Monday, October 31, 2011

Book Review: CLOCKWORK PRINCE (The Infernal Devices #2) by Cassandra Clare

*SPOILER-FREE* (There may be spoilers for the first book, Clockwork Angel, though.)

I nearly had a heart attack when I got the email that I won an ARC of Clockwork Prince, because Cassandra Clare is one of my favorite authors and I was so excited to read this book!! (It comes out December 6th, and it you haven't read Clockwork Angel, you should, then get CP when it comes out!)

This review might be a little vague,  but I won't risk spoiling it for anyone because this is one of those books that has you yelling at it or laughing obnoxiously loud or crying at regular intervals and deserves to be read un-spoiled!

Tessa is a great heroine and my understanding of her and all the characters really grew with this book, which is something a great sequel should do. As my love of the characters grew and the plot unfolded I became more and more concerned as it become abundantly clear that this story CAN NOT end happily for everyone.Dun dun dun.

After reading the first book I was a little unsure on the Will/Jem issue. I was probably 60% Will and 40% Jem. The farther I got in CP, the more certain I was of my choice... and by the time I was done reading I had made my decision...

I've read other reviews and I've heard it described as "Jem's book" and to a point this is quite true. A lot of Will's story is revealed and he is certainly in the book, but Jem really shines. I liked Jem more in this book than I did the last . . . but not for Tessa. My personal opinion is that Tessa should end up with Will. Anyone else who's read it, I'm curious to know if your team changed while reading CP?

Something else I must say: I honestly was not aware that I could love Magnus Bane any more than I already did. I WAS WRONG. Every scene he is in, every line he says (*thinks of one line in particular and laughs out loud*) was funny and wonderful. And Magnus and Will's relationship? Priceless. Literally, it belongs in a MasterCard commercial.

I liked finding out more about the Lightwood family and their storyline. And I was also pleased with what happened with Sophie and with Jessamine. And Charlotte and Henry too. The way the relationships continue to unfold was very well done all around.

I also thought that the book was much more romance-centric than it was concerned with their continued quest to find Mortmain. At least, it appeared that way. There was action and other stuff; maybe it's just that the romance aspect was so WHOA that nothing else compared haha. So, yeah, I absolutely loved it. It has to be one of my favorite sequels ever, and I'm not even sure what to do with my life until Clockwork Princess comes out.

And that leads me to the last thing I wanted to mention . . . the ending. *Sighs*

I read the book in one night, but I put it down for an hour when I had about a 100 pages left because that was the point where I thought "one of these characters whom I love so much is literally going to get there soul squished into a puddle of broken-hearted goo, aren't they? Oh dear. I don't think I can face reading that." And I was right . . . The last few chapters I read with tears and oh-so attractive globs, GLOBS, of mascara streaming down my face. THE PAIN, I TELL YOU! It was . . . not an ending I expected. I kind of loved it. And hated it. And wanted to kill Tessa. And Cassie. But not really. I don't even know. All I know is that I am SO NERVOUS about what Ms. Clare is going to do to these poor characters in the last book. So, so nervous. However, I trust her and believe that she will do what is right for the characters and story.

There is a pretty big cliffhanger as well, however it didn't really bother me/excite me. Too many other WTF things had just happened for the actual cliffhanger to have much affect, to be honest.

In conclusion: it rocked. It was an emotional roller coaster and unpredictable and gorgeous and a truly spectacular sequel. That stomped on my heart.

- Nicole

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Weekly Post (October 23-29, 2011)

Best Book: I'm not going to count a certain book I read yesterday because I'm doing a seperate review of it, to be up soon, so the best book I read this week would be The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. This book is magical and adventous and romantic and it's a standalone! Will wonders never cease. Maggie is brilliant and every good thing you've heard about this one is true.

Anticipated Book: Now that it finally has an (awesome!) cover I can finally say The Fault in Our Stars by John Green!!! Which might just be my most anticipated book of 2012. That, and anything Cassandra Clare, that is. But yeah. John Green is my god, so basically I want this book like I want oxygen. I'm writing this at 8:40 AM on a Saturday, I'm allowed to be melodramatic :P

On Writing: My big, scary, important portfolio for creative writing class was due yesterday so the only writing-related things I've been doing all week involve editing pieces for my portfolio and such. I've decided to create a complete outline for my next WIP before I jump into writing it, since clearly my other novel-writing method isn't working in the longrun. This might kill me. Stay tuned.

Favorite Blog Post:
A great one from Sarah J. Maas (can't wait to read her debut novel Queen of Glass, which is set to come out sometime in 2012), about how she dealt with a writing slump. Read it HERE.

Song of the Week:

- Nicole

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Finding Inspiration in the Classics

I'm one of those weirdos who loves most of the books I read in English class. With some exceptions, of course, as crappy books have been written since the dawn of time, but the vast majority of books I come to love or at the very least appreciate. I think it's important as a writer and also a reader to do what other people can't or won't do: find value in all books. Even the ones that are difficult. Even the ones you have to write essays on for a grade :) I'm a fan of saying that the only people who don't like the classics are the ones who haven't taken the time to understand them.

My English class just started reading The Great Gatsby which is SO SO EXCITING, especially since I'm an uber-nerdfighter and have been dying to read it ever since seeing John Green's excellent videos on the book (see them HERE and HERE. They do contain some spoilers). (Also: anything that John Green loves I'm more than willing to give a fair shot). I've only read the first chapter and I already love it so much. I actually like that I saw the videos beforehand because I'm finding more depth in it that way and I can see the value in the book now, whereas it usually doesn't hit me until I'm done with an English-class book. I've been struggling with my writing lately, but some of these awesome quotes just from the first chapter inspired me, and maybe they'll inspire you too:

"No - Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men" (pg 2).

"Sometimes she and Miss Baker talked at once, unobtrusively and with a bantering inconsequence that was never quite chatter, that was as cool as their white dresses and their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire" (pg 12).

"I was not alone - fifty feet away a figure had emerged from the shadow of my neighbor's mansion and was standing with his hands in his pockets regarding the silver pepper of the stars" (pg 20).

(I underlined my favorite parts). Wow. The guy sure did know how to put words together.

How to do feel about the classics??

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Writing Issues

I didn't do my normal Friday post yesterday- sorry. I've been slacking a little with the blog lately. It's not only because of school but also just due to the fact that I CAN'T SEEM TO WRITE ANYTHING. I haven't worked on the WIP in so long I feel like I'm starting to lose it.... (By which I mean both lose my love for the story and lose my mind) I left off in the middle of a scene and I have no idea how it ends or what happens next. I know what happens in 40-50 pages through the end, but the middle is actually proving difficult... I've had horrible thoughts of abandoning the project and working on something else, or maybe taking an extended break from it... I just hate that I'm 30k into it and can't seem to finish. The idea of starting at zero on something else and having to get all the way up to 30k again makes me want to crawl into a ball and cry.  So basically this post is just an excuse for me to whine. Great :P

I also thought of maybe trying my own modified NaNoWriMo where instead of writing 50k of a new novel for National Novel Writing Month in November, I tried to write at least 1k every day of this stagnant project and do 30k in a month. But I really don't think I could do that and the thought of epically failing scares me.

There. I admitted it. I'm scared of my book. I'm scared because it sucks and I think on some level my real fear is that I'll finish the draft and then not be able to fix it. I've never done a real revision before and IT SCARES ME SO MUCH. Also, I have this prevailing fear that the idea and the whole concept is stupid and bad and shallow and not worth it. I don't know how to get over that, and I feel like as long as I can't there's no chance of making it into a good book.

Alright. Now I'm just rambling and depressing myself more. Anyone else have writing problems? I can empathize :)

I'll try to post more this week, too. I have some thoughts on writing I've been meaning to write up a post about, as well as a new TV show I'm obsessed with and can't wait to rant about. Have a good weekend!

- Nicole

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I apologize in advance if my blogging quantity or quality decreases in the coming week or so, but my life (SCHOOL) is hellish. Very.

I just had to do a quick post today to say that OMG OMG I WON A CONTEST :D And not just ANY contest. I won an ARC of CLOCKWORK PRINCE BY CASSANDRA CLARE. Yup. I am freaking out with insane joy. Not many ARCs at all were made, so that makes it even cooler. And Cassie Clare is one of my favorite writers ever so this is SO COOL. (I won it from the Goodreads contest, if you were wondering). Gah. So excited to get it. Receiving that email was definitely the highlight of my day. Probably my week...

- Nicole

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Weekly Post (October 9-15, 2011)

Best Book: This week I read How to Save a Life, the incredible new book by Sara Zarr. The characters and the story were so real and beautiful, it might just be my favorite book by her. I'd definitely recommend it for lovers of contemp.

Anticipated Book:Is the first book in Robin Wasserman's new series, The Book of Blood and Shadow, which comes out on January 10th. Click the link and read the description on Goodreads! It looks SO interesting.

On Writing: I haven't had much time this week and it looks like I'll have even less next week to work on the WIP *sadface* I had a really long poem (a sestina. It was fun but took forever) to write for creative writing. I wrote mine based on the characters and events in my WIP and I'm pretty proud of it. Maybe I'll post that here some time.

Favorite Blog Post: I've been spending much more time on Tumblr (follow me!) Than reading actual blogs (I believe a Tumblr is considered a type of blog, though in my mind it falls under its own category) so instead of a blog post I'm going to recommend an awesome Tumblr that I found today! it's called HIPSTER JOHN GREEN QUOTES. Yes. When I found out this existed I freaked out. See the gloriousness HERE. (Spell check is informing me that "gloriousness" isn't a word. WTF? It should be.)

Song of the Week

- Nicole

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Finding Direction

The writing process/practices I currently use I've had for over a year, and it's easy for me to forget that the way I do things is really different from the ways of other writers (I love hearing about other writer' processes!). So I thought I'd share today one way that I've found that helps me to find focus and not ramble (quite so much) while I write.

