Monthly Archives: September 2016

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

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Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer is the first book in Rick Riordan’s newest trilogy. It is a young adult fantasy surrounding Norse mythology. It follows Magnus Chase, a sixteen year old homeless kid from Boston, and Annabeth’s cousin. Annabeth Chase from Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, in case you didn’t know. 

I gave this book five stars. It was a good, easy read. It was a balanced mixture of serious and funny and action. Magnus is a great main character, and the people he surrounds himself with are just as rich and interesting. I really liked learning about Norse mythology, and I think Riordan weaved it through the story really well.

I am aware of people not liking this book as much. A lot of his fans were disappointed. At first, I was really surprised by this, but I think I realize now why I have had such a different reaction to this book. I have not finished the Percy Jackson series. I have only read the first book of that one, so this is my second Riordan book. I don’t know Riodan’s tricks and characterization, so when people claim he reuses the same plots and characters, I don’t know what they are talking about. I can say I did like this book more than the first book in the Percy Jackson series. I felt that they pacing was better, so I had more time to breathe in between action scenes. I liked the characters in this story better, and I liked that this book didn’t take itself that serious. That was a major complaint I saw people make. But honestly, and this maybe a little spoilery, but if he had tried to make me take talking swords and talking goats seriously, I don’t think I would have been able to finish this book.

I will continue this series.  The second book, The Hammer of Thor, actually October 4th, and the third book is scheduled to be out next year. So not a long wait between books for someone who wants to start them now.

 

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Irving Library Big Read Event

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Tonight, Nicole and I had the pleasure of attending a Big Reads Event at the Valley Ranch Library in Irving, Texas. They hosted the talented Benjamin Alire Saenz, and we were both thrilled to finally meet him.

Saenz is the author of many novels, short story collections, and poetry books. He’s written Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Last Night I Sang to the Monster, In Perfect Light, and Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club, among many others.

At the event, Saenz discussed his childhood, and how he first ventured into reading. He also touched on how writing has helped him personally and how the emotion in all of his stories is real, even when the stories are fictitious. He discussed his Mexican-American identity as well as his experience coming out as a gay man later in life. Overall, his panel was beautiful and inspiring, just as his books.

We both got the chance to get our books signed by him, and I gave him a mug which I painted myself inspired by Aristotle and Dante. It was a wonderful experience. I really respect and admire Benjamin Alire Saenz. I look forward to all of his forthcoming books. There’s no doubt I’ll continue reading everything he ever writes.

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Cherry by Lindsey Rosin – Book Review

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It was just that special.
This moment.
This magic.
This friendship.
This glorious time of their lives.

It should be known that books about friendship are my weakness. I love reading about friendships that endure time and obstacles and serious challenges. I love supportive and healthy and beautiful friendships so much.

Cherry excelled in that department. Reading this was a breeze. Although it felt a little too long at times, I was glad to see everything play out.

The basic premise of the book is that four best friends: Layla, Alex, Zoe, and Emma, make a pact to have sex before the end of their senior year of high school. And so, drama ensues. The girls all have very distinct personalities and they each react to the topics of sex much differently. It was such a great blend of perspectives. Also, one of the girls eventually dates a girl, which was awesome.

I really loved the open way the girls discussed sex and all other sexual topics. They had very healthy conversations throughout, offering each other advice and support. It was so refreshing to read that. On top of that, the girls each had a love interest, or more than one, but this didn’t take away from the main focus of the story, which was their close friendship. They had fights and disagreements, but they always came back to each other. It felt realistic. The ending especially resonated with me.

My biggest complain is that the story felt a little cliche and predictable overall. It wasn’t so bad that it got in the way of my enjoyment. I really grew to love “The Crew” and their wonderful dynamic together. I would have just liked it more without some of the corniness and predictability.

I would recommend this to anyone looking for a lighthearted, entertaining read. It does have some mature content, but it’s really well done. It was mostly informative.

I might revisit this book again in the future. I feel like I kind of miss the girls already.

2016 Walk to End Alzheimer’s

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Isis and I decided to do the Walk to End Alzheimer’s event this year. It’s an annual walk to raise donations in an effort to awareness and money for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. We are currently trying to raise money. Each of us are trying to get $100 in donations. Then, on October 1st, we will do a two to three mile walk with others in our community.

If anyone is interested in helping us and donating here are the links where you can do that.

Nicole’s Donation Page

Isis’s Donation Page

Zom-B by Darren Shan

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Zom-B by Darren Shan is the first book of a twelve book series revolving around a zombie outbreak. It follows B Smith, a high school student int the U.K. They are all extremely short, under two hundred pages, so the book is  a fast read.

I rated this book two stars. It did not feel like a complete book. The zombies came into the story around the last third of the story. It’s basically just the part of where they realize that the news stories are real, pretty much too late, and that they need to aim for the head to kill the zombies.

Most of the book revolves around B’s life before then. B’s father is abusive and racist, and B struggles with if they are the same. Because B acts racist for their father’s approval, but claims not the agree really. However, continues to act racist when not around their father. It all leads to this dramatic moment at the end that I felt rather meh about.

Zom-B wasn’t what I was expecting when I read it, and I don’t think I will continue the series. I can tell it’s not really a zombie book with a disease or anything like that. It’s more of a conspiracy type of thing. I don’t know if the rest of the series has most of the action packed at the end of the book with cheap little cliff hangers so the reader will want to pick up the next book, but I’m going to guess that they will.

Your Story Tag

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Tell us about one of your stories that you have written, are working on, or planning.

We are currently working on re-writing “Summer Storms”. It’s the first book in an urban fantasy trilogy about faeries set in the summer in rural Oklahoma. It is a story about a demented faerie who practices peculiar rituals that one of our character becomes involved with. It is about dealing with death and family ties. It is about friendship and life and trusting the most unlikely individuals. 

 

Is this part of a NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo event or a personal project?

It’s a personal project that we have been working on together for a couple years now. 

 

Tell us about the characters in your story.

There are four main characters: Ailsa, Diego, Leon, and Monica. Ailsa and Leon are siblings and Diego and Monica are cousins. And the two pairs have very different dynamics that constantly evolve along with the individuals. Ailsa is a believer in all things supernatural, as she has a heightened sense about those things. Leon is a skeptic who has learned to brush off most things. Monica is completely opposed to anything that sounds remotely illogical. And Diego knows far too many things about people’s deaths. 

 

What’s your favorite friendship in the story?

Isis: I definitely love Diego and Ailsa’s friendship the most because they really understand each other. They can just talk about anything, and nothing ever sounds crazy enough to either of them.

Nicole: I have to say Leon and Monica’s friendship. It’s something that is developing more naturally in this rewrite because in the original they didn’t have much to do with each other. It’s nice how they have trouble believing in everything that is happening so they lean on each other for support.

 

What’s your favorite romantic relationship in your story?

There won’t be an important romantic relationship in this novel. In the other two novels there definitely will be. In this one, however, we have Monica and Jayce in an established relationship. It’s a rocky one, but it’s there for a reason. 

 

What is the saddest scene in your story?

Isis: I think the saddest scene is the one we recently wrote where Diego and Leon have a really emotional fight. The thing about those two is that they care about each other but they’re both so particular about their personal relationships that drama must ultimately ensue. 

Nicole: I think we haven’t written it yet. I think it’ll be towards the end of the book when it’ll be Diego’s dead brother’s birthday. It’s extra emotional because Diego feels responsible for his death, and he has really unhealthy ways with dealing with his problems in this book.

 

What is your favorite scene in the story?

Isis: I’m gonna have to pick a scene that hasn’t already been written. There’s a scene we’re planning to write also between Diego and Leon where they talk through their problems and plan what we like to call a “friend date” so that they can work on their friendship. I love friendships in books, and it’s important to me that these characters are actually working on building a solid friendship despite their previous misunderstandings. I think Nicole and I are constantly on the same page when it comes to erasing any drama that could be fixed through communication. 

Nicole: So far it would have to be the first time Diego sees a faery. There’s this little winged creature that shouldn’t exist, and he stands there talking about his garden.

 

What is the opening scene in your story?

The opening scene is with Ailsa interviewing for a teaching position at an elementary school, while feeling like someone is watching her in the room. It’s an eerie beginning which we hope will set the mood for the rest of the story. 

“Ms. Cruz?”

“Oh, sorry. Can you repeat the question again?” Ailsa asked, trying to focus on the principal sitting in front of her. This job interview was important to her, but she was having trouble focusing. In her defense, it was really difficult to keep her head straight when she could swear someone was standing right behind her.

 

Where did the idea for your story come from?

The idea came equally from both of us. Isis initially came up with Diego, and she knew exactly who he was right away. An alcoholic with a lot of problems rooted in his difficult past. From there she found this beautiful house listed online in Red Oak, Oklahoma, so she figured she might as well have him live there. Then she gave him a cousin, Monica, who she knew was there because she had this need to protect him and somehow “fix him” in her own way. Isis brought these ideas to Nicole, as she does, and she came up with the faeries because she said she’d never read a book about faeries. Slowly we both put a lot of thought to the rest of the setting, and Nicole created Leon and Ailsa. It became easy to just tie everyone together, and we’ve just been building up from there. We usually talk through everything that we want to add to make sure we’re both on board. 

 

What is the theme of your story?

There are many themes in our story. Friendship again is a big one. Death seems to be a significant portion of it. For this book, though, the main theme is regarding family, both blood-related and non-blood related. Sure, there are dangerous faeries and intrigue and whatnot, but the root of it all ties in with the characters coming to terms with each of their families and maybe adding a few new people into that category. 

 

What’s not working in your story that needs to be fixed?

Isis: I think the thing not working now is us forgetting to add important setting and character information. Since we both know everyone so well, it’s so easy to forget to add these small details during our re-write. But I think it’s something we can both work on during edits.

Nicole: What made us need to rewrite the most was with characters. We didn’t know them as well as we should have, and that made them come across in a way we didn’t want them to. We also were too scattered with the faery story line so we have plans to fix that in this version too.

 

What do you absolutely love about your story?

Isis: I absolutely love the fact that these four very unique individuals came together during the worst of times, and that they each care for each other so deeply. That’s the most important thing for me to write about, human relationships. They formed their own sort of family together, and it’s a special connection they all share. 

Nicole: I love that all of the relationships are very different but each are strong in their own way. Each relationship brings out a different side to each character, and I think that’s pretty neat. I’m also pretty proud of our faeries and how they fit in since it was hard to wrap our minds around at first.

 

Do you plan on trying to publish this story or is it just for you to read?

We would love to publish this novel traditionally. That will definitely be our aim once we have the first book finished. If we don’t succeed, we’ll self-publish it. Either way, we would love for everyone to discover this story that is very dear to us.