Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In Which Thing Take Over and Cause Influence

Let me start off this post with an apology. I'm not sure why exactly, but I have a feeling that at some point, I'm going to need to apologize, so I'll just do it now. (Not anything bad, just me forgetting to be normal.)

Have you ever been inspired by a piece of art, a song, or literature before? I'm sure you have. Most, if not all artists probably must have been to be an artist. How about inspired by something because you couldn't stop thinking about it? Did I lose a few people? Okay. Now suppose this something is, in your mind, one of the greatest pieces of anything ever. Did I lose the rest of you? Okay.

Now of course I'm exaggerating, but it's fun to do that from time to time.

I think obsession can be a healthy thing sometimes. (As long as it is in moderation.) Obsession with a piece of art can be healthy because it gets the mind going. Yes, I am speaking from experience here, and I shall elaborate.

The Boondock Saints.

Ever seen that movie? If not, you're missing out. It's not for everyone. It is for me. Basically, I watched this movie for the first time last week, and it has been on mind for the past week. But why? Am I obsessed? Am I incredibly infatuated by the lead actors, who just happen to speak with Irish accents? Or do I just love action and drama mixed together?

While all of these are valid points, I think the largest reason, (and the healthiest) is the characters. Troy Duffy, (writer and director) wrote a piece of fiction about three very well developed characters. Let's see, there was the homosexual FBI agent. (This was the 90's.) And the very religious Irish twin brothers who take it upon themselves to rid the world of evil. I suppose that's just the outer shell though.

I'm one to over-analyze anything, and I did just that with this movie. It got to the point where I can now tell you the differences in the twins' personalities, because the character development was just that great. One is more emotional, and one is more rational. And yet the more emotional one is less reliant on his brother than the rational one. And then the FBI agent slowly loses his mind as he comes closer to solving the case.

So how does this tie into a post about influence? In short, my latest WIP now has Irish brothers, when a week ago, it was just one, normal boy. By having this movie on my mind, my imagination has been running wild, to thousands of places it wasn't going before. Suddenly my characters need more to them. They need a background that is never fully explained. They need a quirk that creates an ongoing gag. This one simple character has now gone through a name change, has gained a sibling, a slight accent that gets thicker when he's angry or excited, and a history and strained relationship with his parents. And he was originally the most undeveloped character of the story.

Isn't obsession great sometimes? Now if you'll excuse me, I do believe there is a movie in my DVD player that requires watching.

An On-Time Road Trip

Oh hey, two road trip Wednesday's in one day. And there might be another post before I go to bed. I'm on a roll!

It's the big one this week. It's the end of the year. What other question is there to ask than "What were your top favorite books from 2011?"

This year I was smart. I kept a list on my blog of all the books I read. I started off strong in January, then I got my first full time job and slowed down, but let's take a look and pick out the good reads.

Books read in 2011 - I will bold the favorites and elaborate later. (I will also exclude the re-reads.)
In a Heartbeat - Loretta Ellsworth
Unwind - Neal Shusterman
Girl, Stolen - April Henry
Dirty Little Secrets - C.J. Omololu
The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club - Laurie Notaro
Night - Elie Wiesel
Supernatural Origins - a comic series, by various artists and writers
The Twisted Window - Lois Duncan (re-read)
Page by Paige - Laura Lee Gulledge (A graphic novel)
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist - Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
The Giver - Lois Lowry (re-read)
Forget About It - Caprice Crane
The Book of Awesome - Neil Pasricha
No Plot, No Problem - Chris Baty
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling

Okay, now I'm tired, and my head hurts. (Clearly, or I wouldn't include this in this post otherwise.) So I'm going to shorten the elaborations. Good book, intense book. Good book, intense book. Good series with good art, and in canon. Good book with lots of art, and applied to me personally.

In that order.

Oh this post would be so much more interesting if I could read it aloud. I could go on, but I've already had my say in previous book reviews, so what I will leave you with is this: Have you read any of these and what do you think?

I Procrastinated Once Again

I've been just a tad bit busy with the holidays (as it's the busiest time of the year when working at one of the largest nationwide retailers of the year.) So I'm doing a Road Trip Wednesday a week late.

Where do you buy your books?

That's the question more or less being posed here. Online? In store? Maybe steal them from the local bibliophile?

For me, personally, it's a mixture. (Except the whole theft thing. Although I did lose someone's copy of A Clockwork Orange one and he's convinced I just didn't want to give it back.) It's a mixture of online and in store, and to be perfectly honest, it all depends on where I am, or what mood I'm in.

Let me explain.

Amazon is a beautiful, beautiful thing. It's full link after link to books that I could never imagine existed. Bookstores are just as beautiful, and while they lack the comfort of a sofa and a laptop, they have the fresh smell of coffee and books, and the ability to flip through the pages, and spend hours lost between shelves.

So where do I make my decision? If I'm out, I'll usually find my way towards a bookstore, or the book section of whatever store I'm in. If it's a legitimate bookstore, (Barne's and Noble, and once upon a time Borders) then I will buy something. (This mostly stems from an ongoing paranoia that if I walk into a store, I have to buy something or they'll think I stole something. Don't judge me.) But there's something so great about buying a fresh, clean book. Excited just by seeing the clean text and sharp covers. And the great feeling of knowing I've donated another dollar to the brick and mortar store.

But then I get home, and there's that sick feeling in my gut. It's the one that says "you just spent 15 bucks on that book. You could have gotten that same book for 2 bucks on amazon, with 3 dollar shipping, and saved yourself 10 dollars. What is wrong with you?"

So basically, the way it works for me is -- bookstores are impulse buys, and amazon is more planned out. (But don't think that I don't have plenty of impulsive amazon purchases.)

To add to that, I also utilize paperbackswap.com. And when I was in high school, there was an annual book swap, both of which give me books for free. And who can hate that?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Can You Guess My Character's Age? - Follow Up Post

Thank you for all the comments on my previous post; it was nice to see how everyone else read into my writing, (for lack of better words.)

Since I didn't make the semi-finals, I thought I would divulge the actual age of my character. But first the comments.

Out of 12 people...
5 people guessed 15
3 people guessed 16
1 person guessed 12
1 guessed 13
1 guessed 14
and 1 guessed 13 or 14

And who won? No one. Yeah... unfortunately, Olivia is actually 17 years old; probably a few months shy of turning 18. She's a senior in high school at the start of the story. So that "12" kind of stung a little bit. But then again, everyone reads into things differently. It's all part of the learning experience.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Can You Guess My Character's Age? Blogfest Contest!

Okay, so I almost forgot about this contest, and had I not been playing around on my computer at 1:30am, and randomly going through my saved bookmarks, I would have missed this contest completely. (It must be a good sign.)

The contest can be found here, if you just click this fantastic sentence on any word of your choice.

And below I will submit the text of my somewhat completed manuscript. (I was going to use my NaNo-attempt, but it's not even close to "somewhat completed.") It is the same exact entry from the last contest, but that's basically what it's asking for.

Go ahead and read it, and see if you can guess the character's age by my voice, and the story itself.
Disclaimer: I will neither confirm or deny any correct answers. But that's what makes it fun!
(It's almost 2am; please humor my mood.)

--
250-Word Excerpt:
Sitting in that hard plastic chair in the principal's office stunned Olivia. It was worse than a bad day, or a bad dream. It was more like a nightmare.

Olivia sat motionless in her seat, her hands folded in her lap. If she could have coiled herself into a ball, she would have. A nervous chill tiptoed its way up and down her spine.

To her left was some girl who had claimed to witness the incident. Legs crossed, her foot shook to some beat that only she could seem to hear. Her gaze never found its way towards Olivia. To her right was Hunter. His eyes were set on the receptionist’s desk, fixed as though he could see through the panel of wood, directly at the secretary who continued to type away at some problem of her own.

Every now and then, Olivia felt his gaze shift, as though he were staring her down through the corner of his eye. She wouldn't blame him. He was the victim's brother.

Olivia did not want to think of Chase as a victim. It made her feel like she hurt Chase on purpose. It made her not want to think at all. As she sat there waiting for her parents though, listening to the ongoing click-clack of a keyboard behind the receptionist’s desk, the unpleasant thoughts pushed their way through, invading Olivia’s mind.

She never wanted to hurt him, Hunter or Chase.

After maybe an hour's wait, and countless people passing through the office doors, Olivia's parents came rushing through.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Woes of a Sad WriMo

I think it's safe to say that I won't be winning NaNoWriMo on time this year. Nope. Not likely.

This sucks. Sorry to be so blunt, but... well, it sucks. It really does. My first year I wrote just over 50,000 words in 30 days exactly. I was a little behind, but I made it in the end. This year... heh...

I keep trying to pinpoint exactly where I went wrong.

  • I'm not connecting with my characters?
  • It's a primarily male cast, and I am not male?
  • They are inspired by real people, and thus they are doomed?
  • Heck, it's just not realistic enough? Even for fiction?

Maybe I should be proud of myself, because it’s quite a comeback from last year… which ended in about 2010 words. (That was an embarrassing year.) Tonight, I finally broke 15,000 words!

*cue happy dance*

Unfortunately it’s day 26, and I have five days to write 34,617 words. Which would be 6923.4 words a day. I'm averaging somewhere between five and six hundred words a day.

My hope is that I at least get far. Even if I don’t win, if I get far enough, I’ll still be motivated to finish, even if it’s not before the month of December. And even if my novel totally sucks, it’ll hopefully evolve into something awesome, or I’ll be inspired to write something awesome.

So... (I might be laughing nervously here)... anyone else participating? Anyone winning? Losing? Crying? Devouring his or her sorrows in cheesecake? (By the way, I recently found out I make awesome cheesecake.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Required Reading

Road Trip Wednesday has captured my attention once again. (A day late.) This week's topic?

If you had the power to change school curriculums, which books would you be sure high school students were required to read?

Oh high school... it's been almost two years. I remember the books; The Great Gatsby, Frankenstein, Hamlet, To Kill A Mockingbird, Romeo and Juliet, 1984, Animal Farm. And plenty more, but I can't remember them all off the top of my head. So many books I loved and hated. I forced myself through many, and read ahead on others because they were pretty good. So what exactly would I change?

First, I don't think I would remove any books from that list. I think reading these books is healthy. They were the originals that set the bar. We wouldn't have the modern day books we love without them. We also would be far more ignorant of life.

What I would do is not let "banned books" get banned from student eyes. There are a few books I wish I would have had to read in school; A Clockwork Orange, The Bell Jar, Catcher in the Rye.

Sorry, for the short post, it was mostly just an opinion post. But I'd be curious what your choices are... if you'd be so kind to comment below.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Secret Weapon

It's almost November, and anyone with the internet and a love for writing knows that means it's almost time for NaNoWriMo. Whether or not you're a supporter of the month-long novel-writing experience, you've at least heard of it. Maybe you've participated. Am I? Heck yes.

This will be my third year participating in NaNoWriMo. I won my first year, reaching just over 50,000 words on November 30th, with just a few hours to spare. My second year, I failed miserably, with just a few hundred words completed total.

This year, I am going to win again. I have an idea I am psyched about, and it almost scares me a little, that's how good it is. This year, I also have to advantages I didn't have last year, (that I did have the year before.)

1. I have a job. This time last year I was working 12 hours a week at the local grocery store. This year I'm working a regular 9-5, (which is, I think, the equivalent to my first year of NaNo- a regular school day followed by either marching band, or my part time job.)

2. No Plot, No Problem. Not familiar with this book? It's a fun little book written by Chris Baty, the creator of NaNoWriMo. I read it just before my first year, and won. I didn't read it last year. I decided to read it this year.

What's it about? Well, it's about NaNoWriMo. It leads the reader through the stages leading up to the month of November, each week of the month, and even the first few days of December. Technically, you're supposed to read each chapter during the corresponding week, but this is where I shrug off that notion and tell you I read the whole thing.

This book is fun and easy to get through. It's very light, and holds a few laughs. It's technically a book about writing, disguised by the idea of getting through a competition. If you ever plan to write a novel in the month of November, I would recommend reading this book. (Or even if you don't plan on writing a novel in November... I still recommend it.)

So, anyone else participating?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

All the Different Covers

So it's been a while, but I'm finally participating in another Road Trip Wednesday. And this week's topic is all about book covers, and those I would deem my favorite.

So I suppose I could start by generalizing. What things in book covers make me like it, or hate it?

People.

That's right. I hate seeing people in a book cover... for the most part. Only on very rare occasions do I like it. (One of which is a fake cover for my WIP, but his face is obscured, so it works.) The thing is, I think a person, especially a face demands too much attention. I think there's more to it, but that's a definite reason. If I have to stare at the main character's face, it suddenly becomes all about them, and nothing else in the novel. Even if we're just looking at them from the neck down or something.

So that's my biggest pet peeve when it comes to covers. Now for the ones that I like. (In no particular order.)



Ransom by Lois Duncan


Now this pick pertains only to this specific edition. There's probably about three editions (especially considering the book was published in the 60's.) I like this one because of how well it portrays the plot. There is a kidnapping right up front, and the school bus plays a role in it. (Not a spoiler, it's part of the hook, I swear.) So that's what we see. Then there's the fact that it's a little obscure, like an old photo, or dirty glass. And I think that shows a lot of the fear and suspense that the novel possesses. Also, I love typewriter font. It's a strange love of mine.



Paint it Black by Janet Fitch


There are actually two covers to this, a paperback and a hardcover. I do like the paperback, but I like this one more. (So much so that I made sure I bought the book in hardcover.) See here... one of the few examples of books with people on them that I like. (Trust me though, if you show me a book with a person on it, I'll most likely scrunch up my nose. Even if I liked the book.) The novel is about a very artsy, angsty person, and there is so much of that present on this cover. From the painted on title to the "who cares, get away from me" look on her face, and the attitude that radiates from the way she holds her cigarette. That's a character I actually want to get to know.



Unwind by Neil Schusterman


This one creeps you out when you stare at it. Well, it does me. A hand pressed against some sort of glass. Longing to get out, longing to escape... feelings the characters feel, even if they aren't in a physical, glass cage. But what's this? The glass looks like a giant fingerprint... something unique to everyone, something that plays a large part in the plot... no, the concept of this book. It's taking the literal to the figurative. The characters are trapped into something that is unique to them. Hmm... (by the way, read this book. It's amazing.)



And finally, Looking for Alaska by John Green.


I have always loved this book cover. It's why I picked up this book in the first place, years ago from a Five Below. The smoke is what really attracts me. I originally thought it was a cigarette (which in my opinion, would be better, but...) and it's actually from a candle. But you know what? It actually makes better sense, but you have to read it first. It's simple. I love that. There's not a huge concept thrown into your face. I love it.


