February 15, 2015
** Lucky number 7, with 3 books to go for #READ1040 (read 10 books in 40 days).**
Book 7: TheWitch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill
So, I really adored this book. Like, I wanted to give it a hug several times throughout the story because I just loved it so much. I read a lot of children’s (middle grade) fiction, especially fantasy. It’s my love. I also write children’s (fantasy) fiction, and every once in a while, I come across a book I enjoy so much, I wish I’d written it myself. I’m not sure there’s a higher compliment an author can pay, and THIS was one of those books.
There are many pieces that need to fit together, in order for a story to work. The story concept (is it unique?), the writing (Is it enjoyable?), and the characters (Do I care enough about them to root for them?). World-building and setting is woven in there too. Artistic world-building is a wonderful bonus. As a reader, I want them all (and as a writer, I hope to have them all), and THE WITCH’S BOY delivered.
The concept was fun… “The wrong boy would save her, and she him.” Sort of an anti-Chosen one. That caught my attention (as did the title—I love it).
The writing is lovely, and sometimes haunting. It’s cozy and charming, and I was enamored. The story opens with two twin boys, one who drowns in the river, as their father only had time to save one. Everyone felt he’d saved the wrong boy. I really liked the cast of characters. Ned, the main character—the wrong boy—was great. Adorable. Determined. Good. Aine and the wolf were great. The Queen was probably my favorite. Instantly loveable. Ooh, and the nine talking stones. They were fascinating.
The plot moved quickly enough, with plenty of adventure and conflict. I thought the different points of view wove together perfectly. My favorite thing was the magic. How it talked, and formed word’s across Ned’s skin. I liked that it was its own entity, powerful, and crafty—yet still in submission to Ned, who ultimately decided whether or not the magic was good.
I think the best word to sum up this book was satisfying. I'd recommend it to anyone and everyone--including YOU! Go read it! :)
I hope there is a sequel, or that Ms. Barnhill will introduce us to her next novel soon!
February 9, 2015
I’m up over the halfway mark. Boo-yah! 6 books read. 4 to go for #READ1040 (read 10 books in 40 days).
Book 6: Matched by Ally Condie
Guys, I was totally surprised by this book. I bought it on Audible on a whim, and I ended up really enjoying it. I liked the premise—a girl who’s accidently shown two love matches, instead of one. I expected it to be a much tamer version of DIVERGENT, as far as the world-building went. In some ways, there were similarities. As with most dystopian novels, in Cassia Reyes' world, there is an oppressive government, masked as peacekeepers. Everything seems a euphoric utopia, but of course there are mysteries and intrigue. It actually reminded me a lot of THE GIVER.
Despite the somewhat predictability of the governmental structure, I was very taken with the narrative. And there were some things unique to Cassia’s world that I really enjoyed. Overall, the world-building was intriguing enough, but the eyes in which Cassia saw her world was often breathtaking. I thought Ms. Condie did a wonderful job of pacing her world-building-- dropping in one piece of puzzle at a time.
The first few chapters were my favorite. The Match ceremony, the grandpa’s last banquet (all citizens die on their 80th birthday). But once there was a shift to the romantic plot threads, I wasn’t quite as interested. I just wasn’t a fan of the romance between Cassia and Ky. It didn’t seem plausible. I might’ve believed it, had it happened over a longer period of time. But a few weeks, and she’s in love? Really? How could she be so quick to look away from Xander, her supposed lifelong best friend? He was hardly in the middle of the story at all, and for a 17 year old, I thought Cassia should have considered Xander far more than she did. I found this frustrating. Ky was handsome and mysterious, which apparently was enough reason for Cassia to risk everything to be with him. Ugh. I liked Ky fine, but I feel like this love-triangle is soooo overdone, and I was hoping for something different.
Still, I enjoyed the book overall. And even though I grew frustrated with Cassia at times, I really did like her as a main character. She's clever, and creative, and she loves her family. Though I wasn't exactly rooting for Ky, his and Cassia's was a sweet (and totes PG!) relationship. Their focus on art and poetry was cute.
There were some surprises at the end of the story that were enough to get me to read the next book in the series—plus the writing is just so lovely! So, at some point, I'll be giving CROSSED a chance.
February 7, 2015
Halfway mark! Woot, woot! 5 books down. 5 to go for #READ1040 (read 10 books in 40 days).
Book 5: The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen
I just sooo love this trilogy (erm... now that I know it's a trilogy. **cough cough**) , and the first book quickly made it to my “favorite books” shelf.
I've adored this book’s MC from the very first book. Jaron is a great mix of cocky, compassionate, and clever (ugh. Alliteration—sorry!). To top it all off, he’s mysterious —even to the reader, which isn’t so easy with a first person narrative! He’s full of surprises. With a thief’s cunning trickery and a heart of the king, you’ll be rooting for him from the very first page.
I actually hadn’t realized this was the final book, and was SO SAD to learn it was over. This is embarrassing, because obviously, had I paid attention to “The Ascendance TRILOGY” part of the Amazon page, that should’ve been made clear. Sheesh. But somehow I managed to read the first two books without noticing the whole “trilogy” part. **face palms**
With plenty sword fights, prank-ery, and a touch of romance, it’s a great read for both boys and girls—kids and grown-ups alike. I’d recommend this book to any fan of middle grade adventure. If you haven’t read the first book, THE FALSE PRINCE, you’ll want to check it out! No, really. Please check it out. You won't be sorry.
February 6, 2015
Something fun for Friday:
See? Fun Friday means swings... right?
(Image via Mourgefile.com)
I found The 777 Challenge on someone’s blog, and I thought it sounded fun. You’re supposed to go to the 7th page of your WIP, to the 7th line, and take the next 7 lines to share. So, here it goes. This is an excerpt from my MG fantasy, DREW HORRIBLE. I’d love to see your 777 in the comments below, if you’re willing to post!
So Drew watched Timothy, perhaps his only friend in the world, disappear in the darkness. Everything was quiet. Even the normal night time sounds in the caves were still. As if everyone and everything was holding its breath.
Drew’s forearm prickled. The midnight gong would sound at any moment.
Forcing himself to face the inevitable, Drew gave his socks one final tug for good measure, then set off for the castle, taking care to give a wide berth to any honeyberry bushes he passed along the way.
February 3, 2015
Hey there! Thanks for stopping by. I’m very excited to have literary agent, Jordy Albert, of The Booker Albert Literary Agency
MR: What is your query-reading process? Do you read them as they come in or do you designate certain times of the day? Do you sort them out, or just plow through all at once?
JA: It all depends on how much reading I have, but I do try to read them as they come in.
MR: Roughly how many of your current clients came to you via query?
JA: I've signed all my clients from queries so far.
MR: If you request a manuscript, do you always request a partial first or do you sometimes ask for a full right away (and why?).
JA: Most of time I'll usually ask for a partial, but I have requested fulls right away if the pages really pulled me in.
MR: Do you read manuscripts in the order they’re received or in order of what looks most appealing? Do you always read the whole thing or do you stop when you lose interest?
JA: I try to read things in order, but I sometimes have to rearrange my reading list. While I would love to read each manuscript all the way through, if I'm not enjoying what I'm reading I'll usually stop...there's just so much to read.
MR: After reading a MS do you know right away that you want to represent that author or is there a certain process you go through to reach that decision?
JA: If I love a manuscript, I usually know right away...I've offered representation in less than a week.
MR: What happens after you sign a new client? What's the next step for that author?
JA: After I sign a client, we usually work on revisions if necessary. While my client is working on polishing their manuscript, I'm putting together a list of editors to approach that I think might be a good fit for his/her work.
MR: Most authors only dream about landing an agent. How different is life for an author on "the other side" of signing with an agent? Is there anything new clients are typically surprised by (both pleasantly and unexpectedly?)
JA: After an author has signed with an agent, they can focus more on their writing again instead of keeping track of who they queried and such. It can be long process from querying to publication.
MR: Your ultimate vacation:
JA: Europe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If I was lucky enough to ever get over there and got to stand in front of Stonehenge, the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum...I'd probably cry my eyes out.
MR: If you could be dropped into any story (book, movie, or tv), where would you want to go, and why?
JA: Doctor Who!
MR: Who's your role-model (literary or otherwise)?
JA: Wow...this is tough. Two authors that have really had an impact on me are J.K. Rowling and Karen Marie Moning. Both phenomenal writers. Love them!
From her agency’s website:
She is looking for stories that sink their teeth in, leave the reader wanting more, and gives her all the feels. She loves books that make her laugh out loud or tear up (or in some cases wanting to throw the book). She is interested in Middle Grade contemporary or action/adventure (think Indiana Jones, Goonies, Labyrinth and other awesome 80s movies). In YA and New Adult, she is looking for sci-fi/fantasy (romance), contemporary romance. She’s also always looking for characters with strong, authentic voices. Jordy loves an awesome kick butt hero/heroine, especially when they have to work their way out of a tight spot. While it isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, she tends to shy away from novels with trigger topics, such as suicide and any type of abuse.
As for adult works, Jordy is looking for smart, sexy contemporary romances that leave her breathless, and where the chemistry between the characters sizzles right off the pages. She is also looking for Historical Romances (she definitely has a soft spot for Regency). Like Brittany, Jordy is a sucker for a HEA! Some favorite authors include Sabrina Jeffries, Teresa Medeiros, Karen Marie Moning, Kresley Cole, Lauren Layne, and Gena Showalter.
If you are looking to query Ms. Albert, you may do so via e-mail at: , using the criteria listed on her agency’s website here.
Also, don’t forget to follow Ms. Albert on twitter: @bluedragonfly81
Thanks for stopping by, friends. See you soon!