Archive for May, 2012

 

Synopsis:

Elyse knows what it means to keep a secret. She’s been keeping secrets her whole life. Two, actually. First, that she ages five times slower than the average person, so that while she looks eighteen years old, she’s closer to eighty. Second, that her blood has a mysterious power to heal. For Elyse, these things don’t make her special. They make life dangerous. After the death of her parents, she’s been careful to keep her secret as closely guarded as possible. Now, only one other person in the world knows about her age and ability. Or so she thinks. Elyse is not the only one keeping secrets. There are others like her all over the world, descendants of the very people the Greeks considered gods. She is one of them, and they have been waiting for her for a long time. Among so many of her kind, she should not be very remarkable–except for the prophecy. Some believe she will put an end to traditions, safeguarded by violence, which have oppressed her people for centuries. Others are determined to keep her from doing just that. But for Elyse, the game is just beginning–and she’s not entirely willing to play by their rules.

Review:

We’re entering minor spoiler territory here. Nothing big in the slightest, but if you’re super anti-spoiler, I won’t be offended if you skip this section!

I first saw this book on Jessica Salyer’s blog. The first thing that caught my attention was that cover – isn’t it beautiful!? Then I found out it was about Greek gods. Sign me up! You know I’m all over that.

And she didn’t disappoint. Without giving to much away here are the three things I loved most:

3. The characters. Elyse and William are instantly likeable. Their relationship is genuine and beautiful. And even the background characters steal the show from time to time. I love when that happens.

2. The action. This is a page turner for sure. I got through this book in just a couple of days. It’s an easy read (which is not a negative thing!) and a wonderful book to just sit down and thoroughly enjoy. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I highly recommend it.

1. The concept. The Greek gods weren’t really gods, but people with superhuman qualities. How cool is that? And each person has their own power according to who they’re descended from. This world within a world is rich in detail, but not overly complicated. It’s enjoyable for mythology super-nerds like me, and easy to understand for any regular Joe or Jane who wants to pick up the book.

Plus, I won this nifty notebook (that she was kind enough to sign!) from her blog tour giveaway. How could I NOT read the book after that?

Interview:

Even though her blog tour is well over with, Jessica was kind enough to let me question her about her book, the future of the series, and her life as a writer. Hope you find it as interesting as I did!

1. What can we expect from you once Children of the Gods is done? Will it be something vastly different, or do you plan on sticking with YA?

Definitely YA. I’ll probably do a standalone novel next. I’ve learned that promoting one book in a series while writing the sequel is very hard. Also I have another book partially written, but that is a very serious memoir type novel that I’m not sure I’ll be done with any time soon.

2. What types of things inspire you the most?

Good movies/books about love, and music of course.

3. Do you have any strange habits or rituals when you write?

None. My writing is very much all over the place. Although, I tend to get my best ideas in the car while my husband is driving, so much of my writing happens then. Luckily I have a very tiny netbook, and it goes with me everywhere 🙂

4. What was the most challenging scene to write?

The most challenging scenes were the ones with Ryder. He wasn’t originally written into the book. His character came about during re-writes, so it was interesting trying to fit him into the story. It worked well though…those are some of my favorite scenes!

5. What are your three favorite TV shows of all time?

Of ALL TIME?? How could I ever choose? Well, Firefly is one…The Vampire Diaries, of course (though a little part of me is ashamed to admit that, lol), and Seinfeld (it never gets old for me).

6. Can we have a little teaser for book two? Please!?

AH! I WISH! I’m DYING to let people read it, lol. Because we’re in the editing stages, I can’t 😦 Hopefully I’ll have some snippets soon.

7. If you could write from another character’s POV from your book, who would you pick?

I was JUST thinking about this. I’m planning on writing a few scenes from Kara and William’s POV just for character development (they won’t actually be in the book). Maybe I’ll release them later on like Veronica Roth did with Tobias from Divergent.

8. What is the most surprising thing that’s happened to you since becoming published?

After Oppression was published it was the #5 best-selling Teen NOOK book on Barnes & Noble for 5 weeks straight, right behind the Hunger Games Series. That was pretty surprising…and quite amazing.

So, there you have it! What do you guys think? Have you already read Oppression? Did you like it? If you haven’t, have I convinced you to go pick it up? I hope so!

Thanks again for answering my questions and for being an all around super person, Jessica. I really appreciate it!

You can find Jess in various places around the internet:

Amazon

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter

Blog

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Okay, we’ve traveled back to every country I’ve been to except for one – Spain! I have a lot of regrets about Spain. I minored in Spanish, but I was too nervous to use it while we were there. My greatest achievement was asking if something had ham on it (jamón), and not mixing it up with the word for soap (jabón). Although, I think the amount of food I ate there makes up for a lot of my mistakes. I had true Spanish paella, and that’s about as good as it gets, people.

So, today we are in Granada, Spain at La Alhambra (pronounced: Ahl-ahm-brah). This is a group of three palaces and some royal gardens that were built between 1338 and 1390 by the Moorish (Islamic) people.

The really neat thing about this place is that there are absolutely, positively NO water pumps. All the water seen in Alhambra is gravity fed and comes from the nearby mountains. Water was a sign of prosperity, power, and wealth, so there were a lot of fountains in these gardens. Imagine what this would’ve looked like to someone living in the 14th century, when even those who were lucky enough to live above the poverty line would’ve looked on at these gardens in awe.

This is one of my favorite shots from La Alhambra!

The place was beautiful and ornately built, but as usual I like to let my pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy!

This shows an overview of the city of Granada from one of the higher points in the palace.

This is one of the cute little orchards tucked away near one of the buildings.

La Alhambra resident puppy!! (I promise he’s just sleeping!)

The summer palace.

The intricately carved wall and a window for the harem to “see and not be seen.”

One of the MANY beautiful courtyards.

A trellis that I’m sure would’ve looked fabulous in the summer (we were there in March).

Cool story: We learned in Cordoba (later on) that when the oranges have a big leaf they are good to eat, but when they have a big leaf and a little leaf they aren’t – they’re bitter! The locals always know a tourist when they see one because of this. (These look a little too shriveled to eat…)

Have you ever been to Spain? Have you been to La Alhambra? What’s one regret you have in regards to traveling to a foreign country?

Joss Whedon’s cult TV show Firefly aired in 2002, and it’s all but dead in the water. You see, it only aired for a single season before it was cut from our TV screens. It had a small but loyal audience, which continues to grow thanks to Netflix and word of mouth. Joss even did a follow-up movie called Serenity, to tie up loose ends.

So, it got its 15 minutes of fame and it blew it – why should you care?

Well, the thing is…it didn’t blow it. The TV execs did. It’s a great show, and one that I’d recommend to anyone – sci-fi nerd or not. The ratings obviously weren’t high enough to keep it on air, but I think that must’ve had more to do with finding the right audience rather than the story line.

Without further ado, here’s my top five reasons why I think you should watch it.

5. It does cowboys and aliens better than Cowboys & Aliens. Well, technically there really aren’t any aliens in Firefly. But it does have a definite Western feel to it. And it doesn’t seem hokey at all. I mean, think about it – they’ve lost the use of Earth and have expanded their reach throughout the universe. They’ve terraformed new planets to suit their needs. It gives a different meaning to the New Frontier. I’m not a big fan of Westerns, but this makes it feel new and fresh. It takes everything that’s good about Westerns and everything that’s good about sci-fi and mashes them together into something original and interesting.

4. They swear in Chinese. The show is set in 2517, and the only two superpowers left are the United States and China. These two have combined to form a central government called the Alliance. Two cultures have fused together, hence the strange combination of old-school pistols and Mandarin cuss words. I don’t know why, but it makes me happy whenever I hear them do this.

3. It’s gritty and realistic. The show is dusty, dirty, and bloody. It isn’t disgusting, but people get hurt – a lot. They’re not superheroes, they’re just normal people. Crap happens and they deal with it as it comes. The entire idea of how this new universe operates seems more realistic to me than a lot of other sci-fi shows. It’s a rough and tumble, people-will-do-what-they-have-to-in-order-to-survive sort of show. People die and backstab and make bad judgments, and it isn’t all shiny stars and cool spaceships. To me, this is what the future of space travel will probably look like 500 years from now.

2. It has a great message – hidden behind some otherwise shady dealings. Malcolm Reynolds is the captain of the ship Serenity, and he’s a thief – sort of. He’d rather do the honest jobs, but if it comes between him taking the high road and him being able to eat at the end of the day, he’s going to do what he has to in order to survive. That’s not to say that he won’t take the high road – he’s actually got a good conscience in him. If he thinks something is explicitly wrong, he won’t do it. And he might even find a way to stop it in the process. That’s the weird thing – the people who crew this ship are the bad guys. They’re running from the government. They’re thieves. They kill people. But, in reality, they’re also the good guys. The government is corrupt. They try not to steal from people who really need it. They save lives when they can. The lines between right and wrong are easily blurred out in Deep Space.

1. The characters. This is by far the number one reason why you should watch this show. I love each and every character here. Here’s a run-down:

A. Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds is the captain. He’s the one that makes the hard decisions and you can’t help but respect him for that. He’s tough to live with sometimes, but he does what he thinks is right and he’s earned himself a loyal crew because of it.

B. Zoe Washburne is the second-in-command. She fought with Mal during the civil war and is his most loyal crewmember. She’s just as tough, but her husband brings out a softer side in her. I like her because she’s a warrior, and she isn’t afraid of anything.

C. Hoban “Wash” Washburne is the pilot and husband to Zoe. He’s probably one of the best flyers in the ‘Verse and Mal is lucky to have him. He’s always got a funny crack to make, and he’s one of the more easily likeable characters.

D. Jayne Cobb is a bit of a difficult character to like, but at the end of the day you just can’t help but become attached. He’s a hired hit man and there’s just about one thing always on his mind: money. He’ll do anything for it, much to Mal’s dismay. He doesn’t always make the right decisions – and he doesn’t always care that he doesn’t – but he sticks with Mal anyway, and you have to give him credit for that.

E. Kaywinnet Lee “Kaylee” Frye is the ship’s mechanic and boy does she know what she’s doing! She’s got a natural talent and the ship “speaks” to her to let her know if something is wrong. She’s sweet and wholesome (though maybe not entirely in the notion that we’re used to), and she’s got a sense of right and wrong that’s even stronger than Mal’s.

F. Inara Serra is a Companion, which is the equivalent to a prostitute of high social standing. It’s completely legal and it allows her to enjoy the finer things in life. She isn’t ashamed of what she does, and it’s all done in taste on the show. Her and Mal butt heads quite a lot, but their relationship is one of the most interesting (and frustrating) in the series.

The final three characters weren’t original crew members, but are just as important to the story:

G. Derrial Book is a Shephard, the equivalent to a pastor. He’s got an interesting backstory – that’s a complete mystery to us still. He a devout Christian, but he also has quite a few interesting talents up his sleeves. I think he, above anyone else, understands Mal. He asks Mal the hard questions, the ones Mal doesn’t want to think about.

H. Simon Tam is the resident doctor. He’s extremely intelligent and graduated at the top of his class. But the Alliance stole his sister from him and did experiments on her. He threw away his entire life to save her. It isn’t easy, but his love for his sister is the driving force behind just about everything he does.

I. River Tam is Simon’s younger sister. She was a child prodigy and was taken to a special school – or so her family thought. In reality, Alliance doctors experimented on her and she became quite an interesting person – she’s partly telepathic, partly psychotic, and partly a dangerous weapon. Her character and the fact that her brother broke her out of the lab are the driving forces behind the plot of this show.

River is my favorite character pretty much because Summer Glau’s acting skills are off the charts crazy good.

So, for those of you who haven’t seen the show – what do you think? Does it sound like something you’d be interested in? I didn’t find anything special in the pilot, but each episode after that got better and better. By the last few, I was completely and irreversibly hooked on this show. Give it a few episodes and let me know what you think!

For those of you who have been Browncoats for a while. Here are some questions: Who is your favorite character? What’s your favorite episode? If the story were to pick back up again (we can only hope!) what direction would you like to see the show go in?

I’ll be back next Monday to talk about Serenity, the follow-up movie.

I’m going to warn you now: I did pretty much nothing this week. But it wasn’t because I didn’t want to! Life certainly got in the way and there was very little I could do about it. (You’ll notice I didn’t even get a blog post up on Friday…) But, on the upside, I got to spend quality time with friends and family and even attended a wedding. So, I’m just going to report on what I did get done and cut my losses. No use worrying about it now that it’s over!

  1. Exercise for half an hour each day, five days a week. Incomplete. I exercised Monday and Tuesday and then didn’t find any time during the rest of the week. If felt really good to get back on the treadmill, though, so I’m looking forward to this goal for this coming week. Listening to the sound track to Hercules (my favorite Disney movie) makes it a lot of fun, too!
  2. Each Sunday, visit Writer’s Market for at least half an hour. Done. This goal is getting harder to manage, as I feel totally lost right now. What do I need to be doing? How do I go about doing it? What’s a good choice to make? There’s a lot of helpful information out on the internet, but I think that’s part of the problem – there’s too much. What’s good advice for ME? It’s all very overwhelming. There’s got to be a Step-By-Step Guide for Idiots out there, right?
  3. Write every day. Incomplete. This happened only once – on Monday. I will do better this week!
  4. Read every day. Incomplete. I did it on Monday and that was it. I keep pushing this goal to the last minute (before bed) so sometimes I don’t feel like doing it. I think I need to move it up to an earlier time in the day.
  5. Decide what the last story in my horror collection is going to be and start writing it. Done. Actually, I came up with two new ideas and wrote one. I’m still working on the other. Some of the stories I’ve chosen for the collection don’t quite fit in with the style I’m going for. I’m not sure if this is a good thing (it breaks it up a little) or a bad thing (they just don’t belong). My next goal here is: Finish writing “Found” and then decide which stories DEFINITELY make the cut.

Here are some other things that have happened lately:

  1. I saw The Avengers and you should too.
  2. Karmin dropped their debut album and I could not be happier or more proud. Learn about them a bit more from this post (and note that I totally called that they’d be famous one day).
  3. It’s Mother’s Day! Happy Mother’s Day to all those moms out there – I hope it’s a good one for you. My Mom told me what I was doing for her today about a week ago (LOL), so we’re off to initiate her plans shortly.

I’m slowly coming down off my high of just seeing The Avengers. I’ll give you three reasons why you need to watch it right now:

  1. It had the highest grossing domestic opening weekend…EVER.
  2. Shawarma.
  3. The Hulk.

If you’re interested, here are some great reviews for the movie:

Jessica O’Neal

Ddog from Gamerscene

Jimmy from Hypable

So, because my head is still swimming with men in leotards and giant explosions, I’m going to keep this post fairly short and sweet. I read an article that said language experts generally agree that “cellar door” is the most beautiful sounding phrase in the English language.

Um, what??

Readers over at Dictionary.com didn’t really agree either. The word they chose was “serendipity,” I can’t really argue with that. I think “serenity” flows a little better, though. But that may be because I just finished Firefly (*sniff*).

There were some other interesting choices, too. But what I really want to know is this: What do you think is the most beautiful word in the English language? (You can explain why for bonus points!)

What is it that is so poetic about the Eiffel Tower? It’s so symbolic of France, and France itself is symbolic of love and sophistication. Fine wine and food. Adventure and creativity.

But the reality is that the Iron Lady, as she’s often referred to, didn’t always have a glamorous life. She was built in 1889 and her purpose was to be the entrance into the World’s Fair. A temporary entrance. She’s over 1,000 feet tall and held the title of the world’s tallest man-made structure for 41 years.

You may have heard that the initial reaction to the tower was quite negative. There was a Committee of Three Hundred (one person for each meter of the tower’s height) that objected to its construction. They were mostly artists who thought the Eiffel Tower was a ridiculous idea. They found the tower to be useless and monstrous. They said that it would take away from the charm and historic beauty of such attractions like Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Arc de Triomphe.

Yet, look at her now! She’s become the very essence of Paris, of France in general. You can’t not think of the Eiffel Tower if you think of France. Can you even imagine what it would be like if the Iron Lady didn’t exist?

I certainly can’t. When I visited Paris, this was right at the top of my must-see list. I thought it would be spectacular and beautiful and mesmerizing and wonderful. I was wrong.

It was way more than that.

I can’t even describe the feelings that I had when I looked at it. The Tower just looms over you and you have trouble thinking that it’s real. How can something so tall exist like that? How can something you see on TV and in movies actually be there, right in front of you? And to be able to go up to it, touch it, go inside it…that’s a dream come true.

We got to get up-close and personal with the Eiffel Tower at night, which was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

I know it sounds a little dramatic and corny, but trust me, it’s everything I’m describing and more. And it turns out that I didn’t know very much about the tower to begin with. Like the fact that it sparkles on the hour, every hour. How amazing is that?

Or that you can actually go inside it? Even go to the very top? The world has never looked so within your grasp than when you’re standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Doesn’t it feel like the world is just yours for the taking?

This was definitely one of the highlights of my trip to France. You wouldn’t think that a giant hunk of metal would be so amazing, but it is. The feeling is indescribable when I think that I was really there, really that close to the Eiffel Tower.

Here’s some cool pictures that I just have to post:

I believe that at about the time I took this picture, I was lost. (No, the irony does not escape me.) You’d think that on a circular platform with only two ways out, I wouldn’t have misplaced my friends. Wrong. (Also, I’ve never been in a windier place in my life!)

For this picture, I had to lean waaay back against the rail in order to get the top of the tower. We were as far up as you could go, so the top really isn’t as distant as it looks here.

ROW80 – R2C5

Posted: May 6, 2012 in ROW80
Tags: , , , , ,

Welcome, welcome to my check-in! (Did anyone else read that in Effie’s voice?) This week sort of kicked my butt, but I’m still happy with what I got done. Let’s get right into it:

  1. Exercise for half an hour each day, five days a week. Incomplete. I was good on Monday and Tuesday, but I was too busy on Wednesday. And then when Thursday came around, I didn’t feel like exercising. On Friday, for some weird reason, by left knee hurt and I didn’t want to risk running. Saturday I didn’t even attempt to get in an extra half hour. And right now I’m eating a doughnut for breakfast. *sigh* On the up side, I didn’t gain any weight this past week (though, I didn’t lose any either). Next week will be better!
  2. Each Sunday, visit Writer’s Market for at least half an hour. Complete! Even though I’m only doing this for half an hour each week, it still gets fairly overwhelming by the time I reach the end of my time. I just don’t get it. I don’t really understand what I’m looking at most of the time. Plus, since the first thing I want to query is a short story collection, I don’t understand how that would differentiate (in format) from novel submissions. If anyone has any resources or tips, I’d love to hear them!
  3. Write every day. Complete! I knocked this one out of the park, you guys. More on that down below.
  4. Read every day. Incomplete. I just missed Friday and Saturday, so not a huge deal. Going to try to push ahead next week and knock out a big chunk of this book that I’m reviewing for a fellow writer.
  5. Finish my Cinderella story. Complete! I finished it and I thought it turned out great. I even sent it to my BFF (which is who I wrote it for) and she loved it. I’m planning more in this series, but I think I’m going to put it on the back burner right now. I want to concentrate on my horror collection so I can get it ready for querying. With that said, my next goal was going to finish “Trigger”…but I already did! I knocked two short stories out this week, which is awesome. I think my next goal is going to be: Decide what the last story in my horror collection is going to be and start writing it. I’ve got nine completed so far, but I’m not sure if they’re all going to make the cut. We’ll see!

Some other things going on:

  1. I’m starting to realize what the big deal about Firefly is. I’m halfway through the season and I’m really starting to get into it. The characters are just so amazing! I love them all (almost).
  2. Check this completely awesome top 10 list of Doctor Who monsters that one of the writers from Hypable put together. If you saw my Who post last week, you would know that I totally agree with Harri’s #1 choice!
  3. Lastly, if you’re still on the fence about seeing The Avengers, make sure you check out this review. I think it’ll change your mind!

What about you guys? Anything interesting going on? Any cool links to share?