines which faction best suites them. The child can either choose that faction or stick with the one they were raised in. Tris and her brother both leave their parent's faction with Tris choosing dauntless and Caleb choosing erudite. But Tris quickly learns a secret about herself--she's divergent, meaning she actually falls into more than one faction. The system considers divergents dangerous and has been killing them for years. Tris's discovery of this sets the stage for everything that follows in each book. Since divergents are somewhat easy to spot, Tris has to try extra hard to not only survive being a dauntless but also to hide her secret. Meanwhile, the leaders of the society are doing all they can to keep the faction system running smoothly while flushing out the divergents, something that causes tension and fear in a world where so many people won't stand up to authority. Tris and Four get caught up rebellion after rebellion where they loose people they love, are betrayed by people they thought they could trust, and are tested by those they are supposed to follow. In the end, Tris and Four learn why their society is the way it is and how it came to exist. And just when they think they are finally free of all the things and people that have tried to destroy them, one final decision made by Tris will change everything.  

**I can't recommend this series enough! Add these books to you to-read list immediately and get prepared for the first movie to arrive in theaters next year. I, for one, can't wait!1

Thanks for stopping by! 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Writing Tips: Critique Partners

Hey there readers! Life, as usual, is crazy in Casa Murillo and my blog has once again suffered for it. But I had a pretty interesting topic in mind for today that I wanted to write about so let's dive in!

Recently I posted an "ad," if you will, on the website howaboutwecp. This website is dedicated to making matches for writers in need of critique partners. I didn't hear anything back for a while and then this past weekend I received two emails asking if I was still interested in doing this. I was and I was thrilled! 

Let me just start by saying that when I posted that ad, I was soooooo nervous. I'd never critiqued anyone else's work before and never had anyone other than my sister read my own stories. Yes you read that right. Not even my husband has read my MSs! (he's not a reader AT ALL so I can't really trust his judgement anyway. But he WILL read them if/when I get published (;   ). 

As someone who researches EVERY aspect of writing and publishing, I know having critique partners is not only necessary but also invaluable to the creative and editing process. I was never against having critique partners but I was scared of putting myself out there. What if my writing sucked? For some reason it was just easier for me to edit to the best of my ability and send out queries. I standard 'no' from an agent was safer than detailed feedback from a critique partner. But then those 'nos' kept coming and eventually I wanted to know WHY?! What was I doing wrong?! Well, that's where those critique partners will come in handy. So after shelving my first MS (I'd had some interest but ultimately the market is too saturated with books with paranormal creatures and mine has faeries) I wrote another book, put my info up on howaboutwecp, and sent out my first batch of queries on my new MS. I've had some interest which is great but I really want this book to be 'the one' so I couldn't be happier that I now have two critique partners who can help me make this story the best it can be. 

My first critique partner sent her first chapter over this past weekend and I critiqued it and sent it back yesterday. I was nervous about this aspect of the story swapping process since I don't consider myself an expert on writing. But I do read A LOT so I ended up having more insight than I thought. Plus, I've always been pretty good at editing and with the added research and practice in editing I've gotten in my own writing endeavors, I was able to offer up a lot of tips in that area that were hopefully helpful. I really like her WIP and hope she lets me read some more (: And I'm excited to hear back from her and see what she thinks about my chapters too. My other new critique partner and I are going to be swapping MSs pretty soon as well and I can't tell you how excited I am for that!

Thanks for stopping by. Once this process really gets underway for me I will update you on how my critique partners and I are faring. See you soon!!

For me, writing is very personal. I often compare the feeling of talking about my stories and sharing them with others to what I imagine it would feel like to talk to strangers naked. I know, that's extreme, but letting someone inside your head is deeply intimate for me. It's something I know I need to overcome if I ever want to be a published author.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

New Book Releases

Hi all! It's been a while, I know. Things at Casa Murillo have been crazy with the kiddos well into school, me polishing and querying my second novel AND looking for a part-time job, and my hubs and I trying to decide if we want to move. As a result, my blog has suffered and for that I am sorry ): Anywho, here is a list of some YA books just released that you might enjoy. 

