A Writer’s Essentials To Get Through The Year

Few things in life are essential. The rest is just trivial. But, as a writer, you need:

Thick skin. For all the times society rejects you.

A place to keep your rejection letters. You can store them in a cool, dry place before burning them in your fireplace.

Notebooks. Napkins just don’t cut it.

A playlist for every occasion. It seems like every scene calls for a different song.

Comfortable clothes. PJs are an absolute must.

A box of tissues. If you’re not crying, your readers aren’t either.

Books on books on books. Because when you’re not writing, you’re reading.

A book deal. Every writer needs one.

Chocolate…and more chocolate. Or candy. Cake even.

A pet of some sort. Pets make better company than people.

May you write the next bestseller and make millions this year.

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Night Sky With Exit Wounds By Ocean Vuong | A Book Review

Title: Night Sky With Exit Wounds

Author: Ocean Vuong

Genre: Poetry

About the book: It’s an anthology of poems. I received a copy from the lovely folks at Publishers Group Canada.

First impressions: I read more prose than I do poetry, so I was excited to expand my horizons. To begin with, I love the title. I think it captures the essence of the collection. I especially enjoyed the poems at the beginning.

Quote:

“Everyone can forget us—as long as you remember.”

Writing: The writing is elegant but accessible. If you love enjambment, you’re in luck. There’s plenty of imagery as well. Vuong plays with a variety of forms and styles.

I wish the anthology was longer because it’s quite short. That said, reading this collection has inspired me to experiment more with my own poetry. Vuong addresses real, serious issues in an honest way. He writes about family, love, war, etc. The subject matter for some pieces are a bit more mature though.

Final thoughts: I highly recommend Night Sky With Exit Wounds even if you don’t read much poetry.


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Iron Gold By Pierce Brown | A Book Review

Title: Iron Gold

Author: Pierce Brown

Genre: Science Fiction

About the book: The fourth novel in the Red Rising series set ten years later.

First impressions: I’ve been eagerly awaiting this novel so much that I preordered it. Took me a while to get into the world again. To be honest, I forget a lot, so I had to jog my memory. At first, I wasn’t sure how to feel about having multiple viewpoints. But I came to love the different narratives.

Characters: Brown tells this story through the perspective of four characters: Darrow, Lysander, Ephraim, and Lyria. They’re great in their own ways, but I especially enjoyed Lysander’s point of view.

Because of the various narrations, there’s still development but not as in-depth as in Red Rising, when the author told everything from Darrow’s eyes.

The narratives mesh together even though they’re all are so different from one another.

Quote:

“The key to learning, to power, to having the final say in everything, is observation.”

Writing: I like Brown as a storyteller. He builds upon the world with each book. At times, I felt a little overwhelmed at the sheer amount of information presented. Kudos to him for doing his research though. There’s a ton of everything. Action, dialogue, description. The plot is complex but advances at a nice pace.

Final thoughts: Iron Gold seems to set up the next novel and possibly the whole series in general. Still, I’d recommend reading the first three books before this one. The novel felt strange yet familiar at the same time.


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Those Girls By Lauren Saft | A Book Review

Title: Those Girls

Author: Lauren Saft

Genre: Young Adult

About the book: It’s a standalone debut novel.

First impressions: The premise of three girls making their way through high school seemed promising. It had potential to explore both platonic and romantic relationships. I think I went in expecting more depth, but even the beginning left me a bit disappointed. Then again, I didn’t expect the novel to cover such mature themes.

Characters: Alex, Mollie, and Veronica are so flawed I didn’t care much for them. Of the three, I liked Alex the most. The characters seem to be extreme, exaggerated versions of people in real life, and their actions felt too unrealistic. The girls are toxic and terrible to each other. I’m not sure how they’re even friends. For me, the book lacked character development.

Quote:

“You don’t do this for them; you do it for you.”

Writing: There’s a lot of eye-rolling from various characters. Some of the lines made me want to roll my eyes. The writing could’ve been better. Also, these girls swear a lot. I feel the author could’ve scaled back on the swearing, and it wouldn’t have affected the story.

