March 4, 2015

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a blog hop created by me and my sister, Erin Funk, to help writers connect. With that aim in mind, we would like to encourage participants to swing by other WUW blog posts, get to know other writers taking part, and spread some writerly encouragement around. Before you go, make sure to leave a link to your post in the widget at the end of this post. Also, please remember to link back to the host blogs and/or use one of the fancy schmancy WUW buttons provided. We'd really appreciate it! For those of you who are new to WUW, these are the headings we have been using:

WHAT I'M READING
WHAT I'M WRITING (+ WRITING GOAL) 

WHAT WORKS FOR ME
WHAT ELSE IS NEW


*You can grab one of our Winter 2015 buttons under the WUW tab above!*
WHAT I'M READING 
(Book titles are linked to Goodreads)
I finally read BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE, the third book in Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle, mainly because I was tired of dodging spoilers. I know this isn't a popular opinion, but I have to say this was my least favourite of the series thus far. Even while I was savouring bits of prose, I found myself wishing this book was more focused, less rambling. There were moments when I honestly had no idea what was going on. All that aside, I am eager to see how she wraps up this series in THE RAVEN KING. Now, I'm rereading Kerstin Gier's SAPPHIRE BLUE and starting Marie Rutkoski's super awesome THE WINNER'S CRIME (!!!)

WHAT I'M WRITING
Since I checked in on Monday for Writer Recharge, I've been struggling to motivate myself to write. Ugh. I sort of suspected this might happen, but it's still a bit of a bummer. My plan is to jump back in today so I don't lose all of the momentum I gained in February. It was a very productive month. I managed to reestablish a writing routine and I wrote 25K new words!
Writing goal for the week → I would like to add 5000+ new words to my WiP.

WHAT WORKS FOR ME
Tyler Knott Gregson poetry
I would like to work on prettying up my WiP's prose, so I'm totally inspired by poets like Tyler Knott Gregson who write such evocative phrases, particularly about love and romance. So, so beautiful! Check out his Tumblr page → tylerknott.com

WHAT ELSE IS NEW
• I'm finally caught up on The 100 and don't want the season to end!
• I'm knitting a Harry Potter inspired shrug in Ravenclaw colours.
• I got another shiny cover for my planner, washi and stickers too.
• My LadurĂ©e macarons recipe book came and it is so gorgeous. ♥
• I reviewed Elizabeth Briggs' book MORE THAN COMICS here.
• I also reviewed Dahlia Adler's book BEHIND THE SCENES here.


That's my week in a nutshell.
WHAT'S NEW WITH YOU?

March 2, 2015

Writer Recharge: Week Four (Final Check-In)

Well, today is the final check-in for Writer Recharge 2015, and I have to say I'm super bummed that it's all over and done with. This has been a very productive month for me on the writing front, and I think I have WR to thank for that. Thanks to our hosts and thanks to all of you! ♥

Here's how I did this week and this entire month:

WRITE/REWRITE

My overall goal for the month of February was to have 1/3 to 1/2 of my WiP, EVERY SAD & LOVELY THING drafted. I managed to add over 10K (!!!) new words to my WiP this week, putting my total for the month at 25K, which pushes me past the 1/3 of my WiP drafted mark.* Woohoo!
READ/REREAD
I wanted to read the entire BURN FOR BURN trilogy by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian, which I did. (Loved it...mostly.) I also wanted to reread RUBY RED by Kerstin Gier. Read it and loved it all over again. Now onto SAPPHIRE BLUE and more Gideon!

STRETCH
I completely gave up on my stretch goal of turning the TV off a couple nights a week. What can I say? I love Netflix. A lot.

SELF
My goal was to eat fruits + veggies daily and exercise at least once (increasing this to twice, then three times, etc.). I ate the odd bit of fruit and even less veggies, so FAIL. And I really didn't add any exercise into my daily routine. Again, FAIL. Boooo. 

CONNECT
From the start of Writer Recharge, I wanted to pop by Twitter from time to time and maybe jump in on a word sprint or two. Well, I'm happy to report that word sprints are my new favourite things. They have helped me so, so much this week. That 10K word count is all thanks to a series of sprints with some lovely ladies. They definitely motivate me to get writing!

