Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Wars 5

It's time for Book Wars. The entirely positive epic battle to be picked as my favorite read this week.

Hold me closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

The most interesting thing about this book is the way McBride handled her narrative. The chapters switch from first person to third limited but I didn't even realize she was switching between the two until about halfway through the novel and it struck me. The main characters voice is first and the glimpses into others are in third. It was amazingly well done - you feel close to the MC but get to see/hear more as well. I don't think there are many authors who can pull this off but when they works.


The Ant and the Elephant by Vince Poscente

I loved the message in this book: all about the power of your subconscious mind.


The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I have to credit McCarthy for conveying the psychological realities of a post-apocalyptic world. It was bleak and hopeless and, I suppose, that makes it the most realistic dystopian I've ever read.


Tender is the night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Scattered throughout this book are some very interesting passages that made me stop and think about people or things in my life and why I saw them the way I did.

This Weeks Winner

This week is a little different. I have two winners. Not necessarily because I couldn't decide between the two but because they are so different that I find choosing between them to be unfair.

If you're looking for a fun, easy and interesting read I'd definitely recommend Hold me closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride. Maybe it's just me but the fact that the main character worked at a fast food joint made me relate to him in a way I've never related to another character. (Yes, I used to work at McDonalds - in case you were going to ask.)

If you're interested in reading a book written as a fable and actually teaches you about the power of your subconscious (and, consequently, yourself) then I'd say The Ant and the Elephant by Vince Poscente is a must read. It was interesting and fascinating. (Also, I tested the techniques this book illustrates to get what you want/achieve goals and it totally works! I promise!)

What have you been reading this week?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Survive Canadian Winters

In order to survive Canadian winters, there are a few general guidelines you must always follow.**

Don't stand under trees unless you're willing to risk big snow lumps falling on your head.

Be careful of frozen bodies of water. They may, like the river below, not be frozen but just full of slush (they are trying to lull you into a false sense of security. Their favorite past-time is giving people hypothermia, I'm sure of it).

 Under no circumstances should you stand still for too long. If you do, you'll look a lot like Grandpa.

If you want to stay warm, you have to build an igloo. Don't worry, our igloos are high-tech: we've got electricity so you won't miss any of your favorite shows.

**The advice here is an exaggeration. It's not that bad. Usually. 

How do you survive your climate? 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

If I could turn back time

Here I am, almost a month into this school semester and I'm already drowning, sinking underneath the weight of my homework.

Here I am, desperately wanting to start edits on Book 1.

Here I am, needing to get Book 2 out of my head and into the real world.

Here I am, wishing I could hang out with my friends and not feel like I'm wasting time I don't have.

Here I am, sitting on my bed, staring at the clothes strewn across my room (that need to be washed) and the floor (that needs to be vacuumed).

Here I am, holding my official Time Turner prop that my mom bought for me one Christmas...........

And all I can do, is wish that it was real.

What are you wishing you had time for?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Wars 4

It's time for another Book Wars!

(Click on the book titles to be redirected to their goodreads page so you can get an actual synopsis.)

Fearscape by Simon Holt
Third book in The Devouring series

The overarching theme for all three books is finally verbalized at the end of this book and it validated the MC's (Reggie) journey for me. Here's the two lines that say it all, "But for all the horrors Reggie had seen, she had also witnessed the wonder of the human spirit fighting back. It wasn't about eradicating fear; it was about overcoming it." To me, this was a really powerful message.


Fire In The Blood by Irene Nemirovsky

This book is set in rural France several decades ago (not sure of the exact date) and I loved the way she highlighted the community, the way they both operated as a collective and as individuals and the way they kept family matters family matters (even though everyone else knew about it!). It was a very interesting and revealing look into rural existence in France after the war (first - I think).


Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

So, unless you haven't been reading any of the new fiction books in the last couple of years, you know that love triangles are in (even when we say they're going out). But, I have never read a book where I ever had a doubt about who I wanted the main character to be with. I always know within the first third who I want to win (even though half the time they don't). That is, until I read this book. I actually couldn't decide. I wanted her to choose both of them (but then I don't want them all to be together or anything like that). My point is, the best thing about this book is that the love triangle actually felt like a real love triangle, each guy brought something different and valuable to the table and I understood why Frannie was conflicted because so was I.


Firelight by Sophie Jordan

I really liked the beginning of this book, it started out with a bang and went right into the action - basically, straight to the point with no unnecessary set up.

This Week's Winner

So, this week, I have to go with Personal Demons. The main character was strong but still feminine and relateable . Also, as I said before, I was really impressed with how the author handled the romantic aspects of the story - it was very well done. I'm excited for the next book in this series.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What did you read this week?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Can you answer this?

Today I'm going to ask you a couple questions (that are supposedly unanswerable) and I want you to give me your wackiest or most logical (your choice) answers in the comments (because you're writers or creatively inclined people and you want to make stuff up for a living). 

