Frozen: Heart of Dread

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Summary from Goodreads:

Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she’s heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.

I was not thrilled about this book, I had read a sample of it (deceivingly short) before I bought the book, thinking it had potential. I was sadly let down. And to my surprise it has about a 4 star rating on Goodreads. I just had so many issues with this book: the writing, the cliche romance, the vagueness of everything, and the feeling that I had read the story before.

I started this after I finished Never Fade, so a lot of the same powers existed in this story, and “the Blue” reminded me of Under the Never Sky. I did like the world building, I thought the whole idea that there was another ice age because of exploiting natural resources was interesting, but then we brought in Atlantis, and magic people, and some disease that turned the magic people into zombie things. I just didn’t get it. There were too many little tangents that were not explained enough for me to really get into it. And the two main characters, Nat and Wes, ugh.

They had such a cheesy romance – both “drawn” to each other instantly, but not wanting to let the other know, relentless flirting and then pulling away, then a declaration of love, and then they both died and came back to life because they loved each other so much – what!? Both of them were pretty one-note too, I liked Wes better than Nat – who needed a boy to tell her to accept herself. And then we find out she’s like half a dragon or something, by this point in the story I really didn’t care anymore and was just trying to finish for the sake of finishing. Basically, I will not be continuing this series, and my overall feeling about it was . . .

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Writing Progress

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Progress. I am definitely making it, but I am also noticing my finish line is farther away than expected. I am setting out to get about 5,000 per week from here on out, which with my current goal of hitting about 75,000 for my first draft, will have me finish in about 3 weeks.

Well, that’s all great and wonderful, but every time I sit down and bust out 1,000 words, or whatever I do that day, I think about everything that I have left to say in this story, and I think 75,000 just isn’t enough! So this has me thinking. Though I am positive I am not going to be published any time soon, and questionable about if I ever will, I want to stick to the average page/word length of my genre – 75,000 – 80,000. Well, another 5,000 worlds won’t sum up my story, so I am starting to think I am going to end it earlier. And honestly, I think it’s probably better off if I do.

I’m not going to stop as soon as I hit 75,000 words, I know I will go over, and then I know I will delete/add a bunch when I go through and edit. But I was going to reveal so much at the end of my book, and I think I am going to keep some of those secrets from my characters to save for a later date and another story. I think it will be a great way for me to evolve my story and characters more, and give myself more material to work with as I plan the second book (which only consists of one scene written hastily in my notebook and a vague sense of the world thus far).

So far I have only planned for this to be a two-book story. I know the trilogy is big, and I also know a lot of people are getting tired of it, but I can’t fit everything into one story with the proper time the characters need to grow and learn. I realize this is why there are so many series (and honestly, I love series. I mean, if I love one story of course I want it to continue!) but at the same time I don’t know if my story has trilogy potential. We’ll see what it turns into though, I’m still too focused on this WIP to worry much about all the other stories I have in my future!

Never Fade – The Darkest Minds #2

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Summary from Goodreads:

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster. 

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her. 

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

I think I actually liked this book more than the first, which is not usually the case with sequels. I loved the evolution of all the characters, the introduction of new ones, and the new questions and alliances it brought about.

With Ruby as the Leagues weapon, she learns so much. She is able to defend herself better, she has more control over her ability, and she is getting good inside intelligence on the League, camps, and the state of the country. All the while, still fighting becoming the monster she fears she is and sticking to her desperate need to protect all of those she cares about. Then she and two of her League team members, Vida and Jude, leave to find Liam, their relationship is strange and really interested me. Ruby still has that fierce need to protect them, but she also resents them slightly for their belief in the League and their involuntary role in separating she and Liam. As they go through various trials though, their dedication to each other emerges along with a level of trust and acceptance she hasn’t experience with anyone else, and I end up really liking both characters. Vida is a force, but once you have her loyalty she is dedicated to you no matter what (like Chubs/Charles), and Jude is so sweet and determined to prove himself, he embodies the blind hope that most of the others have lost because of all they have been through.

Ruby’s reunion with Chubs was so great! And it was so great to see how much stronger he has become over their time apart. Their reunion with Liam was even better, and I was so glad that he hadn’t completely forgotten Ruby and that she somehow reversed the memory swipe she had done on him. Their relationship is strained because of it though, on top of Liam’s complete distrust of the League and the strained relationship between he and his brother, Cole. They clearly love each other though, and I really hope that instead of Chubs and Liam leaving Ruby with Cole and the new league he decides to stay. I know he doesn’t believe anything good can come from the league, but Liam needs to accept that he can’t save the world all on his own. Ruby doesn’t trust Cole, but she knows it’s her best shot to make a real difference, and I think if Liam stays he and Ruby can work out their issues, they can help the other kids with abilities, and Liam and Cole can balance each other out.

