Thursday, December 23, 2010

Review: Iron King by Julie Kagawa

I'm always a fan of faerie books, so Iron King was right up my alley. 

The story line is pretty good. On her 16th birthday, Meghan Chase discovers she is not only half human, half fae, but that her father is famous, dangerous, and royalty. He is King Oberon, and that makes Meghan a fae princess. She travels with her best friend Puck to the Nevernever (the faerie world) to save her little brother, Ethan, who was kidnapped and replaced by a changeling.

Along the way Meghan stumbles through Fae life making deadly mistakes, interesting friends, and many enemies. One of those enemies is Ash, the prince of her father's rival court. Meghan and Ash soon fall in love though it's a death sentence for both of them.

I enjoyed the Iron King, but I was a little put off by the graphic imagery in some parts. It's not that bad and there is little to no swearing. I just don't enjoy scenes with people being in so much pain it brings "ecstasy" and so forth.

Pin It

No thanks.

As most of you know, I am a writer. A lot of you got to read the first 17 pages of my book The Gifted when they were featured on Since that time I have had a lot of questions about when it will be published. Even a very good friend of my family's joked he wanted to open a publishing house just so he could print my book and read the rest of it. That makes a person feel good.

Since last July I have been sending it to agencies and publishers trying to get someone to love it as much as I do. Last week I got yet another rejection letter. Honestly, I haven't gotten that many because I have not sent it to that many agencies or publishes, but it's enough to be a little discouraged.

I have decided to publish The Gifted myself. I'll be going through CreateSpace, which means The Gifted will be available for sale directly on I had pretty much decided to do this a few months ago, but my dad told me to give this last agency one more shot. I did and they shot me down. Oh well. You have to have a tough skin. The only thing this really means is that I won't become rich and famous. But hey, at least my book will be published and anyone who is interested can read it.

Are you excited? I am. But there's one more thing. I won't even be able to start working on The Gifted until February. Until then I'll be busy in a series of edits for manuscripts to enter into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I'm entering the book I wrote in November, but as it is no one would take a second glance at it. It needs lots of work.

So, at the beginning of February I'll pick up The Gifted and work it into a polished state worthy of the printing press. Until then, you'll just have to find something else to read. Pin It

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Review: Nobody's Princess by Esther Friesner

I have been wanting to read this book for a while, so I was very excited to finally get the chance.

Nobody's Princess is the coming of age story of Helen of Sparta, later known as Helen of Troy. Helen is a sassy stubborn thing with lots of spunk and will power. She hates doing the mundane tasks women of her society endure and convinces her brothers' teacher to tutor her in the arts of sword fighting and spear throwing. She journey's with her brothers to distant lands, and the ending leaves us hanging on saying, "What? That's the end?" Luckily there is a sequel (which I have yet to read).

Throughout this book, there are many examples of the author's knowledge of the time period. There are small details in the book that the author explains perfectly without making it seem like I'm reading a text book. For example the tradition of sharing bread and salt with guests is mentioned, and Helen, the narrator, explains this is a sacred trust between guest and host.

I was impressed by the writing and enjoyed the story. My only complaint is that through Friesner's story telling, I grew to love Helen, Polydueces and Castor. If you do a little bit of research on them, you'll find they are not as wonderful and honorable as Nobody's Princess makes them out to be, and that is a hard pill to swallow sometimes. 

Pin It

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A new Mr. Darcy?

I love me some Pride and Prejudice. Seriously. I think it's the ultimate sick day movie. Really, any version of the movie is the best, and I've seen a lot of them. I don't know what it is about the story that I love, I just love it. And of course, who doesn't love Mr. Darcy? In the end, anyway.

The other day I was flipping through the catalogue online at our local library and came across Masterpiece Theatre Jane Eyre. I saw the play in college because my roommate was in the orchestra. The only thing I remember was there was a lunatic hidden in the attic and something about fire... I thought I might give the movie a shot. I liked the play (at least I think I did) so I would probably enjoy the movie.

