Saturday, December 29, 2012

Looking Back on 2012

Spooky helping me write
Many things happened to me in 2012, some good, some bad. But the one that affected me the most was the passing of my beloved cat, Spooky.

She was 17 years old and had a failing liver. I was hoping she'd make it through the holiday season, but she didn't.

I got her from a shelter when I was living in Phoenix. She was a wee thing, an elegant tuxedo cat with a dribble of milk down her chin. She jumped on all fours, clinging to the gate that separated us, and meowed. I knew she was trouble, and I knew she was mine.

I named her Spooky because I was a huge fan of The X-Files and because she spooked easily. Loud noises, strangers, pretty much anything had her skittering to a hidey-hole.

She loved to burrow under blankets and I'd create "caves" for her. She loved high places, even though she didn't know how she'd get down. She loved to cuddle in the crook of my arm. She'd lick my nose to let me know she was happy.

I've had other cats, but Spooky was the one I was most bonded to. She'd perch on my printer, watching me as I wrote. If she thought I'd written enough, she'd sit on my keyboard until I picked her up and cuddled her.

Writing at my desk isn't the same anymore.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas to All, 2012 Edition

Happy holidays, everyone!

I've got some book reviews to catch up on and some screenwriting news to share, but that's all going to wait until the New Year.

Have a fabulous holiday season with your family and friends!



 And my gift to you are these singing penguins.

Bonus Video: San Francisco Jingle Penguins

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Reader's Corner - November 2012 Update

"I'd make a kick-ass beauty queen."
November was a good reading month for graphic novels. I read Cardboard by Doug TenNapel, and a review is forthcoming, but let me tell you now, it is fantastic!

I also read Tune: Vanishing Point by Derek Kirk Kim. Another review forthcoming, and again, it's fantastic. (But a head's up, it is for older teens and adults.)

In audiobook news, I listened to Beauty Queens by the versatile Libba Bray. She narrates the audiobook, which includes 20 or so different characters. And while her British accents could use some work, there is very little to quibble over in this amazing and hilarious recording (another head's up as this is also for older teens and adults.) The audiobook includes an author Q & A portion, so keep listening after the credits.

Beauty Queens book trailer with the lovely Libba Bray:


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Long Lankin Book Review

Title: Long Lankin
Author: Lindsey Barraclough
Publisher: Candlewick

Publication Date: July 10, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0763658083

464 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

I started reading this book just before Halloween, right when I was in the mood for a good scare.

Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough tells the story of Cora and her sister Mimi. They are sent to live with their crochety Auntie Ida in an isolated English village. There are secrets afoot and a supernatural force that the children unwittingly unleash.

The writing is spookily atmospheric about Auntie Ida's crumbling house and the dangerous moors that surround it. The author also goes to great lengths to create the post-war England setting with details about things from cricket games to laundry soap. She alternative chapters between Cora and the village boy she meets, Roger, and sometimes even Ida gets a chapter of her own. Each chapter brings some new insight or twist and it's brilliantly done.

My one quibble with the story is that the author does all this rather leisurely. It takes quite awhile before the first big scare. And the scares are few and far between, until the ending. The ending is a powerhouse of supernatural action, but it takes about 400 pages to get there.

Considering that the book reads more middle grade than YA, the book may be too intimidating for some and less patient readers may put it down before they get to the good bits. So recommend Long Lankin to the voracious readers who will stick with it until the end.

Long Lankin book trailer:


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Reader's Corner - October 2012 Update

"Damn, I feel sorry for Death."
I know this entry is long overdue. Been busy, busy with all sort of projects (more about that later).

But in October (remember way back then?), I did manage to finish Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (book review here) and I started Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough (book review pending).

I also listened to the audiobook of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Narrated by Death, it's the story of a young German girl during World War II. And it's a bit awkward crying your eyes out while you're stopped at a light. Hard to explain to the car next to you that this story is just so ... no word adequately explains the punch to the solar plexus this book delivers.

But I do have a bonus video of Markus Zusak explaining how the book came to be.

Bonus video: Markus Zusak talks about The Book Thief



Happy reading!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Neil Gaiman News!

As I've mentioned before on the blog, I'm a Neil Gaiman fan. And you should be, too.

So here's some free, cool stuff to get you started.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Neil Gaiman's award-winning Coraline, you can enjoy listening to the entire novel, one chapter at a time, as read Neil, Lemony Snicket, Adam Rex, Holly Black, and other famous authors.

Coraline is the story of a young girl who moves into a ramshackle house and discovers a doorway to an alternate reality that's a little too perfect. There's a talking cat and a witch, but this ain't Narnia.

If that's not enough awesome for you, Neil is offering a free download of his short story, "Click-Clack the Rattlebag," as performed by Neil, on Audible.com. Plus, Audible will donate $1 for each free download to DonorsChoose.org if you dowload by October 31.

And Neil also started All Hallow's Read, which is a new Halloween tradition where you give someone a scary book (or comic or graphic novel) during the week leading up to, or on, Halloween. Call it a spooky literacy effort.

Treat yourself to a free Neil Gaiman goodie this Halloween season!

Bonus video: Coraline film trailer


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Code Name Verity Book Review

Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
Publication Date: May 15, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1423152194

352 pp.

Reading copy via library

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein has gotten so much buzz since it was published that it took me awhile to get my hands on a copy.

It's the story of two young women during World War II, one a pilot and the other a spy, who crash in occupied France. It's ultimately the story of their friendship, the kind of friendship that only the best of best friends have.

But I have to tell you, when I started reading it, there was some WTF is going on? The narrative is broken into two parts and the first part belongs to the spy, who goes by many names, including Verity. She's supposed to write out spy information for the Nazis who have captured her and instead she writes how she and Maddie, the pilot, met and became friends.

