Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (28): 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, in which bloggers talk about the books they are most eager for! 

This Week's Pick: 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: March 21st, 2013

Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And… is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.

With complexity and richness, Nova Ren Suma serves up a beautiful, visual, fresh interpretation of what it means to be lost.

Well, why not have a creepy novel as my Halloween Waiting On Wednesday pick! Ever since I heard of 17 & Gone I have been desperate to read it. It sounds captivating and disturbing and everything I love in a novel. I read the prologue (which was part of a sampler pack) and I was bowled over. Nova Ren Suma is a brilliant writer. My jaw dropped when I read the prologue because it was so beautifully written and so fascinating. If I had that reaction just from the prologue, I can't imagine what I'm going to do when I read the book! Counting down the days until I get to find out!

Also, isn't the cover just fantastic? It fits the atmosphere perfectly and looks stunningly gorgeous! I'm sure it's going to look even better in person.

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight) 

Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Title: The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #2)
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: October 23rd, 2013
Source: Borrowed ARC

My Rating: 5/5
Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.

She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.

They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.

She’s wrong.

In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

Okay, Michelle Hodkin. Go ahead and make me have ALL THE FEELINGS.

I'll admit, I was a bit nervous reading this book. Although I was a huge fan of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the direction it was taking had me worried. And as I started reading The Evolution of Mara Dyer, my fears increased. There were lots of outcomes to this story and I wasn't liking some of them. But, I was naive to doubt Hodkin's skill, because she had a plan all along (and a brilliant one at that). This novel was engrossing. Putting it down was simply not an option. 

Mara Dyer is a brilliant narrator because you never know what’s going on with her. Every word out of her mouth could be a lie, or just her distorted version of the truth. She never really knows what's happening and you get to find out right along with her (and be petrified just as she is). But the thing about Mara Dyer is that, although she’s a dark heroine, I couldn’t help but root for her. I wanted her to defeat the horrors she was facing.

There were so many different parts of this book that terrified me, but I think the most fearful part was Mara being sane and no one believing her. That she couldn’t even turn to her family for help because they thought she was insane and anything she said would only prove them right. It would be a heart-wrenching thing to endure, and one that could kill your spirit. And, at parts, it seemed to wreck Mara’s, but she stood strong. And I loved that about her.

I think this is going to shock some people, but I wasn't a huge Noah fan in the first book. Yes, he was gorgeous and funny and British, but he felt kind of a like a typical YA boy. At the end of The Unbecoming I started to see more depth to him, but I didn't get to see enough of it. But in The Evolution my opinion of him completely changed. Noah is not a typical, cookie-cutter love interest, but a complex and moving character in his own right. I loved getting to dive into his perspective (however brief) and find out just want goes on behind that mask of strength. He had countless swoon-worthy moments, and was a rock when Mara needed it most. Their relationship grew in Evolution and it was a treat to read about. Two broken people finding strength in each other. One of my favourite things that can happen in a story.

Something that I also enjoyed about this book was what intense feelings I had for the side characters. I was livid at Mara’s mother, intensely loved her two brothers, thought Jaime was even more amazing and funny than in the first book (Mara and Jamie’s banter is hilarious), and adamantly hated the antagonists. My emotions were all over the place with this book! Michelle Hodkin has a way of tapping straight into your adreline and throwing punch after punch at you. I was on edge during every page.

As a last point, THIS COVER. I mean, wow. I bow down to whoever designed, photographed, modeled, did-anything-in-creating this cover. It's stunning. Beautiful colors, amazing image and it matches! It's just so perfect I can barely handle it.

The Evolution of Mara Dyer is a dark and twisted tale, and had me guessing until the very end. Honestly, the suspense in this novel is crazy! I kept flipping the pages just knowing that it was building up for something mind-blowing. And it sure was. I think I may have loved this book more than the first. It was thrilling, heartbreaking and exceeded my every expectations.

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

P.S. My awesome blogger friend Kathy hosted Mara Dyer Week over on her blog and I did a guest blurb! Go check out what bloggers say their favourite thing is about the Mara Dyer series.

Find This Book: Amazon | Goodreads | Michelle Hodkin's Website

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (16): Ireland Edition!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which bloggers share the books they stacked their shelves with during the week!

Well, I managed to limit the amount of books I bought in Ireland to just four which was good since I had no room left in my suitcase. While I was gone, I had a bunch of guest posts up on the blog (including one from Jodi Meadows!) but sadly my scheduled tweets stopped working mid-week. They're really some fantastic posts though, so if you have time you should check them out! Anyways, without further ado, here are the books I picked up the last two weeks!

Bought (Books):
- Falling to Ash (Moth #1) by Karen Mahoney (This is only available overseas so I was excited to pick it up!)
- The Diviners (The Diviners #1) by Libba Bray (I love the UK cover!)
- Newgrange by Michael J. O'Kelly
- Early Irish Myths and Legends
- Bloodrose (Nightshade #3) by Andrea Cremer
- Fury (The Fury Trilogy #1) by Elizabeth Miles (I'm so lucky to be meeting Elizabeth Miles next week!)
- Night Runner (Night Runner #1) by Max Turner (I got to meet Max Turner earlier in the week and picked up a copy of his book!)

- (ARC) Level 2 (The Memory Chronicles #1) by Lenore Appelhans (Thanks to Katie for dropping it off and Kathy for letting us all borrow it!)

Bought (Stuff!):
- Claddagh ring
- Celtic necklace
- Clothing
- Shot glasses (I collect them!)

- 17 & Gone and Imaginary Girls bookmarks! (HUGE thank you to Nova Ren Suma for sending me these amazing bookmarks!)
- All Good Children by Catherine Austen bookmarks (met the author and picked up some swag!)

As an added bonus, my business cards arrived in the mail while I was gone! They look absolutely stunning, and I can't wait to pass them out! Thanks to my awesome friend for designing these for me!

Well, next week is going to be crazy exciting! November 1st marks the start of the Beautiful Creatures Reading Challenge I'm hosting! Can't wait to finally dive into these books. Also, November 3rd is the Second Annual Ontario Blogger Meet-Up! I'm beyond excited to attend, and to drive down with the awesome Ottawa blogger gals! Hope you guys stay tuned!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cover Reveal: Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins

I'm so happy to be participating in the cover reveal of Sweet Peril the second installment in the Sweet trilogy by Wendy Higgins! Well, I know you don't want to read me talking! You just want to see the cover! it is!
Anna Whitt, daughter of a guardian angel and a demon, promised herself she’d never do the work of her father—polluting souls. She’d been naive to make such a claim. She’d been naive about a lot of things. Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school’s party girl. Her life has never looked more bleak. And all the while there’s Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind.

When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time. It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaidan must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: is loving someone worth risking their life?
Um, wow. That's a pretty, pretty cover. I also love that it matches the Sweet Evil cover! It has a really foreboding atmosphere and it's making me a bit nervous for the book! From the dark, distressed forest, the red sky and smoky scene this cover is both magical and dark. Also, Anna doesn't look so happy on this cover. She's got this fierce light in her eyes and looks like she's out for a fight. And Kaidan looks almost...lost. Man, I need this book. I'm already over analyzing the cover! What do you guys think? 

Sweet Peril is out April 30th, 2013 from HarperTeen! Also, Sweet Reckoning the third book in the Sweet trilogy is slated for spring/summer 2014!

If you haven't checked out Sweet Evil, you really should! I adored the book, and couldn't stop reading it! Check out my review here.

Wendy Higgins was born in Alaska, grew up an Army brat, and lived all over the United States before settling in the Washington, DC area. She attended George Mason University for her undergrad degree in creative writing, and Radford University for her masters in curriculum and instruction. Wendy taught 9th and 12th grade English in a rural school before becoming a mother and author. She now lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, daughter, and son. Sweet Peril is her second novel.

Pre-order Sweet Peril: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Facebook: Wendy Higgins | Sweet Evil
Twitter: Wendy Higgins | Kaidan Rowe
Goodreads: Sweet Evil | Sweet Peril
Wendy Higgins' Website 

Thanks to Wendy Higgins, and HarperTeen for the opportunity to participate!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight) 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Women of the Otherworld Challenge (3): Dime Store Magic

Title: Dime Store Magic (Women of the Otherworld #3)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: Vintage
Release Date: January 1st, 2004
Source: Purchased

My Rating: 4.5/5

Paige Winterbourne was always either too young or too rebellious to succeed her mother as leader of one of the world's most powerful elite organizations- the American Coven of Witches. Now that she is twenty-three and her mother is dead, the Elders can no longer deny her. But even Paige's wildest antics can't hold a candle to those of her new charge- an orphan who is all too willing to use her budding powers for evil... and evil is all too willing to claim her. For this girl is being pursued by a dark faction of the supernatural underworld. They are a vicious group who will do anything to woo the young, malleable, and extremely powerful neophyte, including commit murder- and frame Paige for the crime. It's an initiation into adulthood, womanhood, and the brutal side of magic that Paige will have to do everything within her power to make sure they both survive. (Summary from Goodreads)
(Note: This is an ADULT book. I don't usually review adult books on the blog, but I'm making an exception solely for the Women of the Otherworld Challenge)

Paige Winterbourne is a forced to be reckoned with. And I adore her to no end.

The first time I picked up Dime Store Magic I remember being extremely apprehensive. I was not a fan of Paige, and really didn't care to have a whole book dedicated to her. Of course, after reading this book, I became a card carrying member of the Paige fan club. She is just such a fierce young girl. I love how dedicated she is to making the world a better place even against such adversity. The second time around, I could not understand my dislike of her the first time. Yes, she's stubborn and can be over-baring, but she is just trying to do the right thing. Her sarcasm and unfailing devotion are what make her the amazing person she is. Her dynamic with Savannah, her equally stubborn ward, is hilarious and adorable. They're both in a situation neither one of them imagined, and are just trying to make it work. Savannah herself is not a typical thirteen year old girl. She's got a bit of an anger issue, tons of sarcasm and the ability to cast some of the most powerful spells around. But she's also a broken girl missing her mom, and unsure about her place in this new world. Then, of course, there's Lucas. Although his constant use of pretentious words (although it's just a natural thing for him) could be irritating, his sweet character and passion for righting the world's wrongs was admirable. Him and Paige make a fantastic couple, and I couldn't help but smile at their scenes together. It was them against the world and I was rooting for them all the way.

I love the idea of the Cabals (essentially supernatural CEO mobsters), and was excited to read more about them. The plot of Dime Store Magic was captivating and heart-pounding. I wanted to see how they were going to find their way out of this mess. I was really invested in the novel and in these lovable characters. I just wanted to read more and more. I may have known what was going to happen but I needed to READ it. It was just that good.

Although Elena will forever be my favorite narrator of the series, Paige has won herself a spot on my list as well. She was fantastic. And I'm so excited to pick up Industrial Magic and read about her next adventures (again)!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Find This Book: Amazon | Goodreads | Kelley Armstrong's Website

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (27): Crimson Frost by Jennifer Estep

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, in which bloggers talk about the books they are most eager for! 

Publisher: Kensington Teen
Release Date: December 24th, 2012

For a moment, a face flashed before my eyes—the most hideous face I’d ever seen. No matter how hard I tried to forget what had happened, I saw him everywhere I went. It was Loki—the evil god that I’d helped set free against my will.

I should have known that my first official date with Logan Quinn was destined to end in disaster. If we’d gotten into a swordfight, or been ambushed by Reapers, I’d have been more prepared. But getting arrested mid-sip at the local coffee hangout? I didn’t see that one coming.

I’ve been accused of purposely helping the Reapers free Loki from his prison—and the person leading the charge against me is Linus Quinn, Logan’s dad. The worst part is that pretty much everyone at Mythos Academy thinks I’m guilty. If I’m going to get out of this mess alive, I’ll have to do it myself… (Summary from Goodreads)

Guys, this series is like awesomeness in book form. I'm actually so in love with it. The characters are hilarious and lovable and the storyline is unique and completely captivating. I know to put aside a day whenever I start a Mythos books because there is no way I can stop once I flip the first page. They are addicting, and I'm happy to call myself an addict!

If you haven't check out this series, you should stop reading this right now and RUN to your local bookstore. You'll thank me.

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Irish Adventure!

Why, hello everyone!

I'm back from my two week adventure across the ocean to my mother-motherland, Ireland. It was a whirlwind trip, but the most amazing one of my life. I fell in love with that country, and already achingly miss it.

View from the sky of Toronto!
My trip started off the worst way it could: I got sick. By sick, I mean so ill I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get on the plane. My parents and I arrived Person Airport (after the five hour drive to get to Toronto), and said a very tearful goodbye. I've never gone on a trip this big, let alone gone on one by myself. When I went past security I was in a bit of a panic. Terrified, nervous, and not really sure what to do with myself. Then I heard my name called on the loud speaker. Turns out, I left my coat with my dad, and had to go back to the main area (and sadly go through secrity again) to get it. I felt a lot better though, after I saw them laughing instead of teary. Once I was back on my own, the ill feeling started and I spent the next two hours feeling like absolute garbage. Thankfully, my friends with on Facebook chat so I got some pep talks from them. Finally it was time to get on the plane, and I was feeling a lot better.

Spent most of the plane ride going in and out of sleep (or being bugged by my seatmate but that's a long, irritating story). I woke up at 3am eastern time to have breakfast and got to see the most amazing sunrise. 

Gorgeous, huh? A few hours later I was finally in Dublin! 

I was greeted by my aunt Siobhan, and she took me on a mini driving tour around Dublin. We then got to my aunt Maeve's house (who I was staying with), and I ended up napping since I was sick again. When I woke up, my cousin Emily and her boyfriend took me to a pub. Going to pubs is very much a THING in Ireland, and I went to my fair share. The next day, I walked the pier with my aunt and did a little too much drinking with my cousin. Sick, again, on Sunday but this time I wasn't letting it ruin my day. So my family and I went to Glenalough!

Guys, it's honestly the most gorgeous place I've ever seen. Pictures don't do it justice. I was stunned, and completely fell in love with it. Bed early that night cause it was off to Liverpool the next day!

My favorite band, Mayday Parade, was playing and I just had to see them! While we were there, my cousin and lost for five hours searching for Eleanor Rigby's grave, ate lots of toast, walked around pretty much the whole of Liverpool, went on a ferris wheel, went to The Cavern Club (where the Beatles first played!) and, of course, saw Mayday Parade!

Mayday Parade!

I adored Liverpool, which I didn't think I would. On Wednesday it was off to Nottingham to visit my other cousin. 
On the train!
Nottingham consisted of lots of drinking (at one point drinking at a Beer Festival on castle grounds), visiting the oldest inn in England, shopping, posing with Robin Hood and lots of cheese fries. It was so much fun, and I loved getting to see my cousin, whom I'd only met once or twice before (and YEARS ago).

It was back to Dublin on Saturday, and I was determined to jam pack as much as I could into my last week. Sunday we went to Killiney hill, which has one of the most stunning view of Dublin. Although I was dying from walking up the crazy hills, I was awed by what I saw at the top!

Monday, I traveled to Centre Dublin! My aunt lives in Dun Laoghaire, which is just outside of Dublin proper so I hadn't been to town yet! I went to visit Christ Church, which was stunning and grand. After that, my aunts and I went to St. Michan's Church, which is a 900 year old church on the North side. I did a tour of the crypts they have under the church (which was so creepy...and cool) and got to touch the hand of an 800 year old Crusader!

Christ Church!
Tuesday brought the day I had been looking for the most: when I got to go to Newgrange. I love history, and I couldn't wait to visit a place so magical and enchanting as Newgrange. I was especially excited because one of my favorite series, Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready has Newgrange as a central focus! (And to all you #TeamKilt members reading this, be sure to stalk the #ZOGANplank thread because I posted a bunch of pictures of the pair around Ireland!) My aunt and I arrived after lots of the tours were booked, so we ended up going to Knowth before going to Newgrange! I was really excited, and Knowth was absolutely fantastic! Our tour guide was great, and I learned a ton about the history of the site. We even got go inside of the grave! We also got to climb on top of the mound and had a gorgeous view of Ireland.


At the top of Knowth
After Knowth, we took a bus that led us up to Newgrange! I had my eyes glued out the window and my jaw was agape when it finally came into view. I jumped off the bus and impatiently waited for our turn for the tour. Walking up to the monument I could feel a tug in my chest. There's just something special about it. I could feel all the history of the site surrounding me, and was in awe thinking about it. Finally, we were allowed to enter the site, and I couldn't contain my excitement. I'm surprised I didn't hit my head because I was bouncing into the monument. And the chamber room? Oh, the chamber room. You guys, you need to see it yourself. It's impossible to aptly describe it, and I don't think I even want to try. This is a place you need to experience. I was the last one to leave the chamber, trying to linger in the moment for as long as I could. When I left I think I left a little piece of my soul in those walls. I have to go back. And I can't wait to do just that.

Outside the entrance of Newgrange
After Newgrange my aunt and I drove to The Hill of Tara which, although just a field, had just a mythical air to it. I got goosebumps there, and the view was fantastic. I also tied my wish to the wishing tree! I went to the James Joyce tower, Dalkey, and Trinity College the last few days and, of course, a ton of pubs. 

Hill of Tara

On top of James Joyce Towe

It was great to spend time with my family, and to travel this beautiful, lush country. I had the best time, and I can't wait to get back there. Magical, visually astounding, and more than I could ever have expected, Ireland has always had a place in my heart, but now it holds a huge chunk.

In other news, I'm slowly but surely getting myself back into blogging. There's TONS of awesome stuff that's going up on the blog in the next few months and I cannot wait! Hope you guys are excited too.

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mara Dyer Teaser!

Hi all!

So, tomorrow I'll be posting all about my amazing trip from Ireland, but today it's all about the twisted Mara Dyer! While I was away, the teaser trailer was released for The Evolution of Mara Dyer by the amazing Michelle Hodkin. I was lucky enough to read this book last month, and it exceeded my every expectation! Guys, it's brilliant! I love it to bits. I can't wait for everyone else to read it, so I can gush about it properly!

In honor of the release (which happens in just TWO DAYS), Michelle Hodkin is holding a swag contest! This stuff looks fantastic, and I'm desperate to get my hands on some! All you have to do is either tweet, tumble, blog, Facebook, etc. something about The Evolution of Mara Dyer teaser trailer! I've watched the trailer, and think it's great! I can't wait for the full book trailer! Check out the trailer below, and make sure to enter to amazing contest over at Michelle's blog!

The Evolution begins on October 23rd! You guys need to pick up a copy!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight) 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

All Covered Up: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Guys, I love covers. I really do. I love the stunning, the enchanting, the symbolic, and even the simple covers. I just love them. I've been featuring more and more covers on the blog cause I'm hoping to spread the love! And this week, it's for Scarlet by Marissa Meyer!

Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the New York Times-bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner. (Summary from Goodreads)

This cover is just so perfect I can't even handle it. Scarlet, the sequel to the amazing Cinder, is a retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood fairytale. And my oh my is it a good retelling. I was lucky enough to borrow an ARC of this novel, and it was lots of awesome sauce (I'll have a full review coming closer to the release date). And this cover just adds to it!

This cover captures the storyline perfectly. The Red Riding Hood theme is very clearly displayed on this cover, as is Scarlet's flaming red hair. I really liked that there's a bit of a foggy element on the cover, which gives an air of mystery. I also like that Scarlet is running in this picture, which aptly describes a lot of the story. As I always say, I really like when covers match or stay with the same theme and Scarlet and Cinder are defiently very similar. I can't wait to pick up my copy and stare at it on my shelf!

If you haven't check out the amazing Cinder yet, you are really missing out! It is a fantastic retelling, and Scarlet is tons of fun as well!

Scarlet is out February 5th, 2013 from Feiwel & Friends!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight) 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (26): Bitter Blood by Rachel Caine

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, in which bloggers talk about the books they are most eager for! 

Publisher: NAL
Release Date: November 2nd, 2012

 *WARNING: Summary may contain spoilers for earlier Morganville books*

For years, the human and vampire residents of Morganville, Texas, have managed to co-exist in peace. But now that the threat to the vampires has been defeated, the human residents are learning that the gravest danger they face is the enemy within…

Thanks to the eradication of the parasitic creatures known as the draug, the vampires of Morganville have been freed of their usual constraints. With the vampires indulging their every whim, the town’s human population is determined to hold on to their lives by taking up arms. But college student Claire Danvers isn’t about to take sides, considering she has ties to both the humans and the vampires.

To make matters worse, a television show comes to Morganville looking for ghosts, just as vampire and human politics collide. Now, Claire and her friends have to figure out how to keep the peace without ending up on the nightly news… or worse. (Summary from Goodreads)

Oh, Morganville. 

Is it weird that I kind of want to live in a town run by crazy vampires? Yes? Well, maybe. But Morganville, despite it's terrifying side, is awesome. 

I've been reading this series for years and although it's at book 13, I've never gotten bored! I always put aside an afternoon when I start the Morganville books since I know I will never be able to stop once I crack open the cover! Every single book just adds more and more to this amazing series and I have loved them all. I've laughed out loud more times than I can count, shed my fair share of tears, and smiled so wide my cheeks hurt all because of this lovely town called Morganville.

I have yet to read Black Dawn, (mostly due to my limited funds and inability to take books out from the library) but I can't wait until I do and hopefully pick up Bitter Blood very soon after. If you haven't read any of the Morganville vampire books I HIGHLY recommend them. An awesome take on vampires, tons of amazing characters, and seriously awesome humor, there's so much to love. And now the first eight books are out in two-book anthologies! You get lots of Morganville awesomeness for a price that your wallet can appreciate. Seriously, check them out.

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Change of Scenery: Jodi Meadows author of Incarnate!

Hey, everyone!

Today marks the last day for my guest post series "A Change in Scenery"! I hope you have enjoyed the posts this week, I know I have! I decided to leave this post for last, since I pretty much fainted when I got the email. I am delighted to welcome Jodi Meadows, author of Incarnate, onto the blog! Jodi has written an awesome blog post on how setting affects her novel! 

How does setting affect tone/feel/direction of a novel, specifically INCARNATE?

This is probably one of the most interesting questions I’ve been asked about the series.

Before we start, I have to admit: I’m going to talk about all this like it was by design, but the truth is that much of my writing process is instinctual. Even when I plan ahead, I still feel my way into worlds and stories. The first draft is all about discovery. It’s about exploring a world I’ve read travel guides about, but never visited. It’s about getting to know characters I’ve heard about, but never met until I type the first sentence.

Even so, I need to understand why things work and what will make them stronger. An architect can have a great idea for a new high-rise building, but if s/he doesn’t understand how tall buildings stay up, the whole tower will come tumbling down. So when I’ve written my first draft and I’m starting on edits, I need to be able to look over what I have and get it into a structure that is stable.

All that said, here’s me acting like I know what I’m talking about:

INCARNATE is set in a world where everyone is perpetually reincarnated and they remember every lifetime. Everyone except Ana, that is.

The premise requires a new world to accommodate it, and since worldbuilding is a process I really enjoy, I let myself go wild with it, adding dragons and sylph and dozens of other creatures. I didn’t think about why these things were present, only that they were.

But then I had this world filled with mysteries and questions waiting to be answered. In order to satisfy the reader, those mysteries must be explored. I needed to get Ana moving in a direction that would begin answering those questions.

Like the reader, Ana is new to this crazy world, making her the perfect character to narrate the story. As Ana discovers more about the world she was born into, so does the reader.

INCARNATE begins with questions about Ana’s existence. Naturally, she’s curious about why she’s the first (and only!) new soul in the whole world. As she begins to look into her origins, the reader is introduced to new questions, like why do dragons attack the temple, and what are the sylph? Why do characters have trouble remembering certain things, and why do they put up with so many inconsistencies in their own lives?

By the end of INCARNATE, a few questions have been answered, but even more new questions have been introduced. ASUNDER answers questions and asks even more. By the end of book 3, Ana -- and the reader -- should have a much clearer picture of the world than in the beginning of the series.

One of the challenges of unfolding the mystery of the world is, of course, figuring out when to reveal information and when to ask questions. No single way is going to satisfy every reader, so the writer will always have to use their best judgement (and the judgement of their critique partners/agent/editor) when it comes to dolling out information in a non-boring way.

So, circling back to the original question: The mysteries of the world must be answered in order to provide a satisfying journey for the reader. If the story wasn’t set in a world filled with mysteries, the book would no doubt be much different!

Jodi Meadows lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut.
*A Kippy is a cat.

Jodi Meadows can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and her website.
Thank you SO MUCH Jodi for stopping by the blog! So great to see an author's perspective on the question!

Well, that's all for now! Hope you guys enjoyed and thanks for reading!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Change of Scenery: Crimson from Moonlight Gleam's Bookshelf

Hello, everyone!

How have you been liking the guest posts so far? Pretty interesting if I do say so myself! Next up, we have one of my very good friends and fellow blogger Crimson! Crim, who is a new blogger over at Moonlight Gleam's Bookshelf, also happens to be an aspiring author. I asked her the same question, but also said she could do it about general writing, not just a specific novel. She, of course, took this question and ran with it incorporating both writing in multiple novels and writing itself. It is a really intriguing post and I hope you guys love it as much as I do!

How does setting affect tone/feel/direction etc. of a novel?  

Setting is one of the most important elements of a good novel. It sets the tone and it influences how characters interact with each other. And, in fact, with the setting itself.

Think of it this way--setting is a character unto itself. And just as all good characters need to be fully fleshed out and made three dimensional, so does the setting.

We don’t live in a Paper Mario world. We get tripped up by construction, blown away by horrible Canadian winters or tropical storms, and navigate our way through frustratingly busy cities or frustratingly empty countryside.

And so should characters.

Some books really understand and utilize this, and some, well, don’t.

One of my favourite classics is Emily Bronte’s Gothic novel Wuthering Heights. I mean, sure, you’ve got the weirdly enticing and utterly terrifying Heathcliff, but I don’t think Heathcliff would be half as powerful (as a general character) without the isolated, dangerous moors in which the novel is set. The moors set the tone for Heathcliff’s character. The moors are cold, the moors are dark. The moors are strangely alluring, yet forbidding and dangerous and unknown. If you’ve read the novel, you’ll know that that description of the moors is pretty much synonymous for “Heathcliff.”

Not to spoil the book for anyone who hasn’t read it, but Heathcliff spends the majority of the book trying to (and succeeding in) keeping two households of family friends separated. Alone. Cut off.

There was this one moment while I was reading when I realize these two estates where only about 5 kilometers apart from each other, and I went, “Wait, what?” Because these characters were acting like they were never going to see each other again! Sure, a part of this is attributed to being set in the early nineteenth century, where there is a distinct lack of cars. But would this novel had have that same effect, that same element of complete isolation from only 5 kilometers away, if Wuthering Heights had been set in the city? Hardly.

Okay, but that’s a classic Gothic novel. What about some more contemporary ones? How about some fantasy? Can you imagine what a bore Lord of the Rings would be if they could simply walk into Mordor? Half the adventure is watching Frodo brave the elements, fight strange creatures, and navigate unusual places. I won’t go into detail here because, despite having watched the extended versions of the movies countless times, I can still barely remember the names of any places. I’m terrible like that. But I’ll still point out a couple examples. How about when Frodo and Sam meet Gollum and they have to trust him to bring them places? Or in the first movie when the Fellowship is trying to get up the mountain and then Saruman is all like, “I don’t think so,” and there’s a huge blizzard, so they have to find a new way? Or the Ents, who are, quite literally, both a setting and characters.

Obviously, setting is really important to fantasy novels. You simply cannot have a fantasy novel without having a good setting. Or dystopian, for that matter.

I think the first novel I read when I was younger that didn’t have a contemporary/realistic setting was Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. People, this is one of my favourite series. Prior to reading it, I had gone through a couple years where, despite being a huge reader as a kid, I kind of didn’t read anything. (Except Harry Potter because, hey, it’s Harry Potter). But I was immediately sucked into the world of Uglies. It was just so enticing. Cool technology! Sketchy surgeries! Oh the fun to be had! I love how detailed and well-thought out the world of Uglies is. From magnetic grids beneath the ground for using hoverboards, to the segregation of different “classes” of people based on their ages and whether they’re a “pretty” or an “ugly.”

Uglies would not be the novel it is without that setting. It wouldn’t be able to send the message it does about society and appearance if not for the setting. A lot of the time, dystopian novels are used to send a message about a certain element of society (The Hunger Games, anyone?). Giving a novel a futuristic dystopian setting creates a distance between the reader and the issue the novel talks about, and that distance allows us to look at the issue with fresh eyes (we can never look at things clearly when we’re too close to them).

(Er, not that you should be shoving a message down the reader’s throat if you’re writing a novel. Absolutely not. No, no, no. But you’re writing a novel. Say something.)

But I digress.

Back to setting.

And don’t think contemporary/realistic books get a free pass on setting. Sure, sometimes it might be a little less important, but it’ll still influence how people interact. If you live in a rural setting, or even in the suburbs, you’re not going to travel around in the same way a city kid is. And think about little things--the pristine blanket whiteness of snow in the countryside; the grimy grayness of snow alongside busy city streets. And the obvious one--think about how often authors utilize raininess to reflect a character’s mood. It’s a cliche because it works.

There are a lot of contemporary novels out there that would be completely different books if they had a different setting. The haunting town in Nova Ren Suma’s Imaginary Girls, the boarding school in John Green’s Looking for Alaska, the boarding school (again) in Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road.

So the next time you’re reading a novel (and especially if you’re writing one) think about how the setting effects the characters and the plot, and the sometimes highly metaphorical way setting reflects the characters and the plot. It might just change the way you read.
Thank you, Crimson! Very well thought out and detailed! Hope it got everyone thinking about the importance of setting!

Check out all the books Crimson mentioned below! (Links to Goodreads)

- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte 
- Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
- Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
- Looking for Alaska by John Green
- Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Make sure to stop by tomorrow for a very special guest post from an amazing author!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)