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AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Ellen Allen Author of “The Sham”

12 Jan

Hey guys, remember when I mentioned that I’d introduce a new segment on my blog (as part of my resolutions)? Well, today I’ll post my first ever author interview. It’s an exciting day for me. Do stick around and read thoroughly. You’ll definitely learn something :).

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing the lovely Ellen Allen, indie author of YA thriller The Sham.

Ellen Allen

Hi Ellen, thank you for agreeing to this interview. It’s great to have you on my little blog.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Three years’ ago I quit my job in London and moved with my small daughter to the south of France. The plan was to stay for a few months – to fulfill a lifelong dream of lollygagging in rosé wine vineyards, writing a book, getting the hang of French grammar, etc. – but we haven’t been able to leave!

We’ve built a new life here, complete with jobs, schools, and French subjunctive tenses – as well as the vineyards and writing! – and the best part is that we’re only a few hours away by train from our family in London. It’s also sunny here, roughly 300 days a year…

I’m not sure that I have many strange quirks but I love wild swimming; my favourite spots are under Pont du Gard in the south of France and Dosthill quarry in the Midlands, England.

When did you first develop an interest in writing?

I never set out to be an author but I’ve always been writing: at school, it was often some sort of trilogy involving magic kingdoms and dwarfs (I loved Tolkien); throughout my teens, I religiously recorded monumental events in my diary but mostly filled it with inconsequential lists of things I had to do each day (have a bath, feed the cat…); when I was pregnant with my daughter, I began writing plays, which was the first time that I actually considered that I might be able to write – I received a really encouraging critique from the BBC. Since then, I’ve written a few more plays as well as my first book, The Sham. It sounds a bit silly but I just have to write. It’s what makes me wildly happy.

When it comes to your writing, how do you stay inspired and motivated?

Writing books is hard work so to stay motivated, I find it best to give myself weekly, monthly and yearly goals. For example, this week I intend to blog twice and finish my plan for book two. This month, I intend to start writing my new book and this year, I intend to finish it! For inspiration, I read, read, read…

Where do you write? Do you like quiet or is music a must and part of your writing process?

Music is a must. I’ve attached the playlist for The Sham below.

To hear the music that was part of The Sham’s writing process, check out The Sham’s playlist.

To be a writer you HAVE to be a reader. Who is your favourite author?

I have lots of favourites: for dark teen issues, you can’t go wrong with anything by Laurie Halse Anderson; for literary fiction, my favourite is The Secret History by Donna Tartt – she writes characters that stay with you long after you finish her books; if I want comfort reading, I’ll read To Kill A Mockingbird or any Jane Austen; and no one can scare me as much as Stephen King.

The literary world is full of diversity and variety at times it gets overwhelming. Do you have a favourite genre?

I love writing YA because it’s a genre that seems to allow authors to take a crazy idea and run with it, much more than adult books. I love reading most things but mainly YA, adult thrillers and literary fiction.

After enough reading and getting swallowed up in other people’s work, some words just stick to us and touch us. What is your favourite book quote?

My favourite quote at the moment is by Stephen Chbosky from The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I didn’t love the book as much as I think everyone else does but there are some wonderful phrases in it, such as “we accept the love we think we deserve.” So true.

Now we have to talk about your book, “The Sham”. To read my personal thoughts on The Sham, see my review.

The Sham

The Sham

Can you tell us a little about your book?

The Sham is a YA contemporary thriller, set in the fictional town of Clevesham in the Midlands, England. A girl called Emily meets a boy called Jack, the same day as her classmate is murdered (and later washes up in the local floods). As more of her classmates go missing, suspicion increasingly falls on Jack and Emily must decide who and what she trusts. Fast. Before the police can arrest him. Before another girl goes missing. Before he simply disappears.

What brought up the idea? The first chapter was a bit dark, did you intend it that way?

The idea came to me in a nightmare. I dreamed that I was 17 again, back in school, with the same group of 4 friends, involved in a murder of one of them. It was so vivid that I couldn’t get back to sleep and the only way I could get it out of my head was to write it all down. It is quite dark but necessarily so – it sets up the book.

The sham has an interesting cover…tell us about that. How it came up. Did you have a say in the design?

I was trying to think of an image from the book that would stand out on the shelves. I told BookBaby (who did the design) what I wanted and I loved what they came up with.

Do you think book covers contribute to buying process?

