Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees

★★★☆☆   (3.00)
Genre – Young Adult Fantasy23734628
Summary – Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.
That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.
Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.
(Summary from Goodreads)
Initial Thoughts – I knew I shouldn’t have read this book. I LOVED Fangirl so much (and most of Rowell’s other books), but I was worried when I heard this book was going to be coming out. The book had too many similarities to Harry Potter in the beginning to work for me. Yes, Rainbow Rowell completely changed the plot, but the whole premise was Harry Potter. And that might work for some people, but it just didn’t for me.
Plot – ★★★☆ It took a long time to for the plot to pick up. This is supposed to be the final book in the series, so Rowell spends a lot of time covering the previous ‘books’ in the first 100 or so pages. Once the plot finally appears, it’s much better.
Characters – ★★★☆☆ The characters took a long time to grow on me. I think I was too busy comparing them to Harry Potter to actually see them as their own characters.
Story world – ★★☆☆☆ I can’t give Rowell much credit to her story world because I feel like she didn’t create it. There were some differences, yes, but it just wasn’t enough for me.
Style – ★★★★☆ I love Rainbow Rowell’s style, as always, but I think she struggled just a little with the fantasy aspect. While I think it’s great when authors stray outside of their normal genres, I think it didn’t quite work for Rowell.
Closing Thoughts – I think the thing that bugs me the most is that Rowell didn’t acknowledge at all in the author’s note or the acknowledgements that she borrowed stuff from J.K. Rowling. If she had done that, I would have been completely okay with this book and probably enjoyed it a lot more. This book just wasn’t for me. Maybe you can read it and enjoy, but I’m going to stick with Harry Potter.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees

(This is the third book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. You can find my review of the first book here. The second book can be found here. Spoilers in the summary below.)

★★★★★ (5.00)
Genre – Young Adult Fantasy13618440
Summary -By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz. .
 (Summary from GoodReads)
Initial Thoughts – I LOVE THIS SERIES!!!! That’s all I have to say.
Plot – ★★★★★ There’s a plot twist or complication about every five pages and I loovvveee it.
Characters – ★★★★★ I’m never going to let these characters go. I love them all.
Story world – ★★★★★ I want to visit this story world. (Maybe after all the fighting is done, though…)
Style – ★★★★★ Laini Taylor is a writing goddess and I wish I could have her skill.
Closing Thoughts – Go read this series. Right now. You need it in your life. I can’t express how much I love this. So much.

(cover from GoodReads)

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees

★★★★☆ (4.25)
Genre – Young Adult Contemporary18692431
Summary – My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly. (Summary from GoodReads)
Initial Thoughts – I was pulled to this book by the beautiful cover. (I mean, LOOK AT IT!!!!)
Plot – ★★★★☆ I was loving this book up into the ‘big twist’. (If you read it, you will know what I’m talking about.) I had kind-of predicted it while reading it, but I was hoping it wouldn’t be true. The twist just didn’t sit well with me. It felt…easy.
Characters – ★★★★☆ Maddy and her mom are wonderful complex characters. However, Olly was a bit too perfect for my liking.
Story world – ★★★★☆ Maddy’s house with all of it’s anti-everything technology was clearly researched and it was fascinating to see the world through Maddy’s sheltered eyes.
Style – ★★★★★ The style of this book flowed easily, making it impossible to put it down.
Closing Thoughts – This book is definitely a need read, even though the ending didn’t quite fit my liking.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

Dynamic vs. Static Characters

60 Second Advice by Anne Brees

The use of dynamic and static characters is essential to leaving your readers satisfied after finishing your story. Dynamic characters are characters who change throughout the story, while static characters do not change. 

Your main character, and most of your other essential characters, should be dynamic characters. In order for your story to feel complete, your character must change. Maybe your shy character finally is brave enough to fight for what she believes in. Your ruthless character learns mercy. Your quarrelsome character leans peace. Your main character must be a dynamic character.

The liar will always be a liar, even though your characters may (unfortunately for them) trust her. The thief will always be a thief. (Once again, unfortunate for your characters.) The kind will always be kind. (A little more fortunate for your characters.) Static characters can also help move along the plot and cause complications.

Is your main character a dynamic character? What is the change that your main character goes through?

Murder in-absentia by Assaph Mehr

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees

★★★★★ (4.50)27163413

Genre – Adult Fantasy/Mystery
Summary –A young man is found dead in his bed, with a look of extreme agony on his face and strange tattoos all over his body. His distraught senator father suspects foul play, and knows who to call on. Enter Felix, a professional investigator. In the business of ferreting out dark information for his clients, Felix is neither a traditional detective nor a traditional magician – but something in between. Drawing on his experience of dealing with the shady elements of society and his aborted education in the magical arts, Felix dons his toga and sets out to discover the young man’s killers.
(Summary from GoodReads)
Initial Thoughts – I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I fell in love with this book and enjoyed reading every moment of it.
Plot – ★★★★★ The plot moves along quickly. Felix is constantly finding new clues and suspects, making it impossible to set down.
Characters – ★★★★☆ This novel is filled with countless characters that are all important and distinguishable in their own ways. However, I didn’t quite connect with Felix and I think he could have used a little something more.
Story world – ★★★★★ It’s clear just how much Assaph Mehr knows about ancient Rome. For every second of the novel, I could clearly understand the culture and the surroundings of Felix’s world. In my opinion, it’s one of the best parts of the novel.
Style – ★★★★☆ Assaph Mehr’s writing was strong and compelling. However, there was just a little too much description in some parts for me.
Closing Thoughts – I would highly recommend this to fans of the supernatural and of mysteries.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees

(This is the second book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. You can find my review of the first book here. Spoilers in the summary below.)

★★★★★ (5.00)
Genre – Young Adult Fantasy12812550
Summary – Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.
 (Summary from GoodReads)
Initial Thoughts – After finishing Daughter of Smoke and Bone, there was no question that I had to read this book.
Plot – ★★★★★ This book. Is it possible that it was even better than Daughter of Smoke and Bone? You definitely don’t have to worry about second book syndrome here.
Characters – ★★★★★ I love all of the characters in this series so much because they all have their imperfections and quirks.
Story world – ★★★★★ The sequel spends more time in the fantasy world rather than the real world. It’s clear just how much thought Laini Taylor has put into her story world.
Style – ★★★★★ I bow down to Laini Taylor’s writing. End of story.
Closing Thoughts – Read this. If you haven’t read the first book, read that, and then this. Now.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

5 Tips For Writing Your Climax

5 Tips by Anne Brees

The climax is one of the most important parts of your story. After building up all of your subplots for the entire novel, your character must finally face everything and do THE THING. Here are a few components you should make sure to include in your climax.

  1. How has your character changed? One of the most important parts of a climax is making sure that your character arc changes. After all your MC should be a dynamic character. (A dynamic character is a character who changes or grows through the story.) Maybe your character finally gains courage to do the thing that she has been avoiding the whole story. Maybe the character finally forgives or understands someone that has hurt her. No matter what it is, your character should be changed, for better or for worse, after your climax.
  2. What is the consequence? Throughout your story, there should be some kind of consequence that is keeping the character from doing THE THING. Maybe she’ll lose or hurt someone that she loves. Maybe she’s afraid of what someone will think or do to her. After the climax, do these consequences fall upon her?
  3. Did she succeed, fail, or somewhere in between? Answer this question in different ways. Does your character think that she succeeded in her goal? Do others characters, her friends and enemies, think that she succeeded? What about a distant bystander?
  4. What happened to your villain? Even if your villain isn’t a person, this question still has to be answered. Once your character does THE THING, how does the villain respond? Is she defeated and dies? Runs away? Plots more revenge? Realizes her actions and apologizes? Your readers will want to know what happens to your villain just as much as your MC.
  5. Are most, if not all, of your subplots wrapped up? Unless you are planning a sequel, make sure that all of your subplots are wrapped up. There’s nothing that frustrates readers more than not getting answers to all of the story questions. Even if you are planning a sequel, it’s still a good idea to get most of the plot threads wrapped up, so that the ending feels like an actual ending.

Writing the climax of the story can be daunting. However, if you break it down and make sure you have all of the components, it should be much easier.

What tricks do you use for writing your climax?