Tuesday, January 31, 2012

When "Saturated" is Putting it Lightly . . .

With all of the shenanigans happening about authors/agents/whoever losing their shit over negative reviews, I'm left wondering why it's happening. Not shit being lost, but the negative reviews. If you read some of these reviews that others are going insane over, there appears to be a consistent theme: story-line fatigue (to put it nicely). So are these reviewers reaching their tipping points with that one review that garners all that attention? Have they finally had enough? And instead of going insane on these reviewers for their opinions, shouldn't this issue be addressed at its source? What company, in its right mind, is going to show down a consumer and scream, "What the fuck is wrong with you? Why don't you like my product? You're obviously a failure!" They're not. They're going to listen to the public. Research and development, anyone? They listen to their consumers and then tailor their product based on popular opinion.

Now, the question here is what is popular opinion. Is the popular opinion that TWILIGHT knock offs really do sell so publishers are going to keep pumping them out? Or are the publishers wanting to milk a wave so badly that they'll continue spitting out a sub par product regardless of what the public thinks? To force the market, if you will. How much mirrored YA PNR is out there now? Or dystopians? All with covers featuring girls in pretty dresses? Is this what the public REALLY wants or is it what's being forced on them, and thus heavy-handing them their opinions for them? Chicken or the egg?

I'm really leery about reading dystopians at the moment because if I come across another one whose world-building is absolutely atrocious for the sake of building a love triangle, I might lose my mind. I avoid YA PNR altogether. I don't think I have one dressed up chick cover in my pile. All the covers look the same, what makes anyone think that I'm going to think any differently about what's on the inside? Plus PNR isn't really my thing to begin with. And I'm starting to wear thin on contemporaries, namely contemporaries with a really effed up MC. My definition of effed up is pretty broad but it appears that in order to compensate for all of the well-adjusted MCs in contemporaries, a rash of maladjusted MCs in contemporaries has come out. Not that anything's wrong with that. I'm by no means required to read any of it. And it's not like the stuff I'm coming across is bad. It's just too much is starting to get depressing so I need to step away from it. But what do I step away to? My options are a bit thin.

So when our options are limited, and we're REALLY trying to like what we're reading but it's falling short, who's to blame? The reader because they didn't like the book? The author for not writing a better story? Or the publisher/agent for acquiring yet another copy cat? I've read enough agent blogs to know that most agents say they really need to love a book to take it on. And I totally believe it. How else are they going to sell that manuscript if they can't get behind it 100%? But looking at some of the books that are coming out, I can't help but wonder what some agents/publishers see when they see these manuscripts. Are they truly in love with them as I'd like to believe? Or are they in love with the potential paycheck it's going to offer because it can surf the wave with the rest? I do genuinely like to think the best of people until they prove me wrong. But that's not going to stop me from questioning. And I honestly believe I'm right to question.

The good, original, unique works should not be buried under copy cat after copy cat after copy cat. That many copy cats shouldn't exist! It's one thing to write in the same genre. It's another thing entirely to be able to take a stack of books, flip around all of the characters and still have the same damn story. This is getting old and I think this is what people are really reacting to. Give us something new and different that we can sink our teeth into! And don't be surprised when we cringe and back away from the same pile of leftovers we've been eating for the past week.

Waves seem to hit hard in YA and that's okay. But since YA still needs to fight for every shred of dignity it currently has, it does nothing to shoot it in the foot with mirror-imaged wave riders and subsequent fall out. If YA wants to be taken seriously, it needs to start taking itself seriously. Start putting out the rich, voluptuous stories that I KNOW are out there. Stop pushing them aside for even more knock offs. We can tell when they're fake. We're not blind. We want the good stuff. Sure it may cost more but I'd like to think the payoff would be well worth it.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Afterlight by Elle Jasper

Published November 2, 2010.

Author website.

Savannah's most unconventional tattoo artist, Riley Poe, lives on the edge. Now she's put over the edge when her younger brother is taken by a sinister cult led by vampires. Her only ally is the hot-tempered vampire Eli Dupre, attracted to Riley's beauty and rare blood type. To save her brother from certain un-death, Riley faces dangers she's never dreamed of, ruthless bloodthirsty enemies, and an evil of endless hunger that wants to devour it all... (goodreads.com)

I stumbled across AFTERLIGHT purely by accident. I was searching Goodreads for one title, of course similar, but this one got stuck in my head. When I pulled it up I knew it wasn't what I was looking for but I was intrigued by the cover. I read the blurb and decided to add it to my want-to-read list. It sat there for a little while and when I went on one of my book-buying binges I picked it up, where it promptly sat in my tangible TBR pile for a while. When I finally got around to reading it I was SO, SO, SO happy that I came across it.

Now, when I think of an unconventional tattoo artist I think of someone wearing GAP that drives a yellow Volkswagen Beetle. But that's besides the point. But aside from that, that blurb really isn't anything different. It's not. A vampire attracted to a human because of her blood type? Yawn. Really. But there was something about it that kept me thinking that it wasn't quite the same as the rest. And I was right. To a point.

It had some vague TWILIGHT-ish similarities with the family of vampires (except this one is an actual family, not adopted) that are "humane" vampires, a couple of off the cuff rogue vampires and their pack of newlings going insane in a city, Riley's rare blood that drives vampires insane and that's kinda where it ends and the original pieces pick up. Like the hoodoo/voodoo stuff. That plays a very prominent role and I really ended up liking Riley's adoptive grandparents. They just had an unusual aspect to them that one doesn't tend to find in this kind of reading that really made it all stand out. It was set in Savannah, a place I'm not all that familiar with and it's not "typical." Meaning it's not your normal New Orleans/New York City get-up. Really, it's just a random city and I liked that. Plus it was really obvious that Jasper knows Savannah with the detail that she wrote about it. All the cemeteries, the moss, the smells. It just all popped off the page and it felt like I was there while reading it.

The writing isn't stellar. I've definitely read better. Riley toes the edge of being a bit of a Sue at times (she can fight with the best of them, in super high heels no less, has a six pack to die for, tiny little body, is an awesome tattoo artist, self-made, rare blood, etc.) but she's just enough not and someone that can really stand on her own that I give her a pass. Had not all of the outlying factors existed that made me love this book then I probably wouldn't have liked her and thought her a bit too much. Plus there's her being turned on by being nearly brutalized by Eli in the beginning. Weird and a bit contrived. As was some of the dialogue (it sounded just a bit TOO hip) and some phrases got way overused ("a totally guy laugh" was one of them and made me wonder if that's the only laugh guys make in Riley's world).

But I did love Riley, despite all of that. She had her life shit on when she was growing up and had enough brains left to reform herself (thanks, in large part, to her adoptive grandparents). Life rode her like a cowboy for a little while there and she bears the marks of that. But she's surprisingly well-adjusted and deeply committed to her brother. She sacrifices everything she has to save the last remaining blood family she has. And she doesn't do it stupidly. She trains, hard, to be able to do it. She's forced to face her own limitations and while, like all good heroines, she makes some dumb ass judgment calls, thankfully the Dupre family is there to hold strong where Riley falls short. It's not just her brother at stake but a greater threat to the whole city should they not succeed in stamping out this rogue vampire threat.

