Monday, January 30, 2012

Review: A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young

5 out of 5 stars. Gripping from the very beginning and beautiful all the way through.

Description: "We all want to be remembered. Charlotte's destiny is to be forgotten.

Charlotte's best friend thinks Charlotte might be psychic. Her boyfriend thinks she's cheating on him. But Charlotte knows what's really wrong: She is one of the Forgotten, a kind of angel on earth who feels the Need—a powerful, uncontrollable draw to help someone, usually a stranger.

But Charlotte never wanted this responsibility. What she wants is to help her best friend, whose life is spiraling out of control. She wants to lie in her boyfriend's arms forever. But as the Need grows stronger, it begins to take a dangerous toll on Charlotte. And who she was, is, and will become—her mark on this earth, her very existence—is in jeopardy of disappearing completely"

The pacing is perfect. The suspense is incredible. The characters are realistic, and the message is relatable and touching. A Need So Beautiful plays wonderfully on the common battle between doing what is right vs doing what is selfish and on the struggle between believing that we are in control vs giving in to a higher power or purpose vs taking control of our lives while putting our energy towards that higher purpose.

I enjoyed it thoroughly from beginning to end.

<3 Gina Blechman

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

4 out of 5 stars.

Excellent, excellent, excellent.

Description: "Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming."

There ya go, folks. It's got love. It's got fear. It's got teen hormones, and mystery, and dystopian intellectualism, and, essentially, it's got a whole lot of awesomeness.

At first, to be honest, I was extremely skeptical. The story is told from the views of the two main characters, Amy & Elder, and it seemed like every time it changed to Amy's part nothing was happening. (Just a warning to y’all, if you feel this as you read, push through it.) There was also, what I felt to be a lot of choppy instances of "telling" in the beginning to give us readers information that drove me a little more than crazy.

But I said the book was "a whole lot of awesomeness," didn't I? And it is. Because once you get past the start, you get lost in the characters and their mysteries and relationships, you have all the background info you need, and you find yourself in this magnificently created world that will shock you over and over again. 

Read it. Love it. And tell me what you think.

<3 Gina Blechman

Monday, January 23, 2012

How to Relax Without Harming Yourself or Others

Warning: If you find yourself doing any of the following while trying to relax, you're going about relaxation the WRONG WAY:

1) Strangling small children (or any children really, but, with small children it's particularly cruel) to create quiet 
2) Setting the house on fire. (NOT relaxing)
3) Trying to perform self-acupuncture (Bad. VERY  BAD.)
4) Eating your body weight in chocolate. (It always sounds like a good idea at the time, but from experience I can tell you: You will feel like a fatass afterwards.)

So how do you relax properly then, if you can't do any of that stuff?

1) I like to start off by taking a nice shower and releasing the stresses of the day (or the week, or the ever since my main character's stopped listening to me and started driving me nuts). I try to focus on the feel and sound of the water and imagine my issues washing down the drain.

2) Light some candles--remembering not to burn the house down--and turn off or dim the lights. Even if you end up staring into the light of your computer screen the whole time, I’ve found that candle light still greatly adds to the atmosphere.

3) Put on music that helps you relax. It doesn't have to be your traditional waterfalls. Just something you like.

4) Stretch a little. No, nothing rigorous. Stretch your arms, wrists, hands, fingers, legs. Touch your toes if you’re feeling festive. I like to do a mini yoga-type thing. A mix of downward dog, child’s pose, and cobra. If you don’t know yoga, no worries, just do whatever you feel you need to wake your muscles up.

5) Lay down, stretch out your body, and zone out. (I ask so much of you, I know, but this will help you get rid of mind blocks later.)

6) Put on comfy clothes. Pajamas. Yoga pants. Boxers. You choose.

7) Keep some snacks with you. Something light that won't make you feel icky afterwards and something that won't get all over your keyboard as you eat it.

8) Be productive in your new, zen, candle-lit, snack-ready space. Do that editing or blogging or query writing or work report that you need to get done.

9) Celebrate reaching your goals by doing something fun that you don’t usually have the chance to do.

So, what d’ya think? Easy enough?

What do you normally do to stay relaxed? Is there anything you've find that works really well for you? Or maybe something that works for your friends but not for you?

<3 Gina Blechman

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Few Words on Greatness and Doubt

When you tell someone you plan on being a writer, it often comes with a warning. "You know that's a hard path," people say, or "you know that probably won't make you a lot of money." (That's if they say anything all and don't just grunt and raise an eyebrow.) Due to this and a variety of other reasons, doubt is easy to come by in the world of art.Well, here's a little anecdote that I hope will brighten things up for you:

Last week, a close friend of mine had a mental breakdown. After four months off of antidepressants, she relapsed and is now in a facility getting help.

Though it didn't hit me so hard at first, in the past 24 hours, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. It's not that I'm worried about her--I know she'll get the help she needs--it's that I'm in this odd role of having been there but knowing that I'm in a better off position than her, because I've been off meds for almost a year.

Relapsing is bad with anything, but relapsing with depression is extremely difficult. You find yourself thinking "What is wrong with me that I fail at being happy? I mean, it's not like I'm out smoking crack or something, I just want to be normal and I can't."

Crazy, huh? Because the more that I thought about it, the more that I couldn't help but feel like I could be better. That we should be better.

We all have those moments where we wonder if we're good enough or if there's something wrong with us or if we'll "make it" or if our efforts will be worth it, or if those around us--friends, family members, and others--are actually listening to us and learning from us or if they'll just forget it all once they have the time. As artists and creative people, it's shoved down our throughts that the chances are high that we won't succeed or, if we manage to, we still won't get very far. But we're no worse off as striving people than anybody else and our chances get better and better the harder we try. What I would tell you or myself in moments of doubt is just about the same as what I'll tell my friend once she get's out of wherever she is right now and that's that you won't succeed every time. You can't. It's impossible. But the odds get greater with every failure that your next try or the one after that will have to be a success. Doubt won't get you anywhere but into a bad mood. You are stronger than you think. So go out and be great.