Book Review – Alice in the Country of Hearts: White Rabbit and Some Afternoon Tea Part 1 by QuinRose

Title: Alice in the Country of Hearts:  White Rabbit and Some Afternoon Tea Part 1

Author: QuinRose

Illustrator: Mamenosuke Fujimaru

Format: Paperback

Published: 2015

 

After pushing through the monstrosity that was last weeks book that shall not be named, I opted to read something light and fun this week.  Yes, another Alice manga.  For those who have been reading this blog for a while you know that this is my obsession.  I don’t know why but I love the story, the idea of an independent Alice who is not looking for love and yet surrounded by it (and gun fights) just intrigues me.  This story had by attention from the start and I love the infinite possibilities that branch from the story.  What if Alice chooses not to love?  What if she falls in love with the March Hare?  What about the Cheshire Cat?  What if instead of falling in love in the Country of Hearts she doesn’t fall in love till the Country of Joker?  There are an infinite number of ways things could go and I love it.  I also love how the love when it is chosen develops.  It also doesn’t hurt that the characters are attractively drawn and are very vibrant.  I am after all a sucker for a good story and great characters make for a good story.

 

Anyway, with my obsession with Alice in the Country of Heart series I always wondered what it would be like to have a story where Alice might actually fall in love with Peter White the White Rabbit.  It is a difficult story of course, because he was the one who kidnapped her away to Wonderland and he can be a ‘little’ over the top with his affection.  Honestly in almost every story there is a hate that resides with Alice towards Peter.  Honestly one can’t really blame her for that.   Still the idea has always intrigued me and as I’ve learned more about the character Peter White the more curious I got.  Such as Peter being her “Sunday Afternoon”, always there, always loving, and only wanting what is best for her.  It is clear in most manga and in this one in particular that Alice’s safety and happiness is all Peter wants.  While he would love to be with her romantically speaking he will settle for her being there in Wonderland and happy.

 

This story honestly has done a masterful job of exhibiting the relationship between Alice and Peter and helped push things beyond physical attraction or a sudden change of character personality.  In the story there are many occasions where Alice over hears conversations that show her more of Peter’s character and his love for her beyond the apparent crazy obsession he has for her.  Honestly with out any kissing and hardly any hand holding the romance in this story was impeccable.  The soft quiet moments between Alice and Peter though rare and few were swoon worthy and the suspense in the story didn’t feel like a trope (classic Alice getting dragged into mafia wars or kidnapped.)  Okay so you could call what happened as a kidnapping but it wasn’t a classic kidnapping and that made the story all the more real.

 

Honestly, I loved everything about this manga.  There is not a single thing I would change, it had me laughing, sitting on the edge of my seat and swooning.  It was impeccable despite the fact that my two favorite characters Mad Hatter (aka Blood Dupree) and March Hare (aka Eliot) did not exactly feature in this book.  I think over all I am actually going to give this book a rare 5 out of 5 because I enjoyed the read that much and had no complaints about anything including the art as that was done my the original artist of the series.    With my high rating I will notate that this isn’t ‘the’ book to start with if you are looking to jump in on this Alice series but at the same time it isn’t the worst either as it will give you a clear picture of everything that is going on and you do not need to have past experiences with the story to derive enjoyment out of the story.

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Book Review – Life and Death by Stephanie Meyers

Title: Life and Death

Author: Stephanie Meyers

Format: Hardback

Published: 2015

 

There comes a point in every reader’s life where they finish a book and they are not sure what to say. In most cases this is the sign of a good book. Unfortunately, this is not the case for me, and hopefully this won’t be the case for anyone else that would think to read this. I have honestly spent an entire day trying to figure out how to even begin to describe this book and what I read. It’s not a matter that it was so unremarkable that there are no words to speak.  When it comes to this book, there is just that much wrong with it.