And did I mention the sexy times? Yes, there are sexy times, RIFE with heinously unattainable orgasm times and vampiric loss of control. The sexy times are good but there's a sinister aspect behind them. No pillow-biting and feather-flying going on here. Eli nearly loses his shit and Victorian wraps his metaphorical hands around Riley's throat by dream-raping her. The juxtaposition of the sexy times is definitely an intriguing aspect of the story, because it's sexy times with a deeper, Freudian meaning behind it. Thinking, I like.

And I liked Eli. He wasn't shy about calling Riley on some of her idiotic moves. Like when he told her to stay put and she didn't. He got all over that. I love it when stuff like that that's overlooked in other books gets almost ragged on in ones I like. I think it was fairly obvious that it was a jab at other heroines not listening to words of advise and not having to deal with their repercussions but Eli's not about to have that. For all his brooding (not Louis-level brooding, or Edward-level, but still a bit of a brooder) he's really solid when it came to calling people out. I squealed a little every time he did it.

Of course I can't forget the Lost Boys reference. That absolutely sealed the deal. Enter rose-colored glasses. Riley could have probably skipped off with Eli in wedded bliss on a rainbow to pink fluffy clouds at the end and I wouldn't have cared. Lost Boys reference. And a favorable one at that. Vampires giving kudos to an epic vampire movie? Yes, please.

So it's not the most well-written book I've ever come across but there's so much love in this story that I just couldn't stop. It's been a long time since I've come across a title that's sucked me in in all the right places that I could just roll around with it and read it over and over again. It just hit the absolutely right spots at absolutely the right time. There's no other way to explain it. The stars aligned, I found AFTERLIGHT and it was love from there on out. EVERDARK, the sequel is already out and EVENTIDE, the third installment, comes out in March so I'll be waiting until then to get those two copies. Seriously, can't wait.

Ban Factor: High - Vampire sex. That should about do it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Added to the Pile + 101

Two books this week. Not bad. If this is what I average a month for the rest of the year, I won't be drowning in paper and ink. Big if . . .

From Flux -

From PaperBackSwap -

Things I've Learned from Books + 136

Apparently with the appropriate angle of a pelvic thrust combined the proper amount of stalking and backhanded, manhandling protection, a woman can orgasm with three short thrusts.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

80s Awesomeness! ~ 145

Oh yeah. In all his mulleted glory. If you have a chicken breast, a toothpick and Windex, MacGyver can solve your problems. From disarming a bomb to unclogging a toilet, MacGyver's got it covered.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Freaky Friday :|: 145

Title: Evil on the Bayou
Author: Richie Tankersley Cusick
Published: September 1, 1992
Publisher: Dell Publishing Co., Inc.
Pages: 148

Meg Daton has been uneasy since the moment she arrived in bayou country. Being volunteer nurse to the shriveled husk of a dying woman she hardly knows is bad enough. But the house, where strange, inexplicable things keep happening, is even worse. And the people! Though Esther seems good-hearted, Wes, her handsome, tight-lipped son, is frightening. Most menacing of all is debonair Dr. LaVane, who treats Aunt Belle behind a locked door. Wes and Doc blame each other for the mysterious death of Wes' sister Anna - a mystery that becomes starkly real to Meg when she begins to realize that Aunt Belle's unexpected "recover" may cost her her life. (http://thelaurentaylor.com/SATD/bayou.html)

I'll take it. It sounds pretty interesting, the setting is a bit off the norm and there's 'bayou' in the title. It's gotta be some level of creepy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lady Gaga: Looking for Fame by Paul Lester + Giveaway!

Published September 1, 2010.

Author website.

Hers has been a triumph achieved with the help of wild image-making, infectious pop hits and a teasing strand of ambiguous sexuality that has turned her into a gay icon. At heart it's the story of a unique self-made phenomenon - a Madonna for today.

As an adoring fan of Freddie Mercury and David Bowie, Lady Gaga took the essence of 80s glam and reinvented it for the digital age. Commercially successful and critically accepted she shot from obscurity on Manhattan's Lower East Side club scene to worldwide fame in just a couple of years. This is the story of her high-speed rise in the fame game, told with a mix of admiration and sharp journalistic insight.

I'm a total Gaga convert. When I first heard 'Just Dance' I thought, 'Holy crap. Not another pop part. That's the last thing the world needs.' I never paid her any attention. Then I watched her performance at the VMA's, the one where she did 'Bad Romance' and hanged herself. Yeah. Hooked. That voice? Are you kidding me? That's not a tart voice. AND she's a classically trained pianist? Done. I've been a fan from that moment. And she's proved to not be your standard, run of the mill pop tart. She is an artist. All you have to do is watch her music videos to see that. Or look at what she wears. It's not about sex. It's about expression.

So when LOOKING FOR FAME came across my inbox I jumped at it. Just to know a little more about this woman who's younger than I am who become such an influence not just in music but in life. It is an unauthorized biography and it's formulated mostly through quotes Gaga made but most of it went along with information I'd gleaned since I started taking an interest in her.

I think because of her age her rise seems a little too good to be true but to say she didn't work for what she has would just be a downright lie. If LOOKING FOR FAME is to be believed, she went so low as to be a stripper, not necessarily for money but as a means of performance, and became heavy into cocaine so she could recreate the artistic expressions of her idols, like Warhol. She kicked both habits quickly and learned from them. I guess it's just shocking to see someone with such a mind to learn that quickly and move on from it. For most that can take years. But Gaga was so driven to make her life the way she envisioned it that she knew she couldn't let that stuff get in her way. And it didn't.

I'm not one to idolize celebrities. I just don't think they're worthy. They act, the sing, in many cases they do nothing but whore themselves out. They're not curing cancer or ending world hunger. But I can't help but admire Gaga's drive, her will power, her sheer force to make her world her own. She's empowering and I can't help but be lifted up when I hear some of the things she says. Lester does a great job of amplifying that in his book. It's all about Gaga's rise. He doesn't sugarcoat anything but you can feel the admiration in the reading.

LOOKING FOR FAME is a good peek into the life of Gaga before she was Gaga. You get to see her young, before her craziness took her over. You get to see what it took for her to get where she is. And, for the most part, she's really sedate. There's no mention of backstabbing or throat slashing. Gaga didn't step on faces to rise. She may have been unmoving in some of her requests but people didn't get crunched under her boots as she stepped up. That I find pretty cool. And I think you will too if you're even a nominal Gaga fan.

And then you'll want to go crank at least one of her songs.

Ban Factor: High - Just because it's Lady Gaga and so many people think she's corrupting the world's youth with her indecency.

Giveaway time!!!

Want my copy? Just fill out the form below for your chance to win!
  • Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only.
  • One entry per person per email address.
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  • Giveaway ends February 9th at midnight, EST.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Gun-Friendly Tidbit for Authors

No, this is not a threat. No, this is not specific to any book that I've read recently but something I've been noticing in books where characters use guns that I've read within the last year. Really I'm more aware of this because I've been trained and have been actively using firearms for the past year.

Now that I've thoroughly scared people, I'll point you all to this diagram -

Let me draw your attention to the part labeled "trigger." More often than not, I've been seeing characters cock this part of the gun. That is wrong. Now draw your eyes up and slightly to the left, to the part labeled "hammer." This little part is often neglected in non-dominate fiction gunplay (read: where the story isn't gun-filled, you just have a character that happens to use a gun in a scene). This, folks, is what gets cocked. When one cocks the hammer, it makes the trigger a single action pull that requires far less weight to fire. The trigger isn't cockable. It's cockless.

I don't know if this is the author or the editor or just a socially acceptable fallacy but every time I read about a character cocking a trigger it's like scraping a fork against a plate. And this statement is handgun-neutral. It's said regardless of whether the gun is a revolver or semi-automatic, exposed hammer or shrouded. Apparently characters always find something to cock when it comes to a gun. It just sound so western, I guess. Total badass . . . ? Except when it doesn't fit the gun it goes kind of . . . limp . . .

So I beg of you, authors, when you insist on giving your characters guns, make them use them properly. If you have them cock triggers, you might as well have them pull a slide on a revolver too. It helps, too, when you get all fancy with your gun-telling, to not have them cock a gun when the hammer is shrouded on that particular model. You're just having them do extra work for nothing.

Let's keep the cocks away from the triggers, shall we? Triggers get pulled, hammers get cocked. Cock hammer, pull trigger, in that order. That is all.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Escaping Titanic by Marybeth Lorbiecki, illustrated by Kory S. Heinzen

Pub date: February 1, 2012.

Commemorate the Titanic's disastrous voyage with this harrowing tale of survival. Follow the true story of young Ruth Elizabeth Becker as her awe of the mighty Titanic turns to horror when she is separated from her mother and siblings. (netgalley.com)

I think I've reviewed all of two picture books in my three years of blogging so forgive me if this comes across as a little too short. I just don't know what to say about it!

Well, I loved the illustrations. At times they were both beautiful and goofy, capturing the majesty of the Titanic along with the people sailing on it. But I couldn't help but think that for a story that really is so serious, the expressions on some of the faces were a little too cartoony and goofy. One panel showed one of the stewards coming into the room and telling everyone to get their lifebelts on. But instead of a serious face, he looks a bit cross-eyed. Yeah it makes the scene lighter and I know it's a picture book but still . . . it almost seemed . . . inappropriate. I don't know if this is something typical of a picture book, to lighten up a more dramatic scene with untoward facial expressions so as not to frighten the children reading it but it felt a little off.

The story itself was succinct. It would be a bit morbid to think that the girl was doing anything but surviving the end of the story so you knew it was coming but that doesn't mean there wasn't a tense moment where she was left on a ship as she watched the rest of her family get lowered in a lifeboat. And then when the lifeboats are rescued you wonder if she's going to find her family. For about half a second. The story is really in the illustrations, the words acting merely as captions to supplement the visuals. It's not that they're bad; there's just more to be garnered from the drawings.

As a childless 28-year-old female reading a picture book, I've come across better. The story's a little dry and the illustrations are a bit bipolar but it was still enjoyable to this Titanic nut. From the POV of a child reading this, I can definitely see how they would really enjoy the pictures and how the small story itself would suck them right in, how they would hinge on every word and wonder if the girl was going to make it out okay. Damn jadedness. Personally I was more interested in the information about Ruth at the end of the story. How she never told anyone that she was a Titanic survivor until 1982 when the wreckage started getting poked at and she came forward about it. That's a long time to sit on something like that.

So really, there's something for everyone. A great story for the kids and a little bit of extra information for the adults reading it to them. Plus some great pictures for all.

Ban Factor: Low - Seriously. Unless they take issue with the mention of people's screaming death throes (although watered down a bit in the book), there's nothing wrong with this one.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Titanic: Disaster at Sea by Philip Wilkinson

Pub Date: February 1, 2012.

Author website.

Experience all the drama and tragedy of Titanic inside the pages of this richly illustrated narrative. With a pull-out poster and double gatefold diagram, Titanic: Disaster at Sea is brimming with facts, stories, and fascinating people. From the technological creativity of Titanic’s construction to unselfish sacrifice in the face of disaster, this comprehensive book will satisfy readers with its exciting, up-close look at this amazing true story of triumph and tragedy. (netgalley.com)

Seeing as how this book is really just an illustrated run-down of events surrounding the Titanic, there isn't all that much to review but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it.

The illustrations were, of course, the highlight of the book as they were the most pervasive. Richly colored and detailed it was hard not to stare at the visuals more than the words. I wouldn't recommend reading it in its digital form, though. I couldn't manage to zoom in on my Digital Editions and while I could in my eReader Library, I had to read the captions first and then zoom out to see the images it was set against. Kind of annoying but I lived with it. TITANIC is a book best viewed in hand. That much is clear. There's something to be said for being able to hold something in your head and stare at it and not have a glaring back-lit screen staring back. In my opinion anyway.

The only thing that kind of irked me about this title was that it presented the imprisonment of the third class passengers below decks during the sinking as fact. While it may have made for good drama by Stephen Spielberg, the likelihood of it actually having happened is pretty slim. As seen in Tim Maltin's 101 THINGS YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW ABOUT THE TITANIC . . . BUT DIDN'T! in the excerpted testimony from the crew no one was forcibly kept below decks during the sinking. Many opted not to come above and, of course, there was a language barrier with some. One must take into account, though, that the British did attempt to whitewash what happened and perjury isn't such a far-flung idea. But since there are accounts from others about helping the third class passengers into boats (although few, they still exist), it kind of debunks that myth. But again, it's still something that pulls at the heartstrings.

This would be an excellent picture book for any kid, from the cross section of the Titanic's floors to the drawings and photos littering the pages making the Titanic come alive again, it's a visual smorgasbord of Titanic awesomeness. Hell, you don't even need to be a kid to enjoy this one. Buy it for the illustrations alone. You don't even need to read most of the captions. The images tell their own story.

Ban Factor: Low - Seriously, there's nothing in here that would drive the banners insane. Unless they have some weird adverse reactions to ships.

Things I've Learned from Books + 135

Rah rah ah ah ah, roma ro mama. Ga ga oh la la. One jump at romance.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Titanic 100th Anniversary Reading Challenge


Yup. I'm doing it. When Nicola at Back to Books posted on one of my reviews about her challenge, I just couldn't pass it up. I have a few in the queue to review as it is and I already have two I can add to the list. I'll be working on the Take a Plunge level of reading/watching 6 Titanic-related books/movies. Most of mine will be books but I'm a sucker for the Leo/Kate movie. And really anything Titanic.

3. TITANIC: DISASTER AT SEA by Philip Wilkinson
4. ESCAPING TITANIC by Marybeth Lorbiecki, illustrated by Kory S. Heinzen
6. DISTANT WAVES by Suzanne Weyn

80s Awesomeness! ~ 144


As in "you just got faced." Or, you just got dissed or any other synonymous equivalent. Or your more recent "oh snap." Thanks, 80s!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Freaky Friday :|: 144

Title: Blindfold
Author: Diane Hoh
Published: October 1997
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 356

Maggie doesn't know that there's a terrible secret buried in the basement--and a cold-blooded killer nearby who's determined to keep it that way. (amazon.com)

You know, sometimes it's just easier to move. And that's saying something. This one could go either way but I'd be willing to see it through.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Return to Titanic: Time Voyage, Book 1 by Steve Brezenoff

Pub date: February 1, 2012.

On the first day of their spring break, best friends Tucker and Maya discover a "Special Collection" of Titanic artifacts at the local museum. But the artifacts have more power than they know. When they touch a magic ticket, Tucker and Maya find themselves transported 100 years in the past — to Titanic's maiden voyage. Now they must figure out how to save a new friend, and return to the present, before time runs out. (netgalley.com)

Holy crap. I have so much love for this book it's quite possibly bordering on unhealthy. The love is not just for the book's topic (MAJOR love) but for the writing. It's probably because I hardly read middle grade books but TIME VOYAGE is written so amazingly that I can't form thoughts beyond ill-conceived adjectives. There is no pandering to the reader whatsoever, no talking down, no kiddie feel. Yeah, it's written in a very precise way. Absolutely no fat (and as a result very little detail or depth) but Brezenoff wrote it in such a way that it told the story that needed to be told and you got out of it what you should. You get just enough emotion, just enough feeling, just enough depth to really connect with it. As someone that is WELL beyond middle grade reading, I didn't feel like an adult reading a kid's story (like when I read GOOSEBUMPS, for instance). I just felt like I was reading a succinct story about one of my favorite topics. The amazing pictures didn't hurt either. Okay, the kids may be a little whiny at first but that's short lived.

And the story! Just being able to touch a ticket and get zapped back in time? If you were a history nerd like me when you were younger (and maybe still are), if that fantastical thought never crossed your mind I will sit here and call you a big fat LIAR! That's epic fantasy right there and Brezenoff pulled it off without it being hokey at all. Touch the ticket, flash, back in time. No frilly waves or flashing lights. Just poof! Time warp.

Of course, TIME VOYAGE left me wanting MORE! How could it not? I read it in the span of roughly 20 minutes and it just hit all the right happy nerves on me. And let me tell you how giddy my inner Titanic nerd was. Insane. Thankfully there are three other books in this series and I so can't wait to read them. Between the phenomenal story and the absolutely amazing drawings to supplement it, RETURN TO TITANIC as a whole won't be a series to miss. So be sure to pick up TIME VOYAGE and start yourself, and any other Titanic aficionado you know, on the journey.

Ban Factor: Low - If they bitched about anything it'd be the time travel and even that's a stretch. This one's pretty wholesome.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


It's the end of the world as we know it and you don't feel fine! You have your short term survival kit of food, water, a first aid kit and any weapons and extra clothes you may need. Just before you run out the door you remember your books . . . all those books! You can't just leave them! But you certainly can't cart a wheelbarrow full of books around in a post-apocalyptic world. You have room for just one. And you can't take your eReader since you'll be SOL once the battery dies. So which book do you grab to satiate your reading needs for however long you have left to live? Go!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

This is Why I Like My Bubble

I like my bubble. More than you probably know. Why? Because I don't get involved in shit unless I want to. I miss out on the Twitter fiascoes, the Goodreads shenanigans and your general social networking douchery. And I'm okay with that. I came across Stacia Kane's post about authors vs. bloggers a little while ago via Wicked Lil Pixie and I kinda went for serious? Again? Of course Stacia's post is thoroughly brilliant and should be read by all. It makes me all tingly in my cockles when authors use 'fuck' in a self-deprecating manner.

And then I came across this via Publisher's Weekly and it makes me want to punch a baby in the face. WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? Why are negative reviews such a huge problem? I'm not understanding it. I'm really not. Well, maybe I am . . .

Why I think people absolutely lose their shit over blogger-written negative reviews -
  • We're influential - first and foremost. Anyone that tells you we're not is swimming in a pool of liquid denial. As someone that has single-handedly amped up the sales of a book (right, Ilsa? :) ), as someone that's part of a community that has affected book cover changes when even the AUTHOR couldn't get it done, to say we're not influential is like saying Stephen Hawkins isn't all that smart.
  • We're an unruly mob with a lot of power - see above re: influential. Add in our inability to be controlled. We don't work for anyone but ourselves. We're not 1099 independent contractors. We're not on anyone's payroll. We don't have rules. We don't have guidelines. We're a free for all. Our power is unadulterated.
  • Fear - pish and paw and pfft all you want. There is a fear there that we, the unruly, heinously powerful mob, can bury a book before it even has a chance. With all the power we wield, we can make books, and we came break them. In theory. Back an animal into a corner, make it look like it has no way out, what does it do? It starts lashing out. Because it's afraid.
  • We can get our hands on the product no matter what and review it whether you want us to or not. Book stores. Gotta love them.
This, of course, is actually assuming WE CARE THAT MUCH. Chances are, we don't. I know I don't. It's an opinion, of which people are entitled. Trying to browbeat someone into writing a review one particular way to suit whatever isn't an effective means of getting what you want. It just ends up making one look like a douche. Someone doesn't like your book. Boo fucking hoo. That someone decided to call your MC TSTL and supplemented his or her words with succinctly placed animated gifs and You Tube videos. How about seeing it for the creative piece it actually is, being honored that someone actually put in that kind of effort on YOUR novel to get their point across and, I don't know, LAUGH AT YOURSELF??? Where did all the senses of humor go? Are we supposed to be considering everything that we read lit-ra-ture? Should our reviews in kind be lit-ra-ture in order to be taken seriously and not lambasted to within an inch of its life?

For serious. I'm not trying to demean any author's work. As a writer I'm well aware of what goes into a novel. Every letter is a piece of my soul put down on paper, or whatever. I'm also aware that an opinion isn't an axe through my chest either. And I'm not going to make it my life's mission to shit on every single person that criticized me. There are far better things to do with my time. Like taking all that negative into consideration because maybe, just maybe, all those negative reviews might have a point. And while it can't be fixed in the current book, well, there's always the future.

So what the FUCK are people's problems? Why are people going feral on reviews? Am I right? Is it the fear that some random schmuck, banded together with all the rest of the random schmucks, can actually affect the sales of a book? Is it because people are still living by the adage "unless you have something nice to say, don't say anything at all?" Or are they just getting caught up in the flurry and jumping in as their typing fingers allow? What is it? Someone please explain this to me. If we are so fucking terrible, uncouth, uneducated, smart-mouthed little shits, why do we keep getting books?

Or how about . . . publishing something that won't make us want to tear our eyes out reading it? Something of quality, perhaps? Instead of yet ANOTHER copycat of that angel story or this dystopian trilogy or vampires, FUCKING VAMPIRES? Because, in my experience, from what I've seen, that's what's driving us insane; more of the same. Quite frankly, it's insulting. And that's just the covers. Never mind the redundancy between the pages where you can swap out characters from book to book and still end up with the same damn story written by different authors. How about the problem is addressed at its source instead of screaming at people who are merely reacting to shut the fuck up and deal with it?

The truth of the matter is no one book is going to please everyone. Why this needs to be reiterated, I have no idea. There are going to be people that won't like something, to varying degrees. And thanks to the wonderful world of the internet, they are given the opportunity to express their opinion as lavishly as they deem fit. And that's okay. Yes, it's okay. Because there are going to be people that love your book and the reality is, even the people that are ripping you a new one are still exposing others to it. How do you think I got to reading TWILIGHT? I just HAD to see if it was as bad as everyone said (yes, yes it was). But I read all four (I'm still not sure why). So what's bad about that again? I picked up the books BECAUSE people were shitting on it. So . . . the problem is . . .

No. I will not shut up because I didn't like a book. In case you haven't noticed, that's not what I'm about. And neither should anyone else. People should be ASHAMED of themselves for scaring book bloggers out of posting negative reviews. Ashamed. In some circles, that would be called bullying. You know, intimidating others in order to get your way? It's okay to have an opinion to someone else's opinion. But threatening to blacklist bloggers when they start to query should they be writers? Really, how childish can you get? Or tag teaming a bad review because the reviewed is your friend? Seriously? Are we fourteen again? Are you gonna trip her in gym class too? Seriously, how fucking immature has this gotten? How about we all grow the fuck up, accept the fact that we're not Nazis with one brain and move on with our lives? Is it really worth the effort to chisel someone down to nothing because they expressed their honest opinion about a book? Did it make you feel better? Can you rest your head on the pillow easier? Does sleep come quicker? How about next time you think about who's on the other side, and how old that person might just be. How good would you feel tearing the shit out of someone that isn't even old enough to drive? Feel good? You still get that warm and squishy in your cockle area? You don't even need to do that. How about, just for a second, you remember how it feels to voice your opinion and then have someone rip you a new one because it wasn't the right opinion. Right . . .

Let's get this straight, in case my policy isn't clear enough: I WORK FOR THE READERS. I don't work for authors, publishers, publicists or anyone in between. I will give my honest opinion about what it is I read because that's what READERS DESERVE. They don't deserve to be lied to. They don't deserve to be intimidated into reading something. NO ONE deserves to be intimidated into writing a review they don't want to write because they fear the repercussions of what they might say. Don't we fight against censorship every September (and all year round for that matter?)? So what the hell is this shit? Censorship is bad, but only in this instance? It doesn't apply to YOU, you lowly subhuman? You do what I say or I crush you? Please.

I'm going to retreat back to my bubble now because shit like this makes my hair fall out. This is why I don't get involved in social media. This is why I'm up front about the way I work so if this shit ever happened to me I can just point and go "I fucking told you so." Just because I don't get paid for what I do doesn't mean I'm some kind of puppet. You can't shove your hand up my ass and make me talk. But please . . . continue self-sabotaging. The reviewers aren't the ones ruining your book. You are doing a dandy enough job of that all on your own with your inability to NOT lose your shit when something doesn't go your way. Congratulations.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Catch & Release by Blythe Woolston

Pub date: January 28, 2012.

Author website.

Teenagers Polly and Odd are the only survivors of a MRSA (Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus--also known as flesh-eating bacteria) outbreak that killed several people in their town.

They did not survive unscathed, however. Polly lost an eye and her face is horribly scarred; Odd lost his foot and is tortured by phantom pain. The two had no connection to each other prior to the MRSA outbreak. Polly was going to marry Bridger, her longtime boyfriend, and continue down the road toward normal adulthood and domestic felicity (kids, house, etc.). Odd’s ticket out was football. Now those plans are gone, and Polly and Odd have nothing but each other--the residents in their small Montana hometown are decidedly uncomfortable around these two who survived-- and a shared affection for trout fishing. So when Odd shows up in his grandmother’s 1979 Cadillac D’Elegance, promising a day on the river, it’s pretty clear that a more remarkable journey is in store for the two of them.

Aside from the fact that I would be perfectly content living in a bubble as I now see little squiggly germy death on every door handle, I hate it when I'm at a loss for words on a book. Like stomp my feet, hold my breath until the words come hate. Considering that'd be counter-productive I won't do it. But it doesn't make me happy.

There is nothing bad about CATCH & RELEASE. Not a thing. Except it might make you a disciplined germaphobe to an extreme. But aside from that, there's nothing even remotely wrong about it. The voice is perfect. And I mean perfect. Woolston has captured Polly's voice so amazingly that that's all I can say about it. It's amazing. Reading Polly's words you get a sense of the person that she used to be before MRSA. There's a hint of it still lingering but it's all dripping in bitterness and disdain because of what she's lost. There were times where I was getting frustrated with how she was thinking and reacting to things but you catch yourself. Instead of spiraling the thought about her being an overreacting drama queen, the words hitch in your brain and you can't help but ask yourself, 'if you lost a third of your face, including one of your eyes, how would you feel?' It would be hard enough for an adult to cope with something like that but a teenager? At the beginning of the book Polly's consigned herself to her couch for the rest of her life. Her life is over. By the end she's been, well, released, and you watch her transform from someone who hides, who throws in the cards, who wants revenge, to someone that just releases all of that anger and hatred and bitterness and starts over. And you can feel how monumental that step was.

I was less than thrilled with Odd but his reactions to things become clearer at the end of the story so I won't ruin that one. But it's funny with Odd because the story is in Polly's voice so you see him as she sees him and at times he can be a dick. But then you get to see Polly through Odd's eyes and it's when you can get out of her head and see from another angle how she was acting and how it was perceived by others that maybe it was a little over the top. Considering this was viewed by another MRSA survivor that lost his leg, he could relate to her pain and as such is in a position to tell her to get over it, in his own unique way.

The dirt and grime and grit that they slough through on their trip is something palpable. Especially when Polly gets her period. I'll leave you to that. But you get a sense that as they travel along, they're picking up more and more crap but leaving just as much of it behind. They're both coming to terms with what's happened to them but they're doing it in the only way they each know how. As the road before them becomes less and less visible, they each take their own paths and any fear that's there manifests and then fizzles as one steps up to help the other. You can't help but watch the steps up they take, some of the tumbles that result, but the ultimate moving on that they're both doing.

Before this runs the risk of de-evolving into a nonsensical meandering of a review I'll end it here. I'll conclude with the offering of awesomeness to that which is CATCH & RELEASE. While I loved it, I wasn't in love it with, hence "just" a four rating. It is truly awesome but it didn't quite hit me in my cockle region to rank it higher. But it's more than just your average contemporary novel about teens coming to terms with themselves and finding their place in life. These teens had something monstrous happen to them and as a result were effectively pushed out of society to deal with it on their own. Which they did. And they're forcing their way back in. You can't help but feel moved as you read it. And just a little squicked out. I'll be honest. I micromanage my papercuts now.

Ban Factor: High - Swearing and the general ickiness of MRSA could have the banners screaming about this one. The MRSA alone would be far too much for such young eyes to handle.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Added to the Pile + 100

My first Added to the Pile of 2012 and it's number 100! Woohoo! Only one lonely book this week from PaperBackSwap but that's okay. It's one I'm really looking forward to reading.

EVIL? by Timothy Carter

10 And, yea verily, Stuart did commit the Sin of Onan in the shower. And this was witnessed by his own brother who did cry out unto their mother. And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.
11 And the townspeople rose up against him and all Onaners, calling upon one another to tear the youthful sinners limb from unclean limb. And there was much pants wetting.
12 And lo, Stuart did join forces with the demon, Fon Pyre, and together they did set forth to discover the cause of the town's trouble.
13 And, hark! A pair of fallen angels would plant seeds of hatred unto the townspeople. And on the seventh day, Stuart did vow to rip the fallen angels a new one and layeth upon them an epic smacketh-down. (goodreads.com)

Things I've Learned from Books + 134

Sometimes walking around in a bubble isn't such a bad thing. Imagine all the dog poop you WOULDN'T get stuck in your shoe. But I guess smearing it all over your bubble isn't much better.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

80s Awesomeness! ~ 143

Oh yeah. If you're a chick you know you just faceplanted onto Memory Lane with this one. Rainbow Brite. You know you watched the show and you know you owned at least a small portion of the extensive merchandise. How is it NOT awesome to defeat the land's villains with rainbow power?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Freaky Friday :|: 143

Title: The Train
Author: Diane Hoh
Published: 1992
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 176

On a cross-country tour with her friends, Hannah learns that on the train with them is the coffin of Frog, a boy from their high school whom they ridiculed and taunted and who died a sudden and horrible death. (fantasticfiction.co.uk)

Well that's rather poignant considering what's been going on over the last year or two. Plus I totally have it in my TBR pile right now. This shouldn't surprise anyone. But talk about outdated. Who rides trains cross country nowadays?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

1st Person POV in YA: Trend or Necessity?

Three year ago I got into book blogging mainly as a tertiary effect of my writing. I write YA. I need to read YA widely. I was sharing my thoughts on YA books on my writing blog. Enter next step. So because of this I tend to be hyper-aware of certain writing trends, especially as they pertain to my own work.

As a writer, my default POV setting is third limited. It leaves a little bit of wiggle room for author input in the stream of consciousness outside of dialogue but it's the next best thing to being in the character's head. It doesn't help that as I was taking writing classes, the views of my professor kind of rubbed off on me when it came to first person: does that character ACTUALLY think like that? So every time I read a first person narrative and the character is talking about an elaborately colored something or a metaphorically outrageous something else I can't help but go, "Really? That's how you REALLY narrate the world inside your own head?" And that can take me out of it. Most of the time I'm okay but sometimes it's really bad and the character just starts coming off as really disingenuous to him or herself. I had this problem with Maggie Stiefvater's LAMENT and BALLAD. I think the writing just got away from the characters and I ended up seeing more author than characters.

So for me, third limited gives you the intimacy of first without such close contact. The downside is that there is a slight bit of distance between the reader and the character. With first, you're in the character's head. You can't get any more intimate than that. On the down side, you're inside the character's head and it may not be a good place to be for many reasons. TWILIGHT would be an example of this for me. The books I wanted to light on fire because being inside Bella's head was insufferable. Transfer them to the movies, you remove that intimacy (and insert constipated acting and way too much Maybelline) and I found the story a bit more enjoyable. I didn't get the repetition of Edward's awesomely hotness or Bella's/SMeyer's limited vocabulary. I was freed by a slightly distanced yet still limited point of view.

I've written in all points of view except second (because that's a killer and I think there's maybe a person and a half that can actually pull that off well) so I've written widely in that regard. My very first novel was third limited and I hated it into the trunk. My second novel was third limited and I'm still working it out because it's ENTIRELY in MC-speak which isn't working well for YA but may be better off in MG minus my heinous swearing. My third novel (which is really a reincarnation of my trunked first, with barely anything salvaged except the base idea) is third limited in a mix of MC and my speak - her sass with some of my vocabulary. I'm still working it out. But when I look at a lot of the novels I'm reading, they're mostly first person and then I start getting pulls to write mine in first but I don't know if it'll be the same. It may work but in my cockles, ultimately I don't think it'd be a fit. Plus I don't know if it's the story telling me to write in first or if I'm subconsciously trying to write to a trend to be more appealing to agents and publishers.

Which leaves me to ask, with all the first person POV floating around YA lately, is it more of a trend or a necessity? I asked this on Twitter when the question first popped into my head and I got more necessity than trend but not by much. The people that favored trend stated they're able to connect to a character regardless of the point of view as long as it's written well. The ones that went with necessity claimed that's how they connected to the MC, period. So does that make a wave or a need?

I still don't know. I'm reading an overwhelming amount of books in first person but that doesn't erase my original feelings about it. C'mon . . . do you think they REALLY think like that? Do you REALLY think like that? But ultimately I don't really think I notice the POV. Sure I know when I'm reading 'I''s over 'he''s but in terms of connection the point of view doesn't matter. I can just as easily not connect with a first person narrative as I can with a third.

What are your thoughts? Is first person a trend or a necessity? Is it a wave that publishers seem to be riding because it's working so why mess with it? What POV do you prefer?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mesmerize by Artist Arthur

Pub date: January 31, 2011.

You can’t move forward until you deal with the past…

Starting over is nothing new to diplomat’s daughter Lindsey Yi. She’s grown up changing schools the way other girls change clothes. Still, moving to Lincoln, Connecticut, is different. Although she’s still reeling from the loss of her parents in an accident, Lindsey is finally in a place that feels like home. Because here, Lindsey’s ability to read other people’s thoughts doesn’t make her weird. It makes her one of the Mystyx.

When Dylan Murphy—hot, popular and a senior—starts to notice her, things get serious, fast. But even as she’s figuring out how she really feels, the Mystyx realize that they’re not the only supernaturals in town. There are other gifted teens who have different motives. And they are hoping to get close enough to the Mystyx to convert them—and the world—to Darkness…

First off, the cover looks like a white girl with cat eye make-up, not a Korean chick that, as far as I could tell wasn't a mixed race Korean but full-blooded. And considering how often she referred to her heritage in the book, and how often racial slurs were thrown her way, I'm guessing she looked a lot more Asian than this. But maybe the copy I'm seeing is just off . . .

I have to say, I'm kinda glad this story arc is over because by this one, the circumstances were getting downright silly. And a running theme through all of them was how easily the darkness was defeated. MESMERIZE was no exception so I can't really fault it for that since at least the series has been consistent. But I guess just the silliness of how it manifested just got to me and I really couldn't take it seriously anymore. With the big clawed creatures stomping about, I kept picturing something out of an old He-Man cartoon as opposed to something more tangible than ink.

Lindsey's story had the potential to be really great. Here's a girl that's trying to get over the death of her parents and in the midst of that healing she needs to tangle with some dark stuff too. It could have been an epic parallel that would have ridden the plot nicely. But holy shit does Lindsey get fucking dumb when Dylan enters the picture. I've been saying lately that sometimes one needs to get whacked in the face with a branch in order to see the forest for the trees. In Lindsey's case, she needed to get gang raped by a forest of sequoias to get that far. I mean dumb to the point where I wanted to throw my reader. In this case it would have been my computer screen. At work. That would have been disastrous on may levels.

