"Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all."-Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Silver Linings By Kaylee Baldwin

Grade: A
Rating: 5 Stars
Recommendation: Read this series

Here's me doing a happy dance for being the first one to receive a signed copy!  Yayee!

Kaylee Baldwin is a fantastic writer!  I enjoy all of her stories and will pretty much buy anything she's ever written.  What's neat about this book is that it is part of a series.  So if you like this book, and I think you will, there are five other books you can enjoy!  Kaylee did a great job of creating a great story and setting up the next story in The Ripple Effect Romance Novella Series (I can only imagine how difficult it would be to do that!).

Silver Linings is about Drew Westfall and Eden Torresi.  Drew Westfall stumbles into Silver Linings one night after a series of unfortunate events.  Eden discovers him and the romance takes off from there... except, well... there are a few complications!

What I liked:

SO much!  I love how Kaylee is able to create such a visual with her words.  I was able to picture the snow and the old house.  I could see Silver Linings and the people who lived there, and it was all so beautiful.  This story was a sweet romance.  Totally clean and cute and fun, but so completely romantic at the same time! I loved Drew.  He started off a little gruff but as soon as he got all cleaned up, I saw the cute, wonderful amazing Drew.  I loved that he really cared about Eden.  He didn't just say that he loved her (like so many romance books seem to do) but he really showed her!

And I loved Eden.  She was so giving and caring and put other first.  She was a likable MC and I really rooted for her to get her HEA.

What I didn't like:
Um... It ended? ( Luckily, I get to read Jace's story next!)

Such a great story, I can't wait to read Jace's story next!

The Skeleton in My Closet Wears a Wedding Dress by Sally Johnson

Grade: B
Rating: PG

SUCH A CUTE COVER! Right?! So, I really love contemporary LDS fiction books that discuss difficult subjects. I love that author's and publisher's (of LDS fiction) are publishing books that talk about real-world situations!

What I liked:
I loved the concept of this book.  A girl trying to overcome her past so she can have a future. And I think that the author did a good job of writing about depression.  In some ways, the tone of this book reminded me of Mile 21 by Sarah Dunster. 

The MC, Sophia 19, is just returning to BYU after a messy divorce. I think, the author did a great job conveying the MC's depression after returning to school...From the ward activities, to her roommates, to dealing with her own feelings in therapy, the author created a realistic picture of what life would be like for a 19 year-old divorcee.  Because Sophia is going through such a hard time, it would be easy to get bogged down in the sadness of her situation (because it is sad) but, the the MC's voice was sarcastic and funny and made the story feel light. There were few parts of this book that took my by surprise too! 

What I didn't like:
There were parts of this story that were frustrating. Sometimes the MC made decisions that I just wanted to shake her for. But realistically, were probably very accurate, so it's hard to nit-pick over this.  Her roommates, oh my... I'll leave it at that. And Travis... Oh Travis!  As much as his decisions were so incredibly infuriating, I found myself wanting him to spit out his side of the story!  I wanted answers to questions like:  What was up with the mom?  Why was he always running away?  Did he change at all?  Why did he want out of his marriage to Sophia so badly? Was HE depressed?  What did Sophia not know/understand about their marriage/past? But this wasn't Travis' story, so those questions weren't so important either I suppose.  

This was a good book that I would recommend it.  Not as light hearted as some LDS fiction books, but has some good meat and morals. 

If you liked this book also try: Mile 21 by Sarah Dunster

Friday, May 16, 2014

Writing The End and Beginning Editing

Today, I wrote the last scene of my first novel.  There is still a lot of work to be done but, technically it's complete.  As in there's a beginning, a middle and an end.  And wow does it feel good. AMAZING!  I really did it...  I wrote a book! And I think it doesn't suck! HA!

I know all this really means is that it's the beginning of editing and rewriting.  But for now.  I'm going to say it again: I wrote a book!! Squee!  

About a month ago, I really thought I was about done with writing.  I had worked my tail off... I ignored my house, my kids, my husband and yeah, it wasn't pretty.  I'm not going to write my next book the way I've written my first one.  For my next novel, I'm actually going to write and do the laundry.  I think, I hope... my husband prays.  

But I digress, about a month ago... I thought everything for my novel was on paper, or screen I guess... And then I realized that the ending, well, it kinda sucked.  I mean, the idea was good, but the execution?  BORING!   The pacing was off, the characters were tortured etc. I sent it to my cousin and also to the most amazing beta reader ever (who will remain nameless to protect her identity just in case she doesn't want her name mentioned here). Anyways, my cousin said it felt contrived, my beta reader liked parts of it, but not all of it. 

