Harmony Book Reviews

Archive for October 2009

So. November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I, the crazy girl that I am, will be taking part. I’m SUPER excited. I’ve got a small start on an outline and I feel like I could start writing right NOW. But, you know, I can’t.

But, since I’m going to be writing 50,000 words in November, starting on my Christmas shopping, and attempting to keep straight A’s in school, I’m going to be busybusybusy which means there probably aren’t going to be very many posts here on the blog.

I was planning on scheduling some but I’m the the Queen of Procrastination and that never happened. I am typing up a few right now so it won’t be a complete Ghost Town during the next month but I definitely won’t be posting every day.

Just wanted to give everyone a heads-up on that 😉 I’ll still be around, just not as much. Be prepared for a bunch of writing-related posts throughout the month, though!

“Flashback” is a new weekly feature here on the blog where authors write a guest blog on their teen years. Authors, if you’re interested, email me at harmonybookreviews[at]yahoo[dot]com.

Today, I welcome Jessica Blank, author of Karma for Beginners.

It’s funny–I only started writing fiction about six years ago (I wanted something I could do on my own at my computer between acting and playwriting jobs, so I taught myself!) but looking back, I can see I’ve been a writer since high school.  I was a theater kid, mostly–that was my first love, and what I knew I wanted to do from pretty early on— but I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember, and I had this one amazing creative writing teacher, Dr. Galvin, who I still remember.  He had a tweed jacket and a mustache and was the poet laureate of Maryland (really!) and he would bring other real live professional writers in to talk to us sometimes.  His class was an elective, a little haven for the artsy weirdo brainy kids, and I took it two years in a row.  His classroom had plants in it, and a tape recorder that he would play music on, and lots of posters everywhere–one of them said, “A story is a big lie–but in the middle of that lie, you’re telling the truth.”  I mostly wrote poems in that class–it took me till my twenties to figure out how to write a story–but I loved, loved, loved words, and Dr. Galvin was one of the first people who taught me that you could make beautiful things out of them. I am NOT a math or science person–like, not even a little bit—and I’d slog through geometry and trig and biology and all that, doodling on my hand, waiting till the bell rang and I could go to Dr. Galvin’s class. High school was kind of like that for me–some classes I couldn’t have cared less about and my parents had to kind of kick my butt to make sure I didn’t flunk them entirely–but other classes, the ones with the amazing teachers who told you that you could make things out of words and listen to music during school and talk about what was interesting to you and learn ways to make those things interesting to other people too–those classes were better than just about anything.  I felt kind of like a misfit in high school–like, I think, most high school kids do, even if they know how to hide it–but that creative writing class was a place where that was somehow okay, maybe even cool, maybe even something you could create something from.

 

Chasing Brooklyn

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder. I’m a total Lisa Schroeder fan. She was the first author I interviewed on this blog and I just adore her books. But I have to say – Chasing Brooklyn is, hands-down,  her best book yet. It makes her other books seem like they’re “just okay” because it is so awesome. If you’re going to pre-order any book, THIS IS THE ONE. (I also ADORE the cover!)

 Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken. I made a whole post dedicated to the awesomeness of this book but I feel it’s worthy of being mentioned again. If you love Tamora Pierce or just a good story, this is the one book you really want to look out for!

 The Naughty List by Suzanne Young. This book is SO cute. I just loved it, even though the cover made my father look at me and go “I don’t think you should be reading that!”. It’s cute, it’s funny, it’s unique, and the ending will make you go “OMG.”

The Cinderella Society

 

The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy. Again, this is such a cute start to a series. It’s very empowering! I love it!

 

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting. I think this was the first 2010 release I read and I just loved it. It’s very fast-paced and I couldn’t put it down.

 

So there you have it – the five books I highly recommend you pre-order ASAP. What books do you recommend everyone should pre-order?

After posting the winners last time, very few emailed me with their addresses so I have to (once again) choose new winners.

The new winner of the journal from Elizabeth Scott is…DIANNA of Fictional Worlds.

The new winners of Haunted are…Emily Marshall, Lexie (of Lexile Words).

The new winner of a copy of Hush Hush is…CHELSIE (of bookluverreviews!)

Winners, please email me your address within 48 hours!

Beautiful

This month we’re giving away a signed copy of Beautiful by Amy Reed. To Enter:

 

+1 leave a comment on this post with your email

+1 comment on the guestblog (+2 if you already have)

+1 comment on the interview once it’s posted

+1 for Tweeting/blogging about this and leaving a link.

Deadline: October 31st

Beautiful

Title: Beautiful

Author: Amy Reed

Rating: 9/10

Summary: (Taken fromAmazon)

When Cassie moves from the tiny town where she has always lived to a suburb of Seattle, she is determined to leave her boring, good-girl existence behind. This is Cassie’s chance to stop being invisible and become the kind of girl who’s worth noticing.

Stepping into her new identity turns out to be easier than Cassie could have ever imagined…one moment, one choice, will change everything.

Cassie’s new existence both thrills and terrifies her. Swept into a world of illicit parties and social landmines, she sheds her virginity, embraces the numbness she feels from the drugs, and floats through it all, knowing that she is now called beautiful. She ignores the dangers of her fast-paced life?but she can’t sidestep the secrets and the cruelty.

Cassie is trapped in a swift downward spiral tinged with violence and abuse, and no one—not even the one person she thought she could trust—can help her now.

My Thoughts: Beautiful is one of those book you expect to be good from the start. The cover draws you in first, then the summary, and when you start it, the first chapter alone makes you want more.

While I can’t relate to a lot of what happened in the book, as I am extremely straight-edge, I could relate to Cassie and I think a lot of other girls will also be able to. All of us have to deal with feelings we can’t control, peer pressure, crushes, and wanting to fit in, among all of the other things Cassie has to deal with and that makes Beautiful more realistic for teens who find Cassie’s world foreign.

 As much as I loved Cassie and the plot, I would’ve loved to see some of the minor characters developed more because I kept confusing some of them and I also would’ve liked to have seen more added onto the ending, though that’s partly because I didn’t want to see the book end.

 Overall, I completely recommend this but only for older/mature teens, due to the content. (I also think fans of Stephanie Kuehnert’s books would enjoy this.)

As any of you who follow me on Twitter or who have talked to me much at all know, besides being a reader I’m also a blogger. I don’t like to talk about my writing too much on this blog because I write under yet another pen name. But, I felt I would get more answers if I posted this year.

For NaNo, I’m rewriting what is my second finished rough draft and probably the tenth or so book that I’ve gotten half-way or more through. I have a plan that involves rewriting, beta-readers, and some other things before I even worry about agents/whatever. (Okay, so I’m thinking about them but what writer DOESN’T? Seriously.) Basically, I’m thinking the more feedback, the better.

I’ve recently come across some author mentoring/critique programs (like the one offered by Lynda Sandoval). I know most people are going to roll their eyes and tell me that I don’t need to worry about that, that plenty of authors have gotten published without using such programs, and that it’d just be a waste of money. But here’s the thing – the more I think about it, the more I want it. Sure, it doesn’t guarantee anything will EVER happen with that book but I just feel that it’d give me a gigantic boost forward.

Anyway, the point of this post is – does anyone know of any other authors who offer anything similar? Or, you know, anyone who usually doesn’t but would be willing? (And hey, awesome blogger/unpublished writer people – if want to beta-read it, lemme know!) Of course, I’m not sure why I’m worrying about this quite yet because it won’t be ready until April/May at the earliest but if I have to start saving, might as well do it now. 🙂

Okay, I know that most of these ended FOREVER ago and I apologize for not posting the winners sooner. But, here are all the winners for the various contests that have ended:

The winner of a journal from Elizabeth Scott is….KATIE (of Katie’s Bookshelf!)

The five winners of a copy of HAUNTED are… Tynga, Debbie D, Cara, Jill, Belinda McNabb.

The winner of a copy of HUSH HUSH is… AIK!

The winner of the amazing set of GIVE UP THE GHOST swag is…Raelena!

Finally, since the previous winner of the Prophecy Swag pack never emailed me, I had to pick a new winner. This winner is….Llehn!

Congrats to all of the winners! You each have 48 hours to email me (harmonybookreviews[at]yahoo[dot]com) with your address or else I’ll pick new winners!

                I’d love to embarrass myself by sharing journal entries with you from when I was a teenager, but they unfortunately don’t exist.   I tried many times to keep a journal because it seemed like the appropriate thing for a self-described “writer” to do, but I could never get the hang of it.  I’d usually last a couple of days, then give up in frustration.  It seemed to me that there were very strict rules of non-fiction which were impossible to follow.  I failed at keeping a journal because, quite frankly, I thought I was not allowed to lie. 

                I always felt compelled to stretch the truth a little, to make the characters (myself mostly)a little more interesting, to move events and details around to construct a more compelling narrative.  Telling the truth was so…well, boring.  Every cell in my body was dying to make stuff up, but I conjured all my strength to rein that impulse in.  Instead of a cathartic release of my deepest thoughts and feelings, I remember each journal entry more like a painful exercise in restraint. 

                It didn’t occur to me that a journal could be anything I wanted it to be.  It could be truth or fiction, stories or poems, song lyrics or doodles or collages or paper airplanes, and it could be a combination of any of these things.  There was no journal police force on high alert, waiting to arrest me as soon as I stepped away from the whole truth and nothing but the truth.   I was the only one enforcing the rules.  I was my own censor.

                It’s funny to me now that I found it so necessary to follow these “rules” so strictly, especially since I spent the bulk of my teenage years doing everything I could to prove what a rebel I was.  I had a brief attempt at mainstream popularity early in Junior High, but quickly realized it was more trouble than it was worth.  Most of the time, I was at some point along the spectrum of what I like to call emo/hippie/freak Lisa Simpson.  Some weeks, I was a little more hippie—walking around barefoot in long dresses and ratty hair, reading Tom Robbins and Beat poetry, listening to my dad’s old Joan Baez and Bob Dylan records.  The next day, I’d be planning a protest about youth rights, dying my hair pink and listening to Ani Difranco, wearing all black and a dog collar (borrowed from my dog, still smelling of flea shampoo).   But regardless of which phase I happened to be in at the time (or what stage of cleanliness), I was in honors classes and always got A’s (except for in PE, but that’s another story).  I was the who raised her hand in class every time the teacher said anything the least bit debatable or politically incorrect.  I stopped people in the hall if I overheard the faintest whisper of a homophobic or derogatory remark.  I proudly displayed every progressive bumper sticker I could find on the back of my ’87 Honda Civic.   

                Wait a minute.  Something’s not quite right here.  If I was such a rebel, if I was so into freedom, why’d I feel the need to shove my beliefs down everybody’s throats?  It’s true, outspoken s with shaved heads and facial piercings aren’t what most people think of when they think of rule-followers.  And yes, I was a rebel in the sense that I considered “questioning authority” a sort of art form.  But if you look closely, I was as bound to rules as anyone else; they just happened to be different rules.  Examples?  Well for one, as mentioned earlier, Thou shalt not lie in a journal.  Or what about, Thou shalt not like anything “girly;” Thou shalt not like music that is played on the radio; Thou shalt not like Hollywood blockbusters? Or what about, Thou shall like things nobody’s heard of; Thall shall like things deemed “indie;” Thou shall act like you don’t care what anybody thinks about you; and finally, the most important rule of all—If you disagree with me, you are wrong.

                It was hard work being such a “rebel.”  It was hard work following all the rules I invented to make it look like I wasn’t following any rules.  I’m exhausted now just thinking about it.  I’m glad I can give myself permission now to like Hollywood blockbusters, because those Pixar movies are awesome.   And I never really liked obscure experimental film in the first place.

The Tear CollectorTitle: The Tear Collector

Author: Patrick Jones

Rating: 4/10

Summary: (Taken from Amazon)

Fans of urban fantasy should prepare for a new kind of vampire–one that feeds off of tears instead of blood. Descended from an ancient line of creatures that gain their energy from human tears, Cassandra Gray depends on human sorrow to live. Only Cass has grown tired of living this life and wants to live like a human, especially now that she’s met someone worth fighting for.

My Thoughts:

This book is ick. The idea of it is so cool and I was expecting great things out of a it. Unfortunately, it did not deliver. There was a lot of pages where nothing happened and nothing was ever fully developed. I found myself going “Wait? What?” so many times. The characters themselves were just annoying.

The only positive thing I can say about this book was the idea of a vampire feeding on tears was interesting.



    • Megan: Just read LAST CHRISTMAS. I would SOOO reccomend it to people who havent even read the private series. It is soo good.The suspense was kiling me all t
    • Lola: Oh my gosh! i just finished it....i googled the song for i had never herd it before......may have been a mistake because it is in my head for taciturn
    • mais: heeeyyyy.... can anyonePLEASE give me the link or even send me the copy of the eighth book(revelation on my email because i cant find it anywhere for

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