Wednesday, May 29, 2013

With Love


I don't post personal stuff on my blog, but today has been a rough day. None of you know the kid with the mustache so here's the run down - he had the biggest heart I've ever seen and healing hugs, even when you didn't know you needed it. He was never afraid to tell you how important you are and always said his goodbyes with a "love you."

You'll never know how important someone is to you until their not around anymore. Today he would have been twenty-three. I would give anything to give him a hug and tell him how much he's loved, still even after he's gone.

I will forever think about him when I achieve anything because if he was here he would tell me how cool it is, whatever it is.

I miss you always,
With love,
-A

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Torn Series by K.A. Robinson + A Writing Critique



K.A. Robinson is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. I purchased Torn (Bk#1 in the Torn Series) because it has high reviews on Amazon. Torn has received several 5 star reviews with a few 1-4 star reviews, leaving it at a current average rating of 4 stars. This book was packed full of action with several scenes, instead of a few lengthy ones, making up the 352 page book.

Torn:
Chloe hasn’t had the easiest childhood. With a mother who was absent most of the time, she practically had to raise herself. Determined to start a new life and leave her demons behind, she heads to West Virginia University with her best friends Amber and Logan. On the first day of classes, she spots a student who takes her breath away. Drake is a pierced, tattooed bad boy, and no matter how hard she tries to fight it, he’s all she can think about.

Drake has never cared about anyone other than himself, but when Chloe takes the empty seat next to him in class, he is instantly drawn to her. Drake is left wondering whether this girl can take his cold, womanizing heart and alter him forever.

Falling for each other was never a part of their plan, and when it happens, things do anything but fall into place. Long-hidden feelings are revealed and friendships are tested to the brink as Chloe and Drake become helplessly entwined in each other’s love.

When I started this blog I promised myself I would never write a bad review. Writing a novel is an amazingly hard thing to do no matter the quality. If you don’t believe me give it a go yourself and let me know how it worked out for you. With that said Torn (Bk#1) and Twisted (Bk#2) are not bad novels so please don’t misunderstand this review. There were, however, certain aspects that bothered me about both novels. The storyline was semi-unique and I couldn’t help but notice a staggering number of similarities between the Torn Series and other novels I’ve read.

It has been well established that I am a huge fan of the Thoughtless Series by S.C. Stephens. Since I have read the Thoughtless Trilogy numerous times I am exceptionally familiar with the characters and plot. For that reason I will use Thoughtless as my comparable book in this review.

I felt as though Torn had a similar storyline to Thoughtless (Bk#1 in the Thoughtless Series). Drake, from Torn, personified the local bad boy rock star with a history of womanizing much like Kellan Kyle from Thoughtless. The dynamic between Chloe and Drake was also incredibly similar to that of Kellan and Kiera’s. Both couples had a secret love affair which, in the end, resulted with the female lead character cheating on her boyfriend and naturally both “destined couples” were kept apart due to the male leads emotional unavalability and relationship inabilities injunction with their capacious sexual history.

Before I started blogging I’d spent a great deal of my time following popular authors and investigated their spoken and written advice for aspiring authors. Abbi Glines, a big time YA and NA genre author, said that every time she writes a book she researches current popular releases to see if character names are similar to that of the novel she’s currently working on. The purpose, of course, is to avoid situations where her novel is read comparatively to another.

To me this is an incredibly important action all authors should take. For avid readers, such as myself, it can be really difficult to disconnect yourself from books you love. The intense drama and creative writing of each book sticks with you even after you’ve finished a novel, constantly leaving you comparing the writing and descriptive styles of different authors. In an elementary sense it’s like saying you can’t know what dark is without knowing light or you can’t know bad without knowing good. You can’t know a novel that lacks depth or creativity until you’ve read an exquisitely constructed story that speaks to you.

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Separate from the parallel qualities Torn has to other novels, is the writing itself should be critiqued. 

I love dialogue. Dialogue to me is as important to the story as a character’s inner thoughts. Torn does deliver on dialogue, but in my opinion it lacks depth within each thought. There is a fine balance between both and I felt like Torn seriously fell short in conveying the mindset of each character. Expanding the reasons behind words and actions is greatly important. Of course, this theory also has the propensity of failing in the opposite way as well. Some novel’s characters spend too much time in their heads without developing full relationship between individuals.

Twisted: 
Chloe and Drake have soldiered through a heartbreaking love triangle and are finally within reach of their happily ever after. Unfortunately, their demons have come out of the dark with a vengeance, looking to destroy them. Chloe’s abusive mother enters back into her life with an evil plot that sets off a chain of events no one could ever have anticipated. To add to their distress, a relentless, conniving ex reappears determined to tear the couple apart through any means necessary. The extra strain pushes Chloe and Drake to the brink, bringing out their greatest weaknesses and putting them up against old but powerful addictions.

The foundation on which their love was built is crumbling beneath them. What are they willing to give up in order to stay together? 

Twisted (Bk#2) has a multitude of different dynamics some of which I still noticed similarities to other novels and some of which didn’t. For instance, Drake in the Torn Series goes on tour, just like Kellan in Effortless (Bk#2 in the Thoughtless Series). The female main character continues to be extremely insecure, like Kiera was after Kellan left and again, just like Kiera, Chloe can’t join Drake on tour because of personal commitments. Each of these main characters/couples still have an insatiable connection in which no other person can satisfy. 

The point of my comparisons is not to call plagiarism or copyright issues into question. In fact, most authors rarely have time to read books because they are much to busy working on their own. All I'm suggesting is that there is a window of time where one novel will have to compete with another because of plot similarities. The tatted bad boy who is in a rock band is trending right now. For that reason alone you want to make sure your characters are completely unique. 

Distinctively, Twisted does include several unique aspects. Drake has a history of drug use which really harms his relationship with Chloe for more reasons than one. Chloe has a very painful family history. This is the sole reason why she can’t join Drake on tour. Chloe’s family dynamic and issues are much different than most characters I’ve read.

As a whole I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars. I haven’t written this review to bash K.A. Robinson for her writing endeavors. In fact, it’s just the opposite, constructive criticism is important the improving your own writing and publishing process.

I think it nothing short of an achievement to write two, going on three, full novels. So many readers, finish books thinking “I could have written that better myself.” Sometimes it’s true, but generally most don’t realize how hard it is until you’ve attempted it yourself. Until then it’s hard to truly be able to appreciate the skill it takes to conceive several characters with consistent thoughts and mannerisms from nothing, get into their heads and create fictitious life events to tell their story.

Even though I wasn’t taken with Torn (Bk#1) I still read Twisted (Bk#2); however, it’s unlikely I’ll be reading book #3 when it’s released, but I did consider it a great learning experience.

I also want to note that since being picked up by Atria Publishing, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc., the Torn and Twisted covers have been revamped. I love them!

Torn (Bk#1)
Twisted (Bk#2)


 




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Monday, May 13, 2013

Author News, Releases & Pre-orders



In my recent absence, while trying to finish this semester of school, I have just enough time to do an author news, releases & pre-orders post. In other news I will be back on the blog next week!



M. Leighton just released her newest novel Until I Break a day early. 
<-- Update: Until I Break has since been removed from publishing by M. Leighton and is no longer available.













Jet (Bk#2) in the Marked Men Novel Series by Jay Crownover, is available for pre-order to be released May 28th. If you haven’t read Rule (Bk#1) it’s available for now $1.99.



The Redemption of Callie& Kayden (Bk#2) is also available for pre-order and what a cute cover! I loved The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden (Bk#1) you definitely have to read.




Colleen Hoover released the cover of Losing Hope (Bk#2). Losing Hope will be Hopeless (Bk#1)  from Holder’s POV. 


Colleen Hoover is an amazing writer. Every book she's written has blown my mind AND she just released This Girl (Bk#3), Slammed (Bk#1) from Will’s POV. It was fantastic and I found out so many things I didn’t know when reading Slammed. 

Slammed Series Reading Order: Slammed, Point of Retreat, This Girl
Hopeless Seriees Reading Order: Hopeless, Loosing Hope



Unbeautifully (Bk#2) by Madeline Sheehan was released yesterday on May 12, 2013. I haven’t read this series, but I have heard amazing things from several people including authors!



Author Tara Sivec’s next expected release is Watch Over Me coming in June 2013.



Melody Grace's Untouched went live on May 12th for all you Unbroken lovers.



Today is the last day to get Falling Into You by Jasinda Wilder for $1.99. Read my review here.



 


Author Tiffany Snow announced she will be writing her first book No Turning Back (Bk#1) in the Kathleen Turner Series from Blane, then Kade’s POV!!! This is my FAVORITE news! I love, love, love this series. You can read my series review here. Both of these books will be called Turn on a Dime <-- The first release will be from Blane’s POV and is available for pre-order expected August 6, 2013.







Heidi McLaughlin, author of Forever My Girl and My Everything (a novella), just released Lost in You on May 5th



Molly McAdams confirmed she will be releasing Stealing Harper on May 21, 2013.







Abbi Glines revealed the cover to Forever Too Far (Bk#3) in her Too Far Series.




Saturday, April 27, 2013

Twisted Perfection by Abbi Glines



This is my favorite Abbi Glines book to date.

In December 2012 Glines published Fallen Too Far; a book which left us with a massive cliffhanger. After receiving praise for Fallen, Glines later released its sequel Never Too Far in February 2013.

A number of readers were swept away with this author’s newest pursuit. She had successfully started a new series unlike any of her others. Readers were chanting for MORE after falling in love with Rush and Blaire (the main characters of Fallen/Never). However, our attachment to the characters of Rosemary went beyond just these two. Fortunately, Glines’ creative brain was already wracked with storyline possibilities when she announced her plans to write a book for Rush’s friend Woods and his stepbrother Grant. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait too long to to read Woods’ story. Twisted Perfection, was released on April 20, 2013.

Before reading Twisted Perfection I struggled with whether or not I would review it. I’m a personal fan of all of Abbi Glines’ books. She has the ability to write happy, carefree novels that always give us our happy ending. With that said, while I enjoyed Fallen Too Far and Never Too Far I always thought there was something missing. I didn’t have a connection to Blaire and as a result I also never developed a “Rush Crush” as so many other bloggers have put it.

Reading Twisted Perfection was a no brainer, but reviewing, in addition to all of the other bloggers lined up on Twisted Perfection’s blog tour, made me hesitant. I purchased the book fully intending on reading it and not reviewing since there would be so many opinions flying around out there for anyone looking, yet when I finished I just had to say something:  

I loved Twisted Perfection.

The morning of Twisted Perfection’s pending release Glines posted a quasi-teaser/clarification on her Facebook page:

I'd like to share something: Twisted Perfection isn't one of my easy light romances. It is dark. It is "twisted" and yes there is a lot of sex. But the sex is for a reason... there is a point to it.”

I thought maybe we would get to see another side to Glines’ writing style instead of the generic romance formula pumped into books by every romance novelist. I was pleasantly surprised to see Glines indeed took a diverging writing style. Della is like no other character she’s written before. She is traumatized and sheltered, but outspoken and forward. Almost contradictory to what you’d expect. I loved that even though Della had a troubled history she didn’t let it hinder her candid sense of self. She wanted to live life to the fullest no matter how anxiety prone she might be, making her the opposite of Blaire. Blaire’s cowering inner thoughts throughout Fallen Too Far really distracted me, so I was glad to read that Della was a very different character.

Of course, let’s not forget about Woods. Woods what not what I expected. In Fallen Too Far and Never Too Far he was not just protective of Blaire, but he was sensitive and nurturing. In Twisted Perfection he was a vault. He didn’t share his feelings with Della the same way he had with Blaire right off the bat. He felt a very strong attraction, yet never vocalized it. He also never mentioned Blaire to Della, which I found odd. I mean, if sensitive and nurturing wasn’t his usual MO wouldn’t that make his feelings for Blaire a noteworthy exception? Or if nurturing was his general demeanor why wasn’t he that way with Della from the beginning? It was almost as if his past in Fallen/Never wasn’t really acknowledged.

In the beginning of the Twisted Perfection Woods sounded like a player; it wasn’t the persona that Fallen and Never alluded to. Somewhere between these three books one night stands appeared to be the norm for him. Initially, I chalked his behavior up to the pressure his father put on him, it was a far heavier pressure than he’d had dealt with before. As the book continued I expected him to be more forthright with his feelings for Della, like he had with Blaire, instead he was more possessive. That kind of possessiveness was a reaction I would have expected from Rush, not Woods.

Due to Woods’ candid affection for Blaire in Fallen/Never I continued to wait for the same type of flat out honesty in Twisted. However, he was far better at expressing his physical attraction and lacking the ability to express his emotional one in Twisted.

Regardless of the few criticisms I’ve had I liked the book. I never really felt like I got to know Blaire and Rush and much to my relief I did feel as if I knew Della and Woods’ characters by the end of Twisted Perfection. I was happy to see that this book wasn’t constructed around a number of misunderstandings or misinterpretations like Fallen/Never. Mostly I am glad that Twisted wasn’t a cliff hanger like its preceding books. I look forward to its sequel Simple Perfection in late 2013.

Simple Perfection (Bk#2) <-- expected in Fall 2013




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