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


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,


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


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, so we can discuss your prize.

Thanks again to everyone!

Peace and Writing Love,


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,


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,


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,


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.