As far as anything concerned Dylan, he could do no wrong. Except he was set up to be something major right from the beginning. Not to mention he was really controlling, which she was okay with. And even when the big reveal was made, Lindsey still had a hard time swallowing the water being thrown on her face. Even in the middle of the THIS IS ME moment, she's still like "okay, maybe there's a possibility . . ." Yeah, and there a possibility that Dina Lohan is a bad parent.

Lindsey's level of stupidity and her blatant disregard for the obvious was so overwhelming that I really couldn't pay attention to much else. There was a great stand together moment at the end where the Mystyx joined forces to defeat Charon and his darkness brigade but since Lindsey was lobotomized up until the last possible second, it really didn't bare much weight for me. Especially when the rest of her friends were sitting there going HELLO?

The ending left it open for more books but at this point, I really couldn't figure out if I was still reading because I really wanted to or because I had some self-imposed obligation to keep reading the series. Considering how it ended, I'm going with the latter. If there are more books I'm probably going to pass on them. The series as a whole is two out of two for me. Krystal's and Jake's stories were by far the best, with Sasha having a less than stellar voice and Lindsey being a major moron. Add in the overall silliness of the villains and I'm going to call it a flush. It could really go either way at this point and while it's leading into Krystal's voice, which I like, the potential silliness is a turnoff. This'll probably end up being one of those series where if I have the time I may finish it but right now I think I'm good.

Ban Factor: High - Like with its predecessors, with Greek gods and low levels of Christianity, it's bound to rile up them Bible thumpers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Anyone Wanna Book Swap?

So I've got a bunch of ARCs that I'm not too sure what to do with. And I've got some books on my want list that I'd like to get my hands on. Anyone want to trade? In the form below I'll post my list of books that I'm looking for and the ones I'm willing to trade (all ARCs, the version on your end doesn't matter to me). Just select which one you have and which one you want and we'll have ourselves an even trade! If you have more than one of my want books that you want to trade, of course you can choose more than one of my books!

The deal is you send me your book copy first (since I'm working blind) and as soon as I receive that book, I'll drop yours in the mail (because I'm all nice and established and have a reputation to protect and all of that, I'm not about to flake out on my book-sending duties). I think that's a fair trade, don't you? I'll email you if you've snagged a trade and we'll get the particulars out of the way then.

Right now I'm only looking to trade and trade for what's on my list. Please don't fill out the form if you don't have a title to trade. I know I'll still have a great big pile of books left over but I felt this was a good way to start whittling it down and try to get some titles I'd like to read. So have at it! I'll leave this open for a week or so so just keep an eye on it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Liberation of Max McTrue + A Figment.com Writing Contest!

Pub Date: February 1, 2012.

Author Website

Have you ever had an extraordinary day?

Max hadn’t. Until one winter day when he met a girl.

THE LIBERATION OF MAX MCTRUE takes place in a single day. The classic Boy Meets Girl story. Well, sort of: Boy meets homeschooled girl. Boy ditches school. Boy finds his future. And there's an ice cream truck. And archery. It's a bit like what would happen if Ferris Bueller's Day Off and The Alchemist had a kid, well...a kid who was a YA eBook novella. You get the idea.

Max took a day off and found his life.

Who changed your life today? (eBook blurb)

THE LIBERATION OF MAX MCTRUE isn't anything spectacular. It isn't a story about Max fighting demons or werewolves or anything otherworldly or otherwise undead. He hasn't set out to save anyone and, really, the only person that needs saving is himself. From the world created around him that, up until he meets Clara Jane, he's quite content in. Max is someone that doesn't have a plan. His plan is to follow others plans for him: where to meet, which schools to apply to, which sports to play, which jobs to chase. But then Clara Jane comes in and rattles his brain even more than his best friend Emerson ever could and for a flash of a second he hates her for it. Then he hates himself for not realizing it sooner.

People aren't the biggest fans of change. Add in fear of the unknown and zombies are born; those that in one place their entire lives, whether it's actually because of fear or they're simply content and lacking desire, they end up existing in the lives created for them by other people. Max was no exception and even when Clara Jane came into his life for just that short school day, he fought the change. He made excuses for why it had to be this way. He lashed out. He accused. He hurt. And then he was finally free.

Told in a voice that makes me want to wrap the words around me like a blankie, it pulls you into Max's life. It gives you an idea of where he's coming from. It shows you glimpses of the people that rule his life. And then it shows him changing. It's not an easy change but Max makes it. He doesn't make it until the last possible second, where, as the reader, you might be thinking that he won't do it. But Max doesn't disappoint. All it took was a girl.

This isn't a story about love at first site. It's about intrigue and the will to chase something different. To break from the norm, and from the norm that other people have thrust onto you, and do something completely different and see whether the shoe fits or not. It'll make you re-evaluate where you stand in your own little world. It'll make you open your eyes to the people around you, even those that may pass in and out of your life in a flash. Because they can still leave a lasting impression.

THE LIBERATION OF MAX MCTRUE has a butterfly effect not just for Max but for the reader. Sometimes you just need to get slapped in the face with a branch before you see the forest for the trees. And that's exactly what it does. Your life will be one step closer to complete after reading this.

Ban Factor: Medium - Other than the swears it's pretty innocuous. The banners would need to actually read this one to find something.
Kim Culbertson technically writes for teenagers, but some grown-ups like her work. Sourcebooks Fire published her award winning first YA novel Songs for a Teenage Nomad (2010, originally Hip Pocket Press, 2007) and her second YA novel Instructions for a Broken Heart (2011) which was named a Booklist Top Ten Romance Title for Youth: 2011. Kim’s short fiction has appeared in Cicada, Canary, and The Smoking Poet. When she’s not writing for teens, she’s teaching them. She’s a college advisor and teaches creative writing and English at Forest Charter School in Northern California. Kim wrote The Liberation of Max McTrue for her students who, over the years, have taught her much more than she has taught them.

I mentioned something about a writing contest, didn't I? Well, Kim and Figment.com have teamed up to put together an awesome writing contest where you can get the chance to win a copy of THE LIBERATION OF MAX MCTRUE and a manuscript critique from Kim herself! How tempting is that? Just don't be fooled by the idea of writing flash fiction. Just because it's shorter doesn't mean it's easier. Here are the details -

The Liberation of Max McTrue Contest
Brought to you by Figment.com and Kim Culbertson

Kim Culbertson is joining Figment for a whirlwind weekend of Flash Fiction to celebrate her new ebook, The Liberation of Max McTrue!

Enter the Max McTrue Flash Fiction Contest!
There will be a Total of three prizes: Each winner gets a free download of The Liberation of Max McTrue as well as a custom-made “beautiful things” journal. The first place winner will also receive a 30 minute manuscript review by Kim Culbertson.

All you have to do is write a super short story under 500 words that follows one of the four prompts below. Submit your entry between 11:00am on February 3rd, 2012 and 11:59pm on February 5th, 2012. The Figment editorial staff will choose the top ten entries as finalists, and Kim will choose the winners from those finalists.

