Tag Archives | Rachel Hawkins

Countdown of my favorite books – part 6.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! And if the holidays are hard for you for whatever reason, I hope you found comfort in memories of loved ones and the small moments, even if it’s a hot cup of cocoa with whipped cream. And here are some good books to help too. There are specific reasons I’m pairing the next two books together. Read on to find out.

DEMON GLASS by Rachel Hawkins

Many of you know this book. NYT best seller. The first book in the series, HEX HALL, was a fine book. Fun character. Strong story. But it was the second book that sold me on this series. If you want to understand how to write a sequel, read these two books. I can’t wait for the third to come out!

TREMBLE by Addison Moore (Book 2 of the Celestrial series)

Book two continues the saga of Skyla, the purest of angels. Addison introduced so many neat plot twists in this second book. In fact, each book in this 5 book series and counting, does an incredible job of building on the previous novels. There’s something about these books that force you to buy the next to find out what happens! Seriously.

What these books had in common?

1. Both are angel/demon stories in a series.

2. In both series, it was book 2 that hooked me.

3. Both authors did an incredible job of raising the stakes and creating conflict – especially for book 2!

4. If you want to know how to end a book on a cliffhanger without frustrating your readers, then read these. The plot lines closed, the stories ended; but a new twist is introduced at the end.

Share in the comments about your favorite books!

Comments { 4 }

Friday 5 – How to write a rockin’ sequel.

This week we’ve look at HEX HALL by Rachel Hawkins. And if these posts, here and here, didn’t convince you to read this book. Then just you wait. Read on.

1. The sequel should be fatter.

Seriously. I don’t want to buy a sequel to find the book is smaller and thinner than the first. For some reason, I feel wronged. If a reader liked your book enough to buy the second that means they like you! And your writing. So make it fatter – with substance of course.

DEMON GLASS, the sequel to Hex Hall, was definitely fatter. Yay!

2. Introduce a new setting or change up the setting.

I might love your first book, but that doesn’t mean I want to read it again in the sequel. (Unless it’s awesome like Hogwarts. But let’s not pretend we’re J.K. Rowling.) Follow the writing advice to surprise your reader with the unexpected. But a word of warning: the setting has to be just as awesome or more awesome than the setting in the first.

In DEMON GLASS, Sophie moves to London. Can you say awesome? A private boarding school for wayward paranormals was pretty cool. But London? Way cooler.

3. Introduce new characters.

Okay, I do want some familiar characters, like a best friend or a love interest. But, yeah, I mostly want a new and more interesting cast that outshines the first. Characters I loved from the first book will become a little old and boring in the sequel.

In DEMON GLASS, Sophie’s best friend goes to London too. And of course, Archer, the love interest is there. But we get to meet her dad! Who was an incredible character with lots of mystery. And we meet two new peers who leave us wondering if they are good or bad.

4. A new villain/antagonist is a must! And a new story conflict.

I’m sorry, but if the villain from your first book makes a comeback in the second novel, or was never really vanquished in the first – that’s just kinda lame. I don’t mean to be harsh. But you want your sequel to propel you onto the bestseller list, not leave your readers doubting you. (Please no pointing out Voldemort. J.K. had a more prominent and different antagonist in every book.)

And DEMON GLASS succeeds in this area too. That’s all I’m going to say.

5. Go bigger. Bigger stakes. Bigger external and internal conflict.

Just like stakes rise in a novel, so stakes must rise in a trilogy. Each book should have a bigger impact than the first. Seeds of backstory, plot threads, and any foreshadowing from the first book should blossom in the sequel.

What can I say about this sequel? The last third of the book was incredible. Everything went bigger. External plot. Internal character arc. The stakes. The love story. The father-daughter relationship. Sacrifices made. You’ve got to read it. Here’s an example from the book, of Sophie’s thoughts on Archer: ‘…everyone I knew wanted to kill him, and everyone he knew wanted to kill me.’

So, if you want to know how to write a sequel that rocks and will draw more fans and possibly send you to the bestseller list? Well, than you can guess my advice. (Read DEMON GLASS)

Have you read any good sequels? Share. What else is a must for you in a sequel? Or do you totally disagree with me?

Comments { 37 }

Plot Busters (2) – Tips from HEX HALL

Scroll down for the link to part 3.

1. A prologue done right.

This could easily have been called chapter one and I wouldn’t have blinked an eye. This is the kind of opening that would make me buy a book, which it did.

It showed Sophie in a ‘save the cat’ scene. She feels bad for the girl crying at prom because she has no date. Sophie understands and foregoes any rules about performing magic to help this poor girl out with a simple love spell.

Which goes horribly wrong.

The girl chooses the most popular guy/football player who ends up crashing the prom, literally, with his truck. And with blood dripping from his mouth, he yells the girl’s name.

  • Over the top funny.
  • Showed a likeable character – Sophie.
  • Introduced us to and showed backstory on Sophie.
  • Doubled as the inciting incident so it was important to the story.
  • Hooked the reader.

2. Setting up clues for Act III

These clues were set up so well and were such an intricate part of the story that I didn’t recognize them as clues until the Act III twists.

3. Humor

Perfect. Sophie makes some funny and quick comebacks when she’s on the defensive, but she’s not snarky or obnoxious, which made me like her even more.

Not only was Sophie funny but a couple of the scenes were too. For example, the prologue.

And later, Sophie is trying to magic up her Hallow’s Eve dress on a cursed dummy. So every dress she tries to create turns out to be this hilarious monstrosity.

4. A likeable character

  • Sophie isn’t whiny despite her circumstances.
  • Sophie shows kindness.
  • When she makes a decision to retaliate we see her doubt along with her determination.
  • She’s never the victim.

5. Preparing for a sequel.

I don’t like when the first book in a trilogy leaves off in the middle of a dramatic scene. In HEX HALL the main storyline was wrapped up with a complete full climactic scene. No half climax because the real climax has to happen in book three.

  • New mysteries were introduced.
  • At the end, Sophie comes to a new decision – to go through the removal process where her powers will be stripped.
  • She’s never met her dad, but we know she will in book two.

Just enough mystery to propel me onto book two but a complete story that left me emotionally satisfied. Way to go!

Read Part 3 – How to write a rockin’ sequel.

What do you like from the first book of a trilogy?

Comments { 27 }

Plot Busters – HEX HALL Breakdown (1)

Scroll down for the link to part 2.

HEX HALL by Rachel Hawkins.

I bought this book based completely on online buzz. As soon as I’d heard the main character was funny – I wanted to read it. And guess what? She was funny even though the story was serious.

Logline: At Hecate Hall, Sophie will learn to control her powers and follow rules except there might be an ancient enemy infiltrating the school, trying to kill her and other witches.  (my words)

Opening Image/Inciting incident:

Spell gone wrong. Need I say more?

Sophie’s simple act of mercy lands her in Hex Hall.

Act I climax/ Lock-in/ point of no return:

The end of Act I is also the end of Sophie’s first day of school. A mean girl invites Sophie to join her coven. Sophie says no. (Go Sophie!) And she learns her dad is Head of Council, who sentenced her to Hex Hall.

Honestly, I didn’t find this Lock in to be very strong. In fact, I picked it by finding the quarter point of the story. There was no debate. No decision she had to make entering into Act II.

It was there. Just subtle.

At the start of Act II, Sophie starts her classes. She meets Archer, the love interest. So the Break into Two was a bit stronger, which helped me find the end of Act I.

But you know what? It didn’t matter. While reading, I didn’t miss it. Sophie’s character and humor made up for it. I didn’t care.


If the Act I climax was a bit weak, the midpoint more than made up for it.

Returning to her dorm, Sophie finds a witch murdered in the tub, and the evidence points to her roommate, who is a vampire. From here on out, the story can’t help but be more tense.


I’m going to be vague so as not to give away anything.

Sophie learns the hidden truth about herself and her dad. She realizes who has infiltrated the campus; and learns her frenemy, Elodie, is in danger. Sophie runs to be the hero and fight the bad guy.

Third Act Twists: (Read no further because there will be spoilers.)

Rachel Hawkins had a superb Act III.

Reveal after reveal – many of which could be called twists.

But the biggest surprise for me was learning that Archer, who Sophie has now fallen hopelessly in love with, holds the mark of the “Eye”, the organization trying to kill witches. And of course she figures this out during the first kiss.

Rachel Hawkins got many things right with this story. Read Plot Busters (2) Tips from HEX HALL

Comments { 29 }