3 S.R. Johannes: October 2014

Friday, October 31, 2014

10 Books I Loved This Week

10 Books I Loved This Week 

So, as an avid reader, I go through about 5 books a week and love it. Maybe it's an obsession, or maybe it's a passion, but whatever it is it's working. Needless to say, I have quite an extensive list of books to share, most of which are YA. So here they are, 10 books I loved this week and highly recommend! 

1. Atlantia, by Ally Condie 

2. The Selection, by Kiera Cass 

3. Uninvited, by Sophie Jordan 

4. The Matched Trilogy, by Ally Condie 

5. The Rules, by Stacey Kade 

6. Cinder, by Marissa Meyer 

7. Made for You, by Melissa Marr

8. Wither, by Lauren Destefano 

9. Panic, by Lauren Oliver 

10. Black Ice, by Becca Fitzpatrick 

And there you have it folks! 10 YA books that I loved this week and you should go read right now. Seriously, you won't get anything done all week, they're that fantastically gripping. 

Best wishes and happy reading,


Monday, October 27, 2014

Matched- Made in Heaven

Matched- Made in Heaven

        Recently I picked up the book Matched  by Ally Condie, and let's just say that dystopian romance has outdone itself. It's a heavenly page-turner, and it certainly kept me up late into the night reading. So, here are a few reasons why I love the Matched series so much:

1. The World

The Society that Cassia Reyes lives in is so well built. Condie went to great lengths to make sure that the reader has a firm idea of the world she lives in, and the creativity it must have taken to lay the foundation for the setting is incredible. You feel like you are really in Cassia's city, staring the Officials in the face.

2. So Many Secrets

It seems like everyone in this book has a secret, and I love it. Each character is unique and mysterious, and you have no idea who's hiding what- until you flip the page. This means that midnight will come and go and you'll still be hungrily turning chapters, anticipating the next plot twist.

3. It Reads Like Poetry

Condie's book really does read like a poem. It's interspersed with various poems that Cassia finds, yes, but not only that- the character's dialogue sounds like true verse at times. Especially inside the main protagonist's mind, you feel like you are floating on her words.

4. There are No Holes

Everything in the book comes full circle, and everything in the Society is explained. It's incredibly precise, leaving no question as to what the Society is or how it works, save for how to overthrow it. The lovely thing about this kind of accuracy is that it allows the reader to enter the world wholly, and without question.

5. Simply, it Grips You

The style of writing that Condie has is absolutely gripping. I never doubt the characters or the world, and when matched (pun intended) with the beautiful dialogue and love triangle, the book becomes something like a work of art. Truly, a wonderful read.

And there it is- five reasons I loved this book! Seriously, talk about a stellar dystopian thriller/romance, I couldn't put it down. So if you want to go to bed at 3am tonight, pick up a copy ;)



Friday, October 24, 2014

Uninvited is Unbelievable

Uninvited is Unbelievable 

So recently I picked up the YA fiction novel Uninvited by Sophie Jordan. Let's just say, the book was permanently glued to my hands until I finished. It was that good. Filled from cover to cover with an intriguing story, thrilling action, and witty dialogue, the book takes the reader on a wonderful ride and never lets go. So, without further ado, here are the top five things I loved about Uninvited.

1. The Plot is Scary Good

It's so unique I can't take it. Told from the POV of an "HTS" carrier (Homicidal Tendency Syndrome; aka: The Kill Gene), the plot twists and turns through the multitude of possibilities in a world where violence can be traced to someone's DNA. It's truly original and completely engrossing. 

2. The Characters are so Real 

Not only does the main character, Davy Hamilton, drag you in with her unique voice, but every character she meets does as well. They all have distinct, wonderfully written personalities, and the dialogue is to die for. 

3. The Romance is Gripping

So, we've got the whole homicidal thing going on- super cool. But then you add romance to the picture? It all just fits together beautifully. Amidst a crumbling world full of violence and a power-hungry agency fixed on her demise, Davy manages to fall in love in the last place she thought possible. Hopeless romantics beware. 

4. The Action is Awesome

This book is packed full of thrilling action scenes, and boy are they awesome. From fist fights to armed guards, every page is a surprise, and not one that you'd want to miss. 

5. It's Scientifically Spooky

The way Jordan weaves the tale is genius in that it all seems so real. Before each chapter is a short blip about HTS, and the way its described seems so plausible you can't help but shudder. It's truly a work of art, and utterly addicting. 

And there you have it! Five reasons why my latest read was so fantastic. Pick up a copy of Uninvited by Sophie Jordan, and I promise you that you'll be hooked. 