Unbreakable (The Legion) by Kami Garcia

Paranormal YA

Perfect Ruin (The Internment Chronicles) by Lauren DeStefano

YA Fantasy

Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron

YA retelling

*I saw Jon at the Austin Teen Book Festival and he was super cool! Definitely a boy book I would read!

Fault Line by Christa Desir

Contemporary YA

*I read an interview about this book and how it's about a girl who is sexually assaulted at a party. It's told from her boyfriend's perspective as he watches her spiral downward. Seems like a powerful story! And half the proceeds of book sales go to Voices and Faces Survivor Testimonial Workshop (how awesome is that?!)

The Enchanter Heir (The Heir Chronicles #4) by Cinda Williams Chima

YA Fantasy

*I saw Cinda at Austin Teen Book Festival and she was sooo funny! My sister has read these books and highly recommends them!

Premeditated by Josin L. Mcquein

Contemporary YA

Just One Year (Just One Day #2) by Gayle Forman

Contemporary YA

Bang (Visions #2) by Lisa McMann

Paranormal YA

*I saw Lisa at Austin Teen Book Festival and she was highly entertaining and very personable. I've read almost all of her books.

Whew! That's all for now. As always, this is not a comprehensive list of newly released books, just the ones I will probably read and thought you might enjoy. Feel free to comment below and let me know if you've read any of these and what you think (:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Review: Girl, Stolen by April Henry

I had this book on my to-read list for a while so when I finished my WIP a few weeks ago (a YA novel about a girl who was kidnapped), I thought maybe I should give this book a read and see if my novel could measure up to another YA novel with a similar topic. It was a quick read, only taking me about 3 hours. Our books didn't have much in common but I really enjoyed GIRL, STOLEN. Here's my review:

Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of her stepmom's SUV when something terrible happens--the car gets stolen. Legally blind and sick with pneumonia, Cheyenne begs the thief to just let her go. But Griffin can't do that. He needs to get a way quick and he can't risk letting this girl tell the cops anything that might identify him. Griffin takes Cheyenne to his house where his dad runs a chop shop with two other thugs. All Griffin wanted to do was impress his dad but now he's done the opposite. That is until they turn on the TV and see just who Cheyenne is. Her dad is the president of Nike. Now Griffin's dad wants to ransom her for a million dollars. As Griffin keeps Cheyenne safe and slowly gets to know her, he decides he wants to help her get away. But Cheyenne doesn't need his help--she manages to escape on her own. But can she get to safety before Griffin's dad and the other two thugs find her? And what will happen to Griffin? Will these two unlikely allies ever be able to have a normal life again?

**I love a good, short read that's high on emotion and pace. From the start of this story, that's exactly what I got. Cheyenne's voice was authentic and her fear was real. The drama kept me turning the pages and I really felt bad for the position both Griffin and Cheyenne were in. I liked how Cheyenne stayed strong and always looked out for herself first. Her blindness and sickness were well described and added an intensity to the story without taking anything away. The ending was hopeful which matched well with the overall tone. GIRL, STOLEN is a quick, intense read I fully recommend.

Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to comment below.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

New Book Releases

Some exciting stuff this week! As always, Goodreads links and genre/category follow. Remember, this is not a complete list--just some of the ones I thought sounded interesting. Check them out:

3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

YA Paranormal

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

YA Paranormal

Once We Were (The Hybrid Chronicles #2) by Kat Zhang

YA Sci-Fi

Dead Girls Don't Lie by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

YA Mystery

Frozen (Heart of Dread #1) by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston

YA Sci-Fi

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Contemporary YA

Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts

YA Contemporary Romance

Some great choices, huh? I personally am excited for The Dream Thieves because I absolutely adore Maggie Stiefvater's writing and I loved the first book in this series, The Raven Boys. 

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think below (:

Monday, September 9, 2013

New Look and Links

Hey there!

Today I decided to play around a little with the look of my blog. As I do with the clothes and shoes I buy, I will probably stare at it for a few days before I decide if I'm going to keep it (: 

Also, take a look at the links to the right. As you'll see I've changed those around too. Under "My Writing" you can find the query for my first completed novel, I AM CARAWAY, as well as the query for my newest completed novel, DEFENSIVE GUN.