Agh, let's just say that it had issues.  And okay, I know it still does.  It's a long way from perfect, but it's close.  Or at least closer to my vision.

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend The LDStorymakers Conference in Layton, Ut.  And I had the opportunity to pitch my book to a publisher.  I wasn't sure that they would request it, in fact, i was pretty anxious about pitching the book to anyone at all.  Like ever.  But I figured I had flown all that way, I had paid to attend the conference and heck, why WOULDN'T I pitch it?  So I did!  And guess what... Before I was even finished giving my whole pitch she said she wanted to see it!  I get butterflies just thinking about it.  

I know this doesn't actually mean anything.  I KNOW that.  It's kind of like someone telling me my baby is cute.  I know it doesn't mean anything... but at the same time, it feels SO good.  

When she requested my full manuscript, it gave me motivation to keep writing and rewriting and editing and growing.  The boost it gave my writing made the nerves I had in the pitch session completely worth it.  Even if this book baby of mine never sees the light of publishing, the creative process of writing this book is maybe one of the best things I have ever experienced in my life.  I feel so blessed to have been given words to tell the story in my mind.  

I'm grateful to have a supportive family and friends who helped to make my dreams possible. I am thankful to the Jennifer Griffiths for telling me my story has merit and is publishable... She gave me my first big confidence boost and for that I am forever grateful. To Kaylee Baldwin, for reading my beginning and telling me it didn't suck, for giving me advice along the way and inspiring me to make changes she probably doesn't even realize.  And most of all... Melanie Jacobson.  Your books inspired me to begin writing in the first place, your advice gave me hope that I could actually do it, your invitation to attend conferences gave me the tools I needed to make it a reality and your friendship gives me motivation to keep on writing everyday. 

Sigh... Now begins the long road of editing. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Selection Trilogy

Grade: A-/4.75 Stars
Rating: PG (books 1 and 2 PG/ book 3 is PG-13)
Cautions:  Mostly clean. A few instances of violence... And one scene they get close to the line in book three.

This book is a cross between Hunger Games and the Bachelor.  I know, it sounds impossible, right?  Just think of this book as the dystopian version of the Bacherlor TV series.  Oh and add in Prince Charming and maybe Lancelot.  I think that will pretty much cover it.  I absolutely am a fan of this series.  I adore it and highly recommend it. 

So in Book One, we are introduced to America Singer.  She is in a very low social caste and lives in a place that is heavily regulated.  She has no intention of joining The Selection (a dating "contest" to win the hand of the Prince Maxon), but her boyfriend Aspen Leger insists that she do it. Of course they get into a big fight, she is chosen and leaves broken hearted.  I was super sad at first, but then I met the prince and forgot all about Aspen.

Book Two, We learn more about the characters the story advances and America starts to make a decision, to question that decision and finally come to terms. We learn more about the countries roots and founders and more about both of the love interests.  This book served mostly as a bridge between books one and two.  It was good, but it also frusterated me a few times... Okay several times.  Mostly because I hate cliffhangers.

Book Three, Has solidified this series' spot on my "favorites shelf." Now this does not mean that this book is without flaws, because they are there, but, I still really enjoyed it. 

America does have a tendency to do things that make me uncomfortable (ie. not telling Maxon sooner about Aspen) But Maxon pretty much makes up for that. Cause he's awesome. Don't get me wrong he has flaws, but they maybe that's why I like him. He feels so real. The end was wrapped up a little too quickly. There are a few things that I don't feel were thoroughly explained or brought to light. But, I guess that book was mostly about the love story, not the rest of the world as it was in the first two books, so really no surprise there. So... It's forgivable. 
There were a few things that I didn't love which is why I couldn't give these books a solid 5 stars.

1. The scene where the almost get too physical (not necessary and kinda took away from the innocent love thing they had gong on... Thank you Maxon for putting on the brakes).2. A lot of violence at the end. (more than past 2 books)3. A little too convenient ending. (seemed a bit contrived and rushed, like maybe she was right up against a word count cut off)4. There were a few things that looked like "potential conflicts" (fight with Kota, Kriss's necklace) but nothing really comes of it so those things served no purpose and felt a little added-in.

All this being said, I adore the selection world. I love Maxon the most, America was interesting although some of her choices really drove me nuts, but I liked her enough to care, and Aspen grew on me a little more in this book too. Overall, I would recommend this series, I really enjoyed it. 

Free Book Today: Come to Me, by Shannon Guymon

This one has been on my To Read shelf for a while now! Get your free copy here so you can read it with me!