Friday, March 23

Book List: Bitterblue, Scarlet, and Defiance (#6)

My Ultimate Book List is a collection of books that I really, really want to read, whether they have been released or not. Some of these books might not be on the shelves yet; some of these books might have been on the shelves for ages. It doesn't matter. I just really, really want to read them.
Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past. 

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

Yes! Bitterblue! Finally! I've been wanting to read this book ever since I finished Graceling. I have to admit, I didn't really care about Bitterblue (the character, not the book) at first in Book 1, but having read the blurb it head me head on--like a face palm, or something. New queen of  Monsea! And she's pretty much just a child! Plus, it seems like there's a new Grace in the midst. You can actually read the prologue and chapter one here.
Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance. 

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in. 

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

I'm expressing some serious cover love here (although I think that the dagger is placed a little awkwardly). And also, it's Robin Hood. Which, by the way, isn't something I'm really all that familiar with. I know the basics of course, but that's pretty much it. I love spin-off books. Have I mentioned that before? There's a reason why I'm writing a spin-off book of Thumbelina. (Not to self-promote or anything...)

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her. 

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared. 

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.
All right, I will admit that I do have some issues with the book already--but I won't judge it too much considering I haven't even read it yet. There is a city named "Baalboden", and you might think, "All right. Baalboden. Sounds very high fantasy, very Star Wars or Eragon-esque". And then without warning you read the next few words and you get "Rachel Adams". And "Logan". And by then, you might be slightly bewildered. Because I know I was when I first read the blurb.
However with that aside, can you guess why I'm so excited for this book? It can't be that the blurb mentions something about...assassins. Out for blood. (Which as you all know is something assassins normally do). I love assassins. I love mercenaries, bounty hunters, guilds of violent, supernatural people. So there you have it.

- E

Friday, March 16

Three Awards! Three Awards!

The amazing Sophie from Sophie's Writing Adventures has given me three blog awards! Three!

In order to accept these awards, I have to list seven facts about myself and then give a few other bloggers these awards as well. And then I must alert them of their amazing gift, which I'm actually pretty bad about doing. But hopefully this time it will all work out.

I have been awarded:

And for the third time! (yes, I must brag about it):

Because Sophie listed a total of seven instead of listening seven for each (like I had last time), I shall do that as well. So, here I go.

1. In reply to one of Sophie's seven things, I've recently discovered that I absolutely hate peeling shrimp. It's so, so disturbing. And messed up. Like tearing off the head, and its tiny...leg things. <-- I'm sure there's a proper term for that, but I frankly don't remember much at all of what I learned last year in Biology.

2. Despite not remembering what I learned in Bio, I'm about to take AP Bio next year. Which is great, right?

3. On the majority of the Harry Potter Sorting quizzes I've taken, I have gotten either Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw. On the most recent one I've taken, I have gotten Slytherin. We'll see how this plays out once I take the legit Pottermore quiz in April.

4. I am somewhat multilingual. I can speak English, some Mandarin, and about three years worth of Spanish.

5. I love Cheetos. I can eat a whole entire bag of it in one day (although I definitely haven't and probably wouldn't).

6. Probably the only sport I pay attention to is tennis. With that being said, the only sport I watch on TV is tennis as well, and the only channel I really watch on TV is the Food Network.

7. Ironically enough, despite writing YA Fantasy, I'm starting to like YA Contemporary a lot more. I just can't write it.

And now the other bloggers who will receive these awards!

Mag (Geek Chic)
Smiling_Ina (Smiling_Ina's Bookish Corner)
Brooke (Paper Mountain)
Riv (Riv Reads)
Olivia (The Reading Enchantress)

Hurray! And thank you again Sophie for these amazing awards :]

- E

Sunday, March 11

Somewhere Private. (Writing Prompt -- #7)