Final thoughts: For better or worse, I found the novel nothing like my own high school experience. It might have been better off spending more time on real friendships rather than romantic relationships.

These Girls is a short read, but it’s not for everyone.


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You Know You Are A Reader When

You have a stack of unread books at home, but you still buy more. All those novels you bought ages ago? They’re still sitting on your shelves collecting dust.

You’re running out of space, yet that doesn’t stop you from adding to your collection. Which means you have to get creative. You end up stacking, squeezing, and shoving.

You would rather be in your room than go to a club. There’s nothing wrong with spending more time around characters than your friends. Besides, fictional people will never judge you or your decisions.

You can’t stop talking or writing about books. That’s why you started a book blog. Now you’re able to rave on and on without anyone interrupting you.

You tell people to read certain books until they finally cave. Afterwards, you have one-sided conversations where you’re doing most of the talking. You can’t help extolling the virtues of your favourite author.

You wonder what fictional characters would do. So you proceed to channel them, believing yourself to be a super cool protagonist.

You get books as gifts from family and friends. They know you need to read as much as you need to eat. Better yet, they’ll leave you alone when you crack open the latest novel from a beloved author.

You can never find a comfortable reading position. Anyone who needs glasses to see knows the struggle is even more real.

If you liked this post, you might enjoy You Know You Are A Writer When.

A Q&A About Books, Goodreads, And Reviews

Why do you read?

I need to escape from reality or else I’d lose the little sanity I have left.

Why did you make a Goodreads account?

I didn’t want to rely on my memory to track the books I’ve read. Especially since I’m not getting any younger.

What do you look for in a book?

A good story. Great writing doesn’t hurt either. I like characters I can relate to, resonate with. Give me character development or give me fictional death.

What made you start writing reviews?

It wasn’t enough to read books. So I decided to review them too.

What are your reading goals for 2018?

They’re similar to the resolutions I made in 2017. I want to read every day. I’d also like to expand my bookshelf a bit. I tend to read more fiction than nonfiction, so I want to dip my mind further in the latter.

What are your reviewing goals in 2018?

I’m a bit behind on getting my reviews up, so if I can catch up that’ll be ideal.

Happy reading!

Change Of Heart By Jodi Picoult | A Book Review

Title: Change of Heart

Author: Jodi Picoult

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

About the book: The standalone novel alternates between the perspectives of four characters: June, Michael, Lucifus, and Maggie.

First impressions: I’ve read Picoult’s work in the past, so I was excited to read Change of Heart. At first, I didn’t know what to make of the four different storylines. I hadn’t expected so many. It took me some time to settle into the story and get to know the characters. But once I did, I quite enjoyed the journey.

Summary: Shay Bourne’s a death row inmate who wants to donate his heart to Claire Nealon, June’s daughter. However, he’s also convicted of murdering June’s husband and her other daughter. June has to decide whether to let Shay give his heart to Claire. Maggie becomes his lawyer, Michael his spiritual advisor.

Characters: They all have their own unique voice. I liked the unique dilemmas of each character.

Quote:

“You do not learn to like something you abhor; you come to live with it.”

Conflict: There’s a lot going on with the plot. Yet the author does a fine job simplifying complicated issues enough to make them understandable for the layperson.

Writing: I’m fond of the style. Picoult describes what’s going on well enough for me to picture each scene in my head. I didn’t mind the dialogue either. The characters have conversations about real, relevant issues.

I’m not religious, so I don’t know much about religion. But I think it’s a tough topic to write about. The author isn’t condescending or preaching. If anything, through the conversations in the book, Picoult may even encourage discourse in real life.

Final thoughts: I liked Change of Heart. I’d recommend it if you enjoy contemporary reads about contemporary issues.


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You Know You Are A Writer When

You don’t have days off. Thanksgiving? You’re thanking your fictional characters for following the outline. Christmas? You’re opening a word processor to work on a novel. New Year? You’re counting down the days until your book gets published.

You eavesdrop on every conversation. You listen to your mom gossiping with her friends. You listen to a man on a bus talking to his wife over the phone. You’ll lower the volume of your music or remove your earphones completely to overhear what others are saying.

You rather stay at home and write than go out and socialize. You’re tempted to decline every invitation ever.

You bring a notebook and pen with you everywhere you go. Like on the odd occasion your friends manage to drag you outside. At the very least, you have the notes app on your phone ready to record any idea that strikes.

You write New Year’s resolutions about writing. Write more. Write every day. Write the next bestseller.

You have a list of chores or tasks in your head for when you should be writing but don’t feel like it. So you tackle every item on that list from doing laundry to meal planning. You decide to run errands you’ve been avoiding because you’re a master procrastinator.

You’re either too busy writing or too bored not writing. There’s no in between. Those are the two modes you operate in.

Game’s End By Natasha Deen | A Book Review

Title: Game’s End

Author: Natasha Deen

Genre: YA Paranormal

About the book: The third novel in a trilogy. I received a copy through the Goodreads giveaway program.

First impressions: It took me time to get into the story’s world. I haven’t read the first two books, so I didn’t know what happened previously. But once I got caught up and had a better sense of the world, I enjoyed the plot more.

Summary: Maggie Jackson has a lot on her plate. She’s a guardian helping people transition from one plane of existence to another. But when more people start dying, Magge finds herself at the center of it all.

Characters: I like the cast of characters because they’re different and flawed in their own way. They also develop over the course of the novel. Maggie is the female protagonist. Like the author, she’s a person of colour. I liked the banter between the group of friends: Maggie, Nell, Craig, and Serge. The varying relationship dynamics work well together.

Quote:

“Sometimes trying to avoid your destiny brings you to it.”

Conflict: In hinsight, I probably should’ve read the first two books before this one. I still understood the plot about soul-eaters, but having more backstory might have helped me better appreciate the book as a whole.

Writing: The language is simple and straightforward. Deen does a good job on the dialogue. I wouldn’t have minded more description or worldbuilding. Even though I spotted a couple of formatting errors and missing punctuation marks, there aren’t any major errors.

Final thoughts: The ending answers some questions, yet poses new ones. If you’re looking for a quick read with supernatural elements, give Game’s End a try.


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The House On Foster Hill By Jamie Jo Wright | A Book Review

Title: The House On Foster Hill

Author: Jamie Jo Wright

Genre: Romantic Suspense

About the book: A debut novel by Wright told in alternating viewpoints. Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

First impressions: I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but it got more and more interesting. The beginning sets the stage for the novel to play out at a decent pace.

Summary: The book switches between the perspectives of Ivy and Kaine. Ivy tries to find out the identity of a dead woman. Kaine’s husband dies, so she moves away to start anew. Both women have pasts holding them back from living in the moment and enjoying what life has to offer.

Characters: Ivy works with Joel in the past while Kaine meets a man named Grant in the present. They’re similar in some ways but different enough to be distinct individuals. The women have flaws yet Kaine and Ivy do their best.

Quote:

“Sometimes the only way you can silence the bad being done and protect the ones you love is to hold it all inside and never beathe a word.”

Conflict: The author tackles an important issue that isn’t talked about enough.

Writing: The writing is well done. I liked the contrast between the early 1900s and modern day. Wright does a good job with the different time periods. Even though I didn’t find the pacing too slow, it picks up at the end. Everything falls into place and unanswered questions are answered. In my opinion, I found some of the plot twists hard to predict, but they made sense nonetheless.

Final thoughts: A lot happens in the conclusion. I have a feeling this story will stick with me. For a variety of reasons, it’s a memorable read.

I’m pleasantly surprised at the fact that the book doesn’t have too many touchy-feely scenes. Wright strikes a nice balance. The storylines aren’t overwhelmed by romantic relationships.

The House On Foster Hill blends many different elements together for an interesting read.


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