Let me just say this. The movie is 4 hours long, and I have somehow managed to watch it twice, yes twice, in the last three days. I guess that's what happens when your husband is working late hours. That's beside the point. The fact that I stayed up late and got up early to watch it tells you how much I loved it. Well, that and I skipped over the parts with Mrs. Reed being Mrs. Reed and Bertha haunting the halls. Seen it once, didn't need to see it twice. But the rest of the movie, I loved.

I especially loved Mr. Rochester. Good heavens, the actor is brilliant. He's rough around the edges, beastly and mean at first. Ok, that's a lie, he's rough around the edges, beastly and mean through most of the movie, but for Jane he changes. For Jane he is a completely different animal. He really made me believe that he was in love with her.

I do a pretty good job of keeping one foot in reality at all times when I watch a movie. Books are different - I like to lose my mind in a book. But with movies I always point out, "That actor also played in..." or "Yeah, like that would happen in real life." I like to remember that life is not a movie and this didn't really happen.

But with Jane Eyre, I think I lost my focus and had both eyes trained on the imagination of Charlotte Bronte. Is Mr. Rochester real? As real as Edward and Bella, or Harry, or even Mickey Mouse. But for those few hours I forgot the word "fiction" and thought how lucky Jane was to have someone like Mr. Rochester. Well, lucky until she met Bertha.

So, if you're sick or snowed in or just in the mood for some good tv...and you've got 4 hours to spare I'd recommend Jane Eyre. I haven't seen any other versions yet, just the BBC Masterpiece Theatre one. Sadly, that's the only one our local library has, so I don't think I'll be watching any other versions. A new one is coming out staring Mia Wasikowska, but after watching the previews, I'm still partial to the BBC version.

If you do check out this movie, here are three things of note:

1. Jane's profile takes some getting used to, but push passed that and you'll see she really can be very pretty.
2. The young Jane Eyre is played by Georgie Henley. (Aka Lucy Pevensie)
3. If you speak Spanish, cover your ears when Jane meets Bertha.

Please enjoy:)

PS. If you enjoy Pride and Prejudice, you will probably enjoy this book by Shannon Hale:

Pin It

Friday, November 5, 2010

"I was just trying to be funny..."

My book is written from two points of view. For example. Chapter 1 is written from A's point of view (POV), and Chapter 2 is written from B's POV.

All characters in any book have a distinct, unique "voice." They have their own personality, how they see things, how they say things, etc. Just like people.

I am over 50 pages into this book, and I realized, oh no. I think A and B have the same voice. I think all along I was writing them with the same "voice," just a different POV. Ahh! How boring is that going to be? Because the reader is smart enough to pick up on that kind of thing.

Anyway, I was telling Tyler all about my problem, and I could physically see his eyes glaze over and his jaw go slack, but I didn't care. I still told him because sometimes you just need someone to bounce ideas off of. And quite frankly, I don't like to talk about my books. So it was even better that he wasn't paying attention.

Mind you, I gave Tyler all of the same information I just gave you except I told him the genders of A and B.

So after I said I was worried that they both had the same voice, he looked at me and said, "Just have one of them use sign language."

If you laughed at that, great. Tyler will feel much better. Did he get a laugh from me?


Why? Because one of my characters is mute. I'm not even joking. She doesn't speak. So she, essentially, does use sign language. It's quite a challenge to write a book written from the POV of someone who cannot communicate without using her hands or a pen.

I stared at Tyler with narrowed eyes and a growing temper.

"What?" he asks.
"Did you read my book?" (My books are strictly forbidden. I went to the temple last night so he had 3 1/2 hours to read. He could have done it!)
"No!" He laughs.
I continue to stare and he stops laughing. My eyes continue to narrow until they are slits.
"Are you serious?" I ask him.
"No, I mean yes. No, I did not read your book."
"Then how did you know one of my characters is mute and has to use sign language?"
He kind of smiles again, but it's the, "Oops, I just ruined my Christmas present," kind of smile.
"Well you said voices, and I thought speaking, and I thought maybe if they didn't have to speak then you wouldn't have to worry about their voice..." his voice is getting quieter and quieter until he says in almost a whisper, "I was just trying to be funny..."

Such is the stress of living in our household during the month of November. Pin It

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Want to help me with my book?

I'm in the middle of a brainstorming session, but I feel like this is more of a brain sprinkle than storm.

I need help.

Here's what I'm looking for: I need ideas on supernatural abilities a person might have. They can be big or little, though mostly little. Here are some examples:

The ability to-

Sing birds out of trees and make them go wherever you want
Spark a fire with a snap of your fingers
Turn water into wheat
Control a small amount of wind
Grow a potato instantly in your hands
Turn air into music

Tell if a person is lying or telling the truth simply by looking at them.
Control a person's thoughts

The setting is in a medieval type world. No technology and such. If you have any ideas to share, that would be welcome. If not, that's cool. I hope you enjoyed a few random things that may or may not appear in my book.

If you are shy about posting your ideas online, I completely understand. You are welcome to email me! But please, only give me ideas you won't mind if I use in my story. If you have a great idea but don't want me to use it, then wait until I'm done writing this book and then tell me - with the strict instructions that it's for entertainment purposes and not personal use.

Thanks a bunch! Pin It

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Can't talk right now...

I'm busy writing.

NaNoWriMo has begun!

Don't know what I'm talking about? Click here for a general rundown. And then check my stats here (or in the sidebar) to keep track of my progress.

*I've just realized the NaNoWriMo website is probably taking forever. Here's how it works. November is National Novel Writing Month. I hope to write a 50,000 word novel before midnight on November 30th.*

May I just say it's day 3 of the "competition," and I've already met 43% of my goal? I think that translates to: "I kick hiney." I guess you could say I have a healthy obsession. Pin It

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Early Mockingjay Catches the Worm

Have you read these books yet? Well, I have devoured the first two books, and the third and final book in the trilogy, Mockingjay, came out last night at midnight.

I have been on hold at the library since March. As of yesterday, there were 177 people on hold, I was number 32. I actually got invited to a midnight release party at the library, and I really wanted to go, but I would have flown solo and decided not to. I missed out on a free gift bag and costume contest. Bummer.

Anywho. There are 140 people in town who will be waiting a while before getting this book. Me? I'm walking down there right now to pick up my copy. It is true what they say (about the early bird getting the worm). 

Don't worry though, I'll still post pictures...between chapters:) Pin It

Friday, August 13, 2010

Review: The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale

Becky is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets her dream actor Felix Callahan by chance. Twelve hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later something has happened, though nothing has happened… it isn't sexual. It isn't even quite love. But soon Felix shows up in the Utah 'burbs to visit and before they know what's hit them, Felix and Becky are best friends. Really. Becky's husband is pretty cool about it. Her children roll their eyes. Her best (girl)friend can't get her head around it. But Felix (think Colin Firth) and Becky have something special… something unusual, something completely impossible to sustain. Or is it?-

The Actor and the Housewife was wildly entertaining. The dialoge between Becky and Felix is hilarious and makes me wish I was just as witty. The book covers a huge time span (11 years I think...?) which is difficult to do in one novel. Unfortunately I found some parts to be a little slow and had to muscle through. Other parts, however, were touching and yes I shed some tears (some because I was laughing so hard).

A recommended read if you enjoy LDS fiction/comedy.

Pin It

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review: Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley

This much-loved retelling of the classic French tale Beauty and the Beast elicits the familiar magical charm, but is more believable and complex than the traditional story. In this version, Beauty is not as beautiful as her older sisters, who are both lovely and kind. Here, in fact, Beauty has no confidence in her appearance but takes pride in her own intelligence, her love of learning and books, and her talent in riding. She is the most competent of the three sisters, which proves essential when they are forced to retire to the country because of their father's financial ruin.

The plot follows that of the renowned legend: Beauty selflessly agrees to inhabit the Beast's castle to spare her father's life. Beauty's gradual acceptance of the Beast and the couple's deepening trust and affection are amplified in novel form. Robin McKinley's writing has the flavor of another century, and Beauty heightens the authenticity as a reliable and competent narrator. -

I have read many retellings of Beauty and the Beast. This is one of the better versions. The love story stems from a deep friendship and doesn't seem hurried to me. I love that Beauty is a realist instead of a romantic. She is also self-conscious, which is a little refreshing to find in a heroine. I also found myself fond of this Beast more than others I've encountered in the past.

Pin It

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Set in the future, the second civil war is fought over abortion. To end the war, a compromise is reached that ends the practice of abortion but creates an alternative called "unwinding." Between the ages of 13 and 17, parents or guardians can choose to have their children unwound, which involves having every part of their bodies harvested to be "donated" to another person so, technically, they don't really die. The complex and compelling plot follows three teens whose stories intertwine when they escape while on their way to the harvest camps. Fifteen-year-old Connor's parents can no longer control him. Lev, a tithe, was raised by religious parents for the sole purpose of being unwound. Risa, a ward of the state, is a victim of shrinking budgets since she is not a talented enough musician to be kept alive -

Where do I begin? I just finished this book minutes ago, and my stomach is tied in knots. I started this book yesterday, and that should give you some indication of how enthralled I was.

Like many other reviewers, I found this book horrifying and yet I could not stop myself from turning the page. I fell in love with Connor and Risa and wanted to put my arm around Lev. I wanted to punch Roland in the gut, but I ended up pitying him in the end.

I hope the idea of retroactive abortion isn't catching.

I gave this book 5 stars because the writing is impeccable, the characters believable, and lots of other technical stuff that doesn't matter. I also gave it 5 stars because it dares to dip into the downright uncomfortable and remind us all that life is important, and who are we decide who doesn't deserve to live it.

Pin It

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Review: Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, is born with the ability to speak to animals, a gift that is nurtured by her aunt. When the king dies, the queen announces that Ani's younger brother, not the crown princess, will succeed her on the throne. Unbeknownst to anyone, the queen has promised Ani in marriage to the prince of neighboring Bayern. The devastated teen is sent with a retinue over the mountains to Bayem and is betrayed by Selia, her lady-in-waiting, and most of her guards during the journey. Ani escapes, takes the name "Isi," disguises her distinctive blonde hair, and becomes a tender of geese to survive until she can reveal her true identity and reclaim her crown from the imposter, Selia. -

What I loved most about this book was Ani. Seems obvious, but really it's hard to have the main character be your favorite part of a story. She is given seemingly insurmountable trials, and yet she faces them head on, and not for love of a boy. She does it for love of her country and for love of herself. She discovers that she is worth something and therefore is worth fighting for. That is a lesson I think a lot of us need to learn.

The book itself seemed a little long and sometimes tedious, but when trying to imagine which parts I'd cut out, I couldn't think of any. I was pleasantly surprised when the twist came and I shouted, "I knew it!" That's always a good reaction.

I'm very much looking forward to reading the other Books of Bayern.

Pin It

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Review: Sea Change by Aimee Friedmann

Sixteen-year-old Miranda Merchant is great at science. . .and not so great with boys. After major drama with her boyfriend and (now ex) best friend, she's happy to spend the summer on small, mysterious Selkie Island, helping her mother sort out her late grandmother's estate.

There, Miranda finds new friends and an island with a mysterious, mystical history, presenting her with facts her logical, scientific mind can't make sense of. She also meets Leo, who challenges everything she thought she knew about boys, friendship. . .and reality.

Is Leo hiding something? Or is he something that she never could have imagined?-

I really wanted to love this book, but I found myself just liking it. The thing that "ruined" it for me is probably the fact that the love affair between Leo and Miranda took place in the space of six days (give or take a day). Also, warnings about Selki Island included monsters, and I would have preferred to see more of them.

Other than that, I found myself very drawn into the story. I appreciated the love triangle including T.J. and found myself unsure of which guy to root for. The characters were fun and believable and the writing fluid and entertaining.

The end was a disappointment because I felt like the book ended right in the middle of the story. I'm hoping for a sequel. Also, I expected Leo to come find Miranda, but he never did.

