Friday, January 13, 2012

Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Synopsis (From Goodreads):In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

Mary has always been taught one thing: Stay away from the fence that surrounds the village. The Sisterhood has always known what's best for the village while the Guardians protect. When she watches her mother turn into one of the unconsecrated she is turned over to the Sisterhood. But with an inquisitive nature, Mary is learning that the Sisterhood have secrets. Secrets they don't want the village to know, including that life exists outside the forest of hands and teeth.

When the gates fail and the unconsecrated attack the village, Mary is forced to run, venture through the gates she was warned to stay away from. With a small group, she aims to find the last haven away from the unconsecrated, to find out whether the stories from her mother are true. She heads out to find the ocean. As they venture deeper down a path that is surrounded by the unconsecrated, will they manage to escape from the forest of hands and teeth?

It's taken me a while to read this book and I wasn't disappointed. For a zombie novel, it had the right amount of psychological tension and drama as Mary learns that the truths she thought were real about the world around her anything but real. I liked how the horror elements were described without overly abusing the gore factor that are present with most zombie novels.

Mary is a strong character, but at times can be annoying as her mind is always focused on finding the ocean no matter what other obstacle she may encounter or whoever else may be affected. The relationship drama between Mary, Travis and Harry was built on and could see the real emotions she felt towards the two boys. I felt sorry for both boys for different reasons, but due to not wanting to spoil anything I'm not going to say a word about what those reasons were.

As a post-apocalyptic, zombie novel, The Forest of Hands and Teeth was an interesting take on the zombie genre and with a lot of character development. I'm looking forward to picking up the other novels in this series.

Source: audio book
2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge: #1 of 11
2012 YA Reading Challenge: #1 of 50

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Everything in a neat little package

I've been doing a lot of travelling in the past month (mainly back and forth between the lovely Gold Coast and cold country NSW). There is a positive about spending 12+ hours driving each way, though. It gives me a lot of time to think and reflect on my characters, story or loose ends I need to cover.

When I think up my plots, I have so many different elements and events all happening at the same time that it can sometimes get confusing to try and make sure everything is tied in a neat little package at the end. One secret weapon I use to keep everything together and to track is a mind map. I find that by visualising all the paths that are taking place within a plot will help me track what needs to happen with all those little loose ends.

Tying up loose ends in novels is probably in the same league as the debate over standalone vs series. If there are still questions to be answered and I know that the next in the series isn't going to come out for another year, I might be content to wait or I might also feel let down over how the first one ended. When I read and I know it's a series I do like a little bit of tantalising info to keep me wanting more, but I don't want a twist right at the end that leaves it open on a cliff hanger that doesn't answer anything for me (but there have been cliff hangers that I have been satisfied with).

What about you? Do you prefer all loose ends to be neatly tied up or questions that leaves you wanting more? What about writing endings? Do you find it easy to write the ending and tie up the loose ends?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Are you a pantser or an outliner?

As I'm writing my current WiP, I was motoring along with full steam until I ran into a block. This is usually what happens when I try to write on the fly. So, this question is interesting. Can you write better with or without an outline?

I do try to write without an outline. I like to see where my character takes me, an I often know what the ending is going to be. It's the damn middle that really gets me blocked. Then I find for the middle that I do require some basic outline (which I don't force myself to stick to). I guess this is just to help me have plot points that will help me find that path to the ending.

How do you write? Do you prefer an outline or are you a pantser?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What do you fear?

Fear. Nearly everyone has some sort of fear, whether it's spiders, dark, or even something simple such as fear of failure. I'm a weird one. I love spiders, snakes, dark and creepy places... I blame my cousins for taking me on thrill rides and haunted houses at carnivals when I was no older than 6... but change, I can handle change, but something about doing something so out of my comfort zone scares me. I like to know what to expect and what I'm doing, but I don't let that stop me from moving forward.

When writing horror, I like to explore the different fears, trying to create the right sense of emotion and fright in every character and scene. So, today I thought I'd list a few of the familiar, interesting and weird phobias that people can have.

  • Achluophobia- Fear of darkness.
  • Algophobia- Fear of pain.
  • Astrophobia- Fear of stars or celestial space.
  • Asymmetriphobia- Fear of asymmetrical things.  
  • Atelophobia- Fear of imperfection.
  • Bibliophobia- Fear of books. - Something I'm definitely not!
  • Brontophobia- Fear of thunder and lightning.
  • Cacophobia- Fear of ugliness.
  • Coulrophobia- Fear of clowns.
  • Didaskaleinophobia- Fear of going to school.
  • Eisoptrophobia- Fear of mirrors or of seeing oneself in a mirror.
  • Ephebiphobia- Fear of teenagers.
  • Glossophobia- Fear of speaking in public or of trying to speak.
  • Gnosiophobia- Fear of knowledge.
  • Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia- Fear of long words.
  • Mnemophobia- Fear of memories.
  • Mythophobia- Fear of myths or stories or false statements.
  • Necrophobia- Fear of death or dead things.
  • Pentheraphobia- Fear of mother-in-law
  • Phasmophobia- Fear of ghosts.
  • Sciaphobia- Fear of shadows.
  • Scriptophobia- Fear of writing in public.
  • Sophophobia- Fear of learning.
  • Verbophobia- Fear of words
This is only some of the phobias that were listed. Check out  Phobia List for even more. In my current YA horror, I'm actually using the simple fear of ghosts and the dark, mixed with the fear of memories (mnemophobia) because my character has amnesia. 

So, what are you scared of?           

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Resolutions? Do you have any?

Every new year I aim to stick to a few resolutions I make... most of the time, the resolutions are broken by the end of January. Yeah, why do I make them then? I love giving myself some goal to achieve. Why I can't keep them is simple... Life!

Life gets in the way, especially when I say I'll eat healthier, do exercise each day or focus on my studies more. These sound easy to keep, but when life gets busy, it is easy to get lost in all the commotion and activities that are required to do. This makes it easier to pick up some fast food snack or something else to break the resolutions.

This year, my resolutions are going to revolve around my writing (and this year I'm going to keep them :D). I'm going to:
  • Complete the novels I've started and query at least 1 more.
  • Focus more on blogging on a steady schedule, as well as replying to comments and commenting on more blogs.
  • Get out more reviews for my critique group.
I think these are resolutions I can keep this year.

What about you? Do you give yourself resolutions for the new year? What are some of your resolutions or why don't you have any?

Monday, January 2, 2012

2011 Stats & Winner

It's the start of the new year. It's supposed to be a time of fresh beginnings, and I guess it is. This year marks the start of a new career in a new town (yikes!). So, to finish off the year, here are some stats I achieved in 2011:

No of Books read: 51
No of Pages read (according to goodreads): 15669

2011 Debut Author Challenge: 14/12 - success

2011 Aussie YA Reading Challenge: 5/12 - abysmal failure
2011 YA Reading Challenge: 49/50 - nearly there, yeah I actually read 2 adult books to push me over 50 (blame school work for that)

Last Book Read: Secrets of My Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita
Longest Book Read: Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead (594 pages)

And, now to really bring 2011 to a close, I have a winner to announce for my Christmas Giving Giveaway

And the winner is, picked from
Jovy Sauva who nominated her daughter to receive 2 books.
I will contact you very soon in regards to the books.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the contest. I hope everyone had a fantastic start to the year.
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