NaNoWriMo: Survival Kit

It’s that time of year again. National Novel Writing Month – the time when I sign up to write a fifty thousand word novel in thirty days… and if I’m lucky I’ll achieve that goal.

This will be my fourth time participating and the first time I’m semi-organized. My desk is clean, my pencils are sharpened and I have a notebook full of ideas and notes.

I’ve been thinking about what sorts of things I needed to organize myself and I put together a survival kit of sorts:

1. Caffeine. I stocked up on my favourite tea (English Breakfast) and even bought some long life milk for those times when I run out of the fresh stuff and can’t bring myself to go to the supermarket. Also a lot of water on hand.

2. Snacks. I’m trying to be healthy this time so there’s lots of fruit in the kitchen. And some chips and chocolate for when I decide I need a treat…

3. My NaNoWriMo playlist. I have one. And amazingly enough it’s very very similar to my housework playlist. Lots of fast paced songs to help motivate me and some old favourites too. Also, I’ve recently discovered Spotify and have a feeling I’ll be utilizing that site on many occasions.

4. Stationery. Pens, pencils, post-its, highlighters – you name it, I’ve got it. I even have coloured pencils just in case I decide I need to sketch something out.

5. Something to use to back up. I have learned in the past that it’s always a good thing to back up. So I have a nice pink USB stick to use in conjunction with dropbox just in case of any nasty accidents.

6. Hair ties and hair clips. I can’t stand my hair in my face when I’m trying to concentrate so I have a brand new pack of both to make sure my hair will behave even if my inner muse isn’t.

7. Dictionary and Thesaurus. Whilst I could just use the Internet whenever I need definitions or synonyms, I love to use the hard copy for inspiration and have a copy of both – bought for less than fifty cents from a second-hand store. They may be over thirty years old but there’s something nostalgic for me about using them. And if all else fails there’s always dictionary.com.

8. Novels to read. Because sometimes a distraction can be beneficial.

9. Notes, outlines, etc. I have lists of character descriptions, plot outlines, random pages I’ve taken out of magazines that I feel will somehow help if I need it. I keep it all in a nice folder where it’s somewhat of a mess but still somewhat organized.

 

Okay, so that’s it. I’m excited and nervous all at the same time. Hopefully by announcing publicly that I’m attempting to win this year will be enough of a motivation to help me get there.

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Kick-Ass Heroines

This week has been insane for me – hundreds of assignments due and no time at all to read anything that’s not a textbook or a journal article. I still have two due on Friday but I couldn’t help myself but take some time out to do a top ten Tuesday post.

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

This week’s topic is: Top Ten Kick-Ass Heroines.

I love a strong female character – either physically or mentally empowered.

My ten:

1. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
 I loved how she never gave up and never stopped trying to help Harry no matter how much danger she was in or how much she was hurting. She was incredibly strong and smart and I’m sure she’ll be on many top ten lists for this week. Plus – when she punched Malfoy in the face? That was kind of fantastic..

2. Beatrice (Tris) Prior from the Divergent series by Veronica Roth
 She was Dauntless. Enough said.

3. Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
 I love Katniss from the books. I thought she was scared by despite that tried as hard as she could to do what she thought was right.

4. Rosemarie (Rose) Hathaway from Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
I am currently reading the VA series and I adore Rose. She’s a teenage vampire slayer who I’d hate to meet in a dark alley… or even a well lit one. Rose is fierce.

5. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
 It takes some guts to stand up for what you want when society is all telling you to adhere to what they believe is right. Every time I read this book I end up grinning at Elizabeth’s antics and her strength of character.

6. Cinder from the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
 A Cinderella who doesn’t rely on a fairy godmother or her prince to come and fix everything for her. Cinder is fantastic and strong in her own way. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.

7. Josephine (Jo) March from Little Women by L.M. Alcott
 She may get her foot in her mouth at times and say some fairly inappropriate things but despite it all, Jo is always looking out for everyone she love and her heart is in the right place. She’s all kinds of awesome.

