Reave: C. Miller

Novel Information (Taken from GoodReads)

Country: United States

Language: English

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Publication Date: December 4, 2013

Pages: 308

Narration: First Person

 

CiSu’s Review

Reave is a story about a young woman who has been a servant for most of her life, living on an estate where the Leader of the house only lives for a short period of time. Any time a servant speaks out, or does something wrong they are severely punished. Aster is no exception having more than her share of beating and whippings throughout her life. However, all this changes when the new Leader arrives and challenges Asters perspective on the world, and herself.

Although lacking in action, the journey that Aster takes trying to understand herself and the new Leader, all while pushing boundaries with the Reaper makes this book a page turner. I wanted to know more and more about the motives behind the new Leader, who the mysterious Reaper was, and when Aster would finally learn what everything meant, and what decision she would make in the end.

Her character was interesting, because although Aster could read the malevolence in people, or pick up on certain mannerisms, her sheltered life kept her from noticing other mannerisms, that I, as a reader, picked up on right away. Aster questions kindness and flirtations and at some points I just laughed at her naivety, while feeling absolute pity for the man vying for her affection.

Her characters are well fleshed out, and the relationships are real and deep where they should be, and shallow and new where they needed to be. Another refreshing change with C. Miller’s characters was the unique yet normal names. Although Aster is more unique than normal, there were no names that had me pondering how to say them; which in a world where Apple is an actual name, was quite the refreshing change of pace. Not to mention the normal spellings.

Overall this book pulled me into the story, had me captivated by the world, and invested in the characters and their lives. I would move this book to the top of your TBR pile and in the meantime I’m going to order my copy of Elude, the second book in the Reave series.

Death is but a Dream: Erin Hayes

Novel Information (Taken from GoodReads)

Country: United States

Language: English

Genre: Young Adult

Publication Date: September 29, 2013

Pages: 308

Narration: First Person

 

CiSu’s Review

This book was one that I really wanted to enjoy. That sentence says a lot doesn’t it? Okay, let’s try to break this down starting with the premise of the story; which in itself wasn’t bad.

Callista Saunders is a homicide detective who was promoted after only 2 years after graduating. On one of her days off she sees a bus about to hit a little girl and takes her place instead – something that wasn’t supposed to happen. In the afterlife she learns that she’s not quite dead, but instead she’s in a coma. Hades, lord of the underworld offers her a deal. If she protects his son and finds out who is trying to kill him, he’ll return her to her comatose body and she’ll no longer be in the underworld.

So, Callista starts off her investigation and meets the people she’ll be working closest with. Namely Tisiphone (a fury), and Plutus (Hades’ son and the God of Wealth).

Alright, so there’s the story and the overall plot. Sounds decent right? That’s what I thought, only it wasn’t executed as well as it could have been. I was hoping, really hoping, that it would be better. Plutus’ character was fine, I had no problems with him, but that was about it. All the other characters weren’t solidified enough for me to connect with. Callista in particular was especially frustrating and annoying. For someone who was supposed to be great at her job, she had a lot of problems finding answers, and didn’t seem to know where to go or where to look. Additionally, she has a temper that flares up and dies down at strange and irregular moments. Someone who is supposed to be a cop should have a much better handle on her anger. It felt like I was reading a story about a 14 year-old girl trapped in an adult body. Further to that, for the moments where her police skill was lacking, she came up with excuses. Reasons why she hadn’t thought to do it before, or was too busy to look into it at the time. None of them were believable and I think that the author’s lack of knowledge of the police force really hindered Callista’s credibility.

The plot moved at a good pace, and things didn’t seem to come too easy for Callista until near the end. As a reader, I was ready for the book to end when she finally confronted the villain and protected Plutus at the same time. That would have been perfect. However, Erin Hayes decided that instead of having the villain defeated, she simply injures him so that our two heroes now find themselves in the mortal realm trying to escape him yet again. Here is where the story just became utterly unbelievable – and that’s saying something for a book about the Underworld and Greek Gods.

Callista’s and Plutus’ faces are shown on the news but whenever they enter a store the clerk is too distracted to actually notice them and what they look like, how fortunate! Sure, Erin Hayes comes up with a reason as to why they are having so much luck, but there is luck and there is … well… this.

