Thrifty Thursday: September 11th Edition

Here are this weeks cheap and free ebooks! Enjoy!

1. 9/11 Ordinary People: Extraordinary Heroes by Col. William G. Merrill, Jr.

9:11- Ordinary People

Today is a significant date in American history, and while this isn’t technically a YA or NA novel, it’s still subject matter that is important for all age groups. This entire week has been filled with great documentaries and interviews on TV, but for those who want to continue learning about the events of September 11, 2001 after this week is up, picking up a good book on the subject is a great way to do so. It’s available for Kindle, iBooks, and Nook for $4.99.

Kindle
Nook 
Apple

2. Born to Fight (Book 2 of the Born trilogy) by Tara Brown

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]

A while back I posted the first book of the Born trilogy on sale for only $1. If you happened to enjoy that one, the sequel is currently available for $2.99 for Kindle.

3. The Broken Lands by Kate Milford

The Broken Lands

This prequel to Kate Milford’s The Boneshaker is only $1.99 on Google Play, Nook, and for Kindle. For fans of The Boneshaker, this one is definitely worth picking up!

4. A Whole New Crowd by Tijan

a whole new crowd

This novel by best-selling author Tijan is only $3.99 for KindleiBooks, Kobo , and Nook 

5. UnEnchanted – An Unfortunate Fairy Tale by Chanda Hahn

Unenchanted

This is another one of those modern fairy tale retellings that I’ve gotten kind of into lately. It’s free for users of KindleiBooksKobo, and Nook .

Happy reading!

 

 

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What’s Up Wednesday: Working on Writer’s Block

Now that my schooling is done and I have more time to dedicate to writing, it seems I’ve gotten stuck. Whereas while I had a lot of classwork to do in addition to writing my blog I was able to come up with material fairly easily, now that I’ve got more time I’m experiencing a severe case of writer’s block. It’s an unavoidable fact of life when it comes to writing, but it’s still frustrating nonetheless.

So I did what I always do when I get stuck or have a problem. I Googled. And wouldn’t you know, there is a TON of information out there on the causes of writer’s block, how to combat it, ways to stay creative when you’re not writing, etc. One infographic in particular stood out, so I thought it’d be worth sharing for anyone else experiencing this same frustration. It’s one of four listed in an article by Sunil Jain, and can be found here.

Writer's Block

 

This might be my favorite infographic to date because it has so much useful information. It opens with one of my favorite things – quotations! Professional advice from those who have experienced the brick wall that is writer’s block. My favorite is Agatha Christie’s: “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” It’s the truth – I get hit with ideas at the most random times, most often when I’m laying in bed half asleep. The notepad app on my phone has been a lifesaver for times like these because I don’t think my husband would be too happy if I turned the light on each time I needed to write something down.

The personal goals section has inspired me to create a goal of my own. I’m not sure what that will be yet, but I think that goals in writing can be very helpful when trying to keep up the habit and create something great. It’s also comforting to see some of the big names that have experienced writer’s block – Samuel Coleridge, Ernest Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, etc. It indicates that writer’s block clearly has nothing to do with a lack of imagination or originality

But most important is the section on tips for avoiding or overcoming writer’s block. They’re all great tips, but I find numbers 7, 11, and 14 most helpful. Coffee, a good book, and a notebook can all be great ways to decompress while getting the creative juices flowing. If I sat down and went through my notebook, I’d almost definitely be able to come up with something that I could put toward the book I plan to write someday. But coffee and a great book – those are the things of beauty. I’ve gleaned so much inspiration from well written books, and not necessarily just from the story itself. When I read a book where I can feel the author’s excitement and emotion come through, that’s when true inspiration hits. I’ll finish a book and immediately want to sit down and write whatever comes to mind. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not so much.

So now as I finish this I realize that I’ve spent 15 minutes writing this post, whereas the three I attempted before this barely got halfway finished over the course of about a week. Oh, the irony.

Here are a few more places to look for info on battling writer’s block, if you’re interested:

Writing Tips: Strategies on Overcoming Writer’s Block

“The 10 Type of Writer’s Block and How to Overcome Them” 

Purdue Owl (this one is also super useful as a reference for writing styles)

New Yorker – “Blocked” 

“Get Unstuck” 

“The Art of Being Still”

Happy writing!

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Filed under infographics, Inspiration, Real-life, Writing

Tuesday Review Day: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was one  I really wanted to knock off my 2014 Goals list (which I really need to get cracking on), so when it lowered quite a bit in price (only $1.99), I snagged it. The concept of it was a bit unclear based on the description, but it sounded interesting enough to try it out.

Mara Dyer

Author: Michelle Hodkin
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Pages: 466
Rating: 4 stars

Mara Dyer is a 17 year old girl who wakes up in a hospital to discover she is the only survivor of a building collapse that took the lives of her two closest friends and boyfriend. She has no memory of the events leading up to the collapse, including how she came to be there. She experiences severe PTSD after her release from the hospital due to her feelings of survivor’s guilt, prompting her and her family to pack up and move to Florida for a fresh start. Once there, she begins to see that she has what appear to be some very disturbing abilities. After she meets Noah, the popular British classmate with a reputation for breaking hearts, she realizes that he may be the only one who can help her understand her new powers. With him, she sets out to discover what she can do, and whether she can use those powers for good or if they have a more sinister purpose.