Absolutely! I think it’s a big part of our buying decision. It’s also one of the most difficult as it has to visually encapsulate what the book is about. It’s a tricky process.

Every book review blogger knows writing isn’t easy. It takes determination and pushing oneself. What’s the hardest part about writing for you?

I love each phase of the writing process – the research, the outline, the writing and the revision but I think the hardest part has to be just buckling down and doing it, whatever part of the process you’re on. It doesn’t get done itself!

 Was it hard getting an agent?

I sent my novel out to about fifteen agents and she replied the same day, asking to see more. She read it the following week and asked if I’d like to meet, so it was pretty straightforward. We had a great meeting – very constructive – and she gave me loads of advice. That said, when I sent her the rewrites, she’d left her job, so I managed to lose my agent very easily too! I’m currently waiting for another agent to read the full manuscript so we’ll see what happens.

Do you ever get writer’s block? How do you combat it?

If I can’t write anything, it’s usually because I haven’t thought through my ideas enough. Sometimes the best thing can just be to do everything other than writing… letting ideas just sit in your brain or reading, reading, reading. Sometimes a good book can spark other ideas in your head and set me off…

I’m no writer but I know feedback is very important. It’s great to read what your readers thought of your work. What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

I love the bad ones as much as the good. Seriously! As a newly self-published author, reviews are the only feedback that I’ll get on my writing and I’m really enjoying reading it (even if it is painful at times!). I think it’s the only way that authors like me will improve their work (identifying writing ticks, or plot holes, for instance).

It can be difficult to read bad reviews but I think you still have to remember to say “thank you”. From a reviewer’s perspective, a person has taken a lot of time and energy reading the book and writing a review and they’re entitled to their opinion. From my perspective, if one person has said something, it might or might not be true. When I read a hundred reviewers all saying the same thing, offering the same critique, then I’ll know it’s definitely true. It’s that feedback that I’ll be taking with me to the next book.

Do you think about giving books away for free?

I’ve given away tons of review copies and I happily run giveaways on blogs. I think it’s a great way of getting my book to people who have never heard of me at all. I’ve heard that free books are also great for authors who have other works for sale, which they can offer as a lead in to their work.

What advice can you give to any aspiring writers reading this?

I’m new to this so I don’t really feel qualified to offer advice to anyone. Instead, I’ll offer up the advice from others that I’m following religiously:

As Stephen King most famously says, “reading is writing”. You need to be reading widely and voraciously to write well. I have a non-writing job, so I find it hard to find the time to read as much as I should. The reading challenge on Goodreads has been great for helping me keep track of how many books I’m getting through and what’s next on my list.

Lionel Shriver – one of my favourite authors – was asked what the best advice was for new authors and she put it well: “Don’t turn it into a mystical process. Just get on with it!” You have to be disciplined, dogmatic, stubborn and organised to be a jobbing writer. I try not to think about the rest – the doubts about talent, whether anyone will read it – and I just get on with it. I want it to be my career, so I treat it as if it is.

There is tons of writing advice out there that isn’t very good – the irony in reading writing advice that isn’t well written! You can spend hours trawling through it, but it’s distracting and time wasting. Find a few blogs that you rate, a few sites that you trust, follow a few similar writers, watch how they progress and then – you guessed it – get on with it.

So, what’s next? Any work in progress at the moment?

I don’t like to talk about the books that I’m currently writing in too much detail, partly because I feel silly talking about stories before they’re solidified in my head. It is YA, it is a thriller, but it involves a wider group of people who are brought together for a certain purpose. I’m really enjoying how it’s coming, partly because I’m at the point where I’m working out if all the twists and turns work and who’s who. I hope it will be out sometime this year.

That was very eye opening on my part and I enjoyed the responses. I have a ton of questions but that’s all for today. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and for sharing The Sham with us.

Well readers, if you’d like to contact Ellen Allen or read more about her work, you can reach her (and The Sham) at the following links:

Ellen Allen’s Amazon author page

The Sham on goodreads

Ellen Allen on Twitter

Ellen Allen on Facebook

Ellen Allen’s writing blog


That’s it for my first author interview. Do leave me a comment on your thoughts and if you have already read The Sham, what did you think of it?

Follow me on twitter Dee@The perks

-Dee

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Top Ten 2015 Bookish Resolutions

30 Dec

Hi. Howdy. Konnichiwa. Salaam. Ola. Shalom. Mulishani 😀 I hope you enjoyed the festivities…whatever it is you celebrate .

So, I know I missed last week’s top ten. I feel awful and bad about it. It couldn’t be helped really. Life got in the way (holidays) and by the time I got to typing, it was already freaking Wednesday. There was no way I was going to send a Top Ten Tuesday blog post on a freaking Wednesday like a Day-confused psycho…nope. The saying “Better late than never” didn’t apply here…at all. I can wear one of those cute panties that say ‘Tuesday’ on a Wednesday, well, cause who really is going to be judging me for that? It is called underwear and unless am an eccentric flasher or Miley Cyrus, none of you would know just what’s under my skinny jeans, would you? I’m rambling again, aren’t I?

Anyway, on to a bit more seriousness.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Goals/ Resolutions for 2015. They have to be book and blog related of course. Sounds exciting and simple enough, right?

Now, before I begin, I must confess that I suck at keeping my resolutions. By the time it’s like the second week of January, I almost always revert to my old ways and feel like such a failure for not improving and achieving anything I set out to do. So, this time I’ll set goals that I can actually achieve. There will be no ‘become besties with J. K Rowling’ or ‘become a New York time’s bestselling author by February 14th’ on my list. What you’ll get are real goals that will help me grow as a reader, blogger and wannabe writer.
Here I go…

  1. Finish writing at least one book
  2. If you were to stumble upon my laptop, you’d find my documents folder full of unfinished writing projects. I don’t know what is wrong with me, but after all the typing and badass talking (yes I said it, badass) I do, I am yet to have a finished project I can proudly share and talk about. So, for 2015, hopeful I can check this one of my list. 365 days, seems manageable, right?

  3. Review every single book I read
  4. I read a lot of books but I don’t always post reviews for them. Either on my blog or on good reads. Mostly it has to do with not wanting to post a bad review of someone’s work. After my 50 shades of Grey rant, I swore never to have such a post again. I know that I can review bad books in a more mature way and so hence this goal.

  5. Read at least 4 classics
  6. There are a lot of people who claim that classic novels can be boring and so they avoid them, except during English class or Literature when they have no choice. You know, since it’s a ‘read or flunk’ situation. I have quite a number of the good old classics in ebook format but haven’t gotten around to reading them. I’d like to change that for 2015.

  7. Discover and endorse at least 10 deserving up and coming authors.
  8. I’m sure if you’ve been following my posts for a while now, you’ve kind of seen that I have gone on a personal crusade of helping out new authors. For 2015, I’d love to talk to you guys about some really great authors that deserve to be read.

  9. Catch up on some recommended book series
  10. My sister has recommended a lot of book series to me but I haven’t yet started any of them. The plots look great and I know when I review them, even you my followers will like them.

  11. Read more books by male authors
  12. This had been on my mind for a very long time now. I rarely read books by male authors and this is something I’d love to work on. If you have any good books that you can recommend to me, leave me a comment or link up with me on my goodreads account. If you’re a male author, do share your work with me. Think of it as ‘self-endorsing’:)

  13. Participate in new reading challenges hosted by fellow book bloggers
  14. This will be a great way for me to read a wider variety of new books. I’m in quite a number of groups on goodreads but I’d very much like to be involved in challenges that are on WordPress as well. It would also be a great way to interact with people I share an interest with. If you have reading challenges on your blog, just send me a link or something.

  15. Read 101 books
  16. Hahaha, so 101 is a random number, right? Why not 100 or 99? Well, that’s beside the point. I just want to read over 100 books next year. Think of all the different worlds and realms I’ll be transported to. I can’t wait. *excited*

  17. Do at least 10 Author interviews
  18. This one falls under the helping new writers have a bigger audience and what better way than to give them a chance to talk about their work and aspirations that an interview. I’ve been meaning to interview Candace Nicole Werts for a while now, but as usual life got in the way.

  19. Have a contest segment on my blog
  20. This will be a great way to interact with my followers and give something back. I love contests, especially writing ones, but really I just want to have any form of contest on my blog. I feel like having a really successful blog and have a ‘giveaway’ segment where followers can get free books (not mine of course lol). Amazon has enough books waiting to be bought and I’m thinking of being in a sharing mood come 2015.

So there you have it. If you want to be part of the list making lovers and have your own Top Ten Tuesday segment on your blog, check out the link I gave somewhere up there. Lists are awesome.

What are some of your 2015 bookish resolutions?

And hey happy holidays.
-Dee

The Hard Truth About Writing and Being Published.