The ending wasn’t surprising, I wasn’t blown away, and although I wasn’t angry at having paid for this book, I wasn’t thrilled with it either. I was just left with a feeling of disappointment for a book that could have been so much better.

NaNoWriMo ML for 2014?

Yup, that’s right, I decided to apply to be the regional Municipal Liaison (ML) for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for 2014.

I have to admit, I started out feeling confident, at least until I got to the part about saying why I was the best candidate and what I was going to do to improve NaNo in my region. I hate talking about myself and promoting myself (which, if I ever become an author is going to be one of my main challenges), so sitting there and trying to answer those questions started giving me a minor panic attack.

I mean, who am I? I participated in my first ever NaNo just last year. Yes I won (and that was really the only qualification I needed – apart from being over 18 years of age), but does participating one year and winning really make me the best candidate? I didn’t think so, and thus I decided to obtain support from my friend and co-NaNo winner Jill, and coerced her to co-ML with me. Okay, there really wasn’t a lot I had to say other than, “Hey do you want to do this with me because… HALP!”

She’s super awesome and just knowing that I’ll have someone to help share my anxieties with, is a huge stress-reliever. We filled out the forms the following day (to which she noted that she felt like she was in a beauty pageant while trying to answer how she would improve NaNo in the region) and once I clicked submit, I felt better. That was it. My decision was made, no turning back now.

Now, just because we applied doesn’t mean that we’ll become the MLs, but seeing as there wasn’t one last year, and we were two of the three people who came out for the write-ins, I’m feeling fairly optimistic. In fact, I was (and still am) feeling optimistic enough to book a space for the write-ins, and start looking at ways to promote NaNo this year, and what DIY projects I could make to handout and give to our fellow NaNo writers.

 

Yup, I think this has been a rewarding experience, and if I don’t get the position… well, no one can stop me from giving out things for free!

Carrie: Stephen King

Novel Information (Taken from Wikipedia)

Country: United States

Language: English

Genre: Horror, Epistolary, Tragedy

Publication Date: April 5, 1974

Pages: 199

Narration: Third Person

 

CiSu’s Review

Carrie is about a young teen girl who lives with an over religious and abusive mother, deals with verbal assaults at high school, and alongside her normal teenage changes, she is also developing her telekinetic ability.

I enjoyed the story of Carrie, and my stomach actually turned while her mother punished her. I found a significant amount of empathy for Carrie the more I read, and in the end, I felt her actions justified and was rooting for her while she wandered around town.

What ruined the book for me was the intermittent sections concerning present day and the look back on the events that took place during Carrie’s final high school year. There are interviews with people who knew her as a young girl and as a teenager, as well as people who survived the White Incident. There are excerpts from books and comments from educated specialists on the events and how it should be looked at for any future occurrences.

These intermittent sections were, for the most part, interesting. However, whenever they appeared they interrupted the story and pulled me away from getting more attached. Perhaps an intended effect to keep the reader distant, but for me, it really stopped the flow of the story and that was my turn off.

Salem’s Lot: Stephen King

Novel Information (Taken from Wikipedia)

Country: United States

Language: English

Genre: Gothic Fiction

Publication Date: October 17, 1975

Pages: 439

Narration: Third Person

 

CiSu’s Review

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book where there is more emphasis on the reaction of the horror, than the detailing of the horror itself. It’s also been a long time since I read anything about vampires where they are demons and not something that has an attachment to the earth and wants to protect humanity. They have a desire to drink and will do anything to get it.

Salem’s Lot was refreshing because, as mentioned above, it focused on the reaction of the danger. Stephen King wrote from the perspective of the citizens (sometimes there were too many and it seemed to stretch on for far longer than necessary), and once something bad happened to them, he stopped writing from their perspective. They were gone, not technically dead, but dead in a way that emphasized that they were no longer human and didn’t, or couldn’t posses the ability to think, to feel.

Feeling is a key component in this book. Many of the citizens, and especially Ben, our protagonist, can feel that there is something wrong, something bad. Many of the citizens express this feeling, even when they don’t know what that feeling is, and when they do know, it only makes it worse.

While reading, I could feel the characters anxiety, fear, and courage. Could emphasize when they couldn’t believe that something that had only existed in the fantasy world of books was brought into reality. I found the situations to be believable and for the most part an accurate account of how people would react if the situation ever came around.

