Monthly Archives: September 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Series You Didn’t Finish

Top Ten Tuesday is a cool meme created by the people over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten series I haven’t finished – for whatever reason.

Gee, there are so many series that I haven’t finished yet. We’ll start with the series that I intend to finish but just haven’t gotten around to yet. All links take you to the GoodReads page for the first book in the series.

1. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
My boyfriend introduced me to this series, and I’ve enjoyed most of what I’ve read, even if it can be a bit sexist at times. That said, each book is like 800 pages long, and there are like twelve books in the series or something like that, and I’m only on book three – so I’ll probably be reading this series for a while.

2. Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
I really enjoyed the first book in this series. However, I’ve been focusing more on the types of books that I would want to write lately, so I haven’t been reading that much fantasy lately.

3. The Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling
Oh, look, another fantasy series I started reading, really enjoyed, but haven’t gotten around to finishing yet. There are at least five books currently in this series (though it’s possible there’s a sixth one out), and I’ve only read the first four. I absolutely loved the first three, enjoyed the fourth one, and then a huge chunk of time passed between when I read the fourth and bought the fifth, and it’s been so long that I forgot what happened. I feel like I should reread the first ones before I attempt the most recent, but rereading a book when my TBR list is so long seems stupid, so I haven’t really attempted this book in a long time.

4. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
Okay, I swear that all of the books on this list won’t be fantasy. 😀 That said, I love this series. They’re clever and interesting and funny, and they always keep me guessing. There are just so many of them, and I haven’t been reading as much fantasy lately (as previously stated). I do, however, have every intention of finishing this series, as it really is great.

5. The Coffeehouse Myseries by Cleo Coyle
I’ve read three of these books so far, and I’ve enjoyed them for the most part. Sadly, this is a series that you really can’t read back to back, as there’s so much repetition. The characters are interesting, and they’re quick reads, but they don’t hold my interest quite like the other books on the top part of this list. I’ll probably get around to reading more of them, but they’re not high up on my list.

6. Divergent series by Veronica Roth
I enjoyed the first book. I have every intention to read the next book. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. The copy I reserved from the library is in, though, so I’ll probably be starting the next one in the next few days.

And now for the book series that I probably won’t be finishing.

7. Matched series by Ally Condie
I read the first book in the series, and I thought it was all right. I don’t understand why so many people love it, but it was interesting enough. I’m not sure if I’ll get around to reading the second two books in the series, but it’s a possibility.

8. Fifty Shades series by E.L. James
I didn’t hate the first book like a lot of people did, but I also can’t find myself interested in it enough to keep reading the series. I’m not going to say that I’ll never finish it, but I definitely don’t see myself reading it any time soon.

9. Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer
This is definitely a series that I didn’t finish because I didn’t like it. I read the first one so that I could judge it fairly. The second one I read because I heard that it wasn’t as bad as the first one. The third and forth ones I just couldn’t bring myself to read. If I ever do get around to reading them, it would be so that I could properly insult the entire series. Since there are many better uses for my time, it’s a safe bet to say that I will not be finishing this series.

10. The Unicorn Chronicles by Bruce Coville
I loved the first book when I was younger. I remember my friend in second grade trying to get me to read it, and it wasn’t until I was in fifth grade that I finally got around to reading it, and I loved it, but I couldn’t find the next books in the series anywhere. I recently found the entire series at the library, but I could no longer finish it. It just didn’t interest me the same as it did when I was younger. I was sad about that, but I couldn’t force myself to read three more books just to relive my childhood. It wasn’t worth it. But young kids might still enjoy them!

What about the rest of you? Any series that you started but didn’t finish? Did you not finish because you didn’t like them, or because you just haven’t gotten around to it yet?

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Book 42: What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang

Title: What’s Left of Me
Author: Kat Zhang
Page Count:
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Young adult dystopia

Rating: 8/10

Summary from goodreads:
Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

Opinion:
I’ve heard so many great things about this book that I was almost afraid to read it. I was afraid that it wouldn’t live up to the hype and that I’d be left with another book that I had to force myself to finish. While it didn’t quite live up to my expectations, I’m glad to say that I still enjoyed it.

I’ll start with the characters. Zhang does a great job of creating two distinct voices in the same body. I can’t imagine what it would be like to share a body with my sister, but Eva and Addie manage it beautifully. They still fight, as is to be expected, but they still look out for each other. I found both characters to be believable. We didn’t get as much of an insight into the other characters, but we still learned enough about them to make them seem real, at least for the most part. The government workers were the stereotypical bad guys for the most part, but it sort of worked. And I could definitely understand why her parents made the choices they made.

The world building was interesting. I still don’t exactly understand everything, like why they’ve decided that hybrids are so dangerous, but this is only book one of the series, so I’m hoping to learn more about it in later books. As it stands now, we get a great view of how things are now but not really much of a view about how things got that way.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I wasn’t so wrapped up in the book that I couldn’t put it down, but at the same time I was never bored. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, whenever it comes out. This book brought up a lot of interesting ties to our world, and I’m interested in seeing what the next book adds to it.

Book 41: If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for this book. I was going to try to write this review without giving anything away, but there were so many things that bothered me about this book that I figured I would just go ahead and share all my thoughts. Read at your own risk. You have been warned.

Title: If I Lie
Author: Corrine Jackson
Page Count: 276
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Young adult contemporary

Rating: 5/10

Summary from goodreads:
Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.

Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.

Opinion:
I had high hopes for this book. The premise sounded interesting, and I immediately wanted to know what the secret was that Quinn was keeping. I had a theory, but that theory didn’t really make sense, so I was hoping I was wrong. I wasn’t. And not only was I not wrong, but they told us the big “secret” like 20 pages into the book, which took away my main motivation for wanting to read it. The only reason I kept reading it was because I wanted to give the author the benefit of the doubt – I hoped that there was going to be something at the end, some fact revealed, that explained why the truth was worth lying about.

I shouldn’t have wasted my time.

There were only two likable characters in this entire novel: George and Cole, Quinn’s father. George is a feisty old guy who entertained me, and Cole seemed like a real person. He was flawed, sure, but he was flawed in a believable way. I don’t really expect every similar father/daughter relationship to end up this way or anything, but I could believe that it was possible. He’s not this horrible guy. He’s a Marine who doesn’t know how to relate to his teenage daughter who reminds him of his cheating wife. I don’t agree with everything he does, but he’s trying, and he grows, and that’s what counts. I actually really liked her father. I would never want to marry him or live with him, but I enjoyed reading about him.

But that was it. I hated Quinn. Even at the end of the book, I can’t understand why she did what she did. I understand not telling everyone his secret, as that’s not her business to tell, but she completely ignores the fact that SHE COULD HAVE SIMPLY TOLD PEOPLE THAT THEY BROKE UP. She keeps acting like her only two options are to confess everything or nothing, but there’s the simple fact that she could have told something. And, yes, I know that Carey asked her to pretend that they were still dating, but I’m sorry, that’s not good enough.

And that’s another person I hate – Carey. He’s a good Marine, but he’s a terrible friend, and it didn’t really fit with his character. I can completely understand having to hide the fact that you’re gay (I mean, you shouldn’t have to, but I understand why he feels the need to), but why does he have to pretend that they’re still dating? Why wouldn’t he just tell people they broke up? Or ask her to write him letters pretending they’re still dating? After all, it’s the other men in his unit who need to be convinced that he’s straight, as they’re the ones who would beat him up.

Blake is a coward. Toward the end of the novel I could more understand his hating Quinn, as she betrayed him and lied to him, but still…I just never really liked him. And their whole love just seemed sort of thrown together. He’s hardly ever in the book, but suddenly she goes from being confused about him to loving him. Perhaps had we seen more of their relationship before the big event happened it would have been different, but I never really wanted them to get together.

And how could Quinn get mad at Carey’s mother for hating her when she thought Quinn cheated on her son? She didn’t know the truth, so she sided with her son and not the girl who cheated on her son. Given what she knew, what’s wrong with that? I just wanted to smack Quinn at the end of the book when his mother admits that she now knows the truth.

Sophie’s mother, on the other hand, was horrible, though I guess I can see where Quinn gets her horrible decision making skills from. Again, we have someone who sees two options (stay with husband she doesn’t love and her daughter OR abandon both of them), when there’s an obvious third choice: leave the husband and take the daughter.

I just really did not like this book. It wasn’t my least favorite book this year, as I was able to keep reading (unlike Starters, which I had to keep putting down and coming back to), but it was still horrible. Quinn just sat there and let all these bad things happen to her in order to “protect” her best friend, and it didn’t make sense. And Carey’s supposed to be this hero who would rather be hurt than let others get hurt, but what the hell did he think would happen, especially after he heard about the picture? It’s selfish anyway to make her spend her last year of high school alone, pretending to be dating him. And what if she hadn’t gone away to college? Was she supposed to spend the rest of her life pretending? I just don’t see that as being consistent with Carey’s character.

I would not recommend this book.

Book 40: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Page Count: 313
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Young adult literary fiction

Rating: 9/10

Summary from goodreads:
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

Opinion:
Let me start by saying that this is the first John Green book that I’ve read. I’ve heard great things about his writing, and I’ve been meaning to read his work for a while, but I hadn’t gotten around to it before. Then one day I was at Kroger, and I really needed a book to read (because I was going to have a lot of free time at work and was about to finish the book I was currently reading and was away from home without a backup), and I saw this one. I picked it up, read the first page, found myself not wanting to put the book down, and decided to buy it.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the way it went from being laugh-out-loud funny to gut-wrenchingly depressing in a matter of moments. I’m not going to lie – I cried while reading this book. Not quite as much as I thought I would have, but there were definitely tears. Hazel and Augustus were really interesting characters. They definitely didn’t talk like most teenagers I see today, but they still seemed realistic to me, given everything that they’ve been through. I also really enjoyed reading about Isaac. He’s not a huge part in the novel, but his scenes were definitely some of my favorites.

The Van Houten section of the book was a little strange. I understand why that whole bit was there – and, really, there wouldn’t be that much to the plot if you took it out – but it seemed a bit unrealistic to me, especially as the book went on. And I wish we could see more of a reaction to the letter that Hazel reads at the end of the book. I’m really not sure what to make of it. It kind of sounded insulting at times, and yet it was also very sweet. At the very least, it forced me stop and think for a while, which isn’t something that every book does, so that was refreshing.

This isn’t my new favorite book or anything, but I definitely enjoyed it, and now I understand why so many people love John Green. I will definitely be reading more of his books in the future.

45.5 days until NaNoWriMo 2012

Holy crap. How did that happen? Two weeks until the NaNo forums are cleaned in preparation for the new year. It’s crazy. I don’t know how the time passed so quickly. What have I been doing with all my time? I was supposed to be working on the first draft of Let Go and finishing the first round of edits for Tilt Your Head and Smile, as well as working on outlining my NaNo project(s) – not to mention all the homework that I want to have done before then.

What have I actually accomplished so far? I’ve managed to stay a week and a half ahead of my classes as far as the homework is concerned. I’ve added about 11k to Let Go. I haven’t even looked at Tilt Your Head and Smile since July. I’ve added some more notes to my main NaNo project, but I’m not really much closer to figuring everything out than I was last month.

On the plus side, I have gotten more writing done this weekend. We left the house yesterday and hung out at the coffee shop down the street. I managed to write about 3k while I was there. I finished chapter 10 and started chapter 11. I’ve only written about 800 words so far today, but I’m a little over the halfway point for chapter 11, and chapter 12 should be really easy to write. I think I just needed to get over that little hurdle with chapter 9 (which was a big turning point for two of the characters). Now I’m feeling better about my novel again and am starting to get more into the NaNo spirit.

I also found out that one of the people I work with knows about NaNo and is planning on doing it this year. That was exciting. Most of the people at work just look at me like I’m crazy when I talk about NaNo. I’m hoping I can encourage her to go to write-ins or at the very least hang out in the NaNoLanta chat room, as that’s really what helps me during November. Because, despite what it looks like on this blog, I really can write a lot when I sit down and focus. I’ve just let myself get too distracted with other things for the past, you know, eight months.

But that’s going to change now. I have 22 chapters left to write for Let Go. I have 17 chapters left to edit for Tilt. I have at least one novel to outline for NaNo, though I would like to have two planned, just in case I actually manage to write as much as I was hoping to this year. I also have all of my big assignments for both classes due throughout the month of November. I’m going to try to do most of those in October, but I can only do so much ahead of time.

My goal for today is to finish writing the next chapter and a half of Let Go and to finish next week’s reading for my Foundations of Education class. I only have one chapter left to read, so it shouldn’t take me too long. Then I should really write my review for The Fault in Our Stars, which I finished a few days ago but haven’t gotten around to reviewing yet.

The Importance of Having Scenes

I think I’ve finally figured out why having pages and pages of an outline doesn’t always help me when I write. I don’t outline scenes. I just outline events that should happen, and then I have trouble trying to figure out how to include all of that information. I experienced something similar with my homework the other day. I had to write a 2-3 page reading response, and I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to write. I just had a bunch of notes that I had taken, and I was constantly jumping from point to point, and it wasn’t very smooth or coherent, and it wasn’t as much fun to write as it was in my head because I wasn’t very organized.

The same can be true for my writing. I think I end up trying to include too much, and then I get bored trying to include it all. Take this next chapter I’m supposed to be writing for example. My notes for the chapter say “Natalie and Josh hang out more. He shows her around the office. She goes with him to register people to vote. Then they pass out info on candidates. He argues with Samantha about politics.”

That’s not a scene. That’s a bunch of information. When I made the note, I had planned on having that information cover several days. Now that I’m going to write it, I’m wondering why I did that. Why is it important to see every time Natalie and Josh hang out? Why can’t I jus show one time and then reference the other times? A better note would look like this: “Natalie and Josh are standing on campus, passing out information on the candidates and trying to register people to vote. Two people from the office arrive to replace them, so they go back to Natalie’s apartment, where Josh and Samantha start discussing politics. Natalie respects Josh even more because he doesn’t get angry or defensive while talking to her.”

Granted, that chapter was rather easy to fix, but there are others that aren’t as easy. I need to start thinking in terms of scenes, not events. I keep reading about how novels are made up of scenes that have beginnings, middles, and ends, and I’ve nodded and rolled my eyes and thought, “of course,” but it wasn’t until now that I realized that that’s not how I write. I cant believe it’s taken me this long to figure out what’s wrong with my writing. I mean, I have other problems, of course, but I think this is my main problem when it comes to writing the first draft. My most successful outlines have been the ones where I have more clearly defined scenes. That’s what I need to focus on from now on.

I’ve written the first nine chapters (plus the prologue) so far, and Let Go currently sits 33,674 words. That’s quite pathetic considering I started this novel August 1, but I’m going to try to focus on the positives. I know how to fix my outline. I’ve done all of my homework for the next week and a half. I’m not working this Thursday. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to write at least one chapter a day for the rest of the month. I think I get caught up sometimes trying to write a lot at once, like I did last November, and then I get overwhelmed and don’t write anything at all. I need to stop doing that.

Post 100!

This post marks my 100th post on this blog. I’m excited. I’ve lost track of how many different blogs I’ve tried to start over the years, and none of them has lasted this long – with the exception of my livejournal account, but that was more of a place to rant than it was to talk about anything important, so I’m not counting that one. 😀

I didn’t get as much accomplished over Labor Day weekend as I would have liked, but I still made progress. I wrote 4,183 words and wrote the next two chapters. Sadly, I’m still on the second month of the story, but I only have one chapter left before I can move on to October, so I’ll be happy with that. My goal is to write that chapter tonight. It’s sort of funny, though – I keep worrying that my chapters are going to be super short, so I take my time and try to find things to add, and then they end up being well over 3,000 words long. It’s not that the things I’m adding don’t fit; I guess I just write more than I think I do. Most of the stuff I’m adding works with the story, though, or at least it seems that way now. I never write a scene just to add words. I’ve done that in the past, and it just doesn’t do any good. Now, sure, I’ve written scenes that I know are horrible just to get them down, but that’s different. Writing something you know you’ll have to edit later is one thing; writing something you know you’re going to delete is quite another.

That said, the least chapter I wrote was about 1300 words. So apparently I can write short chapters. Good to know.

I was supposed to write a Top Ten Tuesday post today, but I forgot about it until I got home from work and saw the list of similar posts in my inbox. Really, though, today was a good day to forget about it, as it’s a really easy topic. I was supposed to share the Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR List. Instead, I will just refer the curious back to my Top Ten Books on My Summer TBR List, as I have yet to read any of the books on that list. Shame on me, I know. I started reading more young adult fiction right after I made that post, and I never really got around to reading the other books I wanted to read. I probably still won’t get to them this fall, but if I have time I would like to.

In unrelated news, I’ve finished my homework for the next week and a half. I don’t know if all of my grad school courses are going to be this easy, but I certainly won’t complain if they are!

And now I should really get back to writing. Samantha and Chloe are about to have their first bonding moment, and I’ve been looking forward to writing this scene. 🙂

Camp NaNo wrap-up and goals

I kept putting off writing another post about writing until I, you know, wrote something worth talking about. Since I haven’t written about writing in a while, though, you can probably guess that I haven’t been that successful. In fact, Camp NaNo-August was a spectacular failure. I wrote 26k, and I only finished seven chapters, including the prologue. That said, I’m still further than I’ve ever been with this story before, so I’ll try to focus on the positives. My new goal is to finish this draft this month. I’m going to try to write a chapter a day, regardless of how tired I might be after work or how much homework I may have to do. I really want to finish this draft.

I’m also trying to work on outlining the novel I plan on writing for NaNoWriMo. I wrote a short story on this topic for my thesis in college, and I’ve been coming up with more ideas for how to make it a novel. I have several notebook pages filled up with notes, and I’m starting to get more of a feel for the characters. It’s highly political in nature, so I’m not going to go into too much detail about the project. I’ll just say that it’s a young adult dystopian novel set in the United States around the year 2070 – and, no, I’m not trying to write the next Hunger Games or anything like that. I’ve just always liked dystopian novels, and the story line would work best if the main character was still in high school.

While we’re on the topic of NaNoWriMo, the 2012 merchandise is in stock. I’m really tempted to buy the thermos and the new t-shirt, but I’m going to wait and use them for motivation. If I hit 50k in November, I get the shirt. If I hit 100k, I get the thermos and the shirt. It seems a bit unrealistic to think about writing 100k when I haven’t managed to write that much in a month since January, but I can always write more during NaNo than I can during other months, so its’ not completely unrealistic. After all, I did write 222k last November. I can probably write at least 100k this November, even though I’ll still have class in November.

I’m actually not as concerned about grad school as I was. My classes are a lot of fun, and one of them seems like it’ll be really easy. I have to research a bunch of different things, but there are really only like two papers to turn in, and neither will be that long or difficult to write. It’s mostly a giant discussion on the reading of the foundations of education, and it’s been interesting so far. My other class requires more work but still doesn’t seem that difficult. The reading is interesting, and most of the assignments are very informal – such as write a two page paper on the pros and cons of technology in the classroom. I’m looking forward to continuing both classes, and I’m already trying to create a work schedule that allows me to do most of the work in October so that I can focus more on writing once November hits.

I really do love my region in November. Normally I hate living in the South, but November is the one time of the year when I’m thankful that I do. Our NaNo region is awesome. The OLL actually wrote about our region recently – The ML’s Guide to Writing in Atlanta: Writing on Their Minds . As mentioned in the article, we averaged 5 events per day in November, and there was almost always at least one other person in the NaNoLanta chat room, ready to start a word war and offer other encouragement. It’s hard not to feel encouraged to write more. I just wish I had that sort of motivation on my own. It would help if I weren’t always so tired all the time.

Today’s objectives are to finish writing chapter 7 of Let Go (the new title for Keep Going), find a teaching standard that I would like to eventually write a lesson plan for, and read chapters 9 and 14 for my foundations of education class. I’m excited for the start of a three-day weekend. Hopefully I can finish writing the next three chapters of my novel this weekend, at the very least.