“Lost Lake” – Sarah Addison Allen

After the death of her husband Kate and her daughter Devin leave Atlanta for a trip to visit Lost Lake, a summer get-away resort that was owned by Kate’s great-great-Aunt Eby. Not even sure if Eby’s still around but needing some spark of change to wake her up Kate and Devin visit the Lost Lake, finding more than they bargained for when they arrive.

“Lost Lake” is told in a beautiful way, connecting stories of crazy and quirky characters threaded altogether by this magical lake. The characters are otherworldly and gripping, the story is beautiful and alluring. Once again I couldn’t put the book down except for basic human functions. I wasn’t lying when I said I had become addicted to Sarah Addison Allen. She just knocks them out of the park with every publication. All of her books leave you feeling so… full. They’re all so rich with the story they need to tell and the way they captivate you stays with you longer than the novel goes on. I will preach to the choir about these books and this author because man, she is compelling.

To read excerpts or to buy click the picture for information.

“Garden Spells” – Sarah Addison Allen

“Garden Spells” Claire Waverly might feel like everything in her life can be controlled. Everything has routine, everything has structure. She has her business, her garden, and herself. She doesn’t let anything into her life that she can’t hold on to. . . until a whirlwind blows into her life. Struggling with past, present, and possible futures Claire has to learn to navigate without a road map, and it’s not easy.

So, it’s all my roommates fault. She got me addicted to Sarah Addison Allen and now I’m staying up to finish her books (you can read my previous post on “The Sugar Queen” here).

This book was even better than “The Sugar Queen” and I wasn’t really sure how that was going to be possible to be honest. I loved the dynamic of the characters, I loved the feel of the story. The plot, the concept, everything was absolutely perfect and mixed together in the most beautiful way. I don’t know if it was simply that the characters spoke to me, their past their relationships, everything felt so spot on. Everything was relatable without being generic or cliche.

I don’t know how “Lost Lake” is going to top “Garden Spells” but that’s my next adventure!

For more information on Sarah Addison Allen and her extraordinary work follow the link on the picture!

Happy reading!

“The Sugar Queen” – Sarah Addison Allen

“The Sugar Queen” is a stirring tale of hurt, love, forgiveness, magic, hope, and strength. In the small ski town of Bald Slope, North Carolina there’s an air of magic when the snow begins to fall. Books know just where to be when you need them, near strangers turn up with the most unlikely help, and bonds are forged in the most unsuspecting of ways. Following the lives of Josey, Chloe, Della Lee, Adam, Jake, and a cast of characters that round out this magical town Allen takes the reader on a journey through the struggles of decision and finding out just what you’re meant for.

I couldn’t stop reading this book. I read it straight through in two sittings (only because life called me away in between). It was a literal page turner. The book is broken up into sections that follow a few select characters, and it entwines them all so elegantly. When you got to the end of a segment or the end of a chapter your eyes instantly moved forward to keep going.

What I really enjoyed most about this book was that it had mysterious elements that had you going “but why does that happen”. It makes you curious. It makes you hopeful. It makes you stubborn. It makes you sympathetic. It makes you feel.

I thought the book was going to be different when I got into it – I thought it was going to be about a chubby debutante who didn’t want to be a debutante. But it was so much more than that! It was such a unique story; even though it used all the old cliches. It talks about life, love, mistakes, forgiveness, poor parenting, guilt, it has all these themes that are not unique in any way really but Allen crafts them into a beautiful world and a magical story that just leaves you feeling… good. She crafts the story to make you feel like you know these characters, she makes you care. It’s a very fresh take on some familiar themes and it’s a unique overarching plot. There’s a reason she’s a New York Times Best Seller. (visit her website to find more books/info and excerpts!)

Happy reading!

Panic – Lauren Oliver

I genuinely love Lauren Oliver.

In the town of Carp the graduating seniors have a tradition. A game. “Panic”. You put all your faith in yourself and you jump in for the chance to win the pot; a cash prize that could mean a ticket to college or just a ticket the hell out. Heather plays to escape, Dodge plays for his own revenge, but in the midst of this foolish and revelry alliances will be formed, friendships tested… (click the picture above for more excerpts and information on Oliver and her books).

Miss Oliver writes in a way that is both seamless and captivating. She flows from character to character keeping in voice and never stepping out of rhythm. Her words flow through the pages, into your mind, and allow you to imagine this world and feel these situations. You become Dodge, you become Heather – you live in Carp, you participate in Panic.

The first book I ever read by Lauren Oliver was “Before I Fall” which is just such a brilliant and emotional roller-coaster that I won’t even try and explain why I love it. I will just urge you to go and read it for yourself.

I have since read every Lauren Oliver book to be published. And “Panic” was in no way a let down. It was perfect. You can get a copy from any local bookstore, amazon, or hopefully your local library!

Happy Reading.

Fanfiction

How’s everyone’s new year starting off?

I wanted to post today, mostly to be honest because I’m procrastinating both work (my job I get paid for) and “work” (my novel writing). I already went to work today for 8 hours so I am not too keen to do MORE work off the clock (I love my job but honestly everyone needs an hour). I sat at my computer (my actual desktop from like 1975) to write and I have no distractions ignore Pandora playing and Trivia Crack Pinging and I still was drawing a blank of what to write.

So I thought maybe I would write a blog post instead; hey, at least it’s words.

I was up until about two in the morning reading a fanfiction last night (Destiel, Christmas fic, it was rather good). As I was finishing the story I realized how late it was (and subsequently how tired I would be in the morning) but it occured to me that I hadn’t read a book in quite a while that easily kept me up until two finishing it. I have been very busy (I actually have two jobs I physically go to keeping me busy 7 days a week, and my writing and painting have taken a far back-burner lately – in fact they’ve been in a completely different kitchen). So reading just hasn’t been a viable option. It’s work, work, sleep, work work, sleep, maybe eat?, sleep, socialize?, sleep, work… well, you get the idea.

So, for the first time since pffft, maybe Thanksgiving? I had some down time and I decided to read a (semi) lighthearted fanfiction rather than get into a book.

Anyway, what’s your opinion on fanfiction? I know a lot of people really dislike it (they call it “impure” to the fandom – even if it is mostly canon compliant.) Other people live for it (it’s the only way you can have LITERALLY ANYTHING YOU WANT happen to your favourite characters).  Some people just don’t like the way that the fans handle fanfiction in real life (I admit to a bit of squeamishness when fans ask the actors their opinions. I have a very strong level of secondhand embarrassment). Some people say it’s not “real reading” some say it’s awesome.

I am of the opinion that words are words. And to be honest I have read fanfictions that are better written than some published books. I don’t think the content or the medium matters so much when you’re expressing yourself. And a lot of times I will sit down with a fanfiction over a book.

Current poison is anything “Supernatural” or some Kock (“Star Trek”) fanfiction. But I am always a “Harry Potter” reader at heart.

Maybe I’ll make a fic-rec just for fun…

Care to weigh in?

Another year gone….

…And I must trouble you with an old man’s wheezing waffle before we sink our teeth into our delicious feast. What a year it has been!” – Dumbledore “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”

I generally reserve the right to talk about books here – I write reviews, talk about writing, etc., however, with 2014 over and 2015 still fresh in it’s dawn I want to just talk about life for a minute.

I feel like for the past few years life has been a struggle. I was homeless for a while, I started dating again (which believe you me I never thought would happen. Ever.), I made the courageous decision to quit a job at a company I’ve been with for 8 years, and thereby begin a new and exciting job opportunity! It’s been a roller coaster of a time. My twenties are ending, my life is progressing in a positive trajectory… I’m, for the first time in many years, genuinely excited to see where life goes!

I am a person who at one point in life, was truly optimistic. I was. I saw the good in everything, I saw the hope, the joy, the laughter, in every aspect of life. The years have hardened me (not toughened me, there is a difference. I still cry when people yell at me, I still feel pushed around and broken a majority of the time), but I’ve been hardened: I am cynical, sarcastic, distrusting, disbelieving and a lot of times negative. I’m not a nasty person by any means, and I’m not someone that has a morose aura that people avoid. But I’m not exactly one hundred percent myself either. I’ve had some hard times. I was genuinely – like sleeping in a tent – homeless much of 2013 (and really since long before that when my house burned down I couch hopped and jumped from hotel to hotel for years). In late 2013, early 2014 I finally finally got out of that funk. I moved into a great townhouse with some friends, and I’m finally on a good path. I have solid income, I have a great support system, I am paying all my bills on time (well, except student loans but really you want me to pay 120,000 dollars for a degree I DON’T USE? Yea, I’ll get on that…). But really, I’m doing pretty darn good at the moment (knock on wood). But I still feel like something terrible is going to happen. I have this nagging sensation in the back of my mind. “Oh, your life is awesome at the moment? Here’s a catastrophe!”

But, in 2015 I don’t want to feel that way any more! I don’t want to have the negativity that is associated with worrying! I’m over it. If I lose my job (god forbid) I’ll get a new one. If my car breaks I’ll fix it. If my house crumbles I’ll move. If I get the flu I’ll stay home and vomit. If zombies becomes a thing, I’ll get a crossbow. I mean. That’s it. That’s life. You deal with the things that happen. Jah will provide. You do your best. You take some chances now and then. You put some life into it. There’s no sense in worrying about every. little. thing. Because if it happens it happens if it doesn’t then you’ve wasted all the time you could have just.been.happy. being miserable and WORRYING.

I want 2015 to be the year of no regrets

I am saying “yes” a lot more. People invite me out (I am not a very social creature. I have work, I have my house, I have a select few friends houses, that is it), but now people invite me places, I’m going. I’m going on dates-ish-things. . . I’m trying to be more outgoing, experience new things, I’m cutting my hair in weird ways, buying new clothes, trying new foods (Quorn, it’s gonna be big). I’m probably gonna take up Yoga, and do belly dancing or something. Its 2015, anything could happen!

This gets me in to “New Years Resolutions” – this “live positive” spiel is not a “New Years Resolution”. I have heard so many people at my jobs (both of them) talking about how their Resolution is to lose weight, to go to the gym, to eat less – not necessarily healthier though I’ve heard that too. I have a terrible self-esteem. Terrible. I genuinely do not believe for one second that anyone (but me) could love me. Which confuses the fuck (excuse the language) out of people because they don’t understand how I love myself so much and yet think there is no way others could love me. My friend once said “You treat yourself like you’re your favourite book, but you never let anyone else read it”. I tried to explain to her that that is because it’s my favourite book, and if someone else read it and didn’t like it I would be crushed by that. It’s better if I just love it enough for everyone. . . and that’s my self esteem. I am essentially a Winchester. (If you don’t understand the reference just move on – actually go marathon Supernatural on Netflix, and then move on). But anyway, I’m so tired of people trying to say you have to look a certain way in order to “be happy” or to “fit in”. I think people should just be whoeverthefuck they want to be and that will help them find people who genuinely like them instead of finding a bunch of people who will ditch you the second you’re not what they want any more.

My sister actually wrote a lovely 2014/2015 post, you can read it here about dealing with positive life changes and it gets at what I’m saying pretty well. I want to be true to myself, I want to LOVE myself, and I want others to love who I am BECAUSE I am me, not because I’m trying to be who they want me to be. I mean, I never bought into the beauty magazines anyway (I’ll scan the tabloid covers in line at the checkout only because the drama amuses me) but the “lose twenty pounds in 2 days” things are not only a load of waffle, but just irritate the piss out of me.

I mean, do we really need to continue to tell people they’re terrible and not good enough? Haven’t we evolved yet in all the years there’s been humans? Come on guys. Let’s stop this stupidity. Get fit for health, fine. Eat right for health, perfect. Do whateverthefuck you want because it’s your life and it’s not hurting a dang thing? Hells yes. New Years Resolutions aren’t for pretending you’re going to do something and then feeling crappy about it all year because you didn’t do the thing. New Years Resolutions are actually kind of stupid, because every day is a new day to do something different. I can wake up tomorrow and never drink soda again, I can go jogging right.the.fuck now if I was so inclined. You don’t have to set up a resolution to do it. You just do it.

I rambled a bit. What was my point. Ah yes, I’m not looking at my positive life change as a resolution, just a thing I’m doing. This year is already off to a better start than a lot of years in the past, and I’m ready to greet it with a general capacity for adventure!

I also want to mention, in 2014 the world lost an amazing woman. My dear friends mother died just before Christmas, and she was an amazing woman. She was kind, compassionate, giving, caring, funny, smart, generous, warm, thoughtful, she was damn close to a perfect human being. She lit up the lives of everyone she touched, and raised two super-charged, amazing daughters in the process. The world is colder without her. But I want to take her memory and use it to better myself and the world. I want to live in a way that would honor her. I want to take charge of things I believe in, stand-up for causes that don’t have voices, I want to live positively and hopefully. So part of my 2015 mantra is “What Would Em Do” because if everyone could live with even a fraction of her capacity for optimism, love, and kindness I think the world will be better for it.

So. That’s my New Year Post. Expect there to be lots of books in 2015 also, but there might be a few more of these life updates.

Blessed be, and have a happy, safe, adventurous 2015!

NaNoWriMo Playlist

So I’m trying really hard to do NaNoWriMo this year.

I have actually tried every year since 2011. My dramatic novel “Downfall” about a young girl, MacKenzie, who’s life kind of crumbles and she has no one to rely on but herself… well, that kind of failed miserably.

Then in 2012 I did an “unofficial NaNoWriMo” in which I attempted to finish up a novel I had started in college – “Damned” about a young sorceress and her coven who battle evil. I actually did end up finishing this one! But I felt it was slightly cheating only because most of it had been written in college.

Last year in 2013 I worked on another sci-fi/fantasy novel called “Chasing Shadows” about a young alchemist’s daughter who struggles to find the truth about her father after his disappearance.

That one didn’t get finished either.

This year I am endeavoring to write a novel which has no official title yet – the working title is “Slice of Summer” but I feel like it’s really trite and a bit cliche. This project is about Levi and Leo, a pair of band-mate boyfriends who struggle with their careers, life, and love.

This novel is going… meh, fairly well. I have a lot of moments where I think I’m pretty brilliant, and then a lot of moments where I think I’m probably the most rubbish writer on the entire planet.

I tend to write a lot all at once (catching up on word goals) and then I don’t write for days and days. Then I binge write and slack… well, you get the idea. I am currently in a “slack off” phase. Well not entirely, I’ve been doing some research on topography and research on guitars. Both relevant to the novel but not necessarily each other. But I am now sitting at the computer with my “writing playlist” and limited distractions. I mean, if there was ever a time for me to watch 30 hours of cat videos it would be now. But no. I must resist.

Anyway, usually this blog is for my book reviews (Now and again I’ll share my work but I’m not about that life at the moment). I just wanted to share, instead, my playlist. When I write I’m almost always listening to music, even if it’s just hummed background when I get “in the zone”. For example, the other day I was “in a zone” and for four and a half hours I listened to the acoustic version of “Steal My Girl” by One Direction. Do you realize how many times that is? Approximately 72. 72 times I listened to the. same. song. simply because I was in a zone and didn’t even realize it had been on repeat so long.

But this novel, besides being about love, loss, life, depression, panic, and the struggle of following your heart and your dreams at the same time, it’s about music. I am… limited in my musical skills shall we say. I know a lot about music, I am very into music, but I cannot play a lick of it on any instrument in creation.. okay, I can play “Hot Cross Buns” on recorder. Champion of the world, I am. And clearly I am a Diva in my car, “do you believe in life after love!”. Ahem. Anyway. When I am writing I have music on, but with this novel it is slightly different because the characters are driven by music. They are driven by the way the words flow from their hearts into their instruments. If Levi is having a bad day he holds his guitar and releases his emotions. If he’s happy he composes cheesy rhymes while he’s dancing around the kitchen smiling like the Cheshire Cat – yes, that really did happen; and no I don’t always use such cliches, promise.

So. Because this novel deals with so many real elements and because it’s so deeply rooted in music as a form of expression, I have paid even closer attention to my “writing playlist” than I normally would have. Usually I chuck on some Muse and call it a day. Or I throw on Vivaldi and allow the music to float around my head with the words and imagery until I can regurgitate something I can call “a story”.  This time I’ve been more focused on what the lyrics are, how the tone feels, would this song make Levi happy, would this song make Leo want to jump around the apartment, would Levi have written this song in high school when he was crying over a girl, will this song foreshadow, how would Hunter react to any of these lyrics? There’s so much more I’m thinking about this time around.

So here is a working playlist for “Slice of Summer” – just felt the need to share it because honestly, I’m probably procrastinating (oh and I hyperlinked each song so you can listen if you like!)

1. Catalyst – The Gallery 

2. All I Need – Louden Swain

3. Little Fox – Justin Jones.

4. Black Widow – Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora

5. Dangerous – House of Heroes

6. Loose Ends – Damon Moon and the Whispering Drifters

7. Portraite of Maude – Ezra Furman and the Harpoons

8. Steal My Girl (Acoustic) – One Direction

9. Darkness Is Cheap – Gregg Swann

10. This mashup of “Centuries” and “Immortals” – Fall Out Boy

Probably the most essential song on the playlist though is:
11. The Wrecking Ball – Erick Baker

Does anyone else have a playlist for their novel this year? Do you stick to the same playlist or do you deviate?

Happy Writing!