Bottom line: Is this book worth reading? I think so.

Pin It

Monday, July 12, 2010

Review: Bright Blue Miracle by Becca Wilhite

Leigh's life changes when she becomes part of a blended family she didn't need and gets a sister she didn't want. Now, to make things worse, she has to share not only her bedroom, but her best friend, Jeremy.

I read this book in a day or two. Fast read; good paced book. I love the narrative because Leigh's mind works so much like a normal sarcastic teenager. I laughed many times thinking, "That's what I would say." The characters are, for the most part, believable. I sometimes had a hard time following the timeline. One paragraph Leigh is looking for a summer job and the next paragraph she is talking about taking chemistry notes in class.

I will admit I cried a few times. This was a touching, uplifting novel that I've already shared with friends. Highly recommended.

Pin It

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Review: Violet Eyes by Debbie Viguie

When a storm brings the dashing Prince Richard to her family's farm, Violet falls in love at first sight. Richard also gives Violet his heart, but he knows his marriage is destined to be an affair of state, not of passion. For the king and queen have devised a contest to determine who will win their son's hand in marriage.

To be reunited with her prince, Violet must compete against princesses from across the land. It will take all of her wits -- and a little help from an unexpected source -- if Violet is to demonstrate the depth of her character and become Richard's bride.-

I am a hopeless romantic, so I was not disappointed in this book. Sometimes "love at first site" is unbelievable and I have a hard time rooting for the hero and heroine. This time, however, I was excited to see what would happen to Violet and Richard.

This was a quick read. It took me two hours and 45 minutes, start to finish. Definitely worth the time.

Pin It

Monday, January 25, 2010

I didn't even get to say goodbye!

So you probably remember from last year that I entered that writing contest on Amazon. If not, here's a quick recap. holds a contest called Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) where they accept 10,000 submissions for unpublished novels. There is a series of rounds and books are cut from 10k to 2k to 500 to 100 to 3 to 1. My novel, The Gifted, made it to the top 100.

I'm a little sensitive about this right now, so bear with me.

This year, I didn't get to enter a novel. I didn't have anything in good enough shape, and the novel I wrote in November was a sequel to The Gifted. I really tried to write another one so that I could enter it, but I only made it about a third of the way into the novel and had to put it down and walk away. Something about my little boy being more important.

So I'm not entering this year. It's not a huge deal, except that one of the judges is one of my all-time favorite authors. And they've split the grand prize this year (a publishing contract with Penguin) into 2 parts. One publishing contract for general fiction, and one for Young genre! So my chances were better than last year, assuming my work was up to par.

I just feel sick about missing out, but every time I look at Seth I know I am making the right choice.

I tried to ignore the looming date on the calendar for when they started accepting submissions. I actually forgot it was today until I got an email a few hours ago saying, "Amazon is now accepting submissions..."

I bit my lip and closed my email, hoping to erase it from my memory. No luck.

And lastly, to add to the pain, the webpage that featured the excerpt from my book (and your wonderful comments) has been deleted. I forgot to check it one last time until tonight. But it was too late. The webpage was gone, and all I have are my prideful memories of my name in bold letters at the top of the screen.

So, and update on the Gifted. I've sent it to many publishers, and none of them feel strongly enough about it to pursue it. Yeah, that hurts. It's like being told no one wants to look at you because you're not pretty enough. But I have been doing a lot of thinking about this. I decided that while it would be nice to be a famous author (and Tyler wants me to make millions so he can retire), that is actually not what is important in life. In the eternal perspective of things, it won't matter if I got published. I just don't feel great about trying to get published by a publishing house unless I thought my work could help someone. And, while entertaining, The Gifted is not what we call "enlightening."

Now, my dad is a published author, as well as my aunt. My own sister has some short stories published. Am I saying to be published is naughty? Absolutely not. What I'm saying is that I have decided to take the "easy" way out and self publish. Meaning I'm pretty much representing myself here, and someday you will be able to buy and read The Gifted from or But don't expect to see it on the New York Times Best Seller list...or even made into a movie.

I'm just not that gifted....:) Pin It