There were a few things that bothered me about it, one of which were the extra chapters from the various characters. Although I can see and understand why they were there, I felt that it was a little much. Especially when grouped together and I was trying to remember if I actually knew that character from earlier, or if they were just another citizen in the town.
Another was the ending. In a 400+ page book, I thought that the ending was weak and just went by too fast. I would have certainly liked to be given more description and detail about the after effects then what I was provided.
Finally, the group splitting. That bothered me to no end. Especially when they are warned time and time again.

Graceling: Kristin Cashore

Novel Information (Taken from Wikipedia)

Country: United States

Language: English

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Publication Date: October 1, 2008

Pages: 471

Narration: Third Person

 

CiSu’s Review

Graceling is unique in that Kristin has found a way to create superheroes in a fantasy setting. That’s the easiest way I can describe it. Gracelings are people who have a Grace. These graces can range from improving fighting, archery, seeing at night, being able to sense a person, reading minds, being able to tell when a storm is going to hit, improved swimming and everything in between. They are easily distinguishable by their multi-coloured eyes, although every Graceling has a different pairing of eyes.

The novel’s central character Katsa is struggling with her grace and trying to find a way to be her own person and use her grace for her own desires and not just for her King. She has already started her transformation but it isn’t until she meets another Graceling who helps her see the world and herself through different eyes, that she can truly become the person she desires to be.

The book is well written and flows at a comfortable speed. There were many plot points that I found predictable, but may not be to the average reader, and certainly didn’t spoil or ruin the story for me because it never took the characters long to catch up to what I had already realized. There was only one moment (towards the end) that I didn’t forsee what had happened, and to be honest, I’m not sure how Katsa figured it out, and how exactly it happened (because I doubt how it happened is actually possible). I also don’t think it was necessary… but I can understand why Kristin made that choice. Nonetheless it didn’t deter my enjoyment by any means.

I found that the concept of the Gracelings to be rather unique and was pleased to watch Katsa’s growth throughout the book.She is a strong female protagonist who (despite falling in love) keeps a level head and remains logical throughout the book. I cannot tell you how refreshing that is to find. Even when she fears to leave her lover behind, she intends to because logically that is what matters. So, bravo Kristin for making a female protagonist who doesn’t lose her mind just because she’s in love.

One of the downsides for me, was the speediness of Katsa’s romance. It just seemed to sudden, with no real confusion for Katsa in regards to her feelings as they slowly start to ebb. To me it felt like a whirlwind romance that was deep and meaningful as though they’d known each other for years. Again, this was certainly not a deterrent for me, just something that I noticed as I read.

Overall, I enjoyed Graceling a lot, and although I’m not ready to jump into Bitterblue or Fire just yet, Bitterblue (a vital character in Graceling) is a book I will put on my TBR list for sure.

The Princess Bride: William Goldman

Novel Information (Taken from Wikipedia)

Country: United States

Language: English

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Publication Date: 1973

Pages: 355

Narration: Third Person

 

CiSu’s Review

This is one of those books I decided to read because I saw the movie, and for the first time the movie actually did credit to the book. I was thoroughly impressed.

This is (as the cover of the book states) a “Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure”. The book is full of compelling narrative, sword fights, the Zoo of Death (which was omitted in the movie), and the never ending romance between Wesley and Buttercup.

To be honest I believe that Buttercup is worthy of Wesley, and even more so now that I’ve read the book. Still, the faith that they have for each other, and more so the utter love and devotion Wesley has for her, is just heartwarming.

There is, however, a lot of talking from Goldman in the book which was distracting, although sometimes informative and interesting. After all, this is his abridgement of “the good parts” because Morgenstern’s original tale was epic and had lots of sections that were uninteresting. Still, there are times that Goldman goes on an incredibly long tangent for something that could have been summed up in one page or two at the most. Still, I’m not going to say that the book was worse because of this for the simple fact that all his interjections are clearly marked and if I didn’t want to be interrupted from the story I could have simply skipped over them.