FUN
I wanted to do some serious knitting this month, but other things took precedence for the most part. I did, however, start working on a Harry Potter-inspired project → a super cute shrug in Ravenclaw colours. At least I hope it's cute. We'll see.☺

Well, I didn't meet all of my goals, but I met my biggest goal. I wanted to get back into a 
writing routine and I think I can safely check that off my list. I'm calling that a huge win.

So, #WriterRecharge peeps, how did you do this month?
Thanks again for keeping me encouraged and accountable!




* I already some words written before starting #WriterRecharge, so this 25K just topped that up.

March 1, 2015

BEHIND THE SCENES by Dahlia Adler (A Long Overdue Review)

Let me start by saying that I have always loved the whole non-famous person + famous person romance in books and movies. Heck, I was raised on Cinderella and other tales like it, so I've been lapping it up my whole life. BEHIND THE SCENES delivers this same sort of scenario with a whole lot of swoon, which makes it an instant win in my books. But there’s so much more to it than just that. Here’s what I loved about BtS:

ALLY + THE HOLLYWOOD THING
I liked that Ally wasn’t completely star struck when she got to go “behind the scenes” of bestie Van’s TV show. She’d been friends with Vanessa for years, so that did give her an inside look at all of the not-so-glamorous aspects of fame, but even so, it was a relief to not see her go gaga on set. She regularly rubs shoulders with celebs, but you never get the sense that she considers this something to be used to her advantage. Ally working on set had everything to do with helping Van out and making college possible, not cozying up to the show’s stars. That just happened to be a side bonus she wasn’t expecting or seeking.


ALLY + VAN
Ally and Van’s friendship was one of my favourite parts of BtS. It isn’t all smooth sailing, of course, but it never treads into frenemy territory either. Feuding friends are normal in YA, but I never once found myself asking why the heck these two were even friends in the first place. Their relationship is tough at times given Van’s celeb status and all that that entails, but throw in the whole actress/assistant dynamic with a side order of secret romance with your bestie’s very public boyfriend and BAM, you’ve got some serious challenges to face. I enjoyed watching these two push through it all.

ALLY + DAD + CANCER
I often have a tough time with books featuring a parent with cancer—particularly a dad—having been down that road myself. Dahlia handled this storyline especially well, and I found myself looking forward to those scenes between Ally and her dad, despite the hospital room setting. It got me right in the feels every time they were on the page together. But then I loved moments with Ally and her mom and sister as well.

ALLY + LIAM
As someone who has studied French my whole life, I loved the tidbits with Ally tutoring Liam and the two of them swapping French phrases. The swoon between these two was strong, my friends. Being forced to keep their romance private provides great conflict and a certain amount of risk that makes it that much hotter. Their relationship was flawed, which only made it more believable. With the added challenge of a fake, very public relationship between Liam and Van, you’ve got no shortage of obstacles in the way of Ally and Liam’s happy ending. I loved these two so much! And a word about Liam: He is that great combo of Good Guy who isn’t perfect but is never the Bad Boy who needs reforming. I’m so over Bad Boy, let me tell you, so Liam was basically everything with a chaser of great abs.

ALLY HERSELF
As a reader, I could relate to Ally’s insecurities without them constantly being a THING, if you know what I mean. They didn’t centre around her non-star status or a bad case of “not worthy”-itis. You would think this might happen a lot given the non-star hobnobbing with stars angle, but this story never strays into normal girl with a certain je ne sais quoi that has been done to death territory. Sure, the fact that she isn’t famous is in the back of Ally’s mind, but it doesn’t become the thing the story revolves around. Ally deals with some heavy stuff—her dad’s illness and the impact this has on her family, working as an assistant to Van in a world that is pretty cutthroat just be able to pay for college—and yet she’s still very much a teen. Things like going to prom, being able to go to college, falling in love for the first time all remind us that she’s a teen with similar dreams to other kids her age. All of this makes her completely relatable.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Dahlia Adler has such a great sense of humour and this really shines through in this book. There were many points while I was reading that I’d burst out laughing at one thing or another. I love humour and great voice, and this book definitely delivers both in spades along with a romance you’ll root for right until the final page is turned. Definitely give this one a read! You'll be happy to know that Daylight Falls #2, UNDER THE LIGHTS, is out this June and features both Van and Josh!

