Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Review of Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger

Here is a June, 2017 release I can't wait to recommend. This is a sweet romance between Tessa, a girl suffering from agoraphobia after a mysterious traumatic event, and Eric, a pop star who's afraid of the obsessive tendencies of his fans. They "meet" on Twitter when Tessa has a fangirl post about Eric trend, and Eric is trying to figure out a way to torpedo his success to get out of the restrictions placed on him by his recording contract. Though their initial contact is negative, before long they are confiding their fears and problems with one another. Problem is, Tessa doesn't really know that she's communicating with Eric as he's using a pseudonymous account. Oh, that, and the fact that Tessa's and Eric's paranoias are grounded in a very real danger.

I read this book in less than 24 hours, rooting for Tessa to overcome her phobia and Eric to come clean and tell her who he really is. The format really adds to the tense, fast pace as the story is told not just in 3rd person narrative but uses interspersed police interviews and transcripts of tweets and DM's. Toward the climax the tension amps up as Eric realizes Tessa is in real danger. Then, just when everything resolves beautifully-BAM-cliffhanger, and teaser setting up the plot for what happens in book two. Well-written, with a villain that I wasn't looking for, but that totally made sense after the reveal, and a red herring that I assume will be book two's villain. I really appreciated how realistic the story felt, with Twitter so prominent and the consideration of the follies of being a teen idol. I highly recommend this story for anyone who loves contemporary YA romance and thrillers. 5 stars!

Disclosure: I received a copy from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Book Release: Faithful by Michelle Hauck

One of my five star fantasy reads from 2015 has a sequel releasing today. If you are a fantasy lover, this series should be a must read.

The next volume in the Birth of Saints series is available now!

Following Grudging--and with a mix of Terry Goodkind and Bernard Cornwall--religion, witchcraft, and chivalry war in Faithful, the exciting next chapter in Michelle Hauck's Birth of Saints series!

A world of Fear and death…and those trying to save it.

Colina Hermosa has burned to the ground. The Northern invaders continue their assault on the ciudades-estados. Terror has taken hold, and those that should be allies betray each other in hopes of their own survival. As the realities of this devastating and unprovoked war settles in, what can they do to fight back?

On a mission of hope, an unlikely group sets out to find a teacher for Claire, and a new weapon to use against the Northerners and their swelling army.

What they find instead is an old woman.

But she’s not a random crone—she’s Claire’s grandmother. She’s also a Woman of the Song, and her music is both strong and horrible. And while Claire has already seen the power of her own Song, she is scared of her inability to control it, having seen how her magic has brought evil to the world, killing without reason or remorse. To preserve a life of honor and light, Ramiro and Claire will need to convince the old woman to teach them a way so that the power of the Song can be used for good. Otherwise, they’ll just be destroyers themselves, no better than the Northerners and their false god, Dal. With the annihilation their enemy has planned, though, they may not have a choice.

A tale of fear and tragedy, hope and redemption, Faithful is the harrowing second entry in the Birth of Saints trilogy.

Faithful- November 15, 2016
Harper Voyager

Also enter to win a signed paperback of Grudging, the first book in the series: 

A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything.

The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.

On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.

The Women of the Song.

But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power. And time is running out.

A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.

November 17, 2015
Harper Voyager

Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two kids in college. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack.

She is a co-host of the yearly contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, and Sun versus Snow.

Her Birth of Saints trilogy, starting with Grudging and Faithful (November 15, 2016), is available from Harper Voyager. Another epic fantasy, Kindar's Cure, is published by Divertir Publishing. She's repped by Marisa Corvisiero of CorvisieroLiterary.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Writers: Why You Need The Magic Words!

I just finished TheMagic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl B. Klein and I completely understand why this woman is such a respected editor. If you are writing children's literature, you will want to read this book! 

Some topics covered:

Story Concepts
Creating multidimensional characters
Building a bond between the reader and the characters
Writing outside your own perspective
Writing Good First Chapters

The book is thorough, logical, and very straightforward with examples and tons of exercises on each element of a great book. There are checklists within the chapters that really help authors examine their work more deeply to flesh out weaknesses and strengthen these individual elements during revisions. Other than taking a course from, or actually getting your manuscript acquired by an editor at a major publisher, I can't imagine what else has the potential to really improve your writing. 

Now that I've raced through reading it, I'm going to use it as a master class for revising my WIP.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pitch Wars Pimp My Bio

It's Pitch Wars time again! Don't know what that means? Check out Brenda Drake's website. (Hi mentors and fellow contestants!) I've updated my bio for this year.

About me: I was born in Illinois, so I am a midwestern girl, though I spent many years in the Southwest and a year in the South. I studied violin at Arizona State University and received both a Bachelor and Master of Music in Performance. After that, I had four beautiful daughters, all of whom I've taught a musical instrument:

I am a licensed practical nurse and  occasionally pick up shifts at in a long term care facility aka "nursing home" when I'm not teaching violin lessons or homeschooling my girls. I am married to the sweetest man anywhere.

My writing: Lately, I've been working on a YA fantasy set in a fictional middle east/African-like world, but decided that wouldn't be ready for the contest, so I'm entering a YA contemporary that wasn't quite ready last year, but has gone through lots of crits and edits since. Think Emily Martin's The Year We Fell Apart meets Sara Zarr's The Lucy Variations. It's on the quieter, intense weepy side with LOTS of music. (Here's a playlist.)

