Thursday, November 5, 2015

Silver In the Blood by Jessica Day George


Title: Silver In The Blood (Silver in the Blood #1)
Author: Jessica Day George
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy Paranormal Horror (um take your pick...It's a little cross of several genres)
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings:  Shape-shifting that leaves clothes behind, Wolves shown in battle (but described relatively cleanly).
Premise: "In 1897, seventeen-year-olds Dacia and Lou, New York socialites and cousins, visit their maternal homeland of Romania and learn the family secret--that they are shapeshifters, expected to take their rightful places and marry proper husbands" (King County Library System).
Opinions: I have enjoyed everything I have ever read by Jessica Day George. Having said that......Silver In The Blood is my favorite.  It was also highly unexpected. The majority of Jessica's other stories revolve around fairy-tale retelling or incredibly awesome twists on the young adult traditional fantasy with female main characters. I was expecting more of the same type of story when I picked up this book, not that I wasn't thoroughly excited to delve into a new story from one of my all time favorite authors.  So imagine my surprise when I realized that this book takes place in Romania in the 1800s and revolves around the ancestors of Vlad the Impaler (the genesis of the Dracula story).  The story didn't just draw me in, it sucked me in hook, line & sink your teeth to the very core.  The main characters were real to me, though from a different time, as they struggled with the teen struggles of the day, and yet when life opens up a horrible truth their reactions are real. My favorite character of all is Lou. I want to be her. I want her grace, her tenacity, her courage, her strength. Yeah, if I couldn't be her I would at least want to be really good friends with someone like her. Her cousin, Dacia, is a fantastic character, don't get me wrong, but personality wise I resonate more with Lou. With the ability to see the main characters' inner struggles through their letters and journal entries added to the traditional story telling the reader gets a more three-dimensional view into their growth throughout the story. I'm so fascinated by the story, its concept, and the imagery that I now need to add Romania to my research and places to visit list.  So, yes, you should read this book. And happily, it looks like Silver In The Blood is the beginning of a series.  Yeah baby!!! One happy reader here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Hippos Go Berserk! by Sandra Boynton


Title: Hippos Go Berserk!
Author:Sandra Boynton
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Kids Picture Book
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings:  None
Premise: "Larger and larger groups of hippos join a lone hippopotamus for a night-time party" (King County Library).
Opinions: It has been a while since I've posted a review for a children's book, but I've been going to volunteer at my library each week for the last month and picked up this book for my kids. Oh my gosh!!!! This book is awesome. The pictures are colorful, the story hilarious, and my autistic kindergarten loves this book so much that he is reading it over and over. So if you are looking for a fantastic book for your little ones to read, this one should be at the top of your list.

Monday, November 2, 2015

2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron


Title: 2K to 10 K: Write Faster, Write Better, and Write More of What You Love
Author: Rachel Aaron
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Non-Fiction
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings:  Mild Swearing
Premise: ""Have you ever wanted to double your daily word counts? Do you sometimes feel like you're crawling through your story? Do you want to write more every day without increasing the time you spend writing or sacrificing quality? It's not impossible, it's not even that hard. This is the book explaining how, with a few simple changes, I boosted my daily writing from 2000 words to over 10k a day, and how you can too."

Expanding on her highly successful process for doubling daily word counts, this book, a combination of reworked blog posts and new material, offers practical writing advice for anyone who's ever longed to increase their daily writing output. In addition to updated information for Rachel's popular 2k to 10k writing efficiency process, 5 step plotting method, and easy editing tips, this new book includes chapters on creating characters that write their own stories, practical plot structure, and learning to love your daily writing. Full of easy to follow, practical advice from a commercial author who doesn't eat if she doesn't produce good books on a regular basis, 2k to 10k focuses not just on writing faster, but writing better, and having more fun while you do it" (GoodReads).

Opinions: I ordered this book off of Amazon for my Kindle based on the recommendation of one of my writer friends. I have been a "pantser" author up until know (i.e. discovering the story as I go, writing by the seat of my pants). This book as enlightened me to the benefits of panning and plotting your story out in advance to help increase your ability to quickly turn out a book and get the edits done in a much more logical process.  Rachel's suggestions are practical and make total sense. My favorite suggestion is to start out your writing day by stating a goal of what you hoped to accomplish that day (or in a particular chapter) prior to writing, so that you know the basics of what you want to happen in that chapter before you actually write it. Brilliant, I know. I just wonder why have not tried plotting in advance a lot sooner.

So with it being November (a.k.a. National Write A Book In a Month - NaNoWriMo) I've decided to utilize her suggestions to rewrite an old story of mine from the beginning, plotting out the characters, locations, development, etc. prior to starting the storytelling portion. I have never completed NaNoWriMo before (though I've tried 4 times). I am planning on not making this number five. With the techniques suggested in this book I look forward to being a NaNo winner. 

I'll let you know if I succeeded at the end of the month. Here's to better, faster writing.