Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Going Offline

For the next couple of weeks I'll be quite busy. Yep, I'm going to Disneyland (well, Tokyo Disneyland) for a long deserved holiday. When I come back I'll be fresh and ready to continue writing and blogging and everything else I've been neglecting.

So, for now, I'm signing off.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Review: Minder

Minder by Kate Kaynak

Synopsis (From Goodreads):Sixteen-year-old Maddie Dunn needs to learn how to use her special abilities before somebody else gets hurt. Ganzfield is a secret training facility full of people like her, but it's not exactly a nurturing place. Every social interaction carries the threat of mind-control.A stray thought can burn a building to the ground.And people's nightmares don't always stay in their own heads.But it's still better than New Jersey,especially once she meets the man of her dreams?

After getting attacked one night, Maddie Dunn does the impossible. She fights back with her mind. Her life is turned upside down, told she is a "Minder", a person who possesses telepathic powers, she is transported to Ganzfield, a secret training facility with people just like her, but they're not. The majority of kids here possess pyrokinetic (fire) powers and mind control, she is the only minder.

Here, she meets Trevor, a person who she instantly connects with. It could be the fact that he is also a loner at the facility. He is telekinetic, someone who can control objects with his mind. He also feels he is dangerous to be around, just like Maddie. They fall hard and fast in love as if nothing can tear them apart. But, there are some secrets bout this facility that are kept hidden and some enemies that want it destroyed.

Kate Kaynak has created an interesting world that is similar to X-men in many aspects, but also resembles an ordinary high school. There's the popular kids/bullies (mind controllers) and the lovable geeks (pyros). All characters a very well-rounded and it was good to see all the flaws and weaknesses that teenagers with such powers have.

Even though the relationship between Maddie and Trevor happens too quickly, and it felt a bit unrealistic at times, I felt they were the perfect couple. Both of them were outsiders at school. Maddie was the only Minder and Trevor was the only telekinetic, and both of them were dangerous to be around when they were asleep. It can easily be seen why both would turn to each other.

Minder is the fantastic introduction to the world of Ganzfield, and the perfect start to this series. The book was a quick read, packed full of emotion and turmoil. I look forward to picking up Adversary and the rest of the books in this series to see where Maddie and Trevor go next.

Source: e-book
2011 YA Reading Challenge: #30 of 50

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2012 Reading Challenges

This year I decided to participate in some reading challenges (most I'm actually winning at), and it has come time again to sign up to next year's challenges. I know I'm going to have a lot of commitment with a new job and everything, but that's not going to stop me from reading. For next year, I'm going to sign up to 4 challenges:


  • To read & review a minimum of twelve young adult or middle grade debut novels between the dates of January 1, 2012 - January 31, 2013.
  • You must have a Blog to post your reviews or be a member of Goodreads.
  • Your blog must be written in English.
  • Deadline to join is May 31, 2012.
  • Must be a young adult or middle grade title.
  • Must be the author’s YA or MG debut, released in 2012.
  • If an author has a previous novel published for adults or children, they can still qualify for the challenge.
  • If an author has a previous YA or MG title, they do not qualify for the challenge.
Here's my list of books I'm aiming to read:
  1. Everneath by Brodi Ashton
  2. Tempest by Julie Cross
  3. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
  4. Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
  5. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
  6. Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
  7. The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams
  8. The Selection by Kiera Cass
  9. The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legend 
  10. The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker
  11. Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris
  12. Ditched: A Love Story by Robin Mellom
  13. Undeadly by Michele Vail
  14. Katana by Cole Gibson

Challenge guidelines:

  1. This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2012 - Dec 31, 2012.
  2. As we would like to see quality reviews linked up to our monthly wrap-ups, only bloggers can enter. Sorry about that!
  3. Any genre, length or format of book counts, as long as it is a book that's been sitting on your shelf for some time now. Only books released in 2011 and earlier! NO ARCs and 2012 fresh-off-the-press releases allowed!
  4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  5. When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the 2012 TBR PILE Reading Challenge (You need to include the info + host list + challenge button. You can also grab the button code and add it to your sidebar!)
  6. You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  7. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2012, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
  8. At the end of each month one of the hosts will post a wrap-up. Every wrap-up will have it's unique theme, a mini-challenge, a giveaway and place for you to link up your reviews from this month. For each review you link up, you will get one entry in a drawing of one book of choice from Book Depository. It's open to INTERNATIONALS. For participating in the mini-challenge you will get +1 entry.
  9. If you miss a wrap-up post + giveaway, you can link up your reviews next month. Do not, however, try to link up one review twice - we will be checking ;)
  10. December is a wrap-up for the whole year. All the book reviews you linked up January-November + the ones you'll link up in December will be entered into a HUGE giveaway - 12 books, 12 winners, INTERNATIONAL.
  11. You don't have to follow all the hosts to join the challenge, but you do have to follow all of us to be entered in giveaways!

