Tuesday, December 11, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: "A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend" by Emily Horner

WHY I PICKED IT UP: The description mentions a group of young adults writing and putting on a musical by themselves, which is something I did at school last year. Will Grayson, Will Grayson aside, I feel like there aren't many books of kids writing their own musicals, and it's so relatable that I always snatch up a title when I see that's what it's about.

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Cass Meyer's best friend Julia has just died in a car accident, leaving her feeling totally alone. All of her friends now seem only like Julia's friends who Cass just sort of attached to. The novel flips between Cass's lone cross-country roadtrip (with Julia's ashes) and months later when she's helping Julia's theatre clan put together a performance of "Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad," a musical Julia wrote before she died. Biking across America is hard, but facing your middle-school nemesis who has returned to star in the magnum opus of your dead best friend? That's going to push Cass to her limit.


*I'll be honest: I was totally not expecting this book to be about sexuality. Much of the story is about Cass trying to figure out if she loved Julia like a friend or if she secretly wanted to be something more. This book handles that in a tactful way.

*Cass's changing relationship with Heather, Cass's former bully, really threads the story together.

*The flipping between past and present was done tactfully, and she always revealed something that she had once alluded to.


*While the book was sweet and well-constructed, the novel did not leave a deep impression. There was nothing gut-wrenching or very surprising about it.

*A few characters (Cass, Heather, and a young woman Cass meets on her trip) were well-rounded, but the rest remained somewhat flat and forgettable, besides a few attempts at stronger characterization. This includes Julia's boyfriend, who seemed a little all over the place and popped into scenes as a force only when he needed to strike a blow.

OVERALL RATING: Recommendable for ages 13-17 because it can help support people who are struggling with sexuality or the idea of homosexual relationships. Older readers might not find the substance the desire, though.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012


So I'm trying to catch up on NaNoWriMo.

Absolutely determined to finish it this year because I don't have any decent excuses to not do it. If I could complete NaNoWriMo as a senior in high school, and no I don't remember how that happened, then surely I can do it now.

Yesterday I was like, OK: just 3600 words per day and I'm golden. Not hard. I can do 5000 on a day if need be. 3600 is nothing.

Eh. It's not nothing. And now it's after 4 am.

Here's the thing about 4AM. Not only are you in a constant state of typos and inconsistencies (I'll leave the ways I've typed "4 a.m." so far in their original forms so you can see what I mean), but you start to feel more strongly about things. Especially nostalgia and obsessive anxieties over big life questions that suddenly pertain to you. Also, things are more hilarious. Here's what my night has been like so far:

-Typed out breakdown of wordcount goal, interspersed with Adventure Time episodes that fit perfectly into my 500-word-chunks.

-Followed through on this pretty darn well until OH WAIT ONE EPISODE LEADS TO ANOTHER, I'LL JUST WATCH THAT TOO
-But that episode. It was hilarious. And so good. And like... I think this show is so groundbreaking. Like... I want to write like that. Or just be in that writer's room. Can I get coffee for those writers? Please?

-Clicked around Youtube because it was open from the Adventure Times and... that was a mistake.

-Wound up on http://charliemcdonnell.com/ because he wrote a moving blog post in response to a moving video about how he's afraid of his audience because of his desperation to please them and ahhhh you really feel for the guy, seriously check it out because suddenly there's SO MUCH EMPATHY, like No dude! Don't be afraid, we all love you, you're awesome! Even though we all feel that too! Except without the already-successful part! But yeah! Ahh why! and then you see the response videos and you want one big group hug but all these people are like... very not present, and very not-knowing-who-you-are. And you're just wrapped in a blanket in your room at 4Am.

-Watched a couple seconds of many of the responses to Charlie's video, especially one by Hank Green who postulated that "all people create" and are terrified and I was like that's me except perpetually in the process of creation, which reminded me of--

-MS Paint Adventures, mainly Homestuck [the it's-really-more-than-a webcomic], because that's a still-being-created/completed-as-it's-created work that I admire so so much to the point of obsession. So I clicked on that and wow it updated, and lately all the updates are reminding me that it's ending in April I think, which made me just so sad. Do you ever wonder when the next time something will come up that you're really into? Like the next song you'll have on repeat, or the next fandom you'll be a part of?

-Decided to blog about this experience, which began about three four hours ago. Why am I blogging about it? Well it occurred to me that I haven't posted much personal stuff lately (I do try to be a book/writing blog after all and the personal stuff gets long [see: this post]) but also it has to do with Nanowrimo, insecurities, ends of eras, procrastination... if those aren't relatable to the people probably coming across this post, I don't know what is. [PS why is "relatable" not considered a word? Am I spelling it wrong? I really thought it was a word.]

I know this is long but it's a post that needs to happen probably more for myself than anyone else. The chocolate covered espresso beans might partially account for my 4am ADD and why everything is suddenly a big deal (side note - when I was writing in NaNoWriMo about a dad I was suddenly like I MISS MY DAD so I guess this started after midnight). But I should not be awake now.

I have 655 words left to meet my goal. Funny how I stopped when I was so close.



Monday, November 19, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: "Fall for Anything" by Courtney Summers

WHY I PICKED IT UP: Courtney Summers' This is Not a Test was one of the most highly-anticipated YA releases of the summer. While waiting for it to come into the library, I perused some of her other titles, and this summary caught my eye. Mysteries in photographs? The suicide of a loving father? I needed to know what the answer to this interesting scenario was.

Fall for AnythingWHAT IT'S ABOUT: The description on the book (and consequently on Goodreads) is kind of misleading so I'll break this down in my own way. Teenager Eddie and her mother are suffering from the sudden, unexpected suicide of her father, who was a brilliant photographer-turned-partial-recluse. And things keep getting worse. Her best- and really only - friend Milo is suddenly hanging out with his ex?-girlfriend again, deepening the chasm that's been forming between Eddie and him. Her mother's best friend Beth, who is in total denial about getting older, has moved in and decided to control Eddie's life. And suddenly there's Culler Evans, a private student that Eddie's father had but never told anyone about.

Culler might not be all bad, though. In fact, he seems pretty cool - and maybe the only one who understands what Eddie's going through. Together, Culler and Eddie try to get to the bottom of the suicide by using a set of artful, but nondescript, photographs left behind.

*Summers' writing style shows why the story can only be told in first person. There is so much voice. You aren't just reading Eddie's thoughts, you're reading her thought processes. It's engaging.

*The dialogue between characters, specifically Eddie and Milo, feels very real. Sometimes I would think "Hey- I know these people!" because they speak like my friends.

*Her setups from chapter to chapter kept me very enticed and turning pages quickly. This book flew by.


[Warning: I'm going to be as vague as possible but there will be some allusions to later points in the book.]

*Some of the boy drama feels forced and I was kind of confused about how Eddie felt. She seemed to say she wanted some things at one point and then completely brushed them off later when opportunities arose.

*There is, in the last quarter of the book, kind of a feeling of pointlessness. The clearest resolutions are ones to problems that were not at the forefront of my mind, and I was not even sure how they came about, exactly. Too many question marks still remain. This is something that can be done, if done correctly, but I didn't feel like it was.

*I'm not convinced that Eddie changed by the end of the novel, something that is unusual for protagonists and only really works if it's acknowledged, like this lack of a change was done on purpose or shed light on the meaning of things. But I felt like the whole story was focused on Eddie and her dealing with things, but the last few chapters didn't really say much about her.

OVERALL RATING: It's a great example of style and voice for YA realistic fiction, but plot-wise, disappointing. Maybe others have deciphered more meaning from the text, but I felt it lacked power, given the strong setup and style that it presents otherwise.

I had to return This is Not a Test before I finished it but that was a lot of fun so far (I started it during a power outage - great time for zombie apocalypse reads!), so by no means will my less-than-enthusiastic take on Fall for Anything keep me from trying out her latter works. Have you read any of Summers' books? Was this review helpful? Let me know!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Eternity Knocking: Tome's Monday Mixer 3 Entry

[This post is written for Jeffrey Hollar's Monday Mixer flash fiction contest. You should go check it out!]

There is a little town you have never seen alive. Slanted on the side of a hilltop, layer upon layer of abandoned storefronts mask the home of a man who stands hunched and bald on the peak, for his head scrapes against the low, greasy ceiling. On this night, we find the man criss-crossed on the floor, elements and configurations and books scattered like autumn leaves around his knees. His sagacious eyes gleam with a metallic sheen not unlike the vitriol he swirls in the tube, two elements becoming one, many molecules dancing with more grace and ease than the man had otherwise witnessed.

And then…


“The Elixir of Life!” the man cries. “Behold me, Thoth, your equal! Look, Flamel— my victory!”

The man places the vial to his lips.

The dimness of his room, abandoned despite its occupant, overtakes the man’s spirit.

Life, for what?

Glass becomes dust.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

"Don't Let Your Fear Decide Your Fate" - Or, Living Up to Impossible Things

Because of Hurricane Sandy, I was out of power for four days. Thankfully, I had some battery life on my Zen (an mp3 player/radio... think iPod from Japan). Lying on my bed in the dark, I heard this song come on the radio:

If you can't see the video, it's "Kill Your Heroes" by Awolnation.

Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in how incredibly awesome other people are, which makes you feel discouraged, like you're not that and you'll never get there. But you can get there, because they did, and they're just people. That's why I love the chorus. "Kill your heroes" -- stop idolizing other people so much. "Fly, fly, baby don't cry" -- go strive for what you want, instead of worrying about a top you think you can't reach. That's my interpretation, anyway.

It reminded me of this poem-ish-thing that's been running through my head:

They say never meet your heroes
But that is why I need to.
Thou shalt have no false idols
after all

Let me be disappointed.
Knock me off this cloud-covered plane.
Mist, not cotton
solid ground the
losing what I never had.

Prove it to me.

It's a dare, a sanity's need.

Prove that you're just human.

There are people out there with so much talent that it's hard to believe you can achieve something like what they have - I know, I feel that way, too. But their golden image is partly because of the dreamers polishing it that way.

Don't give up. You can join their ranks, too. You are, after all, human.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Was My Own Mystery (Or, NaNoWriMo's Coming Up!)

I'm gearing up for National Novel Writing Month, which I highly suggest you give a shot if you haven't yet. The goal is to write 50,000 words - a short novel - between November 1st and November 30th. It really helps you practice getting a complete draft out without freaking out about how good or painfully terrible it is (because you really don't have time to edit). I've done NaNoWrimo 4 times, and every time, I've had a premise in mind, a jumping-off point that I got really excited to write about beforehand:

2007- A middle grade-ish mystery based on a question: if a whole town revolves around one person, what would happen if that person were removed? What if the removal was either because of suicide or murder?

2008- A sequel to my main WIP. I've found that the best way to stay excited about my WIP is to keep writing the same characters.

2009- In the form of a diary, one New Adult's (well, the genre wasn't really a thing I knew about yet) journey to uncover the mystery of why five promising teenage actors started disappearing off the face of the earth when they reached adulthood.

2010- A la CSI, an investigation team looks into the murder of legendary characters such as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. (Don't worry, they came back to life easily.) Kind of like the show Grimm, but more holiday-based.

The 2010 novel was the only time I "lost" NaNoWriMo, probably because in November:
-I was in a play
-I sprained my wrist during said play
-My laptop fan broke, rendering my laptop out of commission

Even with that against me, I churned out over 30,000 words. But it wasn't finished. So although the other 3 NaNo Novels have gone through many edits and reworkings, I haven't really revisited the 2010 one in the two years since. *dramatic pause* Until tonight.

And man... it's weird.

I had a lot of "Oh YEAH!" moments while perusing the manuscript - i.e, I totally forgot I named the MC "Phil Morane" - which might have been a reference to Phillip Glass and Robert Moran who wrote the opera "The Juniper Tree." And I came across a scene involving music and wine that I remembered was really significant to me at one point - and I described the music as "almost folksy but had a dark edge to it. When the singer entered, his voice was low and pretty gravely." Which seems a lot like this song, which I recall being obsessed with, probably around that time.

But mostly? I don't remember the novel. Which weirds me out. I usually stay very close to my characters in my WIPs, even the NaNos. So was this just more stream-of-consciousness than usual due to lack of sleep? How much of the characters' rants are things I was actually thinking and feeling at the time? Were their wants my own?

To some degree...yeah, looks like it. It's so bizarre.

My point of this whole thing? I'm really excited for NaNoWriMo 2012, especially because I opted out of doing it last year. Even if the new premise in mind is really weird (it's sort of a semi-surrealist speculative look at my generation in ten years) and even if nothing else comes of it past November, the frantic writing will say things about Tome in November 2012 in ways far better than a diary could. So even if you don't think you can "win" NaNoWriMo, I really think you should do it. You'll surprise yourself.

Have you done NaNoWriMo before? If yes, what do you think of your MSs now? If not, do you think you'll try it?


Friday, October 5, 2012

New Template. How's it Working for Ya?

My old template here on TWILS was being buggy about links so I decided it was about time I revamped it, also addressing a reader's concern that the white text on black background was difficult to read.

Therefore, I changed a few things. I apologize for aspects of past posts that don't jive with the adjustments, and hopefully I'll amend all those at some point so they stay readable.

It's not that difficult to change blog settings, I've found, despite clicking the word "Advanced" to change colors of individual pieces. So if something looks weird to you, anything from "this is really jacked up on my mobile device" to "that color is just gross," let me know and I'll look into it.

Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bad Advertising?

A popular theory among advertisers seems to be that if you make your product as visible as possible, people will try it out, and you'll get to sit at the popular kids table. So in the thick of Fall TV, every show wants people to tune in and give 'em a shot, which means lots and lots of advertising.

I've been spending a lot of time in a big city, one with billboards stacked on billboards, so every day I see ads for new TV shows. Perhaps the most prevalent ad is for 666 Park Avenue. They even have devoted a method of public transportation to this by decorating the seats and interior to look, I dunno, classier, I guess, in honor of this show.

The tagline for 666 Park Avenue is "New York's most seductive address."

Like I said, I see ads for this every day. But do these ads tell me about? Not even remotely. Here are the things I've gleaned from such ads:

-It has that dude who played Locke in Lost
-It has fancy beautiful people, so they must be wealthy
-There will probably be kissing.

And, oh yes- there will be stairs.

Also, I'm not sure how their tagline ties into their show. "Seduction" seems like a really huge understatement after "666." You can't tie The Devil's Number, Sign of Vicious Evil into mere seduction and tell me it's not a stretch.

I caught the last few seconds of a commercial for this show once. It looked like something supernatural was going on. Uh...what?

Finally, I read a blurb about the show. Here it is, from  TV.com:

Combine the eeriness of Lost with the ruthlessness of Desperate Housewives and you get this adaptation of Gabrielle Pierce's book series. A melting pot of ABC alums, the supernatural drama stars Dave Annable (Brothers & Sisters) and Rachael Taylor (Charlie's Angels) as an innocent Midwestern couple who get hired as resident managers of The Drake, a tony Upper East Side apartment building owned by Lost's Terry O'Quinn and his wife, Housewives's Vanessa Williams. The catch: The residents have all made deals with The Devil to have their deepest desires fulfilled.

Dang. Now that told me more than any of their advertisements did. And hey, deepest desires? Maybe some reference to The 7 Deadly Sins? I'm interested. But I would not have gotten that from seeing the same people on all the billboards try to stare into my soul.

So yeah, I know the name of the show from all the advertisers' efforts. But did that make me want to watch it more than the shows that had fewer, but clearer, advertisements? Not really. It might be an unpopular opinion, but I personally don't think that if you slam people with the same thing over and over that will automatically make them like it.

Have you seen the show? What are you watching this Fall? (It seems like everything I watch is in its Farewell Season...)

Let me know!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Book Review: BROKEN by A.E. Rought

WHY I PICKED IT UP: I was sold on the concept the second I read it on NetGalley. This tale is described as a modern Frankenstein, a romantic science fiction novel for Young Adults that ties Gothic literature into contemporary times. Truthfully, I'm a huge fan of Shelley's Frankenstein and tales about science and experimentation anyway. But even readers for whom Sci-Fi YA is outside their comfort zone can appreciate the personable protagonist's juggling of high school, family, and new love.
BrokenWHAT IT'S ABOUT: Emma Gentry is having trouble getting over the tragic death of her boyfriend, Daniel. When she isn't at school, she's probably wandering around the graveyard, wishing Daniel had a grave (instead of an urn) where she could honor him. She can't imagine loving again; that is, until Alex Franks shows up. This loner, designer-clad transfer student attracts gossip and glances the second he steps into Shelley High- and from day one, he has eyes only for Emma. The more Emma gets to know him, the more bizarre similarities she notices between him and Daniel, both in appearance and mannerisms. Is her broken heart just reading coincidences into this new boy, or is Daniel haunting her in a very real way?

*The novel starts with a very appropriate quote from Paradise Lost. I'm a fan of quotes at the beginning of books- it sets up the theme in a poetic, universal way- but I do think it has to be done right. This one was fitting, and launched me right into the mindset necessary to tackle this tale from the best angle.

*References to Gothic literature. I'm a big fan of Gothic literature, but you don't have to be to pick up on some of the references (which, tastefully, aren't always pointed out in glaring lights, but left to wink at the reader). I found a handful, but you might spot some I didn't.

*Rought's language... I'm really in awe of it. She pulls off metaphors and imagery in such an artful, beautiful way- and it's done so casually. Here are some examples:

[When Emma is calling her friend Bree and Bree picks up right away:] "The first ring dies a fast death."

"The siren call of Daniel's old comfort is too strong to resist."

"Late afternoon light sits on the curves of [the stone angel's] cheekbones like tears."

This really shows her skill as a writer. Young Adult romance books tend to focus on plot and character more than the turn of language to draw readers in, but Rought proves that you can have that cake and eat it, too.

*Characters you root for. I wanted Emma to find love after Daniel. I wanted good things for Alex. This is crucial in a YA romance novel, especially one in first person. Rought successfully built round characters, along with a cast of quirky or (appropriately) vile secondary characters.

*Self-referencing. Rought brings in phrases and images that repeat in both obvious and subtle ways throughout the novel, which ties it together. One of the more striking ones? "It doesn't beat for me." -You'll have to read the book to find out what that means- and all of its meanings- because I don't want to spoil it.


*Redundancy. I know that's an ugly word, and I don't mean there was a lot of it. But Emma had similar thoughts over and over, similar situations happened multiple times, and some twists were obvious enough through reiteration of clues that I found myself just waiting until they occurred to Emma, too. The novel was also peppered with descriptions of Emma's clothes, coffee, and breakfast. At first it's great because it humanizes her. But by the time I got toward the more serious, climactic moments, I could have done without knowing what she was eating- there were some more important elements I wanted to get back into.

*Pacing felt off sometimes. Mostly because Emma has a lot of dream sequences. Not a lot, but enough that it slows down the story. The dreams are full of vivid, delightfully-horrifying imagery, but I felt like they would have been more powerful if trimmed to some of the more significant ones. Kind of related to the last point, but she mulls over the same sorts of thoughts. The situation is a lot for this poor girl to take in, but readers will pick up pretty quickly on what she's feeling.

*The characters, as complex and full of voice as they were, didn't always react how I thought real human beings would. I won't give away anything here, but sometimes an awful thing would happen and someone would either not respond or take far too long to, which pulled me out of the story a little. However, I can only think of two significant times where this threw me, so it's not hard to get over.

*This title is not available until January! Which is not a criticism, just a shame- it would make a great Halloween read. But who says you can't have a little Halloween in January?

OVERALL RATING: Recommendable on multiple levels. If you're a fan of Young Adult novels, creepy tales, and romance, read this. Even if you're not, give it a shot anyway, because Rought gives a good lesson on how to incorporate artful language into a character's voice, even when you're dealing with a first-person perspective. Was it an earth-shattering, changes-the-way-I-read-books-forever kind of novel? I can't say that it was, but it's not really supposed to be that kind of book. It does a great job with the Romeo and Juliet meets Frankenstein vibe- internal and external forbidden love in the midst of a firestorm of moral quandaries. It makes Gothic sci-fi relevant to modern readers, and this take makes the novel different than anything else I've read in the YA genre. That alone makes me applaud BROKEN, and I'm really glad I read it.

Please check out this title when it becomes available January 1, 2013 in the US (January 3 in the UK). Let me know what you think of it!


~Special thanks to NetGalley, Angry Robot, and A.E. Rought for providing the materials for this review.~

Friday, September 7, 2012

September 15- Celebrate a debut author, just in time for Halloween

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays - probably the one I get most into - so I always try to find a good read for around that time.
My Heart Be Damned (Damned, #1)
Well, what good timing! September 15, My Heart Be Damned by Chanelle Gray comes out.

Here's why it's cool: not only does the book sound interesting on Goodreads (full of creepy escaped souls that need to be tracked down), but this is Chanelle's first published book- and she totally deserves it. For example, one of my favorite writing blogs ever is YATopia, which she contributes to. YATopia showed me the power of social media in the world of Young Adult literature. So many doors opened up after that. And their advice is great.

Chanelle's own blog is fascinating as well - in fact, right now she's running this fantastic, prize-filled contest. Is is too late to do simple tasks that gain points to go toward the larger prizes being raffled off, you ask? (Though you probably did not ask it like that, I believe I asked that rather awkwardly.) Well the answer is: NOPE! Head on over to her blog and you can still participate in everything.

Don't forget to look for this exciting new novel when it comes out, and send Chanelle your support!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

WriteOnCon is Underway!

If you don't know what WriteOnCon is, then head on over (just click the image below). It's a 2-day event (8/14 and 8/15) where agents, publishers, and authors give great advice and hold contest for writerly hopefuls. And because it's all online, you can attend this conference in your pajamas!

But I'll argue that the best part is actually the community of hopefuls itself. For example, you can get your queries, synopses, first 250 words, and first 5 pages critiques by category (like YA or MG). And chances are, you will get some really great advice. Here's why: not only are people really curious and helpful, but anyone who posts something must critique five works in return.

Although the "Ninja Agents" and interactive workshops only last a couple of days, it's open beyond that for anyone who wants advice on their work. Last year, I JUST missed the conference, but I was still able to get helpful advice and find awesome critique partners.

Do you attend WriteOnCon? What have your experiences been? Or are you new to this?

And hey, if you're an attendee, feel free to stop by and friend me or say hey on my page! I'm Tome on there as well. :]

Book Review: WHY WE BROKE UP by Daniel Handler, Illustrated by Maira Kalman

 It's good to be back! Sorry I've been gone from the blogosphere for so long. I had family reunions to attend, moving plans to make, and lots of books to read before the summer was up- which means there will be a lot of reviews appearing soon!

WHY I PICKED IT UP: It was on a recommended list at my local library. Also, it's basically a picture book for teens. Definitely was excited to check out this unique format.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Min Green has decided it's time. Her recent breakup with basketball star Ed Slaterton still hurts, but she needs to take one crucial step in order to get over him: give him all his stuff back. Not just his possessions, but things that she's picked up along the way in their relationship (ticket stubs, notes, books, a rubber band, all of which are illustrated by Kalman). Using the various objects as landmarks in their relationship, Min writes a letter to Ed recounting their relationship from beginning to end, explaining to him in great detail all the little reasons - and the big ones - why they broke up.

THE POSITIVE: Because the entire book is a letter written to Ed, it is told in a combination of first and second person. That means nearly the entire thing is her voice, which Handler pulls off well. Guys can't always write girls well (especially from such an intimate POV), but he does it.

Also, can I just point out something mindblowing? This is Daniel Handler. This is the dude who wrote a long series (of Unfortunate Events) under the name Lemony Snicket. I am a huge fan of that series, but I didn't realize it was the same author until halfway through when I read the author's jacket blurb. It feels like a completely different author. COMPLETELY. (Except for one point where he wrote a fake newspaper article... I got a lot of Snicket vibes from that.) Really shows his talent as writer.

Note: Min Green does this thing a lot where she'll reference something (like the two things Ed pulls out of his pocket) and then it'll look like she's forgotten to explain it. Nope- just be patient. Some things sound weird at first, but she does explain everything.

THE NOT-SO-POSITIVE: OK. So, I mentioned it's a totally different style from many of Handler's other works. But before I realized it was him, I wondered if this was this author's debut novel. While a lot of the style is realistic and conversational, it's sometimes hard to follow because of the intensely long run-on sentences and the lack of commas. Many times, I had to reread a sentence in order to understand it. Making your readers jump through hoops is something you typically want to avoid unless there's a really great thing on the other side of that hoop, and my patience was tested a bit.

OVERALL RATING: Fun, charming, and worth a read. If nothing else, then for the style and cool artwork. It goes by pretty quickly, and Min is quirky enough that she stands out boldly among YA heroines. It's artfully woven together in terms of plot points, and this novel will not leave you dissatisfied upon its conclusion.

Agree? Disagree? Have you read other works by Handler? I'd love to hear what you thought of them- this is the first non-Snicket one I've picked up.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bye Chuck E?

Have you heard about Chuck E. Cheese's new look? It's kind of like a rocker rat. Yeah, more lab subject than pet mouse now. Supposedly it's supposed to make adults who were teens in the 90s feel nostalgic about those days. You know, Kurt Cobain and the like. Because associating a torturted victim of overdose with a children's fast food chain makes sense, right?

I'm actually not too bummed about the change- the backwards baseball cap on Current Chuck E. always seemed a little forced - but I think they could have done better. Maybe something that didn't look so angry all the time. Uh.

Maybe this seems like a petty issue, and it probably is. But for me, this chain has a lot of memories. Family reunions, birthdays, betting I could eat half a pizza alone, and that time the animatronic Chuckster's jaw was hanging off his face while he sang parodies of 90s tunes. Bring back the Chuck E. in the bowler hat, that's what I say!

So what do you think? Are you a fan of Chuck E? Is the new Chuck E. a success?


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The New-Adult Debate

For years, I've wondered what this group of people is called. Finally, it has a name: New Adult.

New Adult Fiction is basically fiction about kids who aren't exactly kids, so they're sort of adults but they aren't really doing adult things. Think college students and recent graduates. Rebecca Hamilton's The Forever Girl is a good example; while it is a paranormal tale for young adults, its protagonist has just graduated from college - not the typical teen of the YA genre.

As St. Martin's Press aptly puts it, it's the coming-of-age that happens in a person's twenties.

FINALLY, I thought. When I was younger, I always thought the progression went: kid-teen-college kid adultish person- adult. But I always pictured "adults" as people with 9-to-5 steady jobs and babies.

As a 22-year-old, I've lately been realizing that I'm in some nebulous purgatory age. On my own, sort of. Mature, sort of. My goals are really clear. My immediate future is very...not.

It feels more like climbing down a ladder than climbing down stairs, if that makes any sense.

Except I really want these stairs.

Awhile ago, I said to my cousin, "I think before teenagers become adults, they are just Young," and I still maintain that. For the past five years, I've been working on a musical, which is all about a group of New Adults. None of them are really settled down. This was a weird group of people to write about - they appear in a lot of musicals, but in this modern era, I really tried to capture the angsty uncertainty that a lot of the Millenials are feeling about now. We question each other because we question ourselves, and the world is not what we were told it was. But the thing about the Millenials is, when something's not the way we want, we try to change that. (For better or for worse.)

Some people, though, don't believe New Adult is a legitimate genre. I'd do a poor job of summarizing what those arguments are, so please look into it if you're interested. I'm sure it's pretty clear that I strongly support the popularizing of the New Adult genre. But it's probably also clear that I'm biased, because if I were a character, I'd qualify as a New Adult. And knowing what to call this confusing, peculiar time in my life just might make me feel like I have more of a grasp on it.

But then, could this kind of literature help NAs?

Please let me know your thoughts!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: "The One That I Want" by Jennifer Echols

WHY I PICKED IT UP: I've heard high praise of Jennifer Echols from teens, and I always want to stay on top of what teens are currently loving. Also, I follow Echols' agent Laura Bradford on Twitter, and she's hilarious, so I figured I should check one of her clients' books out. I saw this at my library, and that was that.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Here's the description from Echols' site:

Gemma can’t believe her luck when the star football player starts flirting with her. Max is totally swoon-worthy, and even gets her quirky sense of humor. So when he asks out her so-called best friend Addison, Gemma’s heartbroken. Then Addison pressures Gemma to join the date with one of Max’s friends. But the more time they all spend together, the harder Gemma falls for Max. She can’t help thinking that Max likes her back—it’s just too bad he’s already dating Addison. How can Gemma get the guy she wants without going after her best friend’s boyfriend?

But it's about a lot more than that. This description doesn't even allude to the fact that it is, at its core, about Gemma's used-to-be-hidden talent of baton-twirling, her self-image issues concerning her weight, and her struggle with her so-called "friendships," which give the book a great deal of substance.

THE POSITIVE: Well, I read it in 2 days, and it's not usually my genre. It's like taking an afternoon nap in a sunspot. Effortless, relaxing. Will it make you wide awake for a long time? Probably not, but it's not something you'd regret. OK, my metaphor is starting to derail. Basically, it's not a tough book to follow, and Gemma has a lot of voice. I liked being inside her head. And the boy she's swooning over, Max, has a really interesting quirk that involves delving into people's psyches in an analytical way. Very inventive.

Also, this book tackles weight issues in an interesting way. Gemma loses a lot of weight in order to feel better about herself when she's a majorette. But not in an unhealthy way. She works out and cuts out dessert. Even though her weight loss is perpetuated by a desire for conformity, not health, she does it in the right way, and that sets a good example for girls who want to lose weight for any reason.

The characters were pretty distinct from each other, and every character was rounded out well. I didn't feel like I was cheated by the ending, and little loose threads from throughout were nicely tied up.

THE NOT-SO-POSITIVE: We're in Gemma's head, and I felt like she repeated her thoughts a lot, especially about a situation that I as a reader had figured out pages ago (and I don't think that's just because I'm older than the target age group). There was also a part towards the end (I won't spoil it for you) that I thought was pretty out of character for her, because it basically involved doing something that could have been considered betrayal, but was - due to luck - not perceived that way. This instance was never really addressed in that light. She's not perfect - which makes her feel more real - but it would have been consistent with her character to feel some sort of guilt or hesitance about this event.

OVERALL RATING: Recommendable. If you like stories about young teen love and tough decisions about boys and best friends - which seems like a popular theme in books - then yes, this is definitely worth a read. Heck, I don't flock to those kinds of books and I sped through it because I was genuinely caught up in the story. This book definitely takes the sometimes overdone high-school-love-triangle plot and gives it some substance, which is great.

Have you read this book? Did you find this review helpful at all? Let me know what you think!

I've also just finished reading Insurgent by Veronica Roth, so look for that review soon.

Hope your summer has been swell so far!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Things I Used to Want to Be

We all have occupation-themed dreams. Since childhood, I've at some point seriously considered these jobs:

*Meat-imitation inventor
*Poet-laureate of the World
*Comic Strip Writer/Illustrator
*Art Therapist
*Music Producer
*TV Show Writer
*TV Show Music Writer

What were some of the things you wanted to be when you grew up?


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Save the World on the Way to Publishing Your Novel

The smallest acts can make people heroes, and Kat Brauer has been doing something amazing for a few years now.

I recently discovered called Crits for Water. Essentially, Kat offers critiques of queries, synopses, and even sometimes full manuscripts. These critiques are often done by guest authors and agents. Some of these critiques are acquired by pledging a certain amount of money, and then the winners are determined by a raffle system of those who pledged. Other prizes are won by auction. The money goes towards providing clean water systems for people in third-world countries.

So, essentially, the money spent on improving your chances of landing an agent also improve the chances of someone's survival. Talk about a win-win.

You can find Kat's site here:


Thanks for checking out a good cause!


Monday, May 28, 2012

"Books, ballet, dolls"

My dentist showed me a form that my mom filled out on my first visit there in case I needed insurance information from it. It asked for my interests. My mom listed "books, ballet, dolls." I was probably about 4 years old.

While I don't have as much of a passion for dolls and ballet as I did at the time, I'm really glad books have remained a constant.   :)

What were some of your passions as a little kid? When did you first love books?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Z is for Zebras! And other cool animals!

I love hearing about strange-yet-familiar animals. Like the zebra. Everyone knows what a zebra is, but when you think about it... WHAT IS IT? It looks like a striped horse. A black-and-white striped horse. How did that even happen? What? It's in Africa. Camouflage could not have been the reason.

And then there's the Okapi. This has stripes too and kind of looks like a zebra in a few ways, but it's actually more closely related to the giraffe. The first time I saw an Okapi in the zoo, my mind was blown. I was all, "How come more people don't know about these?!"

And then you have THE GIRAFFE ITSELF. It's body is designed much like a horse, but then there's the obvious longer neck, the different head shape, and the peculiar pattern. Does that kind of pattern appear on any other animal in nature that doesn't have the word "giraffe" in it? (Otherwise, the answer might be "Yes, this fish.")

Of course, horses are really cool, too. In fact, I just recently read about Przewalski's Horse, which is the only wild horse left in the world.


Przewalski's Horse...was what I thought when I read that. Really, last species of wild horses out there? But the WWF website said it, so... I guess they're the experts. This horse was even considered extinct at one point. :( At least it's just "critically endangered" now. #brightside

And that's just the category of Animals that Look Like Equines! What are your favorite strange animals?


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Y is for YES INDEED I'll pick out plants!

My mom assigned me with the task of plant shopping, as evidenced by this sideways picture. There were a few parameters:

-Don't be too ambitious. It all has to be planted within a week.

-Stay under $50.

-Don't buy too many exotic things.

That last one was a serious concern. I have a particular affinity for carnivorous plants. And by "affinity," I mean that I buy them and watch them in awe until their inevitable demise, and I know more than the average human being about them. For example, the three types of carnivorous plants you'll typically hear about are the Venus Flytrap, the Pitcher Plant, and the Sundew. From what I've seen, VFTs are the most common in stores that sell plants, then Pitcher Plants. I've owned both in the past, so I always wanted to own a Sundew as well, but never came across them. For sale, anyway. I saw an exhibit all about carnivorous plants last summer. So cool.

But I went through the plant nursery sticking to the rules rather well, estimating totals in my head and picking out a good mix of annuals and perennials that didn't look terrible next to each other. It was a nice day, and I had a lot of fun going up and down the aisles, even if I did have to cart-dodge the elderly like a peculiar game of Mario Kart.

And I was juuuuust about to check out, when I saw...


*Cart swerve*

I got to THE GREENHOUSE by traveling back indoors, past the collection of iron garden statues, and then through a different set of doors. So yeah, it was kind of like Wonderland. Bamboo trees and all.

And I thought... This is it. This is where they'd be.

Carnivorous plaaaaaaaaaaaants!

This isn't as surprising as I'm making it sound. This same facility once carried HUGE pitcher plants, and I saw little Venus Flytraps right inside the door of THE GREENHOUSE. But what I wasn't expecting was a whole collection of SUNDEWS.

I went all Edvard Munch when I saw them. I'm pretty sure the guy standing nearby was not making eye contact on purpose.

Pictured: My face (artist's renditon). Sorry for your nightmares.

Now, a year ago at the exhibit, I learned that even though all of the pictures of Sundews in plant books look like this...

...they are all up-close photos. Not up close, the Sundew looks like this:

Except now imagine some leaves half-withered and all of them covered in some amount of soil.
The first time I realized how small they were, I was severely disappointed. But I've gotten over that pretty well, and seeing a Sundew with a price tag... well, I had to have it.
When my dad saw it later, the conversation went:

Dad: What's this?
Tome: A sundew.
Dad: What's a sundew?
Tome: Well--
Dad: HEATS THE EARTH! Haaaaaaaaa

I'm pretty sure my dad was Court Jester in a past life.

My Sundew now sits in a pretty sunny area, chillin' with some cacti. If I see any flies, I might grab the Sundew and run around the house with my arms outstretched trying to catch the bug in the Sundew's sticky beads. It might be comical.

Successful day!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

X is for Xenophobia

Know what bothers me? Intolerance.


Sorry, almost fell off my soap box for a second.

In the US, people who hold unjust prejudice against immigrants really grate my guts. These people are rarely of Native American descent, which means that they're first ancestors in this country were immigrants. I'm sure my Austrian and  German immigrant ancestors endured flak for being new to America, for not speaking the language or having an accent. I'm sure they had to work tough jobs just to establish themselves in a new land.

But I'm glad they stuck it out. I'm glad to be here today.

So anytime someone is put down for who they are, I hope that life is easier for their children. For them, it will be worth it. But I wish the xenophobic didn't make it so hard.


Monday, May 21, 2012

W is for Wizards

In general, I was never a fan of wizard books, or high fantasy. But I became OBSESSED with Harry Potter in 4th grade and continue to be a Mega Fan. Since HP, I haven't become a fan of wizards any more than I was before. Harry Potter broke the mold, probably because of the realistic fantasy world, air of mystery, and - most of all - the characters.

Have you read any books in a genre that you don't usually like, but somehow couldn't put down?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

V is for Vacaaaaaaatioooooon

Hey everyone!

So, my cousin (and one of my best friends in the world) is graduating soon, so I'm off to have adventures at her college! Hoorah!

It'll be a bit strange being there. I'll get to meet some of her friends, whom I've heard loads of stories about. I'll have to practice my, "Oh hey, I know nothing personal about you" face.

But inside, I'll be remembering that story about the Underwear Party.
It should be fun, but also means I might not be able to finish this challenge (eheheh... that) for a few more days. Unless I get that Blogger App to work. Technology. I thought my generation was supposed to be born knowing how to do everything ever. No? Was I mislead?

Learning. It's a fun thing. :P

So I hope as the summer nears, you all have some fun plans ahead of you! See ya later!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

U is for Unrealistic

In my ever-persistent quest to finish the A to Z challenge, I am going forth with "U."

First of all, shout-out to my 9 followers. Before I started this challenge, I had 2 - who were wonderful, don't get me wrong - but I'm so happy to see 7 more have joined the ranks. :) I hope I can keep you entertained, and my goal is to make this more of a dialogue than a shouting-at-the-world kinda thing.

Also, thanks to everyone over at the A to Z challenge for hosting this, and congratulations to all participants for taking it on. I know I've learned a lot.

Speech-esque stuff over. On to... oh, right. The depressing stuff. Heh. Sort of.

I just graduated from college, which is partly wonderful, but it's also sad because (amongst many other reasons) I'm on summer vacation now. And every time I'm on vacation, I have time to write and edit some more, and then I re-realize how desperately I want to share my writing with the world, and how far I am from getting to do that. Every unsuccessful submission - whether it's a query to an agent, or a story to a contest - makes me wonder if I'll ever achieve my dream of becoming a YA writer. I'm not talking about instant, quit-your-day-job success. I just want this to begin, and when will it? If ever?

Last summer, my brother and I read Divergent by Veronica Roth, and Insurgent just came out (I think I'll be reading it on a bus ride soon - review to come, I'm sure). In an interview on another blog (sorry, not sure which) I saw that she talked about the time writing Divergent in terms of months. Now, of course, she used phrases like "several months," but still. I've been writing, revising, editing, and re-writing my main WIP for eight years. I submitted my first query about four or five years ago. The farthest I've gotten? Once, last summer, an agent read the whole manuscript because of a contest I entered on a blog. She said I needed more character development, which killed me a bit because character development is my favorite story element. But, of course, she was right - and I know that because she's not the only one to tell me since.

So, I went back to the drawing board. I'm re-writing my beginning for the millionth time. I'm adding to beginning chapters, letting go of my hope that starting in media res is the best idea. I'm redeveloping my story.

It is Unrealistic to think that I was ready for an agent when I first queried.

Could I have known that? No, not really. I was young and naive, yeah, but people with dreams are often young and naive.

It is Unrealistic to think that I am ready now.

I have two critique partners I neglected in the fury of Senior Year. They are warriors.

It is Unrealistic to think I will never get published.

Last summer, I went from never having an agent request for more to an agent requesting a full MS based on the beginning. Yeah, she didn't go for it. But that was a huge step. So assuming I keep on this path, and that I will live to a normal life expectancy, at SOME point, SOMETHING will be in print. I've got enough determination and resources to make it happen.

I bet you do, too.

Focus and patience will be my best allies. Will I query too early? Will I write some stupid pitches? Yeah. Probably. But agents are born every day. I won't exhaust them all now, but in the age of the internet, the opportunities are endless. Quite literally.

Whether it is there or not, it is Unrealistic to try to see the end in sight.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

T is for Tests

I'm a week behind on the A to Z blogging challenge, which is now really over. But I'm going to catch up anyway.

I'm not too bummed about not finishing the challenge on time. I've had other priorities. I got behind on the week before Finals (which is this week). The week before Finals is always the hardest because EVERYTHING HAPPENS IN THAT WEEK. There's really not a whole more I can say about that. Everything. Happens. And I'm still in classes.

But this week, Finals week, I actually have two days to finish a mostly-done paper, and another 6 to write a 15-page research paper. Yeah, it's a lot of work, but when that's pretty much all I have to do (classes are over), my schedule is lookin' really good.

The real test lately has been that of patience. I have no idea what I'm doing next year. I know where I'm going, yeah, which presents all its own challenges, but what am I actually doing? Do I have a job? An internship? A place to live? Nope. Still waiting to hear back from people about things. Graduation is coming up, and I know I'm not the only one in this boat.

Test of patience.

One thing at a time.

Have faith that it'll all work out. That's what I gotta do now.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

S is for Sharing

..I feel like in the Age of the Internet, sharing is more prevalent now than ever before. People are dying to share their favorite music, movies, and TV shows with each other - that's why we've got controversial topics like SOPA and music streaming. I wonder if the internet has made people more generous by making them realize that people love to share stuff.

I mean, isn't it great when you share something with someone and they have a good reaction to it?

Yesterday I shared with you a bunch of things I thought were funny, and they were all things that people on the internet had shared with watching eyes such as mine.

S is also for Side Note: Don't you hate it when the radio plays songs that have siren sound effects in them? Ugh. Fool me once...

So what are some things you'd like to share? It doesn't even have to be something you found on the internet. It doesn't have to be a picture. Got a poem? A fun story? A complaint?

I'm here!


Monday, April 23, 2012

R is for ROTFLOL

I might be a day behind now because I felt unmotivated to post yesterday. My motivation now comes in the form of procrastination.

ROTFLOL, for those who avoided AIM chat in the '90s and YouTube comments, stands for "Rolling on the Floor Laughing Out Loud." At least, I think so. I recently found out that LMFAO stands for something different than I had originally been told.

So today, I'm just going to post funny things that I've found from the internet. Mostly short videos. Enjoy.

from iwastesomuchtime.com