This narrative includes all the standard conventions of a novel, including Maddie's interior thoughts and speech attributions. And I'm thinking, what kind of Gestapo officer would allow this? They've already tortured Verity so they're not going to humor her and let her go down memory lane about her best friend. If they don't think they can get information out of her, they'd kill her. Easy, peasy. (That's a little joke. Maddie says "Easy, peasy" all the time.)

After about ten pages of this, I decided I either needed to go with the convention that the author has set up or I'd have to give up on the novel. I decided to go with the convention. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that after awhile the reader understands the Gestapo officer better and it's within in the realm of possibility that he'd allow Verity to write her novel/confession as she does.

Once I gave into the narrative, the book is a complete joy. Wonderful story, wonderful characters. There's fabulous period details and even walk-on characters have personality. The second half of the novel is Maddie's side of the story and there's much revealed that makes Verity's half so much more compelling.

I'd recommend to readers who enjoyed Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys or Witness by Karen Hesse.


Code Name Verity book trailer:



Sunday, October 7, 2012

Reader's Corner - September 2012 Update

Dude, where's my clone?
September was waaay too hot to be called autumn. It was Summer, Part 2: Seriously, How Hot Is It?

While trying to stay cool, I did start a couple of new books. I'm almost done with Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, which is just as good as the hype.

I also started another book which shall remain nameless because I'm going to abandon it. I'm more than 200 pages in, so I definitely gave it a chance. But the character has failed to engage me and I just don't care what happens next. That's such a bummer when a book fails to connect.

But I did listen to some really awesome audiobooks. Yeah, I know some people don't consider listening to audiobooks "reading," but it gives me the chance to consume more books. I listened to Legend by Marie Lu and An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. But the real stand-out for me was The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer and performed by Raul Esparza.

Raul Esparza is a Broadway actor and does a phenomenal job narrating The House of the Scorpion, which is an awesome book to begin with. It's about a boy who discovers he's the clone of a drug lord and he's being groomed to be an organ donor. You can listen to a sample of the audiobook on Simon & Schuster's website.

Happy reading!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Hallowed Ones Book Review

Title: The Hallowed Ones
Author: Laura Bickle
Publisher: Graphia
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0547859262

320 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

I picked up this ARC at the ALA Conference this summer because the premise is so wildly unique. There's all this Amish romance out there, but I'd never -- EVER -- seen Amish horror before. It would either be brilliant or a bust.

It's bloody brilliant.

Laura Bickle introduces readers to Katie, a young Amish woman who's looking forward to Rumspringa, that time when Amish teenagers leave their sheltered community and go among the "English." She fantasizes about going to the movies and wearing blue jeans. But she expects she'll return after Rumspringa and marry Elijah, the boy next door and her best friend.

While the Amish community is strict, Katie has small rebellions like reading comic books at the drug store in town and drinking Coke. But Katie knows that her biggest flaw is lack of blind obedience to the rules of the Elders. She likes to make up her own mind before she follows orders.

When strange things start to happen Outside, even the isolated Amish community isn't safe. Katie knows there's no hope of Rumspringa now; there might be no hope there will be another tomorrow. But Katie can't follow the Elders' orders to leave a young "English" man to die.

So she hides him. And waits for the end of the world. She doesn't have to wait long.

Katie is an engaging character with plenty of spunk and intelligence. She's completely believable as a girl who sees all her dreams turn into a nightmare. The horror comes on slowly, and then POW! It doesn't let up. A super-creepy read that's perfect for Halloween.

The Hallowed Ones book trailer:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bushman Lives! Book Review

Title: Bushman Lives!
Author: Daniel Pinkwater
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Publication Date: October 9, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0547385396

256 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

Bushman Lives! is the latest book by Daniel Pinkwater and in case you've missed it, he's been serializing the novel for the past year, one chapter a week. But if you want to read the entire novel at once, it's slated to be published next month.

Bushman Lives! takes place in 1960's Chicago, but except for the lack of cell phones and the Internet, it doesn't read as a historical piece. It does, however, read as a quirky piece, which one would expect from Daniel Pinkwater.

Harold Knishke and his friend Geets are fans of the dearly departed gorilla known as Bushman. They greet each other with "Bushman lives!", sort as a secret code to each other and to people that they meet. It's the start of summer vacation and Harold has no real plans for the summer. But then he stumbles into a museum one day and decides he wants to be an artist.

The novel almost reads as a picaresque novel with Harold having odd adventures that sort of connect to each other and meeting odd people who sort of connect to each other as Harold learns how to be an artist.

But there's no real plot to the novel, which I was fine with because I enjoyed having adventures with Harold. But there's also no real ending, either. Just as it seemed that all the adventures and characters were coming together to actually have a point, it just ends.

And I'm like .... wha ...?

I hope that this is the first of a series because I dug Harold and want to have more adventures with him. And because I really, really want to know how this book ends.

I would recommend Bushman Lives! to readers who enjoyed Holes by Louis Sachar or How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend by Gary Ghislain.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Send Me a Sign Book Review

Title: Send Me a Sign
Author: Tiffany Schmidt
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0802728401

384 pp.

ARC from publisher via Netgalley

I chose this title mostly because it was available on Netgalley when I needed something to read. I didn't know anything about it beforehand and I thought I'd give it chapter or two.

Well, I read the whole thing. It's a good, solid read by debut author Tiffany Schmidt.

Send Me a Sign centers on Mia, a happy, popular girl about to go into her senior year. So when she's diagnosed with leukemia, she's determined to keep her life as normal as possible. Even if that means not telling anyone about her cancer.

All Mia succeeds in doing is alienate her friends, including the one friend she does trust enough to tell, cute boy-next-door Gyver.

There were times when I wanted to throttle Mia, who is so deep in denial that she makes some seriously misguided choices. But I can also understand why she desperately wants to hold onto the illusion of normalcy.

I also wanted to throttle Mia for not being quicker on the uptake about how Gyver feels about her. I mean, seriously, Mia, if you were really looking for signs, you couldn't miss them.

