Ready, Set, Review-A-Thon! – Staying On Top

Posted on 22 November, 2012 by Faye - 3 Comments

reviewathon

Last week I wrote a post on how I write reviews in an attempt to give guidelines on review-writing in general. For that post, you can just click here. This week, however, I am going to be coming up with some ideas to help us all stay on top of our reviews once we reach the end of out TBW piles! Of course, these may not work, or they simply may not work for you, but hopefully something will pop out at you.

Just as review-writing is different for everyone, keeping on top of our reviews is also going to be different for everyone. Therefore I have thought up ten ideas on how we can keep on top our review-writing piles. Hopefully in that list, somewhere, you’ll be able  to find something that may just work for you.

  1. Write a review before starting a new book
    Not allowing yourself to start reading a new book until you’ve reviewed the last book you read could be a good way to keep on top of your reviews. If you’re dying to dig into the next book, you’ll see it as the best reward once you’ve written that review!
  2. Write for 30mins a day
    I am thanking Melissa from Melissa’s Midnight Musings for this advice, but simply write for 30mins a day. If you don’t finish your review in that time, don’t worry because you’ll pick up where you left off the day before.
  3. Punish Yourself
    I don’t mean hardcore punishment, but maybe tell yourself you’re not allowed to eat dinner until you’ve written a review, or you’re not allowed to go for your daily run until you’ve written a review. Whatever “punishment” you think will give you enough motivation to get that review written.
  4. Schedule the blog post
    Whether you’ve finished the review or not, schedule it on your blog for a specific date and then publish it. That will give you a time frame. If it’s not finished by that date, you’ll be publishing a blank post or a half-written review and you probably don’t want that!
  5. Catch Up Weekends
    If you’re a full-time worker and can’t find the will-power to review during the week, why not save the reviews for the weekend and then make sure you write ALL your reviews on the weekend before starting a new book on the monday.

Now for a few less-serious suggestions.

  1. Stop Reading More Than One Book At A Time
    If you only read one book at one time then the amount of reviews you accumulate at once will go down right? Therefore making it more manageable. Problem solved.
  2. Put the World on Hold
    Everything else must stop until after you’ve finished writing your review. Then, when it’s all done, you can turn off the timer on the over, get the fire extinguisher and call the emergency services…
  3. Don’t Enter Magnificently Magic Read-a-Thon
    Or any other read-a-thons, for that matter. Because let’s face it, reading many books in a short period of time and not leaving enough time to review them is not going to help you stay on top, is it?
  4. Stop Reading
    You will never be behind on review-writing again! But then again… you’ll probably miss reading the books too… hmmm.
  5. Do another review-a-thon!
    When all else fails, just wait for the announcement and then jump on the bandwagon and hope that you can get back on top, at least for a week or so. ;)

Really, there’s probably no tried and tested theory for keeping on top of your reviews. I know that I have been behind on writing them ever since I started the blog and so I really don’t know how to keep on top of it all, but here’s just hoping that something will work for you.

And if not, see you again in a few months, huh?

Faye

Posted on 22 November, 2012 by Faye - 3 Comments


The Traitors by Tom Becker

Posted on 21 November, 2012 by Faye - 3 Comments

Author: Tom Becker
Publisher: Scholastic
Published: 5th April 2012
Pages: 295
Format: Paperback
Source: ARC from Publishers
Category: YA
Add It: Goodreads, Amazon, TBD

Summary:

Adam has betrayed his best friend and now he must face the consequences. His punishment is 274 years in the Dial, a prison in a notime world, where teenage traitors are forced to atone for their crime. It’s a terrible place, ruled over by a cruel despot, where every day is a struggle for survival – and escape.
Legend has it that only one person has fled the Colditz-like prison. Nobody knows if he made it back to the real world, but he left behind a ray of hope that has reached through the years. Soon Adam is caught up in a deadly plan to escape. But in a world full of traitors, you can trust no one.
A fast paced thriller from the author of Darkside.



An Act is Committed
When I first started reading Traitors by Tom Becker, I had no idea what to expect and I had no idea if this was going to be a book that I would enjoy or one that would fall short. Fortunately, I found myself truly enjoying it. This book holds a unique plot that kept me interested and captivated. If you knew that your betrayal could land you punished for a hundred years, you would probably think twice before you ever betrayed again. This book is full of powerful messages, such as forgiveness, friendship and loyalty and it is the kind of book that can help to warm the cockles of your heart, if you let it.

Punishment Is Given
Being sent to prison is a punishment that every criminal faces whenever they commit a crime. Some may never go there, some may be sent there for the rest of their lives, but no matter the outcome, the prison is always there as the ultimate punishment. But why are we not punished for other humanitarian crimes, such as betrayal of our friends? Those who trample on our hearts and then walk away scott free surely deserve some form of punishment? Here is the premise of Becker’s Traitors. Anyone who has ever betrayed a friend in some way or other is taken away to an unknown prison where they must serve their sentence, which is often for a couple of hundred years. This premise is definitely an intriguing one and one that I really enjoyed reading about and really worked for this story.

Adam has been imprisoned for betraying his friend, and at first he is shocked and bewildered by it all, not really sure what is going on. Then, as the story progresses, and more plot twists and turns are brought to the surface, this book takes on a whole new level. Adam must learn the power of loyalty and forgiveness while serving his sentence but he also finds himself understanding friendship, and ultimately, his own betrayal. The plot of this story is compelling and captivating and one that just keeps you turning the page. I found myself needing to know what was going to happen next, wondering if Adam’s bravery will shine through or if he’ll cower under the magnitude of it all. It is a plot that does not disappoint.

Personalities Are Changed
This novel held many different, unique and interesting characters. They were all well-captured and really held my interest throughout the book. There were a few stereotypical types but it worked within the story because it wasn’t a stereotypical story. It needed those characters we know to look for to help make it appear more realistic. After all, what’s a prison without a few characters who are continuously trying to escape? Or the one that manages to get everything for everyone? What wasn’t stereotypical, were the personalities attached to the stereotypes. Everyone had their own thoughts, their own way of moving and even when they were a mass of characters; it was good to have a feel for each individual in the room. It was the characters who bled the story, without them, it wouldn’t have been as exciting or interesting, and I have a feeling that these characters will be wholly identifiable to younger audiences as well.

Adam was our protagonist and he was such an interesting character. He had betrayed his friend, so already the reader is not sure if they should like him but then you can feel his suffering, you can see he’s trying to reach out to his friend but it doesn’t go the way he planned. Sure, he made a mistake, but doesn’t everyone do that from time to time? Then, as the story progresses and we truly see the full side of Adam, it is hard not to admire him. He has his fears, his flaws and his worries but he is also a strong character, with motivation and a willingness to go that extra step. He cares for his new friends and even if he dies in the process, he will do anything he can to save them. It is clear that Adam is, essentially, a good guy who has just made mistakes that he feels guilty and shameful for but that doesn’t mean he should have been punished, does it?

Until Their Time Is Up
If there is one thing that Tom Becker does exceedingly well, it is keeping the action and tension at an all time high throughout the book. There is always something happening, always something that keeps the reader turning page after page. It is therefore simple to state that this book is action-packed. This helps to make the book more exciting and interesting. The reader is always wondering what will happen next, while secretly thanking the gods that there aren’t many dull, boring moments where nothing happens. Becker has managed to get the right balance of things, which occurs through plot-twists and loopholes. Some of the occurrences are predictable, but since I am not the target-audience for this book, I can understand why I would feel that way but I truly believe that the younger children and adults that read this book will love every second of it.

And Peace Is Restored
Overall, this was a book that I really enjoyed. It kept me rooted to my seat, unwilling to put the book down to do ordinary tasks, such as eating, and it was a book that I read fairly quickly which doesn’t happen very often. Yet, despite this enjoyment, it wasn’t one of my favourite stories in the world, but I can see that it would be thoroughly enjoyed by its target audience. This book has many messages and themes to spill, words of advice and guidance to share, and an action-packed story to keep it all from being boring and mundane. I have a feeling that it will be a book that will be widely adored with the younger generation who have always wanted to have a life full of that much action. It is well-written, interesting and entertaining, there really isn’t much more that anyone could ask for in a book. I would recommend this book to children aged thirteen and up, but I still think there is something for adults to enjoy as well. I know I enjoyed it.

Four Stars
four out of five hearts

** I received this copy from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. **

Faye

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Posted on 21 November, 2012 by Faye - 3 Comments


Ready, Set, Review-A-Thon; Hollie Speaks

Posted on 20 November, 2012 by Faye - No Comments

Holliespotlight

Hey Guys!
So today I have a wonderful guest post for you all by the amazing, Hollie from Music, Books, and Tea! (My blogger spotlight!)
She has been participating in the RSReview-A-Thon this month and has written a post on her lack of motivation for reviews.
Hope you enjoy!

reviewathon

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As a book blogger, reviews are pretty much the backbone of my blog. Let’s face it; no-one is going to just read a blog full of memes. And I like the thought of expressing my opinions on the books that I’ve read. So why do I find it so damn hard to write them? Why do I procrastinate so badly on them?

I love writing reviews. I really do. The thought that someone is reading my thoughts on a book, and that my review might convince them into reading the book, like so many reviews have done for me is kind of exhilarating if you ask me. When I first started out blogging, my reviews were horrible. Just horrible. I didn’t have a clue what to write about, but I just wrote about what I’d want to read if I was reading the review myself. (Did that even make sense?!) Eventually, I worked out what was necessary in my review. And that was great.

My next problem is my lack of inspiration. I go into review writing with all guns blazing, excited to get into my blogging mode. But when I open up Windows Live Writer and load up my review template, my inspiration just leaves. It quite literally seems to go up in a puff of smoke. Which is incredibly frustrating. I never know how to start my reviews off, so I normally waste nearly an hour trying to figure out the perfect opening paragraph, instead of just leaving that to the end, after the rest of the review is written.

But it’s not only inspiration for my opening that I lack; I also have a thing about not planning my reviews. Sometimes, I draft my reviews before I write them. These reviews are the quickest reviews I’ll ever write, believe me. Everything is planned, all my points are set out nicely, I just need to flesh them out and I’m good to go. But I rarely draft my reviews. And the reason for that is extremely childish. But drafting reminds me of all those English GCSE essays I tirelessly planned, and I really don’t need those flashbacks. Blogging is for fun, it shouldn’t remind me of my stressful school years!

And don’t get me started on reviewing books that I really like. I just can’t do it. I just want to write down all the good points and why I loved each and every one of them, meaning that my reviews would be novels in themselves. I find it a lot easier to write reviews about books that I had problems with, because I can keep them short, concise and to the point. But with those books that I loved, I just ramble on and on and on. Then I have to cull the parts that aren’t needed. Then I rewrite them in because my review just doesn’t look right without them. It’s a vicious cycle I can’t get out of.

So, what’s the solution to all this? Read only books I dislike? No. Try some different form of reviewing? Possibly. Give up writing reviews altogether? Never. No, the solution is to just keep writing them. Eventually, you’ll see improvement. You’ll work out a way to write your reviews. And then reviewing will become a piece of cake. (I’m still waiting to get to that point!)


Thank you Hollie for that post! I hope that one day review-writing becomes a lot easier for you! How do you keep motivated to write reviews? Do you have any tips for us all?

Faye

Posted on 20 November, 2012 by Faye - No Comments


Undertow by Callie Kingston (+Giveaway!)

Posted on 19 November, 2012 by Faye - 4 Comments

Undertow Banner

Hey Guys!
So today I am the tour stop for the Undertow book tour! I have for you a review in which I explain fully why this book is one you should read, and then there is also a giveaway for you to enter and win your own copy of the book.
Enjoy!

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Author: Callie Kingston
Publisher: Carolwood Press
Published: Jan 1st 2012
Pages: 286
Format: Ebook
Category: New Adult/Young Adult
Source: Complimentary Copy from Author for tour
Add It: Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords

Summary:

While she sleeps beside a log on the wild Oregon coast, a rogue wave pulls Marissa into the sea. Now she dreams each night of a merman who rescues her. Obsessed with returning to this beautiful creature, she again risks her life in the frigid ocean.
Will Marissa remain lost forever in the eddies of her mind, or can real love save her from the abyss? Sometimes, the dangers which lie within are the deadliest.



The Tide Rolls In
It would be impossible to start this review without mentioning that this book is not what you may expect it to be. Or, it wasn’t what I expected it to be, but in a good way. With my expectations blown out of the water, excuse the pun, this book took on a powerful and intriguing tone that had me truly captivated. I found myself needing to know what was going on, how would it all end up? I practically read this book in one sitting because I simply had to know. The story, the words, the characters, all had me completely and utterly mystified and I loved every second of the journey it took me on. There were a few issues I had with the book, but over all, it was one that kept me fascinated and interested and as soon as I finally finished it, I was left with a smirk on my face and a strong feeling towards the book I had just read.

The Waves Rush Over
There are some books that we read, that are intentionally trying to get us to think, they’re trying to point us in a direction and to give us words of advice and wisdom. Then there are the other books that simply do this by accident, leaving the reader stunned and mystified. In my opinion, Undertow, is the kind of book that creeps up on the reader at the end, not one that has a blatant message throughout it. This is what I liked about it. It wasn’t obvious or in your face, there were a lot of questions that the reader needs answered and these make it impossible not to turn the page and continue reading. Callie has definitely managed to write a story that allows the reader to be mystified by everything, not entirely certain as to where things are finally going to end up. It was well and truly captivating.

Weak Swimmers Drown
One of the things that I feel can make or break a novel, is the characters. While I wasn’t particularly fond of some of the secondary characters, I found Marissa to be truly fascinating to read. It was interesting to read a book in a perspective such as hers, to feel like the world is looking at you, thinking you’re acting crazy while showing the reader how sane it seems to the person. It was so interesting and intriguing and really made the story for me. Marissa had issues, she had recurring dreams, a horrid past and she was just trying to get through her life without drowning – both physically and emotionally. I loved her strength and her weaknesses and how it was possible to see through it all. She had a lot to deal with and she did it admirably.

Pulled Under
There were parts of the plot that I had issues with, the way that the characters handled our main protagonist irritated me, but I feel that this was supposed to happen. I only hoped that there could have been more of a way to see that things were changing at the end. I also wasn’t a fan of the way that Jim and Marissa got together. It wasn’t insta-love, which is one thing I really can’t stand, but it didn’t feel very natural to me and that was a little off-putting. Fortunately, however, these small snags with the plot didn’t stop me from reading and I feel that they’re likely to be cherished by other readers as the problems I had with them were all wholly personal. I also felt that it got a little slow towards the end of the book, I understood by the end that it was necessary, but I was tempted too many times to put the book down and not finish as I was nearing the end. It simply didn’t work for me at all. Until, that is, I got to the end and then everything that went on before it changed entirely as the ending was completely and utterly stunning.

By The Current
All in all, Undertow, was a book that I found entirely fascinating and one that I would recommend to others. It had its flaws and I can understand that this story is definitely one that will not be for everyone, but I personally found it to be a captivating and thought-provoking read. It kept me entertained, it was mysterious and it also dealt with a very serious and heavy topic. It may not be my most favourite read this year, but it is definitely one that will stick with me for a while and I feel it is one that others should at least give a go. I’m glad that I read this book, and I have a feeling that you will be too. It is a story that makes you think, with a strong protagonist, an interesting and intriguing plot and an ending that truly packs a punch. The writing and characters felt a little forced at times, but these are simply minor blips on the radar.

Three Stars
three out of five stars

** I received this copy from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. **

Faye


Giveaway Details!

And for the moment you’ve all been waiting for, probably, details on how to get your hands on an e-copy of this book!
There will be one lucky winner and this is open Internationally!
To enter, all you need to do is comment below with a way to contact you (E-mail, Twitter, Goodreads, other).
Following is not necessary for this giveaway, but is always appreciated.
CLOSES: 26th Nov 2012
Please follow my Giveaway Policy

Posted on 19 November, 2012 by Faye - 4 Comments


Ready, Set, Review-A-Thon! – Updates #2!

Posted on 18 November, 2012 by Faye - 2 Comments

reviewathon

Hello fellow Review-A-Thon-ers!
Welcome to the second update post.
This is basically just a post where I will let you all know how it’s going so far for me and then there is a linky list at the bottom for you to add your updates too! Feel free to just update your goal posts and link them below :-)

What was my target?
20 reviews

How many have I written this week?
3 reviews

How many have I written altogether?
6 reviews

What reviews?
Crusher by Niall Leonard
Flesh by Khanh Ha
Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
Spook House by Michael West
Undertow by Callie Kingston
The Traitors by Tom Becker

Reviews Left?
14 reviews

Once again, I am disappointed in how many reviews I found the time to write, especially since my NaNo hasn’t been going anywhere and I’ve read more books this week but I got ill and just haven’t had the motivation to spend too much time on the laptop. I’m really hoping this will change next week!
I hope I can write seven reviews this week, and then the final seven in the final week. Fingers crossed for me?

Also, we will hopefully be sorting out the times of the Twitter Chat this week, and we will notify all participants STRAIGHT away!

And, in case you missed it, I also wrote a guest post on Review Writing, here
Upcoming this week are two more guest posts as well on Tuesday and Thursday!

How are you all doing?

Posted on 18 November, 2012 by Faye - 2 Comments


Blogspiration #25; You ARE Amazing.

Posted on 18 November, 2012 by Faye - 9 Comments

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & Saz101. This meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers and writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the authors choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.


Last year, while I was struggling through NaNoWriMo for the first time, I was in the presence of a brilliant ML who was really great at bringing people together and keeping them motivated. During our write-ins, we did a task where we took a word count out of the “box of doom”, which could have been something easy like 100-250 words, or it could have been monstrous like 800-1200 words, which we then had to write in 20 minutes. If you succeeded in reaching your word goal, you were given a sticker. Just a small, yet effective, reward to praise your efforts.

It is three of these stickers that I am highlighting today. They helped me last year and I love the meaning of them and hope that for anyone participating in NaNoWriMo, or well, just anyone else, it helps you a little bit too!

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So, whenever you’re struggling to reach your goal, or just struggling to find the positive side of things just remember these three things;

Whatever you think you are, you are MORE than that.

Your Story Matters.

You are part monkey, part ninja, part stairmaster cyborg.

Because let’s face it, it’s true! You ARE Amazing.