What I Liked:

1. The different twist on paranormal was done really well. There was no way (for me) to really guess what was fueling Mara’s powers and how Noah was connected to them, and once more came to light it indicated a really great story would be continued in the next two books.

2. The love between Noah and Mara wasn’t immediate. It took a little while for them to actually get together, although he pushed it from the start. Mara, while definitely attracted to Noah, held him off because of his reputation and her past, which at least indicated some level of common sense on her part. She didn’t automatically assume he was “different” with her.

3. The minor things. I liked that the books Mara was into weren’t the old-school classics, like in so many other books. She’s caught reading Lolita, which, while not exactly a new release, it’s also not centuries old. Also, Hodkin pulls off the sibling aspect well. Usually protagonists are only children, or have siblings that are relatively absent. Daniel and Joseph were very present in the book and were integral to the story, giving Mara a home life that consisted more than absent or clueless parents. The sporadic references to Harry Potter and LOTR were also a plus.

4. The language was pretty typical for teenagers. Sexual innuendoes, raunchy jokes, etc. were included in the dialogue, which made the characters a bit more believable. I know not all teenagers have potty-mouths, and foul language does not a good book make, but when you walk down the hall in a high school, you’ll hear plenty of things that could hardly be considered intellectual conversation.

What I Didn’t Like:

1. The typical YA romance formula was followed. Mara shows up on her first day of school dressed like a bum, gets into it with the prettiest girl in school, becomes BFFs with a friendly nice guy, embarrassed herself, and makes googly eyes with the hottest guy in school. Who also happens to be British. Not to mention the “warm current” she feels when their hands brush. Come on now.

2. Ok, Mom, super smart lady that you are. Your daughter has been prescribed antipsychotics and you feel the best time for her to take her first pill is as she’s walking out the door for a date? With a boy you just met? I’m gonna go ahead and say that’s probably not the best idea.

3. The whole missing-brother thing was really random. I’m still not entirely sure of the purpose of it. I thought it would be the climax to the book, and even that would’ve been odd because there was still so much unknown about Mara. I get that the author was trying to reveal something about Mara and Noah (kind of), but there wasn’t really enough foreshadowing to indicate that something big would be revealed.

4. Once Mara discovered what her powers allowed her to do, she didn’t really attempt to control them. She knew that she could if she really wanted to, but she let her emotions get in the way of learning to use or control them to keep herself from falling apart. That cast her in a pretty negative light in my eyes.

All in all this was an enjoyable book. The surprising cliffhanger at the end has me really itching to read the second book, so I’ll likely have that one up for review soon, too.

Now, on to check a few more books off of my goals list!

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Cheap reads, Fiction, First in series, Paranormal, Romance, Sci-Fi, Series, YA

Thrifty Thursday: September 4th Edition

Here are some great (and free!) deals going on right now for ebooks. Most are available for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Google Play, and Kobo.

1. Silence by Natasha Preston

Silence

This week’s freebie is Natasha Preston’s Silence, book 1 of her Silence series. It’s free for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and through Kobo. The sequel, Broken Silence, is only $2.99 on each site, as well. If you’re looking for a new series to check out, this might be a good option.

2. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine

With the movie coming out sometime next year (directed by Tim Burton), this one is definitely worth a read. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is about a boy who finds himself living in a home with children who have various special powers. The home is run by a woman (Miss Peregrine) who can transform into  (you guessed it) a peregrine falcon. It’s a little Harry Potter and a little X-Men, and definitely an entertaining book. Currently it’s only $3.99 for Kindle and iBooks. The sequel, Hollow City, came out in January.

3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Caged Bird

Maya Angelou’s classic I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is only $3.99 for Kindle, iBooks, and Nook. I try to keep a good stash of books that never get old because sometimes it’s nice to step away from all the modern stuff and check out something that’s been around for awhile.

4. The Faerie Guardian by Rachel Morgan

Faery Guardian

Rachel Morgan’s The Faerie Guardian, book 1 of theCreepy Hollow series is free for both Kindle and Nook (and only $.99 through iBooks and Kobo). If you’re looking for a new series to read, this is another one will be great because the first installment is free!

5. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

dark places

For those of you who were fans of Gone Girl, you may want to check out one of Gillian Flynn’s other novels while it’s at such a low price. Dark Places is only $2.50 for Kindle and on Google Play (compare to $4.99 on iBooks, $7.99 for Nook, and $9.99 though Kobo). I’ll be up front in saying that I really wasn’t a fan of how Gone Girl ended (read my review here, if you’d like), but it was still a page-turner and the writing was good. Those two things are enough to make me check out her other works, just in case.

So there they are! Happy Reading!

 

 

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Filed under Book lists, Cheap reads, Fiction, Uncategorized, YA

What’s Up Wednesday: September New Releases

There are a lot of goodies getting released this month, so picking a small handful was tough. Here are a few that sound sure to be awesome reads. Descriptions are copied from Goodreads.