Also, Ruby’s expanding capabilities with her ability are starting to push her into a danger zone more than ever before. She has crossed lines she never expected too, and is constantly fighting her urge to use her abilities as a weapon, both for the good of others and as a means of personal vengeance. Vida is someone she can rely on to help her not cross the line, but I think if she looses Liam and Chubs, Vida won’t be enough to control her.

I loved watching the changes in all of the characters, Liam is a bit irritating in this one, but I am hoping he gets over himself because he’s really a good guy and can make a huge difference working with Ruby and his brother. I hope to see Zu in the next book, and hopefully she’s talking again, she was a great character who I think Ruby really related to and having her around would bring a good balance back to the group with her sweetness and inherent goodness. Can’t wait to see what happens in the finale!

Weekly Wishes #4

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Started by The Nectar Collective, this acts as a way to share goals with fellow bloggers, and hopefully, for me, provide more incentive to accomplish them!

Last Weeks Goals:

1.) I need to shed my laziness of late, especially at work. I’m currently working on this big book collection, and though they get monotonous rather quickly, there are only 5 boxes left. I would like to get them all done this week, but we’ll see how crazy things get since my boss just got back and the registrar is going to be gone for most of the week, so I’ll set my goal to finishing 4 of the boxes. This did not happen. I really only got through one box actually, or two? I had to pull stuff for researchers though, and then a meeting went over on Tuesday, and I took a sick day Thursday. I finally have the database software on my computer now though so I feel like that will help me, I will get to see my progress and it will just make my job a lot easier in general.

2.) As for my writing, I am going to set this weeks goal to hitting 60,000. I like watching that bar on the left move along, it shows me how close I am to finishing! I hit over my goal against this week, getting to just over 61,000 and the action is picking up, it’s getting really exciting!

3.) As to my workout routine, I’m still trying to build it up to what I used to do. My 2 week trip to the mainland really got me out of my groove, and my super cute new dress for our military ball in November proves to me that I need to buckle down or risk having to deal with constraining body shapers. So! Though I’m getting pretty good about running Monday’s and Wednesdays, and I have my riding lessons Friday’s (which is a real workout for those of you who just scoffed, look up how many calories it burns if you think I am lying!), my yoga has gone pretty lax. I have a busy Tuesday afternoon, so this week I am just going to plan for yoga Thursday. Well, there was no yoga, but there was additional exercise. I went walking with my friend on a jog day, and after my ride on Friday, so it could have been worse.

 

Goals for this week:

1.) For writing, I am aiming for 65,000.

2.) As for exercise, I am going to walk on Tuesday with my friend and plan for yoga Thursday, I really need to get back into the stretching and toning!

3.) As for Blogging, I haven’t gotten a ton of positive feedback/interest from my weekly history chats. So I am going to try and get an additional book discussion out every week, which should be doable for a bit since I have been on a a crazy reading binge lately. My goal is to decide how I am going to fill that lack of weekly history with for good.

Now share your goals!

The Darkest Minds – Book 1

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10576365Summary from Goodreads:

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

I really like this, in fact I think I am going to have to go back to goodreads and give it 4 stars instead of 3. The more I think about it the more I like it. I think the concept is really interesting, I like the characters, and the world building is done really well. Ruby is interesting, she’s so scared of herself that her main goal is to keep herself out of others hands, and minds (she’s an orange – mind control). She was never able to learn to control her power and after several traumatic events using it on accident she is convinced that she will never be able to be part of a community or family. Once she meets up with three other escaped kids – two Blues (telepathy) – Charles and Liam, and one Yellow (electronics) – Zu; she begins to feel accepted for the first time in her life and forms a fierce protectiveness over her makeshift family.

Turns out Liam is just as wanted by the various groups who are hunting “freaks,” and as they run and look for the rumored haven for people like themselves she and Liam form a strong bond. Ruby becomes the co-leader of the group, helping Liam cope with his need to keep his group safe and help others like themselves, while Liam encourages Ruby to stop fearing herself. I really like their relationship – it’s not overly sappy, which a lot of YA’s can lead to, and it’s built on a platform of mutual respect and goals (a great message).

Once they find this haven, Ruby is introduced to the only other Orange she knows, besides the one she escaped camp with (who was a douche). He charms her immediately and she becomes enamored of him – I didn’t like him from the start though, there was just something off about him (and I was right!). He does teach her more about her power though, and with his teachings, and Liam’s encouragement she eventually is able to come to terms with her power and accept it as a part of herself. Like I said though, other Orange (Clancy) is a psycho and was really controlling them all, including Ruby.