Now, before I get far along on in the review that may turn rain train, I want to make some things very clear to anyone person who loves Twilight the series or may find joy in this particular book. I am not ripping into this book because I am just ‘that jealous of Stephanie Meyers’ or because I ‘just hate the fandom’.   I don’t even come to you as a person who has only read this one book or only watched the movies.  I have read all the main Twilight books, and did so not as a person wishing to mock the books but a curious individual who wanted something to read aside from text books while in school.

Next, I will admit that I read the first books while still in college. I read most of them them in that mind numbing state of over caffeinated and dead asleep. It was easy reading and a decent story. (I will admit while I will tear this book to shreds – the bones of the story have something to them – the execution is the problem.) I was not as mindful of sentence structure at the time, and actually ‘liked’ the books before Breaking Dawn. I could probably spend a good portion of this blog ripping apart Breaking Dawn based on memories from several years ago, but I won’t.  Yet, it was in reading Breaking Dawn that I realized what crap the books were. (It was summer I had actually slept by the time I read the final book.)

So, considering my history with the books – going from liking them to hating them, it can be without question that I was a little curious about the story being gender swapped. I love little au (alternate universe) and twists of the like, so my interest was piqued.  Thus it was determined by a few of my friends, (some of them fellow bloggers on this site) that I needed to ‘take one for the team’ and read “Life and Death”, (which I did read in its entirety).  There were times I wanted to cry because I had to read it, but eventually the book became a comedy (Dimples!) before it returned itself to nightmare status.

I now ask that you hold onto your dimples, because this journey might take a while as I take you on my trek through the monster of a book (which it was a physical monster, being two novels in one in hard back – my arms cried for mercy!).

When I started reading, I was doing some comparison between the new story and the old, flipping between the two, and I tried to be optimistic. What was said in one page by Bella took one and a half for Beau to say. Stephanie Meyers was being more descriptive. Not a lot more, she wasn’t going for a hi–def picture, but there was a bit more substance. I remember sharing this with a friend going ‘maybe Stephanie had grown as a writer’. ‘It has been 10 years, maybe this book won’t be so bad.’ These were the words of my doom.

I tried to continue read along and not compare old with new and simply read the story, but as I read I would be forced to stop. I didn’t stop because I needed to compare old with new (though I did) but because the words were not making sense.   I wish I could share with you some of the early sentences that threw me for a loop.   I literally had to stop and go, ‘Was that even a sentence?’ At one point I poked my editor and asked her for her take on the sentence.  She confirmed that it was a sentence (barely), but it was very poorly written. We then went back and forth coming up coming up with new and better ways to write the same sentence. Want to know the kicker? We didn’t add or subtract words; we literally just rearranged the words so that they flowed better and made a lot more sense.

It was after that horrid sentence that I discovered my first continuity error, I had to re-read things to be sure I didn’t mistake something.  However, writing was just that bad. It wasn’t me; I didn’t miss something along the way. Literally the character talks about their overall day and how they were bad in their last class of the day, gym class. Then the character backs up to talk about how lunch that day went and spends a whole page plus some this.   Once done talking about lunch, we are back in the afore mentioned gym class again, with a remark on how embarrassing it was.  This wasn’t like a new day/new class or a second instance of the class in the same day, it was the same class on the same day! It did not fit and flow! You have NO idea how much I wanted to take those few pages rearrange and rewrite them where it flowed and worked better!   Alas I plowed on till I couldn’t take it.

Loathing the book, I concluded to read when I was sleep deprived. I powered through a few chapters because I was too tired to notice if a sentence was actually a sentence, and this worked for me till the book was due back at the library and I either had to power through it in two days or give up, because honestly I didn’t see myself checking the book back out, particularly when there is a wait list. (Yes, terrifying I know.) So I took a deep breath and plunged in and found myself in a sea of dimples.

Almost every smile Edythe (yes, we’ll get to her name in a bit) gave there were dimples. It was rare the word smile was actually used in regards to Edythe. She had dimples. She flashed her dimples, she was seen dimpling. These references were subtle at first, till I reached the following quote:

“She leaned against the frame, and threw her dimples at them.”