So, what do you think? Do you like the new look? What do you think about DEFENSIVE GUN? Let me know in the comments below. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Writing Tips: Pitches Part II

In honor of #Pitmad, the "After the Madness Twitter Pitch Party" coming up on Twitter on September 12 (Check out author Brenda Drake's blog for more details), I thought I would do a quick post about pitches in general. 

Pitching is something all new writers are faced with at some point. If you attend a writer's conference and want to get some face time with an agent or editor and tell them about your book, chances are they are going to want you to pitch it to them. This means they want a (usually) one sentence blurb about your book (aka, an "elevator" pitch). One sentence! you say. That's impossible--my book has several characters, a plot, some subplots, lots of twists and turns and a surprise ending--there's no way I can sum it all up in one sentence! Well, too bad. That's what agents and editors want and if you can't do it, you might lose your chance with said agent or editor. Part of being a good writer is good writing of course but it's also the ability to sum up your book enticingly, market it, and promote it. If you can't do those things then it makes people in the book publishing industry a little wary. 

Sometimes pitching can be more than one sentence, thought. When it comes to contests, whether they be on blogs or agency/publishing websites, the rules always vary. I've entered three paragraph, one paragraph, three sentences, and even five word pitches! It all just depends. Whatever the length of the pitch is, you have to be able to decide what the most important aspect of your books is, get it into the required pitch space, and make it not only grammatically correct but also enticing. Your pitch needs to grab the reader and make them want to buy and read you book. 

Sometimes pitches can be like movie posters, too. For example, the pitch for JAWS 2 was: Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water... 

And sometimes pitches can be comparisons like, MEAN GIRLS meets THE VAMPIRE DIARIES. 

Twitter pitches, however, are a whole other game. When agents want you to pitch on Twitter they usually want you to use a hashtag and include the genre and audience of your book. Well Twitter only gives you 140 characters to work with so you have to be able to fit a very short pitch in to whatever space is leftover after you fill in your hashtag and genre/audience info. I did a Twitter pitch recently and it wasn't easy! I was able to find a few different ways to sum up my novel that enticed from a couple of different angles of what my MS is about. One or two of those tweets were a success, getting "favorited" by a literary agency assistant and a couple of editors for small publishing houses. When that happens whoever favorites your tweet wants you to send your query to them referencing the Twitter pitch. 

Whatever way you decide to pitch your book, I wish you luck. Pitches are scary and thrilling and challenging all at once! I hate coming up with them but I love when they work. I've heard many seasoned writers and agents out there say more than once that it takes many different skill sets to be a good writer. You have to be able to write a book, a query, a synopsis, a pitch, and a proposal and they all are incredible different from one another. But with practice, patience and the support of the many wonderful people in the writing community, you can you get through it.

Thanks for reading! Comment away..

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

If you read my last book review you'll know that I LOVED the first book in this trilogy. Once again the cover and title didn't disappoint and when I started reading, I couldn't stop! Here's my summary:

Mara wakes up once again in the hospital. Unlike the first time this happened though, she remembers how she got there. Mara had gone to the police station to give a statement when she saw her ex-boyfriend--the one who is supposed to be dead--the one she's been seeing ever since she woke up in the last hospital. He touched her. He spoke to her. Apparently, Mara freaked out. That's how she ended up back in the psych ward. Mara does everything she can to tell her mom and brother and doctor she isn't crazy and isn't lying but no one believes her. Convinced they will lock her up for good, she decides to play their game and act normal and go along with what they are saying. It works. Mara is released. But she isn't giving up. She knows now that Jude is alive and stalking her and trying to make everyone believe she is guilty of his crimes as well as crazy. Mara's boyfriend Noah is the only one who believes her. Together the two search even harder from answers while Mara attends an outpatient program/school to get better. In the meantime, her and Noah discover that Mara's dead grandmother, who everyone also believed was crazy, and Noah's dead mother, actually knew each other. What's more is that Mara is starting to have memories that could only belong to her grandmother. Things get even more tense when Jude kidnaps Mara and displays some powers of his own. The next time Mara wakes up, she can't convince anyone she's sane. They send her to a last resort inpatient facility. Thankfully Noah manages to get in too. It's there she and Noah discover that Mara's doctor and the head of the facility isn't all she seems. When Jude shows up for one final attempt at revenge, Mara does the only thing she can think of that might finally get him out of their lives forever. Except this time the consequences are more than she imagined. 