So there's my top covers. Well, at least the ones from my bookshelf. If I tried to search every book I've ever read, I might drive myself crazy.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Anything Goes

That is the title of my new free-write notebook. It is covered in tye-dyed duct tape, and I love it. Unfortunately my camera is dead, so I don't have a picture, but just imagine the fun of a classic composition book, wrapped in orange and yellow tye-dyed duct tape, with the words "Anything Goes" in typewriter print on the cover.

(Please ignore the previous run-on sentence. It's late.)

I have decided to start a new project, if you will. Some call it free writing. A friend of mine calls it "Fic doodles." I like to think it lies somewhere in between. Basically "anything goes."

If I want to write it, it goes in here. If I have a spark of a creative idea, no matter how small, no matter how dim, it goes in this notebook. It doesn't have to have a plot. It can be five pages about the leaf that fell off that tree over there. (Points out the window.) Heck, it doesn't even have to make sense. The point is to write. There are no rules in this journal. It can suck, or it can be awesome... it just has to be.

And with that, I wish you all a goodnight as I crawl under the covers and dream up my next piece of fiction.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Obligatory Irene Post and some Good News


This weekend I was struck by Hurricane Irene. This after my first ever earthquake. What a week!

We didn't have much damage, all things considered it probably could have been worse. I spent Saturday night worried that the half-dead tree next to our driveway would fall, and crush our cars. Then it occurred to me that it was tall enough that it would probably fall through my bedroom. The tree is leaning now, but in a different direction, and it didn't fall.

Of course, another one did. Right in front of the house. This one broke in half randomly last year, but it grew back into health. That is until the other night when it broke in half an fell against my bedroom window.


Our dryer is also broken. A power surge fried the motherboard or something.... so sorry if I appear to be wearing wet clothing in the next week. No power most of Sunday, but that was that. It would have been an opportune time to write, but you know, things never happen as you plan them.

As for the "Good News" I mentioned? I got a new job. I cannot express how happy I am without doing a happy dance, and since I'm sitting here in my pajamas with bed-head, I don't know if I'm prepared to film myself doing that to post it.

But yes, new job. I'll be working at the same company as my dad, which is awesome. This is my last week at my old job, and then I can leave that place behind forever and laugh, and cry of happiness, and laugh some more. I'll feel bad for some of the coworkers I'm leaving behind, but not the rest of the company. Just so you all know, working at a bank anymore... sucks.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Awesome


Oh wait, wasn't I supposed to be reading Harry Potter all week? Well, after I thought about the fact that it was "7 books in 7 days" I realized that might be a bit of an unattainable challenge. I'm still reading Sorcerer's Stone, but I'm enjoying it. I took a break today though. I ended up in Target, for whatever reason, and I found myself in the book aisle. I couldn't resist the fresh titles, and the clean, crisp covers. Suddenly one cover popped out. It was dark with bright, colorful letters. It was awesome. Literally. It was Awesome.

The Book of Awesome, to be exact. A book written by a Neil Pasricha. It's a decent-sized, almost chunky book, that I finished in one day. It's all about the little things in life that make us smile.
  • High-fiving babies
  • Popping bubble wrap
  • Celebrating your pet's birthday even though they have no idea what's going on
  • Getting into a bed with clean sheets after shaving your legs
  • The smell of the coffee aisle in the grocery store
...And so many more. They are the little things we tend to overlook, but when they happen, they suddenly brighten our moods and change out outlook on the rest of the day. They make us into geniuses or the luckiest people in the world. They are the things that are purely awesome.

Please pick up this book. It's not too long, and it'll make your day. (And if you happen to find yourself in Target, the book is 20% off. Now that's awesome.)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Here's the New Plan

What I wouldn't give for a vacation. A nice break... a whole week away from work, away from counting money, from not meeting my solution goals... oh wait, I have that coming up. Next week I go on vacation! Seven glorious days away from the bank, all leading up to a concert in Hershey.

(I'll give you three guesses as to who's playing.)

So I've got a week off from work. What do I do? Go to the doctor's appointment I scheduled months ago because I knew I'd finally have a day off, maybe make a trip to the beach, another meeting might take place... Those are technicalities. Or something.

I'm going to read the Harry Potter series. I haven't touched the series in about six or seven years, and I only made it to the middle of book number five.

I'm starting over. I'm reading the whole series. And yes, I was totally sucked into the Harry Potter hype. And no, I did not see the movie.

Forget About It - a book review

So after what felt like an incredibly long time, through a writing contest (in which I made semi-finals, but I didn't win,) and continuous streams of stress and obsession running through my head, I finally finished reading another book.

Forget About It, by Caprice Crane, is a quirky tale of Jordan Landau. She might very well be your average doormat, (and even she won't argue with you on that) and is incredibly unhappy about how her life has turned out. She has a vanity obsessed mother and half-sister, a self-centered boyfriend, and a credit stealing boss. Then one day, she winds up in an accident, and decides to take a mental vacation. In a crazy moment she conjures up the idea to fake a bout of amnesia.

Jordan takes things into her own hands with her fake memory loss, and that seems to work for her, until she winds up in another accident and has to start from square one for real.

Wow. That's the simple response. The idea, I thought, was promising. How could I hate a story about a girl who fakes amnesia, and then gets it for real? I wouldn't say I hated it, but I most likely won't read this book again.

Caprice Crane does a lovely job of building Jordan's world, and even her character. We know who Jordan is from the beginning and the things she has to deal with. Even if some of the characters are a little cliche. My biggest peeve of the book, however, is how wordy it is. Everything is described. Every single event in Jordan's life seemed to make onto the pages of the book. I was honestly bored, but due to the fact that I'm working on an amnesia story, I forced my way through to the end. And that, was quite possibly, a predictable ending at best. I will say that I liked the character Todd, and I think the best parts of the book were the ones in which he was present.

Don't let my review, or skewed opinion, sway you on the book. It wasn't horrible, and I think it's good enough to read at least once.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Auntie B's Book Club Contest

And of course I'm entering, and taking advantage of the opportunity. (Oh yeah, it's here.)

So here's my entry, as specified by the contest rules.

--

Title: Echo

Genre: YA (suspense)

Pitch: Benjamin couldn't control Olivia's mind. She was the only one he ever met with his power, and the only one who could stop him from hiding the truth behind a deadly accident.

250-Word Excerpt:
Sitting in that hard plastic chair in the principal's office stunned Olivia. It was worse than a bad day, or a bad dream. It was more like a nightmare.

Olivia sat motionless in her seat, her hands folded in her lap. If she could have coiled herself into a ball, she would have. A nervous chill tiptoed its way up and down her spine.

To her left was some girl who had claimed to witness the incident. Legs crossed, her foot shook to some beat that only she could seem to hear. Her gaze never found its way towards Olivia. To her right was Hunter. His eyes were set on the receptionist’s desk, fixed as though he could see through the panel of wood, directly at the secretary who continued to type away at some problem of her own.

Every now and then, Olivia felt his gaze shift, as though he were staring her down through the corner of his eye. She wouldn't blame him. He was the victim's brother.

Olivia did not want to think of Chase as a victim. It made her feel like she hurt Chase on purpose. It made her not want to think at all. As she sat there waiting for her parents though, listening to the ongoing click-clack of a keyboard behind the receptionist’s desk, the unpleasant thoughts pushed their way through, invading Olivia’s mind.

She never wanted to hurt him, Hunter or Chase.