Brought to you by Creative Writing Prompts ^-^

Catching the signal from one of her friends, Angela brushed her skirt, took a deep breath, and walked towards where he was sitting.
"Hey," she said, nodding to Caleb's friends. She tried for a meek smile but only managed to lift half of her lips up, resulting in a strange and totally awkward grimace. "I um--"
"Wait a second," said Patrick, leaning back in the booth. He laced his arms behind his head and openly stared at her. "Weren't you the girl who passed out this morning? In Gov?"
Something inside her roared in protest at this, threatening to overtake her control and assume charge from there. The tips of Angela's fingers tingled and her hands twitched, as if itching to punch Patrick in the face. But she swallowed and forced the feeling down, pressing it as far back in her mind as possible.
"Listen," she said, making herself look at Caleb. He had his gaze lowered, pinpointed on the cup of coffee in front of him instead, but Angela stood her ground with a surprising firmness she had no idea she possessed. She pressed her lips together. "Can I talk to you? In private?"
And that was definitely stretching it a little. She'd barely known Caleb for a month, which meant she had no right to ask him to speak with her in a private area. She knew this just by the looks on his friends' faces and she mentally cringed at it. But she didn't have a choice. It seemed like there was something going on with Caleb, a connection between him and the violent feelings she has been experiencing...and, at least, it was something he understood better than her. 
At that point Angela snuck a look to her side, her eyes searching for her friends. They were still grouped beside the counter, with Macy leaning across flirting shamelessly with the cashier, who must be at least a freshman in college. It surprised her that they were still there, but she was immensely grateful regardless. No matter what strange events happened to Angela, it was comforting (though surprising) to know that her friends would still be with her.
"Come on, man," said Patrick, shaking his head. "Don't go anywhere with her. Let's just get out of here."
She glanced at him and her teeth gnashed together. Honestly? She didn't understand why she had to put up with this, with any of this. If Caleb had wanted to help her--which he obviously did or else she would not be alive in the first place--then he would come to her. And so far, he hasn't. If anything, she should be the one waiting on him. It shouldn't be the other way around.
As if hearing these thoughts Caleb finally looked up, and when his gaze met Angela's, he smiled faintly.
"No, it's fine. I'll hear what she has to say."
Patrick seemed taken aback, a look on his face that matched the stupidity in his brain. Angela pressed a hand to her mouth, hiding her smile and feeling oddly triumphant. She watched as Caleb's friends got up, one by one approaching the door, each muttering excuses and disloyal comments that Angela was proud to realize her own friends have never uttered. When all of them had left she turned to face Caleb, suddenly unsure of herself again.
"Um," she began, but he only shook his head, gesturing to the small hallway next to the bathroom. "I thought we were going somewhere private?"
Angela exhaled. "Yeah," she said. "Right."
- E

Monday, March 5

February's update of The Ink Timeline.

What I recently found online: An article on the traits of a Mary Sue character. Basically, an article on What Not to Give Your MC. I thought it was pretty entertaining if not a little intimidating. And mind wracking (although some parts of the article are just a little weird). Because eventually during the middle of the article, you will start comparing the article's list of traits to your own MC's list of traits (or you will have a sudden revelation that your MC is, in fact, a Mary Sue). Which, I suppose, is the point. o.o

This post is going to be about me. (And something I'd [reluctantly] like to mention over what I'm about to read.)

As some of you might know, on January 19th I made a post about the Ink Timeline which basically stood as a list of writing goals I hope to make by the end of this year, labeled in chronological order with a time limit per goal. The goals of the timeline include: finishing the GOoD (Giant Outline of Dread--and I did change what the acronym stands for because after starting the GOoD, I've dreaded finishing it ever since), finishing the WAPs (Wikia Article Profiles--world building documents based off the format of Wikipedia articles), revising Depravity, and writing/revising Shadowed.

My first goal was to finish both the GOoD and the WAPs during the months of January and February. Because today is March 5th I should be done with them both, right?

Ha ha ha.

By my count, this is what I have finished so far:
  • 16/26 WAPs
  • Like 1/20 of the GOoD
  • Revisions of the prologue and chapter one of Depravity
  • All of the Pre-GOoD (an outline of events that took place leading up to the start of Depravity)
But look. At least I did something with my life during that time. I just didn't do enough. Which, by the way, will not happen again. I've extended my timeline so that (basically) I'll have until the end of April to finish what I should have finished by the end of February, and I'll have to write more during the July-August time span. Which is perfectly fine since I'll be on break, as long as marching band doesn't barge in and ruin everything.

The thing is though, what worries me the most aside from finishing the GOoD is finishing the WAPs. That requires a great deal of detail; I'm basically putting in whatever world building detail I can think of into one document, so I don't end up forgetting that detail or changing it up, or anything else, really, when I'm writing/revising. And it takes so looong. On Saturday, I had about fourteen of the WAPs done and I thought, "Oh, my gosh. I'm more than half way done." And for a moment I allowed myself to celebrate. And then I thought, "Oh, my gosh. If I'm half way done, then to finish it up I basically have to do it all over again."

