Thursday, June 7, 2012

Review: The Enchantress by Michael Scott

The Enchantress by Michael Scott
Book Six of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
Published May 22, 2012


Review: 3/5

Cross reviewed on Goodreads

Our journey with this series began in 2007 with The Alchemyst. Six years later, the series comes to an end with The Enchantress. I fell in love with this series from the first book and I craved each summer for the next one to be released.

I realized however that I never posted reviews of the first three books, so for those who might just be entering the series, take this review with an extra grain of salt because it will have a slew of things I was bothered by at times and then all my praise, too.

There is so much terminology in this series that, after the second book, I started becoming confused at times. Here is your run down of characters in terms of hierarchy: Earthlords, Archons, Great Elders, Elders and Dark Elders, Immortals and Humani. Whew! And that doesn't even touch on some on the insanity that comes with trying to pronounce these character's names. So, with all of these big players throughout the series, you continuously read about Immortals and Elders. We never meet a Great Elder or an Archon, and only at the very end, do we meet an Earthlord. It's pretty cool, but it's also very much a cop out. You meet them, they turn out to be the big bad of the whole series (No spoiler there. Trust me!), and then they die just like that from a well placed sword strike from one of the protagonists, Josh Newman. Yeah, so huge disappointment there. I wanted more epicness, as the whole last book essentially takes place on the equivalent of Atlantis (called Danu Talis in the series).

Aside from a few grammatical errors I ran into, I can't help but wonder why there were so many plot hitches in this book. In the other books, there were few if none. Here, a lot of things are left unanswered at the end, such as the Archon and Great Elder thing I touched on. Other things include the future of some of the characters. When a series ends, it must wrap up. And here, there were just a few things that bugged me. I can't say too much for the sake of keeping this spoiler free.

That said, the book is also very slow. This is primarily because of what happened in the fifth book, The Warlock, leading into The Enchantress. Now, because most of the book takes place on Danu Talis, we have to be brought back to modern day San Francisco where the city is about to be run over by the darkest and most feared mythical monsters in legend. Two of the other big heroes of the series, Nicholas Flamel and his wife, Perenelle, are trapped in San Francisco with some Elders and other Immortals that have sided with them to stop the monsters and by time for Josh and his sister, Sophie, to figure out their destiny back in Danu Talis. I really, TRULY expected them to eventually get back to Danu Talis toward the end of the book and assist Josh and Sophie in the final conflict, but that also doesn't happen. Again, sort of a let down.

The final revelation in the book, which in Kindle time is in the last 10% of the book (because it's lame and this book didn't have page numbers) is pretty cool. It's actually very cool and I didn't foresee it at all. I read other reviews on the book and some wrote that they weren't surprised at all by Josh's fate. Uh, sorry. I was very surprised. From The Alchemyst, we learned of the prophecy that involved Josh and Sophie as the Twins of Legend, the fabled Gold and Silver, who would be "One to save the world, One to destroy it." As the series progressed, most of us got the idea that either Josh or Sophie might go Dark Side on everyone and become an enemy. Again, not true and the exact meaning behind the prophecy is deeper than the surface leads to believe.

So, I feel like I ranted a lot of negativity on this book, but don't get me wrong: I LOVED EVERY BIT OF THIS SERIES. Do not let the rating at the top fool you. Could it have been better? Yes. Could I have done better? Probably not. So kudos to Michael Scott for finishing off this series with a touching ending. For those of you who are looking for a great YA read, this is the pick for you.

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Monday, May 28, 2012

Review: City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
Book Five of The Mortal Instruments
Published May 8, 2012


Review: 4.5 of 5

Cross reviewed on Goodreads

The demon Lilith has been destroyed and Jace has been freed from her captivity. But when the Shadowhunters arrive to rescue him, they find only blood and broken glass. Not only is the boy Clary loves missing–but so is the boy she hates, Sebastian, the son of her father Valentine: a son determined to succeed where their father failed, and bring the Shadowhunters to their knees.

No magic the Clave can summon can locate either boy, but Jace cannot stay away—not from Clary. When they meet again Clary discovers the horror Lilith’s dying magic has wrought—Jace is no longer the boy she loved. He and Sebastian are now bound to each other, and Jace has become what he most feared: a true servant of Valentine’s evil. The Clave is determined to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. Will the Shadowhunters hesitate to kill one of their own?

Only a small band of Clary and Jace’s friends and family believe that Jace can still be saved — and that the fate of the Shadowhunters’ future may hinge on that salvation. They must defy the Clave and strike out on their own. Alec, Magnus, Simon and Isabelle must work together to save Jace: bargaining with the sinister Faerie Queen, contemplating deals with demons, and turning at last to the Iron Sisters, the reclusive and merciless weapons makers for the Shadowhunters, who tell them that no weapon on this earth can sever the bond between Sebastian and Jace. Their only chance of cutting Jace free is to challenge Heaven and Hell — a risk that could claim any, or all, of their lives.

And they must do it without Clary. For Clary has gone into the heart of darkness, to play a dangerous game utterly alone. The price of losing the game is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she even still trust him? Or is he truly lost? What price is too high to pay, even for love?


City of Lost Souls! The fifth installment of The Mortal Instruments and truly one of the best yet. It combines treachery, crumbling relationships, and new and more deadly secrets unseen in previous TMI books. The blurb tells a lot about the book and what happens, so I'll skip over all this and get right to what I loved about City of Lost Souls. And also, what I didn't like (which wasn't much).

City of Lost Souls is a combination of stories, as most other TMI books are. Jace and Clary. Clary and Sebastian. Sebastian and Jace. Simon and Izzy. Alec and Magnus. And one of the newer stories created in City of Fallen Angels, Jordan and Maia. This book is proof that you can tell one story from many views, and as much as personally not caring for multiple points of view storytelling (in my writing), Clare has always made it work. I prefer, like many other writers, to tell the story from one protagonist. While Clary is most certainly the protagonist, Clare assures that she is not always the most important character to the story. There is a constant balance.

In this book, however, I didn't care for Jordan and Maia's story. It's more a love affair than anything. Unlike the other characters who we've known since City of Bones, Jordan and Maia have just entered into the game in City of Fallen Angels. There hasn't been enough time to develop them as being important, and yet Clare gives them equal face time through the book. I would have preferred that Jordan remains nothing more than Simon's roommate in the book, but it appears his involvement with a Downworlder group called the Praetor Lupus (a strange school-like system for Werewolves) may have more importance in City of Heavenly Fire.

That said, the conclusion of City of Lost Souls is phenomenal. Sebastian's end goal is revealed and without revealing much, devoted fans of this series will be both craving and hating Clare for making us wait until 2014 for the final installment of The Mortal Instruments. I expect City of Heavenly Fire to be emotionally compromising for all readers. I expect that, like in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we'll see important people die. In my honest opinion, very important people. I don't want to think about it truthfully. I want to forget about TMI until City of Heavenly Fire and fall in love all over again with the final piece of the story.

There are even easter eggs that appear from The Infernal Devices series, such as this line: "...; a pendant in the shape of an angel whose wings were clockwork cogs and gears." (From Clary's point of view as she investigates a secret room in the Institute.) There is also a mention of Will Herondale in a letter in Magnus's possession.


Overall, City of Lost Souls satisfies greatly. It's sad, funny, and incredibly in depth. 

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Next up for review:

The Enchantress by Michael Scott





Friday, May 11, 2012

Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Book Two in the Divergent Trilogy
Published May 1, 2012

Review: 5/5

Cross reviewed on Goodreads.

SPOILER FREE

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.


Insurgent has finally hit the shelves and I was so excited for the release. I was actually forcing myself to finish a previously started book so I can start Insurgent, even through it's release occurred during the time of the previous reading. Let me tell you, it was a struggle.

That aside, INSURGENT! Holy shit. Yeah, holy shit! Veronica Roth truly upped the stakes from Divergent and Insurgent completely takes a direction of its own. In my review of Divergent, I commented how it had the depth reminiscent of The Hunger Games. That is more true for Insurgent than Catching Fire, in my opinion. As the back flap preview reveals, war is upon the factions. Their conflicting ideologies culminated to the resolution of Divergent and now, Tris has so much to handle. For a sixteen year old girl, battling a love interest, the torturous events of Divergent's resolution, and now this war, Roth proved herself by developing Tris on a whole new level.

Tris is very well balanced in this book as compared to the first. And that is to be expected, I suppose. She now has all this conflict, enemies, new allies, and most importantly, secrets that will shape her future, speeding at her on a bullet train. However, she handled it wonderfully and not once did I think Tris was developing in way more than another. 

The most interesting part about Insurgent is all the new discoveries that are made. With this war brewing, which eventually comes to fruition (no surprise there, so I don't consider it a spoiler), Tris learns more about herself and family and what it really means to be an individual. But, not just an individual: one of the strongest and most capable Divergent minds in their population. The conclusion of Insurgent is so beyond my ability to tell without spoilers, that I simply have to leave you with this: 

The factions, for as long as they've existed, were simply a framework for something more massive that was, is and will be expected of all faction members who survive the war. Their ideologies, the structure of how they operate and ultimately what caused the war, is hinted in the resolution as the cure for the rest of the world's problems. And that is all I can say.

Insurgent is brilliant writing by Roth. The story and the characters take on a new level of depth, and the relationships in this book compared to Divergent is one of the most rewarding parts of reading it. Besides the amazing story and the fabulous world, it's the blooming and crumbling relationships of all the characters that made me devour this book. 

I eagerly await the third book in the trilogy, which now that I'm looking on the horizon and I can see where this is leading, I have a guess as to what the third title will be. I'm guessing Convergent, as some other readers have also guessed.

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Next up for review:
City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

Monday, May 7, 2012

Review: Tricked by Kevin Hearne

Tricked by Kevin Hearne
Book Four of the Iron Druid Chronicles
Published April 24, 2012
ISBN: 0345533623

Review: 4/5

Cross reviewed on Goodreads

Druid Atticus O’Sullivan hasn’t stayed alive for more than two millennia without a fair bit of Celtic cunning. So when vengeful thunder gods come Norse by Southwest looking for payback, Atticus, with a little help from the Navajo trickster god Coyote, lets them think that they’ve chopped up his body in the Arizona desert.

But the mischievous Coyote is not above a little sleight of paw, and Atticus soon finds that he’s been duped into battling bloodthirsty desert shapeshifters called skinwalkers. Just when the Druid thinks he’s got a handle on all the duplicity, betrayal comes from an unlikely source. If Atticus survives this time, he vows he won’t be fooled again. Famous last words.


In the fourth installment of the Iron Druid Chronicles, we're brought back into the world of Atticus O'Sullivan, the world's last Druid. Strike that: the world's last BAD-ASS Druid. And bad-ass he is. So, as in the first three books, Atticus seemingly walks into this big problem. In all truth, the first three books could have been labeled Tricked: parts 1 through 3, and probably would have been a fitting title.

All joking aside, Tricked is full of new magic that I was not expecting. When I first read that Coyote, a returning character of Navajo decent was going to be a major player in this book, I was skeptical. Because I really didn't like Coyote. In this book, Coyote is defined as the Trickster and truly does dupe Atticus into a life-or-death match against skinwalkers.

However, these badass mofos aren't like the skinwalkers defined in, say, a series like Supernatural. Oh no! These skinwalkers come from a place called Black World, which in the Navajo religion is a realm of evil. It's where the most power spirits dwell, all children of First Man and First Woman. They have multiple forms, which also makes them different than normal shapeshifters. When it becomes clear that Atticus has no choice but to fight these skinwalkers, that's when all the awesomeness happens.

Kevin Hearne shows his brilliant storytelling yet again by delving into the Navajo magic system and religion. This is what really made Tricked a great read. The magic here is all about wards, purity, and strengthening one's body where as other magic, as most books have conditioned us to believe, is an outward force for offense or defense. It was a very nice change of pace.

The only qualm I have with Tricked is how off track it became at times. And maybe that's not even the best way to describe it. There are three storylines happening here: Atticus versus the skinwalkers, Atticus versus the vampire population in Flagstaff, AZ, and Atticus versus Hel (Loki's daughter). While in the end it all wrapped up very nicely, I wanted less perhaps. I wasn't entirely convinced the vampire bit was needed. However, as the blurb from the flap reads, "betrayal comes from an unlikely source," there's your clue that maybe this little scuttle with the vampire population will become a big deal in the fifth installment of IDC.

Overall, I still loved Tricked. Mainly for how specific all the magic usage is in the book. Atticus starts using different levels of Druidry, the Navajo magic was just a spectacular experience, and then there's just Atticus wielding Moralltach.

Before I finish here, I must share my favorite line of the book: It references A Christmas Story, which is my favorite holiday classic: "His eyes were glowing egg yolks, burning Scut Farkus eyes."

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Next up for review:
Insurgent by Veronica Roth


Monday, April 9, 2012

Review: Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher

Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher
Book Eight in The Dresden Files
Published February 1, 2007

Review: 5/5


Cross reviewed on Goodreads.

Harry Dresden is the only wizard in the Chicago phone book. He consults from the police department on those so-called "unusual" cases. He's even been on talk shows. So there's no love lost between Harry and the White Council of Wizards, who find him a little brash and undisciplined. But now war with the vampires has thinned the ranks of wizards, and the White Council needs Harry, like it or not. He's drafted as a Warden, and assigned to look into rumors of black magic in the Windy City.

And if that wasn't enough, another problem arrives in the form of the tattooed and pierced daughter of an old friend, all grown-up and already in trouble. Her boyfriend was the only one in a room where an old man was attacked, but in spite of this, he insists he didn't do it. What looks like a supernatural assault straight out of a horror film turns out to be...well, something quite close to that, as Harry discovers that malevolent entities that feed on fear are loose in Chicago.


Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, has seen many things and fought twice as many things. However, nothing had prepared him or myself for the conclusion Dead Beat (Book Six), when Harry is promoted as a Warden of the White Council.

Throughout Proven Guilty, we find Harry battling the decision of accepting the offer and it starts off in the first chapter as well as culminates in the last chapter. I simply love full circle events of a novel that play to my love of the character. Also, huge props to Jim Butcher in this book especially for starting the opening and closing chapter with similar scenes that that reflect the change of the character in the story. Hard to do.

Anyway, onto other points in the review. In this installment, Harry becomes connected to a close friend's family: The Carpenters. Papa Carpenter (Michael), by the way, is a Knight of the Cross. Put it together. Anyway, when nasty creatures threaten the Carpenter family while Michael is away, Harry leaps to the rescue and uncovers a plot that involves monsters who consume fear to kill their victims.

The more Harry becomes involved with these monsters and keeping the Carpenters safe -- Molly, the oldest daughter in particular -- he learns that he's faced these creatures before. But not before he learns more secrets of the Carpenters that appear to be at the heart of them being targeted.

The culmination of everything results in yet another epic battle, much on the scale as the one I ranted on in my review of Dead Beat. However, what's truly interesting about this book is the full circle bit I mentioned. After the climax, I realized there was another 80 pages left in the book. Holy crap, I say to myself. How is this not over? And by no means is it over. Here, at the true climax and resolution in that 80 pages, Harry reveals yet another bold side of himself that makes him a character of many faces. It shows what he will do for a friend. While he's done similar things in previous books, it's never been done in this fashion.

Proven Guilty was yet another amazing installment of the Dresden Files, and I can only conclude that Harry becoming a Warden will lead to more adventures like this.

Next up for review:

Tricked by Kevin Hearne


Monday, March 26, 2012

"A Picture Paints 1000 Words" Blogfest

Starting today, and extending until March 28, is the "A Picture Paints 1000 words" blogfest,  a collaborative blogfest hosted by the bloggers at Unicorn Bell.

Redirect yourself back to the blogfest participants here to read the other submissions.

The object was to choose an image provided and offer up for tribute out 1000 word piece of fiction. I chose to use two images, as both stuck out to me to create a piece of flash. I have chosen image number five (5) (which, by the way, is the cover art of Cursor's Fury by Jim Butcher...) and image number nine (9).

RAWR!














And here is my 1000 word flash entry:

I’ve often heard the price for immortality is greater than any mortal man can pay. No matter how deep his pockets, how invested in his trade or how mighty his reign over others, no sane mortal would divide his soul. I suppose that makes me one of those insane men who have given away everything. My life, my loves and past triumphs: all for naught when I chose my new life. For I brought death to my country and kingdom. To my family. All that remains is my greatest treasure, locked in a tower far beyond any mortal’s ability to escape.

Now, I stand on the east most garrison of my kingdom. A mighty fortress now empty, for those men who once quartered those beds and tables lay in pieces in the courtyard at my back. There are a few strangled cries that reach me, but I cannot turn to regard them. I keep my will focused on the rite at hand. Missiles, both of physical means and ethereal, collide against the shield erected around me. It will not hold for long. Blue-white sparks spit out from the shield in a curtain over my foes below me. Amidst the sizzle of sparks and missiles whizzing around me, a voice comes. Old and wizened, so far beyond reconciliation.

I at last turn on one foot and bring my eyes to the broad shouldered man bearing a burgundy mantle about his upper body. It drapes in thick folds on his left and right, concealing his arms, and splits at his waist, only just revealing his tree-trunk legs. Yes, far beyond saving this one is. This one, who was my captain. Who finally rebelled and brought a schism to my rule.

“What can you see from there, my king?” Draggil asks me.

“I see the great black sea, the country on either side that nestles its wrath like a bottle.”

“And beyond that?”
 
“There is nothing beyond the sea. We do not sail that way.”
 
Draggil made a motion to divide my men up the left and right towers that would intersect to my point on the garrison. Should I have smiled, our conversation of what he would conquer next would have gone on. So foul is Draggil’s breath these days, I do not give him the pleasure. My men are swift on their approach, but as they’ve been trained, they slow in their advance because they know I am a threat to Draggil’s new order.
 
“I have not yet split my soul, Solomon. I will not become a product of demon worship, as you. Did you not know this would befall you?”
 
“I have guessed your loyalty was stretching thin. Like a rope whose service of strength has run its days. They eventually fray, single threads at a time by stress and amounting tension.”
 
“A rope?” He laughs to the men still at his back. They join. “The mighty Solomon of Firemarch compares his enemy to a rope. You are a wreck, truly befuddled to what must be done to erect our country into the grace it once stood for.”
 
I try not to listen. All I smell is Draggil’s breath and it hinders my concentration. The rite has another minute or so before we all will die. The men on my sides inch, tirelessly awaiting the first break in my shield. The sea churns at the rocks below. Streaks of black become visible in the murky blue. Grey clouds mask the setting sun and pink sky. Draggil is still speaking, but I only concentrate on the sea. The wakes grow, but there is no wind to push the water.

Galek has arrived in Firemarch.
 
“What do you know of my deals with demons, Draggil?” I ask. The men surrounding me have not yet caught on. My eyes are locked on the water and the abyssal pits opening over its surface, like holes being punctured in cloth.
 
“It has destroyed your kingdom,” he says. “You gave your demon everything to obliterate your enemies, and yet you somehow you have made more.”
 
“One half a soul made me immortal,” I say. “What would you wager offering the remaining piece to it would give me?”
 
“You will gain no more.” He waves his men at me and the two closest shove their spears at my barrier. The burgundy flags on the shafts go up in flame. Their weapons melt in their hands. They scream as the molten iron eats their flesh.
 
“You are wrong. For you have overlooked one detail.”
 
Those men retreat and two fresh subjects on either side replace them. They are ready to repeat. Galek will not allow it. As Draggil tries to form a counter response to my threat, the sea explodes. Beads of water spray at the men and destroy their sight. Galek blinds them and a few fall into his black, watery maw below. Galek rises and I meet the eyes of two water-born lions. He speaks to me. He tells me that while immortal I have been, it is my time to leave the world. He will oversee the future of my treasure locked in the tower. In time, my daughter’s flesh will become his. But I have given her the secret to winning the battle against Galek. Even he will not suspect it.
 
Galek surges forward and destroys the garrison. I am swallowed in the torrent. Gone at the next moment. When the sun rises again, Firemarch will be under the sea. Most of it at least. There is a hill at the top of my kingdom, surrounded by trees and grasses. A tower stands there. Galek spares my daughter for future prospects.
 
The price for my immortality was one half my soul. The second destroyed my enemies, myself included. Firemarch will be written into the historical texts. I will be influence over whichever scrivener will transcribe those words. I’ve already prepared something.
 
Falleth Firemarch to the sea, but beareth from the vast blackness of the waters came a Goddess. From a tower wrought of iron and stone. Smote, demons will be, cleansed from the country. For the Goddess is beautiful and kind, born of men who could not equal her.



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

Dead Beat by Jim Butcher
Book Seven in the Dresden Files
Published May 2, 2006
ISBN: 045146091X

Review: 5/5

Cross reviewed on Goodreads

SPOILER FREE 

When a killer vampire threatens to destroy head of Special Investigations Karrin Murphy's reputation unless Harry delivers the powerful Word of Kemmler to her, he has no choice. Now Harry is in a race against time to find the Word before Chicago experiences a Halloween night to wake the dead. 

I took a little break reading the Dresden Files when a slew of other series caught my attention. But, Harry Dresden hasn't lost any of his flare as Chicago's only professional wizard-for-hire. Dead Beat kicks off as one of the best of the series so far (in my opinion). It has a justifiable level of action and intrigue from the start. There was a few plot points that I found to not be tied up, but perhaps they're being left open for the future books.

In Dead Beat, Harry finds himself at war with some vampires of the Black Court. The Queen of the Black Court, Mavra, threatens to destroy Harry's mortal companions if he does not help her recover the Word of Kemmler. From this point, the mysterious past of a legendary necromancer named Kemmler takes hold of the plot. Various parties now seem to be after the Word, namely other necromancers, who are trying to complete Kemmler's studies. However, the completion of Kemmler's work quickly turns into an epic power play that shuts down all of Chicago. Throw the Halloween wrench into the mix, and Harry finds himself pitted against uber-powerful necromancers on the one holiday that can empower them beyond his ability to stop.

Down the line, and this becomes my favorite part of Dead Beat, Harry is inducted into the Wardens, the special police of the White Council of Wizards. He reluctantly accepts and then a war erupts. Here, the most action in any Dresden book comes abroad. There is a good three chapters drawing out this battle between the Wardens and Kemmler's students. Fast forward a bit and it turns out that if Harry doesn't stop these students, the ritual they're performing on Halloween will turn one of them into a god. If this happens, there will be no hope of the White Council to stop them.

There ware some fantastic secondary characters introduced in Dead Beat also, namely a cowardly little mortician named Waldo Butters, or just Butters as Dresden calls him. We also get to meet the other Wardens who, in the past, have tried to hunt Harry down for his unorthodox wizardly doings. My favorite secondary character here is not new at all. It's Bob the Skull! A good deal about his past is revealed in Dead Beat.

Like I said, SO MUCH ACTION!

That's about it. Dead Beat was intense, the plot very fast, and overall, an awesome read.

Up next for review:

Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher



Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Book One in the Divergent trilogy
Published March 1, 2011
ISBN: 0062077015

Review: 4/5

Cross reviewed on Goodreads

SPOILER FREE

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
 

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.  

I've heard so many wonderful things about Divergent: how it is compared to The Hunger Games and a few other Dystopian novels that I haven't put on my TBR list yet. I knew I needed to read The Hunger Games trilogy first, and then I could jump on board with Divergent to discover the phenomenon. Sure enough, I thoroughly enjoyed Veronica Roth's Dystopian society she created. 

At first, I didn't quite know what to think of Beatrice, or Tris (as her name becomes later). She wasn't exactly a great character to start. Kind of normal, ho-hum, going about her transition into the faction she chooses. Then, all the sudden, things pick up speed as Tris's world is turned upside down by a secret she is forced to keep from her family and her new faction members. The secret is what drives Tris to become better, for her to not risk exposing it, she must show that it doesn't control what she can do.

As Tris continues to rise through the ranks of the other sixteen-year-old initiates around her, she develops a close relationship with one of her instructors, an eighteen-year-old boy called Four. Here again is where Tris's motivations started to confuse me. She was always flip flopping over revealing her secret to Four because she's become close to him, but constantly falls back to what she was told about her secret...and how it was very dangerous for any one to know. While other readers might see that as the depth of her character, I saw it as an annoyance. I wanted a constant. I like knowing that a character is strong and reliable, but I know it's not always possible. Especially since Tris is only sixteen.

Finally, in the last quarter of the book, we learn what all this has been leading toward. This Dystopian government which is ruled by the five factions as not as solid as we are led to believe. No surprise there. There has to be a flaw, and it is here when it is revealed. Tris becomes one of the best in her class of initiates and it turns around to bite her in the ass. I'll say no more for now.

Divergent was an excellent read. The story reminded me of the depth The Hunger Games offered. The world Roth created is exciting and deadly, and to learn answers about herself, Tris finally exposes her secret. It is the beginning of a rebellion that will come full-swing in Insurgent, due out May 1, 2012.

Up next for review:

Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

Friday, February 17, 2012

Spring 2012 Book Releases

So, I'm finally getting through a lot of the backlog of books that had been of my to-be-read list. Below is a list of the books being released that I'm most looking forward to, and it's clearly not fair that three of them are coming out within days and weeks of each other. Those publishers don't see what they're doing to us!

* * *

Tricked by Kevin Hearne
Book Four of the Iron Druid Chronicles
Release date: April 24, 2012

Druid Atticus O’Sullivan hasn’t stayed alive for more than two millennia without a fair bit of Celtic cunning. So when vengeful thunder gods come Norse by Southwest looking for payback, Atticus, with a little help from the Navajo trickster god Coyote, lets them think that they’ve chopped up his body in the Arizona desert.

But the mischievous Coyote is not above a little sleight of paw, and Atticus soon finds that he’s been duped into battling bloodthirsty desert shapeshifters called skinwalkers. Just when the Druid thinks he’s got a handle on all the duplicity, betrayal comes from an unlikely source. If Atticus survives this time, he vows he won’t be fooled again. Famous last words.


Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Book Two of the Divergent trilogy
Release date: May 1, 2012

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.


City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
Book Five of The Mortal Instruments
Release date: May 8, 2012

No blurb released yet. Only cover art. Sad face.

However, it must be said that this cover art just blows me away. It's stunningly beautiful and I wholly embrace Clare's [and her publisher's] choice of adding two characters each to The Mortal Instruments covers of books 4 through 6. It adds an interesting dimension compared to the original trilogy's covers.

The Enchantress by Michael Scott
Book Six of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
Release date: May 22, 2012

No blurb released for this yet, either.

Scott's covers for this series always intrigue me, however. They're cryptic and fabulous. The four icons found in the corner of the cover is a stylistic choice that has been with the series since it began, and they reflect what will happen in the story once you open the book. It's like a puzzle and a fun element.


So, what books are you expecting to be hits?

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins


Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Book Three in The Hunger Games trilogy
Published August 24, 2010
ISBN: 0439023513

Review: 4/5


Cross reviewed on Goodreads

SPOILER FREE

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plains - except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay - no matter what the personal cost.


So, I FINALLY finished Mockingjay. It took me forever, it seems. And I finally realized why it actually took so long: Mockingjay is nothing like The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. There is such a different story structure to Mockingjay, and I truthfully think it caught me off guard. So, what's it about, besides the blurb from the flap? The story is very in depth, and in fact, this is probably the only similarity Mockingjay holds to the first two books. Whereas in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, the events are leading to what we know the series to be about (the Games), Mockingjay breaks all the rules and shows what happens after the Games; what happens when a country finally says no more.

Rebellion unfolds. So many people die. Not in the unforgiving and surprising way as, say, George R.R. Martin chooses, but more elegantly. Relationships formed for the characters during these books and despite all my attempts to try to see through it all, to see who might not survive, I failed. I didn't see most of these casualties coming.

The reason for me giving Mockingjay a 4 out of 5 was because, while it seemed to progress toward the big finale, it also felt like it dragged on a bit. I do understand a lot of preparation was needed by Collins to get her characters to this point where the Capitol would fall, but I can't help but think that some things could have been left unsaid, such as few of the propos that displayed Katniss and the rebels taking apart a few of the districts where the Capitol had latched their hooks. All that aside, I was pleased with the conclusion of the series. I still cannot believe it took me so long to read The Hunger Games trilogy, but it couldn't have come at a better time (what with the film debut a little over a month away).

Up next for review:

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hook, Line & Sinker Winners

I'd like to thank all the people who participated in the blogfest. It looks like we had some fantastic writers join us and the hooks were just fantastic.

Thanks to all for offering constructive criticism to your fellow writers. I'm sure it will go a long way for everyone's revisions in the future.

Now, for the winners. I kind of changed things up at last minute and decided to judge the competition myself. I thought randomizing the people involved was a cheap way out. So, I read all the pieces and picked my favorites.

This was a very tough decision, as both of the pieces had great writing, flow and characterization from the start: all the the things that I really look for in an opening that make me not want to put a book down.

The writer who took the prize is:

Mitch Inkley @ Going Postal with Mitch Inkley.

My runner-up was:

Chris Ledbetter @ The Oracle and the Muse.

Mitch, please contact me at sirfrodo13@gmail.com, so we can discuss your prize.

Thanks again to everyone!

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hook, Line & Sinker Blogfest

Hello all blogfest-ers. Today is the day to post your 500-1000 word hook of any work in progress. If there's any last minute stragglers who sign up the day of, no worries: I'll close the list at the end of the day and you're piece will be considered.

Below is your list of participants. Please pop by your fellow blogfest-er's blogs and comment on their hooks. Be constructive.

Thanks and enjoy the day!

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP



I went over the 1000 word mark, but I figured I would end the scene as it stands in my manuscript. Enjoy!

* * *

People these days seem to favor the expression, “Born in a world long since destroyed.” It’s bullshit, most of them blowhards who complain about being normal. The majority of them are Humes who only know day trades. The others are the hybrids that have come to the Motherplane. You see, I’ve been taught one thing about my superiors. That said, I’m still young, so I suppose my opinion wouldn’t much qualify to someone arguing with me.

However, I do know how to defend my own kind if it comes to it. We’re a strong number, the mages of the Affinity, but therein is the source of the Humes’ expression. They think we’re too powerful who be given the type of reverence we see. They think we expect too much adoration for keeping Elyserian running properly. The truth is they don’t know half as much as I would care, but then they’re only granted to know what they can’t use to disassemble us. They’re not permitted to know the secrets of what would happen to the planes if we weren’t around. It’d make them piss their pants, every one of them. Even some mages try not to think about it. So, we go about the days, learning and trading ideas with the Humes who choose to get close to us. Despite all rumors, we wouldn’t mind being liked.

Here in Agress, there’s plenty of rumors to go around. It’s a city born to be a kingdom, but we see no ruler here. Politicians and law makers run things, with the consideration and even advisement of the Affinity at times. The mages occupy a good third of the city. I suppose Humes get the expression from the sudden appearance of a wall erected in the dead of night around the Affinity’s district. Sure, we hide a lot from them, but it’s for their own good. Our Bonders, while scrutinized by the doubtful, never budge from their seats of power. They can’t afford to let it get to them.

I hear the brunt of it sometimes. My father is the Bonder paired with Erishore, the Elf plane. While I don’t see him often, I think too much is expected of him specifically. I’m told I’m not allowed to think like that though, considering I could become his replacement one day. Perfect. His tower is some leagues south of the Agress border, where on a clear evening among the marble white stars, even the doubtful Humes can marvel at the spectacle of the interplaner tether. It is that which we serve, both the object and what it represents—the cosmic energy of a multiverse whose depth we cannot begin to imagine, and the blackness of which our god emerged suddenly and gave us life. They’re part of the stars now, providing that energy to the Bonders.

Those Humes I’ve befriended ask me, “Valence, what is the tether made of?” I’ll explain to them just that, which then produces an expression somewhat of a grimace combined with a hint of astonishment. They don’t think that type of energy can hold all the planes around us together, but they cannot disapprove. It. Remember, they only know what they’re told. So, they know they’re the gateways to the planes, portal systems that allow free travel between all the planes. In exchange for this, Elyserian is asylum of the many races the gods accept as their own children.

“Valence,” my mother called.

She knows where to find me. I find my hands locked behind my head, legs kicked out and propped on a sullenly empty barrel of ale. It wasn’t my doing, but I won’t say I didn’t contribute. A breeze touched my skin. I rolled down my sleeves, concealing my mage marks. I glanced back at the house.

My mother was leaning in the doorframe, arms folded and my same charming smile on her face. I have mage marks on my eyes, too, and I like to pretend she can’t see me. Although it’d take a bush and nightfall to pull off. Not so lucky. She glances at the hoe resting against the window sill and takes another look at me. My charming smile didn’t work this time around.

“Only if you had a real woman who that would work on,” she said, coming toward me with the tool in hand. “You’ll make one lucky girl fall for you real hard with that.”

“Who says I want just one girl?”

Mother’s eyes came to a jocular point, a threat I seldom witness, but always respected. I never knew when a backhand would come my way for a wrongly placed wise remark. It was clearly a joke, but I guess my wit was empty like this barrel. I apologized.

“I see you got to the field,” she said, handing me the hoe.

Her wit, however, was spot on. I dusted my pants and stood.

“You should hire a Hume when I’m gone,” I said. “They love mundane day trades.”

“I have a feeling you won’t be gone for good.”

Knowing it true, I nodded. I took the hoe and turned back to the field. I took only a step before she called me back.

“You will get to this, but only after you return from a meeting with your father. He’s requested you.”

“He’s at the tower, though.”

“A good observation. He’s always there, but he’s request you nonetheless. I’d make haste.”

“Apprentices don’t go to the tower, Mother.” I don’t know why I was making excuses.

“You’re obviously the exception.”

I loved hearing that sometimes. “You’re serious? He’s asked me to come to the tower.”

“Almost as serious as me expecting you to bring him home tonight for supper. Do you know what day it is?”

I gave a second attempt with the smile, but my mother patted my cheek, her finger curling under my chin with my failure. I then remembered, shouting as if I hadn’t forgotten at all,”Yes, your birthday!”

“So we understand each other? You’ll go to the tower. You’ll go to his chamber even. You’ll speak with him and then you’ll bring him home.”

“You think he’s remembered? This ascending class is the largest the Affinity’s seen in years: a whole six Apprentices becoming Acolytes.” I almost regretted making that joke when she sighed.

“His priorities as a Bonder are foremost always. Even I know that.” I felt like she could have gone into a complex history of their relationship and how it bloomed at crumbled at times solely because he was a Bonder, but I knew my mother better than that. She was expressive, but simple. “However,” she continued, “in his thirty-two years of service to the Affinity, he’s never forgotten my birthday. Even I find that astonishing.”

“I’ll make sure to mention that.” I places the hoe in the crook of the chair’s backrest, and childishly frog hopped over the ale barrel.

“I expect an explanation for that barrel, too, Valence,” she called as I walked off.

I glanced back, and said, “Happy birthday, Mother. By the way, you’re radiant today.” She quickly found a rock and hurled it my way. I ducked. It sunk into the untended dry soil. That was exactly her kind of parting gift.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday & A Blogfest

So, because I epically failed last Sunday by posting an incorrect URL to my blog (posted .blogfest, instead of .blogspot), I deleted the post from Sunday the 5th and recycled it for this week. See, it was a very epic fail.

Finally, here are my six:

Her fingers twitched, reacting to my irregular heartbeat. She tasted the flavor of my lips after our kiss and said, “Only if something like that could win your war.”

I started to laugh, but held it back when the idea bloomed. It flourished so swiftly, like watching a flower blossom in fast forward. All the water and sunlight and air that it needed to thrive for a season in seconds. She must have caught on when I stared above her, blankly at the wall, instead of at her.

* * *

Also, if anyone's looking for a place to meet cool kids on February 13th (YES, THAT'S TOMORROW!), swing by my blog again for the Hook, Line and Sinker Blogfest. Click to visit the sign-up list. It's gonna' be fun!

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP









Friday, February 10, 2012

Character Blogfest - Part 3

Welcome to Part 2 of the Character Blogfest, hosted by Cassie Mae. Click the link to return to the participants and list of postings required to play along.

Before I begin, I'm going to plug my blogfest again, happening on February 13th. I'd for you all to stop by and join! Visit here: Hook, Line & Sinker Blogfest.

In this part, we were to write a 250 word flash fiction piece that shows emotion. And I have just the scene. Again, here's Valence and his love interest, Melana.

* * *

Melana fell silent for a moment, just the sound of her steady breaths like a haunted wind brushing my ears. She looked at her feet again, but I curled my index finger under her chin. When her emerald eyes met mine, I took her lips to my own. I hadn't kissed her this way since the night we slept together. A kiss here and there, holding hands and sharing stories. Never this way, and certainly not in the close presence of Alanur. This was my way of saying I didn't give a damn if he approved any more. I pressed myself on her, holding her against the wall. She fought for breaths during our lip lock, and I the same, but it felt too good to separate for even a second. When I found myself truly needing air, I peeled my lips away and touched my forehead to hers. She stared at me--through me--and put her hand on my chest. Her fingers twitched to my irregular, heavy heartbeat.

She tasted the flavor of my lips after our kiss and said, "Only if something like that could win your war."

I started to laugh, but held it back when the idea bloomed. It flourished so swiftly, like watching a flower bloom in fast forward. All the water and sunlight and air that it needed to survive for a season in seconds. She must have caught on when I stared above her, blankly at the wall, instead of at her.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Character Blogfest - Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of the Character Blogfest, hosted by Cassie Mae. Click the link to return to the participants and list of postings required to play along.

Before I begin, I'm going to plug my blogfest again, happening on February 13th. I'd for you all to stop by and join! Visit here: Hook, Line & Sinker Blogfest.

