Warning: this is a ranty post. If you don’t feel like reading a ranty post, come back in a day or two. I’ll put up my review of Dancing on Knives by Kate Forsyth. We can talk books and drink coffee together.
Although I may be shouting into the void here — the points I expect I shall make have been made already, by other, more sensible folks — I feel like I need to add my two cents.
On my drive to work, after I’ve dropped my son off, I listen to one of three things: a) an audiobook, b) News Radio, or c) “old fogey radio”.
The old fogey radio station is rather inauspiciously called 666. It’s the local AM station run by the national broadcaster. They have a gardening show on Saturday mornings; it’s that kind of station. (I actually quite like the gardening show.) Mostly I enjoy it — it’s nice to have some local news, and during the day they do shows about the local art galleries, writers, cool ways to volunteer in the community. Good stuff.
This morning, however, I got WELL GROUCHY! The host was talking about the nude photo hacking “scandal” involving Jennifer Lawrence and a bunch of other female celebrities. He claimed taking nude photos of yourself was weird, and that he hadn’t been able to find anyone who’d done it. He made a disparaging comment about how maybe only celebrities did it, because (and I’m paraphrasing as I don’t remember his exact words) they were strange. One of the female hosts, who was doing a spot to talk about something else, agreed with him.
I had so much steam coming out my ears it’s a wonder I didn’t crash the car.
When I got to work, I sent him an angry text (which he read out on the radio, so I got to annoy everyone, I’m sure). I pointed out that the reason he hadn’t been able to find anyone that took nude photos of themselves probably had more to do with the radio station’s demographic than anything else. He got pseudo-offended that I was calling them old.
Now, in my defence, the average 666 listener has got to be between 40 and 65. And I listen, so I’m including myself in that “too old to take nude photos” category. I’ve never taken a nude photo of myself and uploaded it to a “cloud”. I barely understand what the “cloud” is, in a technological sense, and don’t use it because I FEAR CHANGE. And DICKHEAD HACKERS.
But I know a LOT of young women take nude photos of themselves, and share them with partners. Do I think it’s a good idea? Not particularly, because you never know where they will end up. But it’s not uncommon. I think if a presenter on the national broadcaster’s youth station, Triple J, asked the same question, they’d get overwhelmed with calls.
And all of this is beside the point, anyway. The point is, regardless of whether you understand why she did it or not, Jennifer Lawrence, like all the other celebrities affected, is entitled to her own privacy. If her husband is interstate — or hell, in the next room — and she wants to add a little spice to their relationship with a naughty picture, she is allowed to do so. They are consenting adults. (That’s where sexting becomes a grey area, by the way — when either party isn’t an adult yet. Then it can be legally child porn, even if it’s between two 15-year-olds. Don’t do it, kids.)
To suggest she brought it on herself by taking the photo is victim-blaming. It’s slut-shaming. She deserved it because she took the photo. Wore a short skirt. Had too much to drink. Flirted with the guy.
See where I’m going with this?
(For the record, I sent another text message to the radio station with this second point, although I don’t know if it got read out, because by then I was running late for work.)
Jennifer Lawrence and the other celebrities didn’t ask for it. By taking their pictures, they weren’t giving permission for them to be stolen. By uploading them to Apple’s supposedly secure Cloud, they weren’t giving permission for them to be stolen. They are the victims. They were robbed, and now people — some people, at least — are denigrating them for it.
They are the victims. Don’t suggest otherwise.
Oh my god. YOU GUYS! I’m so excited to finally be able to share my Isla’s Inheritance cover with all of you. Plus I decided to have a fabulous giveaway, to show my love! Scroll down below the pretties for details. <3
Big thanks go to Kim at Turquoise Morning Press for the lovely cover, and also to another Kim, at KILA Designs, for the amazing banner. Kims rule!
Isla was content to let her father keep his secrets, but now she can’t stand the touch of iron and her dreams are developing a life of their own. She must discover the truth — before it’s too late.
