Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Needing to catch up...

Even though it's only the second week of Uni, I already have so so so much to catch up on, and then there's the 7 literary books I need to read. I'll be taking a week away from this blog to try and get a good cover on my subjects especially before my work starts back up next week or I will be duplicating the look of the picture above.

I hope everyone has a good week.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Birthday Blowout First Page Contest with Victoria Marini: Contest Entry

The  Birthday Blowout First Page Contest with Victoria Marini hosted by Shelley Watters starts today!!! Below you will find my 250 word entry. Hope you enjoy it and feel free to leave some comments.

Good luck to all the participants!

Title: Shadow Embraced
Genre: YA urban fantasy
Word count: 55,000

The pale girl knocks me back against the fleshy wall of the crowd with a couple of hard hits. I scramble away from a woman in a purple dress, my eyes on my opponent. Over the pulsing music, the crowd still keeps up their tribal chant.

“Fight! Fight! Fight!”

This is my first time at The Basement--innovative name for a club set up on a second-storey. The dim lights and smoky atmosphere make the graffiti on the walls blaze. Between the pinball machines, sagging lounges, and the close-pressed crowd, there isn't much room to manoeuvre.

“What are you waiting for?” the girl hisses. She could be Snow White with her porcelain skin and long, raven hair. “You started this. It was just between me and her.” She extends one long finger towards my best friend, Alex.

Alex watches from the sideline. I don’t know what she did to piss off this poisonous cow, but now I want blood.

“Come on, Scarlet,” Alex calls.

I take my focus off my opponent and glare at her. I hate it when she uses my name.

My opponent launches at me. I snap back to the fight just in time to shield my face from her punches. It all comes down to waiting for an opening. She’s fast, almost as fast as me. It’s difficult to maintain my balance enough to strike back.

I duck under a right hook and seize my chance. I throw an uppercut and knock her pale ass to the ground.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Check out this first page contest

The awesome Shelley Waters is holding a first page contest on the 25th-27th June.

This contest is only open to YA, Middle Grade, memoir, pop-culture non-fiction, and women’s commercial fiction.

So here's how the contest will work:
  1. Be sure your work fits into one of the following genres: YA, Middle Grade, memoir, pop-culture non-fiction, and women’s commercial fiction.
  2. Sign up on the link below.
  3. On June 25th, post your title, genre, word count and the first 250 words on your blog for critique.
  4. From June 25th through June 26th, hop around to the other contestant's blogs and critique their first 250 words.
  5. On June 27th, come back to my blog and post your final entry on my dedicated contest entry blog post. Be sure to include:
    1. Your email address
    2. Title, genre, wordcount
    3. Your polished first page (250 words) Don't stop in the middle of a sentence.
    4. Where you follow me
    5. Where you spread the word
If the contest wasn't awesome enough. Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency is the judge. 

Now, who wouldn't want to enter that?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Review: Between Here and Forever

Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott

Synopsis (From Goodreads): Abby accepted that she can’t measure up to her beautiful, magnetic sister Tess a long time ago, and knows exactly what she is: Second best. Invisible.

Until the accident.

Now Tess is in a coma, and Abby’s life is on hold. It may have been hard living with Tess, but it's nothing compared to living without her.

She's got a plan to bring Tess back though, involving the gorgeous and mysterious Eli, but then Abby learns something about Tess, something that was always there, but that she’d never seen.

Abby is about to find out that truth isn't always what you think it is, and that life holds more than she ever thought it could...

All Abby's life she has had to live under her sister's shadow. She has never been able to be as good as Tess. Abby thought that once Tess went off to college then everything would change and she would be able to live her own life away from the comparison. Then the car accident happened which put Tess in a comma. Now she is only seen as poor Tess's sister.