In Part 2, we were tasked to have two characters introduce each other using only dialogue -- no backstory, no internalization, just dialogue between the two.

My two are Valence, and a strange character/creature called only by Alpha, who is responsible for the death of Valence's father. Let's begin.

* * *

V: "Give me a reason to trust you. Besides the obvious. I need to keep you alive so another tether isn't destroyed, but what is your motive?"

A: "I was controlled. I can feel it. My masters, the ones who can be inside my head, they made me do this. I know I hurt you and thousands others. I wish to repent."

V: Laughs. "Repent. A bold word for such irreparable damage."

A: "If I promise to take you to them, the ones in my head, will you consider it?"

V: "You are not of this multiverse. I have no way to analyze your intentions based on what I've learned in my magus studies. But, I want revenge. You can give it to me?"

A: "Yes, sir."

V: "Sir? Now that's something I didn't expect."

A: "I am in your service from this moment. In my culture, as I assume true in others, it is a matter of respect for the servant to revere the one he serves."

V: "Sure, we'll go with that. But, what exactly can you do for me? How are you going to lead me to those in your head?"

A: "I am called a biological polymorphic organism. Within me exists something that will not be discovered in your multiverse: the ability to shape myself to those I have bested in combat or otherwise."

V: "Otherwise? You mean murder. So, you can change your shape to those you've killed."

A: "Yes, sir."

V: And this talent. You're going to kill so I can get answers."

A: "Yes, sir."

V: "Just perfect."

Monday, February 6, 2012

Character Blogfest - Part 1

Welcome to Part 1 of the Character Blogfest, hosted by Cassie Mae. Click the link to return to the participants and list of postings required to play along.

Before I begin, I'm going to plug my blogfest again, happening on February 13th. I'd for you all to stop by and join! Visit here: Hook, Line & Sinker Blogfest.

In Part 1, we're asked to sit a character on the couch and ask the following questions:


1) What is your biggest vulnerability? Do others know this or is it a secret?
2) What do people believe about you that is false? 
3)What would your best friend say is your fatal flaw and why?
4) What would the same friend say is your one redeeming quality and why?
5) What do you want most? What will you do to get it? 

Now, I introduce to you my protagonist, Valence, from Bond of Darkness. Enjoy! 

* * *

1) As a mage of the Affinity, my greatest vulnerability has always been my loyalty. Blind for a while, this all changed when my father was murdered. He was the greatest Bonder who has ever served the Affinity and even to his fellow Bonders, my father’s murder stumps them.

2) People believe that I am like my brother, and he like me. The fact is that I never knew him, nor did he care to become close to me. We are seven years apart, and in the Affinity, that is enough to strain a relationship even among family.

3) My best friend is in fact a Hume, Patricio. I don't think Pat thinks in terms of flaws, as he always compliments me. After all, to him, having a friend in the Affinity is a gift.

4) Of course, Pat would say that I'm unlike the other mages. High-strung, buried in their studies. I have an eye on others.

5) Revenge. My father's murder changed my whole life, primarily the way I perceive things. I look at people differently, I listen more acutely. I suspect everyone.

* * *

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Snowfest Blogfest

Today is Roh Morgan's Snowfest Blogfest. 

Return HERE for the list of participants.

The object of the blogfest was to create a scene in the snow. My entry comes in at 745 words and is taken from my fantasy manuscript, Bond of Darkness.

Before I post, I again will shamelessly plug my blogfest, occurring on February 13th, right here at In My Write Mind. Click HERE to visit the sign up sheet.

Now, for my entry:


“To Aldholt!” Alpha roared, his voice the likeness of Lemmick Soluth. “Across the stars and space, to the eternal winter’s birth place.”
    
We stepped back and the tether wrapped around us. I watched our bodies disintegrate into the cosmic energy of the tether and then there was blackness. My senses tumbled all over the place. Those Mavians were dead now, for the magic expelled by traveling through a tether was lethal to those around it. I felt time spin around me, the threads of space we sped along like an endless spiral.
    
There were no stars, no planes or suns I could see. When we landed, Aldholt’s wintery gusts was a strong slap in the face that I felt all the way in my bones. The five of us were knee deep in white powder, hills of snow spraying clouds around and over us. I looked around, feeling suddenly alone. I knew what kind of people lived here and for once, I felt truly frightened and hopeless. I wrapped my cloak around my shoulders, but it did little to protect me. I waded up the first hill, my feet dragging as if I was fighting a current in a powerful river. When I made it to the top, my hand crested on my brow, I looked upon the gleaming silver and gold city of the Mavians. Even from here, from the farthest I could see on both my left and right appeared treacherous. Ugly, twisted spires vanished into the blustery snow drifts, each aglow with hazy oranges and yellows. That’s all I saw. The ramparts, gargantuan beveled walls with curved blades sticking up from them, were iced over and gleaming in the light.
   
I glanced up and witnessed the alien nature of this plane. It had never been determined just how far the other planes were from Elyserian, but one thing was certain: on Elyserian, we did not have two suns. Here, one was tucked in the distance far behind the city, and the other was at our backs.
    
Melana came next to me with the others. She grabbed my arm, saying, “That place looks awful.”
    
“And we have to go into its heart,” I said.
    
No sooner had I spoken, sharp sounds like trumpet horns cut through the air. They came from the city. Except they were not trumpets. They were sirens. I looked back at my friends, wondering if they ever suspected this would happen.
    
“He knows we’re here,” I said. “We have to move.” 

We ran as fast as we could through the snow, trying to get away from the city. Despite our best efforts, it was too dense and cold for us to flee. I glanced back at Alpha as we trudged through the powder.
    
“Lose the shape,” I ordered. Alpha assumed his own form again and I instantly felt the magic leave him. I dampened my own channel with a weave I had learned in my studies, hoping it would throw Irien off our track.
    
I took us an easy left over a steep hill, not knowing where it led nor knowing how steep actually was. I made it three steps down before losing my feet and tumbling head over heels to the bottom. The others had no better progress, but managed to fall down more gracefully than me. With a face dusted white and my eyes filled with snow, I tried pulling my cloak more tightly. Snow filled my hood and around my neck where it clasped, making it no more comfortable. The longer the sirens blared, the quicker my hope diminished of us hiding our tracks. Just then, they cut off. The ringing still hung in the air for a moment, but was soon taken over by the howling gusts. I didn’t know what happened. Did we truly escape? With all the technology the Mavians had at their hands, I was sure they would have been able to find us, even being this far out from the city.
    
