Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Silver Pickle

Ok, fine. The book isn't called The Silver Pickle, it's called The Silver Tickle.

What? Fine...

The Silver Sickle. It's called The Silver Sickle. Promise.

I read the The Silver Sickle by Ellie "Hotsie" Ann and thought three things (which overwhelmed me because I can only think about one thing at a time):

1. I love this book for so many reasons, but the big one for me was that it has two characters who are in love and can't get to each other and all I want is for them to get to each other. This drove my reading because I wasn't SURE that they would get to each other. I thought they would. I hoped they would, but I wasn't sure. Well done, "Hotsie" Anne. Well done. (Side note - Does anyone truly like their steak well done? That's crazy, yo.)

2. I like the villain. As in, if the villain would have succeeded I would have felt bad for humanity, but not too bad. I actually cared for her and her family. This is such a tricky thing to do for writers, but Ellie Ann wrote it to perfection. I kept thinking, "I shouldn't care about her and her mission. I should hate her." But then I was like, "Yeah but she has a family, too. She has a right to kill all of humanity so her alien babies can have a place to grow up. ALIEN BABIES HAVE FEELINGS, TOO!!!"

3. It's worth buying The Silver Sickle just to get the picture of Ellie on the back cover. Whaaaaaaat?

I love that this book is published by StoneHouse Ink, a small indie publisher. It's as good, if not better, as any book I've read. It's a great example of how small indie publishers can put out quality books and not cut corners to save a dime. This book looks, smells, and tastes like a book published by one of the biggies. But I don't recommend tasting it. I'm still hacking up bits of paper and I paper cut my tongue.

This read was very different for me. Aliens, weird metal dudes, new words, a harem belonging to a king with a secret (wink wink), a cool laser gun, and a world that I have never been too! It's so exciting to go to new places and not the same regurgitated places with new names and new minor details!!

I loved that this story was different, ya know? I wasn't able to predict anything, and I wasn't bored for even one page. I was literally getting up early in the morning to have a little extra time before milking the cows, goats, and ladybugs to read. I was sincerely interested in knowing what was going to happen in this story!

THAT is the sign of a good book. Yes?

So...

I now like alien books.

I will read whatever "Hotsie" Anne writes. Check her out here.

And this is now going on my wall next to the life size picture of Veronica Rossi...

I give The Silver Sickle 4 out of 5 Silver Pickles.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Where The Stars Still Shine

I read Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller and then I considered driving to Florida to find Trish so I could hug her.

It's that good.

I decided against the hug-trip since Trish and I have never met and she might call the police when I approach her with open arms doing the ugly cry.

Where the Stars Still Shine is an extremely realistic story of a girl named Callie. She's been through a lot and has had a pretty rough life, but the meat of the story is this: Callie was sexually abused by one of her mom's boyfriends.

Trish handles the subject of abuse carefully, accurately, and honestly.

We need more books like this. I think this book should be required reading for all human teenagers. Alien teenagers I'm not too worried about.

I know, I know...there's some sex in this book. Big whoop. Teenagers who have been sexually abused would find some hope in Callie's story. And exactly zero teenagers would read this book and then think, "Wow! What is this sex thing that they're doing? I'm gonna go try it!"

It's vitally important that teenagers are aware of sexual abuse and that there is hope and healing for anyone that has been abused. More teens have been abused than the world will ever know and a book like this might be their first step towards healing. It's easy to pick up a book and sit by yourself and read. It's not so easy to go to another person while feeling overwhelmed with unnecessary guilt and tell them what happened.

Books like this are important and can change people's lives.

As far as the plot, the characters, the writing stuff...they are all up to Trish Doller standards.

Amazing.

Trish is a gifted writer and I basically sit around all day mumbling over and over, "Trish write more books. Trish write more books."

So, Trish...WRITE MORE BOOKS.

If you've never read a Trish Doller book, you should. Her writing is smooth and easy to follow (Yay for me!), her characters are always realistic, and she'll make you want to become a rapper (trust me).

Also, Trish describes someone in the book as "wearing a Wisconsin Badgers sweatshirt." This is clear evidence that Trish thinks about me often. And by "often" I mean all the freaking time.

I give Where the Stars Still Shine 5 out of 5 hugs from strangers.

