Monday, May 26, 2014

Birthday, Allergies, and Dancing

It's been a while since I posted on here, but that's because things have been kind of crazy. I've had a very odd virus (or something) for the last 8 weeks or so, which seems to be almost entirely gone now. It's involved a lot of coughing, and some other symptoms which have come and gone, like a sore throat, feverish achy feelings, and more.

I haven't posted a real update on here in a very long time, so I'll start by going back a bit. My 16th birthday was near the beginning of the month, and it went pretty well, though I wasn't feeling very well. That weekend, we saw two musicals: Pippin, which was done by a local kid's theater group, and Shrek: The Musical, which was done by the theater department at the college my mom works at. The following weekend, my mom and I went to see a play version of The Outsiders, which is one of my all time favorite books.

A bunch of girls (and one boy!) from my Irish Dance class danced at the talent show that the local homeschool organization puts on every year. I would have liked to dance too, but I was in the fluish phase of this illness, and so I just did the music.

I am now signed up for classes at the local community college! Last week I signed up for Study Skills, and Yoga. It's not a lot (6 credits), but I'm still going to be doing Math, History, and probably English at home, so I don't want to overload myself.

My Irish Dance group is dancing at the local Highland Games in a few weeks (three times on Sunday, June 8th,  in case you're local and interested), so we have several rehearsals over the next two weeks. Both the intermediate and beginner classes are performing, so the rehearsals will have everyone. It will be fun, since I usually only dance with the other intermediate people, but I have a lot of friends in the beginner class.

I started tutoring a group of four middle school ages homeschool girls in Latin, which is a lot of fun. I've done a lot of Latin, but I'm not always very confident in my own abilities (mainly because I really can't speak it almost at all, and I can't really understand it when other people speak it, but I can read and write pretty well), so this has been good for my confidence, in addition to my own Latin studies.

I also have been busy editing, and working on a top secret project which has taken a lot of time, and I can hopefully tell you about in a few weeks. This is the same secret project I mentioned way back in January.

As usual, I have a backload of things to post about, including a ton of book reviews, and lots more. I also have a post that I hope to write today or tomorrow, which was sparked by a comment a friend made to me at a party this weekend (my best posts usually are). It's something I've been thinking a lot about recently, and will probably be a lot like the post I linked to in the last sentence. Or maybe not. We'll see.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Writers of the Future {Book Review}

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

Before I get to the review, I want to apologize. This post was supposed to come out two weeks ago, but due to illness, I've gotten quite behind on a number of projects (and school!) that I am working on. This is the reason that the contest at the bottom closes so soon.

When I got a copy of the Writer's of the Future book this year, I was a little excited, since I have heard good things about the stories in these collections, and also a little skeptical about the program and contest in general. In this post, I'm going to talk only about the individual stories and their particular merits, as well as the organization and readability of the collection as a whole.

I'm going to be honest: I don't really think I'd want to read this book in public, and a few things that I had read online about the contest did weird me out a little, but on the whole, the individual stories were quite good. I'll let you do your own research about the rest of it. In my review, I'm going to focus on a two of the stories (though there are many more great ones than that), and give more in depth reviews of them. I will also talk about how I thought the book was organized and the quality of the stories as a collection.

My Review
First of all, my review of the collection as a whole. I was impressed by the variety of stories and the quality of them. There are stories ranging all parts of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genres, and it is fun to read. The illustrations were also quite good, though there were times where the illustration almost didn't seem to fit with the story it accompanied. The book itself was very readable, and good quality. Now, I am going to briefly review two of the stories I read. I had a hard time choosing the stories to review, but in the end I chose the two which most stood out to me as I read them, for various reasons.

Another Range of Mountains by Megan E. O'Keefe is the first story I am reviewing. I enjoyed the story and plot, but there were moments where I felt a little overwhelmed by it. There was a lot of plot in those 25 pages, more, maybe, then made sense. I was intrigued by the premise, and I liked the ending, but it felt a little abrupt. I would have liked a little more backstory, and a much slower plot. I actually would love to read this same story in a novella format. I think that with maybe 150 pages to work within, this story would be really great.

The second story I'm reviewing is Giants at the End of the World by Leena Likitalo. I'm going start by saying that I loved this story. The plot was subtle, the writing was absolutely beautiful, and the ending was perfectly set up. This is the kind of story that makes me want to find everything this author has ever written. The short story is, in my reading and writing experience, a difficult medium to master, since you are limited in space, but still trying to tell a full story. The plot in the story was subtle: there wasn't a lot to it at first glance, but it was still substantial. I felt satisfied at the end, but also curious as what might happen next.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here are links to find Writers of the Future online:
Newsletter & event

 I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano {Book Review}

*This post may contain affiliate links, and if you make a purchase after clicking them, I will receive compensation.*

Today, I'm reviewing Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano. I have read (and semi-enjoyed) her Chemical Garden trilogy, which was why I picked up this book in the first place.To start off with, let me just say, this book is way better than the Chemical Garden books (Wither, Fever, Sever). The world is so much more interesting, the characters are more realistic, the romance is more believable, and the writing is much better.

I just want to say that I love this cover. I know that that's not something I usually talk about, but with the kinds of covers that are usually found on YA books nowadays, something that's subtle, a little mysterious, not a collection of clip art, and that doesn't have a giant teen face/feet is kind of refreshing. I also like the colors. The dark background with the white design is so pretty, and the red dress is eye catching, but it doesn't pull away from the subtlety of the cover. I know you can't really judge a book by it's cover (actually, if it's a YA book, you sort of can), but this one is giving a good first impression.

Summary from

Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close to the edge of Internment, the floating city in the clouds where she lives, can lead to madness. Even though her older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. If she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in her best friend, Pen, and in Basil, the boy she’s engaged to marry.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially once she meets Judas. Betrothed to the victim, he is the boy being blamed for the murder, but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find—or whom she will lose.

My Review
The characters in this book were a bit of a mixed bag. There were some really good ones, and some who felt completely flat. Morgan, the main character, did feel nicely fleshed out, as did Pen, her best friend, and Amy, a young girl she befriends. Others, like Basil (her betrothed), Thomas (Pen's betrothed), and Lex (her brother) felt much more one sided to me.

The plot was great. I thought the worldbuilding was really good, it felt so believable. Even a having different words for everyday items, which usually bothers me, seemed normal. I liked the premise quite a bit, and the general progression of the plot made sense to me, though I disliked the ending. I know that all teen storied now have to be trilogies, but I don't like it. I think that a book, whether or not it's part of a series, should be a story in it's own right. This book ends on a cliffhanger, which is something that really irritates me.

The writing was good. I really don't like present tense writing, but I've gotten used to it, and it wasn't too noticeable here. I was really happy about two common teen lit features which were not in this book. First of all, it was narrated solely by one person. I know this shouldn't be a big deal, but I've gotten kind of tired of all the teen books narrated by a girl and her love interest. Also, there isn't a love triangle. There is the perfect opportunity for one: She is engaged to marry Basil, and has been since birth, but then she meets mysterious Judas. But the author didn't go for it! Basil, the "safe guy" who Morgan has known forever, ends up really being the perfect guy for her. I really hope this potential love triangle doesn't get played out in future books.

Who Should Read This Book?
I would recommend this book to lovers of YA dystopian fiction. And I don't mean the Hunger Games style obviously dysfunctional governments, but more the Giver type of subtly (but fatally) flawed utopias. Actually, the world Perfect Ruin had quite a bit in common with the world of The Giver.