As for the story itself, I realized that I’m having difficulty describing it because I’ve seen the movie and I know the story so well it’s ingrained in me, and I just can’t seem to get it out into words because I feel that everyone has read it. So, I’m going to instead try to explain the parts that are different – like the backstory to Inigo and Fezzik and how their characters are more clearly defined, and more empathetic because of this. There is also more of an impact with their friendship and how much stronger the two of them are when they are together then when they are apart. They kind of remind me of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern because apart they do not really exist (however when they’re together they are two very distinguishable characters).

Anyway, that’s all I can say because my brain isn’t working beyond telling me it’s awesome and cycling through moments in the book and movie.

The best line (in both the movie and the book is still) DEATH FIRST!

My dear Wesley. I shall always love you.

An Update about my Sandman Story

I’ve been doing much better at trying to write something every day, even if it is difficult to get into the swing of things. I know that any change to your daily routine (no matter how big or small that change might be) can take a long time; longer than we’d like to admit. Knowing this, I’m going through this change open-minded and not berating myself whenever I neglect to write a new sentence, paragraph or even page (pages if I’m lucky).

In these moments where I realize that I haven’t written a single word at all that day, I instead, think about the writing and what direction I want it to go, or how the characters are going to develop and what makes them develop into the characters at the end?

I’ve been making some decent progress with my Sandman story. I’ve completed chapter one, have chapter two started, and have written the first two of many articles that will be inserted between random chapters. As the book is fantasy based, but does tie into the mortal world, I wanted a way to show that connection without taking away from the fantasy aspect; these articles are my brilliant link between fantasy and reality. I use the term brilliant loosely. I do not think I’m brilliant, or that it’s a brilliant idea, I’m just rather proud I thought of it, and that so far it seems to work.

My articles also inspired me and offered me a way to pay homage to authors and books I enjoy without being open about it. Consider it… an easter egg if you will. I didn’t mean to do it the first time… not really. I needed a name for the author of the article, and decided that Bill something or other would work. Something plain that doesn’t really stick out, and you can gloss over, because his name isn’t important. However, I needed to fit him with a last name (because no article is written by Bill …. okay that made me think of Kill Bill where he has no last name… but I digress), and am currently reading The Princess Bride and decided to just make his last name Wesley. It wasn’t until much later (finishing the article and writing the remainder of the first chapter) that I realized that the author is William Goldman… William can be shortened to Bill (don’t know why, but I just go with it). So here I had an author and character from a book I love (well I’m not done the book but I love the movie and the book so far has not been disappointing so I doubt I will emerge hating it).

So, this got me to carefully consider my next author for the next article, and then I just began to brainstorm books that I loved and characters within that I could use as writers for these articles. I don’t know if anyone would ever pick up on this on their own (assuming I ever finish writing it… and then if it ever gets published), but it fills me with a certain amount of giddiness that I can’t overcome.

As for the story, I’m at a juncture where I’m not sure how to progress forward in the story, but am using the time to write down dreams (mostly nightmares) that I’ve had, that I can utilize in the story. I’ve gotten two from a friend and published author, and am always trying to write down more as I’m not certain how many I will need in the end. … So if you’ve read all this and you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear them! I know that describing them after never sounds as scary, but I have a wild imagination (so wild that I can’t watch horror movies …. not unless I want to scare myself scary while both awake or asleep for at least  a week) and I guarantee that I will understand why it would be so terrifying.

I’m also stuck on how to explain one of the characters/entities. The Déjà. I got the name from the term déjà vue, and just turned them into immortals who created the first Sandman and have dreams about the future that they sometimes decide to share with the mortals. Explaining this in a world where my characters knew what they were from a young age has proved a challenge, but I’m looking forward to conquering it.

As for the story that I have characters but no plot for… well it’s unchanged. At this point though I’m not overly thinking/worrying about it, and choosing to focus on the Sandman tale that has actually become much more than I thought it would. I really think that I have a narrow enough focus on this to make it into a compelling story that I might actually finish writing.

I’ve debated sharing it with others to get a response, but I’m hesitant and far from reaching that point. I’ve given what I have so far to the above mentioned friend, and she’s encouraged me to continue because she really wants to know what happened, what the big secret is, and where the characters will find themselves at the end. It inspired me, and has pushed me to keep going. Kind of a pleasant nagging that tells me I should be working on it (not now though because I felt bad for not updating in over a week).