8. Ellie Linton from the Tomorrow Series by John Marsden
 She has firepower and she’s not afraid to use it. If a war breaks out tomorrow, I’d want Ellie and the rest on my side.

9. Susannah (Suze) Simon from the Mediator series by Meg Cabot
 It’s not secret that this is one of my all time favourite paranormal YA series (and that it appears in my top ten most weeks…). Part of that reason is because of Suze. She has attitude and she’s not the type to up with with garbage from anyone – alive or dead. I love her for that.

10. Wanderer from the Host by Stephenie Meyer
 Whilst I’m not a fan of the Twilight series, I really enjoyed the Host. Wanderer is an incredibly strong heroine because she goes against everything she’s ever known, survives the elements and does her best to protect a family that she wasn’t even born into. She’s fantastic and brave.

Book Review: Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

Title: Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3)
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Vampires, Magic, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Razorbill (an imprint of Penguin)
Publication Date: November 2008
Pages: 443
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
It’s springtime at St. Vladimir’s Academy, and Rose Hathaway is this close to graduation. Since making her first Strigoi kills, Rose hasn’t been feeling quite right. She’s having dark thoughts, behaving erratically, and worst of all… might be seeing ghosts.

As Rose questions her sanity, new complications arise. Lissa has begun experimenting with her magic once more, their enemy Victor Dashkov might be set free, and Rose’s forbidden relationship with Dimitri is starting to heat up again. But when a deadly threat no one saw coming changes their entire world, Rose must put her own life on the line – and choose between the two people she loves most.

My Review:

Life is slowly getting back to normal after the Strigoi Spokane skirmish at the end of Frostbite. Lissa’s learning more about her abilities and Rose is just about to start the Field Experiment – the most important part of her guardian training. But things don’t go according to her plan and she’s less than happy with her assigned Moroi.

But as all dhampire guardians have been told since they were old enough to begin training, “Moroi come first Guardians [are] shadows.”

Combined with the stress of a trainer staged attack at any moment, Rose has to cope with her ever-changing bond to Lissa and the emotional fallout from the Strigoi attack as well as her strained secret forbidden romantic relationship and the criminal trial of a former Moroi royal.

I love these books. I love the characters and the adventure that each instalment of the Vampire Academy series takes me on. There’s so much that happens. Vampire politics makes more of an appearance in this book with the Queen trying to get Lissa under her wing and away from bad influences like Rose. More is revealed regarding the bond Rose and Lissa share as well as more ‘benefits’ from Rose shadow-kissed nature.

We got to see more of what everyday life is like for a Guardian – it seems a lot more boring than life at St Vladamir’s…. things there seem to be an adventure every day!

I felt like character wise Rose has both matured and slightly regressed since the end of the last novel. I don’t want to go into any spoilers but despite that I adore Rose. She’s strong and flawed but entertaining to read.

I’m so glad that I had the fourth book in the series, Blood Promise, because the end of this book just about killed me – I wouldn’t have been able to wait before finding out what happened next.

Shadow Kiss is my favourite book of this series so far. It’s exciting and romantic and frightening but fantastic all at the same time.

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


Top Ten Tuesday: Books To Get in the Halloween Spirit

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

This week’s topic is: Top Ten Books To Get in the Halloween Spirit!

Halloween isn’t a very big thing down here – the most that happens in my life is some Simpson Halloween episodes being replayed and the very occasional trick-or-treater…. When they come to my house I give them the choice – a tin of tuna, a can of corn or a fifty cent piece. I just don’t have lollies at my house.

For this week’s list I’m going to mention ten of my favourite scary creatures and a book series or two that they appear in.

1. Vampires

I love vampires. Even when I was little I used to sleep with a scarf around my neck just in case… probably not the best idea in the sub-tropical climate but none-the-less I was never bitten by an evil bloodsucker so I consider it to be a success.