After maybe an hour's wait, and countless people passing through the office doors, Olivia's parents came rushing through.

--

I made some changes since my appearance on First Impressions, and I'm still open to comments and critiques, and I'm even willing to accept a compliment if you can dig one up. I'm ready for it.

Update: made some changes based on the comments. As they say, an artist's work is never truly complete.

Final Update: This is what I'm submitting. Wish me luck!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Kind of, Maybe, A Little Obsessed With Books

We all know I love books. We also know how I get a little crazy with them. I keep them on my piano instead of my bookshelf. I spend way more in a bookstore than I would on the internet just because I'm there. I make sure I have the comic book versions of Supernatural Origins. I buy a German-print version of my favorite book. (Yes, I have Eine Wie Alaska, the German translation of John Green's Looking for Alaska.)

But I think it gets even crazier when I buy a second copy of a beloved book only because it's the paperback version, and I only have the hardcover version.

I now own two copies of Thirteen Reasons Why.

Obsessed? Maybe.
In need of an intervention? Quite possibly.
In literary bliss? Definitely.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I Forgot How Much I Loved This Book

If you're wondering what book I'm talking about, that would be The Giver, by Lois Lowry.

It's been five years since I've read this book. I had to read it in my eighth grade Language Arts class, and as I recall, it was the first book I was ever assigned to read, that I actually read ahead. I remember sitting on the couch in the family room, reading the required chapters for homework, and the next thing I knew, I'd read about two or three more chapters than I was supposed to. I shrugged, and continued reading. It sure did give me an edge when we had to predict the ending and I'd finished it already.

So, The Giver. In a future where society has adapted into "Sameness," 11, soon to be 12-year-old Jonas is starting to see things differently. He's worried about what his assignment will be -- his job for the remainder of his life -- and is started to find out he will be the Receiver of Memories. It's an honored job, and it's rare to come by somebody who can take on that assignment. And through it, Jonas learns about a lot of things he, and the rest of his community, have never experienced... such as color, weather, pain, and love...

There are so many reasons why I like this book, and I think the biggest reason is it's simplicity, despite the complex story. There's a lot to the background, but it's never forced on the reader. It's explained as it's needed, as though the reader is living the same life as Jonas. While some facts may come as a surprise, they are revealed as though they shouldn't be.

I love the story. I love the overall idea and how it is done. I love how we can almost sympathize with the oppressing characters, while at the same time root for Jonas. Let me praise Lois Lowry for a job well done, especially when I can read a book a years later and still be shocked and surprised, and tear through the book in two days.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Refreshing Book

I needed this. I needed to read this book after a series of disappointing reads that I couldn't even get through.

I passed on two or three books that I started, and just couldn't get interested in. I read through a few chapters, then posted them on my paperback swap account and shipped them off. Finally I pulled out a book on my bookshelf, more or less at random, and started reading, and the best way I can describe how it made me feel is refreshing.

I just finished reading Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. And then I watched it tonight on demand because I had nothing better to do. I've already read a book by the two of them, that I really liked, so I had high hopes for this book. And they were met.

We probably all know the premise. They're in a huge crowd, some sort of music club, and Nick and Norah cross paths, and he asks her to pretend to be his girlfriend for five minutes, so that he won't look quite so pathetic in front of his ex. Funny story, she knows his ex, and she doesn't like her.

So the two stick together for the night. Nick wants information on his ex-girlfriend, who he is still heartbroken over, and Norah is trying to give him a good time, while trying to figure out what direction to take her life on all different levels.

I like this book for many different reasons. It flows quickly. The point of view changed each chapter so I get to hear a different voice every few pages. There's music references that don't date the book. The characters are lively and hilarious, and I will admit to laughing out loud a few times.

If you haven't already, give this book a chance. It won't take long to get through, but it'll definitely entertain you.

And on a side note, I really kind of wish the band in this book, Where's Fluffy? was a real band, because the way the characters talk about it, and the way the band's image is designed, sound incredibly amazing, and should definitely exist outside of fiction.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I Should Think of a Better Title

Things I should be doing:
  • posting more blog posts
  • reading more books
  • editing the manuscript I wrote over a year ago
  • writing the numerous ideas I've gotten since then
  • reading some blogs I've been neglecting
  • looking for a new job
  • winning the lottery
  • going for a run
  • saving my money
  • not plotting ways to go see X-Men: First Class again
  • researching about a thousand different things
That's been my life right now, in a nutshell, or not so much of a life if you'd prefer.
School is out and summer has begun. Except for those of us who work year-round jobs. Those of us who are lucky to get that week long vacation (which I just put in a request for, so now I have that to look forward to.)

But just because I don't have a three-month stretch of "nothing" doesn't mean I can't set goals for myself. So how about I turn that list around...

Things I will be doing:
  • blogging more regularly
  • making a dent in my To Be Read pile
  • editing the heck out of my manuscript into perfection
  • writing a dozen new things I'm proud of
  • getting myself back into the blogger-sphere
  • find a new job
  • win the lottery (I can dream, right?)
  • lose a few unnecessary pounds
  • raise the balance in my bank account
  • realize that twice is enough, and wait patiently for X-Men to come out on dvd
  • and know everything
(please ignore the exaggerations. That's what makes my list great.)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Graphic Novel Book Review

Comic books, graphic novels, whatever you call them, I still find them entertaining, and just as good a read as the 500 page, 5pt font book on the highest shelf of the library. Just because it's full of pictures doesn't change anything.

My point is, I just finished reading Page by Paige, by Laura Lee Gulledge. A wonderful 192 page book following a comic style, while adding an artistic element to the pictures and themes throughout.

Paige Turner, (her parents are writers) has just moved from Virginia to New York. She's an aspiring artist who is losing faith her ability, and herself. Through a promise to herself to try to change things, she makes new friends, gains some confidence, and illustrates the entire journey in her sketch book, which is more or less the book that is being read.

It didn't take long to read. It took maybe an hour or two to get through with no distractions, aside from dinner. From page one I liked it. I like the quirky little drawings, and the more meaningful ones. Page lives very much inside her head, and it comes out in her life through these drawings. A sign that lists sketchbooks for sale becomes "best friends" for sale, and a cold wind literally cuts through her.

She exaggerates differences between herself and others. One instance in particular that I liked was an image of a group of students and herself, showing only the legs and the feet. Paige was the only one in a pair of jeans and Converse surrounded by leggings and Uggs. Which quite frankly, was my high school experience.

Some other little things I loved about this book that added to the experience include the fact that it's completely in black and white. So I think instead of being overwhelmed by color, we're sucked into the story itself. The author also made a font out of her handwriting for the text. And all throughout the book there were subtle references to different bands, and other aspects of her real life.

But in my opinion, the greatest thing about this book was how inspirational it is. It applies to anyone struggling in an art form, not just sketch artists, or people who put wheat-paste art on the walls of a city. Paige not only helps herself, but her friends -- a singer, a comic artist, and a writer -- through the same fears we all have as we work to reach our dreams. Fear of rejection, fear of self doubt, fear of losing touch with doing something we love.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever worried if their art was ever good enough, or to anyone who ever felt like they didn't quite belong, and to anyone who has ever lived in their head.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Small Time Adventure Today

I went to the bookstore and spent fifty dollars, when I could have gotten twice as much for that price on Amazon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Narrator

Another Wednesday, another Road Trip.

Let's face it... sometimes we really want to read, but we're too tired to keep our eyes open, so we want someone to tell us the story instead. That's all fine and dandy, but your parents say you're too old to be read to. You're next door neighbor stares at your momentarily before slamming the door in your face. And you're pretty sure that strange guy on the side of the road will read to you, but you forgot he's actually illiterate.

What we need here is an audio book. They will read with pause, unless we want them to, and without dirty looks in our direction. But as great as they are, they raise the question, "who should read them?"

Ah, now that I can answer.

I've narrowed it down to three. Three celebrity voices that could read an epic book, or make a really bad book suck less:


1. James Earl Jones -- the obvious choice. But with classics like "Build it Ray, and they will come" and everything he said in The Lion King under his belt, not to mention those old at&t commercials, he's no newcomer to awesome narrative voices.


2. Morgan Freeman -- he's God. That's about all I have to say about that.


3. Gerard Way -- oh here we go. Now you all roll your eyes, but I have legitimate reasoning, (besides the fact that I went to a My Chem concert last Friday, which if you're interested, you can read the review here.)

But in all honesty, this man has a great voice. It's different. And he's good at narrating. At least that's what I've thought ever since I heard him in this little piece where he actually did narrate something. He can convey emotion, story, and the creepy. And if you have any doubt about his acting abilities, you'd better watch him in this video here.

(Give me a break. I did just go to a concert after all.)

Those are my choices. What are yours?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Can I Leave This Here?

First off, I have the first page of my WIP posted for critique here, and here.

Which brings to mind concerns of mine...

With such a strong dislike of my current job, I'm trying to invest more energy into writing, revising, editing, etc, and I suddenly feel incredibly overwhelmed. I know I don't have many followers, but perhaps the twenty-something that I do have can help me out?

If I'm going to be honest, I'm going to state that I haven't felt good about writing in a long time. I still love it, but ever since I started trying to "fix" my wip, I've been second guessing every word I write. Am I being to passive? Am I telling too much and not showing enough? Are there too many adjectives and not enough verbs? And no matter how many times I tell myself to ignore that and just write what I want to write, those thoughts always come creeping back in, and I worry that I'm screwing myself up.

I'm not asking for a wave of complements here. I'm asking for honest opinions. I need to know if I'm just being to over-analytical.

--

I'd like to add, I think it would help if I had a critique partner. And honest to goodness critique partner who has been in the game and knows what to look for and how to point things out. But I have no idea where to start looking. Any ideas?

And, anyone know where I can find an excellent description of showing versus telling? That seems to be a weakness of mine, and I thought I understood it, but I guess I don't.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Few Italics

He grabbed her wrists and pulled them down. His gaze was so intense she was actually afraid of the one person who couldn't hurt her. He wouldn't hurt her -- he shouldn't hurt her.

"Do you want to know what it's like to have wings?" Suddenly she regretted asking the question. She felt the air shift as he spoke. His grip tightened and it made her wrists burn. Behind him, pages of opens books flapped and curtains fluttered.

A set of wings unfolded from his back almost a feather at a time. They almost looked fake -- opaque, a shadow in the air -- until they stretched all the way out, reaching from one wall to another in the small room.

Beautiful, vibrant -- reds and oranges to match his hair. Unique to him even in a group of the same kind.

"You can't possibly begin to imagine," he said. "And I want you try."

In one fluid movement, his hands went from her wrists to her shoulders. One touched her forehead and her legs buckled.


--

What is this? you might be asking. Heck if I know. I came up with it on my break at work tonight. (The grocery store work, not the bank work. The work I don't dread going to.) Where it came from I have no idea. I just know that it looked a whole lot longer in cursive on a piece of paper I took from the customer service desk.

However, I think I like it. But just because I like it doesn't mean it's good. So critique the heck out of it, if you would be so kind to do so. I think it's the basis for a new story I want to write. Ironically, it's a story I've been trying to write, but with new inspiration, and even a new character. This nameless character isn't who he used to be. He actually has a name, but it's different. He looks different too. My delusions need to be written down, so, I did just that.

--

And this is also where I'd like to state my thoughts/concerns about prologues. To me, that's the way I work, but I hear a lot of negative things about how writers shouldn't include them. I never write with the intent of writing a prologue, but I tend to do better with writing something a little in the middle, and then going back. In the grand scheme (prologue, chapter 1) and on a smaller scale, (my wip chapter 1 starts with the aftermath, then goes back to what happened that day.)

So I ask you, my lovely followers, if this was the beginning of the book, just on it's own, to be followed by a separate chapter 1 that probably takes place before this, would you read it?)

(Please excuse any possible run on sentences, or horrible grammar. It's 11pm, and I'm tired. My body has adjusted to a new schedule that my consciousness has not.)

Oh! And go ahead and give me your personal thoughts on prologues, etc. I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Words I Dislike and Other Random Things

solutions
appointments
teller line
identity theft
goal
huddle
referral
overtime

However, I do like the word "paycheck."

I know most people dislike their jobs, many even hate them, but I find myself being driven to the fact that I dislike words that are thrown around in that place.

I may write a memoir one day, and at least I can be assured that this job will fill a few chapters.

So, if anyone knows of a good place that's hiring, let me now.

On the plus side, I'm going to a concert in a little over a week, and for that I couldn't be more excited. (Especially because I don't have to go to work that day.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Scar Story

Well, first let me apologize for my absence. I've been working overtime at my new job, and then some, to the point where my time sheet yelled at me for working more hours than basic overtime allows. Yeah....

Anyway, I can finally do some sort of blog post, and for that I'm doing another Road Trip Wednesday! A story about scars.

I'm actually intrigued and fascinated by scars -- both physical and emotional. In fact, when I first decided that I wanted to be a writer, my first huge story idea (which is now most likely never going to see the light of day, but will always hold a special place in my heart,) was inspired by a scar. Well, actually a picture of a boy whose hair style covered most of his face, and then a friend of mine and myself got into an argument about whether or not that was attractive. In a moment of not wanting to lose the argument, I told him that he was insecure about a scar on his face that was gruesome and held memories of a day he'd rather forget.

Hmm, I'm getting inspired again..... and if you're interested, this is where you can find any work related to that character.

Moving on.... honestly, that was probably more interesting than my own scar story, but I must adhere to the Road Trip Wednesday prompt -- my own scars.

I have a few, some I don't even know how I got them. I've got one from a plastic muffin container. One from an iron. I have one on my eyebrow from the chicken pox in 1st grade. It was my first one, and my last one. And the reason why it scarred is because I was wearing a pair of paper glasses for the 100th day of school, (you know, where you look through the 00's,) and they fell and scratched it off. Now I have a scar on my face that I've had others, on more than one occasion, including my father, tell me "you have something white on your face, what is that?" Yeah, sorry, it doesn't come off.

A few years later we had a problem with bees in our house. They would just come in and hang out one summer. We had a cat that year, and he was the devil. (But that's beside the point.) One day, I chased him under my bed. I felt something hard and pointy on my arm, and for whatever reason, I thought it was a piece of mulch from a playground. I wondered what it was doing in my room, but when I looked at my arm, there was a dead bee sticking out of it.

Yes, the bee was dead. It was dead before I even fell on it. So yes, everybody, the one and only time I was stung by a bee... it was dead. And I fell on it.

I was young, so I freaked out. I ran to my mom, slightly hysterical, and she took it out, dropped it on the bathroom floor, and crushed it with a can of cat food. There is still a small scar on my right forearm.