Faye

Posted on 18 November, 2012 by Faye - 9 Comments


What I Write, Why I Write by David Blalock

Posted on 17 November, 2012 by Faye - 2 Comments

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Hey Guys!
So today I am introducing you to the brilliant David Blalock, author of Angelkiller and Traitor Angel.
He has written you a great post on what he writes and why he writes. It is entertaining and interesting and I hope you like it.
Hope it helps you get a better insight into him and his novel!

Like just about every writer, I am often asked where I get my ideas. Unlike most writers, I seldom give a flippant answer. Usually I refer to observation and interpolation, but the truth of the matter is I get my ideas from…

But, let me talk about characters in fantasy. I find the current fascination with the undead perplexing. What is it about zombies that has generated such a mystique? Is it a symptom of a society that is so inured to violent death that it wants to deny death is a finality? Honestly, I don’t understand it. On the other hand, the reason might be…

You know, I’ve been writing for a very long time. Concentration, being able to string a coherent series of thoughts into a marketable story, is critical to my success as an author. I spend lots of time working on plots and outlines to…

But I was talking about fantasy characters. I don’t like writing about vampires or werewolves, and definitely not about zombies. They’re boring. The traditional ones don’t have the ability to think, and they certainly aren’t given to doubting themselves, looking for a cure for their condition, or relationships with normal people. The idea that a regular person would want to even kiss a corpse that spends its nights in a coffin, or eats human flesh…

So I write fantasy, but my monsters are monsters, not boy or girlfriends. The villains I use are real villains, not emotionally stunted or misunderstood. The heroes are heroic and self-sacrificing. I believe in creating stories that pull emotions from the reader, and even though people don’t want to admit it, they react most strongly to strong characters that know who they are and what they’re doing.

We want to identify with people who don’t have our problems and there is just too much fiction today, in book and movie form, that doesn’t provide that. Rather than allowing us to suspend our disbelief for a while and become part of a clear-cut conflict with a real, lasting solution, it drags us further into the turmoil we see around us every day.

I write to give the reader escape. If you want to bury yourself in the soap opera of everyday, then my writing isn’t for you. If you want fiction with a positive message, where people fight with courage and dedication, whether they win or not, then you should read my books.


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In Traitor Angel, the second book of the Angelkiller Triad, the war between The Army of Light and The Enemy continues behind the scenes. Unknown to the general population, the battle for control of humanity is heating up.

Jonah Mason, called Angelkiller, faces more than one decision. His Army resistance cell is wounded physically and emotionally, on the brink of falling apart. The mysterious allies calling themselves Knights are pressuring him to abandon his people. Meanwhile, the world outside draws closer to Armageddon.

As Mason and his friends pursue their campaign against Dorian Azrael’s global megacorporation, Andlat Enterprises, the stakes get higher with each desperate foray into the enemy’s computers. They are fated to lose one of their number and gain an unlikely ally, but any advantage they gain could be fleeting at best.

If they fail, it could mean the end of The Army and all resistance to the forces of Darkness.

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H. David Blalock has been writing speculative fiction for nearly 40 years. His work has appeared in print and online in over three dozen publications, spanning every format from short stories to novels, non-fiction articles to screenplays. He is also editor of _parABnormal Digest_ for Sam’s Dot Publishing. To find out more visit his website at www.thrankeep.com.

Posted on 17 November, 2012 by Faye - 2 Comments


Behind the Blog #27 – It’s the End of the World

Posted on 16 November, 2012 by Faye - 6 Comments

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Behind the Blog is a meme to help bloggers connect their life and interests to the content showcased on their blog. The co-hosts, Faye, Kathe, and Melissa will provide a different topic, idea, or question every week that bloggers can relate to themselves and the books, films, or other media they find interesting!

This week we have a FREE WEEK! That means you can write about whatever you feel like! If you want to write about the same topics as us, feel free!
I have decided to write about dystopian books. Why do I read them? What do I like about them? If I was the heroine in a dystopian world, would I be able to rise up to the challenge? What would I do to stay alive?


The dystopian genre has been around for a really long time but recently it seems to have taken off and become increasingly popular. With The Hunger Games hitting the big screen this year, our generation has been dying to read more dystopian stories – that or the publishers are just putting more effort into advertising them, anyway. Because everyone wants to read books that hold the same punch as the trilogy that has quickly taken the reading – and now watching – world by a mighty storm. Even adults have been picking up the trilogy, ones that very rarely read YA, and reading it through to the very end.