Best and happy reading,


Friday, October 17, 2014

Sort of Social- A Writer's Life

Sort of Social- A Writer's Life 

So lately I've been hitting my book hard, editing like a wild woman and throwing literary caution to the wind. In short, I've been sitting in a lot of coffee shops and ordering a lot of mochas. Needless to say, in this blast of creative power I've noticed a sort of shift in my social life (or what I like to call my social life): It's mostly comprised of fictional characters, (and a few chatty baristas). So here's a list of the top 5 things I love about my social life as a writer, mochas and all. 

1. People Don't Ask What I'm Doing

Whenever I'm writing furiously at my laptop, people don't even try to interrupt. It's like some wonderful veil has been drawn over my Macbook, and if the outside world were to intervene, what I'm working on might implode and destroy everything in the tristate area. It's great. Life lesson: look like you're doing something important, and no one shall question it. 

2. All of the Baristas Know your Order

Seriously. All of them. Anywhere you go. It's like some magic wizard arrived ten seconds before you and whispered the words "Skinny Peppermint Mocha" into your barista's ear. Not only that, but they know your name, where you work, and ask if you finally finished that difficult chapter that was giving you grief? Why yes, yes I did. And I'd like an extra shot with that.

3. Your Fictional Characters Never Run Out of Compliments

And they all love you. No matter what they always have a copious amount of good things to say to make you laugh, smile, and cheer- and you can write them into any situation and conversation that you want. Talk about interactive companionship.

4. Your Friend Circle is a Glorified Book Club

Most of your friends are avid readers, too, and you all share your latest finds. It's not only great to discover new reads, but cheaper than driving to the nearest book store and opening your wallet everyday to get your literary fix. Also, it helps that you have exquisite taste in books. Just saying.

5. Your Friends Understand the Importance of Alone Time

While you love them to death, every writer needs a large amount of time dedicated to her work in order to survive. Luckily, your friends all know this and leave you to your manuscript when needed. Not only that, but most of them pop by with hugs and junk food to help keep you sane. Best friends ever. 

And there you have it folks- the 5 things I love about my literary social life. So count your many blessings my fictional friends, and have at that manuscript! 

Best wishes and happy reading,


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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

BIC Writing Method can work...right?

Butt in Chair- Get it Done With Minimal Hair-Pulling

http://acronymsandslang.com/definition/336655/BIC-meaning.htmlSo, as every avid writer knows, there are various "full proof" methods for beating procrastination and writer's block, and getting down to the nitty-gritty of story telling. Despite this helpful array, I tend to gravitate toward the old fashioned "Butt-in-chair" method, that is to say, sitting on my rear end long enough to lose feeling in my legs and run out of coffee money. Laughable? Yes. Silly? Maybe. But keeping my bottom in a chair and my hands on the keys for hours guarantees that I'll have at least something to show for my numb posterior at the end. 

Let me take you through the five reasons why this method can work: (though it may be a pain in the butt literally as well as knock out back, legs and sanity but only if you are over the age of 40 :)

1. It Minimizes Distractions 

Now, note that I said minimizes and not "eliminates" or "destroys." This is so because, despite the fact that we have made the pact to stay in this chair for hours, we as writers tend to get distracted by any and every idea in our heads that may lead to, oh I don't know, a trip to Walmart for an embroidered notebook that may "further organize our ideas". Right. Try again. However, imagine how much more difficult it is to be distracted if you're sitting in an empty room, placed firmly in a chair with a blank screen in front of you. No people, just sitting and writing. Much better. 

2. It's Easier to Snack

Let's face it, any good book is written with a plethora of dried figs and yogurt raisins. Well, the snacks vary (more like MMs and candy corn), but you get the gist. I like this method because it allows me to pack all of my favorite snacks into a giant bag and camp out in front of my computer. Healthy? Maybe not. Good incentive? You bet. I promised myself I'd sit in this chair until I accomplished something, and if I have easy access to food, all the better. 

3. It's Hard to Nap

Okay we've all been there. It's 6pm and you're in your bed with your computer, when suddenly bam- lights out. No warning required, your body sees words on a screen and just goes into hyper sleep drive (HSD for short, there will be a blog on the treatments for Hyper Sleep Drive in the future, rest assured). However, with your rear end in a very cold and uncomfortable chair, you may just have a chance at staying awake long enough to clean up that last chapter. 