But that just shows that the characters are real and relatable. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoyed A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt or Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Reader's Corner - August 2012 Update

"I'd change my name to Lola."
 Oh, August, with your heat and humidity, I can't say I'm sorry to say good-bye to you.

It was a pretty good reading month, though. I read Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt (review pending) and I'm almost finished with Amish-meets-vampires horrorfest The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle.

I also got onto the audiobook bandwagon. They are the perfect antidote to road rage during my commute. For starters, I listened to Jesse Eisenberg do a good job as Cassel in Holly Black's White Cat.

I also listened to What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen. It's a nominated Teens' Top Ten book, and I can see why. The books centers on McLean, a girl whose parents have gone through a bitter divorce and who recreates herself each time she moves into a new town with her dad. Until the one town where she ends up having to be herself. Whoever that is.

Bonus video: Sarah Dessen talks about What Happened to Goodbye



Happy reading!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Butter Book Review

Title: Butter
Author: Erin Jade Lange
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1599907802

304 pp.

ARC from publisher via Netgalley

"Butter" is the nickname of a teenage boy who pushes the scale past 400 lbs. He goes to high school in a wealthy suburb of Phoenix where he's invisible. Even though he's there, bigger than life, so to speak, everyone deals with him by pretending he doesn't exist.

Until one day, he becomes the center of (unwelcome) attention. And Butter's response is to put up a website called ButtersLastMeal.com where he promises to eat himself to death live on the Internet.

Instead of the disgust, or even indifference, he was expecting, Butter finds himself becoming part of the "in" crowd as they take bets on whether or not he goes through with it.

This is an amazing debut by Erin Jade Lange, who creates beautifully flawed characters, starting with Butter. Butter has a hilarious voice, even though he's not as self-aware as he thinks he is.

The secondary characters are believable, especially Anna, the girl Butter has a crush on and who Butter has fooled into believing his online persona J.P. is a real person.

This book is a great conversation starter about obesity and bullying. At times it is uncomfortable, unflinching, and may put you off eating a certain dairy product. But it is also very funny.

I would recommend Butter to readers who enjoyed Stoner & Spaz by Ron Koertge or The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

And the Winners Are ...

Thanks to everyone who stopped by my blog during the ALA Swag Giveaway!

An especially big thanks to everyone who helped spread the word!

The winners have been chosen via Random.org and they are:
  • LizGotauco
  • JenBax
  • star_chaser76
Congratulations, winners! You will be receiving an email shortly from me requesting your address.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Get Ready for WriteOnCon!

In case you haven't heard about it, there's an awesome online conference called WriteOnCon.

First of all, it's FREE! While most conferences cost several hundred dollars just for registration, let alone airfare and hotel, WriteOnCon costs nothing. All you have to do is register and you're in. Easy peasy.

And then there are the Ninja Agents. You leave your query or first pages online for feedback from other conferencees, but you never know when one of the Ninja Agents might leave feedback ... or even a request!

If that's not enough awesome for you, then there are the real-time chats with agents, editors, and authors. If you can't be there in real-time, all the chats are archived.

It all starts tomorrow, August 13, as the forums open for submissions. This is a great time to test the waters on your picture book, MG, or YA manuscript. August 14 and August 15 are jam-packed with all the great chats, starting from 6 a.m. EST and going on until 9 p.m. EST.

So go ahead and register now!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Reader's Corner - July 2012 Update

"This is why I don't fall down holes."
Oh, summer, why are your lazy days so ... not?

Summer has been busy, busy, busy and finding time to read has been hard, hard, hard.

I'm still working on Cory Doctorow's Little Brother. Still working on Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. Still working on The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

There were a couple of books that I started and then abandoned. One was too boring and the other was too gritty (after 200 pages in and more and more awful things happen to the protagonist, I couldn't take it anymore).

But I did read Butter by Erin Jade Lange (review forthcoming) and Bushman Lives! by Daniel Pinkwater (review also forthcoming).

I also had time to squeeze in the delightful graphic novel Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol. Anya is a high school student who wants to fit in and is perpetually embarrassed by her immigrant family. She has only one (crappy) friend and a crush on a popular boy. Then she falls down a hole. She discovers the bones of a young woman, as well as the ghost of the young woman. Anya's ghost offers to help her become popular and soon they become best friends. Until Anya discovers what the ghost really wants.

Anya's Ghost book trailer:


Happy reading!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

ALA Swag Giveaway

Hey, it's my first giveaway!

I made the rounds at the ALA exhibit hall last month and picked up plenty of advanced reading copies. So I'm sharing the bounty. I'll be choosing not one, but THREE lucky people to choose a book.

I'm keeping the rules simple. Contests that give X amount of points for tweeting or following or liking and then expect you to keep track of how many points you have end up hurting my head. So just leave a comment below with your email address and your top pick, plus a back-up pick, out of the seven choices.

That's it.

(If you still want to tweet or follow or whatnot, then you are made of awesome.)

You have until 11:59 pm PST on August 18, 2012 to enter. The three winners will be chosen using Random.org. Please make sure to leave an e-mail address with your comment. Sorry, but U.S. entries only.

Up for grabs are:
Good luck!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Innocent Darkness Book Review

Title: Innocent Darkness
Author: Suzanne Lazear
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: August 8, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0738732480

408 pp.

ARC from publisher via Netgalley

Sometimes you wish a book was as good as its cover. While the cover for Suzanne Lazear's Innocent Darkness is dazzling, the book is less so.

Noli is a young mechanically-minded woman living in early 20th century Los Angeles. This is an alternative universe where steampunk is crossed with fairies. The fairy Otherworld needs to sacrifice a girl with Spark once every seven years to survive. The last sacrifice was botched and so the Queen's hunstman, Kevighn Silver, must find an extra-Sparky girl to repair the damage.

Noli doesn't realize that her best friend/next-door-neighbor/love interest V is an exiled fae prince who has been protecting her since she is an extra-Sparky girl. When Noli gets into trouble one too many times for her mechanical shenanigans, she gets sent to a school for wayward girls.

V isn't around to protect her when she meets Kevighn and makes an unwise wish on Midsummer's Eve. Noli ends up in the Otherworld and V faces the wrath of the Queen to try to save her.

This all sounds awesome, but certain things kept me from loving it. One was the repetition. A character would do or say something, then repeat it to another character. And repeat it again when another character came on the scene. Again and again and again. I truly hope that's fixed as the book goes from ARC to final copy.

Something that isn't as easy to fix is that the story is very predictable. There were several plot points that were supposed to be big reveals that fell flat. The plot also suffers from a lack of urgency. We're repeatedly told that this sacrifice is important and must be done soon to save the Otherworld, but there's no specific timeline given. Days, weeks, even months pass and as this first book in the series ends, there's no ticking clock to amp the tension. In fact, without a specific timeline, it deflates the tension.

I haven't read any steampunk, so I can't compare it to other steampunk novels. But in my uninitiated opinion, it seemed a lot less steampunk and more fairy. So reader beware if you pick up the cover expecting lots of steampunk action.

I wish I could give glowing reviews to all the books I read, but this one was not a good fit for me.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Reader's Corner - June 2012 Update

"I'm glad I'm off the grid."



--> June turned out to be a month of middles. I finished reading Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear (review pending), but mostly got to the middle of other books I’m reading.

I did finish A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but that hardly counts because it’s a novella. And now I’m in the middle of The Sign of Four.

I’m in the middle of Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. This book is one that I come to every now and then for inspiration rather than something I want to barrel right through.

I’m in the middle of Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. I downloaded this title ages ago when I found it was available for free, but never got around to reading it. I did finally get around to transferring it from my computer to my Nook, so hopefully I’ll finish it soon(ish).  

Here's a bonus video of Cory talking about Little Brother:

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Little Woods Book Review

Title: The Little Woods
Author: McCormick Templeman
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade
Publication Date: July 10, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0375869433

336 pp.

ARC from publisher via Netgalley

I was looking forward to a good YA mystery when I chose The Little Woods by McCormick Templeman. The protagonist, Cally Wood, decides to go to hoity-toity boarding school St. Bede's Academy because her sister disappeared there years before. Maybe Cally's looking for closure. Maybe she's looking for answers. She's definitely going to find trouble.

Cally has a great voice that pulled me in right away. Snark is de rigueur for YA novels these days, but Cally's voice wasn't just snark. There was real wit in her observations about the school, her new classmates, and herself.

But that, unfortunately, isn't enough to carry the novel. The actual mystery is predictable and while I kept hoping for some creepy suspense to crawl in from the woods, it didn't materialize.

The plot gets sidetracked by Cally's relationships with cute boy Alex and cute boy Jack. But neither are essential to the mystery. And Cally isn't that essential to the mystery, either. Clues are literally handed to her, and in a very talky denouement, she finally pieces it together.

So if you're looking for a smart, engaging character, Cally is your girl. If you're looking for a suspenseful read, you may want to look elsewhere.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Getting Words on the Page

The blank page.

White space.

Just there.

Staring at you.

Waiting.

For you.

The writer is the one with the words, the one who has the drive to sit down and fill up the blank page.

With something.

Anything.

Doesn't have to be good.

Not that first draft.

It just has to be.

And oh, there's the rub.

Sometimes when I write, I have an idea, a thought, maybe even a line, that compels me to put it down. Whether that blossoms into something else, like an actual story, is another matter.

But it all starts with getting words on the page.

I'm not going to know if that's a story worth pursuing unless I get words on the page. I don't know if that's a story I can fix unless I get words on the page.

There are various tricks I use to get words on the page. Rewards are good. Especially cupcakes.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo to those in the know) was a really great kick in the pants to get words on the page (even though, nearly three years later, I am still revising that novel).

A couple of other tricks to help writers get words on the page have come to my attention and I thought I'd share them.

The first works on the reward model. No, not cupcakes. Kittens. You get kittens.  Written? Kitten! is a website where you get a picture of a cute kitten for every X amount of words you write. You can set your writing goals starting at a minimum of 100 words. And then you get a kitten!

The second works on the punishment model. Write or Die comes from the evil mind of Dr. Wicked,  just so you know what you're getting into. There's a fancy version that you can buy for your desktop or as an ipad app, but there's also a freebie web version. What you do is set your word goal, your time limit, and your punishment. It can be a gentle pop-up telling you that you need to get writing, or if you really need a kick in the tush, put it on kamikaze mode where the words you already have start deleting themselves if you're not meeting your goal. Yikes!

So what do you do to get words on the page? Reward or punishment?

Friday, June 8, 2012

In Memory of Ray Bradbury

Every year the literary world loses great authors, but somehow it seems unfairly cruel to lose both Maurice Sendak and Ray Bradbury so close to each other.

Both have been banned numerous times. Both are icons in their genres. Both will be deeply missed because their books were so deeply loved.

Books are precious to people because they become friends. Friends who cheer you, challenge you, and invite you into their worlds.

You don't want to see your friends hurt. That's why there should be outrage when a book is banned. That's why Fahrenheit 451 means so much to people, as a moral tale of it-could-happen-here, or as some people may think, it's-already-happening.

To take away books is to take away friends, good friends, best friends. The ebook revolution threatens some people who love the physical heft of a "real" book. I'm more pragmatic. It's not the format that matters, digital or paper. It's the content. It's the ideas and characters that make us want to be friends with a particular book.

So we appreciate the creators of books, our friends, and pay homage to them when they die.

Here's a video of Ray Bradbury talking about his writing journey:


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Reader's Corner - May 2012 Update

"Mr. Holmes is kind of hawt."
May has been a super busy month, so I haven't been able to get that much reading in.

I did finish The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which is remarkable and important and everyone should read it.

I started the YA mystery The Little Woods by McCormick Templeman, which has been enjoyable so far.

I also started A Study in Scarlet, the first of the Sherlock Holmes tales by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I never read any Sherlock before, but I've loved the many incarnations in films and television, especially the version portrayed by Jeremy Brett.

But, of course, the latest incarnation is the best. (No, Robert Downey, Jr., that isn't you.) I'm talking about the Steven Moffat produced Sherlock series on BBC and PBS. This is a modern, sexy, oh-so-smart adaptation of the detective in the deerstalker hat. Benedict Cumberbatch is spot-on as the brilliantly mercurial Sherlock Holmes, but it's Martin Freeman as the long-suffering Dr. John Watson that gives the show its humanity and much of its wit.

Sherlock trailer:



Series Two has already aired, so try to catch it from the beginning online or on DVD.

Happy reading!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Something Like Normal Book Review

Title: Something Like Normal
Author: Trish Doller
Publisher: Bloomsbury 
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1599908441

224 pp.

ARC from publisher via Netgalley

Every once in awhile, I'll read a book that's so damn good, I wish I'd written it. Last year, that book was Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. This year, it's Something Like Normal by Trish Doller.

Something Like Normal centers on Travis, a 19-year-old Marine who's on leave from a tour in Afghanistan. He comes home to Florida to face a family that's falling apart, a girl who hates his guts, and post-traumatic stress from the ambush that killed his best friend.

Travis has a voice that's dead-on for a young guy who has lived through more than his years should allow. He's sarcastic, mad, sad, and as funny as hell. He's tries to do the right thing, but doesn't always succeed. He's one of the most well-rounded male characters I've read in YA literature.

It's a shame that the cover makes it seem as though it's a romance, but the romance is really the B story here. Harper is the girl who hates his guts, a girl Travis wronged back in middle school. Travis finally realized what a douchebag he was and tries to make amends. Their relationship plays out realistically and you're rooting for them to get together.

But the main story, the real story, is Travis dealing with life after so much death.

This is a book that librarians and teachers should put (forcibly, if necessary) into the hands of young men to read. So convince your male readers that it's not a girly book, that there's stuff about war and anger and fear. About what it means to be a man, what honor means, and what normal really means.

I would recommend this to readers who enjoyed Blankets by Craig Thompson or Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

In Memory of Maurice Sendak

So much has already been written about the fearless brilliance of Maurice Sendak.

For example, Neil Gaiman wrote this heartfelt tribute about his hero. And he wrote another one, too.

Maurice Sendak seemed to care as much about fame as he did controversy. He did what he did and didn't care much what people thought about it, good or bad.

Lucky for us, his work was remarkable. Even iconic. And always honest. So honest that some people feel his books are dangerous, telling children things they shouldn't know. What Maurice Sendak realized was that children already know these things.

He was a picture book master that will never a equaled. He will be missed, but librarians, teachers, and parents will ensure that he is not forgotten.

Below are three videos that celebrate Maurice Sendak and his work. The first video is Part 1 of the interview Stephen Colbert did with Maurice Sendak. It is hilarious.

The second video is President Obama reading Where the Wild Things Are to a group of children at the 2012 White House Easter Egg Roll. It is adorable, especially when Bo gets involved in the wild rumpus.

The third video is a Christopher Walken impersonator reading Where the Wild Things Are, including narrating the pictures. It's slightly bizarre, which is why I'm including it.

Stephen Colbert interviews Maurice Sendak:



President Obama reads Where the Wild Things Are:



"Christopher Walken" narrates Where the Wild Things Are:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

ALA Summer Conference Isn't Just for Librarians

This summer, massive numbers of librarians (what's the collective noun for librarians? A catalog of librarians?) will congregate in Anaheim for the annual American Library Association summer conference. And I will be among them (at least for one day).

I've been encouraging my writer friends, especially children's writer friends, to go. They don't have to sit through seminars like Using Your Library to Crowdsource (I made that one up), but there are cool things for non-librarians.

For 25 buckeroos, non-ALA members can get an Exhibit Hall Pass. For people who love books, it's an exhibit hall of squee. Some of the authors currently scheduled to be there are Libba Bray, Daniel Handler, Paolo Bacigalupi, Marla Frazee, Mo Willems, Sherman Alexie, Jon Scieszka, Eve Bunting, Cornelia Funke, Jack Gantos, Brian Selznick, Maggie Stiefvater, David Shannon, and Patrick McDonnell. There are over 400 authors coming to the Exhibit Hall, so there's bound to be someone you love there. And there will be more ARCs than you can carry.

If you have an extra 100 smackeroos, you can go to the Newbery/Caldecott banquet dinner. Yes, you can. This is not a ALA member only event. You can see Jack Gantos and Chris Raschka give sure-to-be inspirational acceptance speeches. I went to the banquet back in 2008 when I was still in library school. Brian Selznick won for The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Laura Amy Schlitz won for  Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village. (I got to give Laura Amy Schlitz a hug and tell her I wanted to be like her when I grew up, so the night was a total win for me.)

So if you live in southern California, think about going to the ALA conference. If only for the Exhibit Hall. Here's the link to ALA to get you started.

Don't live in the area, don't despair! The ALA has the conference in a different city every year. In 2013, the conference will be in Chicago. In 2014, it'll be in Las Vegas. And in 2015, it's in San Francisco. (Think long-term goals here.)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Reader's Corner - April 2012 Update

"No one better touch my cells!"
Oh, April, why have you flown by so quickly? It seems as though I was just settling into you and now we must say good-bye.

I did get a good amount reading in, though. I read A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont and Something Like Normal by Trish Doller (review pending).

I even finished reading Peter Pan (remember, Project Gutenberg is a goldmine for free public domain ebooks).

And I like to mix up my fiction reading with some nonfiction. I finally started reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (all writers should read this) and I'm about halfway through The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

I love me some good science books, especially when they're so amazingly written like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I'm constantly interrupting my husband as I read to tell him what I've just learned. Plus there's the heartbreaking human story behind it all. Can't wait to finish reading it!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks book trailer:


Happy reading!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Breath of Eyre Book Review

Title: A Breath of Eyre
Author: Eve Marie Mont 
Publisher: KTeen 
Publication Date: March 27, 2012 
ISBN-13: 978-0758269485

352 pp.

Purchased ebook via bn.com


I was totally excited about Eve Marie Mont's debut YA novel, A Breath of Eyre. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite novels, but I'm okay with taking liberties with it. Jasper Fforde has a ton of fun riffing on it in The Eyre Affair. A Breath of Eyre is getting a lot of love with positive reviews, including a starred review from Kirkus. But I got to tell you, I didn't feel the love so much.

Emma is a quiet, lonely girl at an exclusive prep school. She's the scholarship kid, so she keeps under the radar to steer clear of the mean girls. Her mother died when she was young, and she feels disconnected from her father and step-mother. She crushes on her English teacher and thinks cute boy Gray, whom she has known since she was little, is equally out of reach. She doesn't have any friends except for the books she reads. Then on one storm-filled night, she finds herself at Thornfield ...
 
I did enjoy how certain events in Emma's life mirrored Jane's and I think the contemporary sections work well. And Emma does grow as a character, from the quiet girl to someone who learns to speak her mind. Which is awesome.

But several things bumped me. The first time Emma enters Jane's world felt slow and went on too long without moving Emma's story forward. I know Jane's world has to be introduced, largely to an audience not familiar with it, but it really stalled for me.

Another thing that bumped me was not that Emma thought a certain character from Jane Eyre gets a bum rap, but that she thought this was an original and controversial idea. I so wanted to hand Emma a copy of Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.

*SPOILER* And maybe it's just me, but the fourth (!) time Emma ends up in the hospital, I found it unintentionally funny.

So this one wasn't a complete winner for me, but I would recommend it to readers who enjoyed Entwined by Heather Dixon or The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor. This is also the beginning of a series, with Emma next visiting the world of The Scarlet Letter.


A Breath of Eyre book trailer:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe Book Review

Title: Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe
Author: Shelley Coriell
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1419701917


320 pp.  

ARC from publisher via Netgalley


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When I chose Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe, I thought it would a fun piece of fluff about a girl who worked at her high school radio station. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the novel is so much more than that.
Chloe is a gregarious, popular girl at her school and her humorous voice comes through the narration in pitch-perfect style. But Chloe isn’t having a good time right now.  Her two BFFs have turned their backs on her for a perceived slight and they’ve gone so far as to spread a terrible rumor about her. Her junior year project has been rejected and she’s forced to help the struggling radio station with promotions. And Chloe’s family life is a war zone as her independent grandmother refuses any help, even though her Parkinson’s disease is getting worse.
This is why I love Chloe as a character. She takes all this drama and as she says, turns rotten tomatoes into salsa. She has moments where she feels alone and sad and scared, but not for long. She’s optimistic enough to throw all her energy into saving the radio station, where she meets cute boy Duncan.
And that’s another thing I love about this novel. Duncan is definitely cute boy material, but Chloe doesn’t instantly fall for him just because he is a cute boy. She gets to know him. He gets to know her. They build a believable relationship together.
And what I really love about the novel is that there are ISSUES in the novel, but they come organically from the characters and are handled deftly. When Duncan reveals that his mother has a meth addiction, we’ve seen Chloe change from a girl who cracks jokes to a girl who can listen when she needs to. There are other issues, too, like growing apart from friends and learning to accept the decline of a beloved grandparent. But the novel earns these moments as Chloe matures without ever betraying who she is as a person.
There’s a great cast of well-developed supporting characters in the novel, who are at turns funny and tragic. The one thing that bumped me was that a school-related arson is wrapped up too quickly and deus ex machina-like. One false step in a book that is otherwise bursting from the seams with believability.
 No book trailer as of yet, but check out Shelley Coriell's website.
I would recommend this book to readers who enjoyed The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler or Stoner & Spaz by Ronald Koertge.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Reader's Corner - March 2012 Update

"Maybe I should learn archery..."
Here we are at March already. Wow. Let's take a moment for the end of the first quarter of 2012.

*moment*

Alrighty, then. March was a big reading month for me, mostly due to The Hunger Games. I read the first book last year, but I plowed through Catching Fire and Mockingjay this month before I saw the movie.

(I intended to write a blog post about the movie last week, but it was a totes cray-cray week. Short review: I had some problems with it, but I mostly liked it.)

Also in March, I read and reviewed Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale. I recently finished Welcome Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell (review pending).

That seems like a lot of reading to me. I've got A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont and Something Like Normal by Trish Doller queued up on the nook and rarin' to go.

And with that, I'll leave you with this video of the original The Hunger Games book trailer:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Someone Else's Life Book Review

Title: Someone Else's Life
Author: Katie Dale
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 14, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0385740654

464 pp.

ARC from publisher via Netgalley

I was really intrigued by this book. The basic plot starts with Rosie, a young woman in England, who watches her mother Trudie slowly die from Huntington's disease. What's worse for Rosie is that Huntington's disease is hereditary and she has a 50/50 chance of getting it. Except a secret is finally revealed ... Rosie is not Trudie's daughter. She was switched at birth with a girl named Holly. Rosie tracks down her real family in the United States, but the repercussions, especially for Holly, are life-altering.

I liked Rosie, a lot. She was believable in all her fears and doubts and missteps. I did not, however, like Holly. Holly has every right to be freaked out and miserable, but she comes off as unstable. There were certain scenes where her actions and/or reactions were beyond unstable and into the land of the mentally disturbed.

Which is problematic when the chapters alternate between Rosie and Holly. (That's a bit of spoiler because the narrators aren't identified for the first several chapters, which is supposed to come as a big surprise when it's revealed. It's not. It's just confusing. And annoying.) Because I don't mind spending time with Rosie, but I didn't enjoy reading Holly's interior craziness.