I have, along with the rest of the world, also found myself loving dystopia’s. As far as I am aware, I did not read any as I grew up, my books generally about fantasy worlds, or crime or contemporary. Dystopian books were really not on my radar at all. But ever since reading The Hunger Games, I have been on the lookout for other great dystopian reads. So why did I find myself so attracted to the genre? For me, it was the idea of hope in the midst of all the depression and destruction. A world in which people are suffering, are fighting to simply eat a loaf of bread and yet there is still this pile of positive hope, a mass of people willing to give up everything to make things better. There is something so… amazing about that, isn’t there?

That is why I like reading dystopian books. Not because I like seeing how the world may turn out, not because I’m pessimistic and like reading negative stories, but because I like reading great stories with amazing heroines and heroes who will stand up when no one else will. I like knowing that even when the world is in absolute chaos, there will always be some hope, some kind of positivity to keep everything and everyone strong. Because this is what humanity is, it is what humanity should always be.

But what if I lived in a dystopian world?
This is the question. After reading many dystopian stories with strong heroines and heroes, I had to ask myself what I would do in their position. If I was Katniss, would I have had the strength to stay until the end, to fight until it was done? If I was Tris, would I have been able to continue going or would I have crumpled and folded? If I was at the center of it all, would I command an army, stand to attention, or hide in the shadows and hope that things would simply go back to normal on their own?

I’d like to think that I had the strength of a heroine, I’d like to believe that when push came to shove I would stand tall and keep battling on, but I’m not so sure it would be that way at all. Many people may be able to talk the talk, but when it comes down to it, very few people would actually be able to walk the walk. And as I can sometimes get scared and fearful just walking home in the dark, or even just walking around London on my own, I struggle to believe that I would have what it took to truly do what the heroines in these dystopian stories do. I’m more likely to be a Primrose character, ready and willing to walk into the game, knowing I will likely die before my sister steps forward and tributes for me.

But then I think about my family and my loved ones and all my resolutions change completely because I would do anything for them. If I had them in my mind, if what I was doing was to save them or to help them or to honour them, then I wouldn’t even blink. I have had large arguments with people who have been horrible to my sisters, I have been filled with an uncontrollable rage when they tell me about people who have hurt them and so if it was MY sister who had been pulled out of that glass dish, I would have done exactly what Katniss had done, and volunteered for tribute. I may not have the guts to do it for myself, but I sure as hell would do it for them.

So maybe I could survive a dystopian world, but only if I had fuel to keep me going. If it was only my back that needed saving, I would probably just grit my teeth and bear it. Does that make me as strong as these amazing characters in the dystopian stories? Maybe, or maybe not. But all I can do is pray that I will never have to actually find out.

Do you think you have what it takes?


Some dystopian books that I have read and absolutely adored.

Hunger Games Cover   Divergent   The Immortal Rules

Fire City   Breathe

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins; A brilliant trilogy with a truly heroic heroine. The book that got me into reading dystopian stories!

Divergent by Veronica Roth; One of my favourite books, of all time, this dystopian turned my world upside down. It was amazingly written, had one hell of a kick-ass heroine and just had everything anyone could ask for in a story.

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa; After reading this vampire dystopian story, I struggled to enjoy her Iron Fey series as much as I should because this story was stunning and a thousand times better.

Fire City by Bali Rai; A world being run by dragons… is there anything more terrifying than that? Oh yes, a world being run by demons. This book was spectacular and one that I truly enjoyed.

Breathe by Sarah Crossan; Amazing. The best word to describe this story. A unique storyline, a unique dystopian world and some brilliant, fiery heroes and heroines to keep you on your toes!


And here’s a list of dystopian books I want to read. A few of these I own, a few I will be getting from the library or purchasing soon!

The Declaration Trilogy by Gemma Malley
Partials by Dan Wells
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner
The Gone Series by Michael Grant
The Other Life by Suzanne Whinnaker
The Aftertime Series by Sophie Littlefield
Slated by Teri Terry

If you have any other suggestions for me, I’d love to hear them! What are your favourite dystopian stories? Share all!


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Posted on 16 November, 2012 by Faye - 6 Comments


Ready, Set, Review-A-Thon; Review Writing Help

Posted on 15 November, 2012 by Faye - 1 Comment

reviewathon

Just as every chef cooks differently, every driver drives differently, and every author writes differently, reviewers all review differently. Some find it easier to take notes while they read to make the reviews easier, some have to review the book straight after finishing the book, some have to wait awhile to let the book sink in properly, some cannot, or will not, start another book until the review of the previous book is written. But these are all the whens of writing reviews, and today I am here to tell you about the hows and whats.

Most likely, if you’re participating in Ready, Set, Review-A-Thon you have written a review before, in fact, a lot of the people reading this have also probably written a review before – I know I was forced to write reviews in school. And I am not here to tell you that how I write a review is the way to do it, because it’s not. I am not the best reviewer out there, I don’t have all the answers, and I really don’t want to see copycats of my work out there. But I am here today to give some guidelines, hopefully they’ll help you at least a little. But if they’re not helpful at all, I do apologise!


The First Thing
The first thing that I do after finishing a book is give it a rating. I know that not everyone that reviews books rates them, but I find that it’s necessary for me to do so. But before you can truly give your book a rating, you must work out your rating scheme. Are you a rater who uses .5’s, or do you want to rate out of 10 instead of five? Every reviewer will have their own rating scheme, you need to work out what fits for you and stick with it.

Personally, I rate using 5 stars, and I never award half rates. It’s either a three star rating or a four star rating, never a three point five rating. The reason I do this is because I feel that if you’re reviewing out of five, there should be five options, not ten. Otherwise you might as well mark it out of ten and give the book a 7. In my eyes, the system of five stars is to really separate the works out. Too many of my books would be .5 rates if I worked that way but by forcing myself to ignore that rating, I have to think more. Am I giving this a .5 rating because it’s a little bit better than a 3 but a little worse than a 4? So should I give it a 3 or 4? How far below a 4 is it? How far away from a 3 is it? These questions I must answer before I finally decided. I would then normally explain why I went one way or the other in my actual review.

Initial Thoughts
With my rating next to the book title, I then write down in a draft document my initial thoughts on the book. What did I like? What did I dislike? How did I feel when I was reading it? How has it, since I read it, affected my life? Was it a new genre to me? A new take on an old genre? Anything and everything that I first thing of when it comes to the book I read gets placed into this draft document. This will become the basis of my review. Most likely, a lot of what is initial described will end up in the first opening paragraph of my review, the one where I explain quickly what was good, or not good, about the book.

Structure
This is something that not every reviewer does. But I tend to structure my reviews. Not strictly, but just enough so that I know what I need to write about as the bulk of my reviews. My structure is more like an idea of talking points, as opposed to a tried and trialled method that I follow for each and every review. After all, every book is different and therefore every review you write is likely to be different too.

What I do is give myself some sub-headings. If you’ve seen any of my reviews, you’ll note that these headings actually stay when I post the reviews. They, however, are never as interesting as they are in the final draft! My subheadings usually consist of a number of these topics; plot, writing style, world-building, characters, creatures, ending, plot-twist, etc. It all depends on the book itself and what is needed to be mentioned. After all, there would be no point talking about the world-building in a contemporary book review, would there?

With these titles, I then aim to write one to two paragraphs per sub-heading. I generally ask myself relatable questions, what did I like about the sub-heading? What didn’t I like? What would others like? How did it affect the book as a whole? So on, and so forth. Just getting the words onto the page. Once it’s all complete, I then go over the paragraphs, work out what I want to keep, what I want to get rid of and just make sure that it looks like a good review.

The Final Step
With all of the review heavily edited in word, I then open up Windows Live Writer and open up my review template. This is basically just all the other information I post with my review, the cover, the publisher, date, format, etc. I enter in all the relevant data for the review in hand and then I copy and paste the review into WLW below all of that.

Then I think up creative and relatable headings for my sub-headings and add them in. Then it’s just a case of doing a bit of formatting and coding and then scheduling. But that is not necessary to talk about here!


Recap
So, and again, I reiterate that I am not saying you should do this, but simply giving you a guideline that you may wish to follow if you want. But of course, guidelines are meant to broken.

  1. Give that book a rating!
  2. Write down all those initial thoughts!
  3. Use sub-headings!
  4. Answer specific questions for the sub-headings, one-two paragraphs each!
  5. Edit!
  6. Format!
  7. Publish!

And that is how I write my reviews. It may not be the most original way of doing things, but it is something that I just do. It feels natural to me and it works and that is really the best thing. You need to find a routine, or structure, or just way of review writing that works for you and everything else should just happily fall into place. I hope that this post will help you in some way.


Here are some other reviewers’ views on structuring reviews, just as proof that each and every reviewer is completely different.

review structure1

review structure 2

review structure3

So go out there, experiment over and over, and eventually you’ll find something that will continuously work. It took a while before I got to this point, and even with this I still struggle to keep on top of my reviews, but next week I’ll have a post up with ideas on how to stay on top once we are there!

Faye

Posted on 15 November, 2012 by Faye - 1 Comment


Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

Posted on 14 November, 2012 by Faye - 3 Comments

Author: Sarah Cross
Publisher: Egmont
Published: April 10th 2012
Pages: 336
Format: Ebook
Source: ARC from Netgalley.com
Add It: Goodreads, Amazon, TBD

Summary:

Mirabelle’s past is shrouded in secrecy, from her parents’ tragic deaths to her guardians’ half-truths about why she can’t return to her birthplace, Beau Rivage. Desperate to see the town, Mira runs away a week before her sixteenth birthday—and discovers a world she never could have imagined.

In Beau Rivage, nothing is what it seems—the strangely pale girl with a morbid interest in apples, the obnoxious playboy who’s a beast to everyone he meets, and the chivalrous guy who has a thing for damsels in distress. Here, fairy tales come to life, curses are awakened, and ancient stories are played out again and again.

But fairy tales aren’t pretty things, and they don’t always end in happily ever after. Mira has a role to play, a fairy tale destiny to embrace or resist. As she struggles to take control of her fate, Mira is drawn into the lives of two brothers with fairy tale curses of their own . . . brothers who share a dark secret. And she’ll find that love, just like fairy tales, can have sharp edges and hidden thorns.


A Tale Begins
Every now and again, we find ourselves instantly attached to a book cover and a powerful synopsis and we suddenly feel this urge to have that book in our lives so that we can devour it and love it as we are certain we will. More often than not, we’re right in our thoughts and those books soon become our most treasured possessions, but then there are the odd few books that actually fall off the mark and fill us with a deep feeling of regret. If we hadn’t become so attached to that beautiful cover and shimmering synopsis then the book would normally not feel like such a disappointment but as it is, it does. I, unfortunately, felt this way about Kill Me Softly. I was so drawn by the cover and synopsis of this book that I was so certain that this was going to be the book for me so when I didn’t love it as much as I believed I would, I felt extremely deflated. After giving it some time to settle, however, I do know that I did enjoy the book and it did have its good qualities, and it would have been a book I enjoyed a lot more if I hadn’t felt so attached to it before I began.

With Twists and Turns
This novel has a very interesting plot. Fairy tales that we have grown up knowing about, and probably loving, are all coming true. But they’re not the nice happy-ending tales that we know about. These tales are cursed, or rather, the people who are marked to play out the stories are cursed and there is nothing they can do to stop the inevitable curses from happening. Fairy-tales are made out to be deadly and alarming, after all, would you want to fall unconscious from a prick and never be awoken for a hundred years? In all honesty, I loved the concept of this novel, I thought it held a lot of potential but for me, it just didn’t work. I can’t exactly pinpoint what went wrong for me but I just didn’t enjoy this aspect of the story. It was definitely interesting and I know that some people will really like it but it just didn’t work for me.

As for the plot itself, I am on the fence about it. There were parts of the story that I really liked and kept me captivated but there were also parts that I just didn’t like. The way Mira behaved throughout the novel annoyed me and as she was the main compass of the story, it was very hard for me to really like it. I enjoyed the way the other characters interacted with each other, liked the way that they all stuck together despite their predicaments and there were moments that I found truly fascinating but it was never enough to make me love the book as much as I wanted to. However, I did enjoy this book enough to continue turning the page and not giving up on the book entirely. It was an entertaining read, if just gruelling in places.

And Interesting People
As mentioned above, Mira was a character that I really struggled to like. She actually really grated on my nerves. All of her actions just made me roll my eyes and I couldn’t get behind her at all. I started out liking her, she was a girl on a mission and she was willing to break the rules to get what she wanted, needed to know but as the story continued I found her to be irritating and petty. She acted like she had no thoughts of her own, fell into the arms of the first gorgeous guy and that was the end of that. Yeah… no… just did not work for me at all. She was a bit of a better character by the end of the story but overall, she just wasn’t a character that I really cared for.

Blue, on the other hand, I adored. It was easy to see that he had a dark history and didn’t like people getting attached. He had depth to his character and I really admired how he was. He was quick to temper but he had his reasons for it and he wanted to help Mira but at the same time, he knew that he couldn’t and shouldn’t. He was definitely a character that I enjoyed reading about and helped to make the story more entertaining for me. Freddie was another reason I kept reading, he was so cute and brave and shy all at the same time. He knew he had a role to play and he’s been waiting to play it since he was born. A brilliant character who felt well-written and true.

Until It Is Over
Overall, this is a well-written novel that holds a lot of potential but just didn’t hit the mark and create the spark for me. It was enjoyable and had a really interesting concept and a plot that kept me turning the page. The ending was definitely intriguing but it wasn’t enough to keep me interested so if there is another story after this one, I probably wouldn’t read it. I can see how other people would like this book but I just couldn’t get into it myself. I am glad that I took the time to read this book as it was a beautifully written novel, I just didn’t particularly like the main protagonist and that really made the book harder to full enjoy. If you’re looking for a novel that has a unique concept, a dark feel and an action-filled story then this is the book for you and I hope that you will enjoy it a lot more than I did.

Three Stars
three out of five hearts

Faye

** I received this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review **

Posted on 14 November, 2012 by Faye - 3 Comments