YALLFest 2017!

Whoohoo!! YALLFest!! It was so good to be back!!

For anyone who doesn’t know or hasn’t gone, YALLFest is a young adult book festival that takes place in November in Charleston, SC. Dozens of authors come and do book signings and panels about writing. It is quite simply the best. I had missed it last year, so I was extra excited to be back there again.

I also got to hang out with my good friend Jess (who some of you may remember from my Bibliophiles Anonymous days) and her cousin Tabi. They are both awesome people and a lot of fun. It was also nice to be able to bring my daughter, who is now 13 years old if you can believe it.

This year was cool because it was the first year that Cassandra Clare was an attendee! I have loved her since The Mortal Instruments and it was really awesome to get to meet her and get her latest book signed.

My favorite part of YALLFest is the panels. I love hearing authors talk about their craft and see how even though they are successful and have tons of fans, they still struggle to write and get the right words on the page. Makes me feel like I might actually be able to do it one day. Maybe. Hopefully.

Hands down, Margaret Stohl and Leigh Bardugo are my favorites to try and catch at a panel. They are both hilarious and just so much fun.

Charleston was cold and windy, but we had a blast. Can’t wait to go back next year. The best thing about it was that it inspired me to try and get back into writing again. It’s a little late to jump into NaNoWriMo this year, but I do have two manuscripts that I should work on, one of which is a completed first draft. The other was my NaNoWriMo project from several years ago that I actually won NaNo, made it to my 50,000 words, and haven’t looked at it since. So lots of material to play with. I’ll let you guys know how it goes, if I can get motivated again now that I’m home.

If you ever get a chance, do check out YALLFest. Almost everything at the festival is free – the panels, the signings. A handful of events are ticketed, but the tickets are relatively cheap, especially given what you get out of it. Anyone who loves books would have a blast.


Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday for June 10th

Teaser Tuesday New

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by MizB at “Should Be Reading.” Here are the rules if you want to play along:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here’s my teaser for the week, taken from a book that I am so excited about!

“We will stand bravely with you!” Malcolm announced. Catarina looked darkly at him, and he quailed. “Well, we will stand bravely near you. Or at least within earshot.”

– City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

This is the final book in the Mortal Instruments series and I am both excited to see how it ends and sad to see it go. It’s been a good ride. And at least there will be more Shadowhunter series down the road. Something to look forward to!

Please leave your teasers in comments!

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday for March 25th

Teaser Tuesday New

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by MizB at “Should Be Reading.” Here are the rules if you want to play along:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This teaser will be breaking the rules a bit, since this is not my current read at the moment. It’s also a bit longer than the requested two sentences, but I think it’s worth it.

“I don’t want to see that squinty-eyed Benedict Lightwood and his hideous sons in charge of the Institute any more than anyone else does.”

“They’re not hideous,” said Tessa.

Will blinked at her. “What?”

“Gideon and Gabriel,” said Tessa. “They’re really quite good-looking, not hideous at all.”

“I spoke,” said Will in sepulchral tones, “of the pitch-black inner depths of their souls.”

Tessa snorted. “And what color do you suppose the inner depths of your soul are, Will Herondale?”

“Mauve,” said Will.

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

I just finished this trilogy this past week and oh my heart! It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me feel all the feels.

Please leave your teasers in comments!

Movies I've Seen

Movie Review – The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

I will start off this review by saying that there will be MAJOR spoilers, both for the book and the movie in this review. Consider yourself warned.

The_Mortal_Instruments_-_City_of_Bones_PosterI went to see the movie this past weekend with my mom, since she’s the one who got me to read these books in the first place. I was mostly optimistic – even though I’m pretty critical with movie adaptations, I usually give them the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, I had pretty high expectations for this one – I am a big fan of the books- but the movie fell pretty far short of them. For the sake of trying to end on a high note, I will start off with my complaints and end with what I thought they did well.

The Bad

  • As far as changes between the book and the movie, there were way too many of them. I accept that there has to be changes, but some of them made absolutely no sense. There was a new element added where Clary starts drawing this symbol over and over again to illustrate that the spell that repressed her memories of the Shadowhunters is weakening. I guess they did it to have some sort of visual representation of the fact, but it just came across as being a little weird. Also, when Clary and Simon enter the Pandemonium club, it’s the first time they had ever been there, whereas in the book, it was some place they went all the time. Clary was drawn to that place because there was usually Downworlder activity going on there.
  • Magnus Bane. I love me some Magnus Bane, but the portrayal in this movie was only so-so. Which is unfortunate, since he’s such an important and interesting character in the books. He really fell flat, and I don’t know whether it was because of the actor or because of the direction. He was way too serious. Magnus in the books is always joking at the Shadowhunters’ expense. He had very little personality in the movie, which was very disappointing.
  • Isabelle was way, way too nice. In the books, she is contemptuous of pretty much everyone except for the Shadowhunters. In the movie, she is encouraging Simon to come with her and help her with things. Huh? She’s supposed to look down on him because he is a Mundane and therefore useless in her eyes.
  • The dialogue. I know Cassandra Clare didn’t have the opportunity to write the screenplay, and I have no idea if she was even interested in doing so. But one of the things that make her books so much fun is that the serious action is cut with this clever, quippy, snarky dialogue. There were a couple of tiny flashes of it here and there in the movie, but not much. No where near enough.
  • Valentine’s. Usually I’m not too concerned if you change a character’s appearance. So what if movie Harry Potter had blue eyes instead of green? Big deal. But with Valentine, it was a really bad choice. In the book, Valentine has blond hair and looks very angelic. He is very cultured and urbane and has a way of sounding very reasonable even when he’s suggesting the most atrocious things. I pictured someone similar to Lucius Malfoy (in face Jason Issacs would have been perfect for this role). Instead, the movie gave us this dark, creepy biker looking guy with braids in his hair who snarled everything he said. Bleh.
  • The “Jace and Clary are siblings” plot line was absolutely destroyed. I don’t know why they did this. In the book, Valentine tells Jace that he is his father, which makes it so much worse when you find out that he’s Clary’s father as well. Jace and Clary are in love (although they don’t fully realize it) and hearing that they are actually siblings is devastating. You spend a good portion of the series thinking that they are doomed. In the movie, the audience finds out straight away that this story is a lie. Even though Jace and Clary still don’t know, it takes that added layer of tension and strips it off completely. Again, no reason to do this.

The Good

  • For the most part, I liked the casting (with the exception of Magnus, Valentine and Hodge). I thought Lily Collins did a wonderful job as Clary. Lena Headly and Aidan Turner also did well as Jocelyn and Luke. I didn’t completely buy Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace, but I think part of that was because his usually snarky dialogue had been gutted. Movie Jace didn’t have a lot of personality, and that definitely wasn’t Jamie’s fault. He wasn’t given enough to work with. He and Lily had really nice chemistry, so I can forgive the rest. I especially liked Robert Sheehan as Simon – one of my favorite characters in the books and he did it quite well.
  • I liked the fact that you got to see a little bit of Clary’s life with her mother before her mother is kidnapped. In the books, you don’t get to see what happened when she was taken, but you do in the movie. (Was it just me, or did anyone else think of the Disney movie Tangled during her fight scene? She did great, but all I could think of was, “Frying pans! Who knew, right!”)
  • The CGI was pretty spectacular. The demons in particular were disgusting and scary and perfect. The scene where Clary has to fight the one in her apartment after her mom disappeared was very good, as was the one possessing Madame Dorthea. I also liked the look of the portal (although they messed up how they were used) and the effect of when the Mortal Cup was removed from the Tarot Card.
  • I want to go to the Institute. Or rather, I just want to go into the Institute’s library. Holy cow, that was awesome!
  • The journey into the City of Bones was pretty scary. I liked the Silent Brothers, although I thought their voices were a little too heavy. The ritual where they tried to tap into Clary’s memories was chilling and very well done.
  • The scene in the greenhouse was beautiful. The flowers were just right and it lent just the right atmosphere for Jace and Clary’s romantic scene.
  • The fight scenes were very well choreographed. I particularly liked how Isabelle’s whip looked on film.

I will probably go see this movie again, just to try and absorb more of it. There was a lot to see. I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy it, but I did leave the theater feeling like they had really missed some opportunities. The movie could have been a lot better, but I guess it could have been worse.

And for anyone interested, on Sunday, Bibliophiles Anonymous will also upload our review. You think I was critical? You have no idea. Be sure to check it out!

Books I've Read

The Mortal Instruments

For my reading goal this year, I finished reading The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. I read the first two books at the end of last year, the last three published books last month. And all I can say is this:


city of glassIn all seriousness though, I love this series. Funny story – I didn’t realize that it was more than a trilogy. I thought once I read the first three that they were done. There were a couple of loose ends (I didn’t believe Sebastian was gone forever, for instance), but it mostly seemed wrapped up. Imagine my astonishment when I saw not one, but two additional books! I was very excited, let me tell you.

city of fallen angelsThere are many books out there right now dealing with angels and demons, usually having some sort of half-angel human who is out there fighting the baddies. It’s not as bad as the vampire craze, but it’s close. There are a bunch of them, but I believe Cassandra Clare was one of the first ones and she definitely is one of the best. I love everything about the Shadowhunters. I love how they were created from the blood of an angel, but that doesn’t make them even remotely perfect. They are very flawed, attempting to protect the world from demons while still fighting inner demons of their own (yes, Jace, I’m looking at you!). I love how other supernatural beings are incorporated into this world – the vampires, the werewolves, the fairies – all have a part to play, for good or for evil, and those lines are always slightly blurry. It makes for a very compelling story world that seems hauntingly real.

city of lost soulsI’m not going to go into any plot points, since most of them wouldn’t make much sense unless you’ve read the first books. They would also be heavy in spoilers, and these are books that need to be enjoyed fresh. One thing is for sure – Cassandra Clare knows how to write a cliffhanger! After finishing City of Fallen Angels (book 4), I was clawing at my own skin trying to track down a copy of City of Lost Souls (book 5). And while City of Lost Souls didn’t have quite the same cliffhanger, it still leaves me waiting desperately for book 6 to come out (City of Heavenly Fire, set to appear sometime in 2014 according to GoodReads).

So if you haven’t read these books, give them a try. If you like urban fantasy and supernatural story lines, you’ll love these. They are well worth the time.

Books I've Read

Welcome to the City of Bones

It had been a while since I read Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. I had always meant to re-read it at some point. And then I saw this.

Why is August so far away!!!!!

I read the first two books in the series, City of Bones and City of Ashes, for my 60 book challenge this year. There are three more books in the series, and a fourth book coming out sometime in 2014.

The series is about a girl named Clary Fray. One night at a club, she sees a group of people that no one else can see. She also sees them kill someone, or at least that’s what it looks like. What she actually sees is a demon in human form being killed by the Shadowhunters, a people who are half human, half angel, dedicated to protecting the human race from demonic forces.

One of these Shadowhunters is Jace Wayland. He and Clary seem to have a connection. As Clary is pulled further into the Shadowhunters’ world, she has mixed feelings for Jace, who is both alluring and annoying. Then Clary’s mother is attacked and disappears. Clary tries to find what happened to her mother and how they are both connected to the Shadowhunters in the first place.

I don’t want to go into the story too much (there are so many mysteries and twists that this series takes), but these are a must read for anyone who enjoys YA fantasy. The main thing that makes these books so engaging is the fantasy world. The Shadowhunters are fascinating, with their own country, history and culture. Spending your life fighting demons tends to change the way you look at life, which makes them as foreign to Clary as the demons, vampires and werewolves are.

Cool fantasy stuff, awesome characters, and a really good story make these books definitely worth the read. I can’t wait to finish re-reading the rest of the series, especially since I never got to the last two, as I mentioned in this post. And once the movie comes out, I’m sure I will be blogging about it. A lot. 🙂

Books I've Read

Two More Books . . .

Still trying to catch up on all the books I’ve read so far. I’ve been a reading machine lately!

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare – this one was really good. I’ve read the first three books in her Mortal Instruments series (which I thought were supposed to be a trilogy, but there’s a new one out that I haven’t read yet) and thoroughly enjoyed them. Clockwork Angel is the first book in the Infernal Devices series, which is a prequel series to Mortal Instruments.

The story follows Tessa, a sixteen year old girl who moves to London after the death of her aunt and guardian. Her older brother has moved there already and gotten established. Once she arrives, she is immediately kidnapped and forced to develop a power that, until now, she didn’t even know she possessed. She can shape shift – morph into the likeness of other people. She doesn’t know why they are doing this, but she is rescued by the London Shadowhunters, who do what they can to help her and save her brother, who has also become entangled in London’s mysterious Downworld.

The thing I like best about Cassandra Clare’s writing is that despite her books being extremely dark and, at times, gruesome, there is so much humor it it. Tessa meets Will, one of the Shadowhunters, and they have an instant connection, even though she is pretty sure most of the time she hates him. Will can be cocky and arrogant, but he also has a vulnerable side. They both know how to push each other’s buttons though, and it’s very enjoyable to read.

I also finished The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien. I never know quite what to say about these. The book is amazing, of course, but I feel as though everything about Lord of the Rings has already been said. I can say that re-reading them with MarkReads has been wonderful – it’s such a good way to remember how it felt when I read these books for the first time. Sometimes re-reading books, even books that you love, can be tiresome. There are parts that you skim over, even though you know that they are important to the story. Reading this along with someone who is experiencing the magic for the first time is fun. We’ve already moved into Return of the King, and I can’t wait to see his reaction to how the whole series wraps up. It should be fun.

The new work schedule started on Monday and, so far, I really like it. I’ve been moving along with my writing. Plus it gives me extra time to post here as well!