The Prompts:
(1) Write a story set against the backdrop of a scavenger hunt.
(2) Write a story confined to the periods of a school day. The character can be in school or out of school.
(3) Write a story in which a character is deeply afraid of something.
(4) Come up with a totally ordinary character and then set him/her up to have an extraordinary day.

How to enter:
  • Go to www.figment.com and sign up.
  • Once you have received your confirmation email, go to your Figment profile page, click “My Writing,” and “Create Something New.”
  • Before you start writing, read the full rules on the Max McTrue contest page, which you’ll be able to find under the “Contest” tab on Figment on February 3rd, 2012.
  • Write an original story, under 500 words, that follows one of the four prompts above.
  • Go to the “Details” tab of your story, and put maxmctrue in the “Tags” section.
  • Wait the 2 hours it sometimes takes to see your story appear on the contest page.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Things I've Learned from Books + 133

Kool Aid! Oh yeah!

Oh no! Kool Aid bad.

80s Awesomeness! ~ 142

Nope, it's not about the actors; it's about the sunglasses. Oh yeah. Ray Bans. Everyone wanted them because they were oh so sexy and, I mean, just look at the people wearing them! Why would you NOT want to be like Madonna or Michael Jackson? I mean, seriously. And of course, this particular style is making it's way back into fashion. Because it was so seriously flattering . . . ?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Freaky Friday :|: 142

Title: The Fever
Author: Diane Hoh
Published: August 1996
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 192

Duffy has a mysterious fever that has robbed her of her strength and left her helpless in her hospital bed. Now she's beginning to suffer from delirious dreams . . . or did she really witness a murder? Only the murderer knows for sure . . . and that makes Duffy the next victim. (fantasticfiction.co.uk)

Points for creativity, that's for sure. I think being rendered physically helpless and unable to defend oneself would be pretty horrifying. And now you have to fear for your life? Yeah, I'd probably read this one.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Drought by Pam Bachorz

Published January 25, 2011.

Author Website

Ruby Prosser dreams of escaping the Congregation and the early-nineteenth century lifestyle that’s been practiced since the community was first enslaved.

She plots to escape the vicious Darwin West, his cruel Overseers, and the daily struggle to gather the life-prolonging Water that keeps the Congregants alive and gives Darwin his wealth and power. But if Ruby leaves, the Congregation will die without the secret ingredient that makes the Water special: her blood.

So she stays.

But when Ruby meets Ford, the new Overseer who seems barely older than herself, her desire for freedom is too strong. He’s sympathetic, irresistible, forbidden—and her only access to the modern world. Escape with Ford would be so simple, but can Ruby risk the terrible price, dooming the only world she’s ever known?

Um, I'm not sure where to start. It's not what I thought it was going to be. I didn't think the story was going to be so incestuously cyclical, I was hoping Ford wouldn't be a douche and I was hoping Ruby would be smarter and stronger than what she turned out to be.

Initially it took me a chapter or two to get my bearings. Basically this is a cult worshipping a non-standard God named Otto with blood that heals and allows them to live indefinitely, aging at an incredibly slow rate so long as they continue to drink Kool Aid Water. Originally the Water was christened with Otto's blood and that ran out but Joan Crawford Sula, Ruby's mom, found out that Ruby had her daddy's blood so let's continue the cycle.

But what we really have here is some heinous child abuse for the sake of waiting for a god that never comes. Someone really needs to teach these people about Jesus. Why? Because them Christians have been waiting 2,000 years for his return and they're still waiting! 200 years? Pfft. Noobs.

Basically Ruby's indoctrinated into thinking that she needs to sacrifice everything of herself for the Congregants. But when Ruby starts punching holes in that logic, enter standard hypocritical religious nuts that stand on the soap box of "do as I say, not as I do." It's typical. Sula is the reincarnate of Jim Jones but instead of killing her people to meet their god, she keeps them living for an inhuman amount of time, waiting for their god to return. But it's not a nice waiting. They're enslaved. And when they actually get a chance to be free she enslaves them again but gets better terms. Hooray! . . . ?

When Ruby's made leader it's for no other reason than because of her blood. Not because she's exhibited extraordinary leadership qualities. Not because she's stood up to Darwin West. But because of her blood. Dear god, can we not vote like that please? Of course, shenanigans ensue, which is what ultimately happens when an incompetent teenager is elected into a leadership position.

Which leads me to ask why is Ruby over 200 years old with the brain of a teenager? Shouldn't she be like Claudia in INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, child's body, adult's mind? That would make more sense to me. I get that she was born into this cult and all and never experienced love but it's not like it wasn't around her. Her thought process just didn't make sense to me, simply because she shouldn't have been thinking like a teenager.

And then there's Ford, who totally can't be with Ruby because she doesn't believe in Jesus but he loves her and she loves him but she won't go all the way and he gets cranky. Seriously. I thought we were over this. Ford is nothing more than a local loser that more than likely burned his way through the village girls and, having run out of options, fixated on the brainwashed cult girl that obviously didn't know her ass from her elbow. What a perfect victim life mate! Did I mention he was forceful and completely un-understanding about anyone else's religious views than his own? Oh yeah. Gimme some of that.

There was some redemption at the end but I think it was too little too late. I was considering giving the book up halfway through because the story kept cycling back on the same day like a really boring Groundhog Day. All talk, no action. And when there was some action, it was short-lived and then abandoned completely. And then shoved right back into the same cycle. Of course it took a heinous event to light a fire under Ruby's ass, and this then cycles back around to her supposed lack of brainpower. I don't care who you are. One doesn't live for more than 200 years in slavery without developing some decent survival skills and some kind ability to see the forest for the trees. Especially when you're standing in the middle of it.

The story I would have liked to have seen would be Ruby and the Visitor. Not romantically, but he seemed like a far more dynamic character than any of the rest. Darwin was your typical villain. Nothing special about him. But the Visitor was so much more, something infinitely creepier but at the same time exhibited levels of kindness not seen in Darwin. There was a complexity there that could have elevated the story well beyond the basic bust out of slavery, slave master gets his comeuppance story. Ruby could have escaped early on and the story could have been about her run from the Visitor.

Nope. This is what we got. Nearly 300 pages of not much followed by another 100 of something but not enough. It could have been so much more if Ruby would have just left the stock characters behind. I was hoping to get more of her reacting to the modern world but what I did get was just a tease clouded over by Ford. I am disappointed for the story that could have been.

The voice is okay although dull. I'm assuming it's supposed to show the time that they all come from but considering they've been associating with outside people for so long, I'm not understanding why they're still so in the dark, not only about language but about so many other things. The children especially should have been more susceptible to outside language but that didn't happen.

I'm just all around disappointed. It could have been so much more but it wasn't. I'm not sure who I'd recommend DROUGHT to. It's not dystopian or post-apocalyptic. It's not contemporary. It's not paranormal. It's about a girl overcoming odds but that's a bit of a stretch. Breaking the bonds of slavery to set out on her own. But Ruby isn't that smart of a character so I don't think it really works. I don't know. I'm at a loss on this one.

Ban Factor: High - A cult worshipping a false idol and PUSHING AWAY the one true God? Ayeeeeeeeee!
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