Book Spotlight: The Wake Series by Lisa McMann

In recent light of the author-reviewer blow-up/s that's been going around the interwebz (luckily for me, I've missed them since I'm not nearly as active online as I was before), I've decided to do away with book reviews on my blog. Instead, I'm doing Book Spotlights so you can see what I've been reading in my almost non-existent spare time. :)

So here we go, starting with a series that I've recently finished.
(Credits: Images and blurbs taken from Amazon and Goodreads.)

Book #1:

Not all dreams are sweet.
For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people's dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody- notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie's seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.

She can't tell anybody about what she does -- they'd never believe her, or worse, they'd think she's a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn't want and can't control.
Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else's twisted psyche. She is a participant....

Book #2:


For Janie and Cabel, real life is getting tougher than the dreams. They're just trying to carve out a little (secret) time together, but no such luck.

Disturbing things are happening at Fieldridge High, yet nobody's talking. When Janie taps into a classmate's violent nightmares, the case finally breaks open - but nothing goes as planned. Not even close. Janie's in way over her head, and Cabe's shocking behavior has grave consequences for them both.

Worse yet, Janie learns the truth about herself and her ability -- and it's bleak. Seriously, brutally bleak. Not only is her fate as a dream catcher sealed, but what's to come is way darker than she'd feared....

Book #3:

Things should be great for Janie--she has graduated from high school and is spending her summer with Cabel, the guy she's totally in love with. But deep down she's panicking about how she's going to survive her future when getting sucked into other people's dreams is really starting to take its toll. Things get even more complicated when she meets her father for the very first time--and he's in a coma. As Janie uncovers his secret past, she begins to realize that the choice thought she had has more dire consequences than she ever imagined.

About the Author:

Lisa McMann is an NYT bestselling author of fiction for kids and teens. She has a new fantasy series for ages 9 and up called THE UNWANTEDS. She has a new YA book out called CRYER'S CROSS, and another one is slated to come out next month, entitled DEAD TO YOU. Visit her website and blog for more details.

An Editing We Go...

I just realized I haven't blogged for a WEEK. *gasp!* In my defense, I've finally had enough brain cells intact to attempt editing. *another gasp!* I finished writing the first draft of my YA Urban Fantasy WIP Hidden last October of 2011. Then, as per the wonderful advice of my many writer friends, I left it to stew for a long time...well, 2 and 1/2 months to be exact. In the meantime, I did NaNoWriMo, found out I was pregnant (and named the bathroom my new hang-out place), spent the holidays with family, and read a lot of books (the published kind) from the library. I didn't have any inclination to write or even bother with the publishing biz. My Google searches became incredibly tame--instead of searching for monsters and mythology, or ways to kill off an immortal witch, I was looking for baby names and old wives' tales of how to determine the gender of your baby before you get that oh-so-exciting ultrasound picture.

I was in full mommy mode, and the writer in me was taking a back seat...temporarily.

But then, prompted by a friend's ms swapping (Thank you, lovely!), I was forced (in a good way) to finally open my Word doc and read Hidden in its entirety for the first time since I finished it.

I read, and read, and read. And lo and behold, the all-too familiar tingling returned, and I knew I wanted to dive back into the writing world once more. Hence, the editing.

So here's what I found out: I SUCK at editing my own work. Really. I'm reading the ms with the intention to spot out errors, but I get suck into the story instead and I forget why I had a pen and a highlighter nearby.

The bottom line? We NEED crit partners. Let me say that again: We NEED crit partners. Beta readers. Whatever you want to call them. We need help. We are NOT superhero writers, even if we write about superheroes all the time. Our first (and even second, and third, and possibly fourth) draft will stink. There's no way around it.

Don't feel lame for asking help. And, don't be afraid to see those red marks when the feedback gets back to you. It's okay to cringe and bang your head on the desk a few times from embarrassment, but don't let it stop you. Mistakes and acknowledging them help us improve. Grow. Become the best that we can be. For we're all capable of great things, we all have potential. The key is learning how to reach that potential.

So, here's to editing and to our wonderful critique partners! *huzzah!*

P.S. Btw, sorry if I haven't visited your lovely blogs. I tried, I really did. But for some reason, Blogger won't let me leave comments or open up blog pages, no matter how many times I try to refresh them. Hopefully, it'll get sorted out soon. ;)

Live What You Believe

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to get a glimpse of the little one growing inside me.

This may be my third pregnancy, but the sense of wonder and amazement at seeing this miracle be real and tangible never cease to fill me. I'm in awe at the beauty and thrill of it all. With my previous pregnancies, the feeling remained the same. And now that my two kids are no longer babies, I'm still continuously amazed by them--their personalities, the things they do, what they aspire to be...

The other day, I heard someone say to live what you believe. What do you  believe in? What do I believe in?

I believe in love, family, and motherhood. I believe in hope and having faith.

The great thing about blogging is meeting wonderful people. I love knowing how we're all different from each other--varying backgrounds and lifestyles, beliefs, and ideas. I have a friend who's opted to be childfree, and I think that's awesome. It's what she believes in, and therefore, she lives it. And that, in my eyes, is magnificent and respectable.

I have another awesome friend who's into feminism, paganism, and she's a strong supporter of gay rights. I adore her because she knows who she is, knows what she wants, and she lives what she believes in.

And of course, who can forget my dear friend who, I hope, may find the guy or the girl of his dreams someday. Life is full of many possibilities. Life is full of many miracles.

Live what you believe. Pursue your dreams. Know what's important to you and fight for it.

If writing sings through your soul, despite the fact that you don't have an agent or have received countless rejection letters, keep on writing. Believe that this is what you want to be, believe in who you are. Because if you don't, no one else will.

Books, and Hypes, and Whatnot

One of the perks about being pregnant is that I get to eat and crave whatever I want. The not-so-perky side of pregnancy is that I'm constantly tired and my brain is encased in fog. This morning I had a great idea for a blog post. A shower and breakfast later, I've totally forgotten about it. No matter how hard I try to remember I come up empty. And hungry. So of course I had to go hunt down some snacks, and then I came back only to forget some more. Huh? What were we talking about?

So, in all my rambling glory, I'll just have to wing this post.  :-P

Lately, I've been reading a lot. Minimal writing, obviously, because I can't focus enough to be coherent for several paragraphs. I did start a story sometime last week, and I haven't been back since. I've attempted to do some edits but I keep falling asleep by the next page--don't know if that's a bad sign. Does that mean my story is boring, or is this baby factory house using every ounce of energy I've got? Hopefully  it's the latter.

Anyway, back to the reading. I've read some AMAZING books and ones that I thought (and were hyped to be) amazing but failed to impress. I'm always sad when a book ends up disappointing me. I put so much eagerness and joy when I dive into the first pages, and I'd really like to keep that smile on my face until the very end. But sometimes, it just doesn't happen and I feel a bit let-down. Especially when I had high expectations going in because of the hype.

What do you think about hypes? Is it better that a book wasn't hyped as much and ended up being fantastic? Or should the marketing geniuses create a hype for a book anyway to garner readership, even if the book does not live up to its hype? (And does it make you want to run out and rant and rave, shake your fist up to the heaven, or is that just me?)

This curious and foggy mind wants to know.

Sometimes my best book finds are accidental. I go to the library and peruse the shelves, looking for something to catch my interest. Maybe it's the unusual cover ('cause my taste runs in the unusual and weird sometimes), or the blurb on the back cover. Maybe it's the genre (library books usually have genre labels on their spines; if I see one that says Horror or Fantasy, I'm sure to check it out), or, and I've done this too, I just pick one just because.

It's a hit-and-miss process, but like I said, I've found great finds (and the not-so-great ones as well) doing this. I also like book recommendations from friends because more often than not, I can trust that if they love a book, I'm sure to love it too.

So, second (or fourth, or fifth) question of the day: How do you choose what to read? I know you're all busy people out there so time is a luxury.

Book Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

I'm usually not a huge fan of [pure] sci-fi novels just because I don't have the patience to deal with the technical/mechanical aspect of the world. Sometimes the exposition becomes a bit too boring, especially when the author gets carried away with their worldbuilding. (Maybe I just read the wrong sci-fi books.) Anyway, it took me too long to finally go and get Beth Revis' Across the Universe, despite the rave reviews of readers everywhere. But I did, and then I wanted to slap my forehead for not getting it sooner.

It is brilliant! It is amazingly well done!

Ahem. Before I do more gushing, here's the blurb from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

About the Author:

Beth Revis writes science fiction and fantasy novels for teens. Across the Universe was her debut novel and the first in a trilogy. The next in the series, A Million Suns, is slated to come out January 10, 2012! You can find her website here.

The Book: YA Sci-Fi

The book alternates between two POVs--that of 17-year-old Amy who is cryogenically frozen in the ship Godspeed, and Elder, the next-in-line leader of the gen (generational) people populating the ship. When Amy is awakened from her sleep before they land on Centauri-Earth, the new planet Godspeed was heading for in hopes of beginning a new life there, she almost dies having been unplugged improperly from her frozen state. Life in the ship is strange and unnatural by Amy's standards. At the same time, the gen people regard Amy as different and therefore, crazy. She clearly does not belong.  Amy doesn't think the people in the ship act naturally, or even are remotely similar to the people of the Earth she left behind. For one thing, they are all mono-ethnic--same color skin, hair, and eyes. They don't think for themselves; rather, their leader named Eldest does the thinking for all of them.

Elder is being trained by Eldest to take over his position once the time comes. He's taught to serve the people and know what is best for them. But Elder feels that his mentor has been keeping lots of secrets from him. Secrets like the cryo chamber and why someone was suddenly intent on unplugging and therefore, murdering the people sleeping in their icy coffins.

As Amy and Elder work to find the murderer, the ship's secrets begin to unravel around them.

I really enjoyed Ms. Revis' world of Godspeed and its eerie inhabitants. The contrast between Amy and Elder is striking and it felt real--Amy having come from Earth, and Elder who never knew land or home except for the ship where he was born. The characters (both main and secondary) were well thought out. The worldbuilding was the one I was most impressed with--I didn't get bored or felt that there was too much telling, too much technicality. Like I said before, it was done really well so that I never got lost in the exposition. Fast-paced and tension-filled, this book had me turning pages even when I was so dead tired and ready for a nap.

I can't wait for the sequel A Million Suns to come out in a few days!

2012, It's Nice to Meet You

Well, here we are. A little bit older, a little bit wiser (perhaps?), and yet, still as excited as kids on Christmas day. A new year always usher in new hopes and dreams. A time for beginnings and reconciliations. A chance to forget past mistakes and forgive old grievances. And sometimes, having the new year come upon us simply remind us that life goes on...and on...even when we feel like dying inside.

Last month, a friend of mine lost her four-month-old baby to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). The whole community responded with an outpouring of love and services to this grief-stricken family.  Then a couple of days ago, two weeks after the funeral, I met the mom at church. The look on her face is something I would never forget. It was the face of a crushed soul, of a heart that knew indescribable pain. I gave her a hug, squeezed her tight, and sadly, it was all I could do. I couldn't take away even a smidge of her pain. Whe I asked her if she was surviving, she answered: "Surviving? I suppose I am, if that's what it's called."

And that's when I saw it: a glimpse of her hope. Though surviving equated dying in her case, she was still hopeful. Would laughter once again find its way through her home? Yes, it would. Not now, and maybe not for awhile, but it'll be back for sure, and her heart will mend albeit slowly.

I'm in awe with the resilience and strength of the human spirit. How love and grief and happiness can buoy us up despite dire circumstances. That in this world we live in, we must experience sadness to truly appreciate joy, hardships to be grateful for blessings and small miracles.

Well, what does this reflection mean for me and for the new year? It's simply a reminder to myself (and I hope to all of you as well) to

Laugh MORE
Share MORE

and to truly LIVE each day with open hearts and with eyes wide open to see the beauty around us. Connect with people.  Appreciate your loved ones. Play with your children. Feel and be alive.

I don't make resolutions. Rather, I make commitments. 2012 is bringing huge (but welcome) changes to my family in the form of a much anticipated little bun in the oven. :D We are excited and scared at the same time, but mostly excited and thrilled to have this baby enter our lives.

So there you have it--my not-so-big secret and certain reason why I've been off the web lately. I'm close to getting my energy back, and when I do, I expect I'll be hanging out with all of you soon.

I wish you all a wonderful 2012.

Precy Larkins's books on Goodreads
Winter's Regret: What Might Have Been Winter's Regret: What Might Have Been
reviews: 2
ratings: 4 (avg rating 5.00)



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Precy's bookshelf: read

Whispering Minds
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Night of Cake & Puppets
The Fault in Our Stars
The Return of the King
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Last Olympian
The Hundred: Fall of the Wents
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The Hunger Games
The Founders' Code
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Two Towers
The Book Thief
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The Lost Hero
The Battle of the Labyrinth

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