Now go buy it.

Friday, October 11, 2013

I Am Alive

I am alive.

If you have found this blog and are noticing that I haven't posted in a while and you are wondering if I am dead...I'm not.

I'm just busy.

I desperately wish I could read/write/blog 24/7, but right now I'm too busy building robots and repairing my spaceship.

I WILL be back in full force. I just have to take care of some business first.

I can honestly say that life without YA Lit is less colorful. And, I sincerely miss all you weirdos that I talk to on a regular basis via Twitter.

I do have a book review coming of Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller. Even during my busy season I can't ignore Trish Doller books.

The other important issue I'd like to inform you of is my recent decision to become a Death Eater. I know...you think Voldemort is dead. Well, that just goes to show that the plan is working.

Good luck, muggles.






Monday, September 2, 2013

Personal Statement

I read Personal Statement by debut author Jason Odell Williams and thought two things: I'm really glad I'm not trying to get into Harvard, and this guy's writing reminds of John Green's writing.

Yeah, I just said that.

The premise of Personal Statement doesn't give much opportunity to experience the same extreme emotions that the premise of a John Green book does, but the style of writing, the humor, and the authenticity of the characters are all in the same vein.

This is high praise (just in case you can't see where I'm going with this).

Personal Statement follows four very different characters as they attempt to participate in some ultimate volunteering with their only intent being to beef up their chances at getting into the university of their dreams (or their parent's dreams). Their paths intersect, a crazy party breaks out, they have a few "whoops" moments, and their self-centered volunteering experiences end up being soul searching, life changing moments for every one of them.

The characters are so well done and spot on. I seriously laughed out loud multiple times. Like, for realz.

I'm not in love with this story. I'm mostly impressed with Jason's writing. If the characters in this story would have stopped at Chipotle to eat on their way to volunteering, then I would have probably been in love with this story.

I give Personal Statement a solid 5 out of 7 college applications.

This isn't a story that will transport you into another world. But, it's a great read with original, well-written characters, and a very refreshingly different four person POV that keeps the reading smooth and enjoyable.

Well done, Jason!!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Wither Won't Leave Me Alone

I'm sitting here at my desk looking at the bills I'm about to pay. So, naturally, to escape reality, I look at the stacks of books climbing up my wall. Each title I see reminds me of a world that I visited, new characters I met, and a variety of emotions I felt. I wish I could ask Katsa from Graceling to take care of my bills for me (and by "take care" I mean KILL EVERYONE).

So, I read Wither by Lauren Destefano like...a year and a half ago. I think it was the second or third YA book I had ever read and I only bought it because Wal-Mart's YA bookshelves we're empty (insert Wal-Mart joke here).

Ok, so this is interesting to me...

I can vividly remember this book. I remember the characters (but not their names), the setting (prison mansion), and the plot/conflict.

Let me repeat: I read this book a year and a half ago. This is key, because I can't even remember my own name most of the time (Aaron Alba? Burrito Bergh?).

What makes a book stick with me? That's what I asked myself. I suppose everyone will answer that differently. For me, the answer is easy: emotions. But not just any emotions. New, strange, intense emotions.

Wither is a weird story to me, but for some reason it stuck. I haven't read the other books in the series, but I can't seem to escape their pull on me. I don't find myself wanting to know what's going to happen to the main character, I find myself wanting to revisit whatever it was I that felt when I read Wither. And I honestly don't know what I felt.

Is that weird?

Should I get professional help?

Should I go to Chipotle and order extra guacamole to help me cope with this confusion?

I don't generally ask questions on this blog, but I'm curious to see if anyone can relate.

So, can you? Can you relate? Which book(s)?

Answer or I'm sending Katsa after you.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

20,000 Views

Numbers don't mean anything.

...ok, yes they do.

This blog recently passed the 20,000 views mark. I have no idea if that's fast, slow, good or bad. I'm not comparing the blog to other blogs, I'm just comparing it to my own expectations. And 20,000 views is a lot higher than what I expected at this point.

I'm happy about this. Especially since the last few months have been...umm, difficult.

See, I'm a single dad (long story) of three FREAKING WILD kids. I'm outnumbered, outgunned and I'm a sucker for watching Harry Potter with my Red-Haired, Freckle Faced 10-year-old daughter and her blue eyes...so there goes my only available 2 hours of free time every day.

If I had the time, I'd read a book every two days and review it on this blog. It's fun to me. I like interacting with all of you because you make me laugh, and I love the stories that are YA lit. Maybe it's because I'm immature, or maybe it's because I lived and worked with all those teenagers for so many years. I don't know.

I basically just wanted to say "thanks" to all of you who have supported a REAL MAN reading and reviewing YA Lit. I think the world is missing out by passing over these amazing stories.

I have a manuscript out floating around in the world of agents. No takers yet, but quite a few requests. I hope someone picks it up. If you laugh at this blog, I promise you will laugh at my book. It's some funny shit, yo. Time will tell.

In the meantime, I'm outlining and have started to write a not-so-funny story about a very serious issue. I look forward to making people feel uncomfortable about something they know is happening but choose to ignore (I'm not talking about any of you, I'm talking about them). Don't get me started...

Ok, peeps, I'm out.

Thanks for your support! I have a couple of books sitting here that I need to finish so I can review. And, I have about  10000000000000000000 books on my list, so the reviews will keep coming.

Stay at it and don't quit. Keep reading and writing. You should get up at 4 a.m. like I do so I have someone to say hi to on Twitter before I start writing/reading. :)

Thanks to my good friend and critique partner Jolene Haley for all her support. She's the best muggle, ever.

Jessica Alba and Veronica Rossi are still hot (I just feel the need to declare that to the world).

Also, for those of you who "get me," I'm on a five day Chipotle streak.

There are no signs of this streak ending.









Monday, July 1, 2013

The..Sel...ec...tion

I read The Selection by Kiera Cass, then I questioned life.

Every Friday, I take my kids out to eat to a local sandwich shop. They look forward to it all week. They think we go there because it's SO GOOD, but the real reason for going there is because it's a few steps away from BAM (Books-a-Million).

We eat, then we go to BAM. The kids run around, play hide-and-seek, fight with light sabers, try on the Sorting Hat, beg for Minecraft stuff, and sometimes they even look at books. I don't really care what they do, as long I can have a few minutes of "alone time" in the YA section.

In the early days of reading YA, I was nervous to be in that section with all the teenage girls eyeing me suspiciously, but now it ain't no thang, yo.

I still don't talk to anyone. I can't bring myself to be the creepy dude that talks to teenage girls in "their" section of the store. Every time I'm there I see a young lady reading the back cover of a book I've read and I want to say, "I read that!" But I don't. Oh, well.

So the other day I went to buy a particular book two that had just come out, but it wasn't there. So I scanned the shelves, and with all the recommendations I had swirling in my brain, I picked The Selection. It had been recommended to me by a particular young lady on Twitter that I really like. She has a great blog, she's super intelligent, and she's from Wisconsin!

Now that I've read the book...I'm going to have words with her.

The cover of The Selection is kinda nice. I don't like covers with actual pictures of humans on them, but this one works. It is, though, extremely girly. No worries. I'm man enough to buy it, yo.

This story did NOT work out for me. I could go on and on about how boring it was, but there was something else that threw me...something I honestly hadn't experienced in reading YA up to this point.

I hated the main character.

She was such a...UGH!

So you know the story, right? It's like a weird teenage version of The Bachelor, and the prize is getting to marry the prince.

America, the main character I dislike so much, had her issues with the contest. She obviously didn't agree with the prince finding a wife this way, but you know...she entered anyways. THEN, when she meets the super nice, super cool, super understanding prince, she treats him like crap. THEN, he let's it all go and wants to be friends with her. THEN she's still a jerk.

I don't know, ya'll. Even if America had been interesting, there still wasn't much happening. I was mostly just glad to get it over with.

In all fairness to the author, the writing was very good. This is the type of book that I can say just "isn't for me." I know a lot of peeps like it, and that's cool. We all like different stuff for different reasons. I wish continued success to the author and to the series!

I give The Selection 2 out of 5 UGH!!!!s

Sunday, June 9, 2013

What the Puck!

I read The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater and it was so freaking good that I wanted to mare-e her.

It was so good I wanted to throw it inside a tortilla, slap on some guac, and eat it.