I'm somewhere between a plotter and a pantser, meaning that I have no more than a vague idea of the middle and end of the book when I begin, but I outline each scene before I write it. I outline two or three chapters ahead, but never farther or it falls apart. Before I start a scene I'm usually carrying the idea of it around in my head the in days before, wanting to write it, and I'll start writing the scene in my head. When I start writing in my head then I know I'm in a good place with the project and I am VERY HAPPY. I imagine the dialogue, especially. And I jot it down.

Going into a scene knowing what has to happen and what information has to pass between Character X and Character Z is very helpful, but knowing ahead of time that one beautiful sentence that shifts the balance in that chapter? For me, that's gold. The one sentence/paragraph will be what I work towards for the entire scene, and I can make sure I don't stray from the goal of getting to a place where it makes sense for character X to say that.

For some people, knowing the most interesting line(s) ahead of time might take the fun out of it, so this might not apply, but it might just help you to stay focused :D Do you have specific ways of preparing to write?

 - Nicole

Monday, October 10, 2011

Magic Numbers

Last night I finally got past 30,000 words on the novel I'm writing! For some reason, 30k is the magic number where I actually start to believe, after I get there, that I can finish the book. The beginning is the part I hate the most, and I love finally getting away from it. A lot of writers say writing the middle is the worst for them. Personally, I like the middle (sure, I have my bi-weekly complete mental breakdown like every other writer, but that happens at all stages). By the time I get to the middle I have a pretty solid idea of where I'm going for the rest of the book, I know my characters, etc. I'm curious to know if other writers have a "magic wordcount number". Do you?

- Nicole

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Weekly Post (October 2-8, 2011)

Best Book: Was definitely Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. This was one of my most anticipated books of the year and BOY WAS IT AMAZING OH MY GOD. I could rant in all caps for ten pages about my depth-less love for Stephanie Perkins' books, but I won't. Please just read them. Seriously.

Anticipated Book: Is Fever by Lauren DeStefano, the sequel to the first book in her Chemical Garden Trilogy, Wither. The cover is gorgeous and I can't wait to see where she takes the story in the next installment.

On Writing: I've been busy! I've been working on poems and short pieces for creative writing class (check out some of those on my Figment account HERE) and my WIP is at nearly 28,000 words. This weekend I plan on revising some pieces, writing a few others, and hopefully get some more done on the WIP too...

Favorite Blog Post: Holly Black announced the sale of another novel! It looks sooo cool. Read her post about it HERE.

Song of the Week: Check out this awesome cover of an amazing song.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Recommended Writing Books

I'm actually working on and loving my WIP these days, so that's REALLY GOOD. Some of my sudden inspiration/work ethic has definitely come from the awesome book on writing I'm currently reading. When I realized a year or two ago that writing books was something I really wanted to do, the first thing I did was pick up a book on the subject.Today I'm going to share my favorite books (so far) on the subject.

The first writing book I ever got was The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing a Novel. Certain parts of it are a tad outdated (some of the things about publishing) but the vast majorirty of it is totally relevant. It was the perfect book for me as a beginner and I'd definitely recommend it for a good overview. In each chapter there are helpful writing exercise blurbs and quotes from writers that are funny/helpful/inspiring. I've reread it multiple times and my copy is filled with highlighting and pen marks,etc. For a few months after I bought it I just toted it around with me everywhere. I'm odd, what can I say.

The second book on writing I ever read was Stephen King's aptly named On Writing, a semi-biographical writing guide that is funny and personal and very helpful and engaging. I bought it just because lots of writers raved about it, and they were right!

I'm currently reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott which is SUCH AN EXCELLENT BOOK. There isn't much that I didn't already know or know of (believe me, I've read A LOT about writing. My pile of printed out blog articles on the subject weighs roughly 200 pounds), but this book is very quotable, very interesting, and offers a wonderful perspective that's really made me want to write. I think I may like it even better than the two aforementioned books.

Two other books on writing I bought online came in the mail today! They are The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King. I obviously haven't read either of these yet, but I'll let you know what I think!

Happy writing!

- Nicole

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Over the weekend I made a Tumblr account! I've wanted to make one for a while and I love it sooo much. I think it's such a great way to collect and share the things you love and find beauty in. It's also insanely addictive. You can check out my Tumblr/ follow me HERE. My posts pretty much fall into the categories of Taylor Swift, cool photos, Nerdfighter stuff, quotes, etc. from favorite books/movies, some Glee and The Big Bang Theory stuff and some lyrics. If you have a Tumblr let me know and I'll check it out! :D

- Nicole

Saturday, October 1, 2011

In My Mailbox - September 2011

In My Mailbox is a weekly (I do it monthly) meme hosted by The Story Siren where bloggers share which books they got. This month I bought:

Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

 The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1) by Maureen Johnson

 The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1) by Rae Carlson

 Beautiful Days (Bright Young Things #2) by Anna Godbersen

 Goliath (Leviathan Trilogy #3) by Scott Westerfeld

The Girl Who Was on Fire: Your Favorite Authors on Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games Trilogy edited by Leah Wilson (anthology) 




Daughter of Smoke and Bone (#1) by Laini Taylor 

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1) by Michelle Hodkin

Happy reading!

- Nicole