21 Dec

So my WordPress app is still being a total bitch. (cough cough) Pardon my French. You know, I’ve never really understood that phrase. Pardon my French. Do the French like curse a lot or something? It’s a weird phrase if you ask me. You might think after two decades of being on this earth that I would have the good sense to know something as old and as common as that. There is probably an entire history about it somewhere on Google and I’m just being too lazy to find out…as usual. Anyway, enough of that, I’m going off topic aren’t I? No surprise there. My mind tends to wander. It’s a miracle I can even blog without it being about a million topics jumbled into one pile of hot, steaming doodoo. (I’m gross, I know…so unlady-like.)

Anyway…the point I’m trying to put across is that I’m still unable to upload images. It’s a major suck-fest. Now what this means is that I can’t post my reviews anymore –it would be awkward posting a review without the book cover to show you just what I’m talking about. Or maybe that’s just me.

This post is about something that’s very close to my heart-well, it has become closer to my heart recently as I’m getting older but that’s beside the point- and this ‘something’ is getting published. Putting your book out there. Being discovered or whatever way we can put it. You get me, right? I hope you do. Please tell me you do.

Please note that the ‘Truth’ in the title of this post is to be taken lightly because let’s face it, whichever way you think of it, this is nothing more than my opinion. Nothing more, nothing less…but do read on. Opinions are awesome, especially mine. 😀 (just kidding)

Obviously most book lovers have attempted to write a book of their own and even went as far as fantasizing about being published and being a best seller. (cough cough) Yours truly included. It’s a good dream.

Now what I have on my mind is with so many books coming out each day-most of them self-published-, are we really getting the best that the literary community can offer? Are the books we are making our eyes look at and our sponge like brains swallow up like a…well like a sponge, the epitome of writing? I’m saying this because I was following the hype that came up following YouTube sensation Zoella aka Zoe Sugg’s debut novel “Girl Online”. She was being compared to J.K Rowling and how her debut sales were way better. I’m yet to read the book but the blurb looks interesting and like something I can enjoy. But J.K Rowling? Come on. J.K is a legend. A goddess among mere men. She opened my eyes to a universe I never would have imagined and made me believe we can all defeat our demons and though loss hurts and shatters our lives, brighter days always follow. The woman gave us one of the best stories I’ve ever read and invited me in a world that made me wish I had gotten my letter on my eleventh birthday-I’m still upset that I didn’t.

I think I’m just biased so ignore that little rant.

Anyway the argument that most readers of Zoe’s book were making or at least trying to let everyone know was that the only reason she even got a book deal in the first place was because she was already famous and well known. Most of the reviews for the book have almost the same wording. Others wrote that she wouldn’t have gotten that book published had she been any random new and aspiring writer-That the book was plain and had nothing special about it. Now as you already know, I haven’t read the book so I can’t really comment on how good or bad it is. Though I did see some people give it a 1 start rating even without reading it…talk about being harsh and unprofessional. Then the whole ghost writer scandal hit…I think that’s another blog post for another time though. Stick around.

I have read quite a number of books, most of them by really talented people who make me think that my writing gene must’ve been somehow given to them. Don’t look at me like that, it happens. Explain J.R.R Tolkien. Then there are those works of literature-if you can even call them that- which makes you cringe as you read and just turn you into this cursing machine because the writing is just horrendous. Like 10th grade-dropout-turned-crack-dealer horrendous. Now I know that I shouldn’t say something so cruel but I’m trying to put a point across. Some authors’ work are like a piece of heaven sent sown to earth on an angels wings, to be enjoyed, savored like looking upon them will add years to your life and maybe dare I say it…even worshiped. On the other hand, some other books are just a fly infested crap sandwich…minus the bread. A total burf-fest.

Now I don’t know about you but it kind of makes me wonder, how in the name of people-who-actually-went-to-reputable-schools-and-got-writing-degrees did these other people get book deals? Was it witchcraft or what? Did they somehow find a four-leaf clover or actually have a vault full of rabbit feet? Is it a luck a thing? Or a those-who-deserve-it-and-worked-hard-for-it-will-eventually-get-it thing? I want a freaking book deal too…well as soon as I become good enough to be published that is 😀

I don’t know much about the publishing business or any other business for that matter- I went to university and pursed a bachelor’s degree in computer science- does one have to know someone to get in the book world or is it free for all? Hard work reaping recognition? I follow quite a number of aspiring writers on WordPress and believe me when I say, their writing is beautiful and worthy of deserving a book deal. They are creative and come up with works of fiction I would definitely spend money one. There is talent on this site and it upsets me when I see how hard they are working just to have their work published only to remain hidden and underappreciated in the dark shadows and cold parts of the internet. The lucky ones know how to use social media to get their stories out there but it’s still not enough. It’s not the same. Having 700 followers is a big deal but they still deserve more.

