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Peacock Flock Book Review #15 - Gears of Wonderland

So we're two days late, but not a dollar short. Here's Book Review #15. :D

Peacock Flock Book Review #15

Gears of Wonderland
Author: Jason G. Anderson

Length: ~ 216 pages

Genre: Fantasy Steampunk

Heat level: Clean 

Stars: 4 Stupendous Purple Stars 


We were quite impressed with this from the beginning. We thought the cover was well done and doesn't look generic, which is great. We were also very happy with how quickly the action started. We were shocked by how the story got going but that drew us right in. We also "loved" how put off we were by James' fiancé. We wanted to reach into the book and smack her, plus we wanted to yell at James for putting up with such crap. But when you can react like that to the characters it's a good story. Reading this book made us realize that having just watched the movies of Alice in Wonderland isn't enough, we disliked not understanding some of the references but that's our fault, not the author's. The alternate Wonderland created was intriguing. It was easy for us to detest the dictatorial reign of the Knave of Hearts. Plus it was creepy (but great) to read how he was brainwashing the children in the Palace to do what he wanted. The characters where all developed and although we knew the end pretty early on it was still a great read. The only slight deterrence was how little romance there was, although the author gave us fair warning in his request for review, and therefore he got the points for giving us a heads up. Instead of being annoyed at the lack of romance we just knew we wanted more. At the end of the novel the characters were still traipsing across our brains and we found ourselves thinking about the world created - the sign of a great book.

That's it from the flock! 

Peacock Flock Book Review #14 - Justice Deck of Lies #1

Peacock Flock Book Review #14

Author: Jade Varden

Length: ~ 327 pages (Kindle Edition)

Genre: YA suspense

Heat level: Clean

Stars:  3.5 Somewhere Between Stars 

First book in the Deck of Lies series.

This book was a 4-4.5 until we got to the end. We read it very quickly and quite liked the characters. They were all well written and well developed. We liked that even characters who barely made appearances (but were talked about quite a lot) had flaws and weren't perfect but felt relatable. We also saw some good foreshadowing. And who doesn't like picking up on the hints? The problem was that there wasn't a real solution at the end of the book. It is part of a series but we really prefer books that still have some sort of resolution. There was also a very climatic event that got us very excited and we hurriedly read on, only to find that the scene we were so anticipating wasn't there. The main character, Rain, had just found out something huge, and it was a great shocker. And written very well with a surprise in one sentence that wasn't expected. But then the story line jumped over when Rain had her reaction to this information. It happened "off-screen" per-se and this made it feel disjointed and we really wanted to read this part. Other than those two things we enjoyed and liked it a lot. Definitely want to read the second. :D

That's it from the flock!

My favourite literary character = Anne

Day 5 Author Blog Challenge

This one's all about literary characters, which one's my favourite and with which one can I most relate?

My favourite character was hard to narrow down but I think it's got to be Anne Shirley. I'm so similar to her in so many ways (see here). Although I didn't get into nearly as many scrapes as she did. We've both gotten into trouble for our love of reading. Lost in our own little worlds at many a time, using our imagination to fuel life and vitality into what we know. We both set great store by our dreams. Losing ourselves in the excitement and anticipation. Surely Anne (with an e) Shirley is someone we all can admire for her courage, her creativity, her zeal for life, and for her stubbornness too, because just like the rest of us she grew all the more when her dreams stubbled upon her flaws.

Meg from the A Wrinkle in Time series is someone I can truly relate to. Many times she's awkward and someone who wants to learn and loves books. As much as I had friends in my childhood, I was still the perpetual new kid and many times had to work through the hard task of new schools and new people. I felt bonded by the awkwardness we shared when I first read this book in grade 6. Meg seemed so many times unsure of what to say, or she had no idea how she was going to manage what was asked of her. I know that I felt like this many times, but her determination and love for her family was something I could also relate to.

Books are what give my imagination it's power, but it's the characters who touch my heart and give me the drive and the strength to let my mind take me to new places.


What You Read Will Always Affect Your Writing

Day 4 Author Blog Challenge.

How does what I read affect what I write? What do I consistently pick up and what do I leave on the shelf? How would my writing change if I read other genres?

Books have been in my hand since I was a small child. Some of my earliest memories are listening to my parents read books aloud to me and my sisters. We loved Beverly Clearly and some of the classics, like Heidi and Wizard of Oz. I even raised the most money for an MS Read-a-thon when I was in elementary school. I know that I surprised a number of adults with how much money I asked for, as they'd pledged a certain amount of money per minute read in a week. :P

The fantasy and science fiction books I read, most assuredly, impacted what I wanted to write. As my favourite stories had elements of space or the fantastical, I wanted to include those same things in my stories. When I read as a child and a teenager, I went into the world of my books to escape, to imagine and to immerse myself in strange and wondrous new places.

I think what I read fuels my desire to do better in my own writing. Reading excellent books in my chosen genres allows me to see what works, what keeps me turning pages and what makes my heart race in a tense scene or swoon at a wonderfully romantic line. And I'm constantly looking for that next book that makes me stay up to all hours of the night.

As an adult reading is even more of an escape for me now. If I choose a novel it is either romance, fantasy or science fiction. I'm not at all drawn to literary, and the one and only time I started reading a horror novel I had to put it down (didn't know it was horror when I picked it up) - The Only YA Novel I Didn't Finish. The reason why? See: Why Being An Anne is Both Exciting and Horrifying. I think what you read is a reflection of your personality, but if you are a writer it's an insight into what you enjoy writing. I'm drawn to the books I'd love to have written myself.

If I ever did write horror, I think it'd be a miserable failure, I'd scare myself too bad and then never finish the manuscript.

Suffice it to say at this point I only plan on writing fantasy, science fiction, or romance. But as those are genres I love and will always love, I'm totally good. :D


Authors That Are Easily Rereadable for 5+ Times and Writers? Get Yourself Some Writer Friends

Day 3 Author Blog Challenge.

Prompt for today? Writers I admire and writers who are mentors to me. That's a toughie. And I mean a huge toughie. Picking writers I admire is liking picking out the best chocolate in a box full of godiva chocolates. How to gauge it then?

I guess I have to go with books I reread. Not just a second time around. Probably more like 5+ times.
In no particular order they are:
- Any and all Jane Austen
- Any and all Georgette Heyer
- Any and all Shannon Hale
- Any and all Stephenie Meyer
     **The Host being my favourite
(see a pattern yet with the any and all? :P)
- Any and all Terry Brooks
- Any and all Anne McCaffrey
- Any and all J. R. R. Tolkien
- Any and all Christopher Paolini
- Any and all Gail Carson Levine
     **My family and I wore off the title of our paperback Ella Enchanted and that first copy is now preserved in a binder as we've had to buy three more copies since then.
- Any and all Madeleine L'Engle

And finally last, but certainly not least I must mention the books I go to all the time. When I want funny I read scenes with Fred and George, or Dumbledore. When I want bravery I read scenes where Harry stands up for what he believes in. When I want to read about great, although certainly flawed female characters I settle in with Hermione or Ginny. How can I not mention?
My true and best inspiration: J. K. Rowling.
Harry you're not just awesome, you're downright life-altering.

As for writers who mentor me -- it's hard to define as I feel like my writing career is still in its infancy. Meeting Susan Forest and joining IFWA in Calgary was a defining moment in my career. Meeting some well established authors and rubbing elbows with them was amazing. The tidbits and snippets of things I've learned are invaluable. I'll be attending their sponsored When Words Collide in August and I'm counting down the days to it. I've also had some amazing times with the writers in the IAG in Kamloops. -- See the links on the sidebar >>
Reaching out to writers online has also been such a breath of fresh air, both for my creativity and my motivation to write. Writers need other writer friends. And all of mine bring vitality and humanity to my writing.


3 Ways to Hone Your Writing Craft & How I Did It (for like 0$)

Day 2 Author Blog Challenge.