It's also a problem because Katie Dale wants to end each chapter with some big twist, which leads to what I consider a lot of artificial conflict. Characters would leave to create conflict, then return at THE WORST POSSIBLE MOMENT to create more conflict. The whole book seemed over-bloated with conflict.

This was a hard review for me because I'm torn between liking Rosie and almost giving up on the book when I'd had enough of Holly. But I would definitely recommend it to readers who enjoyed emotional family stories.

Someone Else's Life book trailer:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Three (Funny) Videos About Writing

I'm in the middle of revising the outline of the screenplay I'm working on and blanking on a blog topic.

I thought maybe I'd write about my new Pinterest obsession. Or how much I can't wait to see The Hunger Games movie. Or even more random cat videos.

But then I saw this video that I thought was hilarious. Finally, young adult books are getting a little respect. Because young adult novels can save the economy!




Obama's Young Adult Novel Plan:



Of course, writing isn't as easy it looks. Although some people refuse to believe that.

So You Want to Write a Novel:




But if you've got writer's block, you can always use the people around you for inspiration.

George Lucas in Love:



Happy writing!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Reader's Corner - February 2012 Update

"This Mr. Dickens has a promising future."
February may have been a short month (even with the extra day), but I got some good reading in!

I read and reviewed Cinder by Marissa Meyer for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge. Lots of fun, that one.

In other reading news, Charles Dickens' 200th birthday was February 7 and I finally finished Bleak House! Yes! (Four years and 881 pages later.)

Much like Desmond on Lost, my goal is to read all of Dickens' books before I die. (Except I have already read Our Mutual Friend. Hey, I was an English major.)

Next on my Dickens bucket list is The Old Curiosity Shop. Don't know when I'm going to start it, definitely don't know when I'll finish it, but I will. And I'll more than likely get it from Project Gutenberg.

Never heard of Project Gutenberg? Well, they are completely made of awesome. They have nearly 40,000 public domain works available for FREE. As in FREE. These are downloadable books available for just about every e-reader out there, including Kindles. FREE!

Some are even available as audiobooks! For FREE! (I haven't tried the audiobooks, so I can't vouch for the quality, but did I mention that they're free?)

Besides Bleak House, I've also downloaded Anne of Green Gables and Peter Pan from Project Gutenberg. It's a super easy way to stock up your e-reader with classics. If you are so inclined, you can donate to Project Gutenberg to help defray their costs, which is much more altruistic than paying Amazon for a public domain work that's just 100% pure profit for them. You can also donate your time to be a proofreader or reader.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cinder Book Review

Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: January 3, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0312641894

400 pp.

Reading copy via local library


With one of the most eye-catching covers in awhile, coupled with an awesome concept, Cinder was high on my list of must-reads for 2012. I'm happy to report that it's just as fun as I thought it would be.

Cinder takes the Cinderella story and makes it a fractured fairy tale by setting it in a far-flung future. In that world, Cinder is a cyborg mechanic living in New Beijing while a plague sweeps Earth. The only hope of a cure comes from a kingdom on the moon that's run by an evil queen. The queen wants to marry Prince Kai to form an alliance that will eventually make her the ruler of both the moon and Earth. Prince Kai desperately wants to help his people, but after he meets Cinder, he can't stop thinking about her.

The fun of the book is seeing how Marissa Meyer plays with the trappings of the story everyone is familiar with and turns them into Cinder's own thing (e.g. she finds an old orange car in the junkyard that she fixes up and takes to the ball). The big reveal at the end is only a reveal to Cinder as enough clues are dropped that I knew the reveal by page 44, but it's an entertaining (and dare I say, charming) journey getting there. This is the first in a series, the next volume called Scarlet and to be focused on Little Red Riding Hood. Hope it's as fun.

I would recommend Cinder to readers who enjoyed Entwined by Heather Dixon or Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.

Cinder Book Trailer:




Listen to the first chapter of Cinder:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

In Which I Profess My Love for Downton Abbey

Tomorrow night is the season two finale of Downton Abbey, the PBS Masterpiece Classic series that has women (and many men) swooning over Edwardian dresses and upstairs/downstairs intrigue.

The basic story is that the titular grand house belongs to Lord Grantham, who has the misfortune to have three daughters instead of a son who can inherit Downton Abbey (see Pride and Prejudice for a further discussion on entitled estates). The heir, a cousin one of the daughters is set to marry, dies on the Titanic. The next heir is discovered to be a young lawyer named Matthew, who seems rather embarrassed that he's meant to be the next Lord Grantham. As the family learns to deal with Matthew, there's also all sorts of shenanigans with the servants, some directly dealing with the family and some not.

In case you didn't know, Downton Abbey is the brainchild of Julian Fellowes, the writer of the brilliant Gosford Park. Downton Abbey stars a bevy of British actors with posh accents and stiff upper lips, including the indomitable Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess (fun fact: Dowager is the term given to a widow after her titled husband dies).

But don't let the fancy-schmancy pedigree scare you off. This is soap opera at its best. It's great storytelling about characters you care about put in impossible situations. There might not be a cat fight in a fountain, but having the Dowager Countess give another character verbal beat-down can be just as over-the-top.

Sh!t the Dowager Countess Says




Yes, the parodies have started! I can't wait to see what the interwebs come up with next. For now, there's this:

Downton Abbey, the Musical




Saturday Night Live did an excellent spoof, but those killjoys at Universal have pulled it. I did find it still available at Gawker, if you want to take a look.

And now there are even Downton Abbey paper dolls. Yes, they are awesome.

Lady Sybil paper doll
It's not too late to join the Downton Abbey bandwagon! Catch up with season one on Netflix and PBS has season two available online.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Secret Screenplay Project REVEALED

Kelli and me making history at The Four Seasons
I've hinted before that I was working on a secret screenplay project, and I have officially turned in the first draft!

Let me go back a little. Last fall, my friend Kelli approached me about writing a screenplay. Kelli is a producer, actress, writer and all-around awesome person. She wants 2012 to be about creating projects with what she has instead of waiting for projects to come to her. (Take a moment and check out Kelli's website, Think Outside the Box Inside the Box. It could change your life.)

So would I be willing to write a screenplay for her to star in and produce? A screenplay that could be produced for a microbudget? And not a short, but a feature-length screenplay? That could be shot at her house so she didn't have to get permits? And Kelli's character had to have a missing tooth (the reason why is a long story)? And I would get full writing credit but basically no money?

Well, when you put it like that, how could I say no?

I'm pretty sure I'm nuts for doing this, but I really wanted to. I needed a break from the YA novel. And it had been two years since I'd last written a screenplay. It was a crazy challenge, but I was up for it.

Because of the limited locations, I approached it more like a play than a screenplay. Meaning I knew it had to be character-driven rather than plot-driven. I spent time writing full character sketches for the leads. These characters had to have believable backstories for them to do what they were going to do. And I had to know their stories well because the screenplay has to be dialog heavy.

But I also wanted to make sure that the screenplay still felt cinematic. So I wrote my very first non-linear screenplay. I wanted to play on assumptions and plotted things out so each section would have a twist. I wrote a detailed outline of the script before I typed FADE IN.

I had about six weeks to write the first draft, but a family emergency pushed the deadline into February. But I did finish it at 3 a.m. the day it was due and met Kelli later that day at The Four Seasons in Beverly Hills to pick up my (token) payment. (I also got a fabulous lunch, courtesy of a friend of Kelli's, who now gets a producer credit! ... that's right, make sure your screenwriter is fed.)

It is by no means a perfect script, but I am so looking forward to developing it with Kelli. Because creating a story is awesome. And even better when you can do it with a friend.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Reader's Corner - January 2012 Update

"This tesseract stuff is blowing my mind."
And so it begins ...

Another year of new books! Yay!

Last year I did monthly updates of the Debut Author Challenge books that I read, and I want to do that again this year. But I also want to add any other reading news that I may have to share, so I'm making these entries the more encompassing "Reader's Corner" rather just "Debut Author Challenge."

But I will start with January's debut author book ... I missed my chance to get Cinder from Netgalley (can I blame the holidays?), and just got a copy from the library a couple of days ago. So my inaugural debut novel for 2012 ended up being Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig. And it was a pretty good way to start the year.

As I mentioned in my review, there's a big discrepancy between the number of ARC pages and the number of pages listed on Amazon. So there will be an update after the book is released.

In other book news, I wanted to share an oldie but a goodie. A Wrinkle in Time is celebrating its 50th anniversary (!) this year. An anniversary edition is available now, along with a cool book trailer:



I didn't read A Wrinkle in Time until I was much older, and I can't wait to share it with my six-year-old niece. Girls need strong heroines like Meg, who isn't afraid to be smart or to speak up for others. Thank you, Madeleine L'Engle, for the gift of A Wrinkle in Time.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Pretty Crooked Book Review

Title: Pretty Crooked
Author: Elisa Ludwig
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: March 13, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0062066060

236 pp.

ARC from publisher via Netgalley

What's weird is that as I'm writing this book review at a coffeehouse, two young white women are talking about their time in private school and how two Latino kids (the only two in the school!) spoke Spanish together in the cafeteria and how stigmatizing that was.

So Elisa Ludwig seems to have tapped into a certain private school zeitgeist in her debut novel (the first in a series), Pretty Crooked.

Willa Fox is the newbie at ultra-rich Valley Prep. After years of moving around the country with her bohemian mom, a big sale of her mom's artwork gives them the cash to live it up in fancy schmancy Paradise Valley, Arizona. Willa starts hanging out with the all-powerful Glitterati and moons over cute boy Aidan.

Except all is not well in her shiny new world. First of all, Willa learns that the Glitterati are cyber-bullying the Latino scholarship kids. As a newbie, she doesn't feel she has the clout to stop it. But she gets the admittedly crazy idea to steal from the Glitterati and give the money to the needy students a la Robin Hood. Secondly, her mom begins acting secretive and distant and Willa suspects she's meeting a man. But when Willa's hiding a big secret of her own, she can't exactly confront her mom.

I liked Willa's snarky voice and Aidan is a more well-rounded cute boy than I've read in awhile. I loved that the author wrote a story that wasn't just about shopping and mean girls, but also brought up questions about race and class.

A few things bumped me, though, and one of them was how the author handled race. And if you don't want to read me going all PC Police, then go ahead and skip this paragraph. (still with me? good.) When Willa meets the scholarship kids, who are speaking Spanish in the cafeteria, she calls them Mexicans. Well, they could be Mexican citizens, but chances are, they're not. They're probably Mexican-Americans. But they might be Guatemalan-American or Salvadoran-American or Something Else-American. Plus, calling them just "Mexicans" further stigmatizes them by taking away their American identity. Why Elisa Ludwig didn't use the generic and usually PC acceptable "Latino" is odd to me. Lumping all brown skin others as "Mexican" is a big PC no-no. Just sayin'.

(skip this paragraph, too, if you've had enough of my PC rant) What makes me sad about the author's word choice of "Mexican" is that it could have been a great character moment. Willa, once she befriends the scholarship kids, could learn how uncool it is to call them "Mexican." But that never happens. And what makes me sadder is that this probably arises from a larger issue of there not being enough editors who are people of color and who could have pointed that out. Now, this was an ARC, so there is a chance that someone caught and changed this before the final proof. We'll see. (end of PC rant. promise.)

The other thing that bumped me was that the last, big moment between Aidan and Willa was not earned at all. I felt it came out of nowhere for no good reason. I could go on, but I don't want to get spoiler-y. But, again, this was an ARC, so maybe the ending changed. I did notice that my ARC copy was 236 pages, but Amazon says the book has 368 pages. I've never seen that big of a discrepancy between an ARC and a finished book before. I think I may need to do an update on this book after it's released.

I'd recommend this book to readers who liked Lives of Our Own by Lorri Hewett or Defining Dulcie by Paul Acampora.

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