1. The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave #2) by Rick Yancey – September 16, 2014. I’ve been meaning to read The 5th Wave for a long time, so now that the second book is soon to be available I might go ahead and grab it.

Infinite Sea

How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

These next few are standalones, and since I’ve been series-crazy lately I’m kind of looking forward to grabbing a few that begin and end in one book.

2. Winterspell by Claire Legrand – September 30, 2014.

Winterspell

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted–by beings distinctly nothuman. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets–and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed–if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

3. Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang – September 9, 2014.

Falling Into Place

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

4. Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin – September 23, 2014. I’ll be honest. This one caught my eye for two reasons. First, I was a psychology major and I’ve always thought the idea of a blank slate was pretty interesting.  Second, it’s the title of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode and, well, I heart Buffy.

Tabula Rasa

The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this action-packed debut thriller with a Katniss-esque heroine fighting to regain her memories and stay alive, set against a dystopian hospital background.

Sarah starts a crazy battle for her life within the walls of her hospital-turned-prison when a procedure to eliminate her memory goes awry and she starts to remember snatches of her past. Was she an urban terrorist or vigilante? Has the procedure been her salvation or her destruction?

The answers lie trapped within her mind. To access them, she’ll need the help of the teen computer hacker who’s trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, and a pill that’s blocked by an army of mercenary soldiers poised to eliminate her for good. If only she knew why . . .

5. Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White – September 9, 2014.

Illusions of Fate
“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

There are a lot more books being released this month in addition to these, so keep an eye out for some good ones!

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Tuesday Review Day: Crossed by Ally Condie

When I reviewed Ally Condie’s Matched a while back, I mentioned that it had taken me a few tries to get through it. Once I got past the first few chapters I really enjoyed it and was excited to read the sequel, Crossed.

In Matched, Society citizen Cassia and aberration Ky fall in love and hope to defy the laws of their world be together. That plan is foiled when the Society officials send Ky to fight in the outer provinces, leaving Cassia heartbroken but determined to find him. With the help of  her official Match, Xander, she is able to sneak away from the Society to search for him. Crossed picks up not too long after Cassia sets out on her search for Ky in the outer provinces of her world, which seemed to be a promising and hopefully exciting storyline. Unfortunately,  it sadly fell completely flat.

crossed

 

Author: Ally Condie
Series: Matched
Publication Date: March 12, 2013
Pages: 367
Rating: 2.5 stars

(Minor spoilers)

What I Liked:

1. Although my major complaint is that not much of any significance happened, the things that did were pretty interesting. Discovering the truth about the blue tablets, Xander’s secret, and the extent to which the Society will go to collect data made for really great plot points.

2. Cassia seems to be going through a very gradual change from Citizen to rebel. In a lot of books, one event sparks an almost immediate change in the protagonist, but that’s not the case with Cassia. She still has a lot of growing and evolving to do, which isn’t something that is spread out evenly over several books.

What I Didn’t Like:

1. The walking. OMG, the WALKING. I felt like I was reading about Sam and Frodo on their quest for Mordor.

2. Cassia destroys everything that could be important. She keeps illegal artifacts hidden, but papers giving her background information for the thing she’s looking for get destroyed. Her grandfather’s poems, destroyed. Things that could easily be stuffed in the bottom of her sock, destroyed.

3. Nothing of significance, aside from escaping the aberration camps, happened until they all met up with each other halfway through the book. Then Ky and Indie discovered their similarities, they met Hunter, found the Society’s stash, and finally found the Rising.

4. And as for the writing itself. The author chose to use alternating perspectives for the chapters, so they were split between Ky and Cassia, but there was no real difference in their voices.

5. There’s no major obstacle, aside from their trek through the Carving. They encounter interesting things during their travels, but not much really happens.

Unfortunately, upon finishing Crossed I realized that the false starts I experienced with Matched might actually be indicative of the rest of the series. When I finished Matched I was excited and anxious to continue the series, but Crossed just left me feeling as though I’d wasted time reading an entire book when the story could’ve been told in a few chapters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Dystopian, Fiction, Paranormal, Romance, Sci-Fi, Series, YA

Monday’s Musings: Speaking of Inspiration…

blake   
Inspiration seems to be a theme of mine right now, so in carrying on with that I thought I’d pull something from William Blake, who wrote some pretty fascinating things. His poem “Auguries of Innocence” is a great depiction of his love of contraries, and the opening stanza has some pretty deep ideas hidden in its 4 short lines.

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour. 

One of my favorite movie scenes is the very end of Men in Black, where our galaxy is shown to be nothing more than a marble in a bag belonging to aliens in some far off place. This scene demonstrated to sheer vastness of our universe and just how little we know about it. Yes, yes, I know it was pure fiction, but someone was able to look at something as benign and ordinary as a Cat’s Eye marble and see a small galaxy within it. It just demonstrates how randomly inspiration can hit and how important it is to always be on guard for it.

 

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Filed under Inspiration, Poetry, quotes, Real-life, Writing