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Monday, January 27, 2014

Learning the Hard Way

Back in December, I tweeted this picture and said I planned to write a blog post about it, but I never went into detail about why (you can only say so much in 140 characters, and I wanted to save it for the post :3).  And now that it’s almost February (o_o!) I'm finally explaining why this moment in a video game held such significance for me.

So. I was playing Jak 3, an fun albeit sometimes awkward action-adventure game. 

The basic gist of Jak 3 for those who haven’t ever played it: you get missions ranging from simple tasks like ‘get first place in this race’ to life-endangering ones like ‘fly through these strategically placed acceleration rings to reach that volcano’ and ‘destroy the KG robot lab…which requires you to stay alive as robots try to shoot/electrocute you’.

Some of these missions are ridiculously easy. You look back after you’ve finished and you’re like, “Oh. It’s over already?” Other missions are…well…'challenging'. As in, it’s a challenge to not throw your controller across the room in a rage of anger because you’ve only tried to complete this mission 15 times and still haven’t succeeded.

I’m the type of person who’ll just keep going *no matter what*. 

When I can’t complete a mission I eventually get frustrated, but I still don’t stop trying. It’s only when I reach the point that I no longer have this dauntless ambition to WIN that I know I’m dangerously close to reaching the limit of my patience…and when I reach this point, I know I need to shut my console down.

This is how I felt minutes before I took the above picture—like a volcano about to erupt.

My mission was to bring down the KG factory using a vehicle. At most, this should’ve been a moderately challenging mission…but I just could not win. My frustration was compounded by the fact that I was a gamer. I was a Jak series veteran. I had  already won  Jak 3 before. So why couldn’t I win??!

And then I saw this:

 Versus this (which is to the left):

…and I had an EPIPHANY. I couldn’t win because I was going the wrong way.

You: Well, duh.
Me: Yeah, I thought it was weird that the developers expected me to maneuver the car through a moving conveyor belt onto a moving platform…
You: …
Me: …

The saddest part: I should’ve realized it was the wrong way *anyway* because I was backtracking.   


Here’s a mini-map of the situation:

Monday, January 20, 2014

VITRO Jessica Khoury *Review*

Jessica Khoury describes her sophomore novel Vitro as an "adrenaline rush on an island," and for the most part, I heartily agree.

I pre-ordered Vitro and I was not disappointed about my decision after finishing :). This novel is brilliant. 

Plus, it's a companion novel set in the same world as Origin, which means that readers who are new to Khoury's work can read Origin and/or Vitro in any order they want without worrying about missing anything. Some companion novels aren't really like that--like Kristin Cashore's Fire, for example. While I enjoyed Fire (my favorite of the Graceling series), I felt that I would've missed the richness of the world if I hadn't read Graceling first. This wasn't the case with Vitro. (I did, however, find the not-so-subtle references to the events in Origin that come later in Vitro hilarious. But honestly...that's probably just because I'm weird.)

Of course, like with most novels, I wasn't enthused about everything. 

But if you're looking for a solid, thought-provoking read flavored with humor and pulsing with the thrill of sci-fi-induced terror, Vitro is a novel you don't want to miss.

So, why don't you want to miss this novel?

Because  The  Prose.  (Was fantastic.) There are great books out there that come just shy of being extraordinary to me for one reason: the prose is mediocre. Reading Jessica Khoury's prose is a lot like taking a nice hot shower after working 8 hours in the grueling sun--it's gripping, lush, refreshing, dynamic. 

I lived on Skin Island with the characters as I read Vitro. Khoury is a master at weaving a multitude of "aerodynamic" concrete details into her settings to bring them alive. I say aerodynamic because her prose never drags. Few authors I've read can boast of having such skill.   

Because  of  LUX.  I love love loved (now that I'm reading it instead of hearing it in my mind it looks weird, but whatever) everything about this character--her personality, her existential struggles, her courage, her stubbornness. The chapters from Lux's POV were stunning, and once again demonstrated Khoury's finesse as an author.

The  science.  Was Origin believable? Sure--but it still had twinges of the fantastical. To me, immortality seems distant, out of reach for humanity despite all the research and attempts to find it. Vitro, however, feels terrifyingly close to actually happening. Like 20 years from now kind of happening. (Maybe sooner.) In other words, the issues and events presented in Vitro are frighteningly plausible.

The technology behind the scientific advancements in Vitro already exists. Think about that for a moment. It already exists! Khoury simply projects what could happen if a particular company decided to develop the technology...and if something went "wrong." I can't say much else because I'll give parts away, but I will say this: Vitro embodies the moral quandaries of this age in spine-chilling form. 

Vitro  is  a  gem  of  a  novel  with  few  things  I  could  reasonably  'critique'.  The one rather nebulous thing I didn't like: Vitro felt like it was missing something. (As you can see, my specificity is unparalleled.) A subtle something, admittedly, but an important something. Sadly, I have no idea what that something is. If you read Vitro and feel the same way, let me know--maybe we can figure it out together :). 

Other than that, I loved the characters, the structure of the novel, the setting, the plot....

Overall, I highly recommend Vitro (though I liked Origin more...thought it had more tension, especially in the action sequences, and that it presented more [numerically] provocative themes. Also, I really enjoyed the fantastical side)! 

About the Author
Jessica Khoury is of Syrian and Scottish descent, and was born and raised in Toccoa, Georgia. She earned her bachelor's degree in English from Toccoa Falls College. She currently lives and writes in Columbia, SC. Jessica is the author of ORIGIN and VITRO.  You can visit her online at

And guys, you can also check out some of her other work--and preview Origin and Vitro--on Wattpad!

You can visit Jessica on...
| Blog |


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Destined for Love Melissa Foster (The Bradens #2) *Book Blast and Giveaway*

**Mature content. 18+**

You met Rex Braden in Lovers at Heart, Book One of the The Bradens (Love in Bloom Series). Jade Johnson is about to turn his comfortable rancher's life upside down. Don't miss this powerful love story.

DESTINED FOR LOVE is a hot contemporary romance with alpha male heroes and sexy, empowered women. They're flawed, funny, passionate, and very relatable for readers who enjoy adult romance, contemporary romance, and women's fiction.

Rex Braden is wealthy, hard working, and fiercely loyal. Sweat at his brow, he works the family ranch by day, then kicks back at night with part time lovers who require nothing more than his physical presence a few times each week. But that was before. Before Jade Johnson, the daughter of the man his father has been feuding with for over forty years, moves back into town.

After ditching a horrific relationship—and her veterinary practice in the process—Jade Johnson returns to the safety of her small hometown and finally finds her footing. That is...until her horse is injured and Rex Braden comes to her rescue. The last thing she needs is a bull-headed, too-handsome-for-his-own-good Braden complicating her life.

Despite the angry family history, sparks fly between Rex and Jade, and attitudes follow. Fifteen years of stifled, forbidden love stirs a surge of passion too strong for either to deny—and the rebel in each of them rears its powerful head. Loyalties are tested, and relationships are strained. Rex and Jade are about to find out if true love really can conquer all.

Watch for the full LOVE IN BLOOM series:

Sisters in Love
Sisters in Bloom
Sisters in White
Lovers at Heart
Destined for Love
Friendship on Fire
Sea of Love
Bursting with Love
Hearts at Play

About the Author
Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of four International bestselling novels. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary Café. 

When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on  Fostering Success. Melissa is also a community builder for the Alliance for Independent Authors. She has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.

Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.

Visit Melissa on The Women’s Nest, Fostering Success, or World Lit Cafe. Join Melissa and the YaYa Writer Girls at their annual in-person event. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.


Open to US only. Must be 13+ to enter.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Operation Vitro

A new year has come (Happy New Year!!)...and in 2014, there are loads of delicious YA books being released! Huzzah. 

As you may already know, Jessica Khoury’s VITRO is coming out January 14th.

I, for one, am mega excited to read this gem of a novel! Origin was fantastic (5 stars). The first 3 chapters I’ve read of Vitro were fantastic. You can see where this is going :D.

BUT. Before the release, going on RIGHT NOW, you can enter to win some uber cool prizes by playing a *game*. I mean, it doesn’t get any better than this!

Join in on the fun and win some swag—every player is GUARANTEED TO WIN—at Corpus Network