Friday, January 18, 2013

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Thank you to Vicky over at Notes From An Aspiring Writer blog for tagging me in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop! Those of us who do, in fact, have a Next Big Thing to talk about, will be answering some pretty basic questions about the books we're working on. I have chosen to talk about the book I am most proud of, even though it is not yet finished. After I answer the questions, I will tag a few authors who will answer the same questions and then pass the word on! Okay, I got this.

Q: What is the working title of your next book?
Divided We Fall. And as far as I am aware that is what it will remain.

Q: Where did the idea come from for the book?
My friends. I have a very diverse group of friends and while we don't usually agree on certain things we manage to remain close. And yet there are so many people in the world around us that can't manage to be civil to strangers because of these same differences. I got tired of seeing it all around me and so I am working on a book about what the world could be like if we let our hatred get the better of us.

Q: What genre does the book fall under?
I am going to have to say contemporary fiction. Maybe I would even go so far as to say satire.

Q: What actors would you choose to play the parts of your characters in a movie rendition?
Wow, I haven't thought about this question for this book. I think I would like to see Brittany Underwood as the main character, Christian.

Q: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Christian is part of a world divided along religious lines, but she wants to be given the chance to show she can be accepting of others.

Q: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I want to say it will be picked up by an agency, but if in the next few years it isn't, I am highly considering self-publication.

Q: How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Well, I got half of the way through it in one month with Nation Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), but I am not completely happy with it. When it is done, I will answer this question again.

Q: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
To be honost, I don't know of any. Again, I will answer this question again if I find any.

Q: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My friends. I told them what I was planning and they supported me through every step, even giving me ideas for characters since it takes place with our grandchildren. And my husband who thought it was an incredible idea and is still pushing me to finish it.

Q: What else about the book might pique a reader’s interest?
Divided We Fall, enough said. I hope readers will see that this is a book about where we are possibly headed and they will be both intrigued and scared by what I have to show them. But it is also a book about a girl who sets out to change the world, and through her friendship and family, she can do just that. I want it to inspire and challange people.
Ok, this is when I tag other authors to continue the hop. So I have chosen authors that have inspired me and who have put their Next Big Thing out there. I am also hopign to review their novels this year (1 of which I have already read and loved, but am waiting to review).

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

His Dark Materials

The Golden Compass
"In many ways Lyra was a barbarian. What she liked best was cambering over the Colege roofs with Roger, the kitchen boy who was her particular friend, to spit plum stones on the heads of passsing Scholars or to hoot like owls outside a window where a tutorial was going on, or racing through the narrow streets, or stealing apples from the market, or waging war." -The Golden Compass (p. 34-5)

The story starts with Lyra, a young girl living among the scholars of Jordan Coleg in Oxford, sneaking into a room where she is not allowed and hearing things that spark her curiousity and which leads her onto a wild adventure involving unlikely villans, lifelong secrets, painful discoveries, and an awesome bear in armor!

When I first picked up this book my husband looked at me in shock. He could not believe that I had not yet read this series! Now that I have finally picked it up, I can't believe that I have waited so long, either! This book was very interesting, filled with action from one leg of Lyra's journey to the next. I enoyed the world that Philip Pullman creates, one so close to our world yet different in ways that make all the difference. And one of the things that I noticed early on is how Pullman does a great job of explaining the bits of this universe that are different from ours without looking down on the reader or filling the book with exposition to discribe it all. By making the main character a young, oftentimes niave, girl he allows the reader to learn a lot through her.

Over all I am sorry I did not take the chance to read this book when I was younger and would have hung on every word of all three books. Yet I am so glad that I am getting the oppurtinuty to do so now. I look forward to reading the next two books. I also look forward to encouraging my kids to read them as well. You should do the same if you haven't already!

The following  is from the next book of the series. If you have not yet finished the first book you may not want to continue reading. You should stop now and come back later. I do not believe there are really any spoilers, but I am warning you that you may find out things you didn't want to know yet. Read on at your own risk.

The Subtle Knife
"When she saw the answer, she relaxed at once. He could find food, and show her how to reach Oxford, and those werre powers that were useful, but he might still have been untrustworthy or cowardly. A murderer was a worthy companion. She felt as safe with him as she'd felt with Iorek Byrnison, the armored bear." -The Subtle Knife (p. 28)

The story of Lyra and her journey continues. While the first book is set in Lyra's world, this next book takes a trip into the world that the reader knows. Will's world, as he is the first character we meet and one that stays throughout the novel to help Lyra. He is yet another piece to the ever expanding puzzle as Lyra tries to figure out what Dust is, what her father and mother are trying to do with it and the world, and where she fits in with the whole big story. And now she has to figure out how Will fits in as well!

Will and Lyra are so similar, both being survivors with parents that are less than ideal, looking to figure things out for themselves since they can't seem to rely on any adults. Yet they come from two different worlds and they may have two completely different roles to play in the grand scheme of things!

Along for the ride trying to help Lyra, and therefore at times Will, are such favorites as Lee Scoresby and Serafina Pekkala as well as new players of the game Dr. Mary Malone and the man everyone thought dead Professor Stanislaus Grumman. Others fade in and out throughout the story aid or hindering the two children as the case may have it. But through it all they remain mostly focused on what they must do and they plan on doing it together.

Again I enjoyed this book although it took me longer than I would have liked to finish it. If I can make one suggestion to you it would be to read all three books straight through. I put this book down for my Book Club book of the Janurary and picking the series back up proved a little more difficutl than I anticipated. It doesn't help that while The Golden Compass leaves off with Lyra crossing into a new world, this one begins with a little boy in our world. However, I do not think the book slowed down much from the first, instead Pullman was very effective at keeping up the pace of the story, something that tends to be difficult with most trilogies.

I look forward to finally picking up the third book and making my way through the chaos that is different worlds, different missions, different players, and different beliefs! Pullman brings a new meaning to organized chaos in my opinion, and I am rather enjoying it! I hope you have gotten the chance to continue the series if you have not done so in the past! It is a good read!

The Amber Spyglass
'"I'll be looking for you, Will, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we'll cling together so tight that nothing and no one'll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you... We'll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams... And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won't just be able to take one, they'll have to take two, one of you and one of me, we'll be joined so tight..." -Lyra, The Amber Spyglass (p. 497)

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is how incredible I thought this series was. That and how I am kicking myself for taking so long to getting around to reading it. This book was such an amazing finale to the story of Lyra and, later, Will. Let me try to give an impression of the book without spoiling anything for anyone that has not already finished it, so bare with me a bit.

This final book in the "His Dark Materials" series is the conclusion, therefore it stands to reason that everything is put to rights in this last book. And I must say that when the reader first picks up the novel they are reassured by it's thickness that every loose end with be tied up nicely and neatly for the reader. However, I am not sure that is necessarily the case. While yes there is a major battle, Lyra and Will accomplish the missions they have been given, and certain truths are discovered as well as how to fix them, the ending is left just open enough for the reader to fill in the blanks how they may want to. This isn't to say that the author left it hanging, no, but he does not make the fatal error of saying "Will went on to. . ." or "Lyra then. . . " which I think sometimes ruins a stories ending. The reader should be allowed to feel the way things should have ended is exactly how they did. The author's job stops at a certain point so to speak.

In the first two books I felt twisted and turned around so much that for a while I wasn't sure that the last book was going to be able to answer all the little questions that I had building up, but not only does Pullman manage to straighten everything out, he does so in such good form that it doesn't feel like the reader is spoon fed all the bits or overwhelmed with it all in one revieling moment. Each answer is placed right when it is needed and it all makes perfect sense as the answers appear!

This is all a round about way of saying that Pullman is such an excellent writer! I lvoed the story, the characters, and, obviously, his style of writing. These books can often be found in the young adult section, but as an adult I loved them! I plan on reading them to my children sometime in the next year or so, knowing that even though they may be young they will be able to understand everything as Pullman does an incredible job with his imagery and storytelling abilities. This is such an amazing series and I agree that it is becoming a classic!

So get your hands on a copy as soon as you can, if you have not already read them. And if you have read the books I see no harm in rereading them! I look forward to being able to enjoy them once more with my children!

Friday, January 4, 2013

2012 Reading Challange 2013

For last year I began a challange to read all the books that I already owned that I had not had the time to read, whether they were gifts, they had been bought with other books and forgotten, or they had been passed over for library books, they had not been read by me. So in an effort to get rid of the books I didn't particularly like, I finally sat down to read all of them.
Of course I didn't finish the list, there were just too many. But I did manage to read 42 of the books on my shelf, getting rid of about a third of them. Others, I discovered, have changed the way I look at some apsects of life and I am eager to share them with my friends.
While I would love to continue with this challange I have to move on. I do plan to pick up where I left off, however, perhaps even next year. But not now.

Last year was all about the books that stand alone, single stories with no follow-up. This year I am going to pick up all the series that I have sitting on my shelves. Some of these are unfinished, meaning I have the first few, the first and last, or even only the first book. My plan is to buy the remaining novels in the ones that I know I want to have (like the Remnants series by K. A. Applegate that I can pass on to my son), and once I have them all sit down and read from beginning to end. With others I will read the first one and decide if I want to pick up the others in the series (like The Sword, The Ring, and The Chalice by Deborah Chester that seemed interesting at the time). And while I collect the missing volumns in those series, I will read the ones that I have all volumns to (like The Tale of the Mayfair Witches by Anne Rice).

So the plan for reviewing is going to be different this year. I like to hold off on my views until I have finished a series, but I know that some have to be reviewed as one goes because of the story, quality, or even length of the novels. So, the plan is to write a review after each novel in a series, but under the same post. This means that if I write a review for book one in a series that you are interested about, you can find my opinion on each book in one convienent place, so check back on that post for more details. This also means that there is a chance for spoilers. I will warn you before any spoilers occur so that you can choose not to read further.

I hope that I can continue to offer helpful opinions on book suggestions for my readers throughout the year! So I hope you enjoy the books you have read by my recommendation and that you find my wide range of novels welcoming to your tastes.

Book Club
While I read what I have on my shelf, I will also be partaking in at least one (hopefully two) book clubs. So I will post my reviews on these books as well as the opinions of the other members of the book club (with their permission) so that readers can get a more diverse opinion base. I will try to keep discussion points from the book club to a minimum since I can tend to post too long reviews as it is. However, if you have a question about our opinions, post it in the comments, maybe we talked about it and I can fill you in on what we thought.

Thank you to anyone who reads this blog. While it started off as, and will remain, mainly a place for me to simply keep track of the books I have read and what I thought of them, I enjoy giving others my thoughts so that they may help them choose books as well. So if there is a book you have loved and wish I would read, post it in comments, I will get to it as soon as I can, and let you know what I think. Whatever my opinion is worth, I thank anyone that takes the time to read.

I hope everyone has an amazing year in 2013, filled with wonderful adventures, both on the page and off!


'"I close the Gate of Fallan," she called. "Henceforth neither mortal nor immortal, Maker nor Messenger nor any created thing may enter here. The stars re forbidden to the people of Fallan, and Fallan is forbidden to the people of the stars."' -Falia, Sun-Lord of the world of Fallan, Stargate (p.17)

Stargate is the story of the universe when the worlds were open to each other, when sun-lords ruled alongside their kin, the suns, and mortals were innocent and able to hold the history of their ancestors in their minds as if it were their own memories. On the world Danar all the thousands of sun-lords would gather with the Worldmaker, laughing, traveling between their worlds, and protecting their mortals. But the Worldmaker grew greedy and one by one the sun-lords had to close their gates to keep the Unmaker out of their worlds. The book begins with the closing of the Gate to the world of Fallan, leaving only four worlds left open and they are no longer safe from corruption. This is the story of their fight against the Unmaker and the falls they all face in the battle.

When I began the book I will admit it seemed a little slow moving to me and I wondered if I would ever finish it. But as the story progressed I became interested in the story of the sun-lords and their plights. This turned out to be an interesting story, well written, with a wonderful ending. While my feelings for the characters were not nearly as strong as they are for other books, I think that is ok because these are gods I was reading about, one actually admits being unable to care as mortals do, so it is only right that I not be able to feel for them as much, right? Yet at the end of the book, when the sun-lord Danarian feels closer to mortals I felt closer to him, even feeling a little sorrow for his final moments in the story, and that is the sign of a good book.

I would love to recommend this book to everyone, but I cannot. You have to be a fan of science fiction in order to enjoy such a novel, or maybe you just have to be willing to see stories outside of our world. This is an amazing story but you will miss it if you cannot open mind and heart to other beings. So if you think you can do that, pick up this book. Imagine a world where people can know all the history of their people because they are connected to their ancestors through innocence, yet they cannot understand why a man laying next to the road will not answer and has no need for air. Take a look at what happens when a Maker looks at his creation and wants it to serve him as slaves because they owe him. See how terribly wrong things can go when a sun-lord gets a glimpse into the future but does not understand what he sees. It is a story that may change the way you look at the world.