Whew! This was one roller coaster of an emotional book ride! Mara's journey was emotional and relatable once again. She dealt with many of the same teenage problems other kids her age deal with as well as the added problem of overwhelming emotional issues. I tore through this book loving the mounting threat of Jude and enjoying the sweet romance that continued to develop between Noah and Mara. I liked the little clues that were dropped along the way that kept me wondering what was going on with these two kids as well as many of the other kids Mara had met. Why were they different? Was Mara's grandmother like them? How is Jude still alive? The question of Mara's mental stability and reliability as a narrator was always on the forefront of my mind. Was she crazy and just had me fooled for two books? The answer at the end of Evolultion was a nice set up for book three and a shocking revelation that left more questions than answers. What's more is that where Mara is left and the consequences of what she did left me with my mouth open and my eyes wide with shock. Book three, The Retribution of Mara Dyer, releases in June 2014.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment below!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Working on something new, still working on something old...

I started out this summer with a couple of goals--keep querying I AM CARAWAY and finish the new YA manuscript I had started. I've managed to keep the first and I've sort of been able to keep the second. Let me explain: 

My something new:

Back in May I was in the early stages of sending out queries and sample pages of I AM CARAWAY. I had gotten a handful of rejections and a couple of requests for more material. One of the best pieces of advice for any writer is to always be working on something new. It helps the submission process to be more bearable, it gives you more writing experience, and it builds your library of material. And if what you're querying to agents (or what you're submitting to editors) isn't having any luck, then it gives you another option. I had been toying with several ideas for a while but none of them had inspired me to open up a new word doc and start writing. Then finally one day I got an idea that did. I jumped on it. It was a contemporary YA which is what all the agents seem to want--what pretty much all agents represent and prefer, as opposed to sci-fi/fantasy. I fleshed out about 10,000 words within a few days. Then I hit a block, or more aptly for me, a loss of inspiration. It had happened before with two other manuscripts. I knew where I wanted the story to go but I lost my steam to write it. Like most writers, I became agitated and restless during that time. I spent a lot of hours reading and catching up on TV shows and wondering why I was in a funk. It wasn't until I got a new idea for another contemporary YA that I started to feel good again. I opened up a new doc and got to work. This one would have a literary hook (think Jay Asher's THIRTEEN REASONS WHY or THIRTEEN LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES...odd that they both have the number 13...) Around the same time I noticed a hashtag among some of the writers I follow. It was #WIPMarathon, or work in progress marathon. I didn't really know how it worked but it looked like those participating were doing "sprints"--taking chunks of time and writing non-stop and seeing how many words they could get in. Participating made them accountable to people and following others tweeting the hashtag gave them encouragement. Since summer had been so crazy here and I knew I might not always be around during those "sprints," I decided to set myself a reasonable word count goal for each day. My own version of #WIPMarathon. It was 1K a day. Everyday I find at least a couple of hours (usually once the kiddos are in bed) to get in my thousand words. So far I have succeeded. Yay me! Since most contemporary YA novels are around 40-70 thousand words, at 1K a day I can realistically have this WIP done in 2 months. Today I reached the halfway mark. I'm super excited about this one. My first 250 words are strong (for those of you who don't know that's a big deal for contests) and so are my first 5 and 10 pages (what you typically send to agents as sample pages). I just hope the literary hook and premise are interesting and my writing is strong.

