Friday, June 28, 2013

Review: Inferno

GoodReads Synopsis:

In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.

Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.


            When it comes to the Robert Langdon series by Dan Brown, it’s hard to beat the controversial blockbuster that was The Davinci Code. Well I can honestly say that if you were disappointed with The Lost Symbol as much as I was, well…Inferno delivers the much-needed hellfire.
            From the very beginning of the story I knew it was going to be everything that The Lost Symbol should have been. Robert Langdon wakes up in a hospital, groggy, and no memories of the past few days, only to have to escape with his life as an assassin comes to pay him a call. It soon becomes apparent that Robert is on a strange journey of symbolic puzzle solving in order to save the world from a seriously disturbed scientist that’s hell-bent on releasing the black plague on the mass public.
            On top of that very different beginning, Inferno does a few things to make it a very memorable novel. Obviously Dan Brown’s signature of taking a little bit of fact and lacing it around so much fiction that we don’t know we’re being lied to is all through the novel. Also, thank God, Robert Langdon is back in the old world, Venice this time, as he hunts down clues. Nothing against The Lost Symbol, but it just wasn’t the same when Langdon was in Washington DC. Inferno also kept me guessing, which is a hard thing to do. Every single time I thought I knew who the bad guys were that was helping this lunatic scientist unleash such a unspeakable biohazard, it gave just a little bit more info, and immediately the story took a complete 180 on me.
And then there’s the villain.
It’s not often that I can completely sympathize with a villain. There’s always something about a good villain I can connect to, but never able to see eye to eye with one. Granted this guy was completely unhinged, but at the same time, so rational about everything, it was truly hard for me not to take his side.
Inferno does have some issues. Unfortunately Dan Brown still loves to repeat himself. For instance, in Inferno there is a recording that is supposed to go viral on the net, but the organization that’s handling it isn’t sure. Now I’m glad the contents of this info was in the book, but Mr Brown did not need to repeat it every time someone new sat to watch it. I can’t help but think that he’d be able to cut about 100 pages from his novels if he’d just learn to not repeat stuff over and over. Also, there really isn’t any type of love interest in this one. Does it need it? That’s up to opinion. However, I’ve always thought that every novel needs some romance in it.
Even with these nitpicks, Inferno was a hell of a novel. It has a strange new beginning and lots of twists and turns to keep on guessing, and a wonderfully twisted ending (don’t worry, no spoilers here). This is definitely going on my top picks list.

Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars


Monday, June 24, 2013

Writing without Distractions

I love writing sci fi. I love world building and creating new places, new people, new customs that I get to explore. I'm working on one right now that is so much fun it's crazy.

But when I wrote This Love I got rid of that. I got rid of all the extras--the fun distractions--and boiled it down to what I write, the essence of all my stories when the distractions are stripped away. I wrote relationships. And it was challenging--I had nothing to hide behind, it was just a love story. No dead bodies, no near death experiences, no new world and cultures. It was HARD.

And I realized, I actually liked it. I still love my extras--the retellings and gods and undersea kingdoms--but it's also a lot of fun to focus on nothing but the relationships. You can go deeper, that way (pun intended ;) and really create a connection with the character for your readers.

I'll probably always write with the extras. I love those stories too much to not. But I've got a new love of writing without distractions, and I fully expect I'll be doing more of it in the future. :)

This Love is available now from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Time Mangement

So the thing that I'm asked the most--which, granted, isn't that often--is how I can manage to have three kids, a husband and life, and still be so prolific.
(To be clear--I'm not really that prolific. I tend to write and edit 2 or 3 manuscripts a year. So.)

Okay, what it really comes down to is time management. And frankly, I'm awful at it. My kids sleep til 10:30, and most days (read: ALL OF THEM) I sleep until they get up. So that's several untapped hours. I don't do a whole lot--emails and social media--while I wake up. I clean early--between noon and two, and then I turn to blogs and editing. Writing is for later in the day.
What I've found works well--for me, anyway--is knowing first what I need to do. Daily to-do lists are essential or I end up reading and coming out of a book coma when my husband gets home and wondering what the hell happened.
For each item, I guestimate how long it'll take me. Writing a blog, for instance, takes about thirty minutes, where writing 1,200 words is gonna take about 45. (Depending on child interaction) So, I manage it. I know how long things will take me, and when to do something that I need to be undisturbed on and I work with that knowledge to get things done.
And I'm not afraid to say 'This isn't gonna all get done."
When that happens, I move things that aren't essential to the next day. Time sensitive things happen first.

So that's it. It's super simple. Be organized. Prioritize. Know your limits.
And work hard. Just because you sleep til 10:30 most days, doesn't mean your a slacker. It means you can stay up working til 2 or 3 am. :)


Monday, June 10, 2013

Review of Lola and the Boy Next Door

Goodreads Synopsis:

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion...she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit--more sparkly, more fun, more wild--the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket--a gifted inventor--steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

My Take:

Overall, I enjoyed this sequel/companion to Anna and the French Kiss. Again, I liked the voice and writing style that's such a signature of Stephanie Perkins. Still, I think I love Anna and the French Kiss more. There's just something about St. Clair and Anna's love that just works. And of course I LOVED that they made several appearances in this book! Perkins does a wonderful job of continuing her portrayal of adorable teenage romances, but I didn't feel like these two characters were anything like her first two, which is nice to see. We had Lola, a girl in love with the elaborate and making a statement, and Cricket, a teenage inventor with an old school 1920s hipster style. The story also deals with relationships between a teenager and an older guy in his twenties--definitely an interesting thing to see in YA as well as the fact that Lola has two dads rather than the usual parental unit. Perkins brings to life the San Francisco setting and incorporates it so easily into the story that you can't help but feel like your there. The romance is a definite driving force in the story, but sometimes I wished the plot was a little stronger but in general it was a fun read.

My Rating:

4 out of 5 Stars