Some self-published authors make it in the big and sometimes unfair world of writing, most are never taken seriously. Why you ask? Because readers are prejudiced when it comes to self-published pieces of literature. They equate it to not being good enough to be recognized by prestigious publishing companies. Like if your name is not attached to a well-known publishing house then obviously you suck more than a vacuum cleaner. I’ve read self-published books and I’m a big believer in helping anyone who wants to make it into this very tough world, so believe me when I say, it’s not a thing or not being good enough but more about publishing companies thinking about what author would bring in the most money.

Think about it, me-a nobody, yeah I know I shouldn’t call myself that but just keep reading, you’ll see the point soon- okay, if I pitched a book about “love in the time of Ebola”, there is death, there is sorrow, lots of tears and some cute moments between my main character and some average guy who found himself in the right country but just at the wrong time. The story educates us on just how bad Ebola hit West Africa and the measures the government took to contain it…sounds like a pretty good idea. Now, would the agent pick my book and actually publish it or would she go with let’s say, Justin Bieber’s book idea about how he keeps his hair slick or whatever ‘The Biebs’ does?

I think we all know which book would end up on the best seller’s list. Whichever one it is, it sure as heck won’t have my name on it.
After reading this, I’m sure you are thinking I agree with the people who were trashing Zoella’s book. Well, you are wrong, like I’ve said before…I haven’t read it yet.

All I’m talking about and trying to get off my chest is:

Should we (aspiring writers) give up on trying because it’s too hard to get manuscripts accepted when there is a possibility a celebrity or some other famous/ infamous person will be put as priority or should we soldier-on and keep on trying like our lives depend on it? Hoping and wishing that a day will come when our words leave our minds and laptops and will soar in the distance and reach someone whose life can actually be changed and touched by what we spew out. Now that would be incredible.

Personally I write because I love and enjoy it and if I get a million follows and readers even better. Don’t look at me like that…admit it, you would love that too.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

-Dee

My Top Ten Paranormal YA Fiction Cliches

16 Dec

I’m currently reading Tangled by Emma Chase but that’s not what this post is about. A review of that sizzling book shall come later. Well, if I’m being honest, it’s going to be as soon as I can put up posts with Images.
There is a problem with my WordPress Image uploader which is preventing me from uploading images. It sucks, I tell you and it’s been pissing me off more than I can explain (Mostly because my vocabulary is limited 😀 )

So, no attractive picture to accompany all these words 😦

Anyway this blog is about more than just reviews, so, I’ve decided to have a totally new segment called “Top Ten Tuesdays”. This is where I’ll be blogging about top ten anything…as long as it is book related of course. 

So, I’m taking a break from reviewing for now to talk about something that has been on my mind for a while now after the many Young Adult books I’ve read. 

Clichés. Clichés. Clichés.

Looking at the fact that YA novels sell like hot cakes once they are released, I imagine this means that readers love all the expected clichés and sometimes cringe-fest moments that come with most novels these days. I have to admit, I love a good cliché every once in a while but when you have 5 books to read and each one is following almost the exact same formula, you tend to get a bit bored and reserved about continuing.

This post will just highlight some of the Clichés that I feel have been done to death. It’s like they got the sacred Plot Fruit, squeezed out all the juices and decided to only use the same ideas over and over again…leaving everything else to just disappear off into oblivion, never to be written about. It’s kind of sad actually if you think about it. (Okay, I admit in the stories I’ve attempted to write, I’ve also stuffed most of them in…hey, we all gotta start somewhere, right? :D)

So, without any more delay, here’s my list. If you agree, do leave me a comment and tell me which of them you could do without in the next book you pick up.

  1. Love Triangles

  2. This one is by far the most common one. There is the incredibly hot douchebag of a man and the good, reliable and sometimes plain best friend. We saw it in Twilight, we saw it in The Hunger Games and now even Kresley Cole introduced it in her Arcana Chronicles Series (Which reminds me, I still have to post a review of Book 2). Why, oh why do we always have to be involved in #TeamGale vs #TeamPeeta battles? I get that drama and conflict is great but why can’t the female protagonist just have one love interest? 