I’ve heard of Wattpad, and a friend and fellow NaNoWriMo writer has posted his newest story (written this past November) on Wattpad. As far as I can tell, the content remains yours but it allows for other authors and writers to read it and comment. I can post as much or as little of the story as I want, obtain feedback, edit and resubmit. I’m weary that someone will steal it, although I’m sure there are stringent rules in place to prevent that, but still…. it just… doesn’t feel right. Perhaps I can post bits and pieces here and you guys can let me know what you think?

We shall see. I am a fickle and uncertain creature.

Until the next time, happy reading and writing!

<3 CiSu (Jess)

Finding Time to Write

I’ve been working on the Sandman story idea that I thought up on here back in October. I was stuck with my idea for a plot – and am still stuck – so I figured I’d move away from that one and work on my Sandman idea. It can be disheartening at times to have so many ideas, and leave so many stories as skeletons waiting to be worked out. As for my NaNo story… well that one has been put in the – need to revamp entirely pile. I put too much into it, and I think it’s developing more as a mystery than that of Sci-fi. This means that I really need to work on how I want to tell the story, and what means would best fit the genre.

Naturally, I decided to put some distance between myself and that story, partly so that I wasn’t still determined on old ideas, and partly to learn more about the mystery genre before trying to write a book in said genre. However, I digress…

As for the Sandman story, it seems to be moving along relatively well, although I haven’t made much time for it as I would like. On the plus side, not rushing to write it has also given me some time to think things through regarding the flow which is beneficial, and time to figure out all the little intricacies. At the same time, I feel bad for not writing more.

I know it’s possible to get some writing in every night – I certainly accomplished it back in November – I just can’t seem to find the same energy I had once I get home from work, or on the weekends. I don’t have an excuse, I’m being lazy. I get home, make something to eat, and watch a movie on Netflix before heading to bed. It’s a pattern I seriously need to break.

So I’m going to try and set a little goal for myself in an attempt to write 500 words each day for this story – no matter how bad those words might turn out to be, at least it’s something. I also have another story on the go (not the one without a plot, yet another one) so if I’m really stuck on the Sandman one, I’ll work on that.

I’m also finding that writing during my lunch break at work is a good time to get my writing done. I’ve already managed over 2,000 words writing at lunch so, hopefully that will continue. Of course, lunch was my reading time, so now I’m not reading as much.

… Reading or writing… well they both deserve equal time. Perhaps I can read at night instead of watching Netflix. That’s probably better for my brain anyway.

Let me know when you find time to write!

~ CiSu

Indie Services and Writer Awards

So this post will largely promote the publishing company that I work for – and more specifically their Indie Service branch. If you’re interested in the awards portion and not so much what I have to say, then by all means here’s the link: http://splittreeindie.com/about/events/ . It’s a calendar, and the pink are all deadlines for submissions.

Okay, so before I get into the website I want to say how proud I am to work for this small publishing company that cares about its authors more than making money. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a business, and like all businesses it wants to make money to survive, but at the same time we want to help authors as much as we can in the process.

There are a few ways we’re achieving this, one of which is letting authors know when awards are happening, and the deadline to submit for said award. You can click the link above to reach Split Tree Indie’s calendar of events.

We’re also posting helpful articles every day (or as best we can), in relation to book design, marketing and distribution. All articles can be found under “Book Help” or you click here for quick access: http://splittreeindie.com/info/ .

We want to help authors who choose to self-publish well beyond the services we offer, and these were two simple ways that we could start. We also publish the articles daily on Facebook as well, so if you’d like to receive this articles on your news feed each day, be sure to like our page: https://www.facebook.com/splittreeindie .

As for the individual services we offer, well we’ve broken them down into six categories: Consultations, Editing, Design, Media Releases, Tours and Trailers, and Websites (design and hosting). Many of these categories offer varying degrees of help, and we’ve even lumped together varies services and offered them as packages, to help save you money.

We know it’s expensive to publish a book, but the more you pay the better quality you get, and that’s where we want to get your book – at a high quality for readers.

I know this blog might have seemed self-serving, but I really wanted to pass along the informational portion about the website. If you are interested in purchasing a service, and want my help, just ask for Jess and I’ll be more than happy to work with you!

As one of my friends told me, “Us writers have to stick together”.

Happy writing!

~ CiSu (Jess)