That's about it. I've never had surgery, I've never needed stitches. My dogs have always been nice to me. I'm just a strange kid who doesn't watch where the iron is, or look for bees before I fall. Oh well. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I May Have Written You Into My Book.

They always say to "write what you know." Or they say that life seeps into your writing. Who is they? I don't really know, but that's not important. What is important is that it's Wednesday, and along with that is Road Trip Wednesday, which I can participate in this week.

"Who have you written into a book?"


I've written plenty of things with people I know, but those things never make it past the shredder, as they shouldn't. But on occasion, people I know find themselves into my more serious writing endeavors. Since Echo is my only completed manuscript at the moment, (as it's been for a while now, just sitting there...) I'll pull those characters into this post.

I think every character has roots to people I know. Of course that probably happens to everyone. After all, everybody is going to be like somebody is some way. However some of these characters are more blatantly similar than others.

I started by just pulling names. My female main character needed a last name. So I took one from a kid I went to band with. That was the first instance. Then I realized I needed to add more characters. My male main character needed some friends. I pulled a few names out of thin air, rather generic -- Chris, Andy -- and then added two more characters. One I think I pulled out of the yearbook when I just flipped to a random page. But the other, I pulled from... band.

From here I decided I wanted to include somebody from band in every novel I ever wrote, so we'll see how that works out in the future.

The thing about this character -- Travis -- is that I took another trait from another kid in band, and gave it to him -- red hair. Then there was a character whose name I took from someone in my German class. Then I used a friend's name after she asked I stick her in the novel. I think you get the gist. Most of these were names, but with names came faces.

I guess I never really go much farther than that -- names. I don't think I've ever stuck a person I know in a novel, but I think it's going to happen one day. I think it's going to happen soon. I might just do it for the heck of it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Page and a Half at a Time

In case you haven't noticed, I changed the title of my blog. I'm not really sure why I did this, and if it's for the better, but I did it anyway. I hope you guys like it.

If you're wondering where this title came from, it's an odd little story. I was writing on a legal pad, with purple paper. I'm strange in that I see purple lined paper for sale in a store, and I can't stop myself from buying it. And I was writing, writing, writing random words I didn't like, and I got to the end of the page and I realized I had two choices: I could waste a page and go onto the next piece of paper, or awkwardly flip the page and write on the back. Then I realized I had a third option. I folded the page up in half, and wrote on half of the back.

And I just thought, "what if this is how I write my novels? A page and a half at a time..." and that's where the title came from.

I'm still working on a decent description underneath the title. If you have an suggestions, I'll take them. Until I'm satisfied, that's going to change, probably a few times.

Same old blog, different name. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I Read Something Else...

So I took a little break from the average book reading in the past few days to read a small comic series. If you've seen my "reading list" page, you'll see that what I read was the Supernatural comic series. The three books are Origins, Rising Son, and Beginnings End.

Yes, this is referring to the television show of the same name. And yes, these are comics, not books. However, let me start by saying that a comic is not any less of a book just because it's full of pictures. I'm not going to explain myself. I'm just going to direct you to this post from YA Highway.

And if neither comics, nor the series interest you, then neither will this post.

The comics take place before the start of the series, just after the 5 minutes that open the pilot. It follows John Winchester as he digs into the mysterious death of his wife, dragging along his young sons along the way, across America, to the darkest corners of the country. Throughout the mini-series, the sons grow older, the relationship develops, and the characters develop into who they become in the show.

I wouldn't suggest reading these unless you've seen the show, otherwise you probably won't understand a lot of what's happening. However, I think they were well done, and illustrated in such a way that kept to the overall idea of this sort of universe.

These are something I'd recommend. Especially if you've never been into comics but have wanted to give them a try, because if it's a familiar story for you, you can get into it pretty quickly.

I'll get back to regular books soon enough. Writing as well. I just need to find that groove to fit back into now that I'm working a new job with impromptu overtime hours.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Reasons Why I Might be a Geek

Let's face it, I'm a geek. Or a dork. Or a nerd. Or a freak. Whichever term you prefer...

1. I re-read books I was required to read in high school for fun
2. I buy buttons/pins with obscure literary terms printed on them.
3. I try to fit obsolete words into everyday conversation
4. I watch Supernatural.
5. I know anything and everything there is to know about the Back to the Future movies
6. I buy comic trilogy prequel to the Supernatural series
7. I contemplate buying this.
8. I actually do buy this.
9. I plot how I'm going to make this.
10. And I don't care if people think I'm a geek, or a dork, or a nerd, or a freak.

(In all honestly, I could probably make this list much longer. This is just all I could think of right now. Clearly I need sleep.)

I'm Not Gone

Let me start off by saying that I am incredibly tired, but I can't not blog. (Not fixing that double negative right there.) As I stated before, I got a new job. Training is over, and I'm at work now. There's just some things going on in it that are really draining me right now, but I'm not going to get into it. It's fun blogging time!

But like I just said, I'm tired, so I'm going to keep it simple. I read two books in the past few weeks. I re-read Night, a memoir by Elie Wiesel, about his time in a Concentration camp in WWII. If you haven't read it, I would suggest you do. It's horrific and real, and something I believe everyone needs to read once.

I also read The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club by Laurie Notaro. This one is just a fun read that can't really be described, only enjoyed.

I hate to leave it like this, but if I keep waiting to writ a decent review, I won't write one at all.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Quick Question to followers...

So, I'm looking at my blog from a different computer. And this screen is huge.... geeze! It's like reading blogs in an imax theater!

Anyway, the point I'm getting at is that my blog layout looks completely different on here than it does on my home computer and my laptop. I just want to know how it looks for you? Apparently, there are brown edges around the brown spots. Am I going to have to make a larger background that supports tiling? Or does it look good?

Thoughts, suggestions... Does it look okay? Should I fix it? Should I just change it to a background of frolicking puppies? All comments are welcome. Let me know what you think; I was just curious.

(And that was probably a very unnecessary semi-colon.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Insert Title Here"

Road Trip Wednesday #67

Phew! 50 miles one way, 50 miles back. That's been my week. But, I haven't abandoned the blog. Clearly. I'll have another book review up soon. Maybe tonight.

Now back to the Road Trip. Titles. Oh, the task of titles. How do I pick titles? What's my title picking method? Honestly, I'm not very good at titles. At least in my opinion.

Titles hold so much importance. They have to sum up a story in some way. They also have to be creative and unique. They can be long, short, a phrase, a pun, or a name of a character. When do I pick what? Depends on the story.

My titles generally suck. I mean, look at the title of this post. I will mention that sometimes I come up with a title before I come up with a story, but usually, a story will go without a title for a long time. If it does have a title, it's usually very boring, or very stale, and it usually has something to do with something in the story.

Examples of title creations:
Gray Eyes. Yes, I had something titled that because I couldn't think of anything else. Something big was that a character had the last name Gray, and he had gray eyes, and no one else in his family did. Eventually the story evolved, the eye color, (while still prevalent) took a backseat to the rest of the story, and was renamed Echo because of a common occurrence in the story.

While working on NaNoWriMo for the first time, (with the creation of Echo) I saw a story entitled Confessions of an Imaginary Best Friend. I fell in love with the title and came up with a story idea to go along with it. I jotted it down, and plastered that title on top. (Thankfully this writer's plot was very different from what I came up with.) Then I sprinkled some details in, and I put some more thought into it, and then I found a picture. A picture of striped socks on a white background. Perfect book cover material. I decided to make a book cover for fun, and Confessions of an Imaginary Best Friend just wasn't working. So I took the concept, and the name of said Imaginary Best Friend, and retitled the idea A Friend Named Spencer.

Those are some "successes." Then there's title failure. That's when I can't find a title I'm happy with. And until then, I'll have to just write, and hope a new title comes to me later.

Little bit of an awkward post, but at least I've proven I haven't disappeared completely.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I Don't Even Know... Not Really

When your brain becomes fried and overloaded from bank training... this becomes an incredibly fun thing:

Monday, February 7, 2011

Possibly Hiatus? Possibly New Beginning?

So I write this from a place of many different emotions -- excitement, fear, overwhelming anxiety, nauseating terror, and happiness -- all mixed together and rushing through me, and now overflowing onto my blog. After a productive month of book reading/reviewing, I'm going on a most likely break from it. Why?

I. Got. A. Job.

I know I haven't talked about it much on here, but for the past few months I've been struggling to find a full time job while I've been working part time at a local grocery store. And since I'm currently not attending school, this has been a big deal. Kind of forced me into a depressing slump that effected my writing -- or lack thereof.

So this is big. Super! Fabulous! Delicious! Any other positive adjective you can think of. And I'm sharing the good news with all of you, my few followers who saw something interesting in my blog. On Thursday I start my training, which is over an hour away. And at night will be a lot of studying. So my leisurely reading and writing time will be diminished for the next few weeks. But I'll see if I can sneak something in.

Hopefully once I get into the swing of things, I'll be back to writing, editing, and reading with full force and a new found excitement.


...then again, I am very good at procrastinating... and this is fun...




Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dirty Little Secrets

Don't look at me like that. It's just a book review. The book is called Dirty Little Secrets, and was written by the fabulous C.J. Omololu. First of all, I'm surprised I knocked out 4 books in a month. That's probably a new record for me. Second, I'm surprised I read two books that I absolutely loved in a month.

Dirty Little Secrets has just about everything I love in a novel. Dark, disturbing, and real. Lucy seems normal enough, but behind the walls of her home is a secret she works hard to keep hidden from everyone around her. Piles of junk and stacks of trash. Nothing is thrown out, but everything is wasted. Suddenly her mother dies, and everything changes for Lucy. She knows she can start over -- fix what her mother let get out of control -- but she only has a few hours to do it.

Based on whatever summary you read, you may or may not know exactly what Lucy does when she finds her mother. I don't want to give anything away myself, but it's slightly disturbing. Despite this, there's a level of sympathy the reader has for her. Every word is captivating, while at the same time the horrific knowledge still clings to the reader. I for one had to keep reading to know how this would pan out.

Chapter after chapter digs deeper into Lucy's secret life, and even reveals secrets about her family that she never knew. A normal life is in her reach, and yet her old was is trying to drag her back.

I love it. So magnificently horrifying in a completely realistic way. The story takes place in a little more than 24 hours, and Lucy's anxiety translates onto the page. The end was what I would call perfect. Just as disturbing as the beginning, and not an ounce too corny. I felt for Lucy, even if I didn't know what it was like to live like her. Another great book, and in a style I love. And on a slightly related note, with writing like that, I may start to change my sour opinion on first person point of view.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fifty Posts In

That's right! It's my fiftieth post on blogger! I don't know if I should be stunned that I got this far, or appalled that it took this long. But here it is, the fiftieth post, and with it I unveil a new theme. The other one was driving me a little nuts, despite how pretty it was. I think I like this one though. Thoughts?

And that's about all I had to say. Just a new theme for fifty posts. I'll return be back to "regular" posts after this.

Girl, Stolen - book review

Not all books are easy to get through. Some can be very short, easy reads, and yet they are a pain to finish. It's usually different for everybody, but for me, Girl, Stolen was one of those books.

I'm a little frazzled right now because I accidentally threw away the notes I took on this book, and I already returned it to the library. So I'm going to keep this review a little brief.

Girl, Stolen by April Henry is about the tale of Cheyenne. She is sixteen years old, her father is president of Nike, and she has been blind for three years. Then one day while she waits in the car for her stepmother to pick up her medicine to fight her pneumonia, someone hops in the car and drives it away, with Cheyenne in the backseat.

Griffin has inadvertently kidnapped a blind girl. He only meant to steal a car and impress his father and his criminal ways. Now he has to deal with this mistake and make it work, and the more he gets to know Cheyenne, the more he wants to defy his father and help her escape.

So the book is written in alternating points of view. It's a little heart pumping, but it's also pretty predictable. Honestly, the only reason I read the whole thing is because it had a similar story to my WIP. (Thankfully, I think they're different enough.) The story was good, but I think the voice was a little annoying. There was a lot of telling, and info-dumping. There was a long-winded explanation to the reader about VIN's in one chapter, and in the next, Griffin explained the exact same thing to Cheyenne. There was even an explanation about Nike, which I think was unnecessary. It wasn't too horrible, but for good chunks of the book, it felt like the reader wasn't expected to know anything.

Overall, not a horrible book, but not a great one. It didn't take long to get through, so it wasn't a waste of my time to read. You might like it, even if I didn't. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Book Review of "wow!"

Very rarely do I finish a book... especially a very long book... and want to keep reading it. It's a very depressing moment to realize there is no more of that particular book to read. And all you can say is "wow," or laugh like a moron while uttering "oh my gosh" over and over again. This book has basically bumped off every book I've ever read from the number 1 spot. So I might gush over this book a little bit more than is necessary.

The point I'm getting at here is that if you haven't read Unwind by Neal Shusterman, I strongly recommend you get yourself a copy and read it as soon as possible.

It's years into the future. Years after the second civil war -- the Heartland War -- the war that pitted Pro-Life and Pro-Choice against each other. In the turmoil, a solution was formed. No longer can a child be aborted, but it can be unwound once it turns thirteen. Every piece of this child is still alive, but it is in a divided state -- unwound.

Connor is sixteen, and got into one too many fights at school. Risa is fifteen, and is taking too much space in the state home. Lev is thirteen, and he's a tithe. All three have been marked to be unwound. The three find themselves together as they run from the Juvy-cops. And it isn't easy, especially since Lev sees himself being an Unwind - a tithe - as a good thing.

This book is massive. It's long, and it's full. There are seven sections, and within each section, are chapters that follow along a different character. Throughout the pages we get to know Connor, Risa, Lev, and a few other people along the way. The story goes deep into it's own history, and into ethics and morality, and even makes the reader question if there is a God.

This book is almost scary. At times I thought about how I was lucky I'm 19 and too old be an Unwind. It seems so real, like it's something that could happen one day.

The writing is spectacular, even though it's in present tense (which usually bothers me.) And even though it takes place in the future, it doesn't focus on that fact. But the book does include interesting ideas, like how there is not "black" or "white" skin colors, but "umber" and "sienna."

It was a little hard to get through, but the more I read, the more I wanted to know what was going to happen, and my only disappointment is that it's over.

Oh, and this book earns another point because I'm pretty sure that there was a reference to Back to the Future when it says "an old movie plays on an antique plasma-screen TV. The movie shows a crazy vision of a future that never came, with flying cars and white-haired scientist." Tell me that's not Back to the Future II.

Unwind... go read it... now.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Batch of Favorite Lines

Road Trip Wednesday has rolled around once again.

My favorite line from my WIP? Truth be told, I haven't officially touched it in a long time. I've been waiting for that special moment when I can throw myself into it. But I suppose that moment will never come and I'll have to suck it up and jump back in anyway.