After a lot of climatic events, Ruby, Liam, and Charles are put back into the hands of the people who helped Rudy escape her camp before she fled. Liam and his brother once belonged to the group and he defected. This group, the League, wants to turn Ruby, and other kids with abilities, into a weapons to fight the government.

I didn’t really like how this came about, but I think I always knew this is how it would end. Her need to protect those she loves leads her to rash decisions, which she seems to regret as soon as she makes them, but only she can get them out of this pickle. Knowing that she will have to act like the monster the League wants her to be, but also knowing that it will place her in a position of power, she makes some tough decisions (which I was pretty pleased about – though still sad that was how it had to happen) the book ends on a really strong note and a self-revelation for Ruby. I think a much stronger Ruby is going to emerge in the second book.

Weekly Word Count

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Lately, I have been setting myself goals of getting about 3,000 words written per week. I want to know how that falls in with everyone else. I googled it, and didn’t really get a definitive answer for what the average/recommended word count per week is, but I assume it depends on the length you plan for and whatnot. I know one of the big suggestions is to finish your novel in 3 months. Well, I’ve missed that. Going off that basis though, I should be writing about 6,200 words per week; roughly double what I am currently doing.

I see the pros and cons of this. I mean, if you get it done faster you have less time to second guess yourself, you can get into editing and rewrites sooner, and you probably don’t get on tangents and whatnot as often. I get that, it makes sense, and it’s all great and wonderful – but who has time for that? As you have probably picked up on lately, I try to get about 500 words out in the mornings before I head to work, and I usually surpass that, though there are also days I don’t write at all (depending on how well I slept the night before, which usually depends on how late I stayed up reading.) And I like this flow I am getting into, it may be a bit slow, but it’s consistent, and I am able to start/finish a scene every morning, and I can think about the scene in more detail in the time between my writing.

Honestly, I can feel that it’s a bit choppy sometimes because of these short writing spurts. But once a week I try and sit down for a while and get an entire scene out to make sure that I am on track with my outline. But basically, I’m happy with my routine and my progress. What about you guys, do you set daily/weekly goals for yourself, and are they high or low like mine?

The Book of Life – All Souls #3

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The Book of Life

 

Summary from Goodreads:

After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

With more than one million copies sold in the United States and appearing in thirty-eight foreign editions, A Discovery of Witches andShadow of Night have landed on all of the major bestseller lists and garnered rave reviews from countless publications. Eagerly awaited by Harkness’s legion of fans, The Book of Life brings this superbly written series to a deeply satisfying close.

Like the previous two books, the Goodreads feedback is showing that you either love it or you hate it. Honestly, I think it’s because a lot of the nuances are going over peoples heads – from what I have read. There is a lot of history in these books, a lot of characters to follow, and a lot of complex ideas – I’m not saying the people who are complaining about these things are stupid . . . but maybe they have some attention issues? Reading a lot of the reviews irritate me, I feel like a lot of the things people seem to dislike are the things I liked the most, did we even read the same story? It’s a tale of self-exploration, fighting for a common good, dedicating oneself to a cause/relationship, and it’s awesome!

So much happened in this book! Admittedly, I was bored for a little while in the beginning, not until Matthew and Diana separated – Matthew to go to New Orleans to bring Marcus’s children to heel and create his own separate vampire clan apart from the rest of the de Clairmont family, and Diana’s return to London to finish her mission with the Book of Life did I feel like it really picked up. I appreciated the decline in awkward sex scenes and more use of the suggestive ellipsis. I thought Chris was a fun character, Gallowglass remains one of my favorites of the series (though I did not like his pinning over Diana, he’s better than that), and the reintroduction of Jack was fun – I think it really helped Matthew and Diana cope with the loss of their life in the 16th century.

There is way too much in this book to really talk about, but I think what struck me most was the transformation of all of the characters, in the little over a year that the story takes place in. Matthew is so much more cheerful, he’s more comfortable in his skin, and he seems finally able to accept both the dark and light sides of himself. Same can be said for Diana, she and Matthew really are perfect for each other, both push each other and are always there no matter if they fail or succeed. Then you have Ysabeau and Baldwin – both characters who had a deep seated prejudice to witches, and were firm believers in the covenant (the pact made to keep the creatures separate from each other), but by the end of the series, thanks to Matthew and Diana and their growing network of supporters, they come around to believe in the disband of the covenant and support their family no matter what. This is really the core of the books message I think, and it’s done really well.

Overall, a great finale to the series. I would be interested in anything else Harkness wrote too.