Planning Ahead Before I Lose My Head

Hello, everyone!

This post is full of updates, so brace yourself.

I decided to let you in on what I would be posting these next three weeks. So here it goes:

  • A review of writing apps
  • A review of K. M. Weiland’s outlining program (I just bought it and I’m thrilled!)
  • A book review (or two)
  • A freebie (my very first sci-fi short story)!

Moreover, I’ll be sending submissions to online magazines (a first try at a narrative essay, wish me luck!) and short story anthologies. Is it normal that I’m both excited and nervous? Oh, and I’ll send a few of them to editing first! I’ll sure keep you updated about how it all goes.

Meanwhile, a lot of thinking has been happening in my head… I’ve always loved journalism and I noticed online magazines and newspapers are growing in numbers! So I figured I would go and take a journalism degree after my bachelor’s degree in translation. This way, I could write for the Web (in different languages, mind you).

Wouldn’t that be awesome?!

Yes, I thought so, too.

This is all for today!

See you next post, lovelies.

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P.S. Do you have any tips for narrative essays? I’d like to know them since I’m quite a novice at it… Also, if you have any idea of what you’d like to see on my blog or just wish to have a discussion, please leave a comment!

 

Strawberry Summer: A Review

Strawberry Summer

Amazon

Indigo

B&N

LibraryThing

Goodreads

*I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Margaret ‘’Maggie’’ Beringer has a troubled past with Courtney Carrington, heiress of Carrington’s retail store. The two were madly in love during their teenage years, yet they parted for a poignant reason. Now, Courtney comes back into Maggie’s little town known as Tanner Peak. Will their love survive the issues of the past or crash once again?

I picked this book on NetGalley as soon as I saw it was a lesbian romance. I had never read one and I think it’s cute; unfortunately, there are not enough of them around without being erotica. Plus, the description of a past love and now they find themselves still in love yet struggling against those past issues is just perfect to me. Of course, I had to request it and I was more than thrilled to see the publisher had granted my request.

There are so many good points about this novel that I don’t know where to start yet I’ll try to do my best! The most prominent one is how much emotional it made me in general and how much I cared about Courtney (mostly) and Maggie. I wanted them to have a happy ending and I could barely put this book down–I yearned to learn what next would happen with them! Another point worth mentioning is how I couldn’t find typos or mistakes of any kind in the writing. That got me quite pleased as many of the ARCs and even some published books are full of them. But not this one so it’s a bonus. The sarcastic and humoristic main character (Maggie) makes for a welcome touch of humour. I have found her humour to be really funny, which made it all the more interesting to read.

I swear this bittersweet romance has got me in for highs and lows (ouch, my poor heart!). I bet it will no doubt do the same to you. The romance is also playful and teasing, which is highly amusing for us. There is a good and cute evolution of Maggie and Courtney’s relationship–it is even adorable, I have to admit. I’d also like to remark that Maggie knows and accepts she’s a lesbian which I love, even though there is a funny scene of her coming out. In fact, I thought this part was plain hilarious! The MC (Maggie) is strong, and the writing is vivid–it comes to life. Some scenes in this novel made me think I was a teenager again with how Maggie was acting in certain flashback chapters. The author, Melissa Brayden, has a knack for making the teens pop and look real on the page. The feelings of high school and popularity were realistic (up to a point where most of the popular kids befriended Maggie) along with a realistic account of life and diverse people in it.

As for characterization, it is present and good but it takes a long while to take effect. I still haven’t figured out if it’s because of Maggie’s personality or the author wrote it that way. I am still struggling with that one… Nevertheless, it was there and mostly brought about by friends and family members towards the end. Do you want to learn something fun? There are some twists in this story! I enjoyed them, actually. There was even one I hadn’t seen coming, which is so rare with me (I always figure out plot twists well in advance). I had to add that the drama is well built-up, a point that I genuinely adored! I’m one for angst in stories (even my own) so I thoroughly enjoyed the drama in this one (I even cried out of sadness AND cuteness overload later on).

The timeline was impeccable and shown to us in a clear manner. I’ll forever be grateful for that. Another point I appreciated is the fun and developed insight into the MC’s thoughts. I just want to say that I loved Courtney Carrington. I know she isn’t the main character, but she is so sweet and caring! I couldn’t help but root for her during all the book. Seriously. Both characters were well-done, of course, but let’s say I prefer Courtney because of her kindness. On another note, there are many events (which reminds me of a good adventure or fantasy book thanks to the action), which is quite surprising in a romance novel (and much appreciated on my part, too). I didn’t find any long, boring parts, which is a relief. Lastly, we get to read about every important character’s life (where they are now and what is their job and relationship status) and the epilogue is a nice follow-up. It is like a neat little bow on top of a present!

Here come the bad points. There were too few descriptions and not enough insight into Maggie’s emotions–it was more telling than showing although one could guess through her humoristic and sarcastic lines. But it was not enough. I wanted to feel what she was experiencing. I could never truly connect with Maggie because of that; I always felt like a nosy neighbor knowing all about her life. It’s sad because I wanted to connect. Also, the popular kids are perhaps too nice to Maggie (most of them, that is)–it’s usually not how it works in high school with popularity (and I experienced it first-hand). Last but not least, I believe the sex scenes are not spaced enough–there were about four of them in less than 60 pages! Fortunately, they are short (just a few pages, if not a few lines sometimes) and sweet in a way. Even though I understand the focus on sex at such a young age, I’d have preferred the emphasis to be put on their feelings and emotions, mostly Maggie’s because she seems to me like lacking in that department.

I would love to tell you what types of fans this book is perfect for but this is the first lesbian romance I ever read. However, I can assure you that if you love a good emotional roller coaster ride and cute but poignant romances, Strawberry Summer by Melissa Brayden is for you!

I give Strawberry Summer a rating of 4 out of 5 because of how emotionally invested I became with this novel and because it made me cry (I love it when I cry because of books, that means they get to me), and the lack of emotions on Maggie’s part – or so it seems. I was delighted to win this ARC and I must say it hit home with me. I recommend it in a heartbeat!

Empress of a Thousand Skies: A Review

A saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy.:

Amazon

Goodreads

Indigo

B&N

Empress
Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.

Fugitive
Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he’s forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life.

Madman
With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly must confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.

This review is spoiler-free.

Let me say that I loved this book! First of all, I usually dislike anything that has to do with sci-fi (except for Star Trek: TOS), but this novel caught my attention on the shelves and I had to take it home! Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised. I now call it my go-to sci-fi series.

The main characters, Princess Rhiannon and Alyosha, are quite lovable and deeply flawed, which helps greatly in making you want to see what they can do next. There is a lot of action and twists and turns. No kidding: I was panting while reading the last 50 pages! It was so engrossing. Also, I loved the cube technology (it allows living beings to re-live their memories, sensations, and feelings!) and the different alien races. Although there are aliens, the focus is not on their differences, which I particularly liked. It reminded me of Star Trek with how they all know the other races and live with them like it’s no big deal. Of course, there is tension because of different point of views, but overall it was a nice change. A funny fact: the story is happening in another galaxy than ours! I think it’s a good idea, having them live out their lives out in the open (instead of aliens hiding in our galaxy), all civilized and advanced in technology.

The only negative point I could find was how the author, Rhoda Belleza, uses euphemisms and wording that sometimes reminds me of middle grade fiction. I think her job as a children’s book editor showed in this novel… However, it’s not always like that and it’s worth reading for all the fun and adventure it can give you!

Because of all the action that left me panting and how lovable the characters are and the writing that is sometimes a bit too young for the intended readership, I give this awesome novel a rating of 4 stars out of 5. And that’s coming from a woman who dislikes sci-fi in general, remember? So that’s saying a lot, in my opinion.

P.S.: I just can’t wait for the sequel! I want it now.

An Intense Week (But One I Adored)!

Remember in the last post when I talked to you about how fabulous my last week has been?

Well, here are the explanations!

It started with a book sale organised by the local libraries. Needless to say, it was fantastic! There were surprise bags, which cost 25 cents, with 10 books in them. Outside of the surprise bags, the books cost 25 cents each, which is pretty cheap! Of course, I bought loads of them (24, to be precise) and a surprise bag. But guess what: I got the second volume of James Patterson’s ”Witch & Wizard” series, which I simply love!

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(That’s me at the book sale ^.^. We were in an arena! Pretty fun and ingenious place, I must say.)

Then, a few days later I saved a dog. No kidding! Here’s proof:

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Note: I do not own a Chihuaha, though I’d love to.

What happened? Well, I was in the car when I saw a little dog (her name is Bella) walking on the streets on her own. I was so afraid for her I got out of the car and ran after her, zigzagging between the cars (which would have run over her if it weren’t for me). I finally caught her and called to the phone number on her ID. Thank God for IDs. Everything ended well with me giving her back to her rightful owner. Isn’t that story just sweet?

I think so, too.

Also, I turned 26 this very week! Happy birthday to me!

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(I love macarons! Mostly the raspberry and lemon ones. Yummy!)

P.S.: The reviews of the writing apps will be the topics of my next post. Stay tuned, fellow adventurers!

 

Get On the Apps Train, Girl!

Hello, folks!

I’ve had quite an exceptional week (birthday and all)! However, that’s not what I’m here for today. No, in fact, it’s because I stumbled into the Android apps world and… I just can’t get out!

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You see, I used to have 1G of Internet downloads per month, so I couldn’t really download nor use apps (I could only check my email addresses once in a while). But ever since I switched to 2G per month, my horizon has broadened!

Guess what I found? WRITING APPS! I swear I didn’t know they even existed. So, you can imagine me squealing like a little girl – in reality, I was bouncing on the spot.

Of course, I downloaded the essential ones (Audible, Audiobooks, Celtx, Wattpad, and Ao3). Unfortunately, there isn’t a Scrivener app for Android. Yet. I’m looking at you, creators of Scrivener.

Also, I downloaded a writing prompts app (simply called Writing Prompts – quite original if you ask me…) and an actual story-building and writing app called World Scribe. I thought: ”Hey! I could give them a try and write reviews on my blog in order to help other writers/authors!”

It’s exactly what I’ll do.

Stay tuned for my next post about those two writing apps!

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(Because I just love the Hunger Games, okay? ;))

Off the Roller Coaster Ride (Updates!)

Hello, everyone!

I’m sorry for not having posted lately, but I have three good excuses and updates. I must admit that these last two weeks hasn’t been easy for me in terms of writing. In fact, it was my darkest hour, I would say. I was genuinely considering giving up writing altogether (except for book reviews). I was so desperate and sorrowful I had trouble going through my days. I kept thinking and thinking about my dreams, my stories, and how much I want them to be published. Then, quite unexpectedly, I found a few ideas for old stories of mine! Now, I can’t choose which one to finish writing between four stories! But it’s a problem I’m loving. This means my inspiration has come back somehow and even though my will is still fragile, it’s there and I’m holding onto it!

This brings me to something else that is writing-related: I finally identified the main issue in my stories. So, I bought writing craft books about it and I am reading them, hoping to fix this major issue soon. It’s silly and ironic, really, because I have always loved the villains in stories and preferred them over the main characters (except for Percy Jackson!), but the thing is I can’t seem to write a mean enough villain for my own stories! They’re always either too kind or thoughtful or they don’t really scare the reader or thwart the main character’s plan. See? But don’t worry, I am working on this and shall come back with an awesomely kick-ass villain!

On another note, I have just finished my legal translation class and scored an excellent grade. This helped me to decide that I’ll take a specialisation in legal translation, financial translation, and literary translation at the Master’s degree level. I am still at the bachelor’s level for now and guess what? I have only two classes left to take to be done with the basics! Then, my third and last year will start (it will be mostly about Spanish translation and review classes).

 

The last reason I was away is that I’ve been reading novels that I need to review this month. Thus, expect two reviews soon, my dears!

I shall post updates and news more regularly now, like I used to before these dreadful two weeks of what I call ”writing depression”. Thank you for reading as always and you’re wonderful companions on this journey!

See you next post, lovelies!

The Castaways – A Review

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*I received an advance reader copy on NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.*

Olive Gagmuehler, a bullied teenager, decides to go to the pirate-themed Castaway carnival that’s just come back in Texas. Unfortunately, her bullies gang up on her at the carnival. Left with no other option, Olive runs away into the maze where teenagers have been known to disappear until she lands on a lost island. Two groups of teenagers and kids, the Lions and the Panthers, are at war on that mysterious island, unable to go home. Olive joins them and tries to survive in the wild as well as break the island’s curse keeping them here. But is it really a curse or something much bigger than them that intends to teach them to face their demons?

There are few negative points in that novel, so let’s start with that! The first one is nothing major, only a few typos and mistakes here and there. It was not enough to be annoying, but another round of proofreading would make The Castaways almost perfect. The last point (I told you there were few) is the lack of plot about the mysterious island throughout the book. Sometimes it even seemed as though the kids were not living away from their family and friends, stranded like by magic on that island with no apparent way home. Although I understand the author meant to keep the mystery surrounding the island, I feel like this particular topic could have been tackled more times during the story. Instead, the characters appeared to forget or at least not think a lot about being in an unknown place with perfect strangers. Perhaps their questioning could be present? That’s what I would have loved to read. It would also make for a more realistic situation as I doubt we’d easily go about our business, forgetting how far we are from home and to question ourselves about how we can get home.

Now, how about we talk about the positive points (which are legion)? Let’s go! I found the subtitles to be enticing – it was original and gave a sense of foreboding, which I appreciated. The chapters are generally short, which makes for a fast read. The idea of mixing bullying with a magical island full of warring teenagers and kids is marvellous! Plus, the story’s got quite a lot of action. Just when you think you can start to relax, something unexpected happens and has your blood boiling with excitation! This book contains poignant bullying; it was well-done (unfortunately, I speak from experience so this story particularly moved me) and is laced with a lesson to stand up for oneself, a good surprise! It shows that bullying is eternal, it’s always been there and will keep on being unless we stand up to it. In my opinion, this book managed to show the effects that bullying can have on people, mostly on teenagers. As for the characters, the author made me care about them and more particularly about Olive’s dangerous yet adventurous situation. They’re all different and I could well imagine the teenagers, a feat in itself! The characters seem alive, which was fun to read. As for Olive, the main character, she is a strong heroine (more than she knows) and likeable. I could easily identify with her. Her development as a character was interesting to watch; it was done through highs and lows, just like in real life.

If you’re looking for realistic reactions as well as both inner and external conflict (beautifully conflicted Olive and others), look no more! The Castaways is a gold mine of realism, conflict, and solutions. Not only was this book thrilling, but it was also a pleasure to return to every single time. There were twists and turns I wouldn’t have expected and a pinch of humour that was more than welcomed in the midst of all these emotions. Speaking of emotions, they were well-woven in the tale, which will have you caring for the characters in no time! And they feel real, at least for Olive. By the way, there is a sweet romance in the story and even though I’m not overly fond of romance, I must admit this one was cute in its own right. It didn’t take the space required for the action. Did you know that the main character, Olive Gagmuehler, is somehow ill? She suffers from hyperventilation, which was probably caused by her being bullied. I found the idea of having her suffering from some kind of illness was different and a good move. I connected with her more easily and it makes us want to help her somehow, which only proves my point of the characters being unique and alive in our eyes. The basic needs and survival situations were respected – there was the matter of hygiene, odors, bladder, and else. The descriptive imagery used was great and the vocabulary was diverse. I felt as though I was once again a teenager, stranded on that island with those other kids. Last but not least, the ending wraps up the book quite nicely. It’s like a present with a cute bow on it.

The Castaways is a book I thoroughly enjoyed. It made me experience all kinds of emotions on that roller coaster ride and even managed to make me cry towards the end (and I rarely cry in books nowadays). It is perfect for fans of Peter Pan (yes, the classic story!), Lord of the Flies, and the Red Queen series because of the non-stop action and unexpected twists.

I give The Castaways a rating of 5 out of 5. It was that fun and really got me deep in the emotions, which I loved! I even have a hard time deleting it from my Kindle Fire to make room for other books – but really, I think I’m going to keep it. Who knows, I might just re-read it one day, something I like to do with books that left their mark on me. Honestly, I wanted to read more of it and I still do. While recommending this novel to other readers, I will definitely look forward to Jessika Fleck’s upcoming works.