My favourite Vampire series are: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead; Lharmell series by Rhiannon Hart

2. Ghosts

Out of all the supernatural powers or creatures around, I think the one that I’d most like to be is that of a necromancer – someone who can communicate with ghosts. Both the main characters in my ghost series are kick-arse women who can take on the afterlife and somehow manage to come out on top.

The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot; The Darkest Powers Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong

3. Fae/Fairies

Fairies aren’t always as sweet and lovely as Peter Pan’s Tinkerbelle may have once made them appear… although considering I’ve never seen Peter Pan I may be mistaken… I’m just assuming she was sweet. But these next books feature fae who are more sinister than sweet.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr; The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa

4. Trolls

Who knew that books about trolls could be interesting? And that some trolls live in castles – and not under bridges?

The Trylle series by Amanda Hocking

5. Zombies

I’m very new to zombies – I’d never seen a zombie movie until a few months ago – but I’ve started to understand the appeal. They’re really creepy!

The White Rabbit Chronicles by Gena Showalter; Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon

6. Mythology

Mythological creatures are some of the most creepy and scary – gods and goddesses with infinite powers; people with the ability to turn others to stone with a single look; incredible warriors who could defeat even the most powerful enemy in battle – thee are the kinds of people who I can’t help but love to read about.

The Mythos Academy series by Jennifer Estep; The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan

7. Magic

Witches and Wizards and all sorts of other supernatural beings use magic and it’s an ability that I would love to have. Since I think I used Harry Potter in every top ten that I’ve participated in I won’t mention it for this week instead, my magic books are: the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare; The Witches by Roald Dahl

8. Demons/Angels

Wherever there are angels, demons never seem to be very far away – and in their own special way Angels are incredibly ferocious…

My angel book is Immortal City by Scott Speer. I can’t wait for the next book in the series to be released next year. These are some eerily beautiful but creepy angels

9. Dragons

I may not have read any YA dragon books but I’ve had the first three from the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini sitting on my shelves for a while… dragons are fantastically creepy and most certainly appropriate for my Halloween list.

10. Aliens

I love Aliens. From Alf – the Alien Life Form – to Superman, if they came from an other planet, I was in love. My two alien series are ones that I adore – the Roswell High series by Melinda Metz (which was a much better book than it was TV series although I did love a young Katherine Heigl as Izzy) and the Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. 

 

And that’s ten! I love supernatural creatures 😛

 

Book Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Title: Crewel (Crewel World #1)
Author: Gennifer Albin
Genre: Dystopia; Fantasy; Sci-fi
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Faber
Publication Date: October 2012 
Pages: 368 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

Download the first five chapters for free: here

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

My Review:

Crewel is probably the book that I’ve been most looking forward to reading this year – and it did not disappoint.

In the land of Arras, the position of Spinster is one of the most coveted roles by young girls everywhere. But not for Adelice Lewys. Since she was five years old her parents have been training her to be incapable, awkward and artless.

But even with their careful instruction, the Guild discover Adelice’s potential and come for her to take her away. In amongst the fancy outfits and balls, the life of a Spinster isn’t all it appears. They have the power to control the weather and create landscape but “ripping” or removing people and places is also a task that falls to them.

This book is… so much more than I expected. The world created is incredible. The fabric of the entire land is controlled and maintained on looms. Golden threads control time and with just a snip entire towns could be ripped from existence. I found it fascinating and to be entirely honest I’m still trying to wrap my head about how incredible the world crafting is.

The segregation of the population was an interesting idea – at sixteen, people are required to get courtship appointments. Purity standards are enforced for all citizens prior to marriage which must occur before the age of eighteen. Parents are assigned how many children they are able to have, when they can have them and what gender their children will be. Citizens with female children live in separate parts of town than those with male children… and because of this Adelice is naive to the world as a whole. It was great that the reader can learn about the world as Adelice herself learns how everything works.

Adelice is my kind of character. She’s feisty and caring, intelligent but at the same time she isn’t smart enough to keep her head down. She reminded me a lot of characters like Tris from Divergent and to a lesser extent, Katniss from the Hunger Games. I really liked how she developed throughout the novel.

The other characters were just as interesting as Adelice. Sleazy old politicians with a thirst for power and young women, confused aestheticians, rival Spinsters and love interests – there is a wide range of supporting characters and they all have interesting back stories. The way they interact Adelice was great to read but this being a first person narrator we didn’t get to see much of how they interact with each other. For those whose back-stories we got to see I couldn’t believe how cruel some of their pasts were… it was brilliant.

The only downside to this novel was there is so much world building and build-up that I was a little let down by the amount of action. But I can’t wait to read the next book in the series now that everything has been set up and see just how everything unfolds.

Thanks to The Reading Room and Macmillan for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Authors in X-Genre

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

This week’s topic is: Top Ten Authors in X-Genre.

Considering my love of all things YA it’s probably no surprise that my top ten this Tuesday are young adult authors – both contemporary and fantasy.

1. Sarah Dessen

2. David Levithan

3. Melina Marchetta

4. Ally Carter

5. Meg Cabot

6. Jennifer Estep

7. J.K. Rowling

8. Brigid Kemmerer

9. Veronica Roth

10. Richelle Mead 

 

There are my top ten YA authors. Most of the specialize in fantasy/paranormal books but I love all the authors on this list for many reasons and all of them are MUST buys for me whenever they release a new book.

 

Book Review: Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Sports novels (especially those regarding American sports) aren’t usually my thing – I don’t know the difference between a linebacker and an outfielder and that’s despite watching four seasons of Friday Night Lights – but I’ve been hearing nothing but good things about Miranda Kenneally’s young adult books set in Hundred Oaks High. So I decided to take a break from all the paranormal novels I’ve been reading lately and see if Catching Jordan lived up to the hype.

Title: Catching Jordan
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Realistic Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: December 2011
Pages: 281 pages
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
One of the boys…

What girl doesn’t want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn’t just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.

But everything she’s ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he’s also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan’s feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart’s on the line?

My Review:

Jordan Woods, high school senior and respected captain of the football team has everything planned out. Lead the team to victory and impress the college football scouts. Donovan Woods, Jordan’s father, is a professional quarterback and seems to support everyone in living their dreams except for Jordan. Because she’s a girl.

But Jordan has always just been one of the boys. She prefers practical to pretty and would rather spend her nights watching game tape to parties and make up. That is until Ty Green shows up on her pitch. He’s unbelievably gorgeous and one of the best players Jordan has seen on a high school team. Only problem is he wants her position and with Jordan mesmerized by the new arrival she’s can’t keep her head in the game.

There’s a lot to like about this story. I loved the fact that despite Jordan being female, she was able to hold her own with her team-mates. That’s not to say that sexism in the sport wasn’t addressed. I really admired the author for being able to tackle the issue without it becoming the main focus of the novel.

The romance was really well done. I liked how everything played out between the characters – I don’t want to get too much into it because I don’t want to ruin anything except to say that I was satisfied by Jordan’s choices romantically speaking.

I didn’t quite understand why someone who claimed to be one of the boys, hates typical female activities and was so focused on her goals was so over the top, heart over heels besotted with Ty – to the point of doodling their names in her diary and losing sleep – after just one very brief meeting. The instalove there really bothered me because from everything I’d been told about Jordan that just seemed so very out of character that it sort of bugged me. But despite that I thought that Jordan was a strong character who stood by her choices and her friends.

Overall I quite enjoyed this novel – and you don’t need to know a thing about sport to understand what’s going on. There are some fun and adorable characters, a well-thought out, entertaining plot that was well out together and a love story and pleased the romantic in me.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository