Friday, April 13, 2012

Review: Something Strange & Deadly by Susan Dennard

I'm so excited to be a part of the Something Strange and Deadly ARC tour*! Haven't heard of this book yet? Read the blurb below.

Goodreads blurb:
Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

What I Liked About It: There are a lot of things I like about this book: the amazing detail from the Victorian era Philly to the tightness of the prose. Eleanor is a strong female character who doesn't seem out of place in the time period like what happens with a lot of heroines in historicals.

What You Should Know: I hate historicals because of the stilted language that usually comes with it. Something Strange & Deadly doesn't have this problem. Dennard's ability to "modernize" the narration while not at the same time is fantastic.

Click here to go to the ARC tour page!

* Thanks to Holly Dodson for arranging this!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

So Many Books, Not Enough Time

One thing that most of you guys can relate to is that new releases sort of creep up on you and then you want nothing else but for the world to stop so you can devour that book you've been waiting endlessly for. The next few weeks have so many releases that I've been dying to read that I'm not sure how I'm going to handle all that reading combined with all of the revisions I still have to do.

What books am I waiting on? Let's start with the two that I ended up reading last week because I just couldn't wait another few weeks.

BLACK HEART came out on April 3rd and I managed to hold off for FIVE DAYS before breaking this open. I told myself that if I finished writing out all the new scenes I needed to write, I could take a day off to read this.

SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY comes out in July, but I'm lucky to be part of the ARC tour. The ARC came to me on Wednesday and by Thursday I was done. (I justified this as writing related work, so reading it during revisions was okay.) Stay tuned for my review.

What else am I itching to read?
  • THE WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE by Stephen King comes out April 24th. This is a new Dark Tower novel and though Goodreads calls it number 8, it's really 4.5.
  • INSURGENT by Veronica Roth comes out May 1st. The first book in the series, DIVERGENT, was my favorite read of 2011 so I definitely can't wait to see what surprises await in book 2.
  • CITY OF LOST SOULS by Cassandra Clare comes out May 8th. With the way that the previous TMI book ended, I'm desperate to see what the hell happened. That's all I can say without being spoilery.
My plan is to power through my remaining revisions sans sleep so I can read everything guilt-free.

What books are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

March and the Nonfiction that Ruled It

With a few exceptions, March was nonfiction/research month for me and with my internet hiatus, I wasn't able to contribute to last week's Road Trip Wednesday and share them with you. Good thing April is only three days old.

First up, DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT MYTHOLOGY by Kenneth C Davis.

What I Liked About It: This book gives you a broad overview on world myth starting with Ancient Egypt and working around the globe until we learn a teensy bit about the Pacific Rim. If your knowledge of mythology ends with Classical Mythology, Davis' book is a nice introduction to other cultures and stories.

What You Should Know: It reads like a college text where the author periodically intrudes to give a pop culture reference with a smarmy attitude. If this wasn't a free ebook offer from Barnes and Noble, I wouldn't have bothered purchasing it.

One nonfiction book should be enough, right? No. While I was reading the Davis book, I was reading another nonfiction title: HOWDUNIT POLICE PROCEDURE & INVESTIGATION: A GUIDE FOR WRITERS by Lee Lofland.

What I Liked About It: I now know way too much about the police and legal system in this country. For real. Also, Lofland includes tales from when he was a police officer, but gives each tale a writerly flare. This is a fantastic reference if you're going to have any kind of cop type element in your novel.

What You Should Know: Some things you can never unlearn*.

The best reference of the month though goes to WRITING THE PARANORMAL NOVEL by Steven Harper.

What I Liked About It: There were so many things to like about this reference: Harper's easy to follow language, the clear cut examples used throughout, the few exercises that I'm totally going to use... I can go on. More than once while I breezed through this book I went, "Duh, of course" because sometimes the reminder is necessary.

Harper also includes a fantastic chapter on research, explaining your options and which are the best.

What You Should Know: Even though this book is branded for paranormal, writers of contemporary and other genres can take his lessons and apply to their books as well.

I'm always on the lookout for an awesome nonfiction title to throw on my TBR list. If you have one, share below!

* ::cough:: autopsy how to ::cough::

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Importance of Unplugging

Writers today have a lot more challenges than just what is on the television. In an age where you can be connected to the internet through your computer, phone, e-reader, and probably a hundred more things I'm forgetting, it's difficult to remember a time when this wasn't the case*.

With the exception of a few hours a week, all of my online time has been done by phone or NOOK while I worked on my revisions and only then to look up something or compulsively check Twitter and such**. Doing this was important because the revisions I undertook were TOUGH: scene scrutiny, additional worldbuilding, not to mention a lot of yelling at the paper. (For the record my revisions are still going on, but I'm on back end of it now.)

Unplugging is good not only for a particularly hard revision, but for life. When you're not attached to the internet (or technology in general), you can do a lot more in the real world: have lunch with friends, spend more time outdoors, socialize***. When you pull away from the computer for a while, you'll find that you become refreshed and when you go back to your computer, you look at things different. You also discover you don't need to be as connected as you've been previously.

That's not to say that unplugging doesn't have pitfalls. It does. As someone who was in front of a computer 40 hours a week when the day job ruled supreme, I had instant access to Bestie Danielle and we would chat throughout the workday. When all the craziness happened with FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, I had no idea what that was about and felt stupid. I have to skim all of the blogs in my Google Reader. I don't know everything that is happening on Facebook either.

The unplugging process has reminded me that, like with everything else, internet moderation is key. When I move all of my revisions back to digital, I know that I'll have better control when it comes to internet distractions. Since I'm not required to have a computer on for 8 hours a day now, I can pick and choose what I want to do when I do decide to go online.

Do any of you unplug occasionally? What do you like about it?

* I understand that some people can't recall such a time. This makes me feel very old.
** Checking the social networks was the last ditch procrastination method, especially since it kills the battery.
*** The socialization is a big thing if you're an introvert like me.
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