Tuesday, November 30, 2010

And the Winners are...

Okay, so I had a post timed to signal the end of the giveaway.  It was supposed to go up at midnight on Sunday night.  I've only just now gotten onto my blog and... what?  No post!  Turns out I accidentally set it to post on another one of my blogs.  Whoops.

So down to the important stuff...
And the winners are (drumroll please):
Jamie- I'm A Guy BTW

Congrats to both of you.  I've sent emails to you to get your mailing info.  If you haven't gotten the email in the next 24 hours and you happen to check this blog, please leave a comment so I know.  Also, any books that are not claimed by giveaway winners within a week will go back into the pile for a future giveaway.

Thanks and congratulations again!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gratitude Giveaways and Interview With Natalie Palmer

Hi all.  It's time for another awesome giveaway.  And in the attitude of gratitude, let me just say that I'm so grateful for greater minds than mine that have organized this whole thing.  Thanks Kathy.  Over 180 blogs are all linked together and giving away good stuff to thank you, the reader.  So THANKS to all of you too!!!

Now for my giveaway...
Let me introduce you to Natalie Palmer.  She's a new author who's first book Second Kiss comes out at the end of the month.  For this giveaway I thought it would be great to interview her and let readers get to know her a little.  She has very generously agreed to give away TWO books.  That's right, that means we'll have TWO winners AND you can enter up to four times!  Here's how:
1.  Read the interview and leave a comment (be sure to include your email so I can contact you if you win).
+1  Become a GFC follower (or mention if you already are one)
+1 Become a GFC follower of Natalie's Blog  www.nataliepalmerbooks.blogspot.com 
+1 Spread the word:  Blog, Tweet, Link, etc.

The contest will run from November 17th to November 28th.  I'll post the winners some time the next week.  Now, here's some more about Natalie and her book (great cover, don't you think?):

Synopsis:  Gemma Mitchell is a normal girl who somehow gets herself into abnormally embarrassing circumstances. And while she thinks she's the biggest loser in school because of them, there are a few people in her life who would disagree. One of those people is her best friend, Jess Tyler, who is opposite to her in every way. He's popular, good looking, athletic, and intelligent, and he can't get enough of Gemma. But while Gemma is dealing with problems like wrong locker combinations and Valentine's Day dances, Jess is living in a world of serious issues that are foreign to Gemma, until she realizes that he's holding on to her for dear life. 
Humorous and true to life, Second Kiss is an entertaining saga about a boy and girl who find that their lives have a lot more meaning once they have shared them with each other.

And now for the interview:
Second Kiss is Natalie's first published book.  She has a degree in English Literature from University of Utah and currently lives in Westlake Ohio with her husband James and son Scott (and a little girl on the way).

First, some fun, get-to-know-you questions:

1. What music do you listen to?

I love this question because I LOVE music. Some of my classic favorites will always be Counting Crows, Dave Matthews Band and randomly enough, The Beach Boys.

Recently I became a fan of Taylor Swift because every song she writes is like a mini young adult novel. But I have to say that the group motivates me to write more than any other is Dashboard Confessionals. Their song “Don’t Wait” basically inspired the whole ending to Second Kiss. And whenever I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with writing I tune my IPod to one of their songs and the ideas start flowing.

2. If you could either breathe underwater or fly, which would you choose?

Definitely fly. Water is actually one of my favorite things in the world but I like looking at it from the top. Going beneath the surface to see all the gross things floating around under there really isn’t that appealing to me.

3. What is the square root of pie? Just kidding, what is your favorite kind of pie (mine's chocolate mousse or coconut cream)?

Hot Razzleberry Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream. My mouth is watering right now.

4. What's your least favorite thing to do during the day? What is your favorite thing?

Least favorite: Doing the dishes. It’s unoriginal but I hate doing them and they are always there!

Most favorite: Sometimes when I’m working on the computer I’ll have my little boy watch a movie on the couch next to me. He’ll rest his sweet little head on my shoulder with his hand perched on mine and I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

5. Do you floss?

Yes, but not as often as I should. I come from a family of strong teeth so I’ve been spoiled by not having a lot of cavities (knock on wood).