If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?

If you try to fail and succeed, which have you done?

If you choke a smurf, what color does it turn?

When you're sitting on the upstairs floor are you sitting on the downstairs ceiling?

Why is it that murder always seems to liven a novel?

I hope your weekend is as awesome as my cat is cute!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Picture this: you're reading a novel and are about halfway through, there's several characters talking and one of them references an event that - while not overtly important - happened during the time frame of the novel itself. The characters elaborate enough so you aren't sitting there scratching your head but they don't truly explain/show what happened.

What do you think? How do you feel?

I was talking to a friend the other day and we had a pretty in-depth discussion on ambiguity. It ended with me finally sorting out my emotions and thoughts on the matter. 

In short: I think it's a good thing.

My reasoning is this: if we are aware, as readers, that events are happening outside the scope of the novel that we're seeing it manipulates our subconscious impressions of these characters. How, you ask? We're being shown that we aren't necessary for these characters to exist. Their existence doesn't depend upon us reading the novel. They are more than what we see. 

This, in turn, makes them more real.

(As an aside: way too much ambiguity is bad! Just like anything else in writing, it's a fine line between an author doing this well and completely butchering it.)

How do you feel about ambiguity? Any other tricks you can think of to manipulate* your readers?

*Don't even pretend you don't want to manipulate your readers. You do. You want them to care about your characters. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Wars 3

It's time for the entirely positive war between inanimate objects (books) that are shuffled around in my mind, words flying everywhere, until, I - the supreme ruler (of my mind) - decide who wins!

(Click on the book titles to be redirected to their goodreads page and get a synopsis.)

Entice by Carrie Jones
Third book in the Need Series

I really like all the foklore and mythology Carrie Jones integrates into her series and this book does that the best out of the three.


The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

The descriptions in this novel brought the setting, characters and world to life. They were gritty and real and I could almost taste/touch/smell it all. For something so infused with fantasy and foklore it seemed very believable and I think the descriptions had a lot to do with that.


The Devouring by Simon Holt
The first book in The Devouring series

I started reading this before bed and couldn't put it down because if I did, I wouldn't know how the conflict was resolved, and if that was true then I wouldn't know how to beat the Vours (the villainous creatures who devour human souls and steal their bodies). Holt created creatures that fed on people's fears and my overactive imagination started feeding my conscious all of my fears until I was, quite honestly, scared to turn out my light (The Vours come when the night eats light). I believed in this book. (Until the next day when I realized that was just madness.)

Soulstice by Simon Holt
The second book in The Devouring series

The fears in the first book were physical things - clowns, spiders, water, etc - but in this installment we deal with fears like desolation, being afraid of your self and guilt and this intangible fears are far more horrifying. This book doesn't skip on horror at all, so if that's what you're looking for...

Winner This Week:

This week I have to go with The Replacement. The main character Mackie was strange and interesting and the world was dark and dreary but not hopeless. The entire story revolves around foklore but the fantasy is believable because the descriptions make it all seem real. Days after I finished, I was still thinking about the town of Gentry. That is a mark of a good book (especially when you've read two after it and still can't stop thinking about it).

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What did you read this week?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Physical manifestations of the creative process

The fabulously talented Abby Minard interviewed me! That's two now! (I feel so legitimate - like I really could be an author one day. I mean, I'm a nobody - in the writing world - and people still care to ask me questions (People I respect no less!).) So please go here and check it out. Also, follow her if your not - she's one of my critique partners and let me just say this: I love the way her brain works. 

When I'm really focusing on something creative - like the two paintings in this post I made for Sister (sorry for the odd angle of the pictures)- I get really hot. I mean like on-the-verge-of-a-seizure-if-I-don't-melt-like-the-wicked-witch-from-the-west-first kind of overheating. My blood boils, bones liquefy and my muscles turn to goo (which is like liquefying but WAY worse. It's stickier). It's unbearable. 

It's kind of like my entire being is so focused on creating that it works overtime and produces mass amounts of creative energy. All this energy can't possibly fit into a word document or on a canvas. The excess turns inward and my insides glow red until I'm radiating the heat and I want to die. 

BUT! I just have to finish what I'm working on. I end up working in a feverish frenzy, trying so hard to get it all out even though I'm slightly delirious and crazed and on the verge of heat-stroke.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? 

Anyways, my overheating makes me realize that writing (or anything creative) isn't just mental or emotional - it's physical too. My body does what it can to contribute to the creativity too (even if I wish it'd be a little more considerate and moderate the temperature somewhat). Writing is an all consuming experience - to do it, you need to invest everything.

I hope that your weekend is full of hot flashes and skin-melting-muscle-changing-bone-liquefying agony. I mean this in the nicest possible way. 