“Val—” Melana said, my name stuttering off. I turned to her. She had fallen in the snow, curled up. Alanur was behind her, doubling her warmth by wrapping his fur cloak over her shoulders. I’d have done the same, but Alanur wore no sleeves. I helped her stand and brought her close, looking at Alanur over her shoulder. His eyes were hard on mine, slightly narrowed as if asking me what we were to do next.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Call for Blogfest-ers

Attention all Blogfest-ers! It's time to come out of hibernation!

I'm looking for more participants for my blogfest, being held on February 13th. Right here!

Please follow THIS LINK to return to the sign up page for the fest. Tell everyone you know (or don't know). I'm looking for at least 15 players.

So, does your hook have what it takes? Sign up and find out on February 13th.

Prize includes a $15 Amazon gift card. Yes, that's a bribe.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Find the link to the Hook, Line & Sinker Blogfest here. We still need participants.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Book Two in The Hunger Games trilogy
Published September 1, 2009
ISBN-10: 0439023491
ISBN-13: 978-0439023498


Review: 5/5

Cross reviewed on Goodreads.

SPOILER ALERT: All spoilers have been blocked out.

The Seventy-Fifth Hunger Games, named the Quarter Quell, have begun. The "Girl On Fire" returns. The new arena and its traps are far more deadly. Will Katniss make it out alive?

That has been my question since I finished The Hunger Games. What is in store for her? She played the Capitol for fools and now, she is reaping all of the consequences slowly. Painfully. But none more so when she learns the secret of the Quarter Quell: the victors will return to the arena. Because she defied the Capitol in such a manner, Katniss and Peeta both return to the arena with victors from past Games. Their ages vary, their states of mind and well-being questionable at best, but it makes them no less deadly.

When it all begins, I had it set in my mind that Catching Fire would close with some major event in the arena. After all, they don't enter the arena until 150 pages before the end of the book. It was logical. Right? Nope. I was SO WRONG.

Right now, if you're itching to highlight the spoiler and you haven't read the series, I urge you to NOT. Give yourself the pleasure of reading it on your own. For those of you have read the series, please, enjoy my reaction:

HOLY SHIT! OH MY GOD. SUZANNE COLLINS, I REVERE YOU!

The remaining victors, whose alliances still hold, are sprung from the arena in a final attempt to overthrow the Capitol. It has been the plan all along. When Katniss wakes, she learns the horrible truth. Panem is in various states of revolution and the worse of it all: District 12 is no more. It has been bombed; wiped out of existence. Just like the mysterious District 13. What will happen next?

I can't even begin to guess. As you can tell, I'm eager to start Mockingjay.

That is all.

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hook, Line & Sinker Blogfest: Sign Up Link

Here contains the sign up link for my 2nd "Annual" Hook, Line & Sinker Blogfest.

The date of the blogfest HAS CHANGED. I completely forgot that I was assisting the Authoress, who hosts the Baker's Dozen Agent series.

The prize of the blogfest will be a $15 Amazon gift card. I'd like to think everyone has switched over to a Kindle (because it's what all the cool kids are doing...), but the gift card should sate any reader's addiction.

You can receive up to 3 points for the blogfest. Here's how:

1 point -- Sign up and participate. Please make sure the link to your blog is accurate. We don't like broken links that send us in to the Blogger Beyond.

1 point -- Share the blogfest badge and/or post about the blogfest. Please place all links to posts and tweets in a comment at the bottom of this page.

1 point -- Follow my blog. I trust you, so this is a given point. Aren't I sweet?

All points will be randomized into a number generator at the close of the blogfest.

To refresh from the previous post, here is the criteria to submit:

Date: February 13, 2012
Where: In My Write Mind blog, and your own
Objective: Post your 500-1000 word hook and critique other hooks posted by participants

Suggestive topics to consider when critiquing:
  • Does the character have a personality I can fall into easily? This includes any dialogue exchanged.
  • Is the world around them set up to compliment the character as they're introduced?
  • Are there secondary characters to assist with the hook?
  • Lastly, would I read more?

Finally, your sign up link. I hope to see many of you here on February 13, 2012!

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Announcing: 2nd "Annual" Hook, Line & Sinker Blogfest

This isn't really an annual blogfest, thus the quotations around it. I completely forgot to host it in 2011. I'm getting back on board for 2012, and this will be the first big event for the blog.

The goal of the first Hook, Line & Sinker Blogfest was to post your first 500-1000 words of your manuscript in progress. It could be draft one, having just come off the press, or be well under peer or personal revisions. Whatever the status, we want to see it.

The suggested guidelines we used to judge entries last time was the following:

  • Does the character have a personality I can fall into easily? This includes any dialogue exchanged.
  • Is the world around them set up to compliment the character as they're introduced?
  • Are there secondary characters to assist with the hook?
  • Lastly, would I read more?
 
So, all that said, here are the details of the blogfest:

Date: February 10, 2012
Where: In My Write Mind blog, and your own
Objective: Post your 500-1000 word hook and critique other hooks posted by participants

A point system will be developed, like most blogfests use for advertising the event, and a prize will be announced closer to the date. So, I know I haven't been around lately, but if you still follow In My Write Mind in your reader and still love blogfests, join us for the 2nd "Annual" Hook, Line & Sinker Blogfest.

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Monday, January 2, 2012

Now Reading: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Book Two in The Hunger Games trilogy
Published September 1, 2009
ISBN-10: 0439023491
ISBN-13: 978-0439023498


SPOILER ALERT: For those who haven't read The Hunger Games, I've blocked out bits here that would give big things away.

So, I haven't just started reading Catching Fire, but rather just got to posting it on the blog. I'm just getting into part 2, titled The Quell, which means we're getting into the Games again. What I'm absolutely loving about Catching Fire thus far is it is all about the repercussions Katniss is facing since she won the seventy-fifth Hunger Games.

I knew it would never just be that. Not in Panem. Here I find out that because of her little trick in the finale of the Games, which led her and Peeta to both win for District 12, all the districts are in an uproar. It's never been done. Never been thought possible. Now, there's rebellion and hope. President Snow won't let that happen, however.

Because of Katniss's display in the arena, I'm guessing she'll be the tribute pulled for the Quarter Quell Games, which is a series of the Hunger Games that only occurs every twenty-five years. Because it only occurs during these times, the stakes are raised and the dangers are increased. Will the "Girl on Fire" survive a more deadly version of the Hunger Games? I'm eager to find out.

Review of Catching Fire to follow.

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP