The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

coffee_and_books_by_poetriger-d6sgtb7‘The 5th Wave’ by Rick Yancey was by far, one of the most satisfying reads I’ve experienced in some time.

Goodreads Synopsis:

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

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I heard much about this read but knew nothing about it. My best friend sent me this for my birthday and on it went to my TBR pile on my bedside table. I wasn’t eager to get to it, since I didn’t know much other than the fact that it had some young girl and a teddy bear in it.

Omylanta! There is TOO much I can say about this book. It took me COMPLETELY by surprise. I didn’t expect the pace, I didn’t expect the romance, I didn’t expect an alien takeover concept to feel so NOT sci-fi and just epic, apocalypse adventure. Man, this book was so good. I could gush forever but I’m going to keep this short and just say, GO READ IT! It’s good!

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Found this Tumblr collage and thought it captured the feel of the book and main characters very well.

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A week ago, news broke that the main character Cassie, has been cast in the newly picked up film adaptation based on this best-seller book. Chloe Moretz, who is currently filming another YA adapted book, ‘If I Stay’ by Gayle Forman, has been cast as the bad ass Cassie for Cassiopeia Sullivan.

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Have you read it? I think Chloe is PERFECT to play Cassie. I’m curious to see who they would get for Evan and Ben. *crosses fingers they cast it well* Who do you think could play Evan, Ben and are you satisfied with the casting of Chloe Moretz?

This wasn’t much of a ‘Book Talk’ per-say but I’m still on a book hangover from this one and desperately want the second book of this series in my hands…NOW! A cover and title reveal for the second book was released recently.

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Due to my hangover, words escape me to give you a sense of the awesomeness, so I will leave you with Christine of BookTube on YouTube (polandbananas20–random YouTube name I know, but there’s a video explaining the method to her madness).

Also, here is a FANTASTICALLY edited fan video inspired by this book and look at that! It stars currently cast heroine of the soon to be movie–Chloe Moretz as Cassie.


 

 

If We Were Having Coffee: April 2014

photo courtesy of: Ransom Riggs-phtograph of @TaherehMafi 's hands

photo courtesy of: Ransom Riggs-photograph of @TaherehMafi ‘s hands

Long time no ‘see’, I know! Much has happened as of late and I’m excited to explain my absence. In the last couple weeks there has been ‘Divergent’ movie goodness and a great opportunity that has added to my busy days and I’m loving every minute of it. So I thought, what better way to share but through another ‘If We Were Having Coffee’ feature!

What are you drinking? Coffee? Tea? How do you take yours? Me, I’m having a creme brulee latte topped with whipped cream, and sprinkled with cinnamon on top. I made my drink at home.

text if we were having coffee

Thursday, March 20th, my at-home bestfriend Vanessa joined me on this epic event–yes it was epic to me. Two days before that, I pre-ordered tickets to a midnight showing of ‘Divergent’ the movie! The movie was set to officially release Friday, March 21st, but many theaters released early showtimes on Thursday, starting at 8pm. This book means a lot to me. It will remain as one of my favorite books, as well as an influential one during a specific season in my life when I read it. I plan on sharing more on that as I mentioned in my previous blog post, Divergent Movie Review.

Luckily, even though Vane had never read the book, she heard enough about it through me, and was excited to watch the movie. My bestfriend (who lives in another state-Heather) loves YA books and understands fully my fangirl tendencies, but sadly, we could not experience it together. Vane indulged me and got all dressed up in theme of the book. We went Dauntless black, baby! I figured,

“Eh, one doesn’t always get the opportunity to dress up for something like this, so…why not?”

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Sported a ‘Be Brave.’ tattoo. (look at my Sharpie skills-Ha!)

It’s funny. Though it’s almost become a ‘cliche’ catchphrase within the ‘Divergent’ fandom world, this has been a significant phrase I’ve been contemplating a lot lately. Since starting this writing journey–seriously and intentionally starting it–I’ve had to learn to ‘be brave’. When I was a kid, I grew up with loud, negative voices in my life, always putting me down, making any attempts I pursued seem worthless, which would cause me to shrink back. I’d draw Ariel-The Little Mermaid, free-handed and show someone close to me, excited, believing I had done a good enough job but they’d tell me,

“Oh, I know ‘so and so’ would have done a better job. They know how to draw,” they’d tell me. I was eleven years old.

I believed their words and keep drawing because I liked to but kept it to myself, never believing it was good enough to show others. When I would sing a song, these same voices would tell me, actually they’d show me how they can do it better. Again, I continued singing because I loved it, but quietly to myself, never wanting anyone to hear. I did it for myself, but did not believe I was good at it. I did that with my writing too. All my life, I wrote songs, poetry, and scripts. I would go into my introverted hermit hole and write movie scripts for hours. I would even do research on the locations I’d pick to set the story in. I’d search pictures of actors and actresses because I’ve always been very visual. I have written tons and tons of stories that I kept away for no one to see, because in my mind, even if I thought they were good, that small voice haunted me,

“But remember Des, that doesn’t mean they’re actually good. Those who’s opinions matter won’t think they’re good so keep them to yourself.”

Even as I share this with all of you, it’s like a revelation even after all these years. I don’t realize how much those voices when growing up, stayed buried deep, deep, down, still affecting my self-esteem today. Almost a year ago, I chose to ‘be brave’ and email that author I’ve mentioned before and ask her if she’d be willing to meet up with me and answer some questions. I never thought she’d respond. One of her books were made into a big, well-known movie, with well-known actors. I sat in front of my computer, proofreading that email a hundred times before having the courage to click send. Then the waiting. Give it a few days and I told myself she wouldn’t respond, and that I should just forget I ever did it. But I still told myself,

“Hey! At least you did it. That was a big step on it’s own.”

It paid off. She responded, we met, she gave me GREAT advice and connected me with my now SCBWI (Society of Children Book Writer’s & Illustrators) writing group who I appreciate so much! I’ll share my other ‘be brave’ story below…stay tuned if you’re still with me. *winks*

So on I went to see ‘Divergent’, all dressed up.