  3. Beyond Attractive Bad Boy

  4. Blue or green eyes, broad and toned chest with a face that just leaves the heroine open-mouthed and drooling like a total nut. This is a key ingredient in YA fiction. It works and it definitely sells. Admit it.

    As if the main guy’s jaw-dropping, drool-worthy exterior isn’t overused enough, you add in a hint of the brooding “Stay away from me” factor and you have yourself a winning recipe and a cliché that most avid readers are getting tired of. The main love interest is mostly the bad boy that the female always manages to change. Forgetting the fact that, unless he wears diapers, a man really cannot be changed, should the main guy always be a black clad smartass? 

    I will confess again, I almost always make my main guy a black-leather jacket wearing bad boy? Cliché much 😀

  5. Trilogies

  6. Say goodbye to stand alone novels as they experience a low and imminent death and welcome trilogies. It’s now a well-accepted trend that a YA novel has to come in a three book series. Would a two book series be a flop or a four book series be too much? I don’t even know anymore.

    You know what the worst part is about it all? It’s the fact that I’m complaining about this but will still be one of the people anxiously waiting for the next book in the series to be out. There is one book that definitely deserved a book two and that’s Cursed by Jennifer. L. Armentrout. I know I gave it a 5 star rating but when I went back to it recently, I felt like it at least required the story to be concluded better.

  7. First Person Point-Of-View

  8. Is this one like a requirement for Young Adult fiction? Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against it. I just find it funny that almost every author has to write the story from the first person view. I enjoyed how Laini Taylor wrote her daughter of Smoke and Bone series. It was so beautifully written and she didn’t even go for the commons first person POV. 

    Would female readers buy books if they were written from a guy’s POV? I wonder about that.

  9. The Training Sequence
  10.  
    So, the female lead is suddenly thrust into this magical and sometimes scientific world and obviously they were just some Plain Jane in the crowd a few weeks ago. What happens next? You guessed it…it’s badass-fighting 101 time. The girl is gonna get schooled. 

    Expect that chapter where they are asked to wear combat boots and a tank-top so they can fool around in the dirt and take on the love interest in a “training” session. Of course this is what I always call the “throw-a-few-kicks-and-punches-and-then-fall-with-the-smexy-love-interest-on-top-of-you-so-you-can-kiss-and-make-out-like-bunnies-in-the-dirt” session. Seems fitting because almost half the time, while our heroine is being trained, she is busy fantasizing about how hot he looks in training gear. 

  11. “Oblivious to how beautiful she is’ Main Female Character

  12. When was the last time you read a novel which didn’t have a main female character that didn’t think she was plain, ugly, clumsy, nerdy and boring? I think I can’t remember: D Everybody in town thinks she is gorgeous and all the hot guys want her. She even manages to hook up with Mr-incredibly-sexy-Greek-god main guy, who would destroy the world for her, but she still thinks she looks like a toad’s butt? Umm, yeah sure.

    I imagine writers do this one to stop us from hating her. Like if she referred to herself as a Victoria’s secret Model look-alive or something. But seriously, her being so clueless and naïve kind of also has the same effect, don’t you agree?

  13. Orphaned Main Character or Parents Separated
  14.  
    The supporting characters almost always come from happy stable homes where they are pampered and spoiled and loved like its heaven or something but our lead never gets that privilege. Why is the main character always an orphan or comes from a home where the dad is absent or the mother has met a new man who she ran off with? Does this mean people from happy homes will never have magical things happen to them?

    I think this is somehow just a plot-convenient maneuver that authors use to avoid parents having any influence over the main characters movements or decisions. And sometimes even if they have both parents alive and well (which is rare), the parents turn out to be neglectful and such dicks that the main always grumbles about how they are never cared for.

  15. Dystopia

  16. Hunger games by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Maze runner by James Dashner, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, The giver (It’s older I know) by Lois Lowry, Matched by Ally Condie, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi …need I say more? I think not.

  17. “I Let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding”

  18. This phrase is to most YA fiction like a pregnant woman is to a maternity wing…you just can’t avoid running into it. Okay, so maybe it’s just some way of expressing oneself but do all writers have to use it? I’m a Jennifer Armentrout fan, like major, and I always see this one making an appearance.

    I was reading through a story I am currently writing on FanFiction dot net and I smiled to myself when I read this line. Like I said, we are all weak when it comes to writing and working with overused ideas.

    I can’t really say if it’s a cliché or not but you have to admit this line somehow always makes its way in some of our favourite YA books. 

  19. Petite Females

  20. I’m one tall female and whenever I read YA books, the heroine is always super short and petite that I start to think that maybe I’m a freak of nature for the way I look. All tall and skinny. Even when I was in high school, I was one tall girl. So it would be right for me to at least come across a book that has a female who is tall right? 

    Why are they always short? Is it a way for the writer to use lines like “she looked up at him and met his deep green eyes in a stare that warmed up their bodies” or “resting her petite frame against his herculean one, she felt and heard the beating of his heart”?

    Come on, us tall people want to be written about too. It’s just right. Where is the fairness writers?

So dear readers, that’s it for my Top Ten for this week…well my first week, if you want to be technical about it 🙂
Tell me what you think of my list and if you agree or not. I do love interacting with my readers.

-Dee

REVIEW: Reasons I Fell For The Funny Fat Friend by Becca Ann

27 Nov

SYNOPSIS

It’s stupid to fall for your brother’s ex. It’s even worse to enlist another’s help to win the ex over. But Brody is desperate and Hayley, his partner in American Sign Language, is more than willing to lend him a few tips.

She’s the school’s matchmaker,’ and with her bizarre and positive personality, Brody finds her easy to talk to, even about the most awkward situations. Hayley’s tips seem to be working, but as Brody learns more about his matchmaker, he starts finding reasons to spend time with her, and not the girl he thought he was in love with.

MY RATING: 4 Stars

MY THOUGHTS
So, one word “AWESOMESAUCE, 😀 well at least that’s what Harley would say. She is so cool.

This is a book by Cassie Mae writing as Becca Ann.
It was fresh, it was hilarious and I loved every part of it.
Reading a book from the Point of View of Brody wasn’t just new to me, it was amazing. Brody’s voice (well Becca’s Voice really) was refreshing and from the first two paragraphs I was hooked. His thoughts are insane and it made me wonder if boys really do think like that. I mean, come on! The way he described everything, you just gotta love. I know I did.

Well, as I’m not the FFF (Funny Fat Friend), you know since I was more the ATF (Awkward Tooth-pick Friend), I found it nice to read how Harley felt about her own body. It made me realise that as females, we are never really completely happy with whatever body we have (well unless, you are like a Victoria’s Secret Angel and yeah those hotties make up like what, 1% of the earth’s population?). We are constantly looking at our friends and thinking they look better. Its kind of sad, really.


More than half the time, girls who think they’re fat really aren’t. They’re just fatter than the skinniest chick in school. And even that girl thinks she’s fat.
– Brody

Anyway on to the fun part.
I’m going to do this review in the form of a list, well because who doesn’t like lists, right? (But in actual sense, I’m just trying to take a page from this awesome book and be a bit cool as well. Hey a girl can dream.)

Reasons I fell for this Book

  1. Just look at the title…lol, need I say more?
  2. It is beyond cute.
  3. I love awkward
  4. Brody is one ‘cool’ guy. Notice the quotes? Well yeah, I don’t mean cool in the sense that he is scoring with all the chicks and wears leather with abs for days but more like he is a likeable character. A real guy I would want to be found with.
  5. Harley is a relatable character. A female I wanna be besties with. She is a natural comedian. She has her issues but she, like me, masks them by adopting a coping mechanism that’s as old as time. She doesn’t drink her problems away, she instead makes jokes and comes off awesome. I loved her
  6. Harley flinches each time Brody cursed and so it was interesting each time he had to change his first thought and come up with some clever way of saying it.
  7. That first kiss was a must read (No, I’m not a perve, I just had to mention that)
  8. Its funny, not in a forced “knock knock joke” way.
  9. It made me realise there is nothing sexier than being exactly who you are. No pretending or faking it so people will like you.
  10. Made me miss my teen years (I admit the puberty sucked but the crushes and what not were kinda cute…I think 😀 . Okay so maybe being a teenager was weird…but it was still awesome.)
  11. The writer is talented.
  12. Its a quick read (you know, ’cause I just finished a book yesterday and here I am reviewing this one so soon). Is quick read even the right word? Makes it seem like its some kind of drabble, doesn’t it? Let’s change that to “its a major page turner. Yes. Let’s go with that.

Okay, I think that’s enough listing for now.

I have to say though, if you are looking for a compelling, deep and very serious book this isn’t it. This is the kind of book you read after watching Sirius Black die or after you accidentally step on your cat, you know, so you can forget that awful sad feeling and it makes you all bubbly inside . It will bring a smile to your face and you might not want to read it in public. People will undeniably think you are certifiable.

I recommend it though, to anyone looking for a nice, airy, and fun read. Tell me how you like it.

Till the next review.

-Dee

How do you pick your books?

11 Aug

The saying goes “do not judge a book by its cover” and most of the times that is true, especially if:

  1. You already know the author and you love them.
  2. One of your closest friends recommended it to you.
  3. The book has made such a hype that your just HAVE to read it, regardless of how the cover looks like.

But what about those sometimes rare moments when you just need to read something new? A new series or standalone novel? How do you pick up that new book when all you have is a title, a blurb, a cover and the genre?

I won’t lie to you, some of my best reads were as a result of those “OMG, this cover is so cute…I have to read this book” moments. I remember the first time I came across a Gena Showalter novel, one look at that Lords of the Underworld book and I knew I just had to read it. Don’t judge me, that turned out to be one of my greatest book choices in my life. Now here I am after 10 books and I still count her as one of my Favourite Authors. (Even though she has lost her “spark” and gone all clean and umm well just different from the Gena I felt in love with).

Before this amazing world of ebooks and ereaders, I remember walking home from school with my friends and at times when we had saved up enough money we would buy some books in the streets. Back then my reading just involved Sweet Valley Twins, Mills and Boon, Silhouette romance and the like. With the Wakefield twins, I didn’t care which one was on sale, I just had to get it. With romance I always found Medical romance a bit boring so I avoided those. But at times when I was in want of a book and nothing was available, I pretty much read anything. Call it a disease or just an addiction. It is possible right? To be addicted to reading? I guess that would give an explanation as to why I found myself reading the cereal packet or the bread wrapper during breakfast. Weird I know, but reading is reading. 😀
Anyway my point is it was easy to choose the books I wanted to read back then…powerful main character , good captivating blurb and that catchy title. Teenage me had it good.
I would go home, do my homework if I had any and get swallowed up in my latest purchase…okay fine, so maybe most of the books I read back then were all borrowed from someone 😛

These days though, I think people put too much thought in picking up the next book they want to read…I mean with so many books available and being published everyday, one might wonder how our brains don’t explode with the overwhelming force of it all. So many good books, so little time. Which one should I read now? Do I pick this one? Do I pick that one? This looks good. Oh wait so does that one. God!!! AAAAHHHHH

Sorry about that, I am good now. *takes a deep breath* But you see what I mean, right?

With Goodreads and Blogs and everything, I just have to ask…what influences you to choose that particular book? How do you pick one over the others? What criteria do you use?

-Dee

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2) by Laini Taylor.

9 Aug

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

MY RATING: 5 Stars

MY THOUGHTS
So Laini Taylor does it again in this sequel to Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Her writing is so exceptionally captivating and I found myself almost about to cry by the events in this book. It is a world of devastation and terror, tears and blood. A world where you will find yourself wondering if a time existed when happiness was a thing.
I love how Laini just pulls you in with her words and let’s you feel the pain and emotion of the characters. While at the same time squeezing in some humour and witty conversations that make you smile and sometimes even laugh or just go like “wow”.
For example the passage below, you will see for yourselves 🙂

“Let’s see. You know how, at the end of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet wakes up in the crypt and Romeo’s already dead? He thought she was dead so he killed himself right next to her?”

“Yeah. That was awesome.” A pause, followed by “Ow,” suggested elbow punctuation on the part of Mik.

Karou ignored it. “Well, imagine if she woke up and he was still alive, but…” She swallowed, waiting out a tremor in her voice. “But he had killed her whole family. And burned her city. And killed and enslaved her people.”

That is how most of the book is…just amazing.

The Seraph and the Chimaera are still battling it out and its more pain and heartbreak for our dear Karou as the age old war continues.

It is war like you have never read it, or heard of it. You will cry, curse, scream and drop down to your knees asking “why? Oh why is this happening? but at the same time you will just continue reading, hoping and praying that the sun will shine through the darkness and Karou and Akiva will eventually find their way back to each other.

From the bottom of my hurting and hopeful heart I would just like to say Laini Taylor is a Goddess among mere humans. I really enjoyed this and hope those who haven’t read it up to now will enjoy it too.

-Dee

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