Archive for August, 2014

Doon
Doon by Carey Corp

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I purchased this book in anticipation for Destined for Doon, the second novel in this series, which I am receiving from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I’ve heard about this book here and there, though I’d never really looked into it… and I really have to say that I am so glad that I was selected to receive the second novel, because reading this has been a pure joy!

I really enjoy how Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon wrote this book. I can only assume that one chose the role of Vee and one chose the role of Kenna. Honestly, it’s beautifully written and manages to flawlessly go together in a way that brings the readers a wonderful story!

“Veronica doesn’t think she’s going crazy. But why can’t anyone else see the mysterious blond boy who keeps popping up wherever she goes? When her best friend, Mackenna, invites her to spend the summer in Scotland, Veronica jumps at the opportunity to leave her complicated life behind for a few months.

But the Scottish countryside holds other plans.

Not only has the imaginary kilted boy followed her to Alloway, she and Mackenna uncover a strange set of rings and a very unnerving letter from Mackenna’s great aunt—and when the girls test the instructions Aunt Gracie left behind, they find themselves transported to a land that defies explanation. Doon seems like a real-life fairy tale, complete with one prince who has eyes for Mackenna and another who looks suspiciously like the boy from Veronica’s daydreams. But Doon has a dark underbelly as well. The two girls could have everything they’ve longed for…or they could end up breaking an enchantment and find themselves trapped in a world that has become a nightmare.” – From the Goodreads page.

As you can see, the story is about two girls who go to Scotland (though Vee is the main character in this novel, I’m assuming that the second will focus more on Kenna). They escape into a fantasy world called Doon… and the story sets off from there.

I will be giving a completely spoiler free review – if you would like a spoiler filled review, my thoughts, a vlog, message me and let me know.

So, as far as the writing goes, as I mentioned above, it’s beautifully written! The co-authors flawlessly blend their work together in order to pull together a magnificent story. The descriptions, dialogue, everything is really well done. I absolutely love the two main female characters – the authors did an amazing job of pulling off believable teenage characters without making them annoying and prattly. I also love the pop-culture references that were involved constantly throughout. It really made me feel connected with the characters, and like they were a part of our world. Vee is a wonderful character, and I adore her progress throughout the novel – she really transitions into a strong, powerful, independent individual who is willing to do everything for who and what she loves.

As for Kenna, her character development isn’t as dazzling, but it was done that was intentionally, from what I’m gathering. After all, I do think the second novel will focus on her.

As for the world building/development… while I think that it was fantastic for the most part, I do think that they could have went a little more into how people brought information back to Doon, how they established the information that they brought, etc. Maybe in the second novel?

The romance… ah, I’m a sucker for romance, and they did a fantastic job in this book. Vee and Jamie’s romance was rocky… but they did an amazing job of explaining all of the reasons for it… and seeing it break down and progress? Amazing. Honestly though, I think that the romance between Kenna and Duncan really stole the show. It was so reluctant, so adorable… and Duncan is honestly such a charming, wonderful character that I couldn’t help but to love it.

The downsides to this book – the characters are all wonderfully gorgeous, and both female characters are absolutely stunning but “Don’t realize it”. It’s that cliche bit that makes you frown… but they both certainly have enough character flaws that it keeps them from being shining, dazzling, sparkling Sues. If they had been, I think that we wouldn’t be getting a second novel focusing on Kenna, after all.

The perspective is first person, but it swaps between Kenna and Vee’s point of view. If the prospect of multiple POV’s bothers you, this isn’t the book for you, but I really encourage you to check it out anyway. It’s amazing.

Overall, I would give this a 4.5 rating (which I rounded up to 5 stars, because it deserves it!) – the .5 is only lacking because of a little lacking in world-building and the pristine perfection of our perfectly oblivious leading ladies.

 

Until next time, keep reading and writing!

Author Amanda McCormick (Find me HERE on Twitter.

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101 Books

I’ve heard a sentiment over the last few years that goes something like this: “Everyone’s a writer. We all just need to tap into our ‘inner writer’ to become one.”

That’s probably a simplistic representation, but the sentiment is along those lines.

It sounds nice. It might make you feel a little warm and fuzzy inside.

But it’s not true.

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The-Writer

So, as you know, I put myself on a Strict Writing Schedule in an attempt to get some structure in my writing life. I’m on Day Three of trying it out… and honestly, I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. Though I don’t always start as early as I originally intended, I’m still getting in the hours that I’ve promised myself.

On Monday, while getting into the swing of things, I wrote 5,117 words. My method of getting the things that I dread out of the way first is really paying off, because it paves the way for me to be creative for the rest of the day.

Yesterday, even though I got a late start, I wrote 5,826 words.

Wow… it’s shocking right? I’m getting more words in than I thought possible, and it’s all because I’ve put myself into a time frame so that I can effectively work on everything that I need to work on, as opposed to getting lost and confused trying to do 20 things at once. I know that most writers end up having a million and one projects on their plate in any given moment. A schedule like this can really help you to sort things out. Better still, I’ve gotten two chapters of my novel edited and ready to actually allow people to read! As something I’ve been avoiding like the plague since November of last year… this is pretty amazing!

Today, even though I woke up late, I have already completely my 2,000 words a day goal, and am still writing strong. 

I wanted to let you guys in on a little tip – the stuff that I dread in the morning? The stuff that I literally HAVE to get done? It’s some commissions, and I do exactly 1,000 words a day on them. By the end of the week, I will have 5,000 words to turn in to each of the people who commissions the stories. I get through the words in a blink and don’t have to worry about it. I really do suggest that if you have something you dread, you get it out of the way first. It’s cleansing, and it makes you feel like you’re fresh and rejuvenated when you can finally turn to your personal writing. Leaving yourself with a cloud of dread hanging over your head may seem like a good idea at the time (procrastinators unite tomorrow!), but it really is simply some bad mojo. Get it out of the way, get it done. You’ll thank me later!

So, yeah. The new schedule is coming along wonderfully. I’ll give you another update on Friday, along with some featured commentary from you all! Other than that, I have a review coming up soon for the novel Doon! I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you all! 

How is your writing going? How are your schedules? Anything that you’d like to see me blog about? Feedback, comments, witty conversation… all of it is appreciated!

Until next time, keep reading and writing!

Author Amanda McCormick (Follow me HERE on Twitter for updates and conversation throughout the day!)

Plastic Confidence
Plastic Confidence by Alisa Mullen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a genre of books that I’d never read before (This whole new adult thing), I went into Plastic Confidence a little wary. I was lucky enough to be provided with a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review… and let me say that I am SO glad I won this copy!

I found this book completely thrilling, enthralling, captivating, and well written. I’m usually not one for self-pubish books. This one was so wonderfully done however. The cover art is gorgeous, the inside format is wonderful… and honestly, it’s just amazing. There were a few grammar errors, but they really didn’t detract from the story in the least (and you know that speaks volumes of how good the story is, coming from me!).

And the story, oh how beautiful of a story it is.

Pretty young woman with electric guitar posing over dark background

“What happens when the past rears its ugly head and messes with who you thought you were? Will it break down all your walls and set your whole world on fire?
Meet Julia Delaney, a.k.a Jules, the lead singer of Love Sick Ponies, sex superstar, and a heart full of rocks. She loves them and leaves them, a bad girl through and through.
That is until she meets Brennan Curtis, a fan boy, a wannabe friend, and the only one who can possibly tear Jules’ walls down.
When the plastic snaps wide open, Jules finds herself in a vulnerable and awkward situation with Brennan and her band.
Jules’ journey of self-discovery started at a young age and her self- image, which is engrained in her brain, might just be there for life. Desperate to alter how people view her, she realizes that she might never be able to escape the past.” – from the goodreads page.

As the synopsis says, this is a story about Jules, a rocker chick with a past that has completely defined who she is as an adult. Through quite a few circumstances, some of them paranormal, Julia has grown up to be a rocker with a casual love them and leave them take on sex. Her bandmate, Johnny, is completely and utterly head-over-heels for her, but even that isn’t in the cards. One night, she meets Brennan, and he awakens emotions inside of her that she didn’t thinks he had anymore.

Now, I really won’t get into spoilers for this book, because I think everyone should get a copy and read it for themselves. However, I will say that there is some astounding character development within its pages. We literally go through an emotional roller coaster up and down with Julia, watching her grow from an innocent twelve year old child to a self-proclaimed slut, to a woman who is figuring out who and what she wants in life. It was done seamlessly, flawlessly, and through the hilariously and wonderfully vocal first-person perspective of Julia.

As for the story? It didn’t feel like it was long enough, in truth. I could have happily had more. I enjoyed the development of it, I enjoyed the pacing, I enjoyed everything about it. I hear there is a second one coming out, and I can’t wait to hopefully get my hands on it to read it! I want to see what happens next.

Let me give you some non-descriptive spoilers. (You’ll know that I spoiled when you get there.)

First of all, maybe I shouldn’t… but I love Johnny. I love his character, he’s such a darling. There are some scenes with him that literally had me in tears – he broke my heart. I love it.

I love the paranormal aspect of this. I wasn’t expecting it, so it was a real delight!

I just hope that the second one that I was teased gives me some closure on Johnny’s story. I’d love to see it.

All and all, a great book! If you like new-adult erotica with strong themes, pick it up! It’s a fast read that is worth your while! Get it! Go! Now!

Until next time, guys! Keep reading and writing!

Author Amanda McCormick

Cerulean Sins
Cerulean Sins by Laurell K. Hamilton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So! This will be the last Anita Blake book that I will review for a bit (more on that later in my blog!).

“Cerulean Sins continues the adventures of Anita Blake. In this novel, Anita continues to try to bring some order to her personal life, while simultaneously confronting a power play by Jean-Claude’s vampire master, Belle Morte and attempting to solve a series of brutal killings by an unidentified shapeshifter.” – From the Wikipedia

As it says, there are some major plot themes going on here. I’m going to touch on a few of them that I really, really enjoyed!

First off, Dolph! My goodness, it was such a huge character development to see him lose himself like he was. Honestly, we’ve seen his character have very small leaps and bounds of growth… and then suddenly this. I applaud LKH for it!

Secondly, it’s interesting to see the vampire politics once again! I have to say, the more we delve into the world of the vampires and the kind of hierarchy that they have set up, the rules, the stipulations, etc… I can’t help but to love it.

Third, we get to meet the ‘Mother of all Vampires’. That is one big bad that I’m interested in seeing more of, to say the least!

And fourth… oh, Asher. There is some really wonderful plot progression here with Asher that I have been waiting for!

So, there are also some great points in this book with Jason, with Jean-Claude, and with Anita’s were-leopards. I don’t want to spoil any of it, but those are indeed the highlights that you’re looking for. When you read this, and you see them… you shall go ah-ha!

Honestly though, there were some things in this book that I didn’t enjoy as much as I did in the last novels. First of all… Richard. Just… uugh, get him out of here. Honestly. I’m so glad he’s taken a back-burner position at the moment. This novel also marks a bit of a turning point for me – it’s organized differently, and you can tell. The front portion of it is all vampires/erotica with just a tiny, teeny splash of crime thrown in. All of the really good crime solving comes on at the very end of the novel. As for Anita raising the dead? There isn’t really time – we have a meeting in the first chapter, but it’s quickly dismissed… and nothing else is touched. This novel is where Hamilton really turns the switch and makes the books more about the vampires than the crimes. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but it is different than what we’ve come to usually expect.

Still, overall I really enjoyed this book. 4/5 stars for a book that I’d certainly read again!

 

This, though, will be the last LKH book I review for a little while for multiple reasons. One, I next hit Incubus Dreams… where I’m 200 pages in, and all that I’ve seen is sex. Usually not a problem for me, but for some reason I always stall with this one and have to take a small break. I love the series, don’t get me wrong! That’s just a lot of the same author describing the same people over and over again in a row. Secondly, however, I have a few books coming in the mail that I need to review! I’m really excited about getting them! So, expect a 5-6 book delay, and then I’ll be getting back to Hamilton!

 

Until next time, keep reading and writing!

Author Amanda McCormick

All right, so I got a little bit of a later start into today’s writing… but I am trying to keep the exact schedule that I was talking about prior, and so far, so good! Like I said, I started a little late, so I’m not finished like I would normally be. However, let me give you an update of what I have done! 

2014-08-25 17.49.10

I got myself completely organized, got my Scrivener document prepped for the new writing schedule, etc – as well as redoing my calendar and mirror sticky notes (oh yeah, I do those things). And so far today, I have written 5,000 words! I started at 1pm instead of the 9am that I’d intended. I wrote for 2 hours, from 1pm until 3pm to complete that word count. The idea of spending that hour to begin with, getting rid of the things that I dread? Really great idea! 

I did do a little personal writing, but I’m not counting it towards word goal because it was in a notebook. After that, I took a bit and did the dishes and made myself something to eat (read yogurt and tea. Shhh.)

Finally, because it was on my schedule, I did something that I’ve been avoiding with a vengeance since November; I sat down and properly did edits on the Prologue to my novel Cerulean Darkness! 

So… altogether, 5000+ 6000 if you count the personal writing in notebook) words, chapter edit, good blog. I’d say that was a successful day! I’m going to write another 1,000 words after signing off of here. Honestly, this new organization and schedule feels like something that’s going to work! It’s structure, it’s meeting goals one at a time… and it’s great for me.

 

What about you guys? What works for you!? I’m still going to do a blog (probably Monday) featuring some of what you guys say as feedback! Let me know!

 

Until next time, keep reading and writing!

Author Amanda McCormick (Follow me on Twitter to keep up with me throughout the day!)

Narcissus in Chains
Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K. Hamilton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ah, Narcissus in Chains. I’m getting to the point that I haven’t read these books so many times that I can remember what happens, which is a delight for me. However, I’m also hitting the point where the dynamics of these novels take a very drastic shift. I think from Narcissus in Chains onward is when Laurell K Hamilton really starts shifting her novel content to the erotic portion – it’s not as much as it is in later books, but here is where you can really start to notice, because it’s this novel that we really start to have to get a handle on the ardeur.

“Narcissus in Chains continues the adventures of Anita Blake. In this novel, Anita attempts to reconnect with her friends and allies after a lengthy separation, and to undo the damage caused by her absence. Even as Anita attempts to repair the damage and come to terms with her newly developing powers, she is also threatened by a series of attacks and disappearances within the shapeshifter community.” – From the Wikipedia

So, as the little blurb above states, Anita is having to deal with the emotional and metaphysical fall out of her deciding to take a year away from her world to get a handle on her ’emotional shit’, as decided at the end of Blue Moon. While Richard is having his emotional little fits, Jean-Claude, though leery and a bit scathing, welcomes her back with open arms. I won’t delve too deeply into that, lest I run into spoilers. However, let me give a highlight reel.

-Things have been happening in the werewolf pack since Anita has been gone, and Richard is obviously digging himself into quite a bit of trouble.
-Damian, without Anita as his Master, has gone insane, and she has to handle that.
-There are some new leopards in town, and Anita has to deal with the fallout of developing a new power, the ardeur, which allows her (and forces her) to feed through lust.

I love that introduction of Micha in this novel. He is a breath of fresh air in relation to Richard. That is all I will say on that matter.

I also love the idea of the main villain. I can’t go into it much, but I find his character some emotionally deep and complex that he floors me. Good job, Hamilton. Good job!

Also, I actually really like the character of Narcissus, and I’m glad he was introduced into this novel.

I think that overall, this novel does good setup for what is to come, including the ending which introduces the plotline for the next novel! It includes some of my favorite characters, and development on their personalities… and though it veers into a new direction, it really sets into motion the tone for a lot of the later novels!

Overall, 4/5. I do like this novel! Check please, and next on the list!

Until next time, Keep reading and Writing!

Author Amanda McCormick

WRITE

 

So, I’ve been sick this past week and a little bit of the week before. Needless to say, you shall not get your updates for my words written/read. I only counted sheep. However, I have been thinking about a schedule that I would like to have for my writing. I know I’ve touched on this subject before, but I think I have something really set in stone that should help me to get myself organized and properly working! 

I want to wake up at 8am every day (Goodness, gracious, is she serious?) so that I can spend an hour simply laying around, getting what I need to get done, done (housework, making lunches for the hubby, coffee, etc).

I would like to start writing by either 9am or 10. My preference will be to spend an hour at the beginning of each day getting the things that I really, really dread out of the way.

Once I can do that, I will be free and clear to spend the next hour writing on anything personal that I would like – my novels, etc.

After that, I think that two hours spend on writing for my work will suffice, because I should be able to pull between 3-6k words in that time. Following this, an hour spent editing my current novel that I am seeking to get published. 

After that, I can either call it a day, or keep working on whatever strikes my inspiration. I think that this is a good little work schedule to follow, however. Five hours which makes sure that I get everything that I need to get complete, completed… and all before the hubby gets home from work! It should also leave me with more time to read/blog guilt free (because I do like to spend at least an hour a day on my social media networks.)

 

What do you guys think? Do you have writing structure? Do you simply go by the seat of your pants? How do you tackle a day of work? I’d LOVE to hear from you – maybe the comments that I find most interesting can be little gust spots/links to your blog in my next blog! 

 

Until next time, keep reading and writing!

Author Amanda McCormick

Obsidian Butterfly
Obsidian Butterfly by Laurell K. Hamilton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hey there, another Anita Blake book review!

Okay, so… I honestly know that a lot of people actually do not like this book. Something about the fact that it doesn’t include Jean-Claude or Richard*gagmewithaspoon*, or any of Anita’s other regular boys. Hell, it doesn’t even involve her normal police outfit. However, I really found this book to be refreshing! Maybe it was because it was centralized on the crime aspect of Anita’s life. Maybe it’s because it has a huge, huge, huge featuring of one of my all time favorite characters, Edward. Or maybe it’s because this book does such amazing character development that I honestly can’t stand myself.

“Obsidian Butterfly continues the adventures of Anita Blake. In this novel, Anita travels to New Mexico to investigate a series of supernatural attacks as a favor to her long-time friend, the assassin Edward. In the course of that investigation, Anita picks up many clues as to the enigmatic Edward’s life and past, comes in contact with an alleged Aztec god, and attempts, as always, to sort out her own relationship with Jean-Claude and Richard. As with the other novels in the series, Obsidian Butterfly blends elements of supernatural and hardboiled detective fiction.” – From the Wikipedia.

Honestly, let me just say that I completely adored the crime aspect of it. It was amazing, enthralling, and really, really interesting. I won’t spoil even a minute of it – it’s bloody, gruesome, and something that I actually didn’t guess at all!

However, what I really love about this book is the development of Edward’s character. We find that Edward leads a life in new Mexico as ‘Ted Forrester’ his alternate identity. We also find out that he’s engaged to a middle aged mother with two children… and when the lives of the people who his alter ego loves are threatened… we get to see exactly how cold and unfeeling Edward really is. Knock on the Tinman’s chest… I think he has a heart.

Just amazing, honestly.

I really don’t want to give too many spoilers, because so much of this book is amazing to discover. We still get our fill of the preternatural creepy crawlies, which is wonderful. And in the end, Anita actually comes to a conclusion about her relationships with Richard and Jean-Claude.

A total must-read. Five out of Five stars!

 

Until next time, keep reading and writing!

Author Amanda McCormick

Blue Moon
Blue Moon by Laurell K. Hamilton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Onward with my reviewing of the Laurell K Hamilton series.

Okay, first of all… this is actually one of my least favorite books. It may simply be the fact that it features a LOT of Richard. I don’t like Richard. I don’t like him as a person, I don’t like his personality, his attitudes. (Maybe that was what Hamilton meant – he’s beautifully designed as a very flawed, self-loathing character). So… not really my favorite of the series.

However, the storyline of this is actually pretty entertaining. I am once more faced with the preternatural politics that I actually enjoy – Anita has to travel to another area in order to get Richard out of jail. Of course, doing so raises the brows of the local werewolves as well as the local vampire (who is refusing to allow them entry.) The book features quite a bit of Asher (who I absolutely adore), as well as Nathaniel ❤ I have some love for him because of his character and the development that he has throughout the series.

This book is more sexually charged than some of the others, once more touching on the subject of the muniun (the dead spirits of the wolves who have been eaten by their pack). No spoilers, yet again, but it sets a huge plotline into play.

This book also touches down on the subject of religion, and whether what Anita is doing casts her out of the eye of God. I won’t spoil too much, but it does a really, really good job of it.

There is a bit of tougher content in this story – rape, abuse, etc. I realize that’s been touched on before, but it’s always good to have a warning.

Overall, I do adore what’s happened in this book. There’s more good character development, which culminates in a decision by Anita that will set the stage for the next book. There was more good development of world, of story, of characters. The writing, as usual, is spot on.

I give this book a 3.5 out of 5 star rating, because I’m not fond of Richard. I know, it’s a terrible reason, but still. Still a great read!

 

Until Next Time, Keep Reading and Writing!

Author Amanda McCormick!