Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Wall, a Plea, and a Song

In college my nightmares kind of looked like this.

 One of my math professors-no, no, don't go. I promise this post isn't about math. This professor told the class that everyone hits a wall in mathematics at some point. Maybe math was easy all throughout high school and we thought that would always be the case-it's not. Eventually there will be a concept we struggle to comprehend. We may want to give up, change majors, or drop the class. So why the pep talk? He wanted his students prepared, so when we hit our wall we didn't give up.

Writers also have a wall we bang up against on occasion. Call it writer's block if you want, but to me writer's block is when you don't know what to write about. The wall of doom I speak of will project itself anywhere it can to disrupt your writing process. It only has one goal-to stop you. Beyond that its aims are not specific.

This is a test and the only way to pass it is to keep on writing or revising or plotting or whatever you were doing before the wall appeared.

When working on a novel you will reach a point where you think it's complete garbage, a useless waste of time, and an entirely unsalvageable mess.


 Don't freak out, it's just another part of the process. Walk away from your keyboard for a few days if you must. Read your favorite book. Talk to someone about your story or if, like me, you are overly secretive write a summary of the problems you are having. What needs to happen? Why isn't it happening? Solutions will come as long as you do whatever you need to do to keep going. The wall will disappear and you'll be much happier with your story. Too many people stop when the writing gets tough. This is me urging you to think twice before giving up.

The more I stumble along with my editing process, the better my story becomes. I have a long list of revisions set aside to apply to my almost complete draft number three which will (hopefully) turn it into a sparkling fourth draft.

The last few weeks I was hitting the wall and I didn't know what to do, but I didn't stop working and now the wall's gone. I feel good and I want you to feel good too.

And because it's Wednesday, here is a little music for you. I love this because it combines my left and right brainedness into one quirky song.

Friday, December 9, 2011

On Hibernation, Mostly

This week has seen some drastic changes in weather and mood, at least for me. It was warm, then full of so much fog I felt like Sherlock Holmes. Today things have settled on chilly and ecstatic, respectively.

Winter has finally shown itself. You know, winter never makes sense the way summer does. When it's insanely hot we New Jersey kids shuffle to the shore and plop onto the sand until work, school, or the cold arrival of September sends us back inside. Yet in the winter months, when the air is frigid and the roads treacherous, we are in a frantic scramble from store to store, party to party. I know it's the holidays, and I am not complaining. I truly love all the festivities. It just seems illogical. When it's freezing and grey outdoors, only hibernation seems truly logical.

Cody relaxing in the sun. Tough life.

Ideally hibernation would involve all my favorite books and revolving mugs of tea, cocoa, and hot cider. Curling up in my favorite chair with my to be read pile is so much more appealing than pulling on a puffy jacket, thick mittens, a hat and scarf just to take the trash out.

My favorite chair, as it turns out, is already occupied. And I have fabulous plans tonight, so any hibernating will need to be postponed.

I'm heading to see The Gaslight Anthem in Asbury Park, that's by the ocean in Jersey for those unfamiliar. Which kind of explains why I was thinking about the beach in the first place.

I love the beach in the winter. Uncluttered it's much more impressive. The ocean is still there. The waves never fail to beat against the sand. They don't stop just because we ignore them. Our participation is not required. Empty and cold the beach could be the end of the world rather than a recreational destination, because there's no way I can imagine going into the icy water.

Hmm... cold, desolate, impassable barrier at the end of the world? Where have I heard this before? Oh, Game of Thrones, right. I'm obsessed.

Clearly, I'm not the first person to be impressed by huge, icy obstacles.

Sorry for the tangent. I blame the weather and the weekend and George R. R. Martin.

Hope you all stay warm (if applicable) and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

On My Writing Playlist: Ray LaMontagne

My main character is kind of a jerk, we've established this. In fact, he is full of flaws. Such as not knowing or appreciating what he has until it's been lost. Left with only himself to blame, as the architect of his own misery, he sinks to his lowest point of hopelessness.

Someday I plan to stop plotting and start writing in earnest. When that happens I may post a (very short) scene from this project on the blog. So I can stop being so vague and so my followers can get a taste for my writing.

Until then, enjoy Ray LaMontagne's live version of "Gone Away From Me"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Book Report Tuesday: Marcus of Umbria

Title: Marcus of Umbria: What an Italian Dog Taught and American Girl About Love

Author: Justine van der Leun

Genre: Travel Memoir

Synopsis: Tired of laboring in city cubicles, Justine van der Leun sublets her studio apartment, leaves her magazine job, and moves to Collelungo, Italy, population: 200. There, in the ancient city center of a historic Umbrian village, she sets up house with the handsome local gardener she met on vacation only weeks earlier. This impulsive decision launches an eye-opening series of misadventures when village life and romance turn out to be radically different from what she had imagined. Love lost with the gardener is found instead with Marcus, an abandoned English pointer that she rescues.

With Marcus by her side, Justine discovers the bliss and hardship of living in the countryside: herding sheep, tending to wild horses, picking olives with her adopted Italian family, and trying her best to learn the regional dialect. Not quite up to wild boar hunting, no good at gathering mushrooms, and no mamma when it comes to making pasta, she never quite fits in with the locals who, despite their differences, take her in as one of their own. The result is a rich, comic, and unconventional portrait about learning to live and love in the most unexpected ways. (from Goodreads)

Why did I pick it up?: I studied abroad in Umbria and I am obsessed with my dog. It was like this book was marketed specifically for me.

My Review:  Perhaps I am too familar with the topic, and that is why I was let down by this book. I expected more information about Italy and more about Justine's relationship with Marcus. Still the book is an entertaining, light read. I probably would have loved it, had I read it before I spent four months in Italy. Justine's stories about the tiny town of Collelungo and its inhabitants succeed in capturing the image of rural Italy.

Food plays a big role and she comes to appreciate the completeness and simplicity of Italian cooking, as well as a love for eating local. Italians are all about eating the best and freshest foods. They are also very proud of not only their country but of their region, town, and family. So, of course, the best tomatoes come from their own garden and the best wine from their neighbor's grapes.

The book begins with Justine searching for her dog, Marcus, who she finds in a neighbor's yard. A neighbor's chicken clamped firmly in her mouth. I had to laugh at that.

The town I studied in, Perugia, is about 40 minutes from Collelungo. Though the center of Perugia is vastly more populated than Collelungo, the surrounding countryside is not.

My friend Laura divides her time between Pennsylvania and Perugia where, with her boyfriend, she runs a farmhouse hostel for traveling students and visiting friends, like me. During my last visit in April 2010 we took a long walk through the countryside complete with plastic cups of white wine and a cute Italian dog named Diana. Yes, Diana, as in the Roman Goddess of the Hunt, more widely known by her Greek name, Artemis. 

Like Marcus, Diana had previously been caught slaughtering the neighbor's chickens. So when we lost sight of Diana on our walk, Laura feared she was on such a mission. We shouted for her and whistled to no avail. Finally we heard barking.

Diana had found her way into the neighbor's yard. A fenced yard. Naturally the fence was locked. She must have snuck in behind an entering car, but we were too late and the gate had closed automatically. So we were reduced to shouting loudly in Italian for the owner to come out.
Meanwhile, the owner of the house had a small terrier which was barking like mad to alert everyone in a five mile radius of the intruder. Diana paid this dog no mind whatsoever. Though she drank its water and stole a sizable dog treat directly from its bowl.

We weren't too mad. Probably because of the aforementioned plastic cups of wine. Then again, it could just have been her adorable face. Look how happy she is after her adventure. Even Laura who carried her 25 pound dog back through the picturesque countryside isn't annoyed. Rather she was glad Diana didn't kill any chickens.

Recommendation: Anyone with an interest in Italy and dogs would find this an entertaining read.

Next Week: Back to fiction, beyond that I have no idea.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On My Writing Playlist: Jenny Owen Youngs

"What Beats Within" is a song about confessing or trying to at least. It's the perfect addition to my playlist since my main character has no shortage of mistakes. But sometimes admiting what you've done is unfathomable. This is especially true when you are left questioning whether it was even real or if you've lost your mind somewhere along the quest for greatness.

Hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Books: Now Even Better With Friends

In elementary school all my friends read The Babysitter's Club and together we watched the amazing movie. I personally always connected with Mallory, maybe it was the glasses. Or it could have been all that reading and writing she did...

Next came Harry Potter. One by one my friends and family jumped on the Hogwarts Express and we bonded over theoretical discussions like so many games of exploding snap. At times there were fierce arguments, mostly about Snape's true allegiance. By the way, I was totes right and there was really no reason to get so hostile. You know who you are. I held parties where I turned the dining room into the Great Hall complete with dangling paper candles. We decorated t-shirts, consumed pumpkin cookies, treacle fudge and more recently pumpkin margaritas which were actually quite tasty.

It was only natural that when Twilight came out my friends-who read it first-demanded I join them in their discussions. I obliged and read all four books the weekend Breaking Dawn was released. While Twilight will never be what Harry Potter is to me, I don't regret it one bit. The saga has provided similar discussions and celebrations. For example, Twilight came out in theaters and we had an epic thread of Facebook messages going for weeks after.

Tonight I'm going to see Breaking Dawn Part One with two friends from college. But before the movie we will be making Red Velvet Whoopie Pies-because they are the color of blood and delicious. There will also be a Breaking Dawn Signature cocktail, it's basically a hurricane with plenty of grenadine. The idea being Bella drinks blood to stop her unborn fetus from slowly killing her, so we shall drink blood-tinis to dull the pain to our ears when teenage girls emit high pitched shrieks in the audience. I love teenagers, but why do they do that at the movies?

I chose not to go the straw and sippy cup route.

As I write this blog post, two friends and family members are reading The Hunger Games. I think they are among the last of my circle to read the series and I am bouncing on my heels waiting for them to finish. I need to discuss. I need to relive the series again-this time with friends.

With the official Hunger Games trailer just released on Monday for the movie coming out in four short months, I am preparing for yet another book series to movie series string of social events. I mean look at that trilogy-so many food and drink options for themed-parties.

Who knows what will be next? It will be a while, but I am gonna cast my vote for Divergent.

Do you have any guesses for the next big book series to tackle the silver screen?

Have a great weekend and if you happen to make it out to see Breaking Dawn let me know your thoughts. We can discuss.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On My Writing Playlist: The Horrible Crowes

It's grey and rainy in Philadelphia, making it the ideal time to slow things down with "Lady Killer" from The Horrible Crowes. Brian Fallon, from The Gaslight Anthem, started this band as a side project. Their album, Elsie, is perfect listening for Fall and in my opinion for writing and brainstorming young adults novels.

Hope everyone is having a great week and for all those NaNoWriMo participants, may the word count be ever in your favor.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Report Monday: Crossed

Title: Crossed, Matched Trilogy #2

Author: Ally Condie

Genre: Young Adult Dystopian

Synopsis: In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever. (from Goodreads)

Why did I pick it up?: I thoroughly enjoyed Matched.

My Review:  A different kind of story from Matched, Crossed focuses on Cassia's journey through the Border and Outer Provinces in search of Ky and Ky's journey to get to Cassia. Point of view is divided between the couple, with alternating chapters. This works well as they are both searching for each other and for several chapters they were just close enough to drive me crazy.

While traveling through canyons called, the Carving, Cassia experiences freedom for the first time. The Society controls everything back home, but in the Carving even though pickins are slim she is the only one in control of her life even what she eats. She can sleep or stay awake and count the stars. She can run as far as she wants without the treadmill being shut off. Nobody watches her every second. Nobody documents her every move as a statistic.

Coinciding with her realization that life without the Society may be possible she learns about the rebellion called the Rising. Cassia is eager to find the Rising and join them. Ky on the other hand is hesitant. He would rather live on the outskirts, not under the Society's control but not engaged in battle with them either.

In the Carving it seems everyone has secrets. Even Ky who throughout Matched seemed almost without flaws. It makes their love more realistic, once we see he isn't perfect. But it also leaves an insinuation of a choice Cassia may still have to make between Xander-her Society chosen match-and Ky. Xander appears in Crossed but in a very different capacity. I suspect the third and final book in the trilogy will have more of a love triangle, but that's all I will say for now.

In the end, as so often happens, it seems the resistance may not be that different from the society they are rebelling against. See: The Hunger Games, Animal Farm, etc.

But that is kind of the point of dystopian novels, there is no utopia and every time a society strives to reach that elusive perfection, they are going to fall short.

Recommendation: If you liked Matched you need to read this.

Next Week: Marcus of Umbria by Justine van der Leun

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thanksgiving, A Prequel

Pumpkin pies for tonight

Just in time for The Season of Pumpkins and Giving Thanks my sister graduated from her medical professional program last night. Woo hoo! Congratulations, Sister!

She has already been seen using her LPN certification (as an excuse) to jab little kids with needles and explain to confused family members that Nana's hearing is perfect, she's just been ignoring you.

Our parents came from Florida to celebrate and we decided it would be efficient to also have a Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner while they are in town. I mean who doesn't love efficiency? And getting two Thankgivings isn't bad either. 

It's our tradition to go around the table and say something for which we are grateful. Usually I make a funny joke. I have given thanks to everything from inky pens to wonder bras. Don't worry, jokes will still be made but a Virginia Woolf quote came to mind. It's a good one, writers, so get out your inky pens and jot this down.

"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."
-Virginia Woolf, A Room Of One's Own

Well, Ms. Woolf, I have both of those things and am so grateful. Without them I wouldn't be able to write my fiction. And if I wasn't able to write my fiction...well that would be dark times, dark times for me and all who know me. Of course, I am grateful for more than that. Here are some fun pictures of things I am thankful for...

Why yes, I bought these flowers myself.

Only four short weeks until The Gaslight Anthem returns to New Jersey with a show in Asbury Park.

Upcoming Travel Plans...

Massachusetts in December

Albuquerque in February

Lake Geneva, Switzerland in May...more on this later.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Book Report Monday: The Magician King

Title: The Magician King, sequel to The Magicians

Author: Lev Grossman

Genre: Adult Literary Fantasy

Synopsis: The Magicians was praised as a triumph by readers and critics of both mainstream and fantasy literature. Now Grossman takes us back to Fillory, where the Brakebills graduates have fled the sorrows of the mundane world, only to face terrifying new challenges. 

Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent's house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them. 

The Magician King is a grand voyage into the dark, glittering heart of magic, an epic quest for the Harry Potter generation. It also introduces a powerful new voice, that of Julia, whose angry genius is thrilling. Once again Grossman proves that he is the modern heir to C.S. Lewis, and the cutting edge of literary fantasy. (from Goodreads)

Why did I pick it up?: I read The Magicians and honestly I wasn't a big fan of it. It wasn't the writing, Grossman is fantastic. It was Quentin Coldwater. He was so unlikable in The Magicians, he was miserable no matter how many of his dreams came true. And he didn't seem to learn his lesson or change until the end of the book. So when I heard there was a sequel coming I crossed my fingers and prayed that Quentin wouldn't let me down.

Favorite Lines: "If this was madness it was an entirely new kind of madness, as yet undocumented in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. She had nerdophrenia. She was dorkotic."

My Review: Grossman does not disappoint with this sequel. Quentin has grown as I hoped he would. In The Magician King Quentin is transformed from an anti-hero to a legit hero. Way to go, Quentin. The story is a combination of Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Reality Bites. This not a kid-friendly story about magicians. There is sex, booze, violence and lots of profanity. It's gritty.

Like Winona I had a thing for Ethan Hawke.
Fun fact: Anyone can learn magic if they are intelligent enough. So magicians in Grossman's books aren't just capable of magic, they are capable of vector calculus too.

Fillory is a magical word like Narnia. There were even books written about children who traveled to Fillory, exactly like Narnia. The Magicians tells how Quentin and his friends discover that the books they loved growing up were actually based on true events and make it their mission to get to Fillory where there is a  talking ram called Ember who is the God of the magical world.

The  book is divided between the--we'll call it the--current events where Quentin is the main character and he is adventuring between worlds with Julia, and past events where Julia is the focus. That story line explains what Julia was doing while Quentin was at Brakebills-a secret Magician College. It tells how she learned her magic and what it cost her. Julia's parts are told in such a fantastic voice, I forgot I was reading.

I really enjoyed The Magician King and have my fingers crossed for a follow up, maybe in 2013.

Recommendation: Fast, exciting fantasy read for adults. Read The Magicians first.

Next Week: Crossed by Ally Condie

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On My Writing Playlist: Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band

Conor Oberst (of Bright Eyes fame) is one of my favorite songwriters but most of his songs are a little too lyrically intense to go on my writing playlists. I get distracted by the words and lose my focus and that is the opposite of what the writing playlist is for. This song, "Spoiled" from Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band is not distracting. It also is about being a spoiled brat and as you may have guessed my main character is a spoiled brat.

For him being happy is difficult. There is always something missing it seems. How much does he need to achieve before he will be content? Why do his victories fail to give him anything like peace or pleasure?

Whatever the reason Conor's right when he says, "That's just a shame."

Monday, October 31, 2011

Book Report Monday: The Son of Neptune

TitleThe Son of Neptune, The Heroes of Olympus Book Two

AuthorRick Riordan

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy-Adventure

SynopsisPercy is confused. When he awoke from his long sleep, he didn't know much more than his name. His brain fuzz is lingering, even after the wolf Lupa tol him he is a demigod and trained him to fight with the pen/sword in his pocket. Somehow Percy manages to make it to a camp for half-bloods, despite the fact that he has to keep killing monsters along the way. But the camp doesn't ring and bells with him. The only thing he can recall from his past is another name: Annabeth

Hazel is supposed to be dead. When she lived before, she didn't do a very good job of it. Sure, she was an obedient daughter, even when her mother was possessed by greed. But that was the problem - when the Voice took over he mother and commanded Hazel to use her "gift" for and evil purpose, Hazel couldn't say no. Now because of her mistake, the future of the world is at risk. Hazel wished she could ride away from it all on the stallion that appears in her dreams.

Frank is a klutz. His grandmother says he is descended from heroes and can be anything he wants to be, but he doesn't see it. He doesn't even know who his father is. He keeps hoping Apollo will claim him, because the only thing he is good at is archery - although not good enough to win camp war games. His bulky physique makes him feel like an ox, especially in front of Hazel, his closest friend at camp. He trusts her completely - enough to share the secret he holds close to his heart.

Beginning at the "other" camp for half-bloods and extending as far as the land beyond the gods, this breathtaking second installment of the Heroes of Olympus series introduces new demigods, revives fearsome monsters, and features other remarkable creatures, all destined to play a part in the Prophesy of Seven. (from Goodreads)

Why did I pick it up?:  I am a fan of Greek and Roman mythology and I love Percy Jackson. I devour Riordan's books like they were blue chocolate chip cookies. 

Favorite Line: "Then Frank and Percy burst into the open and began to massacre every source of fiber they could find."

My Review: First, can I just say how much I missed Percy? The first book of this series, The Lost Hero, follows Jason Grace at Camp Half-Blood. While the camp and most of the characters are familiar in The Lost Hero, I kept waiting for my favorite demigod to show up. Finally, in The Son of Neptune, he does. Only now he is at the Roman, Camp Jupiter.

At the beginning of the book, Percy has no memory of his life except that he is a demigod. He battles gorgons as he works his way to Camp Jupiter where he befriends Hazel and Frank. Both of whom have their own secret histories. This book seemed to have a lot more popular culture references. I think that is because of Hazel, who was born 70 years ago and is amazed at all the technology. Seriously though how can you not love that the Amazon warriors are the ones who run It's so simple it's genius. 

The book was a fast, fun read as all Riordan's books are. The ending surprised me with some twists which I did not see coming, Then it ended with a cliffhanger. Now I have to wait a year to get the next installment, The Mark of Athena, which I imagine has Annabeth as a main pov character. Can't wait!

Recommendation: This book is really for those who have read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and The Lost Hero. Riordan explains enough of the back story that it could be read as a stand alone, but it would not be as entertaining.

Next Week: The Magician King by Lev Grossman

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Double Shot of Disaster

This was originally posted a year ago on my now defunct Wordpress. I was over there deleting my former blog when I realized a few of my posts were really pretty funny. Here is one about a fateful morning at the end of last November.

I was up early to take a friend to the airport. When I got home it was 6:45 that is earlier than I normally would be awake, alert and dressed. But alert and dressed I was. Well whether I was alert, is to be decided. I chose to be productive. My plan was to do yoga, make espresso, have a healthy breakfast, walk the dog, shower and be on time for work. That sounds uneventful, I know. Really it was supposed to be uneventful, it was Tuesday morning. 

At first my plan was going well. Plans are deceitful that way. I love doing yoga in the morning. My mind is cleared, my body is energized and I feel wonderful. By 7:02 the espresso was on the stove and I was just moving from downward dog into some abdominal stretches. I had enough time to think, “This is nice, isn’t it?” when it happened. There was a sound like rapid fire. A steamy, sputtering, dangerous sound. My first thought was that the espresso was ready but it was too soon and far, far too loud for simple percolation.

My dog was in the dining room. From where I stood I saw him glance at the kitchen warily and then run away with his tail between his legs.

I entered the kitchen and first I only saw the stove, covered in coffee. My first thought was that the espresso overflowed and the sound I heard was the excess espresso burning on the gas flame. I was wrong.

My second thought was that I failed to properly tighten the espresso percolator and that some leaked out of the sides and into the flame. This turned out to also be not only wrong, but a gross underestimation of the catastrophe. Once I allowed myself to take stock of the whole kitchen, I realized something. I should not be allowed to make espresso. But we will get back to that.

It turned out that I forgot an important piece of the espresso maker. The piece which would have prevented the catastrophe from happening is a small round filter. It holds down the coffee grinds when the water and steam are forced up through the espresso. Without the filter, the grinds had free range to be literally blown out of the sides and top of the espresso maker.

It was as if an espresso bomb went off in the kitchen. Please note: I am not exaggerating. Several tablespoons of espresso were now stuck to my walls. Also, several tablespoons of coffee will make a gargantuan mess.

I felt like a member of CSI examining the scene. “Based on the grind splatter here and here, I would say that the majority, 80-90 percent, of the coffee came out through the sides of the machine in question. Somebody really had it in for that kitchen.”

Rather than spending my morning focusing on my breathing and tightening my abs which would be beneficial in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the two most fattening holidays, I spent it scrubbing chunks of espresso from the white walls, cabinets, stove, floor, refrigerator, blender, oh and the half-dozen boxes of Christmas decorations that I was going to take to storage after work.

I also spent that time contemplating the health and safety benefits of herbal tea. Most of Britain survives on tea. I wondered if I could make the switch. Unfortunately, I am a hopeless case. Even as I loathed the mess on my walls and my utter lack of ability to make coffee I still loved the smell of the grinds and I knew I’d never be able to give them up.

 Please note (again): I know I have a tendency to exaggerate and that is why these pictures are so important. I am in no way exaggerating. It took me an hour and fifteen minutes to get the walls, fridge, table, floor, and stove clean. Under the microwave still needs more attention as does the top of the fridge. I knew if I came home from work and saw coffee on the wall I would have a fit. It was very overwhelming. Everywhere I turned there were more grinds in more places. However, I began cleaning one section at a time and soon it wasn’t as hopeless. Soon it began to look like a kitchen again.
I had to clean coffee splatter from espresso cups, coffee containers and a large framed poster for what? Why, espresso, of course! This is hilarious, I haven't laughed yet, but I am sure I will. The situation is still too close. It hasn’t yet made the leap from stressful ridiculousness to pure comedy. But I guess that’s partially because I didn’t get to have my coffee this morning.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On My Writing Playlist: Florence & the Machine

No matter how genius our characters are they always manage to overlook something. My main character is a little too cocky about his endeavours. He makes decisions first and thinks them through later. He realizes someone is going to pay for his mistakes and is left wondering who is the lamb and who is the knife.

