Friday, February 3, 2017

January 2017 Book Wrap Up and Giveaway

At the end of every month, I wanted to do a vlog with a wrap up of what I've read, or more specifically, what titles I recommend reading and why. However, I have found myself continuing to read books that I feel "meh" about. Despite knowing that I should put them down and move onto a different read, I still finish the title despite knowing I'll probably never really enjoy it.

Thus comes the idea that perplexes me. I can go months and years without finishing a writing project, but I can't seem to permanently walk away from an already written book. There have been very few exceptions to this rule. Very few. If I reach fifty pages in, I can't stop.

I tend to research books before I read them. I check out reviews from people I trust, because books are a huge commitment for me. A recent book I read had a huge red flag review, but I still started it anyway. I continued to think, "I should just walk away" until the very last page,

I did read a book in January that I'd like to recommend. At first, I was upset by one YA Trope used toward the end of the book (perhaps I'll make a YA Gets Real post out of it). But as time goes on, I find myself remembering the description, the characters, and the writing, because it was all really strong. The dialect was hard to get used to, but Orleans by Sherri L. Smith is a fast-paced book that starts slow and then becomes chaotic, much like her depiction of Orleans itself.

When I finished reading it, I wasn't as big of a fan as I am now. The trope almost killed it for me, but perspective has made me appreciate it more.

I also wanted to provide a few more recommendations based on the books I read last year. You can click on any of the photos for a link to amazon.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Silly somewhat dystopian Lord of the Flies take on a beauty pageant. When I started reading this book, I thought, "Man, this is going to be a trip." It was, but in the best way possible. These girls learn to kick butt. Who cares if it might be a totally outlandish plot, I adored every single ridiculous second of it.





Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
A disturbing and psychological look at a boy who needs the most amount of help possible. Intense and gripping toward the end when it all slams together in a fast-paced near nightmare.






The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
You know how all those supernatural stories have other people in them that never get talked about? The ordinary people who somehow manage to still have a normal high school experience despite the insanity going on around them? In this quirky and lovely book, Patrick Ness explores the lives of those people, creating an extraordinary story out of the ordinary.




If you are looking for indie authors to read, I've enjoyed books by all of my fellow Scriptors. I cannot recommend any of their titles enough.

That's it for January. Hopefully February will have several more titles to recommend and more current reads. I'm hoping to break the streak of mediocre books with some amazing titles in the future. Also, YA recommendations are welcome! Leave a comment! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 2, 2017

YA Gets Real: But School

Lindi sank into the seat next to Chris with a huff. She glanced over at him, her blue eyes blazing as she thought about the days ahead. Knowing she had to tell Chris the bad news broke her heart almost as much has having to repeat the same cycle over and over again.

Every semester since they had started high school, Chris and Lindi had saved the world. No one noticed, or if they did, no one cared. First, it had been the wild bats that could transform into hybrid invisible monsters. Second, the wild, mutant lizards that came out of the sewer system. Third, the talking rabbits who controlled every student's mind in the school.

Lindi was forced into this life because she knew Chris, but Chris fell into this because he drank some sea monkey water on a dare when he was nine. For whatever reason, those sea monkeys changed his body from the inside out, giving him the ability to heal rapidly, breathe underwater, and turn microscopic. Maybe they had been radioactive, maybe it was some chemical experiment, but whatever the reason, Chris was superhuman now.

"I've been doing some research," Lindi started.

"No. No research." Chris looked at her, eyes half-lidded and his irises almost black. "We can't save the world again, Lindi. I need to focus on school."

"I know, but this is really important. This Friday, there's going to be Medusa-like snakes called Lo--"

Chris slammed his head down on the desk. One of his pencils rattled, falling off the desk onto the floor. A few students turned their heads, but this kind of behavior was normal for the two weird kids. Chris's voice came out muffled from the wood. "I can't do this Friday."

"Can't do this Friday?! The supernatural isn't going to wait for a convenient time."

"I have a swimming meet, and Coach said if I miss one more, I'm off the team for good." He rolled his head to the side so he could look up at Lindi. His cheek was squished against the desk. "I can't lose swimming. It's the only thing that will get me into college."

"If you don't miss it, then--"

"Not to mention the report we have due for Mrs. Welsher's class." He lifted his head and glared at Lindi. "There is absolutely no way I can save the world this Friday. My personal future depends on it."

Lindi stood up, grabbing the backpack that she had just put down and began to storm out of the classroom. Her wedges slapped against the ground.

Chris caught up to her in a matter of seconds, snagging her arm. "Where are you going?"

She turned, glaring at him with an icy look that could cut glass. Her short bleached hair hung messily around her ears. "I'm going to find someone help me save the world. If you aren't going to, I'm sure there's some other powerful person who will. Besides, none of have a future if these snakes get loose."

Dropping her arm, Chris let out a defeated sigh. "What time are the evil snakes from wherever supposed to get here?"

Lindi straightened her back. "Around nine at Jonesbury Park, through a rift between our world and theirs." A small smile curled her lips, despite her best efforts to keep it at bay.

"My meet should be over by 9. I'll get there as soon as I can. Just ... Do your thing and keep them busy for me?" Chris's eyes softened.

Lindi grabbed his hand with hers. Their hands were the perfect size, his ever so slightly bigger. They nestled together like they were made for each other. "You got it. And on Sunday, we can sit down to write that paper together."

"Why Sunday?"

"Because you're going to spend Saturday healing and being all macho about how you just saved the world, again."

Chris frowned, but it was erased the second Lindi's lips touched his cheek. She gave him a small kiss and floated back to her seat, satisfied that Chris had agreed to save the world again. Now if only the rifts would stop appearing, maybe they could have a normal high school experience.

---

Thanks for reading the parody series YA Gets Real. If you enjoy supernatural stories, consider some of the following titles. Patrick Ness's The Rest of Us Just Live Here plays with this trope a lot, and I absolutely adore the book, so pick it up. All the cover images link to Amazon.

Friday, January 27, 2017

We're in a Forest

Right now, there's no clear cut path. The political turmoil has everyone feeling unhinged, lodged in a dark, endless forest. We should be traveling this path together, guiding each other through while holding hands, but all I see is hatred, spreading on both sides of the fence.

Politically, I will disagree with Republicans on a lot of levels, but I am respectful and open to discussion. They have beliefs, as do I. I will not shun them for having beliefs, as different as they might be from my own.

I want to talk to people in person. I want to discuss things rationally. I want to keep our voices calm and have a meaningful, open, and honest conversation. I want to walk through the forest with you, not trample all over your ideas or thoughts.

In my social studies class in eleventh grade, I was the only liberal student. Whenever there was a political discussion, everyone turned to me for my "liberal" opinion. I never pretended to represent everyone. I don't. I am my own person with my own life experiences and opinions. That's the core of it. Everyone believes different things for different reasons.

One person does not represent all of us.
Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. - Abraham Lincoln
How are we supposed to be a united country when we aren't willing to have civilized discussions with each other? How are we supposed to know what our neighbors need to be successful when we are screaming on the internet? How are we supposed to represent each other, when we refuse to calmly explain ourselves?

I am not talking about posting about your opinions in the echo chamber of your social media groups. Social media is fantastic for finding like-minded people, but unfortunately, this creates a vacuum around you where anything that is the "other" can easily be muted, removed, or blocked. You (as well as I) are surrounded by people who are telling you you're right. There are two sides to every story. If we do not learn the story of the "other," we are committing them to be less respected and worse, less human. Which, in light of the way things have been going on the internet, has translated into name calling, hate speech, and other awful words.