So, wish me luck :]

- E

Note: On the reluctant part of this post: I'm about to read Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast. I don't particularly want to read this book because I am a little tired of vampires, but the series has around, what, ten books now? And I'd really like to know what all the fuss is about. So, Marked. Here we go.

Friday, March 2

The 21 Minus Blog Tour

Hey guys! I know I have never mentioned this before, but weeks ago, I was nominated by someone to participate in the 21 Minus Blog Tour, hosted by Anna Waggener (author of Grim). The blog tour itself is pretty self-explanatory: writers under the age of twenty one were gathered together and interviewed. Also, along with the blog tour is a pretty amazing giveaway. The giveaway list is here (and there are some really great books on the list ^-^).

Although we were all interviewed, however, the process itself was slightly different. We were each assigned one person to interview, but the interviewee was not allowed to know the interviewer. In other words, at this very moment, I still have no idea who interviewed me. But if that person is reading this blog post right now, then thank you for your lovely questions. I really enjoyed answering them! And if whoever nominated me is also reading this post (I believe I know who it is, but I'm not entirely sure) thank you so much as well.


And I interviewed Taryn! Not only is she a writer, but she is also a literary agent intern and she already has an agent for her novel. Which, to be put simply, is just amazing.

Q: Why, exactly, do you write? What made you decide to write or aim to be a lit agent? 

A: I love stories, and I’d rather have a job I enjoy than something that makes me miserable or is just done to make money.

Q: Is there one thing that always ends up feeding your muse whenever you write?

A: Nope.
Q: What is your current take on the Harry Potter vs. Twilight debate? And which one do you prefer?

A: The HP-vs-Twilight debate has been dead for years. The nice thing about reading is that it’s subjective so there’s no point in saying which is better, blah blah blah. I have never been a fan of love triangles, vampires, or characters who must be saved, so I prefer Harry Potter. But it’s not a debate in my mind—not since my junior year of high school (2008-2009).

Q: If there was one person you could be from your WIPs, who would that person be and why?
A: I write a lot of strong female characters. Since I’m toward the end of swim season right now, and I have a few swimmer protagonists, I’d have to choose between them. Lottie’s Olympic level, but she hates her sport. And Tessa’s not quite as fast but she lives on swimming . . . and she’s very independent. So I’d go with Tessa right now. Tessa at the end of the MS, after her journey.
Q: If you had to describe your latest WIP in one word, what would it be?
A: Motivated
Q: What is your take on love triangles and the current Young Adult books out there? Have you noticed any recent YA cliches?
A: As I said earlier, I’m not a fan of love triangles, simply because of their pervasiveness. Sometimes they work, but when it’s just the typical bad guy-good guy choice, I’m not a fan because that doesn’t happen. The way your question is phrased, it sounds like love triangles and YA are hand-in-hand (it sounds condescending, actually), and they’re not. Be careful to read everything. Publishers hype what sells—it’s always ridiculous to me when Hunger Games uses the love triangle as a selling point. That’s not even close to what it’s about. There are amazing YA books out there.
Q: Quick! If a meteor were to come hurtling out of the sky right this moment heading towards you, your family, and your friends, what would you do?
A: Depends how much time there would be. For instance, if you actually mean “sky,” there would be no time to react. But if scientists realize we’ll be hit in like 24 hours, I would spend my last day with friends.
So, thank you Taryn for your answers, and Anna for this amazing tour! And once again, the link to her blog is here, where you should be able to read her very own blog post and interview questions for the 21 Minus Blog Tour. And don't forget about the giveaway on Anna's blog!

- E

Thursday, March 1

Top 5 books with the most baffling love triangles

Could be love triangles that shocked me in a good way (both development and conclusion), love triangles that shocked me in a bad way, and love triangles that flat out just didn't make any sense to me. I made a post about love triangles here.

Warning: Possible spoilers.

