Must Read: The Martian by Andy Weir

There aren’t many books that I gush about anymore. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve read so many by this point in my life that it takes a special one to stick out, or if it’s because when I recommend one to people, I want them to take it seriously. Whatever the reason, I’d like to take a moment to gush about The Martian by Andy Weir.

The_Martian_2014Okay, I’ll try not to gush too much. I know what happens when people do that: Expectations go up, up, up, and inevitably those expectations aren’t met. So, I’ll keep my recommendation short and sweet:

Read it! It’s awesome.

Fine, fine. I’ll gush a little more. But only a little, I promise.

I first heard about The Martian last fall when I went to a writing conference run by publishing guru, Chuck Sambuchino. During the session that revolved around writing great first pages, he mentioned this book. I can’t remember exactly what Sambuchino said, but it went something like this: “If you want to read a flawless first page and a near flawless book, then read The Martian.”

So, of course, I did. And, of course, I loved it! I’m not even a huge sci-fi fan and I couldn’t put it down.

Since then, I’ve recommended The Martian to all of my friends, and they’ve agreed it’s addicting. Just this morning, my mom text me and told me she finished it (she started it two days ago), and then proceeded to gush about it as well.

…I won’t go into any specific details as to why The Martian is so great (I despise spoilers), but let’s just say it’s been about six months since I finished it and I’m still not over it!

book leavingTalk about an epic book hangover! Thanks a lot, Andy Weir. 😉

Okay, okay, I’ll stop now. Just go read The Martian! And definitely read it before the movie adaptation gets released in November. As amazing (and accurate) as the trailer looks below, we book nerds know the movie is rarely better than the book. So read it before you head to the theater!

To read more about The Martian, click here!

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Photo credits: 

1, 2, 3, 4

Book of the Month – The Maze Runner – James Dashner

Yet again, one of my favorite young adult books is being brought to life on the big screen. This month, it’s The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

6186357Synopsis

“‘If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.’
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers–boys whose memories are also gone.
Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out–and no one’s ever made it through alive.
Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.”

Jen’s Review

I read The Maze Runner forever ago, but even now, years later, I still remember how exciting, adventurous, and suspenseful it was. I also remember how I never stopped asking myself, “What the heck is going to happen next?”.

In a way, The Maze Runner reminds me of Lord of the Flies, except it has a maze, a girl, and oozing, creeping creatures that attack in the night! Oh, and there’s a tiny world-wide plague that gives people zombie-like symptoms, which makes things even more tense and crazy.

I will warn you: if you decide to read The Maze Runner, then you should prepare yourself to read its sequels, The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure. There are way too many unsolved mysteries at the end of book one to feel fully satisfied. But, that’s okay. As a whole (yes, I’ll admit, there are some ups and downs to all three books), this is an entertaining series that’s full of action and intrigue. And, in my opinion, they’re totally worth reading.

Mazerunner_minhoquoteSo what are you waiting for? Run out and read The Maze Runner before the movie hits theaters on September 19th!

Jen’s Rating 

5 Star

And for those of you who’d rather “see” the synopsis, here’s the trailer for The Maze Runner. Prepare to hold your breath for the next two minutes!

…Just remember: Read the book BEFORE you see the movie!

Related Articles

Get Your Heart Rate Up With The Official “Maze Runner” Trailer

THE MAZE RUNNER MOVIE IS COMING

Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Photo credits: 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6186357-the-maze-runner?from_search=true

http://www.teen.com/2014/08/07/movies/books-turned-movies-second-half-of-2014/attachment/maze-runner-thomas-running/

http://giphy.com/gifs/ColbXXtLhOz0k

http://mazerunner.wikia.com/wiki/File:Mazerunner_minhoquote.jpg

http://wifflegif.com/tags/202690-read-the-book-gifs

Friday Funny and The Suspense is Killing Me

Hey, guess what? It’s Faaaaa-riday! Friday, Friday, Friday…

Hmmm, I’m trying to think of interesting things to tell you about that happened this week, but to be honest, it was rather uneventful. I basically worked, ate, and slept. And wrote a lot…Yeah, riveting, I know.

Probably the most exciting thing that happened this week took place in my make believe world. I’ve officially reached the “bang” chapters in my manuscript. Woo-hoo!

At long last, I’ve pulled the first thread to unravel all the suspense and mystery I’ve been weaving since chapter one. The you-know-what has finally hit the fan. Everything my two main characters thought they knew is on the brink of destruction.

Dun, dun, dunnnnn 😉

I’ve actually been so nervous about writing these chapters, I’ve felt sick to my stomach most of the week. When I begin to work on them, my brain short circuits for a second and my heart starts to dance a crazy jig. I usually have to stop, take a deep breath, and center myself before I dive into the madness.

As overwhelming as it’s been, it’s also been a lot of fun. Like, A LOT of fun. I just love writing suspense and drama and action and…Ahhh!

*deep breath*

Anyway, for today I chose two Friday Funnies. Well, one is funny and one is a great quote that I couldn’t resist sharing with you. This first one is dedicated to my endless daydreaming as I plot out the next few whirlwind chapters.

10552388_10152365573228558_1413146830174124789_nThis second isn’t so much funny as it is great advice about writing suspense. I chose it because it’s exactly what I’ve been attempting to do these past couple of months while working on the first half of my book.

writing-suspense-michael-reginaHow was your week? Hopefully more thrilling than mine. On the bright side, I am going over to a friend’s house tonight to finally watch Divergent…I know, I know. Don’t even ask me how I haven’t seen it yet. It was on my “to-do” list and…yeah. It never got done. Whoops! Please don’t yell at me too much. 😉

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

In case you missed my posts from earlier this week, here you go!

Music Monday – Always Starting Over – Idina Menzel

Book of the Month – If I Stay – Gayle Forman

25 Steps To Being A Traditionally Published Author

Photo credits: 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/10/napoleon-dynamite-brother-kip_n_4077817.html

http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/75024763.html

http://www.tinalicious.com/2013/12/10-mostly-realistic-resolutions-for-2014.html

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/596708986

http://theunderfold.com/2014/05/03/art-quotes-twitter/

Book of the Month – If I Stay – Gayle Forman

On August 22nd, one of my favorite books is coming to life on the big screen. To honor that, I’ve chosen If I Stay by Gayle Forman as August’s Book of the Month.

6564365If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Synopsis

“Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.
I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.
Stay, he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?
Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.
If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.”

Jen’s Review

I read If I Stay years ago, and it still makes my heart twist and my stomach drop. Just thinking about it makes me search for a tissue while thanking God I haven’t had to experience what Mia did in this book.

tumblr_mp8lqkavxh1sxy5x9o1_500One of the most important things in my life is my family. If anything happened to them…well, I’m not sure what I’d do. It’s one of those fears that haunts me on a daily basis, just as I’m sure it haunts many of you. To think of having everything you cherish taken away in the blink of an eye…

*shudder*

If I Stay addresses this tragic fear. It makes you live it through the eyes of Mia, a girl whose family is killed in a car accident. She herself is on the brink of death and must decide if she has the strength to stay and live with the pain of knowing when she awakes, her family will be gone; or if she can’t bear their loss and will let go to join them in death.
But, don’t worry. This story isn’t only about making you cry and sob and go through an entire box of tissues. It celebrates life and love, and offers hope when there is no hope to be found.

tumblr_mdg8mwFXNk1rj9ghno1_500As hard as this story is to read, it’s worth it. For me, it made me consider what I’d do if this type of tragedy ever struck in my life. Would I give up? Or would I fight for life? To be honest, I’m still not sure. Like Mia, it’s a choice I can’t make until it I had to.

Jen’s Rating

5 Star

To read more about If I Stay, click here!

And for those of you who’d rather “see” the synopsis, here’s the trailer for If I Stay…I suggest you grab a tissue before you view it 😉

…Just remember: Read the book BEFORE you see the movie!

 Related Articles

BOOK REVIEW: IF I STAY BY GAYLE FORMAN

A Blogging Reader’s Review: ‘IF I STAY’ by Gayle Forman

Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Photo credits: 

http://brynnetervention.blogspot.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4374400-if-i-stay

http://gayleforman.tumblr.com/post/54363068897/the-quote-books-if-i-stay-by-gayle-forman

http://handwrittenonpaper.tumblr.com/post/35663785431

Music Monday – Once Upon a Dream – Lana Del Rey

Welcome to Music Monday! As many of you know, music contributes a great deal to my writing process. Whether it’s a song’s lyrics, beat, rhythm, or tone, I find myself constantly inspired by it.

writing-to-musicSo, last week, I happened to stumble upon the best and eeriest version of “Once Upon a Dream” from Sleeping Beauty. It was re-recorded by the talented Lana Del Rey for the Maleficent soundtrack.

maleficent-lana-del-ray-once-upon-a-dreamTo be honest, I’ve always considered “Once Upon a Dream” silly and cheesy. Hello, it was recorded for a 1959 Disney cartoon. (Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney cartoons, and Sleeping Beauty is one of my favorites). But this updated version is just…creepy. And sad. But, that’s probably because when I listen to it, I’m thinking about my characters. This song seems to taunt them and mock their crazy, messed up lives. And I love it! I find so much inspiration in that mockery…Weird, I know. Maybe even a little mean. But sometimes I need that kind of cruel inspiration. It makes my conflicts and emotions feel truer when I go to translate them to paper.

0So here you go! Here is the new (and improved) version of Sleeping Beauty’s “Once Upon a Dream”:

What song(s) are you in love with right now? Which one(s) offer you inspiration? Let me know! I’m always searching for songs that motivate my writing.

Photo credits:

http://michaelgalvis.com/

http://www.fatmovieguy.com/disneys-maleficent-dream-trailer-free-mp3/maleficent-lana-del-ray-once-upon-a-dream/

http://article.wn.com/view/2014/01/27/lana_del_rey_sings_x22once_upon_a_dream_x22_in_a_new_malefic/

Book of the Month: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

11870085The Fault in Our Stars by John Green 

Synopsis

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Jen’s Review

That about sums things up 😉

Okay, seriously. I’m not normally into stories about cancer and sickness and whatnot. They’re just too sad and depressing. However,  I made an exception for The Fault in Our Stars after hearing so many wonderful things about it. And I’m glad I did! This is a special story everyone needs to read. It has a touching plot, plenty of takeaway messages, and a cast of sincere characters. I especially love Augustus (I think most readers do). Simply put, he’s a good guy. A good, sweet, authentic, lovable guy. In fact, when my sister was trying to think of a name for her next kid, I suggested August…She almost used it, too. Darn!

I won’t lie. This is a heartbreaking story. And you will need tissues. But the pain is worth it, I promise!

1010396_212218672304022_342272204_nPlus, the movie is coming out in a few days, and you know my rule of thumb: read the book before you see the movie. So go read it!

Jen’s Rating 

4 Star

Related Articles

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Friday Funny and Writer Up

Well, another week down and another week of successful writing under my belt! With my job still on the blessedly slower side, and the rest of my life surprisingly calm (minus a couple of hiccups last weekend with a broken car and Internet), I was able to work like a maniac on my manuscript. My six-day total (Saturday to Thursday) was approximately 21,700 words. So, that gives me a two-week grand total of over 50,000 words!

Happy dance time!

I’m definitely on a record-setting pace. And if I keep it up, I just might meet the original deadline I set for myself back in January (complete one manuscript by early spring). Of course, keeping up this pace might be on the crazy/unlikely side. First, because, hello, writing 3,000-5,000 words/day is exhausting/emotionally draining/isolating. Second, because starting next week, my life will get busier. The workload at my job will increase significantly, and my sister is due to have a baby at any minute (eeks!). Throw in regular chores, a few birthday parties, and possibly the second round of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge (results from round one arrive on Monday), and I’m looking at some serious cutbacks in writing time. However, no matter what “butterflies” come my way, I’m determined to keep fighting and keep writing.

In honor of my extreme focus this week, and the fact that I’ve been “talking” more to my characters lately than real people (ahem…yeah), here are a few funnies for your Friday pleasure. Enjoy!

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2c3c4636d5e6505426bf9ae989a94a21Okay, “real people” out there. Talk to me (um, please? haha!). How was your week? Did you #WriterUp and get some work done? Are you going to be a hermit like me this weekend and write, write, write? Well, I might take a small break to go to the movies to see Divergent. Anyone else going to see it?

Okay, time for me to #WriterUp! You should too. Go! Work!

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Jen’s Weekly Roundup

Blog Hop – Writing Insights