NaNoWriMo 2015

For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Writing Month and it takes place November 1st through the 30th. The goal is to write 50,000 words during the month of November.

I did it once a couple years ago and won, but I have yet to attempt it since. This year, however, is going to be different. Not only do I have an idea that’s been brewing in my head since last July – I’ve already got more than half of the novel outlined. I guess I should make  a point here, and that point is this: I’m gearing up to write 50,000 words during the next month while taking a full credit load and working two jobs. I’m making this post not only to inform you about this amazing program, but to ask you to join me in competing so that you may hold me accountable while relishing in your own success. To complete NaNoWriMo, you only have to write about 1,700 words a day – it adds up pretty quickly.

This year’s is going to be the start of a trilogy, I’ve already got the entire series planned out in my head – and now it is just a matter of getting it finished. I don’t want to say too much about the first book, but I can tell you this. The book is going to be called Golden, and as of right now I plan on calling the second book Crimson – book three’s title is up in the air.

Golden, a Young Adult fantasy novel, is going to be centered around Bethany McAlister’s freshman year in college – but with a bit of a twist. What kind of fantasy novel would it be without one? I can tell you this: there will be dragons, swoon-worthy romance, and an abundance of sarcasm (I can’t help myself).

I’m currently working on a cover, and I will post it when it’s finished.

As a teaser, here is a bit of a short excerpt:

“I am trying to make friends, strangely enough.” He murmured, the faintest of frowns pulling down the corners of his lips.

I couldn’t help myself. A huff of air – meant to be a laugh – escaped through my lips. “Trying? I find that hard to believe.”

Caden turned to look at me, this time there was what could be described as a gentle inquisitiveness to his gaze. “And why is that?” He softly questioned while tapping the edge of his pen against his lower lip.

It was distracting.

I found my gaze drawn toward the motion of his pen as if on their own accord, I certainly had not told them to go in that direction. I tore my eyes away, dropping my gaze back down to the table as I pretended to shuffle through the pages in front of me. In reality, I was stalling – trying to come up with a reasonable explanation that wouldn’t come off as too mean.

“Well…” I stalled, drawing the word out longer than usual. I stole a quick glance back up at him, my previous train of thought fleeing my mind altogether. Very distracting indeed.

I cleared my throat, trying for some sense of normalcy before trying again. “Well,” I repeated, “if you were trying, you’d be more like Warren. You’d be more open to conversation and not ignore people when they say hello. I might mistake you for him, in fact, if it weren’t for the fact that he is-”

Caden cut me off, humor dancing in his emerald hues. “Shorter? Ill tempered? Immature?”

“Not an arrogant ass.” I stated, deadpan, when he finally finished.

“An arrogant ass? Me?” He seemed aghast, his hand placed over his heart in mock horror. “I shall have you know that I am the perfect gentleman.”

So, what do you think? Horrible? Interesting? You don’t have to answer, I’m mostly rambling to myself at this point.

Are any of you guys doing a NaNoWriMo novel? What’s it about? How long have you been planning/outlining? (if you’ve been planning at all, that is).

Let’s band together and finish this beast of a challenge!

A Step Toward Falling

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“Just because we can’t see the problem doesn’t mean we aren’t part of it.”

Title: A Step Toward Falling

Author: Cammie McGovern

Series: Standalone

Publication:October 6th 2015 by HarperTeen

Pages: 368

Source: Publisher at ALA Annual

Summary from Goodreads:

Emily has always been the kind of girl who tries to do the right thing—until one night when she does the worst thing possible. She sees Belinda, a classmate with developmental disabilities, being attacked. Inexplicably, she does nothing at all.

Belinda, however, manages to save herself. When their high school finds out what happened, Emily and Lucas, a football player who was also there that night, are required to perform community service at a center for disabled people. Soon, Lucas and Emily begin to feel like maybe they’re starting to make a real difference. Like they would be able to do the right thing if they could do that night all over again. But can they do anything that will actually help the one person they hurt the most?

My Thoughts:

This is going to be a hard review to write. Not because this book was an emotional roller-coaster or particularly thought provoking, but because I feel the same way about this book that I did with A Thousand Nights. While A Step Toward Falling had a lot going for it – an intriguing premise, well-rounded characters, a controversial issue – nothing really happened. The book just trudged along. There wasn’t anything particularly exciting or mind blowing, I didn’t become emotionally invested in any characters, and I didn’t sympathize with anything going on. Sadly, A Step Toward Falling fell woefully short.
I think my biggest problem was the fact that I was expecting this to be emotional. The blurbs on the back of the book are all about how moving, heart wrenching, and engaging this book is – and, after reading it, I must say I believe all of those quoted to be on some sort of drug. This book was nothing like what they said it would be. I swear, they should change the title from A Step Toward Falling to A Plan for Falling Asleep or something equally ridiculous. This book literally drags you through the most monotonous, uneventful plot I have ever seen (required reading for class aside). There is literally nothing that happens – we just get a lot of exposition about making choices, learning to see people differently, and learning who your friends are. All in all, it was pretty lack luster.
Now, the characters weren’t horrible or anything – in fact, I actually kind of liked them. Well, I liked everyone but Emily and Belinda. Emily and Belinda were both whiny brats – you can hate me for saying that. I want you to know, I have nothing against people with disabilities. I have a very personal connection to what is going on in the story, more than one person in my family has struggled with mental illness. But, my point here is that both Belinda and Emily are basically whining throughout the entire book – Emily because her friends are doing stuff without her and Belinda because she is extremely bossy. Like I said, I have nothing against Belinda and what she went through – this is simply a matter of the nonexistent character development. If they had started off that way and then changed throughout the story, I would have both forgiven and commended them for it. But, instead, they seemed to get worse the more the story dragged on – and that, I am not okay with. The only person who really seemed to go on any sort of transformative journey was Lucas (who I think is awesome by the way). He starts off as the sort of typical jock football player, but by the end he is sort of the main driving force behind making Belinda happy again. He basically forsakes all of his “friends” when he realizes that they’re just a bunch of insensitive assholes – something Emily couldn’t even bring herself to do when her friends turned their backs on her more than once.
I think what this story was trying to do was very important, and there were some things in here that did actually speak to me – but those moments were few and far between and tended to be drowning beneath everything else. I’m not saying that I hate the book or anything, I’m just saying that I sort of think it was a waste of time. It could have been a lot better, it should have been a lot better. A Step Toward Falling just didn’t do it for me, and I sort of hate myself for it. I really wanted to like it, I forced myself to read the entire thing in the hopes that it would get better. I should have just cut my losses when I figured out how bored I was.
If I had to give this book a label – it would fall in the category of meh. It tried really hard to do something and failed on multiple fronts. I wanted more character development, more plot, and an actual ending (which there really wasn’t). I can appreciate the book’s intentions, but that’s about it. Don’t waste your time on this unless you have nothing better to do.

The Masked Truth

“I don’t want a free pass. I just want to pull myself together”

Title: The Masked Truth

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Series: Standalone

Publication: October 13th 2015 by Doubleday Canada

Pages: 352

Source: Author signing at ALA Annual

Summary from Goodreads:

Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for.

Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal.

The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues.” But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage.

The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree.

Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next—but they’re about to discover that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.

My Thoughts:

AHHHHHH! Okay, fangirling over. Well, not really. I absolutely love Kelley Armstrong. I am a lover of all things Otherworld, Darkest Powers, and Darkest Rising. I love the television show they made out of Bitten. I just love, love, love, love all of her work! See, fangirling not over. When I found out that Kelley Armstrong was going to be at ALA, I freaked. She was at the top of my list of people to meet and I was the first in line. So, I waited patiently while internally screaming and then she showed up. It was like some sort of dream, let me tell you. So, she signed copies of her book for us to have as well as books you had brought – sadly, I didn’t bring my copies of the Otherworld series (shame on me). I had no idea what The Masked Truth was about, zip, nada. But, being the insane fangirl that I am, I went for it anyways simply because of the queen who wrote it. And boy, am I glad I did.


The Masked Truth is one crazy thrill ride that will make you question everything you know while also scaring you for life. It is heart pounding, cling to the edge of your seat terror. I know what you’re thinking: this can’t possibly be terrifying because it is a Young Adult novel. Well, you’re wrong. You are so, so wrong. The Masked Truth is about a group of kids at an overnight therapy camp who are taken hostage and have to fight in order to survive when their kidnappers go on a killing spree. Like I said terrifying.
When the book starts, everything is already going to hell. Riley, our protagonist, is basically forced into babysitting by her “friend”. While she is there, and before the parents even leave, a group of men break into the house and kill the parents. Riley hides under the bed with the daughter and the two of them live. Hence the reason Riley is at this therapy camp. This scene alone was heartbreaking. I could feel Riley’s terror, her desire to protect Darla (the daughter), and her fear that she wasn’t doing the right thing by hiding beneath the bed. Riley is dealing with some severe PTSD as the story moves on – and the way Armstrong handles it is pure brilliance. Armstrong could have easily turned Riley into a simpering, delicate flower that we sympathize with because of what she witnessed – but no. Riley is strong, she is smart, she is stubborn, and she is a survivor who isn’t afraid to fight to save her friends. I really admire Riley, I love the way she is willing to protect other people but she also knows when she can only protect herself. She isn’t stupid – and it shows. She is the one who talks her fellow hostages through a hostage negotiation, what they can expect and what not. She is the one that comes up with the plan to escape, the plan for barricading doors, the one who knows how to disarm or un-jam a gun. I loved her. The best part, though? She isn’t perfect. She has horrible flashbacks, panic attacks, and hallucinations during everything that is going on – of course being held hostage is going to be a serious trigger for her. It made her real, understandable, and easy to believe in. I wanted her to escape – and that made reading this book all the more frightening.
We also have Max, and I adore him. Max isn’t your typical love interest – not in the slightest. He is schizophrenic. Boy, reading the chapters from his point of view was a serious mind fuck. I really liked him. When we first meet Max, you think he is just the normal YA love interest with a bad attitude and cool accent – wrong. The more you read this book, the more Armstrong delves into his character and peels back the layers. It is truly beautiful. Kelley also uses him to examine certain stereotypes about mental illness – schizophrenia in particular. I won’t delve into this too much because doing so is sort of spoiler for what happens, but I will say that Armstrong took a very controversial topic and handled it with grace.
When I said this book was terrifying, I didn’t mean the stupid ghouls, pop outs, or paranormal type of terror – I meant that this book is petrifying because it is perfectly plausible and could happen to any of us. I’m going to throw in a personal note here to explain what I mean. When I’m at home, I work in a medical complex that shares the building with a bank. The bank is on the first floor and the rest of the building belongs to the medical group. Last summer while I was working, the bank was robbed. I don’t know all of the details of what happened or who it was, only the police do, but I do remember the terror of wondering where the bad guys went. What if they escaped through the employee stairwell? I was only on the second floor at the time, it was a perfectly plausible option. Luckily, I never saw the men in person – but I did see the getaway car speeding down the road from the parking structure. So, yea, men with guns barging in wherever you are is perfectly likely to happen – no matter how much you disagree. Especially with all the school shootings going on right now.
Whoops, sorry about my little rant-ish thing up there (not really). Back to our regularly scheduled programming folks. Anyways, like I said, this book is scary. The thriller aspect of the novel, which is really the main theme of the whole thing, is on point. Nothing is out of place, nothing is predictable, and nothing is unnecessary. Every little detail matters, even the ones you don’t want to pay attention to.
I really don’t know what else to say about this book other than the fact that it is the perfect October read to keep you up late at night. The Masked Truth is exactly what a thriller should be. The end.

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Waiting On Wednesday # 6

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted each week by Breaking the Spine and lets us spotlight a book that we are eagerly waiting to be released.

This weeks Waiting On Wednesday is Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare!

Publication: March 8th 2016 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Summary from Goodreads:

Los Angeles. It’s been five years since the events of the Mortal Instruments when Nephilim stood poised on the brink of oblivion and Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs lost her parents. After the blood and violence she witnessed as a child, Emma has dedicated her life to to discovering exactly what it was that killed her parents and getting her revenge.

Raised in the Los Angeles Institute with the Blackthorn family, Emma is paired as a parabatai with her best friend, Julian Blackthorn. A series of murders in the city catch her attention — they seem to have the same characteristics as the deaths of her parents. Could the murderer be the same person? And her attention isn’t the only one caught: someone has been murdering Downworlders as well. The Fair Folk make a deal with the Institute: if the Blackthorns and Emma will investigate the killings, they’ll return Mark Blackthorn to his home. The catch: they have only two weeks to find the killers. Otherwise it’s open war between faeries and Nephilim.

The Shadowhunters of the Institute must race against time to catch the killers, even as they begin to suspect the involvement of those closest to them. At the same time, Emma is falling in love with the one person in the world she’s absolutely forbidden by Shadowhunter Law to love. Set against the glittering backdrop of present-day Los Angeles, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches from the warlock-run nightclubs of the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica.

OH MY GOODNESS! Okay, I know this book isn’t coming out for a looonng time, but I chose this one for two reasons. One, they just revealed the cover this past weekend at NY Comic Con ( Isn’t it pretty?). Two, I love Cassandra Clare. I love, love, love, love, love her. Get it yet? I cannot wait for this book to come out!! Not only is it the next part of the Shadowhunters universe, but it takes place in my home state/city! Well, I’m from Orange County which is smack dab in the middle of Los Angeles and San Diego, but I know where everything is and I have been to most of them. So.. I’m excited. Actually, I think excited might be a little bit of an understatement.

*Creepy Gollum voice* My precious…….

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Teaser Tuesday # 6

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

This weeks Teaser Tuesday is for Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus!

“Kindness is like hope. It feeds hope. Which just keeps us around to suffer more.”

“You finally fully understand it’s hopeless, don’t you? All the fresh starts in the world won’t make a difference.”

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A Thousand Nights

“Power twists men’s minds so easily. They bend toward it like a tree reaches for light and water”

Title: A Thousand Nights

Author: E.K Johnston

Series: Standalone

Publication: October 6th 2015 by Disney Hyperion

Pages: 336

Source: Publisher at ALA Annual

Summary from Goodreads:

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time. But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

My Thoughts:

Well… that just happened. I hate it when this happens. I don’t feel anything right now, do you know how sucky that is? I don’t feel happiness, or anger, nada – zip. I’m indifferent, and that makes writing this review really difficult. Usually, when I really like something or something really pisses me off, I can go on a rant that lasts for paragraphs – but now? I feel nothing, as I have said. So, I’m apologizing in advance if this review is a little meh, because that is the only way I can describe what is going through my head.

A Thousand Nights is a retelling of 1001 Nights that, I think, reached a little too high. This book is marketed as a Young Adult book, yet the voice is far too dense and the subject matter it tackles is very heavy and filled with difficult analogies and metaphors. It reads like an old philosophy text rather than a Young Adult novel, though it still tells a story. I think that might be the biggest problem, actually, I felt like I was reading a text book which sort of sucked all the enjoyment out of reading the book. Now, it wasn’t bad or anything – it just wasn’t good either.

Our narrator remains nameless throughout the book, which also helped create the detachment from above. I felt no sympathy, no fear, nothing. I didn’t care what was happening to her or her family, I didn’t care what was happening in the qsar, I could care less about how she felt about Lo-Melkhiin. The rest of the characters were the same. None of them have names except for Lo-Melkhiin. They are referred to by their station. Lady-Bless, Brother-of-mine, Sister-of-mine, mother, Lady-mother. Frankly, it was annoying. Like I said before, this book was just meh. It happened, it was there, I read it, and now it’s done. *sigh*

I will say this, the world was beautiful and intriguing. I did like all of the little details, it made everything much more believable when the entire story was surrounded by fantasy. The descriptions were very lyrical and full of life that everything else in the story seemed to lack. I would like to know more, though. I want to know why things were the way they were, I mean, Lo-Melkhiin hadn’t killed anyone other than his wives – why did he stay in power? I guess that was the only thing that kept me reading. I was curious as to how things were going to play out and how it would affect the world – which was more alive than the characters themselves.

Overall, this book was like really bad sex. There is a lot of build up to absolutely nothing. The climax (or lack thereof), was not worth the wait and the effort. I hope this review isn’t too scatter brained – I feel like it is. Hey! Look at that, I finally feel something. Guess what it is? Regret. Don’t read this, yea… just don’t unless you are looking for a horrible way to kill time.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here

” I felt like I was waiting for something to happen. Which has to be the worst part about being young. So many of your decisions aren’t yours, they’re made by other people.”

Title: The Rest of Us Just Live Here

Author: Patrick Ness

Series: Standalone

Publication: October 6th 2015 by HarperTeen

Pages: 336

Source: Author signing at ALA

Summary from Goodreads:

What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshiped by mountain lions.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

My Thoughts:

What if you weren’t the chosen one? If you’re not the one who gets to go to Narnia, who doesn’t stop the corrupted government, who never gets their acceptance letter to Hogwarts? What if you are perfectly ordinary, just struggling to get through your everyday life? The Rest of Us Just Live Here tackles that idea. It is a poignant satire on Young Adult fiction about finding the extraordinary in your normal, ordinary life – and it was breathtaking.
I’ve never read a book by Patrick Ness before, I have heard of his other works, I just never had the chance to read them. But, now that I have, I fully plan on hunting down the rest of his books and devouring them. His writing is amazing. It is hilarious, thought provoking, and compelling. His words will make you want to cry and to scream with laughter. It will make you feel at home while simultaneously surrounding you with the unknown. It is beautiful.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a story about a boy named Mikey. Mikey lives in a small town, his mother is a politician, his father an alcoholic, his sister someone who has passed on and then come back, and his town is a beacon for supernatural and other strange occurrences that someone special always ends up stopping. Mikey is not your Katniss Everdeen, Tris Prior, or Harry Potter – he is just an ordinary boy struggling through the process of graduating high school and saying goodbye to all of his friends. This book is about him and the trials he faces in his normal life. About him and his OCD, his confusion over who he loves, and his fear of everything changing around him – and it is breathtaking.
I’ve never read a book like this before, about the normal kid, you know? There is always something amazing about the protagonist of a young adult book; be it special powers, a great destiny, or the will to take down those oppressing others. But, Mikey has none of that. Instead, he is perfectly ordinary, just a boy who wants to graduate and go on to college with his best friend. The only thing extraordinary about him is how much he loves his friends (I guess you can say that makes him a chosen one, in a way, but it really doesn’t).
The relationships between the characters in this book are unflinchingly real. They are raw, and a perfect representation of how most people actually are. I felt like I was there with them, like I was a part of the friend group just watching all of this amazing stuff happen. The characters are so multidimensional and Ness beautifully illustrates how every person is different in their own way. Everyone has their flaws, but that doesn’t mean we love them any less – and that is truly what this book is about. It is about finding your place, learning how to be comfortable in your own skin, and it is about forgiveness. The best part about this whole book was that I’m not sure if I even liked the characters, but at the same time it was impossible not to. That was how I knew they were real. They weren’t perfect, their flaws weren’t portrayed as perfect – they were just human beings. They were selfish, cowardly at times, and sometimes downright annoying – but I loved them all the same because they were real.
Patrick Ness has created a complex and layered story here. It deals with realistic issues such as mental illness, sexuality, eating disorders, and overbearing parents – things we all struggle with or have seen someone struggle with. He highlights these things in ways that most authors shy away from. He isn’t afraid of saying what most people think, and he does it in such an artistic way that you don’t know what you’re reading until you’re done.
Overall, there is nothing else to say but to tell you to read this book. I feel very privileged to have gotten a copy of this book, but not only that, to have met the genius behind it. This book calmed me, it made me feel as if everything was going to be alright in my life. I don’t need something extraordinary in my life in order for my life to be special, my life is already special because of the people I surround myself with. You need to read this book, I am not messing around here. Read it, love it, share it – thou shall not disobey.
Also, one last thing, did you guys see the cover? LOOK AT IT! Not only does it glow in the dark, but if you look really closely, you can see some hidden characters. I know for a fact that Edward Cullen and Katniss Everdeen are in the top row. I think that one of them is the girl from Clueless and one of the others might be Hermione. Then, in the bottom row, there is also a werewolf – take your pick as to who you think he is. Do you guys notice any others? Can you name some of the ones I can’t? Let me know in the comments down below.
If you have read this book, what did you think? Did you love it as much as I did? Did you hate it? What other books by Patrick Ness would you recommend?

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