  My Favorites 

2016 Books: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, Beyond the Red by Ava Jae, Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake, Days Made of Glass by Laura Drake
pre-2016 Books: Lilith by George MacDonald, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, Strangers and Sojourners by Michael D. O'Brien, LOTR by Tolkien, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
TV Shows: Outlander
Authors: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Maggie Stiefvater, Tahereh Mafi, Diana Gabaldon, Michael D. O'Brien, Regina Doman, Jandy Nelson, Rainbow Rowell, Sarah Dessen
Movie: Life is Beautiful
Place to visit: a huge Polish cemetery near Chicago.
Color: blue (green is a close second)
Food: something with chocolate in it.

Other random info:

I do not understand how pantser's do it (beat sheets/outlines are a must!)
I love drafting
Revising is not my favorite (but I will do it!!!)

Really Random info:

I can't scream (truly), but my kids will tell you I can yell
I have no idea how to do gif's
I love happy endings (the irony is my MS is more bittersweet)
It's not easy to make me laugh, but I can break into hysterics over things no one else gets
I have extraordinary focus at times
Love You Forever makes me cry
I can't stand seafood

A big thank you to Brenda Drake and all the people who help pull Pitch Wars off, and also to Lana Pattinson for hosting the Blog Hop. Thanks to you too for reading my bio. Any questions? Just ask.

Looking for other #PimpMyBio posts? See here. Found my post there? Comment below and I'll check your bio out!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Seven 2016 Releases on My TBR I Plan to Buy

The following are 7 titles (in random order) that release in 2016 which I either already own or plan to buy because they either a) sound amazing, b) are part of a series I already love, c) are books by debut/newer authors I want to support, or d) a combination of the above.

1. Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh (September 2016)

     A witch's apprentice, romance, and something evil in the sea?
     I'm in. And Sarah is one of the sweetest people I've "met" on
     the internet!

2. This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (January 2016)

24529123A debut about a school shooting, I first saw this premise back
when it was a contest entry and was intrigued. Still am, and
just bought it so I'll be reading it soon!

3. Beyond the Red by Ava Jae (March 2016)

I'm still hoping to pre-order this. Ava Jae is a debut author who provides a lot of helpful advice to aspiring writers and the premise of an alien queen with a half human bodyguard trying to prevent genocide reels me in.

289542004. Illusion by Martina Boone (October 2016)

I own the first two books in this Southern Gothic trilogy by
Martina Booneso naturally I can't wait for the conclusion to 
Barrie and Eight's story!

5. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (January 2016)


 Two witches in a new fantasy world being chased by a
scary bloodwitch? And the start of a new series by an author
who devotes so much time to giving advice to other writers?
Yes, I bought this!

179273956. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (May 2016)

I love the Throne of Glass series and bought the first book in
this other series by Sarah J. Maas. Now that Feyre's been
transformed into one of the Fae, I'm impatient to see what
happens next.


          7. Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake (January 2016)

         I already bought this new book by Brenda Drake, because
         she is the queen of writer's contests and deserves my
         support. Plus libraries, portals, romance, and magical
         sentinels? I'm only three chapters in and I'm planning to
         savor every page.

So that's my list of some of the books I plan to buy in 2016. How about some more suggestions in the comments?

Friday, January 1, 2016

Need some writing tips?

Happy New Year!

I really like this post by Alex Yuschik. If you are looking to write or revise a manuscript this year, try one or more of her 16 tips. And happy writing!

Monday, December 28, 2015

My Favorite Books of 2015

Above all when I read a book, I want to be transported to another world, where I can live vicariously through someone else's viewpoint. I'm a sucker for an awesome premise and a good one will keep me reading to find out what happens, even when the writing is so-so. But, I love when a book blows me away so that I can't stop thinking about it when I'm finished, or is so well done writer-me is jealous.

According to my Goodreads reviews, I read 59 books this past year with 14 of those garnering a 5 star review. Lest I seem too generous, not all my books  read make it on my Goodreads list. I don't usually post reviews of books I didn't like or didn't finish, plus I won't start a book if the premise doesn't appeal (the rare exception being ILLUMINAE  this year). Of the books on my 5 star list, some that topped the list:

I liked this one because I love fairy tale retellings and this one is a gritty contemporary without magic while still following the basic plot. Bonus points for a moral that hits the heart without preaching.

I admire Kate DiCamillo so much for her ability to write a touching story. Bonus points here because the idea of  comic book style illustrations seemed stupid to me at first, but I loved the whole book!
I added this to my TBR because it won so many awards and I wanted more diversity on my list, but wow, Jacqueline Woodson drew me into her life story with the beauty of her writing and the strength of her experiences.
I read this because a PitchWars mentor mentioned it in her bio and it turned out to have some eerie similarities to my current WIP. Jandy Nelson's writing oozes color and life on every page.
Did I mention I like books that take me to places I can only imagine? A beautifully told story about sisterly devotion with romance and adventure thrown in, this won the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for Young Adult in 2014.
As the fourth installment in this series, this book amazed me with how the character arcs keep growing, and I love both them and the fantasy world Sarah Maas has created.

This YA contemporary about a blind girl and the boy who betrayed her trust has voice that leaps off the page.