Where to buy BEHIND THE SCENES:
Amazon (US) (CAN) (UK) • Barnes & NobleKobo • iTunes • Book Depository

Find Dahlia Adler on the interwebz:
WebsiteBlog • TwitterFacebook


February 26, 2015

MORE THAN COMICS by Elizabeth Briggs

I’ve thrown on one of my many geek tees to write up my review of Elizabeth Briggs’ MORE THAN COMICS, just released this week! (hint, hint, hint) It seemed only right to get my geek on since this book is set at Comic-Con, folks! I have never had the privilege of attending, but man, would I love to. Of course, this book only further solidifies that and leads to daydreams of cosplay, camping outside Hall H, and all that fun stuff. For now, I've got this book to transport me. So, let's get started!

For those of you who have already read Liz’s debut, MORE THAN MUSIC—If not, what are you waiting for?—I can assure you that this sequel won't disappoint because guess what? We get to hang out with Jared, Maddie, Kyle and the rest of the gang from Book 1 all over again! (The sequel picks up one week after the events of the first story.) And these characters don’t just show up in some itty bitty cameo either; they’re woven all throughout Hector and Tara’s story. This is absolutely one of my favourite aspects of MORE THAN COMICS. Revisiting a great cast of characters from another angle (secondary characters becoming primary characters) makes me pretty darn happy. * I’m not sure why authors don’t do this more, to be honest.

So let’s talk about Tara and Hector. These two had great chemistry and not just the steamy kind. (Though there was plenty of steam. Much more than Book 1.) From the very beginning we learn that Tara and Hector have already established a solid friendship through an equally solid working relationship thanks to their joint efforts on a graphic novel--Tara writes and Hector illustrates. They have already spent time getting to know each other in every way but in person, so the shift from friends to more than friends is only natural. The events of the novel take place over four days, so thanks to their shared history, their romance doesn’t feel rushed or unbelievable. There are roadblocks in the way of their romance, which comes as no surprise, but I never felt as though these issues were unrealistic or easily solved. Sure, certain things could have been resolved through open and clear channels of communication, but that isn’t the way things happen all the time in real life either. Both Hector and Tara had (mostly) valid reasons for holding back, real concerns. We also can’t discount the impact of past experiences on their present decisions. Exes hovering, huge choices to make about life direction, crossing that line from friendship to more and everything that entails, family dynamics and personal history that have played a part in shaping the characters… All of these things are valid, all of them legit challenges on the way to reaching a happy ending.

In order to fully experience both Tara’s and Hector’s sides of the story, we are presented with a dual point of view. I am happy to report that this was done particularly well. One of my greatest pet peeves as a reader is having to flip back to the start of a chapter to find out whose perspective I’m getting thanks to a marked lack of differentiation between voices. This is not at all the case with MORE THAN COMICS. When Tara is narrating, we always know it is her speaking and likewise with Hector’s point of view. I want to cheer when an author does this well, so kudos to Elizabeth Briggs for pulling this off.

But back to that Comic-Con setting for a moment… Like I said earlier, I’ve never been but have always wanted to go. It was clear that the author has been to Comic-Con through the myriad little details that only someone who has attended this event would be able to relate. The cosplay moments were particularly great and, of course, the mentions here and there of superhero tees and the like. Without going into details, the campout outside Hall H was especially memorable because, well, steamy reasons(!) and I’ll just leave it at that. Overall, this was a great choice of setting for Tara and Hector's story, one that will appeal to anyone who has ever wanted to attend or anyone who has been to Comic-Con or other cons like it.

If you like romance with loads of swoon and steam with a good dose of geekery tossed in, then you’ll want to give MORE THAN COMICS a read. You don't need to read MORE THAN MUSIC first, but why would you deny yourself that privilege?


* Up next, I believe we’re getting Julie’s story in BEHIND THE SEAMS. Can’t wait to read this one because it involves fashion! You can also check out MORE THAN EXES, a standalone novella about Villain Complex's bad boy keyboardist, Kyle.


MORE THAN COMICS (Chasing The Dream, #2)
Release Date: February 23, 2015

They're friends online - but can they be more in real life?

Writer Tara McFadden has been friends with artist and drummer Hector Fernandez for years, long before his band became famous on reality TV – yet they’ve never met in person. They finally have a chance to connect offline when they’re both sent to Comic-Con to promote the graphic novel they collaborated on.

Hector's secretly been in love with Tara for as long as he can remember, and once they meet, she sees him in a new light. All the years of longing lead to an incredible night of passion after one of his concerts, but neither is sure if their online relationship can translate into a real life romance – or if this will ruin their friendship forever.

Over four crazy days at Comic-Con, Hector and Tara must decide if they want a future together. But when their story seems to be over, it’s up to Hector’s entire band to make sure he and Tara get their happy ending.   [Add it on GOODREADS.]


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elizabeth Briggs is a full-time geek who writes books for teens and adults. She plays the guitar, mentors at-risk teens, and volunteers with a dog rescue group. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a pack of small, fluffy dogs.

Where to find Liz:

February 25, 2015

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a blog hop created by me and my sister, Erin Funk, to help writers connect. With that aim in mind, we would like to encourage participants to swing by other WUW blog posts, get to know other writers taking part, and spread some writerly encouragement around. Before you go, make sure to leave a link to your post in the widget at the end of this post. Also, please remember to link back to the host blogs and/or use one of the fancy schmancy WUW buttons provided. We'd really appreciate it! For those of you who are new to WUW, these are the headings we have been using:

WHAT I'M READING
WHAT I'M WRITING (+ WRITING GOAL) 

WHAT WORKS FOR ME
WHAT ELSE IS NEW


*You can grab one of our Winter 2015 buttons under the WUW tab above!*
WHAT I'M READING
(Book titles are linked to Goodreads.)
I finished my reread of RUBY RED by Kerstin Gier. (Next month we're reading the sequel, SAPPHIRE BLUE. Feel free to join in!) I also read Heather Demetrios' I'LL MEET YOU THERE (great book) and Liz Briggs' super steamy MORE THAN COMICS (review to come). I finally started reading BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE by Maggie Stiefvater mainly because I've been dodging spoilers all over the interwebz for far too long and it's exhausting. Thinking of changing my name to the Artful Dodger. :P

WHAT I'M WRITING
Well, last week I fell short of my #WriterRecharge goal by a lot. (I wrote 3500 words of my 6000 word goal.) That was kind of a bummer, but I more than made up for it by adding 2500 words in one day. That's halfway to my goal of 5000 words for the week with only one day under my belt. I'm hoping to blow that goal out of the water, finish off strong, and surpass my overarching goal of getting 1/3 of this draft completed by the end of February. I'm feeling pretty good about my chances.

WHAT WORKS FOR ME
Word sprints, a shiny planner, and stars.
I haven't been into word sprints much in the past, but this week they really seem to be working well for me. On Monday, I joined some other writers for a few word sprints, which helped me get those 2500 words written. Thanks, ladies! The same day, my shiny new Erin Condren planner arrived, and I set to work filling in tasks and reminders and adding stickers and washi to make it pretty. I also decided to give the stars for words thing a whirl because it's really nice to see my writing progress, and because in a way it feels like I'm rewarding myself.

WHAT ELSE IS NEW
• Like I mentioned, my shiny new planner arrived. Loving this thing already!
• I've been finding so many good things to toss into my Rememberlutions Jar.
• The weather has been gorgeous lately, which makes it feel like spring here.
• Haven't been knitting lately, which means my Etsy shop won't open 'til fall.
• Discovered there are no macaron shops around here. Going to make my own!
• Hubs ordered me the LadurĂ©e macaron book complete with original recipes!



That's my week in a nutshell.
WHAT'S NEW WITH YOU?