This is the theme in this week's song " Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)" by Florence & the Machine.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Book Report Monday: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Title: Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century #1)

Author: Cherie Priest

Genre: Steampunk

Synopsis: Cherie Priest's much-anticipated steampunk debut has finally arrived in the form of a paperback original. Its plot features the sort of calibrated suspense that readers of her Four and Twenty Blackbirds would expect. Boneshaker derives its title from the Bone-Shaking Drill Engine, a device designed to give Russian prospectors a leg up in the race for Klondike gold. Unfortunately, there was one hitch: On its trial run, the Boneshaker went haywire and, long story short, turned much of Seattle into a city of the dead. Now, 16 years later, a teenage boy decides to find out what is behind that mysterious wall. Can his mother save him in time? Zombie lit of the first order. (from Goodreads)

Why did I pick it up?: A friend who is a steampunk fan passed the book along to me. Oh and there are zombies.

My review: Really this is a Steampunk-Zombie mashup, but I need to stop inventing genres when I post my reviews.

When a test run for a new drilling machine goes awry much of Seattle is damaged but even more harmful is the noxious yellow gas that begins seeping up from the ground at the site where the Boneshaker drilled. The thick gas called "Blight" is worse than deadly as it first kills and then turns its victims into zombies. I was grateful to have an explanation for the zombie outbreak. It made for an interesting twist since there are two ways the characters could be turned into the undead. They could be bitten or they could breathe in too much of the Blight that has filled the walled up city.

Briar Wilkes risks her life when she enters the zombie-packed city in search of her son, Zeke. There are also dastardly villains, henchman, a wild west style saloon, unlikely heroes and airship pirates.

I enjoyed seeing how people survived within the remains of Seattle. Primarily living underground and maintaining pockets of fresh air where they could breathe freely without the use of masks. The story is divided between Zeke and Briar, which makes for a lot of suspense as you know how close or far they are from finding one another making it hard to put the book down.

Priest's zombies were pretty fast moving and able to climb which confused me at first. But even the characters who had been living in Seattle for the last 16 years seemed surprised at their speed. I think it has something to do with the concentration of the Blight which continues to fill the city. I hope this gets addressed in a later book in the Clockwork Century series.
One thing that got me hooked right away were the names. Leviticus Blue, Jeremiah Swakhammer, and Alistair Mayhem Osterude are just a few that I loved. Fortunately Priest's characters have personalities that live up to their names.

Recommendation: This was my first foray into the Steampunk Genre and I loved it. So I would suggest this for anyone looking to try out Steampunk or anyone who already loves steampunk and/or zombie fiction.

Next Week: The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Friday, October 14, 2011

And You Guys Thought I Was A Dork

In every social circle that I am a part of, I proudly hold the title of biggest Harry Potter fan. Even at work everyone knows who the Harry Potter expert is. Which explains why I came into the office this morning and found this newspaper on my desk.

Of course, I already knew about the upcoming Wizarding Weekend taking place in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia. They are going to transform downtown into Hogsmeade. There will be Quidditch, butterbeer, ghost tours, costume contests, a pub crawl, and wizard chess.

Aside from being totally amazing, it makes me wonder, if I am a huge dork for all things HP then what are the people participating in these events? This year is the 2nd Annual Philadelphia Brotherly Love Cup, a Quidditch tournament. Who plays in this tournament? Are they just your average Potter fans who are really into sports? Or are they (gasp!) dorkier than me? I think I will have to go to find out.

Being the go-to Potter source for my friends, family, and coworkers is a serious source of pride for me.  So, I won't pretend that being out-Pottered isn't a concern. Unfortunately, there is not a quizzo or trivia contest scheduled for this weekend for me to prove myself. Though for the record, if all my wizarding dreams came true and I was a student at Hogwart's I would not be trying out for my house team.

Ashley-Gryffindor, Jess-Hufflepuff and Me-Ravenclaw

I would be found in the library doing Arithmancy in between my shifts at the school radio, which if they don't have I'd spearhead to get up and running. Bring on that sweet Wizard Rock.

Watching muggles play Quidditch does seem entertaining. I have yet to see it live but I hear the golden snitch is played by someone who runs around the field with the "snitch" hanging from their belt à la flag football in gym class. 

Have any of you seen or participated in a Quidditch match?

 These events are not confined to Philadelphia, you can check with The International Quidditch Association and see if there are any teams near you. A lot of folks are getting ready for the Quidditch World Cup taking place in NYC the weekend of November 12th.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On My Writing Playlist: Weezer

"Troublemaker" is the first song I put on my new playlist. My main character is a guy who is as easy to love as he is to hate and sometimes I laugh at his attitude. Much like how I laugh at this song. At least that is how I feel, but he is hardly on the pages yet, so this is really based on his personality in my head. Enjoy!

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Book Report Monday: I am Number Four

 Title: I am Number Four,  Lorien Legacies Book #1

Author: Pittacus Lore (James Frey & Jobie Hughes )

Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis: In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorian. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth. Nine aliens who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives, but who have extraordinary, paranormal skills. Nine aliens who might be sitting next to you now.

The Nine had to separate and go into hiding. The Mogadorian caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. All of them were killed. John Smith, of Paradise, Ohio, is Number Four. He knows that he is next.

I Am Number Four is the thrilling launch of a series about an exceptional group of teens as they struggle to outrun their past, discover their future—and live a normal life on Earth.


(from Goodreads)

My Review: This is a great example of a book which blends genres well. I mean, it has teenage aliens with magic powers, a loyal canine companion, and just a splash of romance. What more do you need? If you just said, "an adorable, nerdy best friend" then grab a copy, because it has one of those too.

I read a lot of mixed reviews for this. People complained that it was too predictable or that the writing was too choppy. This is a fast paced and fun book to read. The characters are pretty believable, though a few are just two dimensional stock. They don't stick around long enough for you to care. The love interest is the popular girl who dated the bully, football player who can get away with anything because of his athletic ability and that is cliche, but it is not the main focus of the story. And let's not forget that these things do actually happen in life, sometimes they are going to happen in books as well.

John Smith AKA Number Four has been on the run with Henri, his guardian, since they came to Earth ten years ago. They move from small town to small town, waiting for John's powers to develop and hope the Mogadorians, don't find them.

Now, I need to watch the movie and compare. I have heard that some people enjoyed the movie more than the book, which is rare.

Recommendation: This will definitely appeal to younger teenage boys.

Next Week: TBD

Friday, September 16, 2011

You Betcha, Beta!

If you have been following my blog for the last few months then you are probably tired of reading about me editing my YA Fantasy. Well you are in luck because I am changing my focus to a new story which at the moment is only an outline and a few hundred words of nonsense. The new story is a YA Retelling, there are fantasy elements, of course.

The YA Fantasy will continue to be edited and critiqued two chapters at a time with my super fabulous critique group. But I won't be waxing on and off about here.

I have finally sent copies to a few Beta Readers.


It isn't perfect, far from it actually. However, it is time for it to be read. I am tired of keeping it to myself. I keep thinking about what Ursula LeGuin said.

"An unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.”

I want it to come to life, to be a proper story. And then I want to perfect it. I want to know other peoples' thoughts because I am getting lost in the minutiae. For every hundred words I add, I remove just as many. I need to talk to someone who has read the whole thing, so they can ask questions.

It's time to let my sweet betas breathe some life into it and see if it can stand.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

On My Writing Playlist: Brandi Carlile

I can never find a live version of "My Song" on YouTube that pleases me, so this will have to suffice. Brandi Carlile is one of my favorite artists, she's best known for her songs being featured on Grey's Anatomy. I've never seen the show, but whoever is responsible for the music selection has great taste.

How this song relates to the emotions of a teenage girl is pretty obvious. Just a warning, listening may result in feelings of angst and rebellion. Results will be intensified by an increase in volume.

Next week I am going to switch gears. I'll still be posting songs every Wednesday but they will be from the playlist for my new project.

"And there was much rejoicing. Yay!"

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

On My Writing Playlist: Dar Williams

I love this song. "It's Alright" is about change and acceptance and it rocks, even though you may cringe at Ms. William's use of "alright" over the more grammar friendly "all right." This song could probably be on every writing playlist, since characters inevitably change over the duration of a story. So go ahead and steal it for yours.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Book Report Monday: The Little White Horse

Title: The Little White Horse

Author: Elizabeth Goudge

Synopsis: When orphaned young Maria Merryweather arrives at Moonacre Manor, she feels as if she's entered Paradise. Her new guardian, her uncle Sir Benjamin, is kind and funny; the Manor itself feels like home right away; and every person and animal she meets is like an old friend. But there is something incredibly sad beneath all of this beauty and comfort -- a tragedy that happened years ago, shadowing Moonacre Manor and the town around it -- and Maria is determined to learn about it, change it, and give her own life story a happy ending. But what can one solitary girl do?

Why did I pick it up?: J.K. Rowling said this was her favorite childhood book. Also there is quote from this book which has stayed with her throughout her life, "Humanity can be roughly divided into three sorts of people -- those who find comfort in literature, those who find comfort in personal adornment and those who find comfort in food."

As she is one of my favorite writers, I picked the book up right away.

Favorite Line: "Don't waste hate on a pink geranium."

My Review: I took my time reading this. Whenever I had a minute to spare I'd read a few pages.Until I reached the middle and then I curled up on the couch and finished it in one sitting.

This is everything a children's book should be. Full of just the right amounts of magic, adventure and romance The Little White Horse is uplifting without being too predictable. Maria Merryweather is feisty and clever but full of quirks which make her believable, the best kind of heroine. Her friendship with the townsfolk, her uncle and the animals she meets along the way is real as well as heartwarming. With every page the fantasy elements increase, so that you feel as though the world of magic is presented in a gentle manner which makes it feel all the more realistic.

Connections to Harry Potter abound. Needless to say that pleased me greatly. One of the most obvious similarities is a tunnel with its entrance hidden by a great tree, exactly like the Whomping Willow. The way food is presented and described is also very similar to the Potter series. As is a particular house cat at Moonacre Manor who like Crookshanks is abnormally intelligent.

Recommendation: Children and fans of The Secret Garden and The Hobbit will enjoy. It will appeal more to girls.

Next Week: I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Friday, September 2, 2011

Completed . . . well sorta.

I have finished editing my rough draft. Cue the dance party.

Okay, enough of that.

By finished, I mean I am done with this round of edits. There remains a great deal of editing ahead.

My rough draft was completed in May and at that time it was 61,000 words. Now my...dare I call it a first draft? Well, I don't mind if I do. My first draft is 72,000 words. Phew, that's a lot of additions, but it is for the best, the rough draft was really bare bones in places.

I feel good. I am going to send the current draft to some betas, keep at it with my rockin' critique group and switch my focus to my new project.

Which brings me to my new project, which I have been oh-so-eager to start. The way I feel about this unwritten story is like the beginning of a love affair. I am giddy whenever I think or talk about it and I could really see us going the long haul together. There will be pitfalls eventually and we'll fight but how can I think about that now when it is all so perfect? After months of editing, which is much more akin couple's counseling I am beyond ecstatic to sit down and write.

"I thought we were in the trust tree in the nest, were we not?"

I cheated twice and wrote a few paragraphs. Nothing huge, just scenes that wouldn't leave me alone. I also began some research and wrote my query letter, it's not perfect but it captures the story well enough.

Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend.

I intend to spend it laboring over my Netbook.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On My Writing Playlist: Serena Ryder

There is a lot my main character is left to learn on her own. For the most part she takes it in stride, but sometimes it's too much. To me that is what this song, called "Sweeping The Ashes" is about.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Book Report Monday: This Dark Endeavor

Title: This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein

Author: Kenneth Oppel

Genre: Young Adult

Synopsis Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein. They are nearly inseparable. Growing up, their lives are filled with imaginary adventures...until the day their adventures turn all too real.

They stumble upon The Dark Library, and secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies are discovered. Father forbids that they ever enter the room again, but this only piques Victor's curiosity more. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is not satisfied with the various doctors his parents have called in to help. He is drawn back to The Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. With their friend Elizabeth, Henry and Victor immediately set out to find assistance from a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help create the formula.

Determination and the unthinkable outcome of losing his brother spur Victor on in the quest for the three ingredients that will save Konrad's life. After scaling the highest trees in the Strumwald, diving into the deepest lake caves, and sacrificing one’s own body part, the three fearless friends risk their lives to save another.
(from Goodreads)

Why did I pick it up?:  I love Frankenstein. It's one of my favorite books and I was eager to see what direction Oppel would take with his re-telling.

My Review: As the title indicates, this is the story of Victor's initial introduction to alchemy and the magic of science. He does not create the monster in this book, but I can see how he could go down that path. I kind of thought of the book as filling in the blanks of Victor Frankenstein's teen years. Oppel shows the reader what may have led to Victor's obsessive nature and need to prove himself.

Oppel captured me with his prose and his characters who were, in my opinion very real. Young Victor Frankenstein is a flawed hero and I sympathized with him even while abhorring his growing bitterness. Konrad is the lovable and charismatic antithesis to his twin. Elizabeth is transformed from a quiet, angelic figure into a strong, passionate girl who is an equal to the twins intellectually. Henry Clerval is the sensitive artist of the foursome and he rounds out the group nicely.

It is a quick read, as the pacing is steady and makes it hard to put down. The setting is the same as the original story and there were several nods to Mary Shelley's tale. The use of lightning in several well-placed metaphors and even an alchemist who lives on Wollenstonekraft Alley, Wollenstonecraft being Mary Shelley's maiden name. This Dark Endeavor is the first in a series and I am eager to find out what happens next, though I think it is safe to assume that Victor will create a monster at some point.

Recommendation: A must-read for Frankenstein fans. To me the book bridges the space between Middle Grade and Young Adult and it will appeal to boys as well as girls.

Next Week: TBD

Friday, August 26, 2011

Weathering a Storm...of Edits

Everyone is bugging out on the East Coast this week. First we had an earthquake, something unheard of around here. Now everyone's eyes are trained on Hurricane Irene headed straight for us tomorrow evening.

My weekend plans, which included a white trash 80's themed backyard BBQ* and a long drive to visit college friends have been cancelled due to the impending storm. I know it's going to be gross and destructive but in a way I am looking forward to a weekend devoid of plans. I have been so busy the last month that I have barely worked on my story. I still have 30 pages left to edit before I hand my book over to beta readers and Irene is going to force me to get them done. If she doesn't cause too much damage, I might end up grateful for this opportunity to sit down and work uninterrupted.

I will need to keep my Netbook fully charged and hope I don't lose power for longer than my battery life. I have to be sure my Nook is charged too, I just started Game of Thrones and I am in book love. Every time I read the words, "Winter is coming" I get goosebumps. Seriously, why did I wait so long to read the series?

Hope everyone stays safe this weekend.

If you are in Irene's path, how are you going to weather the storm?

*Don't worry the party has been rescheduled, which is great news because I have yet to locate my leg warmers and neon hair scrunchies.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On My Writing Playlist: Missy Higgins

This is a song about loss. What type of loss does my character experience? I'm not telling. But whenever I hear it, I think about my main character and all she goes through. I guess I put her through it, and all I can offer up is a song as solace. 

"The Sound of White" Missy Higgins

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On My Writing Playlist: The Gaslight Anthem

Maybe it's all the teenager references or because I am so attracted to their adorable, tattooed frontman, Brian Fallon, or maybe it's just the awesomeness of the band but I have every song by The Gaslight Anthem on my playlist for my YA Fantasy. My main character loves Gaslight a lot. I might love them even more. Therefore, I shall post two videos for you to watch or ignore as you see fit. 

This one, called "Wherefore Art Thou, Elvis?" really captures my main character at the beginning of the story. She plays the guitar and I imagine she turns her amp up and belts this one out when has a bad day.

It is so hard to only choose two, but I can't post them all. "Navesink Banks" is slower, and hints more toward where my character is at the end of the book. And no she doesn't become a pickpocket.

Brian can stay at my house. . . just saying.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Like a Spark: Title Epiphany

Music is an important part of my writing process. It seems it becomes more vital with every chapter that I write or edit. At present I am almost done my first round of edits for my current project, a YA Fantasy.

My next project a YA Retelling begs every day to be written. In order to satiate the demands of the feral beast that my shiny new idea has become, I made a playlist based on the book, the characters and how I feel about it all. I was listening to the playlist in the car this morning when it came to me-the title of the YA Retelling, I know what it should be. Elated, I rocked out and drove on.

Historically, I am terrible with picking out titles. I am one of those writers who can't force a story or a character. I prefer for the names and personalities to present themselves. It's so hippie of me, I know. But how can you pick two or three words to represent the 70,000 you wrote? In Young Adult there is even a trend toward one word titles. Not that we should all follow the trends but marketing is something to keep in mind.

I am so pleased with having a title, I had to google it to see if there were any books already published with the same one. So far, I think we are in the clear. I also had another idea in the afterglow of my title epiphany.

I mention how I use music as inspiration and encouragement a lot on here, and starting tomorrow I am going to post videos of songs I listen to while writing. If you like it, it may become a Wednesday tradition.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Book Report Monday: Passion, #3 in Lauren Kate's Fallen Series

Title: Passion, Book #3 in the Fallen Series

Author: Lauren Kate

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance

Synopsis Luce would die for Daniel.
And she has. Over and over again. Throughout time, Luce and Daniel have found each other, only to be painfully torn apart: Luce dead, Daniel left broken and alone. But perhaps it doesn’t need to be that way. . . .
Luce is certain that something—or someone—in a past life can help her in her present one. So she begins the most important journey of this lifetime . . . going back eternities to witness firsthand her romances with Daniel . . . and finally unlock the key to making their love last.
Cam and the legions of angels and Outcasts are desperate to catch Luce, but none are as frantic as Daniel. He chases Luce through their shared pasts, terrified of what might happen if she rewrites history.
Because their romance for the ages could go up in flames . . . forever.
Sweeping across centuries, PASSION is the third novel in the unforgettably epic FALLEN series. (from Goodreads)

Fallen, Book 1
Why did I pick it up?: By now you may have noticed, I'm a sucker for a nice cover and I liked the covers for the series. I've got a hair obsession. Also, I have heard a lot about YA books dealing with Fallen Angels but I haven't read one so, I decided it was time to jump on that bandwagon.

Torment, Book 2

Favorite Lines: "What do you have on under there? Are those Converse? You've got to be kidding me with those."

Okay, so it's probably the least romantic line in the book, but I love Converse and I laughed out loud at this part. Luce just travelled back to 18th century England and her, we'll call him her time travel assistant, is teasing her for her choice of footwear.

My Review: First, I made the mistake of assuming the Fallen Series is a trilogy, which is very popular right now with Young Adult Series. I realized I was wrong toward the last few pages of Passion, when it became clear there was going to be a bit of a cliffhanger ending. My Nook informed me that the fourth and final book in the Fallen Series, Rapture, would be released in June of 2012.

Another disappointment for me was the hair thing. Lucinda is depicted on the each cover with these gorgeous black tresses, particularly on Torment. In the books, however the present incarnation of Lucinda has very short hair. Obviously, not a big issue, I just prefer when covers are more straightforward.

Overall, I enjoyed all three books. I know a lot of people were annoyed with Passion being a prequel, but I didn't mind. To me, it didn't feel like a prequel at all. Yeah, Lucinda travels backward through her past lives and the stories of her former incarnations are explained but her story continued moving forward. The cliffhanger ending definitely had me wishing I already had a copy of Rapture on my Nook.

Recommendation: Fast, fun reads. They are great for a beach weekend.

Next Week: TBD.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Sister Effect

Last night two of my three sisters were in my apartment. An impressive happening since one lives in Florida. Also impressive was that it was just the three of us. They each have a son and usually one or both boys are around.

We gushed about our love lives (them) and lack thereof (me) and reminisced while listening to 90's music. Eventually my guitar came out. It's been months since I played and to say I am rusty is to be very generous. Even when I was playing every day, I wasn't very good. But I love making music happen, even if it's mediocre.

My fingers remembered the chords but switched too slowly and my voice was off key. After a few seconds of the first song the soft pads of my fingertips were already sore. They heard me play when I was at the top of my game so they knew how off I was. Still they clapped and laughed and sang along with the words they knew.

This is the thing with my sisters, they are supportive without trying. They aren't the sort to just be nice for courtesy's sake. They were genuinely entertained. Which probably explains why I kept playing well after the chords were sloppy and my fingers were numb-I can't type today because they are still tingly.

 Even though they kept me up late and I should be exhausted, I am in good spirits. I feel light and optimistic and I wanted to share my happy vibes with all of you. I hope everyone has a fabulous Friday and a great weekend.

Enjoy the last weeks of summer!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Inconceivable: The Teen Sex Issue

There are a lot of places where I anticipate the topic of teens having or not having sex to be brought up. It comes with YA writer territory. However, one place I did not expect to hear about it was midway through a training webinar at my office.  The speaker was discussing spousal waivers and prenuptial agreements. I work in Retirement Benefits (Please dont' be bored, I promise this post deals with sex.) Basically, you can't waive spousal rights until you are a spouse, so any mention of it in the prenup is pointless.

The speaker possessed a dramatic flair and had a voice that reminded me of Wallace Shawn, who plays Vizzini in The Princess Bride. He summarized the rule by saying, "You cannot consent until you say I do, and you can tell that to your teenagers."

A few people chuckled. Some rolled their eyes.

I was distracted from the training and got to thinking about sex in young adult fiction. A benefits webinar was not the appropriate place for the Vizzini impersonator to make public his opinion on teen sex this blog is ideal for me to weigh in with my opinion on the very controversial issue of fictitious teens having sex.

It is my job to tell the story as honestly as possible. If a story I am writing involves sex, I will include it. If it doesn't, I won't force it onto the page. I don't include graphic descriptions of it, that's just not my style. The point is, sex happens in YA and I don't see the point in taking it out to please anyone else.

Sex is generally relevant in young adult fiction because it is always present in the lives of teenagers. Having it, not having it, thinking about whether or not they are having it and why; it is going to be there no matter the main character's stance.

In a lot of ways, sex is just like profanity in whatever story you are telling. Stephen King advises not to censor your character because they will come across to the reader as censored and false. And nobody makes a connection with that kind of character. Be honest to your characters and yourself.

What do you think, is sex in YA inconceivable?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Report Monday: Forever, The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3

Title: Forever, The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Synopsis: In Maggie Stiefvater's SHIVER, Grace and Sam found each other. In LINGER, they fought to be together. Now, in FOREVER, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in. (from Goodreads)

Why did I pick it up?: I love werewolf love.

Favorite Lines: All the Rilke poetry and Sam's lyrics.

My Review: Something I appreciated about the series was that the main characters, Sam and Grace, assume typically reversed roles. Grace is very analytical and approaches problems from a logical place and Sam is emotional and sensitive, always playing his acoustic guitar and thinking up song lyrics to express his tortured feelings. As an analytical girl, I dug it.

Stiefvater's werewolves seem more wolf than werewolf to me. At times the series reads like a work of science fiction rather than fantasy, despite being fantasy. Sam, one the main protagonists, discusses whether the act of becoming a wolf is magic or science or both. Cole, a new wolf in Linger-the second book, tackles werewolfism from a scientific standpoint. I thoroughly enjoyed his growth and his narrating. Perhaps all magic is just science we do not understand yet.

Each book in the series is printed in colored text matching the covers. Also, the story is told from many different point of views. The trade off is generally smooth, though at times when I was reading through quickly I missed that the story had changed hands. But I think that was my failure to observe the name at the beginning of each chapter rather than an abrupt change in the storyteller.

Recommendation: If you, like me, love werewolves and teen romance grab it!

Next Week: Passion, #3 in the Fallen Series by Lauren Kate