1. Hourglass by Myra McEntire. (you can read my review for Hourglass here)
This book definitely falls in the "love triangles that didn't make any sense" category. Emerson Cole meets Michael Weaver. There is an obvious attraction between these two, an almost insta-love, that although I didn't buy I was still somewhat fine with enough to finish the book. So, throughout the book, I thought, "Hey, this is fine. This is all right." And then, BOOM, I met Kaleb.
I liked Kaleb, actually. I liked him more than I liked Michael. But for some odd reason, after just a few hours, Kaleb decided that he really, really liked Emerson. It happened so fast. And it just didn't make any sense! Where in the world did he come from anyway? How could the author just let him barge into their relationship without much of an explanation? It was as if she was saying, "Dang, there isn't a love triangle in this book. WE NEED A LOVE TRIANGLE IN THIS BOOK." And you know what? Books without love triangles are perfectly fine. Great, even. Books without love triangles are better, in my opinion, than books that have them.

2. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand.
I liked the love triangle in this one. I really did. The relationship Clara shared with Christian led me into thinking that she was going to choose him for sure they (SPOILER ALERT) supposedly had a destiny with each other after all. In fact, I hadn't even considered the other persona of the triangle, Tucker, as much as I should have. So when Tuck really did come into play, I was shocked, but in the good way. Although I didn't exactly see it coming, the love triangle intro was still believable because there was character development between the two. Cynthia Hand actually turned the love triangle into what a love triangle should be in the grand scheme of things: a plot twist.

3. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.
I should be saying great things about this book. So many people loved The Hunger Games, after all, and I know at least twenty people who are going to see the movie when it hits the big screen. But then again, so many people were also immensely disappointed by the last book. And actually I was one of them.
The main reason I didn't like the outcome of the series was because of the conclusion of the last book. So:
Katniss chose Peeta over Gale. Why did she do it? That was never fully explained. Frankly, I'm a Team Gale person, and to me the fact she chose Peeta was more out of guilt than anything else. And originally, the whole love triangle between the three throughout the series had never even clicked in my head at all. I couldn't understand how Katniss and Peeta felt about each other. I didn't get the chemistry between them. But Katniss's relationship with Gale--now that I understood. Maybe the reason I'm ranting about this is because I'm a disappointed Team Gale fan, but that is not necessarily it. In my opinion, KatnissxPeeta had never been fully developed at all. And once again, this can be taken back to my tidbit with Hourglass. Where is the development? The obvious relationship? How could the love triangle have been genuine? Because to me, it wasn't.

4. If I Die by Rachel Vincent.
 #4 on this list is another good example of baffling love triangles, and by good I mean I was genuinely happy with the outcome. If I Die is actually the fifth book of the Soul Screamers series and the love triangle that began to emerge in books four and five (My Soul to Keep and My Soul to Steal respectively) was both shocking and pleasing, because first of all: 1) The relationship between Kaylee and the persona that made the triangle a triangle was believable--unlike Mockingjay. 2) The love triangle had not seemed random at all, like it had in Hourglass.
Why did I choose If I Die then if the love triangle had started in books four and five? I was mainly impressed by the outcome of the triangle, and in If I Die, the outcome was delivered. With justice. And the outcome was the most baffling part of it all. Originally, I had been rooting for a Kaylee and Nash pair (Naylee, if you will) throughout the first four books. In fact, I hadn't even considered the other addition to the love triangle: Tod. Or Taylee. And when I figured it in the beginning of If I Die, I thought, "Oh, of course! So that's why. That explains everything now." And ironically enough, Rachel Vincent claimed that she hadn't even expected Tod to be that addition. (In fact, Rachel Vincent herself said that the love triangle isn't really a love triangle at all, which you can read more about here.)

5. The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong.
Yet another "good" example of love triangles (in other words: Yes, I did enjoy this book very much and it was an excellent way to end the Darkest Powers trilogy.) The love triangle part of this book was filled with pleasant shock and I LOVED its conclusion. Once again, I didn't see it coming because the author had originally focused on the Chloe-Simon bit, but when it did come it was still fully believable. Still fully acceptable. Even though I had loved Chloe and Simon, I began to love the newest addition even more. And that, everyone, is what a love triangle should be like: a plot twist that increases character development, relationships, and interaction, making it more believable and fleshing out each persona of the triangle even further. In my opinion, at least.

Another important notice: The Maximum Ride Reading Challenge officially starts today! So if anyone's interested, the banner at the top of this blog should take you to the MRRC blog--and all of its glorious details ^-^

- E