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I dressed in black, overdid the jewelry, smoked the eyes, and tried making my hair a bit big and wild. It was fun! The theater gave out posters which I gladly accepted and now have hanging on my wall.

Divergent theater poster

text if we were having coffee

In addition to content writing for an organic hair product website, there was an opportunity I came across through a Book Tube video one evening. I was sitting in bed with my laptop, contemplating what I wanted to pursue in life. Yeah, it was one of those heavy, late night, ‘analyze your life’ sessions that keep you awake even longer. For me, I wanted to figure out all the answers that night and see it in motion already. I may have an issue with impatience. Anywho, another ‘be brave’ opportunity dropped on my life. It stared me in the face like a boy from ‘The Outsider’s’ challenging me to ‘be brave’. The opportunity was a job as a news writer on a book to movie adaptation website called, Page to Premiere.

I reviewed the submission details and got to working. I really got into it and then wrote the email, sending over all the stuff. Again, it was one of those, review the email fifty MILLION times then finally clicked send before I talked myself out of it. Actually, I did talk myself out of it–three times. It was, I think almost three in the morning when I finally sent it. Then…I waited.

I am such a dork. A week and this girl’s already freaking out, convincing herself she didn’t get it–yes I’m talking about myself here.  I told my Mom and Vanessa which had them asking me every two days whether or not I heard anything-Nope. I found myself going the ‘negative’ route again thinking,

“It’s okay. You didn’t get the job but hey, you were brave enough to put yourself out there again–that’s huge!”

By the way, they were extremely busy with an event, hence I hadn’t heard back. Long story short, I got it! *happy dances* What made it official for me was when I was sent an invitation to the “Staff Page” for the website.

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It was a very cool moment! So where have I been? I’ve been learning the ropes, researching stories, learning how to format articles, while keeping up with my day job, writing for the organic hair product company, and tossing in there time to keep writing my book, also remembering I have you awesome folks to book talk with. It’s been busy now that I’ve added this awesome opportunity to my plate but it’s a matter of time management and well, *clears throat* spending less time getting distracted with the endless black hole of social media. *grins* 

What is Page to Premiere?

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Page to Premiere follows adaptations of books, plays, and graphic novels, that are generating buzz in the film community. News, exclusive interviews, and original opinion coverage is all written from the perspective of a reader!

The inspiration for Page to Premiere came from my six years of experience running fan websites for specific adaptations. People love following their favorite books from page to screen, and there was a space in the market for a website that offered extensive news and fun activities surrounding that topic. Many of the abundant general movie sites follow adaptations, but people who are excited about the process of seeing their favorite novel become a film like to know every single piece of information as soon as it happens. Our smaller niche allows us to be very thorough with our coverage!

Look! It’s official. I have my own bio/pic and page referencing all the articles I write.

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You all probably know by now that not only do I read YA (Young Adult fiction) but I write for the genre as well, and I love it! I’m also a movie junkie–almost attended film school to learn how to direct and bring my screenplays to life–so being able to write about my favorite YA books turn movies was right up my alley.

Again, I do this for the community. I believe what’s precious about the YA book genre is the all ages–really, ALL ages–community these books build and bring together. I, as a not so young adult anymore, believe our young generations need passion, imagination and a supportive, common interest community to help them through the most confusing and difficult years of our lives. It’s the time in our lives when we’re forced to figure out and then ‘know’ who we are. There’s a constant struggle between feeling all grown up at fifteen–cause we all did or do–to having life experiences that remind us we have absolutely nothing figured out.

Remember that Taylor Swift song, ‘Fifteen’?

when you’re fifteen feeling like
There’s nothing to figure out
But count to ten, take it in
This is life before you know
Who you’re gonna be
Fifteen

And when you’re fifteen, don’t forget to look before you fall
I’ve found time can heal most anything
And you just might find who you’re supposed to be
I didn’t know who I was supposed to be
At fifteen

The ages of 13-21 are so difficult to maneuver. We don’t have our own convictions defined yet, even if we think we do. We don’t realize how much we believe at that age is influenced by our upbringings, and social surroundings. I just turned 30 and am now going through such a transitional phase of figuring out who I am and what do I really want. Spoiler young adults: EVERYTHING I wanted between the ages of 13-25 has changed and the few that haven’t turned out much more differently than I swore they would. Of course, nothing is that black and white and I don’t speak for the entire seven billion on earth.

Anyway…whoa, sorry, didn’t mean to get all ‘deep’ on ya and go down that bunny trail there. *chuckles* In the end, I’m liking the ‘brave’ moves I’m taking. I’m learning to be more positive.

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I’m almost at 60,000 words on my manuscript! It’s crazy to think I’m passing the hallway point of my story. Both besties have been beta-reading which has been very helpful. I trust their opinions, highly. Both are very literary minded. One is a reader of YA and the other is not, which I believe is smart, letting me know both perspective opinions. Feedback has been very positive. It’s always a good sign when you send them new chapters, and they get back to you saying,

“I hate you. Where’s the rest? I need to know what happens, NOW!”

*squishy heart feels* Moments like that make me think,

“Hmm. Maybe I’m not that crazy and can actually do this. Maybe people would want to actually read this story one day.”

Here’s to hoping and believing! *high five*  Thank you so much for having coffee with me! It was lovely!

How about you? If we were having coffee, and I finally stopped talking about me, what would you share?

Divergent Week! Movie Review

Divergent Week

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Amazing box office release weekend for the book to movie adaptation, ‘Divergent‘! On Saturday, just after the early release date on Thursday night and Friday’s numbers, studio released the news that ‘Insurgent‘ was green lit, making it official that next year, WE WILL HAVE A PART TWO! This makes my heart so happy. After Hunger Games, the more recent YA book to movie adaptations haven’t done well enough to secure their second book adaptations, which made me worry the same could happen with Divergent. The cast will begin filming in May the second book of Veronica Roth’s NY Times Bestselling trilogy.

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Author Amy Tintera of Reboot & Rebel

Author Amy Tintera of the Reboot series, tweeted the theater she went to go see ‘Divergent‘ at, was selling the trilogy! How cool is that? Provoking people to read is a mission I happily and whole-heartedly support.

Movie Review:

Where to start? Really? My brain has so much information, thoughts, opinions and inner squealing going on, I don’t know what to talk about first. Okay, how about overall impression? Yeah, I could start there.

For a first book of a series, being adapted on film, it was really well done! The cinematography was rich and beautiful, depicting the dark elements of Dauntless (since that was the compound we spent the most time in, in the movie). This movie, I am impressed, was excellently cast. I had my hesitations about Shailene Woodley and Theo James being casted as our FourTris <~~~ship name. Wow, not only them, everyone was spot on in their character portrayal, even if their physical traits differed from the book, the essence of who that character was, they each delivered perfectly, which is rare.

The theme and message (the spirit) of the book was very well adapted. What Divergent is in the book was brought to us on film, even with the changes. When I think about most first book film adaptations, they’re usually not the best and evolve in quality, budget, talent, etc as the franchise continues–i.e. Harry Potter, Twilight, even Hunger Games.

For me, Divergent wasn’t Catching Fire awesomeness but above The Hunger Games (First movie). This weekend, Initiates came through, bringing the weekend box office numbers to $56 Million!

“Summit Entertainment’s Divergent may not have reached the heights of Twilight or The Hunger Games, but its $56 million North American box office broke the curse that has plagued every other YA film adaptation.

Launching a new franchise for Summit and parent company Lionsgate, the dystopian sci-fi adventure benefited from good word of mouth among moviegoers, who gave it an A CinemaScore despite mostly withering reviews.”

-The Hollywood Reporter announced this morning.

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I loved the film, not feeling the two and a half hours, at all. If anything, I wanted more. What is hard, is going in as just a movie goer and not a fan of the book. I’ve been a fan of other books before their movie adaptations. I saw Catching Fire after reading it mere months prior to seeing it, but this was different and I think it’s because of what Divergent, the book, meant to me. I will get into that further in my next blog post. (Stay tuned) 

There were things I missed or wish made it into the film but for the most part, I have processed and from a production standpoint, who are not only trying to cater to book fans, but to those who haven’t read the books or even YA for that matter, i understood their approach. As it is, they calculated 50% of movie goers from this weekend were those who haven’t read the books and just wanted to attend a kick ass action film with a “hot” guy who has a “hot” back tattoo. *laughs*

What did I like?

This may get Spoilery because I will mention correlations to the book…you have been warned. ;)

1. I thought the monologue opening up the film was a really good move. It can be a hit or miss with those but so much of this story is in Tris’ head–one–and then there’s the need to help those who don’t know the books, understand the world they just walked into. Shai portrayed the voice of Beatrice well, and I mean literal voice, as if she were narrating the audio book. She captured Tris’ emotions about the world she lives in, what she knows, thinks she understands about it in her narration.

2. I loved seeing the hair cutting scene between Beatrice and her Mom as the official first scene of the movie after the title sequence. As a fan of the book, I instantly connected, taking me back to that moment–me sitting back on my bed, opening that first page, not having a clue how much this book would mean to be, become a part of me.

3. The fashion of the five Factions? Brilliant and spot on. Their outfits were just as I saw them in my head, actually, even better, details wise.

4. Soundtrack? Um, yes! Thank you for doing it right. Loved the music tracks, loved the songs–especially Ellie Goulding stuff–been OB-sessed with it for weeks now.

5. When Tris (at the time, still Beatrice) sees the Dauntless trains arrive and the Dauntless flying out of them, rolling down a hill and then running…Oh man! My heart was pumping and my eyes might have watered–hush, don’t judge me. I knew what that moment meant to Tris, and how it was igniting something within her she didn’t dare admit out loud. She barely could admit it to herself. I love that they captured that moment for us on film. We didn’t need her inner dialogue. Shailene did well giving us subtext in her acting. *golf claps* Well done Shai!

6. Fear Landscapes: Yes! Yes, indeed. So cool, even better than I ever could imagine it in my head while reading. I found the technology for those outside who were physically witnessing initiate’s fear landscape to be interesting, and I liked it very much. I pictured the room Four and Tris would be in during fear landscape viewing/testing to be different, but I liked their interpretation of it. I loved the scene where Four is confronting her after the water tank fear landscape. I loved all FourTris scenes, let’s be honest.

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courtesy of the official Divergent Twitter page

7. Jeanine. Kate Winslet, I believe brought her to life. I definitely could picture Jeanine this way. She was rigid, and very Erudite in her manner and speaking–the way she would just look at you, lingering. It will be interesting to see her now that Insurgent is happening. With everything that happens in book two, let’s see how much she is allowed to bring as she is just one of the main villains in book two.

8. Aw, I should have been clever and made #4 about Four…get it? Yeah, anyway, I wasn’t ready to talk about him yet…but let’s.

Four Divergent

courtesy of official Divergent’s Twitter page

FOUR <3 Yes, let’s talk about him.

Let me make something clear here, I was never swooned by Theo James the actor. I was actually NOT happy when they cast him. Four was my ultimate YA boyfriend. This was not who I saw in my head and I screamed inside,

“No! You’ll ruin him! No!” *hands stretch out in horror, then whimpers to self* “Not my Four…”

Okay, it wasn’t that dramatic but for real, I wasn’t thrilled about the choice because, it’s just me but Theo James is not my type–physically (because remember people, we do not actually know these actors to say you like/crush on them, the actor. What we “crush” on is the role they protrayed, not them themselves. We don’t know them…AT. ALL.) So yeah, sure he’s a handsome man, I could acknowledge that, but I wouldn’t catch myself looking twice because we all have different taste. There’s something out there for everyone.

So here I was, not on the ‘drooling and swooning for Theo James the stage name actor train’ and waiting to see how I felt about him playing Four. During the movie promotion season, clips were being shared before the movie came out and I got more why they picked him. I started accepting him, believing he would capture the essence of Four…or at least I hoped.

At the Chicago premiere, EpicReads asked Veronica (I almost wrote Mars, um no, sorry) Roth what she wanted readers to walk out of this movie taking?

She said, “That Theo James nailed it as Four” (paraphrasing)

Oh. My. God. YES! I couldn’t believe it. He was Four! In every way, he captured Four. I wasn’t seeing Theo James, I saw Four and I fell more in love with him as a character. My heart swooned, and my eyes all of a sudden were very pleased with what I was seeing physically.

It’s funny, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Personality truly defines a person’s beauty in different people’s eyes/minds. I could stand before an “Adonis” gorgeous, brooding man but if he’s arrogant, not compassionate or kind, violent, and purposefully out to put others down, he is instantly the ugliest person I have ever come across.

Okay, sorry, getting off my soap box. *smiles, dragging box away*

One of the besties came with me and she’s never read ‘Divergent’, isn’t a YA reader per say and as me, is not attracted to Theo James. She also is not one to swoon like a fangirl. Those are RARE, far and few between moments I get to experience from her so may I just say that I am so very proud that she has again….over FOUR!

She LOVED his character. She’s been swooning every since, setting a measuring stick to all mere mortal men who will never amount to fictional characters. *laughs loudly* I told her, if you loved his character in the movie…READ THE BOOK *winks* Another YA world domination win. *rubs hands together*

Okay, moving on from Four gushing.

9. Shailene Woodley, thanks for the surprise performance.

Tris Divergent still

courtesy of Divergent’s official Twitter page

I was not a fan of this casting choice at first either. I only knew of her in the ABCFamily show that I was never a fan of. I was worried about her ability to bring Tris to life. Tris is a complex character, living within a complex world plot. Let me say, I am grateful for casting directors. I’m grateful to GOOD casting directors, producers and directors who do their homework and truly care about the material enough to find those appropriate for the roles.

Well done Shai. I am impressed. She truly did capture Beatrice/Tris. Man, did she bring it with the emotions. As someone who pursued Acting, inside I waved my fist at her because of how damn good she was at bringing on the tears! The tears, man! Al? Her Mom, her brother’s distance, I mean, at every moment, this girl could water up them eyes at a drop of a clapper. (The clapperboard? The slate? Slate board…film reference, never mind!)

Omygoodness, Al…my heart. When she yells at him, again them tears, and his heart breaking with regret and then…UGH! My heart flooded and I tried holding back tears. I was reading that whole segment all over again.

Her Mom, in the end. Damn, Shailene, damn. Well, done. That’s all I’m saying.

10. I too, liked the change they incorporated during Four’s fear landscape tour with Tris. They translated something that would’ve required so much more development to explain through film, but this brought on what was necessary to tell the story to non-readers. Well done Neil and crew. Good choice.

My “Meh” Thoughts: Things I wish…

1. Will and Christina/ Will and Tris.

As someone who’s read the book, I already knew, but I don’t think the dynamic of Will and Christina and what it meant for Tris to kill him came across clearly. I was surprised a little more wasn’t clearly explained about Will and Christina being together. Yeah, there was a little flirting and eluding to something maybe developing but not really. Also, there wasn’t really any Will and Tris friendship development that gave the audience clear indication that Will was one of Tris’ friends. The reason I believe this was important is because though they did show some hardship on Tris for killing him and her struggle doing so, if they’re going into Insurgent staying true to the book, that moment haunts her till the very end. She can’t even shoot a gun after that. Then, the truth serum scene in Insurgent brings on further tension. I mean, Will dying was a BIG. DEAL. For something so big in Tris’ character arc, I thought it could have used a little more development to help viewers who haven’t read the books.

2. Now, this isn’t everyone’s opinion, but I wanted more FourTris. Man, there were so many GOOD scenes and moments between them throughout the book, I wanted more of that on screen. At a production level, I get it. The story, the plot, was Erudite’s Pinky and the Brain domination scenario which makes this an action story which has certain rules for marketing. Also, Four and Tris aren’t your typical couple. They’re not ‘gushy, lovey dovey in front of other people’ type teenagers. Taking this approach with their romance makes sense to help also portray who they are as people. So even though I missed the missing pieces of dialogue from the last two pages of the book which was exactly the last scene in the movie (Well done, again) the way they wrote their romance development for this movie, Four confessing his love might have seemed out of place. Though, Tris told him she loved him when he was under the serum to try and bring him back but it worked for that intense life or death moment.

3. The Ferris Wheel scene. It was so short! *pouts* I liked the catching the flag approach. I liked eliminating the Christina tension entirely in this scene much better. I was actually mad at Christina in the book during this time. I like this way better. I loved the climbing up the Ferris Wheel and squealed out loud when Four asked if Tris was even human.

*hugs pillow* “That was in the book!”

I was just expectant of more and was surprised when it was over.

4. Yo! Where was the Dauntless cake? *giggles*

5. Okay, so at first, I wasn’t all that thrilled about the clear change in one of Tris’ fears. Her fear of intimacy turned into a fear of sexual assault. Two VERY different things. At first, I thought their translation of ‘fear of intimacy’ was to have Four aggressively try to get intimate with her, which almost looked like an almost rape scene, until Tris kicks him, setting herself free. I shrugged thinking, okay, it was probably the easiest and quickest way to demonstrate a re-written version of that fear.

I came across a popular article that has been circulating promoting the strength of women against sexual abuse. Whoa. Okay, that’s definitely a different approach I wasn’t expecting.

It’s true, this is an important subject and if Divergent has the opportunity to be a voice for a certain issue, why not use it for good, use it for this?

Personally, I think the fear of intimacy is a deep, delicate issue most don’t even know they harbor deep within, especially women. Our society has tainted and desensitized true intimacy, which is vulnerability to be seen fully, known fully–allowing yourself to be with another person. Of course, that ideal is not going to translate clearly or easily on film, especially in an action film, so I get the switching it up and standing against another cause.

“Divergent marks the first time I have ever seen a teenage girl articulate, in no uncertain terms, that her body belongs to her. That she gets to decide who touches it, and how, and when. That her yes and her no are final, and unambiguous, and worthy of respect.”

She mentions both Tris’ desiring things to be taken slow after their first and only kiss in the movie and Four respecting that. She mentions the fear landscape, where Four aggressively pins her on the mattress but Tris fights back and says ‘no’. She talks about the scene where the guys kidnapped her, beating her, about to throw off the chasm. In the book, that scene there actually did demonstrate them feeling her up inappropriately and her fear of being sexually assaulted before being murdered then Four comes and intervened. This article, I believe, bring this message into the light for this film and gave Divergent a voice. She mentions being there once and not having the courage to fight, to say no. Bravo, if this could be a mouth piece, giving teenage girls, and women, strength to stand up against their assailants.

The ‘Divergent’ Rape Scene: Here’s Why it Matters

In the end, this change is a plus but at first, I viewed as a ‘meh’. Hence it’s in this portion of the review.

And speaking of the kidnapping scene. I wish they would have made sure to mention Peter as part of that group, helping the audience understand how great of a villain he is to Tris.

All in All:

I am so proud of this movie, of the cast, the production crew, studio *claps hands* Bravo, guys! Thank you for making such a beloved book, a successful adaptation.

Is it perfect? No, but not everything can be ‘Catching Fire’. *winks* Great job! Can not wait till Insurgent…I can wait for ‘Allegiant’…I can wait forever but we won’t rehash that wound just yet. :)

BeSijzYIAAAiiiD

GO SEE DIVERGENT, IN THEATERS NOW!

All or Nothing Writing Week

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The Extremist That is Me:

I’m either reading or writing: ‘All or Nothing’

Hello folks! Nice to see you again. I feel as though it’s been a while. I guess compared to my more consistent (multiple a week) posts from the last few months–when put up to those standards–it really has been a while.

It’s been a transitioning two weeks in March. Recently, in my writing, I came to a point where I felt a bit stuck. It was funny because looking at my Outline/Plot board, there are index cards filling up the first two rows, then there’s a gap in the middle with sporadic cards, then the end has a clean row mapped out.

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It was interesting to see that where I was stuck was precisely in the middle–after ACT II begins–where I have gaps with no story line. See, I figured, when those parts came, I’d be a pantser and write like the wind spontaneously in the moment. And though, yes, there’s been elements of that, I need a little more preparation than that, teaching me once again, I’m better with a plan.

ACT I which took about 75 pages to get to (my inciting incident) and a good 50 pages after that into ACT II came easy. There were a couple scenes here and there, where I knew what was supposed to happen, just didn’t know, how I was going to approach the scene. Other than that, I flew through part one. I had a good writing rhythm.

Then, the blank spots on my board came and…cue the crickets.

I had been eagerly anticipating getting to this part of the book. It’s where everything really starts moving, my main characters are in each other’s lives–this was the fun relational stuff I’d been waiting to begin and…damn crickets. I think I felt pressure about this part. I want to write these characters well and I want their interactions to be purposeful and realistic. I want to build the tension, and the relationship while making sure everything flows along with the whole mess of story going on around them.

I had to tell myself to calm down and remember…it’s just the 1st Draft! (Second, technically, but 1st Draft of this new concept) Anyway, I had to remind myself that it would get polished after, but of course, still, you want to try and do it as well as possible so that when the revision train comes to bulldoze, it’ll be even BETTER!

Finally, I found a new system when approaching new chapters that I haven’t thought of or figured out yet. In my writing journal for this book, I mark the page as:

Chapter (X) Map Out

Then, I put on some “Writing Playlist” tunes and ask myself some questions. I found this on Pinterest which has been helpful for these little exercises.

writing a scene

The main question I attack first is:

What needs to happen in this scene?

I brainstorm on paper. I scribble a version. After I feel I have a good outline for the chapter, I go to my MS document and then do number 8.

Play it on the screen in your head.

I was going to study film once (admission process to FullSail and all), even the bestie and I naively started our own production company, and started a short film production about Human Trafficking her and I wrote from a concept she saw in her mind one evening. Alas, we were naive and broke and lacked resources. It didn’t happen. I’ve always seen stories in my head. I have a VERY VIVID imagination. I like to stop, let the music play in the background (literally) and picture visually the scene in movie form. I’ve been doing that more intentionally in these recent chapters. Before, I did it subconsciously, not focusing.

I don’t Repeat 200 times, like number 11 says for the sake of my sanity.

So what’s this ‘All or Nothing’ subject title about?

I laugh realizing how much of an extremist I am. Gosh, it can never be in moderation , it’s all or nothing with me. I’ll explain. When I’m reading a book, especially lately, I rarely pace myself anymore. I end up reading the whole think in one sitting, unless five in the morning comes and I just can’t, I must put it down due to my body shutting down, then the next evening, I’ll finish it.

When I was stuck in my writing, that week, I devoured books, which has had me ahead of schedule on my Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2014. (widget can be found on the Right)

Now, using my new found system, last week, I started writing like a mad woman. When I go into my writing cocoon, ignoring the world, my reading books take a back seat. I feel them glaring at me. I miss them too, trust me. I haven’t read a book in four days which seems ghastly! It hurts my heart to say it. There are so many I still need to read and want to.

It’s one or the other apparently. Earlier this year, I mentioned my writing slump and how it was affecting me emotionally–that stupid failure button pushed–because as a resolution, I wanted to be consistent with finishing this draft. Now that I have my rhythm back, I really want to be intentional with this story. It’s there. I have both book plots generalized and ready. They just need to be told now.

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I’m excited because there is a cool Editing group who offer services for Reading critiques, In-Depth critiquing, and you can even organize an Editor Skype chat,which is great. Sometimes you just need to chat back and forth thoughts and ideas.

The services are very reasonable, financially, and I’m planning on investing in their services this year. I want to take up a few of their services, actually. I am not mentioning or crediting the group yet because I haven’t starting working with them yet. You never know what the future holds so I will hold off on naming them.

As soon as we start working together, I’ll let you all know about them. The kicker is, I need to finish this draft. They need the entire manuscript for critiquing. It gets me more motivated to be consistent and finish telling the first part of this story.

What I love about what they do is one, they know the industry, what’s marketable, what agents are looking for, and help clean up your story, make it the best in can be at that point in time. THEN once it’s been cleaned up a bit, you can go pimp it out to agents. I love that! It’s why I believe it will be a worthy investment. I imagine and hope, it’ll give me a wee bit more confidence to go out there and put my child, my heart and soul, my FIRST, out there, finding adoptive parents (Agents, Publishing houses) who’ll take her in(my book–I guess cause my MC POV is female is why it’s a ‘she’), love her, share her with the world.

I’m writing a YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic which is already a hard sell right now. There are already so many in the market, that were done right, that they’ve become much more picky about submissions they’ll take and believe in. We shall see the fate of this ol story of mine.

So that is my Writing update!

Happy Monday, Happy St. Patty’s Day and Happy Reading y’all!

Till next time!

Alienated by Melissa Landers Book Talk

Alienated

Alienated by Melissa Landers

Book Talk

What’s the Story About?

Well, according to the Goodreads page (<~~~ clickie) 

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara’s classmates get swept up by anti-L’eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn’t safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara’s locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she’s fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

_____________________________________________________________________

What Did I Think?

First, can we talk about that cover? Holy Moly, it is beautiful, and let’s face it…I’m a judge-a-book-by-it’s-cover snob. I’ve come to realize this. I’m not ashamed. A twitter pen-pal told me the other day, how I always have books with such beautiful covers. Sadly, it’s because I rarely buy a book when it has a hmm, let’s not say hideous…let’s say, “special” cover, which is bad.

Why is it bad? I’ll tell you why. I’m then missing out on probably some great books. I have a perfect example! I was at my local indie Book Barn Exchange store (the only in town, really) and the book clerk suggested this book and it’s sequel. I was hesitant about it because the cover looked lame, mainly, the book’s sequel cover. I ALMOST left it but she said it was really good and I trust her judgment.

Boy, Oh Boy, I’m SO glad I bought them. I LOVE THOSE BOOKS. Which ones?

Leaving Paradise and Returning to Paradise by Simone Elkeles. Returning to Paradise is on my soon to reread list.

Lesson learned.

Now, back to Alienated. The moment I saw the cover to this book (before it came out), I knew I had to have it. The concept intrigued me and two authors–whose opinions I trust–said it was great, one of them said, I’d love it. I knew I would. Finally ventured into bookstore (for something else) saw it and had to get it. And so, I did.

So did I like it?

Yes, yes I did. Very much.

From the beginning, I liked the quirk. I liked Melissa’s writing style and the voice she was giving these two characters. I liked how it’s told from 3rd POV, but she wrote in a way that still gave you an intimate 1st person feel. We’re, I believe, the whole time, mostly in Cara and Aelyx’s POV–we see only what they see throughout the story, which I’m used to in 1st person POV’s but it’s nice when that happens in 3rd as well. Sometimes, in 3rd POV, I’m not interested in other random, or secondary character’s POV and find I’m eager to quickly read through those parts so I can get back to being in my MC’s heads. That’s just me, though.

Cara is a writer and she starts a blog: Alienated -clever. I enjoyed those random blog posts that she incorporated within the book. They had their own blog header and everything. Those were fun!

We meet Aelyx and his two roommates from L’eihr–another planet, of course, more advanced. Their personalities are not as dry as their exterior. They are not like humans. Everything is done with intention and purpose–premeditation. Physical touch isn’t irrational or reckless, and they do not allow or encourage emotions leading actions. Their planet is very dull, gray and flavorless. Earth explodes their senses with it’s colors, and flavors, physical interactions, all to the point of nausea and dizziness. It’s overwhelming.

So here comes this blazing redhead with bright blue eyes, who’s strong and competitive by nature and Aelyx, our intergalactic exchange student, gets to live with her and her affectionate family.

I loved–as I usually do–the tension in the beginning between Cara and Aelyx, due to their differences. Cara determines herself to make this work, and makes it her competitive duty to ensure her new guest, feels at “home”. In time, Cara’s humanity breaks down his rigid walls and it starts becoming them against the world–literally. Hate riots and world tensions rise from these three exchange student’s presence on Earth. No one trusts them and rumors of the L’eihrs true intentions rattles the anti-L’eihr groups around the world.

I thought this was a fun, sweet, read, with a touch of romance, tension, and excitement. Apparently, there were a lot of complaints about it being too “fluff”, but you know, sometimes, that’s exactly what we need. I like a break from intense, complicated, suspenseful, mind-boggling, or emotionally heavy reads. Fun, sweet romantic reads are usually my go-to when I’m entering a funk and can’t handle heavy at the moment. They lift my spirits up again and I get that hunger for reading again, once I’m done. This may have been part of that category but it was an entertaining sci-fi as well, set within the backdrop of typical High School scenarios. Awesome concept.

(minor spoilers)

The ending leaves you wanting more. Things take a reversal shift near the end, (which I guess you can tell by the next book’s cover) leaving us with the start of what will sure be, a tense sequel full of difficulties for our MC’s. There seems to even be a third party being thrown in the mix that may be vying for Cara’s affections which I’m sure will cause some issues between the long distance couple, as well. I’m very anxious to get the next book in my hands.

Invaded. The cover was just revealed & it’s just as beautiful! I need it. I need it now!

Invaded Melissa Landers

courtesy of: Melissa Lander’s facebook post

And those are my thoughts folks! Not gonna post any Spoiler Memorable Tabs on this one. Hope you all check this one out.

Till next time!

The Lighthouse Award! Eep!

What? What in the world? How did that happen? 

the-lighthouse-award

courtesy of: goodtimestories.wordpress.com blog award

Well, apparently, this person–Coach Muller.

(http://goodtimestories.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/the-lighthouse-award-2/) created this WordPress award called, “The Lighthouse Award”, created for:

“a blog that brings light to a dark world”

The lovely, fellow booknerd, Lizzy from http://mylittlebookblog.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/the-lighthouse-award/ (definitely check out her bookish blog sometime) nominated me for this award.

What? *sheepish smile*

I didn’t even know there were wordpress awards! Here I was, having a sick-in-bed two days and I stumble across an email notification of a comment left on my blog. I haven’t checked it in a few days–apologies for the recent neglect–and I see this!

This was truly one of the sweetest things I’ve ever received and it most definitely perked me right up!

You know, you come onto the web and decide to create a blog (whether it be WordPress, Blogger, etc), most of the times because you have something to say and the only means to truly express it, seems to be through writing. It adds a little something when you are able to write them and then share them with whoever is willing to read it. As a resident introvert, I found blogging liberating and necessary. I needed to find ways to not bottle up all my thoughts and emotions but share them (healthy boundaries, of course). There’s a safety net with blogging. You can release those thoughts, put them out there for the world to see and then, you can scurry away again as if nothing happened. Then you get those small cherished, surprising moments where someone out there sees it, appreciates it, agreed with it, or even challenges you by disagreeing with it, and something in you lights up. No, you’re not alone in your thoughts. Yes, perhaps writing those random thoughts deposited something positive into someone’s day, even if in it’s smallest measure.

Thank you Lizzy of “My Little Book Blog”, for this nomination. It encouraged me to continue rambling about things I love and am doing (books, writing and other shenanigans)! I enjoy your blog as well! 

So this “The Lighthouse Award”, here’s how this goes:

The Rules

  1. Display the Award certificate on your blog.
  2. Write a post and link back to the blogger that nominated you.
  3. Inform your nominees of their award nominations
  4. Share three ways that you like to help other people.
  5. There is no limit to the number of people that you can nominate.
  6.  HAVE FUN!!!

Three Ways I’d Like To Help Others

  1. As someone who tends to have difficulty expressing herself verbally, it says a lot–to me–when someone truly listens, eye contact and all. Because of this, I want to be able to do that for others. I aim to be (and hope I am) a good listener. When someone needs a shoulder to vent, cry on, laugh with, I like to be there for my friends, put everything down and really hear them out. Even if that’s all they need–no counsel, advice to follow. I have found this scenario even with strangers or acquaintances who just seem to start gushing to you about their day or problems. I try to be kind and listen. You never know what that can do for someone, even if you never see them again.
  2. Bookish Talk! My blog transitioned almost a year ago towards books and writing. My love for reading was reawakened and my writing love found a focused avenue. It’s meant so much to me–this bookish journey–and what I have fallen in love with as well has been the Community! I love the Book Community (readers and writer’s alike). I have loved chatting and meeting some of them. I would like to stay consistent and continue pursuing that on this blog. I hope by building my bookish community, others may find their way to it as well.
  3. My friends (my small, close knit group) who go out of their way to show their love–even in small (not small to me) ways–I want to work harder at being that for them. I tend to go into my writing hole (which they totally understand) but I don’t want that be an excuse to lose touch in that important and special way. A visit with a cup of coffee to their place, a thank you card–you know, the little things. I want to go out of my way–as they do–and show them love and appreciation more often. They deserve it!

I Would Like To Nominate!

(so you know, everyone agrees that if you are not interested in participating in the wordpress award, that’s totally cool! I just wanted to show my appreciation for your blogs and let you know that I enjoy reading them! So we can just leave it at that, if you’d like. *wink*)

Hey Sarah, from Behind on Books! -You’re awesome! Thanks for all your bookish posts and your comments!

Behind on Books

Ellie from Book Revels-a booknerd with a sweet bookish blog-Congrats on being YABC’s new addition (months late news, I know) :)

book revels logo

and for now…last but not least *drum roll*

Catherine, Caffeinated!  -The title alone had me gravitating to see what her blog was about (coffee addict that I am). I appreciate her blog posts that are full of extremely helpful tips, resources, solutions–all related to writing–but it’s the way she presents them. She’s very real, down to earth and funny. I relate to her, and what she writes about.

Thank you again Lizzy for passing the knowledge of this award around. Thanks to everyone who stumbles upon my little blog here and takes the time to take a peek at my ramblings.

Happy blogging everyone!

SCBWI Monday

SCBWI group pic 2013

image courtesy of: Group Leader, Stacy’s FB

Ladies and Gentlemen, here are some of my SCBWI writing group peoples!

I know I have probably spoken a little about this in the past, but here, let me elaborate. For the last three months, I have not been able to make it to my writing group. Between irritating car issues and at times, health issues, I found myself M.I.A. at the meetings.

I remember, what feels like ‘way back when’, a certain YA author graciously met up with me and answered all of my naive and ignorant questions about a world I wanted to delve into but had NO clue about. One advice she gave me was for me to become a member of SCBWI (Society of Children Books, Writers & Illustrators). Then, join a writer’s critique group through the SCBWI database. All across the nation, there are Writing Groups you can join.

I connected with Stacy–our group’s leader–and soon, ventured off to my first meeting, shaking like a leaf. I was feeling so wrecked inside. I felt like a fraud, an amateur, inadequate–the list goes on and on. Here was I, a girl with no college degree in English, I’m not a librarian or any other stereotypical label I thought was expected for anyone saying they were pursuing writing.

I was in the middle of writing my first draft for the first concept, (remember, the one I chucked?) and though I was passionate about the story and finishing it, I still felt naive. I get there and meet Stacy, who is a spit fire, Jewish background woman with red hair. She had me laughing the first ten minutes. Then came everyone else–experienced writer’s who know the industry and have been acclimated within for years. Again, *gulp* what was I doing there?

Just a few months before that, I was trying to get back into Acting, after a ten year hiatus. See, at the time, I never saw myself as a writer (I still kind of don’t but…shhh). I never counted any of my past creative outlets through writing as legit. To me, they were things I did because, it’s me. It’s what I did. I constantly had thoughts, stories, emotions fluttering through my brain and needed to let them out however I could. That was through screenplays (movie scripts), scripts for theatre dramas, songs, poems, etc.

I believe it was my third meeting where I found the…hmm, “guts?” Sounds too small. I found the “cojones” (pardon my French…well, actually, Spanish) to bring in my first chapter of my first concept to read aloud. They each had a copy to write their critiques on.

I flubbed and butchered reaching out loud. Looking back it was hilarious and sad. I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. I had read my manuscript out loud to myself and my bestie a couple times. There’s something about reading out loud to a group of acquaintances who have knowledge in the matter, that can suddenly perk your ears up to mistakes you never noticed before. Here I was reading out loud and wincing as I read over another redundant word or clear sentence structure mistake. Ugh. “Earth, swallow me hole,” I thought.

I’ve written about what happens next already so I won’t bore you with that again. In the end, as difficult as it was to hear–for the first time–your baby critiqued, I’m so grateful for them. It helped me remold my story. It challenged me to take a step back and let go of the first concept. I fell in love with my first concept, which made letting go ache but it was necessary.

It’s been months, and I have now a much better concept. It’s tighter. It has more tension.

Three months later, I returned to my group. I sat there at first a little nervous. Had I lost the momentum of connection with them? I am still fairly new. I still haven’t really become a part of the group. Some of these people have been together, in this same group for almost ten years. Ten. Years. Some of them are published already, which is so exciting and encouraging. I wasn’t sure how to feel or what to expect when I got back there on Monday.

I didn’t bring any of my new chapters to read yet because, well, I was just coming back and didn’t feel confident doing that yet. We read other peoples pages and together discussed it. Something happened. Unlike the first few meetings, where during the critique portion of the meeting, we write notes on the others MS (manuscript), I had NOTHING to contribute–still feeling like a fraud during those days–suddenly…I had ideas. I had things to contribute and hey, look at that! A couple of things were actually useful? Made sense? What’s the word? Well, a couple of ideas I contributed, the group either agreed on and or the writer agreed with. I had a feeling of belonging.

In the last ten months, I have been pursuing writing hard, with conviction and asserted passion. I haven’t ducked away, writing to myself for no one to ever see because I never believed anyone would want to see them. I chose to, without shame from my lack of knowledge or experience, put out there my writing pursuit. With that, I’ve become intentional about learning all I can. I’ve sought out other authors and picked their brain or blog posts they put out there with advice. I have purchased recommended books and of course, read. A lot of reading.

Something clicked for me on Monday (our group meets once a month–first Monday of the month). I felt like I might have a shot at doing this. I just might be learning and grasping ideas that can in turn, actually give one of my manuscripts a shot in the future.

Something else clicked. I was truly grateful for this group. I appreciate their warmth and welcome. I appreciate their knowledge and experiences which they are willing to share. I appreciate their view of the ‘little guy’ who though naive, desperately wants to learn and be apart of this wonderful community. I appreciate that they’re willing to take us novices in. Other groups are more strict about who they allow in the group. Some will only take already published, seasoned writer’s with a community reputation. They’re not interested in a wet-nose novice in their group and though that may sound like a jab stemmed from bitterness *winks*, it’s not. Its the truth and I get it. I understand.

When it comes to creative outlet careers (entertainment industry, fashion, writing, etc), it’s really hard for new, fresh meat talent to find mentors. Rarely do people want to take the time and invest in them because it’s time consuming. Usually those with the ability to “mentor” those “below” them, are seeking to climb themselves and so the focus stays there. The climbing. I personally believe both can be done, simultaneously but to each their own. It’s like leaving college with your degree (so now you have a driven focused career path) and you apply for a job in that field and they tell you,

“Sorry, you need two years experience before you can work in this entry level position in your desired field which you just spent years going to school for.”

“Um, okay. But I can’t get experience if you don’t hire me…”

*cricket cricket*

Yeah, makes a whole lot of sense, right? Our microwave generation wants the quick, the marketable, the baby geniuses who somehow are already gifted with super powers in their field or better yet, those who know people and get hooked up. It’s always about who you know.

Well, that leaves the other 80% of us clueless on how to proceed.

All that rant to say,

Thank you, writing group, for taking little ol’ me in and mentoring me through your stories, advice, and even plain old hospitality and friendship.

Writing can be a very secluded and lonely lifestyle. I think the biggest thing the reading/writing community has is just that–community. It’s so important, necessary, for us to connect with others who understand our quirks and passion for books! No man is an island and we should not be afraid or intimidated to reach out and ask for help.

I was. I was petrified. I usually don’t know how to ask for help because I’m such a shy, introvert and you’d never know it from meeting me because I’m also friendly and easy to talk to. I’m told I smile a lot…like….a lot (don’t know how to feel about that) so I come off even more energetic and happy. If I had given in to my intimidation, I would have never found the, again, ‘cojones’ to write that author and ask to meet. If I gave in, I wouldn’t have made the hour and fifteen minute drive north to my writer’s group. If I had, I would have not returned after the first meeting.

I’m glad I didn’t give in. The long drive, (it’s only once a month) is worth it. It’s worth the sacrifice to go and connect with these people. 4 meetings later and already it’s helped make me a better, and slightly more knowledgeable writer.

Any aspiring children’s book, middle grade, young adult writers and illustrators out there who are starting out or have been pursuing for years and haven’t connected with SCBWI, I definitely encourage for you to find a writing group in your area and join! You can find one through the SCBWI database. Also, you can just gather friends who write and read as well and meet up wkly, bi-wkly, or monthly and read each other’s stuff. Even if not all of them write and/or read the same genre you’re writing for, fresh eyes of all reading interests benefits. Toss fear and intimidation out the window. We need one another to pursue these dreams.

Well, back to work. Gotta get to writing. *smiles* 

Hey, YOU SHOULD BE WRITING! *winks* 

Till next time…