Would you say what you're posting to someone's face? If so, fine. Keep saying it on the internet, because you are representing who you are. If not, then maybe you should press backspace. Maybe you should message the person directly when you are calmer. Maybe you should open a dialogue and say that you honestly want to talk about it. Reach out. Be friendly. Be respectful.

Life has brought us to various points in the forest, but in order for us to survive, we have to start making connections with each other. We cannot navigate this life alone. And I, personally, refuse to navigate the woods by myself, especially at night.

We are stronger together and that includes everyone.

I realize I'm saying this from the anonymity of the internet, using a faceless mask to get a point across, but this is one of love and not hatred. This is one of wanting real life connection and discussion. I invite anyone who knows me to have a conversation with me. I invite anyone who doesn't to connect with me so we can talk further.

More than anything, I invite everyone to walk with me. Travel this path with me and maybe we can all learn something. We're not so different. We want to protect our homes and our children. We want to protect ourselves and our beliefs. We want what is best and that shouldn't make us hate each other.

Friday, January 20, 2017

YA Gets Real: New Girl

Harvey smirked, giving me a slick sideways glance with his dark brown, almond-shaped eyes. He slid his chair a little closer to me. We were in our homeroom in the science lab. I was surprised when he sat down next to me, but became even more surprised when he kept staring.

"Hey," he said.

"Hi?"

"What's your name?"

I swear my jaw dropped to the floor. Over the summer, I had gotten laser eye surgery, finally ridding myself of the thick bottle glasses that had framed my face since before first grade. But I was still the same old me. Same red braid off to one side, same crystal eyes, same fair skin.

"Anna? You know, the girl you've been in school with since we were six?" I inched my chair away from him, and it grated against the tiles.

He narrowed his eyes, looking me up and down with keen interest. It practically made my skin run out of the room without me. "Anna ..." Harvey leaned back in his chair, rocking on two legs for a second as he switched his eyes to the ceiling. "Cunningham?" The chair slammed back down on the ground as he leaned onto the lab table.

"Harvey, jeez, yeah." I swallowed. My fingers curled around my bag, ready to run or hit him with it depending on whatever he said next.

"Huh." His eyebrows furrowed. Even when he looked confused, he was still fairly attractive. I mean, he was Harvey Orion, pretty much the pinnacle of the stars coming down and making a guy in their dream image. "You look ... different."

I rolled my eyes. "I don't have glasses anymore."

"Oh." He paused, frowning. "That must be it. So anyway, you're, like, really hot, Anna."

I continued staring at him with an arched eyebrow, not sure if that warranted a response. Surely he tried harder to date Sandra and Katrina, right? They were gorgeous. It had to have taken more of an effort than "you're, like, really hot."

"We should go on a date or whatever. You know?"

"No, I don't know." I grabbed my bag and stood up. "We've gone eleven years of our lives not speaking to each other. Why don't we make it the full twelve. Okay?" I turned to leave, but he snagged my arm.

"Anna, don't be like that. Just because I didn't recognize you doesn't mean-"

"It means everything, Harvey. I was invisible to you just because of my glasses." I yanked my hand back and shook it like his were hot coals. "I would never date someone as shallow as that." I went to the front of the room and slid into another seat.

Just as I did, Rebecca whispered a little too loudly to her neighbor, "What's the new girl's problem?"

I banged my forehead against the desk. This was going to be a long start to senior year.

- - -

YA Gets Real is a parody young adult flash fiction series where my main characters experience typical tropes that you can find in Young Adult Literature. I love Young Adult, but I use this series to turn the typical encounter on its head. If you like YA Gets Real, consider sharing it with someone you know would get a kick out of it. Check out all the past stories here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Book Reading: Hipstopia

I have a feeling that reading out loud is something that you get better at with practice. For the first time ever, I can be seen reading Hipstopia, my YA dystopian satire about hipsters taking over Los Angeles.

I was definitely a bit nervous, as this hasn't been something I've even attempted in the past. But I'm fairly happy with my first attempt. Enjoy! And happy reading!