The prompt for today was about classes, programs or workshops I might've taken to hone my craft. As the publishing and writing industry is inherently expensive for anything of that sort I have yet to attend one. (First one ever in Aug! Sa-weet) But that doesn't mean I haven't done everything in my power to improve my craft. I've simply done it on next to 0$. So if you're in the same boat as me and need some ideas on what to do without injuring your wallet these ideas are especially for you. For those of you who may not be in the same boat as me, try these out anyways! :D I really tried to grab some ideas that are beyond the realm of everything else I've read about improving your writing. There's so many great ideas out there, but these are some things that truly helped me, and I have yet to read about them anywhere else.

1. Ask other writers what their favourite books about improving writing are. Then read them all.
I belong to a number of writer/author groups on facebook and other social sites. (yay free!) So when I posed this question in one of those groups I was amazed at the response I got. There are so many good books about writing out there. So many of the recommendations from others I hadn't even heard of, let alone touched. (See one of my favourite improving writing books here.) The only thing about reading books on writing? Be aware that there will be contradictions. It's best to be aware of all points of view out there and then choose what works for you and feels coherent with your writing style.

2. Make the conscious choice to read what you want to write.
The key word here is conscious. I'm sure we've all heard the advice read the type of book you want to write. The problem is that there are hundreds upon THOUSANDS of excellent books that we all could read, but we have to decide now to leave those books out of our chosen genres on the shelf. I know! Leave a highly recommended book by a great friend unread on my shelf? Impossible! But no really, consciously decide to read great books in the genre and with the target audience that you yourself are going to write about. *If it's a really great read in a genre outside my writing realm, I put it on the back of my toilet and only read it in the bathroom. That's how I compensate. :D

And the biggest part that has helped me hone my craft (right from that very first story about a princess and a unicorn) and that I think is the best way to improve?

3. Be able to graciously accept a critique
Don't underestimate the power of an unencumbered mind coming new to a fresh page of your work. Often I've found they have thoughts, or conceptions I hadn't even considered and it's a great eye opener. I got over the initial misgivings I had about getting critiques when a good English teacher slashed apart poems I brought in for him to see. I should point out that I had him look them over of my own accord. I went in on my own during a lunch hour.  So from a very early age I knew I wanted to improve. I knew that if I wanted my words to say exactly what I wanted them to I needed help from those who not only had more knowledge than me but more experience. Understand that they wish to help you. Take everything anyone says about your work with a grain of salt, but don't internalize or take it personally. Accept what others have to say about your work calmly. They will appreciate you more and be more willing to crit for you again if you are gracious about what they say.


And It's Go Time

I've done it. I've finally bitten the bullet and decided to really make a go of both my blogs and my writing. So for the next month it's all writing, all the time. Hip-hip-hooray for that!
(Except for FDL. You know -- food, dishes, laundry. Wouldn't want to be hunted down for not feeding my son for a month. :P)

How am I doing this you ask? Well I've given myself an ultimate deadline. My novel will have all the new edits and scenes I want in it from the critiques I received by June 30. In addition I am doing the Author Blog Challenge. Stoked! What am amazing opportunity. I'm going to be blogging every day along with so many other authors from all around the world. I couldn't ask to be in better company.

My earliest memory of writing is in elementary school. I remember writing a story about a princess and a unicorn that she meets. I remember drawing the cover page for the story, but I have no clue what the plot was. From then on I started putting myself into stories I imagined. Any book or movie or tv show I liked I imagined I was a character in the story. I was both Sailor Sun and the Purple Power Ranger -- future blog post about that later ;)

It wasn't until I was in grade nine that I tackled writing my first novel. It was an epic fantasy, complete with Elves, Dwarves, and Gnomes. It took me three years to write three chapters. It's a project that is still currently on the back burner.

Since 2008 when I really started to let my imagination and ideas flow -see the page How The Story Began- I've had so many things flow into my brain. I tend to have lots of notebooks. And lately even more notes about novel ideas in the 'notepad' app of my iPhone.

My writing is now the heart of my creativity. I don't know where I'd be without it.

I can't wait to read all the other posts by all the other authors. Keep checking back here and enjoy! I'll be posting every day, plus an additional post on my book Lasera's blog on Mondays and a book review on this blog every Thursday.

I'm also in the midst of a move and reading one book a week to review on the blog... how will I get it all done and complete the balancing act?
I have no what-in-the-world-is-she-thinking idea.

But c'est la vie. Here's hoping I get it all done!


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