Friday, May 8, 2015

Book Review: THE SHADOW CABINET by Maureen Johnson

Things I think you might need to know about this particular review:
1.     Yes, I recently binge read FIVE Maureen Johnson books, and I have no problem admitting that!
2.     This review is for the third book in the Shades of London series, The Shadow Cabinet and while it isn’t my FAVORITE in the series, the series overall deserves a hearty I LOVE THESE BOOKS!
3.     Once again we have that dicey situation where I have to tell you about this book, and this series, without GIVING AWAY ANY SPOILERS! Dang, I hate that responsibility! So, I will skirt around that issue, while telling you in very GENERAL terms why these are fun books to read.

Here’s the official synopsis, from Goodreads:
Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory’s classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte’s in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming.

Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her spectral nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they'll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself—and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret.

The Shades of London series is a fun paranormal with a historical twist. Because that’s what I like to write, it doesn’t get any better than that as far as I’m concerned! UNLESS IT IS MAUREEN JOHNSON WRITING IT!

She is so very funny in real life, and her humor shines through in these books. Plus, the character development is fantastic. The protagonist, Rory, is a smart, courageous, sometimes sassy girl—I LOVE that! She’s a ghost hunter—a member of a squad of ghost hunters—, and by this third book she has a special power that allows her to, uh, assist ghosts on their way to the next realm should that be necessary. As you read the books you come to feel like you know the rest of the cast of characters. And in this book there is a new character that I LOVE—an intelligent, kickass female who could have a series of books of her own, should Ms. Johnson ever decide to do that.

The second book in the series ended with a cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers and I don’t know how people who read Book Two, The Madness Underneath, when it first came out were able to wait for the third book. Seriously. Fortunately, before I started Book Two I read that there was a cliffhanger and I ran out and got this new book before I finished the second one. I STRONGLY suggest you do the same if you’re about to start reading this series from the beginning.

The first two books have a little romance in them, so some kissing, but there’s little or no kissing in this third book. I know some readers have been unhappy about that. But I didn’t say that there’s no romance or wishing to kiss, just no actual kissing.

VERY PERSONAL ADMISSION WARNING:  This is the first book that I’ve read that’s had ghosts in it for a couple of years. I’ve always loved ghost books, until I had a little ghost issue of my own, and I swore off them for a while. My resident ghost has been quiet for a few months so when I picked up the first book in the series, The Name of the Star, I was feeling comfortable enough to start reading something with a ghost. So glad I did—I loved the ghosts in these books, both the good and not-so-good.

Now go start reading Maureen Johnson’s The Shades of London series!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Just Do (it)...A Few Inspirational Quotes From Chuck Wendig


It comes in many forms. A radio interview, a song, the shower, random things you hear other people say while eavesdropping in the line at Starbucks and OTHER WRITERS. What you do with it is your choice. You might say…write a novel. Or, start to write a novel. But what do you do when the momentum slips away?

Last week Sarah gave me an AMAZING book that she happened to walk by at Barnes and Nobel and couldn’t leave without purchasing. The Kick-Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig.

Today it is my pleasure to share with you some of the passages that have lit a fire under me! Remember these are just my FAVORITES this whole book is jam-packed with amazing/funny/motivation tools that make you laugh (or cry) but also inspire you to sit your behind down, open your computer and put some letters on a page!

1.      Quit Quitting

It’s all too easy to start something and not finish it. Remember when I said you were a legion? It’s true, but if you want to be separated from 90 percent of other writes (or “writers” depending on how pedantic you choose to be) out there, then just finish the sh*% that you started. Stop abandoning your children. You wouldn’t call yourself a runner if you quit every race halfway through. Finishing is a good start. Stop looking for the escape hatch; pretend your work in progress just doesn’t have one.

This passage is by far my favorite and Mr. Wendig can’t say it any better!

2.      Go to Real Places, Look at Them, and Take Notes

Anywhere you go, note the details of the place. Like with fiction, note most of all those details out of place – from this not only will you get good descriptions for your work, but you might even nab a story idea or two out of it. Bonus: Hey, you get to travel!

I love this passage for many reasons but the main is that one of my favorite past-times is people/place watching. It gives me license to just stare at things, use them, and get inspired! 

3.      (Last but certainly not least): You Have 15,000 Chances to Screw It Up

But, you also have as many chances to make it sing. What I’m, saying is, the average novel is 15,000 sentences. Each on can’t be poetry. Find your own tricks to write a kick-ass sentence from the get-go – a sentence that sings, a sentence that bites. A sentence that conveys information clearly and without confusion and with a cadence beating in its heart.

This is a great nugget of advice because it helps you (the writer) break down your work into one tiny sentence at a time. It helps to take the BIG PICTURE and break it down into all the little tiny pixels and look at each one at a time. 

The Kick-Ass Writer is so full of amazing little nuggets and these three are just a taste of the amazingness in this book. If you need a kick-in-the-pants/a fire lit in your belly/or just to laugh-out-loud run don’t walk to your nearest book store and pick up this gem!

One last note to Mr. Wendig: Sarah and I have had so much fun reading this we decided that this book should be made into a daily calendar, what better way to start your day then with an insightful, funny, truthful and inspiring quote!

You should also check out Mr. Wendig's blog Terrible Minds! Here's the link: