Wednesday, June 13, 2012

WINNERS! + YA Page Critique


Thanks to everyone for entering the YA book giveaway this last week! Congrats to the winners I've already contacted, courtesy of random.org:

1. A LONG, LONG SLEEP: Irene!
2. THE HUNGER GAMES COMPANION: Tangynt!
3. STARTERS: Tinkerbell the Bipolar Faerie!
4. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE: Alexia Chamberlynn! 

I would also like to announce that due to me moving next week to sweatingly hot Chico, California, I will be on blog vacation for 3 weeks! I will reappear July 10th (yep, a Tuesday for that week). Sorry I haven't been active in the blogosphere lately, and I'm sad to miss your latest bloggy news, but I've been busy with yard sales, packing, and other moving prep.  
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Today's first page excerpt is a YA paranormal by Alice Fleury that is more horror than romance. The title is A Certain Presence. Please add your helpful feedback below!

THE EXCERPT
A black bird perched on the sign painted with the words: Fortune $5. He strutted and twitched and eyed the people outside the tent.

My best friend Bree had maneuvered herself to the front of the line. She hadn’t noticed I’d fallen behind. Kate wouldn’t like this. Not that I would tell her. It was cooler under the tree. A lake breeze blew stray hairs that tickled my face.

“Gen.” Bree jumped out of line. Her pink streaked hair straggled along her shoulders. “C’mon.” She pulled me inside. “We’re next. And you owe me five bucks.”

To our left a table displayed baubles and herbs. Decks of Tarot cards and booklets about psychic phenomena were for sale. Business cards with Madame Nadine’s information lay in a porcelain hand.

Smashed grass created a path to gauzy fabric draped from poles. The curtain parted and a woman walked past me and Bree like she was dazed.

“Come.” Madame beckoned us. Her bracelets clinked with the graceful movement of her arms. “Come.” Candles flickered on a red tablecloth casting shadows behind her.

Bree stuck her hand out. “Me first.”

Madame’s eyes shone like black marbles and her red lips smiled. She cupped Bree’s hand in hers. “Ahh, a long life line.

Bree giggled.

Smoke snaked from the candle flames accumulating in the space between us. Madame’s and Bree’s words became murmurs, their bodies’ silhouettes. My neck prickled and chills ran down my arms. “Genevieve.” A translucent figure whispered my name.

THE CRITIQUE
1. Opening Line. The opening line speaks of something unusual going on, and is attention-getting. It's possibly somewhat cliché to have a raven hanging around as an ill omen (or a witch's familiar?), but it's interesting nevertheless.
2. Things that threw me off.
Bree's maneuvering to the front of the line. There was previous mention of a tent and some people, but the line seemed to appear out of nowhere. I also got confused by Bree pulling Gen "inside" and then mentions of grass like they were still outside.
Bree vs. Kate. First Bree is introduced, and then the paragraph immediately switches to a mention of Kate. More info would be nice to tell who she is, or else the mention of Kate separated more from Bree.
Kate vs. temperature/breeze. It was cooler under the tree. A lake breeze blew stray hairs that tickled my face. These lines didn't seem to mesh with Kate's disapproval; are they connected? I expected to read more about Kate, or have those things relate to her. These could be bumped to a new paragraph, or a transition phrase added.
The dazed woman leaving tent vs Madame Nadine. Since it was Bree/Gen's turn at the tent, I assumed the woman emerging was Madame Nadine, and she was going to greet them. That threw me off momentarily.
3. A wordy sentence: Business cards with Madame Nadine’s information lay in a porcelain hand. Tighter: Madame Nadine's business cards lay in a porcelain hand.
4. Two ambiguous sentences: Smoke snaked from the candle flames accumulating in the space between us. Also: Candles flickered on a red tablecloth casting shadows behind her. Is it the smoke that is accumulating, or the candle flames? Are the candles casting shadows, or the tablecloth? It sounds like the latter in both instances, which I don't think is the intent. A comma would help, but rewording might make the intent even more clear:
Smoke snaked from the candle flames, and accumulated in the space between us.
Candles flickered on a red tablecloth, and cast shadows behind her.
5. Shouldn't Bree or Gen pay Madame? A short phrase or even a single word added would take care of this: Bree paid, and stuck her hand out.
6. No end quote, and no possessive needed: “Ahh, a long life line. Need end quote mark. Madame’s and Bree’s words became murmurs, their bodies’ silhouettes. There is no possessive involved with bodies, just a plural. The word "became" is implied: …their bodies [became] silhouettes.

Kudos and Overall Thoughts: Nicely creepily paranormal in tone, and I like the whispered voice at the end. Despite the minor confusions as I read, the page flows well and makes for an intriguing start. I like the smoke "snaking," and the way Bree's hair (and thus a bit of her personality) is described without stopping the action. I'm very curious as to what will happen next, which is a good thing!

YOUR TURN
What praise or comments can you add to help Alice refine her work?
Have you ever had your fortune told via palm reading?
If you have a blog, when's the last time YOU treated yourself to a blog vacation?


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

YA Book Giveaway!!


Let's change up the pace a bit from critiques! Today I'd like to host a giveaway for 4 YA books shown below. We'll call it my 400 Follower celebration--397 is close enough. Besides, I'm getting ready to move and can't take all my books with me. Thank you for connecting to my blog, new readers and old!

Easy Rules and How to Enter:
1. Be a Follower of this blog.
2. Leave a comment saying you'd like to enter.
3. Optional: to facilitate the awarding, tell me which book you'd like to win! (please say if you have a second choice, too)
4. Deadline for the random drawing is Tuesday, June 12 at 8 pm PST.
5. Winners will be announced on my Wednesday, June 13 post.

Note: Sorry, this giveaway is only open to US followers. If you are outside the US, please let me know in the comments if you'd like to win a FREE chapter critique instead!

THE BOOKS:
DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grow dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she disappears on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

A LONG, LONG SLEEP by Anna Sheehan
Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss.

Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten sub-basement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now her parents and her first love are long dead, and Rose--hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire--is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat.

Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes--or be left without any future at all.

THE HUNGER GAMES COMPANION by Lois H. Gresh
The ultimate (though unauthorized) companion guide to the Hunger Games trilogy.

For all those who adore Katniss and Peeta, and can't get enough, this companion guide to the Hunger Games series is a must-read. Go deeper into the post-apocalyptic world created by Suzanne Collins than you ever thought possible—an alternative future where boys and girls are chosen from twelve districts to compete in a televised fight-to-the-death. When sixteen-year-old Katniss learns that her little sister has been chosen, Kat steps up to fight in her place—and the games begin. This unauthorized guide takes the reader behind the stage.

The Hunger Games Companion includes fascinating background facts about the action in all three books, a revealing biography of the author, and amazing insights into the series’ main themes and features--from the nature of evil, to weaponry and rebellions, to surviving the end of the world.

STARTERS by Lissa Price
In the future, teens rent their bodies to seniors who want to be young again. One girl discovers her renter plans to do more than party--her body will commit murder, if her mind can't stop it.

Sixteen-year-old Callie lost her parents when the genocide spore wiped out everyone except those who were vaccinated first: the very young and very old. With no grandparents to claim Callie and her little brother, they live as squatters and fight off unclaimed renegades who would kill for a cookie. Hope comes via Prime Destinations, run by a mysterious figure known only as The Old Man. He hires teens to rent their bodies to seniors, known as Enders, who wish to be young again. Callie's neurochip malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her rich renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, even dating Blake, the grandson of a senator. It's a fairy-tale new life--until she uncovers the Body Bank's horrible plan…

YOUR TURN
Have you read these books yet?
Do you want to enter the giveaway? Let me know in the comments!
When you move to a new place, do you keep your books--or are you able to part with them and give them away?