Abby devotes her life to Tess, spending most of her afternoons at the hospital. She thinks if Tess can wake up she will be able to get on with her life and live without the constant stigma of being Tess's sister. Then she meets the mysterious boy, Eli, who she believes will be able to wake Tess up. What she finds on her quest to wake her sister up is something about herself as well as her sister, something that she had never seen but has always been there.

Elizabeth Scott has created a believable story of family secrets and self-discovery. Abby is just an average teenager who lacks self-esteem who has always had to live with to comparison of her perfect sister. Anyone who's had to live in someone else's shadow can easily relate to her. Even when given a compliment, she doesn't know if people are feeling sorry for her or just seeing her as her sister.

Eli is another character that is full of mystery and problems himself. All the characters in the story have their own background and little quirks that makes them believable.

The mystery of who Tess was, drew me into the story as Abby tried to solve the big secret that Tess was keeping, one she had never paid close enough attention to. As Abby searches for the answers, she also has to learn that she can live her own life, free from the stigma of being Tess's sister.

Source: Simon & Schuster Galley Grab
2011 YA Reading Challenge: #23 of 50

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Been a bit distracted

So, I haven't been around a lot this week or have really done much reading or writing, something I really have to force myself to do before uni kicks off again. I'm one that probably hasn't been on a real holiday for over ten years. My holiday's usually consists of going to my country town home (where I end up cooking and cleaning for my father). Or taking a couple of days off and going to a theme park which I live 30 minutes from... so, that's a normal holiday for me.

This year is different. My brother and I decided we would be going over to Japan and when the airline we were going to book through had 50% off I couldn't resist and I started to make the bookings. We're not going till the end of November, but this week I've been planning all of our accommodation and finding up any other information that we need (apart from being our first major holiday, this is also our first international holiday and first time on a plane... hey, my parents were drivers and even drove 4 days to get across Australia for a holiday when we were young).

I know it's a while off, but at least I can relax knowing that we've got all the accommodation and airfares fixed. Now we just have to save up to be able to afford everything... plus a lot in spending money.

Now I'm going to tear my eyes away from Tokyo Disneyland (yep, I'm definitely making this a priority since I live NOWHERE near a Disney and just call me a big kid who wants to go there very badly) and get back to work.

So, what has everyone else been up to this past week?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Review: Mercy

Mercy by Rebecca Lim

Synopsis (From Goodreads): Mercy ‘wakes’ on a school bus bound for Paradise, a small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business… or thinks they do. But Mercy has a secret life. She is an angel, doomed to return repeatedly to Earth, taking on a new ‘persona’ each time she does, in an effort to resolve a cataclysmic rift between heavenly beings. The first of a brilliant new series sees Mercy meeting Ryan, an eighteen-year-old whose sister was kidnapped two years ago and is presumed dead. When another girl is also kidnapped, Mercy knows she has to act quickly and use extraordinary powers to rescue her, even if it means exposing her true identity. Ages 13+

Mercy is an angel who doesn't know what she's done to be living in this limbo called her life. She is doomed to return to earth repeatedly, sliding into someone else's life in order to fix a problem. Mercy doesn't remember much of the previous lives, all she knows is that the girl's she leaves have ended up in a better place.

When Mercy wakes up on a school bus bound for a small town called paradise where Carmen, the girl she's taking over is participating in a combined school choir she doesn't know what she's in for. The family taking her in while she's in the town has a sad past. Two years ago their daughter was kidnapped without any trace. Almost everyone has given up on finding her alive, except for her eighteen year old brother, Ryan. Mercy knows she has to do something, that this is the reason for her being placed in this life. But can Mercy find the missing girl without putting Carmen in danger or making her life worse for when she wakes up?

Rebecca Lim has created a very unique angel story. Mercy is very confused about who she is and why she has been placed in this life, but she is also a strong and believable character. And as Mercy fumbles to get a grip on this new charge and understand everything about Carmen, this allows the reader to get even closer to her as it really feels like she's experiencing everything for the first time.

There is enough twists and turns to keep the pages turning and heart racing as Mercy discovers more secrets and lies that the family and town has. This book not only has one mystery about the missing girl, but also the mystery surrounding Mercy's past. She is searching for her soulmate and answers as to why she's living these girls lives, and it's hinted throughout the novel, but as the first mystery is solved there are still those questions that makes me want to read the next in the series just to find out more.

Mercy is a perfect book for any angel or paranormal fan. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Source: NetGalley
2011 Aussie Reading Challenge: #2 of 12
2011 YA Reading Challenge: #22 of 50

Thursday, June 9, 2011

When is it overdone?

I have this one character who is screaming to come out, even though I'm in the middle of writing another story. The one thing is that her story is actually a paranormal romance. There are just so many YA paranormal romances out now so the problem "is paranormal romance overdone?"

I have to admit that some that I've read follow an exact formula, but there are some that are very different. The one thing that they all do have is the love triangle. I don't think I've read one without two guys vying for the girl's attention.

I have to admit that I still love the paranormal romance, as long as the girl's a kick-but, take-no-crap-from-anyone type. So, this is when I ask you:

Is paranormal romance overdone? Or is there still some room for stories that add their own twist on the genre?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Review: The Cellar

The Cellar by A. J. Whitten

Synopsis (From Goodreads): Meredith Willis is suspicious of Adrien, the new guy next door. When she dares to sneak a look into the windows of his house, she sees something in the cellar that makes her believe that Adrien might be more than just a creep—he may be an actual monster.

But her sister, Heather, doesn’t share Meredith’s repulsion. Heather believes Adrien is the only guy who really understands her. In fact, she may be falling in love with him. When Adrien and Heather are cast as the leads in the school production of Romeo and Juliet, to Heather, it feels like fate. To Meredith, it feels like a bad omen. But if she tries to tear the couple apart, she could end up in the last place she’d ever want to be: the cellar. Can Meredith convince her sister that she’s dating the living dead before it’s too late for both of them?

A. J. Whitten has created a Romeo and Juliet story with zombies. Meredith and Heather are sisters constantly haunted by the tragic loss of their father from a car accident which has left Heather with scars. Meredith is scared for her sister because she is withdrawing into herself and they aren't talking like they used to.

Meredith has more to worry about when the new guy next door takes an interest in Heather. When Meredith dares to investigate him she sees something in the cellar that makes Meredith believe he's a monster, but no one will believe her. In fact, every one who comes into contact with Adrien absolutely loves him. How can she make Heather and everyone else in town that he's a monster before they all become dinner?

I didn't know what kind of story I'd find when I first started reading The Cellar. The Cellar is a horror with a central love story. The writing was pretty good and graphic, but that's how I like my horror stories. The one thing about this story is that nothing came as a surprise due to the story being divided into three POVs (Meredith, Heather and Adrien), and because of Adrien's perspective, it didn't keep the reader trying to guess what's going to happen. Because I love mysteries in my horror about what/who the monster is, this is the one main part that let it down for me.

This divided POV also hindered me from really feeling any connection to the characters. Each of the POVs were individual and unique, and from viewing every side of the story it was hard to decided who to root for, or feel sorry for, more.

That being said, The Cellar was an interesting story full of action, romance and horror, the perfect companion to sitting at home during a stormy night and reading.

Source: NetGalley
2011 YA Reading Challenge: #21 of 50

Friday, June 3, 2011

Interview: Jessica Brody

Jessica Brody is the author of adult novels the Fidelity Files and Love Under Cover. Her YA novel, the Karma Club came out last year and her new YA, My Life Undecided is being released on the 7th June. It was my pleasure to be able to interview Jessica about her new novel and her writing.

1.    Jessica after writing two successful commercial fiction books for adults, The Fidelity Files, and Love Under Cover, what made you decide to write YA?

I like to say I didn’t choose YA, it chose me! I never even had a second thought about writing it. But when I came up with the idea for THE KARMA CLUB, at first I tried to plot it out as an adult novel and it felt all wrong to me. Then I started to think about it as a story about teens and suddenly it all started to fall into place. Of course, I had no idea how to write a teen novel. So I started reading a bunch of YA fiction to get a feel for the genre and I fell in LOVE with it. I then wrote out 50 pages of the story, showed my agent and asked, “Am I even close to the mark here?” She read it, liked it and told me to keep going with it. She said I had a “natural YA voice.” I think that’s code for “you’re still 17 at heart” (which I still feel!). I’ve been writing exclusively YA ever since!

2.    Can you tell us a little about your new book, My Life Undecided?  

I can tell you a lot! Haha. But I’ll stick to the elevator pitch. MY LIFE UNDECIDED is about a fifteen year old girl, notorious for making bad decisions, who enlists the help of the online blog reading population to make her decisions for her and vote on how she should live her life. But she soon discovers that some things in life simply aren’t a choice…like who you fall in love with.

3.    How did you get the idea for writing it?

This book was definitely one of those “aha!” moments that I hear writers talk about. My husband and I were watching TV, an ad for a reality show came on and I said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a reality show where you could vote on what the characters did. As in, “who they went out with?” or “Whether or not they forgave their backstabbing best friend.” Like American Idol meets The Hills. We both agreed although it would be cool, it wouldn’t be practical from a production standpoint since they shoot those reality shows months before they air. I was not deterred though. I said, “Fine, I’ll write it as a book,” and then marched up the stairs and in ten short minutes, wrote a page-long synopsis for what would become MY LIFE UNDECIDED and sent it to my editor. She wrote back right away saying that she loved it and the book was born!

4.    The main character in My Life Undecided has a real problem with making decisions. Do you have a hard time making decisions, and what’s one decision you would put on the blog to let everyone decide for you?

GREAT question! I often do have a hard time making decisions. I second guess EVERYTHING. But in the end, I just have to remind myself to go with my gut and not look back. If it was a mistake then the best I can do is learn from it and move on. Life would be so boring without mistakes! As for the blog, I would love to post a poll for every time I have to choose something to wear for an event or special occasion. I’m SO fashionably inept. It would be so cool if I could just upload my entire wardrobe and then have my blog readers piece together outfits for me. That would make my life SO much easier!

5.    What’s up next for you, are you working on anything beyond your next YA novel, My Life Undecided?

Ooh, I have TONS of fun stuff in the works! Some I can talk about and some I can’t…YET! My next book is called 52 REASONS TO HATE MY FATHER. It will be released in Spring 2012. I just finished all the edits. I’m so excited about this one! It’s about a spoiled teen heiress, famous for her partygirl antics and tabloid headlines, who’s forced by her ever-absent mogul father to take on a different low-wage job every week for a year, if she wants any hope of receiving her trust fund. I had SO much fun writing that one. And it was recently optioned for film! So fingers crossed it actually gets made! How cool would that be?

And right now I’m working on the first book in a new sci-fi trilogy I just sold called UNREMEMBERED. It’s about a sixteen year old girl who wakes up amongst the wreckage of a devastating plane crash with no memories. She's forced to piece together her forgotten past with only one clue to her identity-- a mysterious boy who claims she was part of a science experiment 100 years in the future.

6.    If you could have dinner with any fictional character who would it be and why?

Um, okay, I’m going to have to say Edward Cullen. Because…well, yummy! ‘Nough said.

Thank you Jessica for taking the time. And here's a little peak of what My Life Undecided has to offer. Remember My Undecided Life is released on 7th June.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness - May Wrap Up

Book Soulmates

This was my first time participating in R.A.K., hosted by  Book Soulmates, and while I didn't receive anything this month (although I have been contacted so I should be receiving something shortly), it was a blast to participate in. I sent out three books:

I enjoyed participating in May and look forward to signing up for the fun of June.
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