1-10 - A Firm Handshake
11-20 - A Friendly Hug - I really need to catch up on my TBR list
21-30 - A Sweet Kiss
31-40 - Love At First Sight
41-50 - Married With Children
Some of the books I'm aiming to read are (these are the ones I've got on my shelves):
  1. A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
  2. Haven by Kristi Cook
  3. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
  4. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  5. Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Run's January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012.

The Rules:
  • Anyone can join.
  • You don't need a blog to participate.
  • Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post on Jamie's blog.
  • Audio, eBooks, paper, re-reads all count.
  • No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.
There are four levels:
  1. The Mini YA Reading Challenge – Read 12 Young Adult novels.
  2. The "Fun Size" YA Reading Challenge – Read 20 Young Adult novels.
  3. The Jumbo Size YA Reading Challenge – Read 40 Young Adult novels.
  4. The Mega size YA Reading Challenge – Read 50+ Young Adult novels. - I'm going all out and aiming for 50.

  • Runs January 1, 2012 – December 31, 2012 (books read prior to 1/1/12 do not count towards the challenge). You can join at anytime. Sign up on The Book Vixen’s blog.
  • The goal is to outdo yourself by reading more books in 2012 than you did in 2011. See the different levels below and pick the one that works best for you. Nothing is set in stone; you can change levels at any time during the challenge.
  • Books can be any format (bound, eBook, audio).
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • Grab the reading challenge button and post this reading challenge on your blog to track your progress. Please include a link back to this sign-up post so others can join the reading challenge too. You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you could track your progress on Goodreads or LibraryThing.
Getting my heart rate up – Read 1–5 more books - I'm not going all silly, but I think I can get 5 more than I read this year out... hopefully
Out of breath – Read 6–10 more books
Breaking a sweat – Read 11–15 more books
I’m on fire! – Read 16+ more books

Friday, November 18, 2011

Out with the old, in with the new

Change is good, and I thought this blog needed a change and a new design. Thanks to the fantastic Lori at Imagination Designs who created a fantastic new design for me.

The design isn't the only thing I've changed this week. I finally decided to join Twitter. Yep, I never thought I would, but now I am.You can find me at:

So, what do you think of the new design?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Perfect Cast

I know when I write stories (and even read them), I love to have an idea of what the main cast will look like. I thought it would be fun to create a list of who I think the perfect cast would be for my novel, Shadow Embraced.

When it came to picking my main character, Scar, it was actually a challenge. Scar is feisty and really loves to fight. She also has a dark side which she continuously fights to control.

Even though Chloe Moretz (Kick Ass, Let Me In) is 2 years younger, I love the way she can play the violent roles and still show a vulnerability.

Next up is the love interest, Daemon. He is always in control, suave and really doesn't like to be kept in the dark about anything.

Chase Crawford would fit perfectly into that, not only from his role on Gossip Girl, but also because I loved him in the Covenant.

What can I say about Jynx (a.k.a. Snow as Scar likes to call her)? She definitely holds a grudge and isn't afraid of confrontations, or any consequences that may come from those confrontations.

For her, I think Elizabeth Gillies from Nickelodeon's Victorious would be perfect. From that show, she has already proved that she can play the scary character without losing any flair.

So, what about you? Do you like to picture what actors would be the perfect cast to fill your novels? When reading, do you place actors into the roles so you know what to visualise?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

YA Violence: When is it too much?

I, for one, loves reading and watching violent scenes. For some reason, all those action scenes really draws me into the story. This is probably why I love writing them. As I was having breakfast and discussing with my brother how to mutilate and kill the creatures in the sequel to Shadow  Embraced (yeah, not exactly a good eating conversation), it got me thinking about how much violence is too much in YA novels. I hate reading novels where they get up to the fight/action scenes and it's over too quickly, or don't use enough descriptions to really draw me into what's happening. But how much violence is too much?

Do you like reading violent scenes? Is there a point that you just want to stop reading or skip the scene completely?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A post in which I admit defeat

Okay, I know it's only the first week of Nano, but I do know when the sensible thing to do is give up. Just too many things have been thrown at me this month. In 3 weeks I go over to Japan (and the planning never ends),  not to mention work to pay for said Japan trip, I've got one Shakespeare course that I really, really have to pass, and now I have to also get things packed up so I can move at the end of the year. This week I received a call saying I've got a permanent teaching job for the start of term 1 in January.

