Monday, 1 September 2014

Book Review: The Breaker's Code by Conner Kressley

The Breaker's Code (Fixed Points #1) by Conner Kressley


SUMMARY
Where were you when the world ended?

Three weeks shy of her seventeenth birthday, Cresta Karr wakes to find her world is falling apart. The necklace her father left her is mysteriously missing, a black sedan is stalking her and her friends, and her house is minutes away from exploding. To top it off, she finds out that Owen, the enigmatic, if slightly off-kilter guy of her dreams, is both not interested in going out with her and a superspy sent by a clandestine organization to keep tabs on her.

Turns out Cresta is the subject of a 500 year old prophecy, and if Owen and the other “Breakers” can't find a way to circumvent the future before the sun comes up on her birthday, Cresta is destined to bring about the end of the world -- something she'd rather not have on her college applications. That is, of course, if the gun-toting cult members piling onto her front porch don't get to her first.

The countdown is on. Secrets will be revealed, relationships will be tested, prophecies will be fulfilled, and fate will fight free will in a battle so intense that it won't end until the world itself does.

Happy birthday, Cresta.

REVIEW
I bought this book as part of a larger box set collection, but am reviewing each book individually.

Cresta lives in a small town and is frustrated from having to move there from Chicago after her father died. She has two friends, Casper and Owen. As it turns out, Cresta is part of a larger prophesy, as well as an ancient and paranormal sect in society.

I had some issues with this book, the first of which was the editing. There were many typing mistakes, and while I don't want to sound picky, these pull the reader out of the story and really are a big deal. I can forgive a few, but this book was riddled with them.

The concept of the book was fun and I like the themes about fate versus free will, and it was this that kept me reading. However, I wanted Cresta to be a bit stronger in the end. Maybe she will get there in the next books. I felt like she was floundering around and being fed a lot of solutions at times. The romance between her and Owen was fine, if forced at times.

Simon, her non paranormal friend, was probably my favourite character. I liked how goofy and loyal he was, kind of like a big puppy.

I am always sensitive when there are adoption issues in a book, and the one's in Breaker's Code were actually handled fairly well. It showed people being insensitive, which they can be, but ultimately, Cresta's parents are her parents, the one's who raised her. I hope that doesn't change in the next book.

This could be the beginning of an interesting series, but I hope the author gets some help with the editing. The book is pretty fast paced and I like how it began, talking about it being two days before Cresta's house blew up, then the day before, then the day of.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Saving the Cat


Normally saving the cat is a literary device where a character, early on in the novel, saves the cat so that we bond with that character.

But, how can saving a cat play havoc with novel editing?
Ozzy, our cat

I've been on a real push to finish editing my novel Prophesy (book 1 of the Antigone series -- yes, I finally decided on a name). A few weeks ago, I even had some time to myself when my husband took the kids to go visit their grandparents for a few days.

However, the cat (an older male cat named Ozzy, short for Osiris) had different ideas. One morning, I heard him meowing loudly from the back yard, so I went to investigate. I saw him balancing precariously on the branch of a tree, with one of his back legs stuck between two fence boards. Without thinking, I ran up to him, wrapped one arm around him, then tried to ease his leg out from the fence.

This did not go well.

Ozzy proceeded to scratch my arm to ribbons. I didn't want to drop him, so I stood there and took it, trying to talk soothingly to him through my pain and calm him down. When he stopped, I decided to grit my teeth and try a little more force to get his leg out. His leg didn't seem to be broken and he didn't look like he was in too much pain and I had to get him out of the fence.

This did not work. At all. Ozzy actually bit me several times on both hands. At one point, I had to pry his teeth out from my hand. There was blood everywhere. I was stuck. He was stuck.

I tried to perch the cat back in the tree so I could get a towel to wrap him in and something to pry the fence apart. Nope. Ozzy was not cooperating.

With nothing else left to do, I screamed for help at the top of my lungs. Surely someone nearby had to be home or walking by or something. Before long, one of my neighbours from across the ally came running into the yard and quickly took in the situation. She asked if she could go into my house to get a towel and a crowbar and I said absolutely and told her where they were.

We wrapped the cat up in the towel and my neighbour pried off the fence board. Ozzy jumped away, like nothing had ever happened, not even limping.

My neighbour and I looked at each other. I was covered in blood and my hands and arms were already starting to swell up. "You'd better go get a tetanus shot," she said, then disappeared. I wanted to thank her, but I'm not even sure which house she was from.

I went in to get cleaned up when a delivery guy knocked at the door. I answered, looking like hell, covered in blood. He dropped the parcels, said I didn't have to sign for them after all, then ran off.

Next I called the doctor. Yes, she could squeeze me in that day.

After giving me the tetanus shot, she also gave me antibiotics as my wrists were swelling up so badly I could barely drive. Then she advised me to make sure the cat's vaccinations were up to date. All I could think of was Why, it's not like I bit the cat back.

Then, I went home and collapsed.

By the time my husband and kids got home later that day, my hands looked kind of like latex gloves that had been blown up. I could lift nothing. Typing was out the question. I decided to watch movies.

All in all, it took about two weeks for my hands to heal (oh, and my arms turned green from bruising up, so I even looked like the hulk).

So, this is a long story to say that I am behind in my editing, blogging, etc. However, I am back in full swing now, working to catch up. Not being able to use the computer also gave me time to think about what I want to do about some issues in my novel that were nagging at me.

I also used this time to read more about self publishing. Wow, I am excited about this!!! It makes my heart race even to read about the process of self publishing. Has anyone else gone this route? Or can recommend some good indie authors to read? I would love recommendations of books, blogs, or forums to read. (If you are looking for a good indie middle grade/young adult read, check out my review for Double Cross in my previous post).

Thanks for bearing with me through this long story, but I couldn't resist telling it as one of the adventures on the road to writing my novel.

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Monday, 18 August 2014

Short Story Review: Double Cross

Double Cross: An Eye of Odin Prequel #1Double Cross: An Eye of Odin Prequel #1 by Dennis Staginnus

SUMMARY
In the first of The Eye of Odin short prequels, the fifteen-year-old witch-for-hire finds herself atop the Athenian Acropolis, exchanging money for an ancient Spartan helmet said to contain extraordinary powers.


But when the exchange ends in a double-cross, it exposes a conspiracy that could reignite a two thousand-year-old war between Athens and Sparta. Keeping the peace will rest upon the shoulders of the scrappy, young witch.


REVIEW
Double Cross is the exciting first prequel the the upcoming middle grade Eye of Odin series by Dennis Staginnus. I have to say right off that I love myth, especially Greek myth, and Double Cross delivers a good dose.

The story starts fast and tense, grabbing the reader right away, only getting more intense at the story continues.

I am also a sucker for strong female heroines. Sarah is spirited, quick thinking, willing to fight to the end in order to do what she thinks is right, and she's magical. All in all, a great combination. Her background is subtly developed, making me want to know more about her.

The setting of this story is modern day Greece, but the world in which it is set includes Folklore, a world that is only seen by a select few and which includes myth and history from different cultures. Staginnus has obviously done his research on the mythology and has created an interesting world with great potential.

Overall, I think this is a book that will appeal to both boys and girls who like older middle grade books, and has a grittiness that will even appeal to teen audience (which, I think, makes this book stand out in the middle grade genre, assuming the rest of the series lives up to the standard set here). Some of the language, violence, and intensity might be a bit much for sensitive audiences.
 
Double Cross is the first in a series of three short story prequels to Eye of Odin and is free. You can go to Dennis Staginnus' web site (click here) to find out how to download it.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

A Different Approach

Now that I've set a timeline to self publish Antigone, I've been working like crazy editing and learning all of the things I need to know to self publish. I even decided to get my cover designed and, after much research, am going with Deranged Doctor Design (DDD). Their covers look phenomenal and original and, it would appear from their web site, that they have a great sense of humour.