My something old:

As for I AM CARAWAY, I am getting close to a point where I am going to stop querying and call this one my "trunk" novel. Most writer's first novels are just this. Everyday I learn something new about writing. I often go back and try to apply what I've learned to CARAWAY but I will admit at times it's daunting. I love that story and I really hope to one day see it in print but I'm starting to think that day might not come as soon as I'd like. The market for historical YAs is tough and my added element of faeries as the fantasy aspect and medieval England as the historical one makes CARAWAY especially hard to find a market for. It's longer than the average YA novel and takes time to get into and that's not good for a debut author. Debut authors need to grab quickly and keep it short. I have a few more agents I plan to query and once I hear back, if none of them are interested, this novel will be put away. The good thing about all of this is that I can officially say I have my training wheels off. I know how to query and pitch, I know which agents might be a good fit for me and which won't, and I am a better writer now than I was before. It may not have been the ideal outcome I had when I started but I can't complain. My biggest fear after finishing CARAWAY and not being able to see through those other two WIPs was that I would only ever be able to write one book. I don't think that's true anymore. I know I will finish this new one. And I also feel much more like a writer now. I mean how else would you explain my funk without my creative outlet? (:

Well, that's about all. Check back next week for my review of the second book in the MARA DYER trilogy. I loved it and can't wait to tell you why!

Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear what you have to say so please, comment below!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Book Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Let me start by saying that what first drew me to this book was the title and cover. Gorgeous, right? I read the inside flap and thought, 'Ok, cool. I'll give it a try.' There are only two books I have ever read that completely surprised me with where they went. Liar by Justine Larbalestier is one and this is the other. I was expecting one thing and got blown away with the twist at the end! (probably because I thought it was a contemporary YA and not paranormal) Here's my summary:

Mara Dyer wakes up in the hospital with no memory of how she got there. She's told right away that she was in an accident with her boyfriend, best friend, and boyfriend's sister and they are all dead. Miraculously, Mara survived. Mara's parents decide to move the family out of state so Mara can have a fresh start. It's at her new school that Mara meets Noah. The two have an immediate connection. Mara and Noah start trying to piece together just what happened to Mara in an effort to help Mara get her memories back. But when Mara starts hallucinating her dead boyfriend, the boundary between what's real and not, what's true and not, and if she is crazy or not, begins to blur. Can she figure out everything she needs to about the accident before she completely loses it? Is there more to Mara than meets the eye?

**This is one of my favorite books. I should probably go and add it right now to my "List" because of how much I love it. I have always been fascinated with the brain and why we do and don't remember some things (another reason I decided to read this was to find out why she didn't remember). Mara waking up and learning that all these people she loved are dead and then having to move to another state is heart-wrenching and beautifully written. In fact, this whole book is beautifully written. The characters are well-developed and unique. Mara's voice and relationship with her brother and especially Noah is fun and different. I was completely not expecting the twist that was taken at the end. If you haven't already, you MUST pick up this book and its sequel, THE EVOLUTION OF MARA DYER. I just finished it and I can't wait to post all about it for you! Now, if only it were next summer already so I could get my hands on the last book, THE RETRIBUTION OF MARA DYER...

Let me know what you think! Comment below.  

Sunday, August 4, 2013

New Book Releases

These are the new releases for the week of August 4-10. I don't know about you but I think this list looks great! There are several on it that I'm excited about. Goodreads links are provided.

Infinityglass: An Hourglass novel by Myra McEntire

Book 3 

YA science-fiction (time travel)

Gated by Amy Christine Parker

YA contemporary thriller w/dystopian elements

Elegy (Watersong Novel) by Amanda Hocking

Book 4

YA fantasy

The Uprising: The Forsaken Trilogy by Lisa M. Stasse

Book 2

YA dystopia

A Tale of Two Centuries (My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #2) by Rachel Harris

Book 2

YA Science-Fiction (time travel)

Lots of great choices, huh? Which one are you looking forward to?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book Review: Across the Universe trilogy: Across the Universe, A Million Suns, and Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

When I first heard about these books I wasn't sure if I should give them a try. I hadn't read any science fiction before and I wasn't sure if it was a genre I would like. The premise sounded great though so I thought, what the heck? I ended up loving these books! Here's my summary and review of each book in the trilogy:

In a distant future, Earth is in need of help. Natural resources are depleted and the technology is finally available for humans to travel through space and find other planets that can support life. Seventeen-year-old Amy's parents work for the government and are boarding a spaceship to go to one of those recently discovered planets. They give Amy a choice...stay on Earth with her boyfriend and relatives or come aboard the ship, get cryogenically frozen, and start a new life on a new planet many years in the future? Amy loves her parents and decides to go with them. The next thing she knows she's being woken up...early. Mesmerized by her beauty, a boy named Elder unplugs her machine. Elder had no idea all these people were frozen on his ship. He's grown up there and is being groomed to become the next Eldest, the leader. While Amy starts to adjust to her new reality, one in which she is a shunned outsider, someone starts unplugging and killing off the frozens one-by-one. Amy and Elder race to figure out what's going on and who's responsible. What they discover is shocking and life changing. Their spaceship/home has more secrets and problems than they ever thought possible.

It's been three months since Amy woke up on Godspeed. Her and Elder have uncovered many of the ships' secrets but many more questions still plague them. People have died and chaos has erupted. Elder has assumed control of the ship but it isn't going well. The more he and Amy fall in love, he more control over his people he loses. As more shocking discoveries are made, Amy comes to realize that not only will she never fit in with Elder and his people, but she will be older than her parents when they finally land. If they ever land. That's looking more and more like a possibility every second.

They've landed. A lot of lives were lost and a lot of people decided to stay behind but Elder and Amy and about 1000 members of Godspeed have taken the shuttle and landed on the new Earth. But this planet isn't at all what they thought it would be. Something big and scary is outside the shuttle trying to kill them. The frozens are woken up and assume control. It doesn't go well. Amy and Elder do whatever they can to bridge the gap and keep the peace between Elder's people and those that were frozen but nothing they do seems to help. As they all try to make a new life on this strange and amazing new planet, more threats come at them. They can't go back to Godspeed and those on Godspeed can't help them and they can't get a hold of anyone on the original Earth so what do they do? And more importantly, will they survive?

**The Across the Universe trilogy is science fiction at its best. Revis does an amazing job dealing with themes of hope, belonging, and what it means to be human. I loved the relationship between Amy and Elder and how despite all odds they do whatever they can to try to save the people onboard the ship and the mission itself. Elder's character arc is much more obvious and interesting than Amy's but her hardships onboard the ship as well as the feelings she has to deal with when adjusting to her new life will bring tears to your eyes. The final book had me tearing through the pages to see how it all ended and I couldn't have been more surprised and more pleased with how it all played out. I highly recommend this trilogy to anyone who enjoys philosophical questions, space drama, and thrilling mysteries.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment below.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New Book Releases

Whoops! Haven't done one of these posts in a while! Here's a list of some books released this week with their Goodreads links. I decided to start adding in genres as well. Enjoy!

Belladonna (Secrets of the Eternal Rose #2) by Fiona Paul

Historical Fiction

Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Contemporary Romance

Imperfect Spiral by Debbie Levy


No Easy Way Out (No Safety in Numbers #2) by Dayna Lorentz

Science Fiction-Dystopia

Veiled Dreams by Gill James

not sure on category...might be a contemporary with magical realism?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Book Review: Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt

Well it's been waaaaaay too long since my last post! Where is this summer going!? Good thing the wonderful PulseIt has been providing me with some free reading material! I just read Two Way Street, part of PulseIt's "Best Road Trip Books," and I thought it was pretty good. Here's my summary:

Courtney and Jordan were an unlikely couple in high school but that didn't seem to matter. They worked. Things were going great until Jordan out of the blue breaks up with Courtney for some girl he met online. Courtney is devastated but high school is over so she doesn't have to see Jordan anymore, right? Wrong. The two of them are going to the same college and are supposed to be driving there together. And Courtney's parents are still making her go! The trip doesn't go according to plan at all. Courtney does her best to hide her feelings for Jordan but Jordan is doing the same thing! Slowly Courtney learns exactly what happened to make Jordan break up with her and it's much worse (or maybe not so bad?) than she thought.

**Two Way Street is a very typical contemporary YA novel. It's an easy read with believable teenage dialogue. Barnholdt does a good job getting inside these two teens heads. She tells their story from alternating viewpoints of Courtney and Jordan before and during the road trip. I liked seeing how and why this couple ended up where they were. I thought the plot and pacing was well done and I looked forward to when all the secrets would finally be revealed. Overall a cute, quick read.

Thanks for stopping by! See you back here soon!

Friday, June 28, 2013

YA Book Giveaways

Hey all! I haven't done a post about giveaways in a while so here it goes. Links are provided! 

Literary Rambles: Can't say enough how much I love this website! Their writing tips are great and their agent spotlights have been so helpful to me. Natalie always responds to my comments and has visited my blog to share the love! Check them out for weekly giveaways to awesome YA and MG books.

YABC: Another great site that gives away YA books. I don't recognize a lot of these current ones their giving away but the covers look gorgeous!

Goodreads: These you have to scroll through to find YA but hello, it's Goodreads. "Nuff said.

Pulseit: I love this site! It should be illegal how many books they let you read for free and how much contests they let you enter!

Well, what are you waiting for?! Go win you some books!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book Review: Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick

I picked this book up at my library a couple of weeks ago because I wanted to have a vacation read that was a stand alone novel--something I could enjoy temporarily and not get too swept away in while spending time with my family. I ended up barely having time to read while we were away so I didn't start this until I got back. And wow! It was good! Here's my summary:

Jenna Lord's life hasn't been easy. When she was a child, she almost died in a fire. Now as a sixteen-year-old she's almost died for a second time. Jenna tells the story of how she got to this point into a tape recorder for a detective. It goes a little something like this: Ever since Jenna's grandma killed herself and her grandpa was put in a home, her mom has been a drunk, stressing out over her failing business. Her dad is a doctor who's never home and always sleeping around. Her brother shipped off to Iraq just to get away from all the crazy. So it's no wonder Jenna cuts herself to feel better. She's spent some time in an institution and now her dad feels it's time for her to make a fresh start at a new school. That's where Jenna meets Mr. Anderson. He's a great teacher, dedicated track coach, and...a married man. He takes an instant liking to Jenna, wanting to help her and make her feel OK about who she is and her past. But things quickly go further than either of them planned. They fall in love. But then one of the girls at Jenna's school goes missing and when Jenna pieces together things she's seen and heard, she starts to suspect Mr. Anderson isn't all he says he is. What happens when she confronts him has devastating consequences for them both.

**I love reading a good, dark YA story. This was one of those. Bick tackles several important issues like death, molestation, cutting, alcoholism, and adultery in a well-done, sensitive, and realistic way. Jenna was an easy character to relate to and her arc was different from any other I've read in a while. Her growth and healing came in the most unexpected way. I like how the author let us see that no one is perfect and it's often hard to tell who is good and who is bad, who is guilty and who is innocent. Things are never black and white--life is full of gray.

Thanks for stopping by! Comment away... 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Book Review: The Chemical Garden Trilogy: Fever, Wither and Sever by Lauren DeStefano

I started reading this series right from the get-go. My library ordered the first book, Wither, not long after it was published and I got my name on the hold list right away. I'm pretty sure I tore through it in like 2 days! And as soon as Fever and Sever came out, I tore through those too! Here's my summary of the three:

16-year-old Rhine and her twin brother Rowan live in a world where orphans are the norm, young girls are sold to polygamous husbands, and poverty and crime are at an all time high. Why? Because years ago scientists tried to create a perfect human race and instead doomed the world with a deadly virus that kills females at the age of 20 and males at the age of 25. When Rhine answers an ad thinking it will bring her and her brother some much needed money, she has no idea she's walking into a trap. Before she knows it, she's been Gathered. She and two other girls are picked by a wealthy doctor's son. They're taken to a beautiful estate where their every need is catered to and the crumbling world around them fades away. Rhine becomes and bride to Linden and a sister-wife to Jenna and Cecily while Linden's first love, Rose slowly fades away from the virus. But nothing is as perfect as it seems in Rhine's new world. Linden's father hoards corpses to study and encourages the girls to get pregnant--all so he can find a cure to the virus. Rhine wants nothing more than to escape her beautiful prison and get back to her twin brother. When she meets a servant, Gabriel, who also dreams of freedom, the two hatch a plan to do just that. The question isn't whether or not they make it but what awaits them in the world when they do.

Now that Rhine and Gabriel have escaped, they try desperately to get to Rowan and start a new life. But instead they end up captured by the leader of a cruel brothel. Madame wants them for herself--to be the stars of her awful carnival and she doesn't plan to let them go. Amid slave children and the haze of drugs slipped to them unknowingly, Rhine and Gabriel lose precious months of their lives performing shows and being trapped by yet another crazy captor. But Rhine won't give up her dream of getting home so easily. With a little help from some kind carnival friends, Rhine manages to get her and Gabriel out. But she isn't as free as she thought. She's sick and the only explanation for why is one that comes to her when she's about to die--it's her father-in-law, Housemaster Vaughn's fault. The next thing she knows, Rhine is back at the estate and in the basement--the place where Vaughn does his corpse studying--the place where those who enter never come back from. And Rhine would know, she's seen it happen.

With Linden and Cecily's help, Rhine manages to get away from Housemaster Vaughn. She still needs to find her brother and now Gabriel too. Linden gets her to his uncle's house and the two finally come to terms with all that has happened to Rhine and who Vaughn really is. But Vaughn isn't ready to give up on his son and daughter's-in-law just yet. When Rhine learns how to get to her brother, who is now an extremist against finding the cure, she jumps at the chance. But in the process she learns just how far Vaughn's web of deceit and betrayal and control spans. There's more to Rhine and Rowan than Rhine ever knew and it all goes back to their geneticist parents and their Chemical Garden project. So does Rhine ever get the life of freedom she wants? Does she find Gabriel? The question of who will survive and who won't  and whether or not a cure can ever be found is all answered in this breathtaking final installment.

**All in all, I really loved these books. Rhine was such an easy character to listen to and get to know. I enjoyed all the sister-wives and Linden and found that every character, no matter how minor, was well drawn and interesting. DeStefano's writing was wonderful and really drew me in and kept me reading. At times I'd find myself re-reading lines and smiling at how profound they were. While some parts dragged out more than others in books two and three, overall the plot was well-done. My only complaint is small--I would've liked to know more about the science of Rhine and Rowan's parent's work and what exactly made the twins so special. But I don't really think that was important to the overall story that DeStefano was trying to tell. She wanted to tell a story of love against all odds and how we can love different people in different ways. She wanted to paint a picture of hope amidst a world falling apart. And she wanted us to question what evil really was--those who played God and caused death? Those who killed in order to cure? Or those who enslaved to get back what they lost?

Thanks for reading! I'll have another review for you soon. Feel free to comment below.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

More vacation

Well, vacation has officially ended! While I'm glad to be home, I'm definitely a little sad it's all over. We had a blast and kept very busy and made a lot of great memories. Back to writing/querying tomorrow! In the meantime, here are a few more pics...

Enjoying some beachside entertainment in the form of kite surfers in Rockport

Trying to keep the seagulls from eating our lunch at the beach in Port Aransas. They're VULTURES!

More beach fun (and a TON of seaweed) in North Padre

Fishing in Aransas Pass

Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi

On the hunt for seashells

That's all! I hope your summer has been fun and family filled so far like mine has been. Now time for me to get some work done! Check back later this week for a book review of SEVER (btw, I am loving it!)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Just wanted to stop in and say hello! 

The family and I started our vacation yesterday and so far it has been a blast! We arrived at our beach house in Rockport in the early afternoon and headed straight to the beach. The girls enjoyed catching hermit crabs and collecting shells but were totally grossed out by the dead jellyfish that had washed ashore! As you can see from the pic below, I was able to get some reading done which was awesome. (: Today we hit up Port Aransas. The girls loved the ferry ride over and we had so much fun playing in the waves and building sand castles (and collecting MORE shells!). 

Since Mama got a bit lobster-like today, we're going to head into Corpus Christi tomorrow and check out the battleship and see some sights. Hope you're enjoying your summer as much as I am. I'll try to check back in with more pics as the week progresses.