However, picking a favorite line is tough. It's like children. You wouldn't pick one child of yours over another as your favorite, right? I'd hope not. And while each line isn't necesarily a child, I might consider each book my baby, and each line is a part of it, like a limb. ("I like my baby's arm better than its foot..." Okay, now I'm just rambling.) All I'm saying is that it's difficult to do, especially in less than 24 hours.

So let me cut to the chase. Last year I took a web page design class, and for our final project, we had to create a website for something that interested us, using blah, blah, blah. I used my WIP as the theme. And I saved the files and codes on my flash drive, so I still have it. And on one of those pages, I included the "excerpt," and three lines which I felt were pretty awesome. Maybe not my favorite, but summed up a lot of the book.

So I'm cheating a little. Three lines (which each are about two sentences long.) But I want to share them now.

And uh... just so you know, this is pretty much the first I've shared any of my book to anyone I didn't know personally. Big moment.


1."Well, thanks for getting your brother away from me," Olivia said, anger rising in her voice and sarcasm taking over, "but you can just go fling yourself down the stairs now."
Not even two seconds later, Chase's body pushed itself backwards and flipped over the railing. The impact was instantaneous.


Uhm, wow. That's got to make you do a double take over what you just read, right? It's completely unexpected, and shocking, and the last sentence is a little unsettling. No need to include graphics to stick that scene in the reader's head, right?

2. In the light of the car's headlights, a figure appeared almost out of nowhere, standing in the middle of the road. Benjamin slammed his foot on the break pedal, but the car came to a stop about seven or eight feet too late.

Okay, so re-reading this now, I already know there's a part I want to take out because it's rather redundant. Let me fix that.

In the light of the car's headlights, a figure appeared almost out of nowhere. Benjamin slammed his foot on the break pedal, but the car came to a stop about seven or eight feet too late.

Better? I think so. This is also a little bit jarring, which I like. It's shocking without being too over-the-top. And it's a different way of saying what actually happened. I almost think it's a little poetic, but that just might be me.

3. "Oh, God," Benjamin said to his reflection in the windshield. "I killed him."

The thing I like about this line is that it doesn't occur directly after line #2. In fact, it doesn't occur until a few chapters later, way, way, way, after the line, after the main action, way after Benjamin should be uttering that line. (I really hope I'm not giving away spoilers or anything. I don't think I am.)

I like this line because of where it is -- much later than where you'd think it would be. I think it's a real turning point in the novel and the character... but I'm not saying in which way either of those turn.


So there we are... my "favorite" lines from my WIP, if you can call them that. (Okay, my original WIP, not that one I've been struggling to start for the past few months. Insert involuntary "ugh" here.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In a Heartbeat - Book Review

First book read in the new year, and so the first official book review of the new year... on the 11th. Oh yeah, it's 1/11/11 -- but I'm waiting for the ultimate 11/11/11 at 11:11 for that ultimate wish.

Back onto the whole book review thing.

In a Heartbeat, by Loretta Ellsworth.

See, this is why I prefer suspense and psychological thrillers -- because I don't like it when books make me cry. Okay, that's a lie, but I'd like a little warning so that my eyes don't start to tear up in a public place. However, I will have to commend any author who can do that. I don't think it's an easy feat to accomplish, and is done better not in a straightforward description, but by what the characters say -- or even don't say.

Now that I've opened with that little tidbit, what is this book really about? A heart. One girl dies in a freak ice-skating accident. Another girl is dying of a sick heart. Eagan, the ice-skater, was an organ donor. So Amelia is lucky to get her heart. Each girl gets her say in the novel, every other chapter, as Eagan deals with being dead, and Amelia deals with the grief and gratitude of knowing she has someone else's heart beating inside her chest.

It's not a bad read, but not a great one. I don't believe in wasting my time on a book I don't like, and I read through it, so that says something. The book had two very distinct, very different characters, so the author did a good job of separating them, even after Amelia began to take on the characteristics of her donor. The author had a good voice throughout, and succeeded in portraying anger without needing to use exclamation points. I'd say some of the guys were a bit unrealistic, but overall, this was a decent book.

One little detail I also thought was cool, each chapter begins with the chapter number, and the name of the character the chapter's point of view is in. Through the chapter numbers run a heart line. The one's in Amelia's chapters keep beating, whereas Eagan's flatline. I just thought that was interesting and cool that such a small detail was stuck in there.

All in all, I wouldn't read it again, but it's a good book to read at least once. Go ahead and pull In a Heartbeat off the library shelf and check it out.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Book Review - Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

Well, I think I put this review off long enough, and while I munch on some Cherry Garcia ice cream, I'm finally sharing my thoughts on Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.

Dash and Lily are both in New York, and are both spending Christmas alone. Dash finds a red notebook in a bookstore that sends him on a journey through the countless shelves. He decides to pull a twist on the notebook and sends the owner on her own journey, through New York, and soon the two are sending this red notebook back and forth with directions and dares that keep the preoccupied and guessing the whole holiday season.

The book swaps chapters. Dash, Lily, Dash, Lily... Dash's chapters were written by David Levithan, and Rachel Cohn wrote Lily's chapters. It's clear there are different voices in the chapters, which is good because it helps the reader feel how there are two separate characters with their own personalities. Dash is smart, and sly. Lily is cunning and cheery. Dash hates Christmas, Lily can't get enough of it.

I was sucked into this book from page one. Dash has a vocabulary that would put my 12th grade English teacher to shame. In fact, the entire book had a vast vocabulary with words such as philatelist, esoteric, inveterate, and lascivious. And countless other words that nearly made my brain explode, but I loved it.

There were a few slightly cliche passages, mostly towards the end, but there were also passages that could have been very cliche, and weren't at all. And I even loved the mention of the "epistolary flirtation." I was happy to know I knew what an epistolary was by the time I reached that.

I would recommend this book. It kept my brain active, and it kept me entertained. Go ahead and add it to your bookshelf.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

First Road Trip Wednesday of 2011

I read a bunch of books in 2010. Some were for school as I finished up my senior year, but most were for recreation. Road Trip Wednesday has asked me to pick my five favorite.

1. Looking for Alaska by John Green
I felt like I wanted to be in this story, and I didn't want to slap any of the characters.







2. Artichoke's Heart by Suzanne Supplee
This one hit close to home with it being about a girl with actual weight problems, who actually struggled with them, and didn't magically reach a magical (and realistically unattainable) happy ending like other "fat girl" books.







3. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
A little less interesting than Looking for Alaska, but John Green rocks my literary socks. And I liked Hassan's character.







4. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
I haven't done my official review for this yet, but Dash used a vocabulary that would make my English teacher from last year feel inferior.







5. 1984 by George Orwell
Of course I picked a classic. Seriously though, I did enjoy this book, even if I did have to read it for school.







And to complete this post, I must sum up 2010 in a book title....

The Middle-Aged and Restless

Oh yeah... I went there.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Reading Update

Remember back at the end of September when I posted a picture of my "to be read" list?

Well, I thought I'd share what it looks like now...


Doesn't really look all that different, does it? I've knocked a few books out of the running, (4, plus I'm in the middle of reading one now,) but I've also added books, (4, two of which I just bought.) I'll also be adding another few books once they come in the mail, hopefully this week. Add to that the books I'm getting out of the library this week.

And again, I do indeed have a perfectly good bookshelf, but it's more fun to store them here.