Seventeen-year-old Isla Blackman only agrees to participate in a Halloween party séance because Dominic, an old crush, wants to. She is sure nothing will happen when they try to contact the spirit of her mother. But the séance receives a chilling reply.
SHE IS NOT DEAD.
Isla doesn’t want to upset her father by prying into the family history he never discusses. When the mysterious and unearthly Jack offers to help her discover the truth, Isla must master her new abilities to protect her loved ones from enemies she never knew existed.
Click HERE for your chance to win a $25 gift voucher from either Amazon or Barnes & Noble (winner’s choice).
For another author’s cover reveal on my blog, a bio would normally go here. But since you guys already know more-or-less who I am (I assume!), here are three random facts about me:
- I’m not scared of spiders or snakes, but I am terrified of leeches.
- My childhood toy was a doll named Sarah. Sarah is also the name of Isla’s cousin. Coincidence?
I think not!Yes, actually.
- My favourite colour is brown. Because coffee. And chocolate. And my gorgeous book cover. Wheeee!
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
A lot of friends have raved about this book. A LOT. I ordered it out of curiosity and then got a little nervous about reading it. I’m a bit of a snob for commercial fiction, if that’s a thing. Literary fiction where nothing much seems to happen bores me. And literary fiction where none of the characters are likeable makes me cross; at university I did a review presentation of a litfic book where I got up in class and said the main character should just stop whining and being an ass to everyone.
I got pretty good marks for that class.
I’m not sure if We Were Liars is literary in the purest sense, but it has some of the trappings of literary fiction.
So. I was nervous. But also intrigued, because the blurb, as you can see, makes a big deal about keeping the plot twist a secret, and my friends were being all cagey. “What is this thing?” I thought to myself. “I must know.”
I read the book yesterday evening.
That’s the first thing. We Were Liars is a short read. In the end, that’s one of the reasons I picked it up when I did; I didn’t want to dive into something huge. In this case, its (lack of) length is a virtue — it meant that the various plot revelations moved at a decent pace, which stopped me from getting bogged down in the occasionally dense prose.
We Were Liars is written in a very choppy, fragmented style. The chapters are short — often a single page — and Lockhart makes great use of sentence fragments. I didn’t mind those, but one thing that drove me nuts was the way she
put in line breaks
when the main
was felling intense emotion.
Every time I hit one of these little snippets of poetry — usually when Cady, said main character, kissed her love interest, but occasionally at other times — it jarred me right out of the moment and I had to re-read the sentence two or three times to make sense of it. Ick.
On the other hand, interspersed throughout the book are these little fairytales Cady writes about a king and his three beautiful daughters. They are metaphors for Cady’s mother and two aunts, and their rather awful father. I quite enjoyed those.
The first two things you encounter in this book are a map of the island (largely unecessary but a nice touch), and a family tree. During the first part of the book, I got so confused by all the names that I flicked back to that family tree every other paragraph. I did eventually — more or less — get a handle on who was who, but Lockhart doesn’t take the time to introduce you gently. She throws you in the deep end.
Cady is a somewhat insufferable, priviliged girl who doesn’t really understand how lucky she is until it’s pointed out to her — and even then, she doesn’t really get it. Every summer she and her family go to her grandfather’s private island (as you do). She hangs out with the two other cousins her age, Johnny and Mirren, and Johnny’s best friend, Gat. Gat is American Indian and is the only one that calls the cousins out on just how lucky they are. I quite liked Gat.
On the other hand, I had mixed feelings about Cady. Honestly, I’m not sure we’re meant to like her that much. The way she tells her story is quite detached and often cold. As an example, her offhanded comments about not knowing the names of the long-term household staff was a bit of a shock. (At least by the end she knows their names. She does grow, so she gets points for that.)
For reasons I don’t understand, once Gat starts coming to the island the rest of the family begins calling the gang of four “the Liars”. I wish this had been explained better, because they don’t seem particularly deceptive for the most part. The label didn’t fit, and felt a bit too much like the writer was trying to be clever.
When Cady and the rest of the “Liars” are fifteen, Cady has an accident and winds up with amnesia and crippling migraines. The accident leaves her with a curious lack of telltale scars, which would have rendered her less beautiful, when being a beautiful member of her family was one of her defining characteristics. (Scars would have also tipped the reader off to a certain extent as to the nature of the accident, and undermined the TA-DA moment at the end.)
Two years later, she goes back to the island and starts to unravel the mystery of what happened that summer.
I’m not going to go into details. There’s very little you can say about this plot that isn’t totally spoileriffic. I didn’t guess the plot twist (although I had suspicions heading in that general direction), so that was kind of neat. And I didn’t hate it; it was interesting enough that after I finished the book I flicked back through the pages for half an hour, revisiting certain scenes to admire the foreshadowing. It did feel a tiny bit derivative, but not so much that it bothered me.
One thing the ending didn’t do was make me cry. Maybe that makes me a bit of a robot, or maybe it’s a sign that the book just didn’t pull me in as much as it did others.
I’m giving We Were Liars 3.5 stars. It interested me enough that I stayed up past my bedtime to finish it in one sitting (with a break to watch the new Doctor Who), but I wouldn’t read it again.
Today on This Writer’s Space I have Jen Streck, half of the team at The Dragon Blog. Take it away, Jen! :)
Where I Write
In reality, I write almost anywhere – planes, hotels, football practice, sitting in my car in a parking lot, the list could go on for some time. That being said, my home office is one the places I love to write. Early in the morning, over lunch, or in the evenings when I can manage to hide for a while after work, this is my space.
When I’m here, I have all the staples. I use Scrivener for writing, and usually have it set with a split screen for the current scene plus whatever character picture is relevant for the scene I’m writing. In this example it is Dylan, the hero in my contemporary romance, dream cast as Tom Hiddleston. The other staple is the Google Hangouts window with my sister, Mel. She is there as my ever present source of miscellaneous feedback, random chatting, and anything else I might need
Aside from the computer, there is the ever present Psychocat prepared to shred me to pieces, the Diet Sunkist to keep me awake, the notebook and pen for random notes, and Peep and Gumby (their twins reside with Mel).
Where I’m Inspired
It was hard to narrow this topic down to one thing. I have a writing playlist that provides a great source of inspiration; however, one of the places I’m often able to work through scenes or ideas is out on a walk with my dog. Sometimes when I’m stuck the best thing I can do is throw on my headphones with the aforementioned playlist, grab the dog, and head out the door. The fresh air and limited interruptions do wonders for my thought process. On a similar note, on days I commute into the office I’m almost always thinking through pieces of the story.
To Be Read
My TBR list is always a mile long. Since I read mostly ebooks these days, my Goodreads list is the best representation. Sometimes I think for every book I read I’m adding two more to the list. This is compounded by the fact that I write the Psychocat Reads Book Reviews for the Dragon Blog. I suppose the upside of writing the reviews is that I have a justifiable reason why I must make time to read. :)
Currently I’m reading We Own the Night by Kristen Strassel, though by the time this post goes live there’s no telling which book I’ll be reading.
Jen spends her days stuck in corporate captivity, but devotes a good portion of her free time to reading, writing book reviews, and ever so slowly writing a contemporary romance novel. She is one half of the Sassy Sisters on Fire (yes they are actually sisters) at The Dragon Blog, where she and Mel manage to get into all matters of mischief.
You can find Jen on Twitter (@jlstreck), Pinterest (Check out writing inspiration boards, fandom boards, and cool fun stuff here.), and prowling around The Dragon Blog (melissapetreshock.com/the-dragon-blog).
It’s been a while—over a year—since I’ve “treated” you guys to a blog post about punctuation. I’ve blogged about dashes (em rules and en rules) before, and also semicolons. Today I want to talk about the dash’s smaller cousin, the hyphen. At work they call me the Hyphenator, which isn’t as lame as it sounds. Ok, it’s probably exactly as lame, but I really love a correctly used hyphen, almost as much as a correctly used semicolon.
I suppose I should just be grateful they don’t call me the Colonator.
Now, I could save you time by pointing out that at least 50% of the time, when I have a question about hyphenation, my first port of call is my trusty old (actually new) dictionary. Words are always changing, and even between dictionary editions a word won’t necessarily be spelled the same way. Words that work as a pair often evolve from being two words to two words with a hyphen to one word. For example, a few years ago a word like “counterterrorism” was spelled “counter-terrorism”, but the hyphen has been worn away with the word’s frequent use over the last decade.
The other 50% of the time, when the thing you’re looking at hyphenating isn’t one word but two or several working as a compound modifier, whether you need a hyphen is a judgement call. The more-common examples will be in the dictionary, but more-unusual ones won’t.
A modifier is typically an adjective or adverb, and a compound modifier is (unsurprisingly) a modifier made up of two or more words. Most of the time when I see them they are adjectives; I can’t think of any compound adverb examples off the top of my head, but I won’t rule the possibility out because the English language is a tricksy thing.
Here are some examples:
- My long-term goals include becoming a bestseller.
- She gazed at the blue-green sea.
- I have a five-year-old son.
- I’ve got that I-can’t-think-of-any-more-examples feeling.
In all these instances, the bolded words are a compound adjective modifying a noun. Not every word I’ve bolded is an adjective itself, but working together, they form one. Importantly, the compound adjectives are all sitting before the noun. In this instance, I almost always hyphenate the modifiers.
If, however, the sentences were written with the adjectives after the noun, you don’t hyphenate them: “My goals for the long term include becoming a bestseller.” (Yeah, good luck with that.)
Exceptions to hyphenating compound modifiers
There are two reasons I wouldn’t hyphenate a compound modifier even when it’s before a noun. One is when the meaning is clear without the hyphen, and the other is when it changes the meaning of the sentence to add a hyphen.
An example I frequently see is a construction where the modifier to the noun is actually an adverb and a verb, such as “the quickly running boy”. In that instance I wouldn’t hyphenate, simply because there’s no possibility of the reader misunderstanding. “Quickly” can only be modifying “running”, not “boy”.
Here’s another example I see at work a lot:
- I will read the most popular books.
- I will read the most-popular books.
The first says that I will read more popular books than anyone else, while the second says I will read only the books that are bestsellers. In that case, whether you hyphenate or not depends on what you’re trying to convey. Sometimes it’s better to reword to avoid ambiguity; for example, some people might misread the first sentence as having the second meaning, even without the hyphen, because they don’t know what a pedant I am for hyphens. If I reworded to say “I will read more popular books than anyone else”, there’s no chance they’ll misunderstand.
Hyphenating numbers and ages
Ages: In my first examples, I included one about my son being five. That sentence would work the same way whether I wrote it with or without the word “son”, because ages are written with hyphens. (The exception is if there is a noun and the age sits after it in the sentence.)
- I have a five-year-old son.
- I have a five-year-old.
- My son is five years old.
Numbers: Numbers written in full are always hyphenated where they are more than one word (so from twenty-one onwards).
As an aside, when you switch from writing in full to using digits depends on the style you’re using—at work we write words for whole numbers from one to nine and then use digits from 10 onwards. Most other places it’s whole numbers from one to ninety-nine. There is one exception to using digits beyond a certain number, though. If the number starts a sentence, it should be written in full—so if you have the number 28563 at the start of a sentence, you might want to reword to put something in front of it, or it’s gonna get ugly.
There is more I could write about hyphens, but this post is already on the long side and I’m sure that you’ve all fallen asleep anyway. If you haven’t, high five!
In case you missed it, last Tuesday I interviewed Vincent Morrone over at Aussie Owned and Read.
Originally posted on Aussie Writers:
With me today is Vincent Morrone author of young and new adult fiction (including an urban fantasy, which everyone who knows me will be aware is my favourite and my best).Welcome, Vincent!
Your two books are a contemporary new adult, Just Breathe, and an urban fantasy young adult, Vision of Shadows. What drew you to these different genres? Do you have a favourite? (Genre to write, that is; I’m not asking you to choose between your book babies. You know, unless you want to.)
It’s not as much the genre as it is the story of each. I like romance, but to me there has to be more than straightforward romance. I need there to be a paranormal aspect or a killer on the loose or something else going on.
I’m also a fan of characters and both Vision of Shadows and Just Breathe have…
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A year ago Hurricane Josephine swept through Savannah, Georgia, leaving behind nothing but death and destruction — and taking the life of Dovey’s best friend, Carly. Since that night, Dovey has been in a medicated haze, numb to everything around her.
But recently she’s started to believe she’s seeing things that can’t be real … including Carly at their favorite cafe. Determined to learn the truth, Dovey stops taking her pills. And the world that opens up to her is unlike anything she could have imagined.
As Dovey slips deeper into the shadowy corners of Savannah — where the dark and horrifying secrets lurk — she learns that the storm that destroyed her city and stole her friend was much more than a force of nature. And now the sinister beings truly responsible are out to finish what they started.
Dovey’s running out of time and torn between two paths. Will she trust her childhood friend Baker, who can’t see the threatening darkness but promises to never give up on Dovey and Carly? Or will she plot with the sexy stranger, Isaac, who offers all the answers — for a price? Soon Dovey realizes that the danger closing in has little to do with Carly … and everything to do with Dovey herself.
This is a book that is going to polarise people. I gave it five stars so clearly I’m in the “I loved it” category, but I can’t think of the last time a book pulled the rug out from under me in the last chapter like this one did. I lay awake half the night thinking about it. If there were a sequel available for me to read RIGHT NOW, that wouldn’t be so bad. But there isn’t. And I want to cry a little from frustration.
I see from perusing other reviews on Goodreads that some people had assumed this was a psychological thriller, and so were disappointed when it took a supernatural turn. Although there are elements of psychological thriller to the story — Dovey spends the first part of the book coming down off heavy medication and her memory is unreliable at best — the story is more a cross between urban fantasy and horror (which I guess is where gothic fiction often sits).
There are supernatural beasties, mostly demons or their various offspring. And the horror elements are a combination of the creeping sense that something was rotten just beneath the shiny surface, and the way the book leaves you gasping, like the freaky scene right at the end of a horror movie where all is revealed. I was reminded of Silent Hill by parts of it, if you’re familiar with those games (and that movie) — the way you’d turn a corner and something that looked shabby but more-or-less normal would peel back and reveal a slice of something deeply disturbing.
Other than the amazing atmosphere, the thing that made this book for me was Dovey. I love how complex a character she is. She is deeply flawed, in that she has a one-track mind (and may or may not have been dangerously insane before the antipsychotics). Her goal, to find out what happened to her friend Carly a year before, is what inspires her to stop taking her medication, and it’s what drives her to do pretty much everything from that point on.
Sometimes her actions are almost daft, the way she dives into trouble after having been warned of the danger. The ease with which she resorts to violence as the drugs go out of her system is both a warning sign and, I have to admit, deeply satisfying (because who doesn’t love a tough main character?). But her clear and enduring love for her friend, and her natural distrust of the gorgeous but suspicious Isaac — the one providing all the warnings of danger in the first place — are the cause of her recklessness. I can respect that.
There is a bit of a love triangle here, in the typical YA way: Baker is the childhood friend with a longstanding crush, and Isaac is a little bit of a bad boy … but not that bad, really, given the other YA bad boys out there. He came across as more of a bookworm who’s fallen in with a bad crowd to me, which made me like him more than I like most bad boys. Either way, the romance is definitely a subplot, a bit of extra spice, which is how I personally like it.
If you like paranormal stories with a serious creep-factor and a dark conspiracy, then this is the book for you. Five stars.
…now, where’s my sequel?