It was by this point I had lost it.  In my mind I saw a woman literally taking the dimples off of her face and pelting the poor guys she was talking to with them. It took me several minutes to get over the humor of this and the scene was not supposed to be funny. (Honestly, I shared this line with everyone who would listen and most of them were fellow writers. ) Everyone I have spoken to about this line has paused at it.   From that point forward, every time I saw the word dimples, I cracked up. This made the first ‘date’ quite amusing to me as the word dimples came up a few more times within only a few pages. In the end, I did have to compare the old with the new, and the comparison was something that is not easy to describe.

In booth books the human is trying to explain what sort of effect the vampire has on other humans. In Twilight Edward ‘dazzles’ to the point that he asks ‘Do I ‘dazzle’ you?’ while Edythe merely dimples to the point of causing mini heart attacks. I KID YOU NOT.  Beau had a couple of mini-heart attack episodes in the book.  In short, Edward dazzles while Edythe dimples.

Anyway, the dimples soldier forward to not only be thrown at people, but also be put on display (I imagined a display case with dimples).  Then Beau got a face full of the dimples and then as my favorite, Edythe slowly smiled causing the dimples to appear, and it was the equivalent of the ending display of fireworks on the Fourth of July. Land sakes the dimples are Patriotic, and may have looked something like this:

Anyway, as much as I would love to continue on about the dimples and their hilarity to me, there is still more of the book to cover. (As an aside, I feel bad for the next author I read who uses the word dimples because I will laugh, and it won’t be their fault.)

By this point, I’m only half way through the book and we finally get to the point where the two lovers are separated because of the villainous tracker vampire that wants to drink the human’s blood.  So there was sadly a distinct lack of dimples (sorry I had to) by this point. This is where the story starts to deviate from the original. If you, for some reason don’t want to know the end skip down to the rating which I’ll have clearly marked. In this rendering of the tale, Beau becomes a vampire instead of going to play part in the horror that is known as New Moon (which we won’t get me started on that rant either). This is where the book had potential, I mean real potential. I had a friend once say that she (Bella) should have turned at the end of the first book, that, or died. I rather agreed and there was so much potential, and it was wasted.  ALL OF IT!

The whole transformation process is touted in the books as being pure agony, and the worst pain imaginable.  So the actual process was then referenced as fire, fire burning, simply burning, and every individual cell in the body burning.  Oh there was also pain, lots of pain.  It was during this time that the BIGGEST info dump I have ever seen in my life occurred.  Pages and pages of info dumping, with occasional moments for an ‘I’m sorry this had to happen Beau’ and ‘the flesh – it burns’ (okay, that last quote wasn’t from the book – brownie points if you can tell me what movie that came from though!) Supposedly, while in the worst agony of your life, because you are becoming a vampire, you remember every little detail, making it the perfect time to tell you all you ever needed to know about vampires and vampire life.   We learn about their ways, their rules and what the personal life stories are of people people the character hardly knows, because it was a good time to do it.  Honestly, this was Stephanie Meyer’s way of quickly covering things that came up in later books that weren’t originally covered in the first book.   This was done so that readers can compare what the differences are between the original gender character and the new gender character.  It was ridiculously dull and boring.  A better way to share that information, would have been to just use like an Afterward to go ‘hey these are things I’m sure you are wondering about that never came up in the story you just read….’ No she had to create a boring info dump, despite that fact that there is indeed an after ward for her to say – ‘this was fun and imagine what you will for anything I didn’t really cover!’

That pretty much sums up the end of the book, save for the epilogue which was odd, and I really don’t want to go far into it, beyond the fact that memories of life as a human are not easy for vampires to recall.  Thus, one can be very detached from their human past and yet somehow everyone remembers things from it, like important things such as what led to them being vampires (not just the changing process but like their near death experiences before the change, or life style before the change.  They also all supposedly suffer great pain of losing their left behind loved ones,  but can be impacted by watching their own funeral where said loved ones distraught over loosing them.  Yeah, it is really weird and messed up how the memory thing works. It appears it is only follows the whims of the author when she doesn’t feel like writing the raw emotions but still wants a character molded by said circumstances. *eyeroll*

 

RATINGS AND FINAL NOTES!!!!