4. Coffee/Tea

Any excuse I get to buy a latte, I take it. But here we have the perfect formula for caffeine consumption: a goal, a chair, and a possible all-nighter. As a writer I love my coffee, but when I'm sitting down for hours at a time and need to stay focused, there's nothing better than a hot mug and a dream. 

5. My Kids Won't Bother Me

I don't know about you, but I have kids that love to walk up and ask me how I'm doing. This will immediately cause me to lose my train of thought and throw me deep into the dark abyss of writing purgatory, where ideas wave goodbye to me over the vast expanse of a never ending ocean of book sadness. Not good. But when I turn off my phone and seclude myself in my office with a chair, immediately this interruption is no longer a threat. I can be the caffeine hogging, idea pumping writer that I so need to be. (This one is not proven yet though :)  Because my kids can open doors!

Well there you have it folks- all the reasons why sitting yourself down and forcing yourself to write will make all the difference in the world. Simply finding a chair and making the time is the hardest part, what with all the distractions of life, (and doughnuts), but it's what being a writer is all about. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Why Stacey Kade is out of this World!

Extraterrestrial Extras- Why Aliens Rock My World 

So recently I picked up The Paper Doll series by Stacey Kade, and all I can say is WOW. These books are fast paced, thrilling, and seriously addicting. As far as science fiction YA goes, it's an out of this world win. 

Now, while reading, the series got me thinking- how fantastic is an alien/human hybrid for a main character? YA has seen it all: vampires, werewolves, sirens, robots (all equally captivating, by the way); but this is one of the first books I've picked up where an alien has felt so real, so downright human. Ariane Tucker is not only a powerful extraterrestrial being with mind powers and a thirst for freedom, but a human teenager with a passion for relationships and emotion.

This being said, it's interesting to dive into the wonderful realm of other worldly YA protagonists. I think there's something very intriguing about a nonhuman functioning as a human character, interacting with other teens, and surpassing the spectrum of emotions that human beings can feel. At the same time that Ariane can tap into her human side, she has various conflicting thoughts and feelings emanating from her alien DNA as well, and this makes her not only a very believable character, but oh so relatable. How many of us struggle with differences within ourselves everyday? We may not be alien hybrids, but we sure do feel like that sometimes.

Perhaps this is what makes a half alien half human main character so appealing- she's both alienated and connected to society in so many different ways. We can look at Ariane as a young girl to be respected for her strength, power, and determination, but also as a compassionate and confused teen growing up in a crumbling world. Everything and everyone she knows around her is unstable because of who she is and what she can do, and yet she still has time to fall in love and undergo the stress of human friendships and relationships. This is what makes an alien character so fantastically real: we are all aliens in some way or form to one another, and yet we're all human, making and breaking bonds in our everyday lives. 

So, needless to say, this book rocked my socks off. The sequel is no less exhilarating, delving deeper into Ariane's quest for freedom and humanity, as well as sweeping the reader along a thrilling journey into the realm of a fictional government and evil multi corporation. 

As far as YA fiction goes, Kade has delivered an action packed, other worldly win, and I'm so lucky to have picked the series up on a whim. It was a change in pace when it comes to not entirely human protagonists, and I loved the integration of both alien and human DNA into Ariane's character- it made her a source of strength from a completely unique POV. 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

This book was "Made for You" by Melissa Marr

So I'm going to begin by saying that there isn't anything about Melissa Marr's latest novel that I don't love- it's action packed, thrilling, and the romance is completely enveloping. Late night binge reading perfection, to say the least. 

Here is a list of the top ten things I loved about Made For You, by Melissa Marr:

1. The Thrill Never Dies 

There isn't a moment in this book where I'm not enthralled. It's a true to the name page-turner, delivering heart stopping thrills and twists with every chapter. I read it in twelve hours later. Needless to say, it kept my pulse racing. 

2. So Much Romance, So Little Time

The romance between the lead characters in this book is real enough to spark a very large campfire. Without even meaning to, I found myself so engrossed in the main couple's connection that their pain was my pain, their joy my joy.

It. was. awesome. 

The emotions were real and intense, and kept me reading like a true addict. 

3. Every Encounter Counted

There wasn't a single moment where I wasn't left guessing without a purpose, or the intricacies of the plot weren't intended- every word between every character was carefully plotted out and calculated. With each flashback, I gasped and connected the dots and this kept me so enthralled I forgot to eat. Or sleep. Or breathe at times. 

4. The True Southern Hospitality

There's no doubt in my mind that Melissa Marr has spent a great deal of time either in traditional Southern homes or researching them - because every encounter with true Southern men and women was oh so hysterical. It was hilarious to read some of the refreshing observances that the narration made on Southern hospitality and customs, down to the homemade lemonade and sugary smiles. 

5. It was Superbly Chilling

Each moment of this book ticked away like a chill down your spine, and never stopped questioning your sanity. It's the kind of story that will make you look behind every shower curtain and think twice before walking home by yourself at night. In short, the paranoia was so well written it keeps the reader on his/her toes. 

6. The Dialogue is Genius

Yes, genius. Every quip and witty comeback is wonderfully placed, and all of the characters work so well in tandem with each other it's easy to get caught up in their drama. That's probably why the thrills work so well- the dialogue is so sweet and dangerous at the same time. 

7. Superbe Pacing

As readers, pace is key. Without a good pace and steady feel, a novel can quickly be returned to the shelf. However, Made For You delivers a fast paced punch. The moment you pick it up, it has you; and after that there's no turning back: you're swept along faster than you ever expected. 

8. The Tiny Details

From the obscure meaning of various types of flowers, to the numerous Biblical allusions, Melissa Marr weaves hundreds of tiny facts into this story. They're not only impressively accurate, but add to the bone chilling reality of the plot itself. 

9. It Lets You Into the Mind of a Stalker- and Doesn't let  you Go 

Not only does the narration allow the reader into the innermost musings of a serial killer, it keeps you there. Perhaps the most enthralling thing about Marr's writing style is her ability to change POV so effectively, making you feel like you just changed minds with ease and comfort. From Eva to her best friend Grace (even the name is cool ;) - even to the killer himself - the internal narration of each character is fantastic. 

And Finally, 

10. The Setting was Just Plain Spooky

Let's face it- there isn't much about the old south that isn't a little bit scary. But set in the town of Jessup, North Carolina, this book just takes setting to a whole different level. A small and traditional Southern town, Jessup is exactly the opposite of where you would expect a thrilling story like this to take place- making it all the more horrifyingly brilliant. 

So there you have it! Ten reasons why Melissa Marr's new book, Made For You, absolutely floored me! If (and when) you pick it up, be prepared to not put it down for the entire day. 

Trust me, it's made for you. 

Monday, October 06, 2014

Read Like No One's Watching 

   We've all heard of that classic saying- dance like no one's watching. But what about reading? Every hard core reader has those moments when you just can't hold in the giggles or the gasps as one of your precious characters steps out of line, whether in a comedic or a heart-wrenching way. So why hold back? Here are five ways to let your newest literary obsession lighten your mood, just by pretending like you're the only reader in the room: 

1. Laugh out Loud

Instead of silently chuckling at [insert snarky heroine's name here]'s newest quip, why don't you just unleash your inner nerd? Who cares if everyone in the late night study room hears you snorting- maybe they'll ask what you're laughing at and grab an extra copy. 

2. Don't Withhold Information 

If you just can't keep your mind off of your newest book find, tell everyone! Friends, family, that kid who sits next to you in that really boring Art and Culture class you're only taking to fill credits- spill the juicy details of Katniss Everdeen's latest exploits regardless of the audience. Perhaps you'll find that a lot of your friends are obsessed with similar fictitious characters. 

3. Make Time for Fiction

Just because everyone is working hard on some project or another doesn't mean you can't read that new YA dystopian thriller you splurged on- go for it! Don't let deadlines or stress keep you from your sacred reading time. Just be sure to plot out time on your calendar to finish it all, and take breaths in between to read a few chapters; nothing clears your mind and refreshes you like a hardy thriller, packed with breathless romance and suspense. 

4. It's Okay to Gasp

Let me guess- the lead love interest just introduced an amazing plot twist and you can't help but yell? Yep, sounds about right. Not to sound like every other Disney crazed fangirl on the face of the Earth, but in this circumstance just "let it go." Throw that book down and gasp so loud the person next to you raises his eyebrows. It's okay! Whatever you're reading is worth the exclamations and a few weird looks ;) 

5. And, Finally, Remember to Smile

When you finally turn the last page of that fantastic novel you picked up twelve hours ago, (because, let's face it, you stayed up well into the night to finish), lean back and have a smile. Because hey, whatever you just read straight through without a breath is worth a few moments, right? Just take a second to appreciate the awesomeness that was that story, and savor the moment after a solid reading binge- trust me, it's worth it.

So there you have it folks- a few things to help all of us readers while we're out in public. Not that we're every actually aware of our surroundings in the first place, of course. So lean back, relax, and remember to smile, because the people around us will probably realize we're in a different world at the moment anyway. 

Best wishes and happy reading,


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