25 Jan 2014

REVIEW: Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Title: Deadly Little Secret (Touch #1)
Author: Laurie Faria Stolarz
Genre: Young Adult. Paranormal. Romance
Publication Date: December 23rd 2008
Publisher: Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 252
Rating: 3.5/5
Goodreads | Book Depository

Some secrets shouldn't be kept...

Up until three months ago, everything in sixteen-year-old Camelia's life had been fairly ordinary: decent grades; an okay relationship with her parents; and a pretty cool part-time job at the art studio downtown. But when Ben, the mysterious new guy, starts junior year at her high school, Camelia's life becomes anything but ordinary.

Rumored to be somehow responsible for his ex-girlfriend's accidental death, Ben is immediately ostracized by everyone on campus. Except for Camelia. She's reluctant to believe the rumors, even when her friends try to convince her otherwise. She's inexplicably drawn to Ben and to his touch. But soon, Camelia is receiving eerie phone calls and strange packages with threatening notes. Ben insists she is in danger, and that he can help-but can he be trusted? She knows he's hiding something... but he's not the only one with a secret.

This book has been on my radar for a while now. I first picked this book up at the library on a whim about a year and a half ago, but I didn’t read it at the time. It wasn’t until I was watching a video by Alita of abookaffair about her Favourite Underrated Book Series (I’ve included the link to that video because she made this series sound amazing!) that I became interested in this series again. I borrowed this again pretty much the next day.

The book starts off kind of slow, and so it took me a while to actually get passed the first few chapters, but after that I read the rest of the book in a number of hours. The main character, Camelia, is alright. She’s nowhere near becoming one of my favourite characters, but at the same time she definitely isn’t the worst character I’ve ever read about. There were moments where I could really connect to her and understand sort of what she was going through, but then there were also times when her behaviour just drove me insane. I liked the friendship between Camelia, Kimmie and Wes- I liked how they were supportive of one another but they weren’t like super-amazing best friends all of the time. Sometimes things get in the way of friendships and I think the book showed that really well. The love interest, Ben, was also a bit so-so. Again, there were parts when I really liked him and some where I really didn’t.

The plot itself was enjoyable. I found it to be a little bit predictable- I had guessed who the stalker was going to be before it was revealed. For me, that was a little bit disappointing because I was hoping to be kept guessing until the last moment. I did really like the insert into the stalker’s mind, this reminded me a little of The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, so that was a plus. Those particular parts were pretty creepy, but I think the story might have been helped along a bit with just a few more. Like I said, the story started off a bit slow and sometimes other parts were slow too. This being said, towards the end, everything happened so quickly that it ended up sort of glazing over the actual action of the story. I think this ended up taking away from the story. Lastly, there were parts that were just plain weird. As in, there were events within the story that just made no sense to me. I think maybe the story would have worked better without them.

All in all, I did enjoy the book. I suppose I was expecting a little bit more, but that being said, it was far from being completely terrible.

23 Jan 2014

GUEST POST: Kimberly Castillo

The Line Between Reality and Fiction

by Kimberly Castillo

The Convenience of Lies is based on my own experiences, so much so that during one of the  drafts I was even questioning if I should call it fiction or nonfiction.

I started writing this book with wanting to depict what really happened as closely as possible. And so, the AIM conversations the characters have throughout the story are virtually copy pasted from real conversations that actually happened. Some of the other pieces of dialogue are verbatim what the characters actually said in real life. For example, Tyler’s response to Mackenzie’s query for more poker chips in first chapter, “No! You’ve already lost all of your money, AND lost all of the money I gave you, to me.” Additionally, I drew largely from my diary in order to remember as many details as exactly as possible.

The problem with my approach was that reality does not make good stories. Reading transcriptions of a court proceeding are only so interesting. And so, at a certain point I had to break from trying to write EXACTLY what happened in order to create a story people wanted to read. Making this transition was a bit of a process in itself for me.

The first break from reality started with changing the character’s names, and I did that so that nobody could sue me for libel. With that being said, it may come as a surprise that I did not change the names in the first draft of this book because I didn’t want to confuse which character was who as I was writing it. And this alludes to my second break from reality. There were too many people in real life such that it provided too many characters and was an unnecessary distractor. And so I condensed some characters into one person. Most of the main characters were not condensed, except for Shane. He represents two people from real life. I have to admit, I mostly just used the house of one person and the personality of another. Every time I think about this I feel a little guilty. I found all the way through the last edit of the book I was discovering different ways I could condense characters, and each time I did, the story was better for it.

After a while I realized part of my fixation with writing about reality was because I didn’t have the confidence to write something that was completely fictional. And this was a fear I had to face when it came to writing the chapter inserts. There are four chapter inserts throughout the novel that are told through the perspective of our antagonist, The King. Initially I tried to take what is now the fourth chapter insert and break it into four parts. And so, the chapter inserts were only a few sentences long each, at most. When I handed the novel to my first pass reader, Jenica Wallman, she HATED the chapter inserts and vehemently told me I must remove them. This was when I realized I needed to overcome my fear of writing what I didn’t experience. Of course, I started this quest with what I knew best – reality. I researched the traits typically found in people who have antisocial personality to help me get inside the head of The King. Then I had to decide which crime to describe in each chapter and how to tie them all together. Now that I was armed, I felt comfortable with writing some true fiction.

The power of fiction is that it allows writers to draw connections within reality that could not be forged otherwise. And so, I found that once I embraced the fact that my book was fiction, I was free to craft a meaningful story worth telling.

20 Jan 2014

RELEASE DAY + GIVEAWAY: The Afterlife of Lizzie Monroe by Kelly Martin

If Shane Davis had it to do over again, he wouldn't have gone out that night. He wouldn't have burned down the church. And he sure wouldn't have taken the annoying dead girl home with him.

Now that Shane has her, he has no idea what to do with her. He can't release her into the "wild" because people will recognize her (being a hundred and fifty year old town 'legend' will do that). He can't send her away because she can't take care of herself yet. And she can't stay because if people find her, they'll know he burned the church. Being eighteen now, Shane definitely doesn't want that fact coming out.

Unbeknownst to Shane, someone has figured out the girl's secret and will do anything to get it for himself... even kill the girl who isn't so immortal after all.

Shane jumped to his knees, but Lizzie grabbed his arm to keep him from attacking Drake. She wasn’t worth it.

Shane looked down at her, his face hard. “He needs to learn to keep his mouth shut.”

Lizzie opened her mouth to speak, but Drake beat her to it. “And I bet you are the one to teach me, right, Davis?”

“Shut up,” Cheyenne said, stepping in front of Drake. “You two just cool it. You’re acting like children.”

“He started it.” Drake sat back down on the rolling chair in a huff. He ran his hands thought his hair and sighed.

Lizzie tugged on Shane’s arm to pull him down to her. He complied, but didn’t seem pleased about it. He wrapped his fingers around hers, holding her hand. If Lizzie’s heart could beat, it would have beat out of her chest. Even though he was holding her hand, he kept his eyes on Drake and Cheyenne. Lizzie wasn’t even sure he knew he was holding her hand, but Lizzie knew and she didn’t try to let go.

Kelly Martin is a bestselling author of four young adult/Christian novels: Crossing the Deep, Saint Sloan, The Deception of Devin Miller, and Big is Beautiful. Saving Sloan, the Saint Sloan sequel, will come out in early 2014. The first of the Hindsight series, Out of the Blue, comes out in February 2014.


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