 

For those of you who scrolled down to here, welcome back. For those who stuck this long post out with me congrats, we are nearing the end, and you deserve a cookie for reading all of this.   I think it is easy to guess the rating I’d give this book, which would be a 1 out of 5 pages. I know other reviewers have talked about negative ratings and 0 ratings but I’ll give the book a 1 because as I said at the start the bones are there.  The bones of the story are good, the execution however, was just horrific.  Honestly, tighter sentence structure, a good editor who will tell the author no, and no more sparkles,there could be something decent here, but sadly it isn’t decent and this is truly a hot mess, which I must continue to further outline.

If you read the forward, this book was created because of all the nay sayers who said the book was all about a damsel in distress and not about the romance. It was to show that everything would pretty much be the same if gender was reversed.  Which things were the same in a lot of ways.  Still by doing this gender swap I saw of lot things that came to light about gender in the books.  It showed all the more how there are still some massive issues involved.   While I try not to gender type at all, there were points where the actions of the character screamed the opposite gender of what they were.  I’m not saying that one gender can’t act like the other but with given societal norms (unfortunate as some may be) they did not work so well.  But there was a big deal about ‘man code’ not being broken, and the guys waiting for the girls to act instead of things being equal.   Also, it was in reading this book that I realized and noticed the gender typing in the first book. Of the school staff, we meet only 5 people, the secretary, the nurse, and 3 teachers. The secretary and nurse in the original book were female and the rest of the staff was male. Am I the only one that finds this a little bit wrong?

In addition, in the forward, Stephanie Meyer’s states that the one major set of genders she did not change were the parents, because historically speaking when they split in the mid 80’s courts have been more inclined to leave a child with a mom, so a moving dad would not have been deemed suitable for a child while a moving mom is fine. I am not complaining about this because it is a unfortunate truth of our court systems, even today. However, where this does bug me is when history is so important to the author in this case, but it’s not a big deal that Edythe was the name of the vampire who was born in 1901! Edith fine, Edythe NO! Edythe didn’t make name charts till 1949, while Edith existed in 1880. (See behindthename.com). So with this alone I find her history argument rendered invalid.

I’ve gone on for nearly 2500 words and feel I have only dented the surface of problems and issues with this book. Were I more patient person, I would spend more time and do a whole series on issues with this book and tear it apart page by page (line by line in some cases), I would, but I am not.  I was all too glad to send it back to the library, even if I couldn’t mark the book red with edits – which is saying something from me as I know that this blog post alone probably has a plethora of grammatical mistakes in it. (I did not have the time to run through and edit before posting.)

So while I hope and feel most people here would agree with me, that this book is horrid and the author is not that great, anyone who loves Stephanie Meyers please refrain from nitpicking my grammar (which I know is horrid right now) and basal insults. Thanks.

Also because I can, (and coined the phrase long ago) and I still think it is quite true to this day:

Book Review – Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Afterworlds

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Format: Audiobook

Published: 2014

 

Generally speaking I do not make a habit of listening to books I have not read first. It is a weird rule of mine. When I listen to books I’m traveling to work and am stuck in massive traffic jams. I need to many times keep my attention on the road and not on what is coming out of my radio. It is why I pick books with which I am familiar that way I do not get caught up with the story and neglect to pay attention to the road before me and the jerks who suddenly decide to cut me off.

 

Yet, I reached a point where the book I was familiar with was not in yet and I had just finished the previous book, I was in a bind and I needed something good and I needed something fast. So desperately I took to looking at the books that were in at my library and my eyes fell upon Afterworlds. I debated for a very long time. Should I go with something new or rack my brain for something old that I enjoyed. In the end I choose after worlds and I’m glad I did. The book was rather good, though I admit it was a bit of a mind screw at the same time.

 

The premise of the book is two stories at once. The first story is of Darcy a young girl who wrote a novel in November for National Novel Writing Month. (Funny that’s going on right now!) Once completing the novel she submitted her story to an agent for publication and got signed for an amazing deal not only for the one book but for a sequel as well. To be honest, the deal she got was a little too good to be true based on my experience and research of the publishing industry. The other story is Darcy’s novel Afterworlds about a girl named Lizzie who has a harrowing experience where she should have died but instead can will herself between the world of the living and the world of the dead.

 

Throughout the novel the story goes back and forth between the two plot arcs. Darcy’s world is one of deep fascination. She is navigating waters that are still foreign to me but I have read a lot about, the world of publication. As I read her tale I found myself sitting there going ‘Is this what it is really like? Or is this a convenient plot point?’ I always asked that question as I struggle to believe the reality of the generous contract Darcy received at the start of the story. Yet I know there has to be some nuggets of truth littered in the story as the author Scott Westerfeld is a seasoned published author.

 

The other half of the story about Lizzie was creepy and gripping as well. I loved the fantasy element and the picture that was painted of the afterlife in this world. I was gripped by this story as well as it was filled with intrigue and suspense. The story came to a nice end which was built up as in Darcy’s story she debated the end most thoroughly. I do know that I wonder if there will be a second book simply because Darcy was signed for a sequel and she had an interesting start of an idea to write for her next book.   If there is you can be assured that I will want to read it because I enjoyed this story and would give it a 4 out of 5 pages and because it is a story by my all-time favorite author.

 

Book Review – Lord Sunday by Garth Nix

Title: Lord Sunday

Author: Garth Nix

Format: Hardback

Published: 2010

 

It is hard to believe that after all these years of having started the series and then abandoning it that I am finally here I have finally reached the end of this seven book series. After finishing this book I had to sit on my thoughts and feelings for this final book and the series as a whole because the ending was not what I had expected and even now several days removed I am left without words on how the book ends. My fellow reviewer Sara and I talked a bit about it and all I could do to express my feelings and thoughts was to gesture vaguely with my hands and make a questioning non committal sound.

 

The general flow of the story and the start of it was gripping. As I am reading the book I am on the edge of my seat as each thing happens. The book took the ante and upped it compared to the other books. The book moved between three main characters which was Arthur, Leaf, and Suzy and I did not find myself bored with any of the characters at all. While one chapter would end leaving me clamoring to know what happens next with the character that I was just reading I wasn’t tempted to skip because the person I was being made to read next was boring and everything from every perspective was hinged on the other a lot of times it very much felt that everything was all happening at the same time and it was important not to jump ahead any.

 

There were a lot of great twists and turns and some great characters in the story and I had a lot of fun reading. The story starts off right where the last book ended and Arthur found himself not being himself once more and becoming more than just a human which would have been annoying if it happened for the whole book but it didn’t and then shortly into the story – (spoilers, if you don’t want to know skip to the last paragraph please) Arthur is captured by Lord Sunday and is threatened to be tormented until he relinquishes the keys of the house to him. The torment is that of the Old One’s torment we saw in the first book, where his eyes will be ripped out every 12 hours.

 

With time ticking for Arthrur we find Leaf trying to get help for the sleepers that Friday had taken and in which she is being chased after Sunday’s Dusk to be taken as leverage against Arthur and Suzy is trying to get to a place where she can get help for Arthur as well. The story is complex and you are left thinking the Will is possibly evil something you have felt from near the start. Everything ends up culminating together, for there to be a large battle which was a good read and had a great clip to it – literally my nose was stuck in the book. Then came the end and that is where I was left wanting and maybe a little bit bothered. My normal rule is not the discuss the end of the book by far the end of an entire series but it was so lacking that I really want to discuss it and share, so if you are okay with spoilers but not knowing the absolute end please skip to the last paragraph other wise for those people who jump to the end of the book and read that first plunge forward with me.

 

At the end Arthur frees the last part of the will and takes the last key. There are a few old favorite characters with him like Dr. Scarmandos, Fred, Suzy, and Leaf. When the Will combines the Nothing is practically on top of them and then there is Nothing literally. Everything absolutely everything is gone, the house and all secondary realms are destroyed, all that is left is Arthur in the void but transformed into something more – he is the New Architect. The Will and the Architect design was for everything to be destroyed because the Architect was old and tired and wanted things to end for her and the only way that would work is if everything was destroyed – but it’s okay because Arthur who is not really any longer Arthur but the new Architect can rebuild everything how he wants. He debates what he wants to do and remembers the vague concept of who he was. He can’t bring back the house as it was save for the few people that were near him at the destruction of everything and he can restore the secondary realms as they were which includes the bombed city of his old home. He does this and splits a portion of himself who is the old Arthur and sends him and the recreated Leaf back with the news that Arthur’s mother, who was in the house at the time Nothing hit, is gone forever; so go home and deal with that and believe you are normal when really you aren’t.

 

Then the epilogue gives nothing more than to say the New Architect took on a less spectacular form and looks like a 21 year old Arthur who is talking to Suzy who asks about being older and apparently is, as she is okay with her reflection (no description here) and then Suzy asks if Arthur will remake the house and the few others. The Architect known as Art thinks he might make the house only better and he’s not sure if he’ll remake the others but decides to have some tea and biscuits with Suzy who is to be the new Lady Sunday. Literally the end. I was massively left wanted this epilogue was only 2 pages tops. I know as a young adult/children’s book words and page count are something to keep in mind because of the reader but seriously a sentence more about how Suzy looked wouldn’t have hurt things nor would a page or two more giving a better summary of things, though really what sort of crap is this? Sorry your mom is dead, good luck explaining that to your family who knows nothing of what you’ve been through. Sorry your attempt to save your city as well failed. Go have a ‘normal’ life and I’ll drop the bomb that you are not mortal later when it is more convenient. Of course, those aren’t my only complaints but we went through as much as we did for it just all be sort of erased with some sucky results. Yeah I was in shock at first but now that I’m writing I’m kind of mad!

 

Any way, for those who are joining me after skipping a few previous paragraphs due to spoilers I will state that while I started this review almost shocked and speechless I’ve become rather frustrated with the end and it was vastly lacking based on the journey the rest of the story took you though. I’ve looked into another book series by Garth Nix in the past and did have ideas of picking that series up to read and review but now I almost hesitate. Will he pull the rug out from under me again like he did with Keys to the Kingdom? I don’t know but I do know that I’ll think twice before I jump into more books by him. Over all I think I would give this book a 3 out of 5 pages because of the ending it would have had a solid 4 out of 5 pages if the ending had not been so lacking and enraging.

Writer Wednesday – Barbara Ehrentreu

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1. Who are you?
My name is Barbara Ehrentreu. I write under Barbara Ehrentreu.

2.What type of stuff do you write?
I write YA and poetry.

3. What do you want to pimp now?
My second novel, After, is going to be in print in September. After is a story about the struggles Lauren Walstein, a fifteen-year-old girl, has to go through when her father suddenly has a heart attack and undergoes bypass surgery. In one phone call her life changes completely. Lauren is a character with whom most teens will relate. Her best friend since kindergarten, Joey, is going out with her enemy and they have grown apart. Before the phone call all she thought about was getting a scholarship for softball, and the Mets. Suddenly she must deal with both her father’s illness and being in school. The demands on her from both ends complicate the story. In the middle of all this, she finds she is developing feelings for her best friend that are more than friendly. Is he feeling the same or is he just comforting her? In addition there is Joey’s mean girl friend Amber, who doesn’t appreciate Lauren being in the picture. Will Lauren’s father recover? How will Lauren cope with her new feelings for Joey?

Also I am working on the sequel to If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor called “Jennifer’s Story”. Jennifer Taylor, the girl who bullied Carolyn Samuels in the first book is getting ready for a very big meet that will decide her fate. Will she be training for the Olympics or will she have missed her chance? As the day gets closer for the meet she finds she is reverting back to her old eating disorder and that her parents are creating problems for her as well. Her father is running for mayor and her mother is drinking. Having to navigate these issues is making Jennifer crazy. She does have her good friend Carolyn and Brad her boyfriend to help her through it. However, Jennifer is still worried she might not get on the training team. Also, Maura, Jennifer’s oldest friend, has a new boyfriend who seems to be paying way too much attention to Jennifer. Will he cause a problem in her relationship with Brad?This is still a WIP, but I hope to submit it soon.

4. What is your favorite book?
When I was younger it was Alice in Wonderland. Then I loved Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier. Now my favorite books are by Dennis Lehane and Jim Butcher. I loved The Given Day by Dennis Lehane and The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. But it’s hard, because I am constantly reading such good books from my author friends.

5. What other hats do you wear besides the writer hat?
In addition to writing I am also a tutor. I am a retired Reading Specialist so I work with students who have difficulty in school due to reading problems. I am also a mother with two adult daughters.

6. What links can we find you at?
Find me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraEhrentreu

Twitter: @Barbehr

My blog: http://barbaraehrentreu.blogspot.com

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The best writing advice I can give to newbies

When I was first starting out I only knew I loved to write and the opportunity came for me when I was stuck in a hotel between places to live. My entire family consisting of two daughters and my husband, all adults, were squeezed into a two bedroom hotel room for a month and a half while we waited for our new place to be vacated. So every night I would tap on my computer and I finished writing an entire novel in that time. I revised it and had other people read it and then I thought it was ready to send to publishers. I got constant rejections and I gave up. It was a children’s fantasy and no one wanted it. Then I wrote another novel, this time it was YA and sent it to my critique group and they gave me excellent criticism. Then I had beta readers read it and they liked it. So I thought, great, this was ready to send out. I went to several SCBWI conferences and the editors gave us permission to send to them. So I started doing that and was met with rejection by every big 5 publisher. I put my novel away. I thought it would never get published, but a friend of mine was starting up a new publishing company. So I pitched it and she wanted it. This was such a long shot I thought I would never get it published. But I persevered and it did get published. First as an ebook and then in print.

My advice to anyone who is a newbie is to keep on trying. Take those rejections and save them and keep trying. Attend as many conferences as you can both physical and online. Online writing conferences are good places to meet all kinds of people. There are editors and publishers mixing with authors and writers. Physical conferences are good places to meet people too. Everyone mingles and you can meet editors and publishers across the table from you. Make the most of every opportunity to learn more about your craft. Workshops are excellent to take so you can hone your skills. Gather as many friends on Facebook and Twitter as you can and definitely start a blog if you don’t have one. Another great idea is to join writing groups both physically and online. All of this will help you to be a better writer and will immerse you in the world of writing and publishing. The last piece of advice I would give is again to keep on keeping on. Don’t give up if you feel your work is good. You are the one who is selling your work to other people. So tell people about your work whenever you can. Also if you can’t get it published the traditional way there is always self publishing these days for little or no money. If you want people to read your work you need to put it out there.

Book Review – Superior Saturday by Garth Nix

Title: Superior Saturday

Author: Garth Nix

Format: Hardback

Published: 2008

 

I have to say that as I have found myself working my way through the Keys to the Kingdom books once and for all I feel in some ways that I have been on a whirlwind of a journey especially since the latter books, after the dreadfully dull Drowned Wednesday. Superior Saturday I think was a whirlwind in and of itself and is one of the shorter books in the series.  This story picks up pretty much right after Lady Friday.

 

Arthur sets foot on Earth seeing his last actions are completed to suddenly be told that his home and family are going to be blown up by the military and he has less than 10 minutes to get himself and his family into hopeful safety. As a desperate act Arthur uses his key to freeze time before jumping back into the house considering time runs differently there, not to mention issues from the house were quite present and he might be able to use the magic there to save his home.

 

Going back to the house via the fifth key Arthur finds himself in a whole lot of trouble as he is faced with an oncoming wave of nothing set to destroy him. He then used his key to save his life and stop the nothing but it caused him to physically change and become less human and more a denizen which is a result of using magic and having that infused into his body.   As a result Arthur throughout the book suffers from a conflict of character as he finds himself suddenly becoming self entitled to remind himself that he is human and shouldn’t be acting in such a way.

 

Arthur then sets out to find the sixth part of the will and the sixth key and it is one thing after another as he travels throughout the house to get there. It is an interesting story and a rather easy read and as I was reading I remembered something that I had thought of when I had first started to read the books, which is that each trustee that Arthur goes up against is a representation of one of the seven deadly sins. Monday is Sloth, Tuesday is either Greed or Pride, Wednesday is Gluttony, Thursday is Wrath, Friday is either Greed or Lust, Saturday is Envy, leaving Sunday to be either Geed lust or pride which I’m sure we’ll see soon enough and will help me better put a finger on what Tuesday and Friday are as well.

 

There are a few other things that happen in the book such as a side story with leaf and what is happening at Arthur’s home in the secondary realms but there are only a few chapters and not overly worth mentioning save for what happens at the end of the book. I of course won’t spoil the story but I can say that both Arthur in the house and Leaf on earth are left in a type of cliff hanger – something I have not seen any of the other books truly do, which to me adds to the whirlwind effect the book has had for me. Over all I think I would give the book another 3 out of 5 pages, as it was good and it held my attention, but there was nothing to rave about. I am curious as to what the seventh and last book will hold for me.

Book Review – The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Title: The Maze Runner

Author: James Dashner

Format: Hardback

Published: 2009

 

A very long time ago back in the days when I was working at Walmart, I found myself in the book section for a few minutes either looking to kill a bit of time or on a break looking at the books house near by my electronics department. That was where I first stumbled upon The Maze Runner. The cover of the book and the title caught my attention. I read the blurb about the book and was intrigued and continued to be so as I read the first page or two.   I put the book back on the shelf thinking I would keep it in mind as I wasn’t enticed enough to spend my limited funds on the book.

 

It took me until recently to remember the book a lark and decide to pick it up. Little did I know that a movie has been made of the book which would entail a long wait list of over 50 people to get my hands on the book but I went for it and finally go my hands on the book and it was pretty decent. It took a while for me to get into the story and the world of the book. It was slow going and there were points where I thought I would give up and stop reading the book I think part of it is because I felt like there were similarities between the book and some other books I have recently read. Though they are vastly different in some respects I was reminded of Ender’s Game as well as a little bit of Lord of the Flies. Maze Runner takes on a different story despite some similar elements.

 

Once the story gets going it is pretty decent and worth the push to get into it even though it wasn’t what I expected based on the blurb, it was still something I enjoyed and with the last few chapters holding me fast such that I skipped half of my lunch to finish reading instead of going to get myself something to eat. I will also say the story surprised me in the fact that I originally thought this book was a one and done to discover it is a series, which I’ll be intrigued to see what comes of the series and have the next book on hold.

 

A brief over view of the book is a post apocalyptic world where the main character is lifted up via a elevator type box with hardly a memory to his name and a whole new world that is filled with nothing buy young boys aged 12 – 17 and he’s told that their job is to survive and figure out the maze it is a simply and straight forward existence filled with a lot of questions and oddities that get even more odd as the first girl ever is brought up the elevator and everything begins to change as she is marked as the beginning of the end. In a lot of ways this book is a survival story much akin to the Hunger Games just less death and possibly for a better reason than was had in the Hunger Games. We shall see in future books. Over all I would give this book a 3 out of 5 page review and say that it is a decent read.

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