Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Essence of Good Writing (and good books)

Hi! So I noticed it has been another long two months since I've last posted and I apologize for that, but I have finally gotten around to make a post. I haven't been reading as much lately, so this post will focus on a different aspect of what I like to do relating to books: writing.

Lately, I've been trying to focus on writing more than reading. Of course, that is hard, because to write well, you need to read a lot.

Which lead me to ask myself: what makes a story good?

When I first got into YA books, I really enjoyed the cliche plots. After awhile, the cliche books annoyed me, and that has got me to search for what I truly like to read in the YA genre.

I've noticed a trend in the books I like: a strong heroine, a heart-melting love interest, and a good plot. I loved dystopian books at one point in my life (which you may or may not have noticed in my previous blog posts), and I like contemporary books too. However, it is not the genre that makes a story good, I realize.

It's the writing. You may have noticed that I am not a big fan of The Fault in Our Stars but even I have to admit: the writing is heart-wrenching. It's the type of writing that everyone can relate to. And If I Stay -- you can definitely relate to it.

I also really like beautiful descriptions. In the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi, the beautiful writing was what sucked me into it. It was absolutely flawless, as was the writing in Kat Zhang's What's Left of Me.

I guess bottom line is: the writing matters a lot. In fact, to me, it rivals the importance of a good plot.

By focusing on my own writing sometimes, it helps me read with a critical eye. And it makes me wonder how important a writing style is.

The writing project I am currently writing is (surprisingly) a paranormal story. It's far from perfect, and it definitely isn't put together like published books are. Yet, I've been trying to focus on vivid details, and shaping the plot subtly. It's hard to get the character of your story correct (and make her strong), but that's one of the challenges, I guess.

Anyways, to motivate myself to update from now on, I've decided to make a post about each important element in a story over the next two weeks or so. Stay tuned! I promise to update more regularly from now. (:

As always, thanks for reading & feel free to comment below! I would love hear about your writing experiences and what you think is most important in a good book.

Friday, June 13, 2014

It's Been Awhile

Hello! Remember me? It really has been awhile. Like a year, I think? Anyways, I apologize for not posting for the past year. I suppose it has been an unannounced hiatus, and I can't say for sure I will be posting regularly, but I am here today, and I will be here and there this summer. Today, I went and saw The Fault in Our Stars. The movie came out awhile ago as well, but I saw it with Sarah today. We had a discussion about the movie afterward, and here are our condensed thoughts:

May Contain Spoilers

Sarah's thoughts: It was funny although not realistic.

Nicole's thoughts: I don't know how Sarah found it "funny" but there was humor here and there. However, I thought the movie didn't meet up to my expectations until the very end. The eulogy Augustus wrote for Hazel made me cry, but that was the only part that made me cry.

In my opinion, the movie was really light. It wasn't as deep as I thought it would be; in a way, I enjoyed the infinity thing, the math concepts and certain quotes, because I'm quirky like that, but a lot of it was typical. My friends have recommended that I see the movie, and I don't regret seeing it, but I wouldn't see it again.

Another plus though, was that the movie was really similar to the book. I especially loved the narration of Shailene Woodley, and she played a really good Hazel. 

Overall Average Between Sarah and I: 7/10

But what I am obsessed with right now is the movie trailer for If I Stay (which I saw as a trailer advertisement before The Fault in our Stars). It's coming out August 22, 2014 and I NEED TO SEE IT NOW.

What are your thoughts, both about The Fault in Our Stars and If I Stay? Leave your
thoughts below.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

House of Hades Cover RELEASED

Sorry. Just had to post this/share this with someone as I was so excited. Unfortunately, Nicole isn't as big of a Percy Jackson fan as I am. This is another AMAZING cover and I can't wait for the book to come out this fall! Just helping spreading the news around. :)

*Also, here is a video of one of my favorite Youtuber who reviews books and her reaction to the cover:

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Book Blogging Confession from Nicole

Hi guys! So, somehow I managed to get through all the tests/homework/assignments I had from school and here I am, working on my abandoned book blog. It's been awhile since my last post, but me and Sarah have been infrequently posting at random times.

To keep a realistic goal, the Umbrella Dreams blog is not on a hiatus, but me and Sarah won't be posting every single day like in November/December 2012. I don't want to get anyone's hopes up high, as there's lots of things going on right now, so I can't promise a perfect scheduling of posts. However, in the summer, it will be a different story...hopefully.

Anyways, to keep you updated on everything bookish, I have some post ideas scheduled up, and I'm re-reading Unraveling because its sequel, Unbreakable is coming out this month! (need to refresh my memory after half a year) The cover of Unbreakble is so perfect!

Unbreakable (Unraveling, #2)
Four months after Ben disappeared through the portal to his home universe, Janelle believes she’ll never see him again. Her world is still devastated, but life is finally starting to resume some kind of normalcy. Until Interverse Agent Taylor Barclay shows up. Somebody from an alternate universe is running a human trafficking ring, kidnapping people and selling them on different Earths—and Ben is the prime suspect. Now his family has been imprisoned and will be executed if Ben doesn’t turn himself over within five days.

And when Janelle learns that someone she cares about—someone from her own world—has become one of the missing, she knows that she has to help Barclay, regardless of the danger. Now Janelle has five days to track down the real culprit. Five days to locate the missing people before they’re lost forever. Five days to reunite with the boy who stole her heart. But as the clues begin to add up, Janelle realizes that she’s in way over her head—and that she may not have known Ben as well as she thought. Can she uncover the truth before everyone she cares about is killed?

If you haven't read Unraveling, please read it now! You seriously will not regret it!

But anyways, getting back on topic, I've recently seen a lot of these "book blogging confessions" on some people's blogs. I thought it was a really neat idea, so I decided to do one of my own. I know I usually don't share much about my personal life, so you guys probably don't have an accurate idea of what my personality is like. But hey, you'll find out in my book blogging confession.

Nicole's Book Blogging Confesssion: I only buy books that I've read and loved.

Reason: I don't finish a lot of books. I think it's because I'm really picky and every little detail bothers me, but it's pretty rare that I will actually love a book to death. I also don't want to buy books that I will hate so I tend to buy only books I've read and loved.

What about you? What are your preferences to buying a book?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sea Of Monsters! :3

Hello! This is kinda random but has anyone here ever heard the Percy Jackson series? Pshhh, I'm kidding. Everyone has heard of it. At least I hope they do. :\ Well anyway, in case you don't know, I am a huge lover of PJ books but the movies not so much...

I was recently just browsing around on IMDb and guess what popped up? Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Sea of Monsters. Of course I was very interested so *click*. It was quite shocking in fact. There were quite a few reasons why and I tried listing them below. Hope you enjoy!

Its the trailer! Yay! Now I think this movie is going to be a bit better than the first movie because:
A). The plot of the movie actually kind of sounds like the book!
B). The style of the movie kind of sounds like Inception. You know, the part where its like dun... DUN... DUUUUUUNNNNN, you  know that right? Erm.. maybe its just me, hehe.

Look at the hair! They all changed! :(
Annabeth's (Alexandra Daddario) hair turned blond. I don't really mind that because her hair is actually blond in the book but then, why couldn't they have it turn blond in the first movie then?! Percy (Logan Lerman) also changed his look with a haircut. I don't know about you but his hair just turned a lot more uglier than before. Why? Of all the haircuts ;_;

The actors have changed too! Chiron from the Lightning Thief has switched along with Hermes and many characters have also been added. A new Chiron, Hermes and new characters Dionysus, Clarisse, Tyson and Chris Rodriguez have important roles. Unfortunately, Thalia still isn't included making me confused about the plot because Thalia is very important in this movie.

That's pretty much all I have to say about the new upcoming movie. I think I'll do a Movie + Book Review (like I did for I Am Number Four) for this once it comes out in August 16th. Make sure to subscribe, comment and share this with as many PJO fans as you possibly can. Pretty please? :)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

REVIEW: Fever Crumb

Book: Fever Crumb by Phillip Reeve
Release Date: May 5th 2009 by Scholastic
Pages: 326 pages
Source: Library Copy

Fever Crumb is a girl who has been adopted and raised by Dr. Crumb, a member of the order of Engineers, where she serves as apprentice. In a time and place where women are not seen as reasonable creatures, Fever is an anomaly, the only female to serve in the order.

Soon though, she must say goodbye to Dr. Crumb - nearly the only person she's ever known - to assist archeologist Kit Solent on a top-secret project. As her work begins, Fever is plagued by memories that are not her own and Kit seems to have a particular interest in finding out what they are. Fever has also been singled out by city-dwellers who declare her part Scriven.

The Scriveners, not human, ruled the city some years ago but were hunted down and killed in a victorious uprising by the people. If there are any remaining Scriven, they are to be eliminated.

All Fever knows is what she's been told: that she is an orphan. Is Fever a Scriven? Whose memories does she hold? Is the mystery of Fever, adopted daughter of Dr. Crumb, the key to the secret that lies at the heart of London?

Haunting, arresting, and astonishingly original, Fever Crumb will delight and surprise readers at every fast-paced, breathless turn

I have to mention something about the cover: WHY?
I just hate the cover. I got the paperback version which has a completely different cover. I really don't like it when they try to include a person into the cover (unless it's Percy Jackson).

Now that I got that over with, I found that this book was quite enjoyable. It was quite slow at first and I did get tempted a few times to put the book down when she kept on saying the word "logical" and "rational".  I had to reread the first few chapters a couple of times but once I got into the adventure part of the story, I was hooked.

Fever is a smart character unlike a lot of girls in dystopian novels. I do believe that this is dystopian as it mentions phrases of "from the past". There was this one moment that I found quite funny:

“Fever jumped aside just in time to dodge the shower of urine, and stumbled into the path of a religious procession - celebrants in robes and pointed hats whirling and clapping and chanting the name of some old-world prophet, 'Hari, Hari! Hari Potter!'

When I read this paragraph I got this awesome feeling and just stayed in this expression :O for a very long time. Phillip Reeve is a genius for including Harry Potter.

What I find quite disturbing is Fever's hair. Apparently it is completely bald. I don't have anything against bald people but I just can't imagine her without hair, just like how in Legend, Day has long hair. Both are unthinkable.

Now for the story. There was some killing, some accidental, some purposeful and some just not actual killings. Confusing parts came up that I struggled with but it was still an easy-read book. Now that this topic came up, did anyone who read this book ever read the section about what a "stalker" is? I may have just accidentally skipped it but it seems to me as though the word popped up out of nowhere. Oh well. I later understood what it was but I never got the full definition.

The ending is a weird sort of twist. I mean that in a way where there is a twist but then there is a twist to the twist. It leaves you with several questions that I can't write here because of spoilers.

This story kept me wondering and amazed at Fever Crumb's world and was enjoyable. The story was alive once Fever realized that she shouldn't be so strict on herself. The story just kept on getting better and better from that point on.

Overall, the story was exciting and wonderful. I do have some issues about it like the speed but once you got through that problem it was a good book to read. I would recommend it on days that you just want to sit down, relax, and read a book.

Final Rank 
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