So many things that I have to get done. That doesn't mean I'm going to give up on my Nano novel. I actually love the idea that my new time frame is to have it complete by Christmas time (so I'm just aiming to complete Nano in two months rather than just the one).

Yeah, so how is everyone else's November's going?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

So much drama means little Nano...

Why does November have to be a month packed with so much drama? I somehow injured my back at the end of last month and I'm also trying to finish preparing for a trip to Japan which is at the end of the month. 

And, if that's not a lot, my sister and her boyfriend has recently moved into our small 3 bedroom townhouse (that makes 5 people living under the one roof) and it makes it hard to concentrate especially since I need to walk on egg shells so I don't upset anyone, and now I've turned to going and sitting out by the pool to get some "ME" time.

I have found out some things:
  • It's hard to write when there's people around making noise.
  • It's emotionally draining to try and fit family and writing and holiday planning into the one day (boy, I was asleep before 8:30).
  • Sitting by the pool in Spring might be quiet, but my feet have been eaten alive by mosquitoes.
It's only the start of the month and I'm already tired. I'm just going to keep powering on and telling myself "I can do it!"

Are you having any better luck with Nano? What do you do to get away from distractions?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review: Shatter Me

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Synopsis (From Goodreads):Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. 

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color. 

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now. 

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior. 

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in 264 days, not since the accident which made the reestablishment lock her up for murder. Juliette has the power to kill someone by just touching them. Locked in an isolated cell with no contact, Juliette thinks that's how she's going to spend the rest of her life. That is until Adam gets placed in the same cell as her. This must be a test or a trap because not only did they place a boy in her cell, his is familiar. Juliette knows him from some place before her life in the cell.

When the two are forced from their cell, only then does Juliette realise she was right. It was a test. Adam was planted in her cell, a direct command of the military general, Warner. Warner is obsessed with Juliette, ever since he discovered what she is capable of. He pulls her out of the life of solitary and gives her food and beautiful clothes, and the chance to have the world at her feet. The only catch is that she agrees to work for Warner and use her touch to torture his enemies.

And then there's Adam. He remains close to her, and is the only one capable of helping her escape. Juliette must keep fighting Warner's advances until she can get away or be forced to use her curse for his psychotic purposes.

Tahereh Mafi has created a thrilling debut in a dystopian society where the world is falling a part and diseases and food shortages are destroying the population. Even though Juliette is despised and feared, mostly by people who don't understand what she can truly do, she has remained strong and kind.  Juliette's voice comes through strong with every word, especially the contradictory thoughts that has been scratched out, such as:

It's a home, a centre for troubled youth, for neglected children from broken families, a safe house for the psychologically disturbed. It's a prison.

It's easy to see how all the horrors Juliette has faced could lead her to kill herself, but still she doesn't. Her life is the one thing she can control.

Adam and Juliette go perfectly together. Both of their lives have been hard and it is easy to see why they need each other to lean on, but then there's Warner who would do anything to have Juliette all to himself. He is venomous and would do anything to have power, which includes having the power Juliette has. Warner dangles all the enticing, but poisonous, fruit in front of Juliette expecting her to do whatever he wants because he can provide her with food and clothes and attention, the things she has not had in her life.

Mafi's writing is beautiful and unique. From the first word the reader is pulled into Juliette's head and stays there. It reads like it is actually inside a broken 17 year old's head. I really loved how Juliette still has a value of life, even though no one else has shown her any courtesy like that before. She is only one of the elements that makes this book a page turning rollercoaster.

With an X-men feel in a dystopian society, Shatter Me is an exciting read and I can't wait until the sequel to see more of Juliette and Adam.

Source: ARC courtesy of Allen and Unwin
2011 YA Reading Challenge: #29 of 50
2011 Debut Author Challenge: #14 of 20

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Let it Begin!

Where did the month of October go? It's now November and NanoWriMo has officially started down here in Australia and I'm hoping all my planning hasn't been in useless. This is the first year I've got a pretty solid idea about the novel and where I want it to go. All I have to do is meet the 2k limit I've set for me each day and I'm sweet.

And now I'm here, really trying to figure out how to start the novel... dang, I hate finding that first sentence. You can find me under cherry_chez over at the NanoWriMo site. Good luck to all those participating.

So, who else is getting excited about Nano? What sort of planning did you do for the novel? If you're not participating, do you have anything exciting planned for November?
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