Anything odd happen to you when you write? Do you have any other creative interests beside writing?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hockey is to this Canadian as editing is to this writer

I've never liked hockey. (That may sound odd since I'm Canadian and that's our sport but it's true.)

The rest of my family feels differently. My Uncle B actually has seasons tickets to watch the Vancouver Canucks and (I think) everyone else in the family has watched a game from his amazing seats.

Last week at a family dinner to celebrate Mom and Grandpa's birthdays, my Uncle was trying to get rid of his tickets because him and my aunt weren't going to be able to make it. Everyone else was busy. My Grandparents were available but that meant there was one empty seat (there are three tickets).

Somehow despite countless, adamant, No's I got talked into going. I dragged my feet all the way to the Arena and into the VIP club section and down to the fourth row, just in front of the net (told you they were amazing).

The Detroit Red Wings and The Vancouver Canucks were on the ice, practicing.

I watched in awe at their effortless ability on skates.

(To understand my love of people on skates you need to know this: I used to figure skate (and I used to be so short that I totally pulled off the Munch-kin look from the Wizard of Oz) and I could watch figure skating for hours because I think it's the most gorgeous thing ever.)

I was already rethinking my opinion....during the practice. When the game started I felt myself sucked into the atmosphere, into the swelling and denouement's of the crowd. I'll be honest, I didn't always know what was happening - the great thing is, it didn't really seem to matter because I was watching and when I was confused I could lean over and ask my Grandparents to explain.

I could see the expressions on the players faces. I could feel (almost) the rattle of the plexiglass when the players were slammed into the sideboards.

My insides got all messed up when the Red Wings tied it and we went into overtime. When we lost during the shoot out, I was a little disappointed but not really because the game itself, the actual process, was so much more than I thought it would be. Watching a game in person is nothing like seeing it on TV. 

And, because I always tie these little stories into writing somehow, let me say this: I'm starting to edit my first draft this week and I am dragging my feet. I am dreading editing like I dreaded going to that game. Except a little worse because editing is a longer commitment.

My only hope is that once I actually start, when my characters pull me back into their world, that editing won't be as bad as I think it will be.

I may not 'win' the first time round but maybe I'll get a few good plays in.

Ever been dragged into something you thought you'd hate and have your mind changed? What part of the writing process to you dread?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Book Wars 2

The event were, despite the negative connotation of war, there is absolutely no bloodshed! (Or spilled ink - since we are dealing with books here)

This week I read:
(Click on the book titles to be redirected to their Goodreads page)

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
First book in the Lorien Legacies

With I Am Number Four, my favorite thing has to be the story itself. There really isn't any other way to explain my feelings about this book except the story was...out of this world (And yeah, I know this pun is totally lame because the book has something to do with Aliens - as an aside: I'm not a big fan of aliens but this book  may have changed my mind....)


Once A Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

The best thing about this book is the emphasis on family dynamics. Too often in books, this sort of atmosphere is left by the wayside - which after reading this book, I'm reminded of how silly that is. With a large family you have all the stuff that makes for interesting plot: love, drama, comedy, rivalry, competition, support.

This Week's Winner

This week my favorite book would have to be I Am Number Four. This book convinced me that alien-centric books really aren't lame and considering how anti I was before, that's saying something. At first I thought it would be very Smallville (TV show based on Superman before he was Superman) but it really came into it's own. It's well paced and sets up the beginning of a series perfectly. I was gripped from the first chapter and had no choice but to read straight through to the end. 

Have you read either of these books? What did you think? What's your favorite read this week?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Writers PSA

Guess what you guys? I've been interviewed! (Somehow this makes me feel more legit!I) If you feel like getting to know me a bit better, hop over to the wonderfully kind, awesome and superb Michelle Merrill's blog. (Subliminal messaging: do it!)

On to the Writers Public Service Announcement

Do you write best in the comfort of your own bed or your favorite chair? Is writing at a desk simply not cutting it?

Never fear! Smart people somewhere have thought of that!

Someone gets that, for writers, sitting at a desk for hours on end can be hard on our backs. That after a while, your creative juices start getting clogged because of your discomfort. They know you want to move to someplace more comfortable. But now your legs are at risk of being severely burnt from your computer overheating (We'll spare you pictures of this disaster because it's gross but if you're curious google computer leg burns) and your computer itself is at risk of being damaged from not being able to cool down properly.

Writers of the world, we have the ultimate solution to all your writerly woes (Well, all of the physical ones. There is no magical cure for mental woes such as writers block, misbehaving characters and plot holes).

I give you the lap desk!

A solid surface for your computer or notebook, a cup holder so you have your favorite drink at the ready at all times, and a bean bag body that conforms to fit you

This Writers PSA will now conclude with a firsthand testimonial:

I never thought of buying myself a lap desk. But my Aunt and Uncle bought me one for Christmas and, after trying it once, I was addicted. My lap desk fits my writerly needs, conforms to me to maximize comfort potential, it's in a stylish black and white design, and it's quickly becoming a writing necessity! I'm not quite sure how I wrote in bed without it before now. I have to say, I love it. Go buy one writer friends, I swear you won't regret it!
- Melissa Wideen, Satisfied Consumer

Did you get any gifts that are quickly becoming necessity's? Do you write in bed? Do you have a lap desk (If not, seriously guys, they are amazing! Go get one!)?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Nothing beats homemade

Just before Christmas last year my GG (Great Grandma) died. She was 99. When I was younger she used to make GG buns and Cinnamon buns. Her bread is what my childish mind associated her with. I didn't know her very well. To me, she made (delicious) buns and watched daytime Soaps.

This Christmas, I wanted to bring her to the family in some way so Grandma and I attempted to make GG buns (plain white buns). We succeeded and they were melt-in-your-mouth-utterly-fantastic. And I'm not even just saying that. Every one commented and when dessert, tantalizing and sinfully delicious as always was laid out, a lot of my family decided against that extra cookie or piece of trifle and had another bun instead. (Yeah, they transcend the whole dinner/dessert boundaries.)

The only downside to GG buns? The store bought stuff just doesn't cut it anymore. I used to LOVE the store bought buns (probably cause I hadn't had a GG bun since I was an early teen). Now, they taste bland and flavorless and....sort of empty.

It's a lot like reading.

There are books that are all kind of the same when it comes down to it. There's a uniformity to it all. Different authors and ideas but, really, not that different. You can love these books. Devour them one after another like you'll never read another book again. You get crazy excited when you see there's more for your pleasure.

And then you find it. The original, from scratch, novel that opens your eyes, makes you realize that you've been taking in a lot of emptiness that really didn't taste that good when you compare it to the freshness and flavor infested book you're now holding.

I have a challenge for you all this year.

Make sure your book is "homemade." It's harder. Your muscles will ache from getting out all the kinks, you'll beg to be finished but know you're not. You'll need help. But don't worry, there's a recipe still, there's still a way to get it done - you just have to put more of you into it.

Trust me, your hard work will pay off in the end.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Book Wars

As I mentioned in this post 2011 is a year of goals. One of the goals I set for myself is to read 110 books this year. (I'm also starting a regular blogging schedule of Monday-Wednesday-Friday.)

I kept trying to think about how I could keep you all updated with what I've read. I don't want to review books - I respect those who do but sometimes I really can't think of enough to say and I get really picky with the books I do read. Even books I love I wouldn't necessarily give 5/5 stars. So, while brainstorming, I came up with the idea of Book Wars.

Every Monday I'll post all the books I read during the week (from Monday to Sunday) and say one good thing about each book - there will be no negatives because I know first hand how hard it is to write a book. At the end of the post I'll pick my weekly favorite (which is where the 'war' part comes in, one book will end up on top though with very little bloodshed - unless, of course that's what the books about!).

I know it's only the 3rd but I've already read three books so we can start this week:
(For more about any of these books click on the title to be redirected to their Goodreads page.)

Captivate by Carrie Jones
The second book in the Need series.

My favorite thing about this book is the main character's voice. I love Zara's (MC) obsession with phobias: it's funny, amusing and interesting. And I even feel like I'm learning something.


ArchEnemy by Frank Beddor
The third and final book in the Looking Glass Wars

If you hadn't guessed by my blog's title, I love Alice Adventures in Wonderland/Through The Looking Glass. The Looking Glass Wars trilogy is basically a re-imagining of Alyss' story in a darker world. As with the first two in this series, I love the concept and the world. I also love how our world and Wonderland are so intertwined with each other yet separate at the same time (which basically fits into loving the concept).


The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
The third and final book in the Darkest Powers trilogy

I like how the covers in this series focus on the changing stone. When focusing on the actual story, again I really enjoyed the concept. The idea of a Necromancer as a main character is something I hadn't seen in other fiction books. Maybe I'm too morbid or something but I really like the idea and Chloe's (MC) powers - even when they creeped me out and gave me shivers.

This weeks winner:

Unfortunately, I don't feel very strongly about any of these books. It's hard to pick a winner because, while I enjoyed them all, I don't feel like any one of them really stood out to me as better or easier to recommend then the others. I have positives and negatives (though I'll keep those to myself!) things to say about each of these books that are about equal in number. 

In the end, I think I have to go with ArchEnemy by Frank Beddor. It isn't the best book in the series but it is a series that I would definitely recommend if you ever enjoyed Alice in Wonderland. The first book Looking Glass Wars will always be my favorite. 

Have you read any of these books? What were some of your thoughts?

I hope everyone had an amazing holiday! Anything exciting happen that I missed during my absence?