Friday, March 29, 2013

Tank Up on Reading Before You Revise

I've been posting a ton of book reviews lately, and honestly, this has been such a gravy season of awesome in the YA market. I'm so excited to read so many amazing books and I can't keep myself reading enough. Why am I reading so much? Well, my purpose isn't just about shaving down my TBR pile. I'm also gorging myself on great books to study what works well (and especially for great methods of writing I don't normally use myself) before diving into my own revisions.

What tips or tricks do you use to satiate your craving for reading, and to prepare yourself for revising? Does this change when you're writing a draft versus revising a WIP or a MS? Please post your thoughts in the comments below. Let's discuss and let's keep reading!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Book Review: UNRAVEL ME by Tahereh Mafi

Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)
Also see my review for Shatter Me and Ignite Me

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If brilliant meant blinding, scorching, aching, center-of-the-sun white hot, it might begin to describe how outstanding this second book in the SHATTER ME series is. I love the real world meets X-men powers dystopian that is a true EPIC READ. My mind has been wiped clean of every thought I have ever synapsed, and now I'm numb, sitting in a room with no furniture and trying to remember what it was I just finished reading. UNRAVEL ME is the definition of MIND BLOWN. Trust me. You don't even have to Google it.

Now I'm made of a thousand thousand miles of ribbon that has been unwound over all these frayed edge pages (which I love, by the way), and spilled onto the floor like some white bird is about to fly in here and weave it into a dress with a golden crown and some girl will trot off to a ball in it and meet the love of her life for the first time on the dance floor. This is particularly odd for me, since I'm male and not even remotely a princess...

I am astounded by how expertly Tahereh Mafi has crafted a story that is so powerful in the reading of it that I can't I can't I can't say enough to even come close to all the feelings I experienced in these pages. I adored SHATTER ME and 5/5 stars was no where close to what it should be rated. Well, let me tell you that UNRAVEL ME has raised those stakes a gasquillion times higher and farther and faster and lower than any line out of SHATTER ME ever did. Just. Wow.

I love how Tahereh Mafi goes into every dark and scary corner and puts the two characters who should never be put together in a room alone and says, "Go." She does this a thousand thousand times. I can't wait to see what happens next in book three. Also, I swear I'll crawl over a thousand pages of broken words if Tahereh also gives us an internovel story to read like DESTROY ME. Please, please. I beg of you. I'm not afraid to grovel. I'll do your dishes for all time.

The love triangle at the center of it all has already gone through the ringer in SHATTER ME, and intensified in DESTROY ME, but that didn't stop Tahereh Mafi from raising the bar and holding nothing, and I mean not-a-carefully-crafted-drop-of-sweat-roiling-down-your-back hold back is what you'll find in these amaZING pages I couldn't stop (breathing) turning.

Juliette is the perfect contrast of strength and kickass power at her fingertips, earthquakes in her wake, and naïve humility that swears she's not worthy of either boy's attention. Yet, she still has Adam, head over heels, devoted to her and while he tries to stay away, he's drawn to her over and over again.

When Warner shows up, he's equally attracted to Juliette's Venus Flytrap wiles and the words at the core of every word she poured out in the pages of her journal. I loved the unique approach Tahereh Mafi uses in writing in a journal style with cross outs and a kind of stream of consciousness mixed with poetry that pours out as powerfully as James Joyce did with Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I especially enjoyed how grammar became a focal point for Juliette in expressing the way words became her tool for survival and anchored her to language while she struggled through isolation and imprisonment.

Not all of my questions were answered, chief of which is the mysterious bird that I hope finds wings in book 3. Regardless, I'm on board to discover where the next pages take me. This is by far one of the best series I've ever read. What an amazing read.

If you haven't read this book, or SHATTER ME and DESTROY ME, then what is wrong with you? DO IT!!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book Review: SCARLET (Lunar Chronicles Book 2)

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2)
Also see my review for Cinder and Cress

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A 5/5 stars with absolute certainty. I'm in the afterglow, the gleam of the spaceship sleek and near, with Iko's tittering voice thrumming in the background as it should. How delicately and artfully Marissa Meyer wove two seemingly disparate fairytales together and in such a new and refreshing way, breathing breathtaking life and sci-fi wonderment...I'm gobsmacked at how fantastic this book is! Book 2, SCARLET, is literally better than book 1, CINDER.

I am certain the next book, CRESS will be even better. Thank you, Marissa Meyer, for delivering on your promise to keep upping the stakes and not holding back. I know you've got a few tricks up your cyborg sleeves to taunt us with in CRESS and WINTER, but I'm hooked and can't wait for Thorne to show up and take us for another ride.

Marissa Meyer has done everything right. She made the sequel to her debut NYT bestselling novel worthy of its own NYT bestseller status by upping the stakes WAY, way up. In SCARLET, Cinder (2.0) has an upgrade courtesy of Dr. Erland (aka, her "Fairy Godfather"), Iko comes back in a new way that totally works, New characters are introduced (Thorne is my favorite, a Han Solo type), and not a word or story element is wasted (the tomatoes that come in at the beginning and the end, add a nice touch and establish a layer between Scarlet and Wolf). Also, the new and central story of Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf are given a YA sci-fi retelling twist that totally works and seamlessly weaves in and out of Cinder's own escape and story arc. I was exhausted by the last 1/3 of the novel with as many twists and turns and surprises await the reader. But, it is worth the effort as the tension mounts and the chapters flow effortlessly throughout.

I loved the added details of technology, the way vehicles and trains and spaceships work. I liked how the internet and communications worked in a global community, and even the further development of the Lunars and certain spoilerish "advancements" that impact the core storyline.

I am excited to see where we go next, and I'm liking how Meyer is uniting her own shotgun and tranquilizer wielding team of kickass heroines in this Lunar Series. Now I'd like to reread the first two books and the two e-stories that add more info about the Queen's Army and Cinder before CRESS arrives. This was such an enjoyable continuation of Cinder's story, and a great introduction to Scarlet. I'm looking forward to where their storylines will travel next.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Book Review: I HUNT KILLERS by Barry Lyga (Jasper Dent Series)

I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent, #1)I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first book I read/experienced via audiobook, although I also own the ebook. The audiobook version provided an added layer of creepiness I'm not sure I would have experienced straight reading it. However, the story is amazingly, grippingly delivered from the perspective of Jazz, son of THE most notorious serial killer ever known, and at times from the perspective of the Impressionist.

The details are visceral and bloody and linger with crime scenes and gore. The characters and complicated and articulately developed, meticulous care to several of the most notable characters central to the story. As Jasper Dent wrestles with his own inner demons, he's in a life and death (lots of death) race to use all the evil his father cultivated in him for some good in tracking down a copycat killer so close and so far away.

You'll be blown away by this fast paced read that will have you cloying at the beads of sweat as you turn the page or jam another disk in to get to the ending. I am eager to continue with Jazz and see where the story goes in book 2.

Highly recommended.

I absolutely loved the three central characters--Jazz, Connie (his girlfriend), and Howie (Jazz's best friend). Not only are they true friends toward each other, equally so, they are fiercely devoted to throwing themselves repeatedly into the risk and danger of solving the case and tracking down the serial killer on the loose.

Thankfully, GAME (book 2) comes out in April 2013. I need this book RIGHT NOW. You will, too. Hurry up and read book 1. There's not much time left before the next one. Trust me. You'll be anxiously awaiting its release once you've read the first one. Go now. You'll thank me later.

View all my reviews

Book Review: THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT by Veronica Rossi (Book 2 of UNDER THE NEVER SKY)

Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky, #2)
Also see my review of Under the Never Sky

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The sequel rivals UtNS for great book, and that's because Rossi's characters are so well developed and real, that I literally missed them and only came to this realization once I started reading TtEN. This series is amazing. Not the least of which is a fully developed dystopian read that has so many twists I can't keep from reeling. It's like the Aether is funneling and spiraling back up over and over as I turn each page. Just like the storms grow in intensity and frequency THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT, I found myself gasping for breath as I read.

What an amazing read! 5/5 stars are just a FRACTION (see what I did there?) of what this book deserves. If you haven't read these books, and ROAR AND LIV, what are you waiting for? C'mon. Get with the program.

This is one of those rare gems of a series that the second book builds upon the first and is even better. You can tell as you read Rossi KNOWS her characters. Those characters that are returning are even more complex and rich in development and the new and minor characters are given moments to shine amidst the crackling Aether. The storms and the tension of book 2 really pick up and all the stakes are higher and more risky than they were in UNDER THE NEVER SKY.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and hope to see another interlude story available since I know I will be struggling to wait patiently for INTO THE STILL BLUE (book 3), which has a tentative release date of January 2014. While that's not terribly far off, I need to have more of my favorite characters and I've got just the perfect idea: Cinder and Willow. I need to know more than what's hinted at in the story. I won't say more than names to avoid spoilers, but, please hear my plea Veronica and sate my readerly hunger, at least TIDE me over. Please?

I can't wait to see where this goes in book 3. I'm over the moon in love with this series. What an incredibly great and worthwhile read!!

View all my reviews