But, in the process of telling DDD about my book so they could make their design, I realized how unwieldy the story had become. Kind of epic, actually. And epic is not quite what I was looking for in a first novel for a young adult audience. I think that putting the plots of all three of Sophocles' Oedipus plays plus my own retelling and drama into one book is just too much. I'm over 108,000 thousand words and the average novel these days is 65,000. I didn't realize how long it had gotten and how much actually happens. A lot, to say the least.

The solution: break up the novel into three parts, with each part being based on one of the plays. There are natural breaks in the novel and enough material to easily make three novels. I'm hoping this will make the work, as a whole, more approachable.

I'm excited about the change because I will be able to really concentrate on each part as I publish it, giving each of them more time and energy.

It feels like the right decision and I'm learning to trust my gut feelings on these things.

The first installment will come out this fall, hopefully in October. It shouldn't be too long between installments because the whole thing is written, and will only have to be edited to fit the new format.

Now, to figure out a title for each book...

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Antigone

Thank you to everyone who has borne with me even though I have been negligent in my blogging. Like the writing process itself, this blog has had some ups and downs. I am hoping to remedy that by revamping the blog and sharing more of what I am doing.

Currently, I am heavily into editing my young adult mythological fiction novel, Antigone: The True Story. This novel is near and dear to my heart, based in the world of ancient Greek mythology. I love Greek mythology. I adore it. It makes me excited. I studied it extensively in university. I read books of it to my kids. I get all tingly just thinking about it.

Antigone by Frederic Leighton, 1882
And not only is this book a story that takes place in ancient Greece, but the main character is Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus. Yes, that Oedipus. The one who killed his father and married his mother. His daughter is not as well known as he is, but I remember being in first year university and reading Antigone, a play by Sophocles.

Wow. Talk about a story. Talk about a character.

Most of the female characters in ancient Greek literature are, shall we say, subservient. Those that aren't are pure evil (think Medea cutting up her children and throwing them overboard to stop her husband from chasing her as she made her escape). Antigone, though, is different. She is a worthy heroine and a match for any ancient Greek man, someone who could stand up for herself. Who violated the laws of the state when her family values and duty to the gods were at risk. A woman who buried her brother with her own two hands, twice. I could envision her, standing tall, shoulders back, chest out, defying her uncle, the king, and refusing to hide away, even when her own life is at stake.

And this, after her mother committed suicide. This after she led her self blinded and exiled father around the countryside until his death.

Sure, Antigone was a princess, but she had scruples and morals and didn't let anyone push her around. So, when I decided to write a novel a few years ago, I chose to write about Antigone.

I didn't know where to begin, so I just started typing. As I wrote, the words started to flow almost effortlessly (at least at first). Out came this story, the "true" story of her life. Connections I hadn't even dreamed of were made in my writing. Unknowingly, I foreshadowed major plot points. I drew heavily on the Oedipus trilogy of plays by Sophocles, using his milestones in my book, but the story is my own and definitely adds another level of fantasy to an already remarkable myth.

I am hoping to have this novel edited soon and to make it available within a few months. In the mean time, I invite you to join my mailing list. When you do, I will email you the first three (mostly edited) chapters of Antigone: The True Story to give you a taste of what's to come.

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Thursday, 3 April 2014

Perculating

Hello everyone,

I know that it's been a long while since I've posted on my blog. I have not forgotten about it, but have decided to make some changes. I will still do book reviews, but I am going to focus more on writing and creativity. Probably mental health issues as well (because writing and being creative is an important part of healing from this), but that is another post.

Thanks for your patience everyone, and hope you are enjoying springtime and the return to sunshine (at least in my part of the world).

Coreena

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Summer Break

Hello Everyone,
I'm sorry that I haven't been keeping up with my blog. I haven't given up, but am dealing with some health issues and have decided to take a break for the summer. I will be back in a few weeks with book reviews and writing updates.
Thanks for sticking with me and see you soon.
Hope you all are enjoying your summer!!
Coreena

Friday, 28 June 2013

Happy Summer

Hello Everyone,

I know I haven't posted much lately. I have had some health issues to deal with, but am hoping to get back to regular posts soon.

In the mean time, today is the first day of summer vacation - YEAH!!!

