Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Full Measures by Rebecca Yarros - Review!

Oh my gosh, I am so excited!  Today I get to review a book by one of my agency sisters, and what a book it is!  It's a wonderful novel by Rebecca Yarros and it's called FULL MEASURES!


Now, isn't that just such a pretty cover?

Okay, so where to start?  Let's start with the most awesome logline ever:


This got me.  It truly hooked me as my mind instantly filled with questions, and an ominous feeling crept over me, urging me to read on, but making my chest clutch tight at the same time.

So, what is this book actually about?  Well, here's the blurb:


Twenty years as an army brat and Ember Howard knew, too. The soldiers at the door meant her dad was never coming home. What she didn’t know was how she would find the strength to single-handedly care for her crumbling family when her mom falls apart.

Then Josh Walker enters her life. Hockey star, her new next-door neighbour, and not to mention the most delicious hands that insist on saving her over and over again. He has a way of erasing the pain with a single look, a single touch. As much as she wants to turn off her feelings and endure the heartache on her own, she can’t deny their intense attraction.

Until Josh’s secret shatters their world. And Ember must decide if he’s worth the risk that comes with loving a man who could strip her bare

If you're expecting some flimsy, pat romance novel, you're mistaken.  This is a wonderfully detailed book that looks into the grief, courage and heart of how a family survives the death of a serviceman.  Compelling, vivid and utterly soul touching, this will make you cry, ache and rejoice all at the same time.

Main character, twenty-year-old Ember has so much to face in her life - becoming the only functioning adult in the house who has to carry her mother and sibling, going through a change in school, and dealing with a bad break up.  Weighty topics that Yarros deals with with a deft hand and light style, making the reader feel the heartache but hope at the same time.

Enter high school crush, Josh.  Despite her circumstances, Ember starts to fall.  But is Josh the man she wants to catch her?  Are his secrets going to be too much for her to bear?  Following Ember on her quest to hold her life together, follow her heart or ignore it...all of it combines to make a wonderful emotional read that you don't want to put down.

There is so much to love about this book and it's such an easy, quick read.  Ember is instantly likeable and someone you root for through the whole book.  Josh is intriguing and you can't help follow him with interest.  The combination of both characters makes for a fascinating tale.

However, for me, the strongest element of this book is the way Yarros deals with heart wrenching loss and how people find the strength and courage to go on in the face of overwhelming grief.  This is a must read, as the sheer enormity of feeling will suck you in and hold you to the very last page.

If I could sum up this book in one word?


And what more could you want?  A novel that makes you feel, live and breathe through it.

Congratulations, Rebecca.  You have outdone yourself.

Now, GO BUY!  http://www.amazon.com/Measures-Entangled-Embrace-Rebecca-Yarros-ebook/dp/B00HY03FJM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390912490&sr=8-1&keywords=full+measures+rebecca+yarros

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Why did I choose my #Pitch Wars winners?

As it's going to go LIVE in not so many hours away, I thought it was about time I did a recap of why I choose the people I did for #Pitch Wars!

Can I just start though, by saying just how amazingly lucky I was to receive so many wonderful entries (ya'll made it a tough choice)!  In the end, I could only pick three.  And these are who (and why) I did.

My #1 choice - Jordan Teos with her YA sci-fi MERLIN'S FLIGHT

Ironically, sci fi was one of the genres that was lower down on my pick list.  I am notoriously choosy over which sci-fi books grace my shelves and I am tough to impress.  And then I saw the pages for Merlin's Flight.  Wow.  Talk about knock my socks off!  The query intrigued me enough to read on.  And then BAM!  I fell in love.  As a huge fan of Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeves, I literally air-punched when I read a wonderful fresh concept that followed the same style as one of my favourite authors.  Added to that, the kick-ass heroine and fabulous aviation background (and this is done so well, I swear I know how to fly now!) and you get an amazing MS.

So how did we get on?  Well, Jordan will have her side.  But as for mine - I really hit gold with such a wonderful writer to work with.  Skype, email, a gazillion comments in Word.  She took it all.  And she revised like a demon.  Even when we talked major revisions of the arc down to small niggly word choice, she was in it to win it.  All while keeping a positive attitude and a razor sharp edit pen. 

My alternate - Rachel Horwitz with her YA sci-fi IF SKYSCRAPERS HAD SECRETS

Did I mention I'm choosy with sci-fi?  No really, I am.  But hot dang, another one came and smacked me upside the head.  This one grabbed with with superb world-building and a mystery.  I love me a mystery.  Rachel is a diamond at creating plausible mysteries where you can't resist following along for the ride.  "Just one more page" whispered in the middle of the night...and before you know it, it's morning and you've finished the whole damn book.

I was super excited to work with Rachel too, as talk about a whizz kid on edits.  She can turn them around on a dime.  She was also very open to working on tricky issues such as theme and plot and character arcs.  And she dug in, first time and every time.  I sincerely believe an agent or editor would be DELIGHTED to work with her.  She's a pleasure!

My alternate - Jocelyn Rish with her YA Mystery The Drama Queen Who Cried Wolf

OMG.  OMG this had voice, voice, voice in the inbox.  I knew this was one of my top three the moment I read it.  It grabbed me, it pulled me in, and it made me laugh.  So hard.  The main character is amazingly funny and the pages effortless to read.  Seriously.  You can do this in one sitting and then flip immediately back to the start to go again.

In lucky strike number three, it turned out that Jocelyn is a kick ass writer to work with.  I didn't pull my punches, going straight for those "I hope the reader doesn't notice" niggly bits.  And Jocelyn took it like a boss.  And edited the living daylights out of them!  I have every faith this is going to be a HUGE success.  You can't help but love Brea (the MC!) and Jocelyn in equal measures!).

And so, in Pitch Wars, I fell in love....

                                                                                        ......  Three times!

Now, all that is to come is the agent round!  Check out my wonderful mentee on Brenda Drake's website (oh come on, you all know where it is, you don't need the link!).  And my wonderful alternates on http://dcmorin.blogspot.com/ - and big thanks to Dannie for hosting my girls!

Wish us luck!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Happy New Year & Happy #PitMad!

Welcome to The YA Bookcase 2014!  For all my regular followers, it's so nice to see you back.  I hope this year I can continue to help as best I can with your writing world.  I'm striving to make this the strongest, freshest, most relevant year yet!  And to all my new followers, thank you for stopping by.  I hope you find something in this blog you connect with.  Don't be shy.  Feel free to comment, suggest or ask whatever you want.  Open discussions are always welcome.

Okay, so let's get down to business.  It's the start of a brand new year which means the start of a contest.  You got it!  #PitMad is back (follow the hashtag on Twitter, you won't be disappointed).  This is the time for writers to hone their novel's log line in 140 characters or less and pitch it to numerous agents perusing the hashtag on the 8th of January.  Feel free to join in and see if you can snag the agent of your dreams.  I got my agent through a previous #PitMad contest, so it can happen for you too!

Now, before the action hots up, I thought it was the right time to discuss just exactly what makes an eye catching log line.

A log line should be short, sharp and to the point.  It should offer the unique slant of the story, whilst giving the reader the idea of the conflict and genre.  Ideally, it should cover the main character, what the main character wants, and what must be overcome for the character to succeed.

However, a few different techniques can be used to great effect.

For example, some log lines focus on comparisons, such as the Aliens movie, which could be log-lined as "Jaws in space", or a book being pegged as "Twilight meets the Golden Girls".

Others novels don't suit comparisons, but could be based on the formula of "(hero) must (action) with/against (antagonist) to resolve (conflict) or (consequence)."

Or you can use the method of "Character wants X, but Y stands in the way. Z must be done to achieve goal or consequences occur."

If you can't boil your book down to a log line, then you need to sit down and think hard about what your book is about.  What does your main character want more than anything in the world?  What would they do to get it?  What's stopping them?  What will happen if they don't get it?  How is this bad for them?

If you're still really struggling, then ask your Critique Partners (very nicely) to sum up what your book is about in as few of words as possible, then use this as a base to work from.

A good log line is essential to a writer's career.  You need to be able to paint a picture of your novel in the reader's mind as quickly as possible, so that they can see why they'd want to buy your book.  Learning this skill early on is vital.

Also, don't forget to insert your genre in your log line.  For example:  "YA Romance. Character wants X, but Y stands in the way. Z must be done to achieve goal or consequences occur."

As a helping hand to all #PitMad applicants, feel free to post your log lines here and I'll give a critique on them before the big day.

Best of luck to you all.  And may the odds be ever in your favour!

Here's to a roaring 2014!  I hope all your writing dreams come true!