All right, now for some more serious writing questions:

1. Second Kiss is your first published novel. What was your writing process? Did you know the entire story before you began writing, or did it come to you as you went along?

My process was to write and keep writing. No matter how discouraged I was with the story line I just kept at it. That’s really the best way for me. I had a very vague idea of where I wanted the story to go but the final product was completely different than I had imagined. And I found that even if I did have a solid direction in my head the characters kind of took it their own way as they developed.

I tried being more organized with my second book that I’m currently working on. I wrote out an entire outline of the book with a summary of how each chapter would go. It was horrible. It was like I was writing a book that was already written. I hated it. I had to start from scratch and just let it flow naturally from my head. It’s so much more fun and I think it turns out a lot better… at least for me.

2. Second Kiss is a young adult, coming-of-age story. What made you interested in writing for the YA audience? What do you think makes this audience unique?

When I was a young girl I had one drama after another. Nothing too serious, just a lot of funny, embarrassing, romantic (the list goes on) situations that I loved telling or writing to friends. I had so many stories to tell and a lot of people responded with, “You should write a book one day.” So I did. And I hope to write a lot more. Second Kiss itself is definitely a fictional novel but there are a lot of individual stories within the story that are based off of true events in my own life.

I think the young adult audience is unique because they are experiencing everything for the first time. It is an extremely impressionable time with learning experiences that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. What other time in their lives will they be stuck in a building for 8 hours a day with hundreds of other kids their age? Everyone is fighting for attention, for friends and for love and grasping on to something that resembles an identity. It’s a once in a life time opportunity and I love to capture that in a story.

3. Most authors have books or stories that have inspired them. Do you have any books that did that for you? What inspired you to want to write?

The first book that made me love literature was A Separate Peace by John Knowles. I had to read it in high school but it stayed with me like no other book has. I loved the fact that the real meaning – the real lessons in the book weren’t written plainly before your eyes. There was so much depth, so much to figure out and to feel. I’ve always wanted to write like that.

One of my more current favorites is The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton. I still can’t put my finger on what I like about it so much but I guess that’s the art of good writing.

4. Which of your characters in your book is most like you? Why?

The main character, Gemma Mitchell, definitely represents me most. However, we are definitely not the same person. We’re similar in that we’re both a bit na├»ve, a bit dramatic and a bit of a spit fire at times. But Gemma is a lot more fearless than I am. She knows what she wants and she goes for it. I would like to be more like her in that way, but I don’t think I’m quite there yet.

5. Are there other projects you're working on that you would like to share?

I’m currently working on the sequel to Second Kiss. I’m hoping to make it into three books but we’ll see how it goes. This book has been a lot of fun to write because Gemma is now in high school. There are difficulties, however, because high school means more issues such as drugs and sex. This means finding a way to address these issues without condoning them like so much young adult media does these days.

Okay, that's it folks.  Thanks so much for stopping by.  Make sure you take the time to enter the giveaway and remember it's a blog hop, so you can simply click on any of the links below and enter any of the 180+  giveaways!!!  

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up on a school bus holding hands with a girl. Apparently she’s his girlfriend Piper, his best friend is a kid named Leo, and they’re all students in the Wilderness School, a boarding school for “bad kids.” What he did to end up here, Jason has no idea—except that everything seems very wrong.

Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, and her vivid nightmares reveal that he’s in terrible danger. Now her boyfriend doesn’t recognize her, and when a freak storm and strange creatures attack during a school field trip, she, Jason, and Leo are whisked away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood. What is going on?

Leo has a way with tools. His new cabin at Camp Half-Blood is filled with them. Seriously, the place beats Wilderness School hands down, with its weapons training, monsters, and fine-looking girls. What’s troubling is the curse everyone keeps talking about, and that a camper’s gone missing. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist they are all—including Leo—related to a god.

My Review:
This book picks up where the Percy Jackson series ends.  While the three viewpoint characters are new, many of the side characters and the world in which this story takes place is strait from the Percy Jackson series.  In other words, if you liked Percy Jackson and the Olympians, you'll like this.
One difference between the two books as that Riordan started with his characters being a little older this time.  I'm assuming he did that to bring this novel up to the YA audience-- whereas the other series started as more of a middle reader (aimed at kids 10-13).  Obviously the other series became popular with the YA crowd, so it made sense for these characters to be older so they could deal with older themes.  It's still great for the younger kids though.  I have no problem with my nine and ten-year-old reading this book.
One of the things I really enjoy about this book and the Percy Jackson series is the lesson I feel like I'm getting about Greek (and now Roman) mythology.  Riordan has a quirky sense of humor (for example, the three main characters are protected by a satyr who also happens to be a gym coach with a highly exaggerated estimation of his own abilities).  Riordan's ability to mix mythology with popular culture is amazing and hilarious.  
I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the other books in the series (not yet released).  I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of YA and/or fantasy literature.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

My Review:
Usually, I like to start my reviews with a synopsis.  But this is a long book (and the beginning of an even longer series)-- and even the summaries were too long to post.  Essentially, if you like Lord of the Rings, you'll most likely enjoy this.  In fact, it's probably the most popular epic fantasy series next to Tolkien's.   It's essentially about three young men who are forced to go up against an evil power that is threatening to destroy the world.  There's intrigue, magic, battles, mythical creatures, a little romance-- pretty much everything that an epic fantasy should have.

It's a little difficult to review a book that is so old and well-known because, frankly, my opinion doesn't matter all that much.  The book stands for itself and most people who would like it have already heard about it and read it.  So take my review for what is worth...

I've never been a huge follower of this genre, but I decided to read this book when I heard that Brandon Sanderson, an epic fantasy author whose books I enjoy, was selected to write the final installment of the Wheel of Time series due to the passing of Robert Jordan.  The whole thing intrigued me.  How would you feel if you'd been asked to write the closing chapters of a HUGE series with a HUGE following that had been written by another author?  Talk about a daunting task!

So I picked up this book to see what it's about.  I really enjoyed it, but I'm not sure I'm going to make it through the whole series.  The story was extremely well-written and compelling, but it was also LONG.  I'm usually a reader who's driven by characters, and while the characters in Jordan's book are rounded and complex, they are only part of the story.  Robert Jordan has set them in an amazingly detailed world full of history, folklore, language, differing cultures, etc.  How he managed to do this so well is beyond me-- but in truth, it made reading it (at times) beyond me as well.  I found myself skimming a lot to get to the action with the characters.  But all this detail is not a weakness in the novel, it just isn't my personal preference.

Somebody who enjoys rich, elaborate settings and detailed folklore and history (i.e. epic fantasy) will really like this series.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Spooktacular Winners

Wow!  Between all the links, comments, and followers, I had 225 entries overall!  I was totally not prepared for such an amazing turnout, which is why it has taken me the whole week to get the winners announced.  I am now officially a fan of blog hops!

Okay, now to what you've been waiting for...


Mockingjay:  Erika at Elhammond2012@yahoo.com
The Dark Divine:  Donna a dwarrington1@gmail.com

Congratulations!  I've sent you an email notifying you of your win.  Please email me your addresses and I will get those books sent out ASAP.

Thanks to everyone for entering.  Be sure to check back soon-- I have an author interview coming up in the next couple weeks (with a giveaway).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Back To School?

A good friend of mine is studying for the GRE this Saturday.  With my youngest going to kindergarten next year, I have seriously been pondering the idea of a getting a graduate degree (well, as seriously as I could ponder an idea that only occurred to me two days ago, anyway).  My two biggest obstacles are the two biggest obstacles to many things in my life:  time and money.

I'd LOVE to go back to school, but the idea of trying to manage that while also managing a family is overwhelming.  And what if I've forgotten too much from college?  And do I really want to start writing term papers and taking exams again?  Seriously, my memory is not what it used to be (I'm pretty sure it's a documented fact that you lose brain cells when you have children).

Another concern is that my real love is writing fiction.  Undoubtedly a master's degree will only help me, but will it be worth the cost?  I highly doubt I'll be able to write what I want while going to school.  And I'm concerned that getting an MFA in creative writing may be more than I can handle (or want to handle, or want to be exposed to-- I'm pretty square and I have a feeling that most college-aged writers are not).  And can we afford that big expense if I don't plan on teaching or anything once I've gotten it?


Obviously I've got some things to consider...