Here is a Sesame Street video of Jason Mraz singing Let's Play Outdoors, such a fun song that I think is great for summer break. Enjoy.


Monday, 3 June 2013

Book Review: The Dark Deeps by Arthur Slade

Book: The Dark Deeps (The Hunchback Assignments #2) by Arthur Slade, 2010 by Wendy Lamb Books, 316 pages.

Purchase: Amazon | The Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads:
A fantastic Steampunk adventure in the deeps

Transforming his appearance and stealing secret documents from the French is all in a day’s work for fourteen-year-old Modo, a British secret agent. But his latest mission—to uncover the underwater mystery of something called the Ictíneo—seems impossible. There are rumors of a sea monster and a fish as big as a ship. French spies are after it, and Mr. Socrates, Modo’s master, wants to find it first. Modo and his fellow secret agent, Octavia, begin their mission in New York City, then take a steamship across the North Atlantic. During the voyage, Modo uncovers an astounding secret.

The Dark Deeps, the second book in Arthur Slade’s Hunchback Assignments series, is set in a fascinating Steampunk Victorian world. Modo’s underwater adventures and his encounters with the young French spy Colette Brunet, the fearless Captain Monturiol, and the dreaded Clockwork Guild guarantee a gripping read filled with danger, suspense, and brilliant inventions.


My Thoughts

This is a great series for kids - it has so much they will enjoy. There's interesting characters, mystery, adventure, cool steampunk ships...

Modo's mission this time was to find out about a mysterious underwater sea monster called Icitneo. It turns out that Icitneo is actually an ingenious submarine ship built by Captain Monturiol with an amazing mission. However, the devious Clockwork Guild is also after the ship.


I was happy to see Modo back again. He is such a loveable character in his innocence, emotional vulnerability, and strength. He is an exceedingly ugly hunchbacked character around the age of fourteen who can change his appearance at will and who has been trained as a British secret agent.


Modo is partnered up with Octavia, another great character. She is self reliant, feisty, and able to take care of herself. 

Slade is a great story teller with a wonderful imagination. Some of the ideas and evil plans in this book were ingenious. I also love how he pulls on the reader's heart strings, especially where Modo is concerned, making him the most human character of them all.

I think kids will really enjoy this series and the stories of perilous adventures will keep them turning the pages.



Here is the book trailer from YouTube:

Friday, 31 May 2013

Book Review: Valiant by Holly Black

Book: Valiant (Modern Faerie Tales #2) by Holly Black, 2006 by Simon Pulse, 313 pages.

Purchase: Amazon | The Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads:
When seventeen-year-old Valerie runs away to New York City, she's trying to escape a life that has utterly betrayed her. Sporting a new identity, she takes up with a gang of squatters who live in the city's labyrinthine subway system.

But there's something eerily beguiling about Val's new friends.
And when one talks Val into tracking down the lair of a mysterious creature with whom they are all involved, Val finds herself torn between her newfound affection for an honorable monster and her fear of what her new friends are becoming.


My Thoughts:
I love how Holly Black writes about characters who are normally invisible in YA books, and this book is no exception. This is the second book in the Modern Faerie Tales series, though it is more like a companion book with the world that Black created, rather than continuing the story of the first book. This installment focuses on teens who are living on the street in New York.

I enjoyed this - Black is a fantastic story teller and I enjoy the dark world of faeries that she has created. However, I didn't like this one as much as Tithe, the first in the series.

Seventeen year old Val runs away from home and finds herself living on the streets with a group of other teens who squat in the subway tunnels. They are linked to the world of Fey and take a faerie drug that gives them a unique high.

Val's character was good and I liked how she developed. I could understand her anger and betrayal, but she also grew beyond that. I wasn't as fond of the group of homeless teens that she hooks up with. I also found reading about taking copious amounts of drugs uncomfortable.

Overall, I liked the dark story and that faeries are not portrayed in a "nice" light. Black writes with a frank and honest tone that I think will appeal to many fans of YA fantasy who are looking for something different.
 
Note: There are significant amounts of drug use, swearing and sex in this book.