It was so good that if I was in high school and needed a date for prom, I'd ask it.

If I had to chose between reading The Scorpio Races and Jessica Alba holding me like a baby and looking into my eyes, I'd pick...ugh, this is a tough one. I'd pick Jessica Alba holding me like a baby while reading The Scorpio Races. Boom!

There are so many things right with this book.

Seriously, don't tell anyone, but I would go skinny dipping with The Scorpio Races.

The world created in the story was as original as original can be, but there was NEVER a time that I was confused. I was never trying to figure out how the world worked, or how something was possible. I simply accepted, without question, that there is an island in my world where magical horses come out of the ocean. I actually caught myself thinking, "Hmmm, I wonder where this island is...I should go see these horses."

The characters were great. I liked Sean Kendrick. I liked that he was "the man" when it came to the magical horses known as Caolsifjisjlsjs Ushuksinks, or whatever. I liked that he had Puck's back when the townsfolk were demanding that she remove herself from the magical horse race. I loved the emotion of that scene. I loved that Puck didn't back down. And I loved that Sean was attracted to Puck's determination and courage, and not her boobs.

Here's the thing: I really don't like animals.

I like them on T.V., and I like to see them at the zoo every once in a while, but I don't like them as part of my life. If they're cute and cuddly, fine, but soon they will piss on you. If they're larger than life, like a lion, great, but soon they will eat you. They stink, they shit everywhere, they eat things that aren't food, they gnaw on things, they wake you up at night, and so on.

I know I'm not making any friends right now, but my point is this: Even though I had to read about smelly horses that eat people, I still freaking loved this book!

(And just so you weird cat people don't hate me forever, there are two cats that live in my house and I even pet them once in a while...so there.)

You should read this book. It's so refreshing. No cliches, no bad boys, no girls that think bad boys that treat them badly are "so hot." Barf.

Great scenery, characters, plot, emotion, and just the right amount of romance.

At least read it for its originality.

After reading Shiver I was reluctant to read more of Maggie Stiefvater's books, but now I'm sold. Looks like The Raven Boys will stay on my list.

I give The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater an easy 9 out of 9 magical horse turds. I know that might sound bad, but it isn't. Trust me.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

#Wildrap

Welcome to the Wild Awake Rap Battle!

If you're not sure what's about to happen, let me explain...

Hilary T. Smith wrote an amazing book called Wild Awake. Hilary and I disagree on which character in the book is best. I think the main character, Kiri, is. She thinks the NOT main character, Skunk, is (yeah...Skunk, I know). 

So, I challenged her to a rap battle. Although it won't be much of a challenge for me. 

I've asked some of Hilary's friends to be near her with access to a phone in case of an emergency. I don't want to ruin Wild Awake's book birthday by sending Hilary to the ER with a case of TOO MUCH AWESOMENESS ringing in her ears.

If you haven't read Wild Awake, you should. It's my favorite contemporary YA novel of all time.

Ok, here's the deal: I'll start the rap battle at the end of this post. In the comments section, Hilary will try to respond. YOU ARE ENCOURAGED to join in! Hilary has some signed copies of Wild Awake to give away to whoever she thinks lays down the best rhymes. I'll be looking for the same thing, except my prize is a Chipotle Ecard. If you win either of these, we'll let you know in the comments section of the blog under your comment. If you win, @ us on Twitter and we'll get you your prize.

It's time...

*Takes shirt off (ignoring screams of terror) revealing fake "gangsta" tattoos drawn with sharpies. 

*Loosens belt *Pants sag, revealing Luna Lovegood boxers.

*Scratches butt

*Turns hat backwards, then can't remember if that's cool, so turns hat back to the front, then gets frustrated and turns hat backwards again.

and...

Hilary and Skunk, going to the shed,
to try an get a helmet on Skunk's BIG FAT HEAD.
She tries and she tries, but his head is to thick,
too bad he can't say the same about his tiny little...brain.
(get yo mind out the gutta, succas!)


Thursday, May 23, 2013

RAP BATTLE

Wild Awake Rap Battle

May 28th at 7:00 p.m. (Central)

Here.

The victim? Hilary T. Smith

On May 28th at 7:00 (central) I'll be starting off the battle with some dope lyricals in a blog post. Hilary will respond (if she shows) in the comments section of the post. You are encouraged to join in the rap battle. Hilary will have some signed hardcover copies of Wild Awake to give away, but you'll have to impress her with yo skillz!! I, on the other hand, will be giving away a Chipotle E-card! That's right, bitch nachos. 

If you haven't read Wild Awake that's ok! Just flow freestyle, yo. We'll be taking sides with the characters in the book and all you have to do is join in! If you didn't get your hands on a copy yet and are worried you won't know what to rap about...it's cool. Just roll wit it. 

If you wanna see how it works, check this rap battle I had with Trish Doller.


*This is %100 my idea. No one asked me to do this and I'm not being compensated for nuthin' y'all! 




Monday, May 6, 2013

FanManing Over Veronica Rossi

Where do I even start?

Veronica Rossi is simply perfection.

It's like she has an unlimited supply of Felix Felicis.

Her books are like Chipotle burritos: well proportioned, magical, and addictive. No matter how much you have, you always want more.

If you haven't read Under the Never Sky and/or Through the Ever Night, then we can't be friends. Also, what's wrong with you? Are you dead? Petrified? Too busy waiting for the return of the Dark Lord?


Have you never seen Veronica Rossi?
HELLO?!
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Now, I'm not saying you should run out and buy a book because the author is *clears throat* nice looking, but in this case, go for it! (Don't judge me, I'm FanManing).

I finally read Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi. I loved it. I freaking loved it. It took me a long time to finish it, but what the hell am I supposed to do when there's a picture of a Brazilian Goddess in the back? Not stare for ten minutes? Please...

What's that? The book? Oh, right.

Through the Ever Night is awesome. It's everything I want in a story. The world is original, and there's nothing better than that. You know what I mean? When I read a story and there is mention of a dragon, I picture a dragon. It doesn't matter how badly the author wants me to picture how different his/her dragon is...I just picture a dragon. I've seen dragons on movies and book covers enough to have formed my own idea of what a dragon looks like. Call me lazy, but it is what it is. With Veronica Rossi's books I get to picture things I've never pictured before and go places I've never imagined, and that's why I like reading.

Through the Ever Night has some of the best characters ever. Not only are the two main characters, Aria and Perry, great, but the hundreds (maybe thousands or millions) of supporting characters are just as awesome!

When multiple characters have their own separate motivations and conflicts it makes for a complex, rich, interlaced story.

Let me give you an example...

I took my 8-year-old son to Chipotle the other day.

"Dad, can I get my own burrito?"

I hesitated. He's one of the smallest, skinniest kids in his grade. He's not much bigger than the burrito he's asking me to buy.

"O...k, are you sure you don't want to just share?"

"No. I want my own."

I watched in horror as he filled his burrito with nothing more than rice, beans, and cheese. Would it be tasty? Yes. Was he missing out? Yes. Was I going to have to pay full price? Yes.

I looked down at him like Barty Crouch looked down at Barty Crouch Jr., and I said, "You're no son of mine!"

His burrito was like a book with too few likeable characters. Good, but it could be so much better.

Veronica Rossi's books are like overfilled burritos that rip the tortilla and have to be wrapped in a second tortilla so they don't explode on you (which would be perfectly fine and has happened to me many times).

I think my favorite character is Kirra. What a sneaky, snakey, seducer...and yet, I found myself liking her! I should have been thinking, "No Perry! Run! She's tricking you! She's evil!" But, no. I was like, "Perry, you jerk. Can't you see she likes you? Who cares that she's only seducing you to hurt you?! You can't leave her on the beach like that!"

I'm such a loser.

If you haven't read Veronica Rossi's books. Read them. They're everything YA should be.

I give Through the Ever Night 5 out of 5 Brazilian Goddesses holding overstuffed burritos.


Dear Veronica Rossi's husband, 

Please don't beat me up. 

:)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Dualed

Elsie Chapman is one of the first authors I ever followed on Twitter. I think it was 100 years ago.

I had just started to read YA and I was searching for other adults who might "understand me." I found them on Twitter.

I came across Elsie and read about her upcoming book, Dualed. The synopsis worked. I was hooked.

The downside to finding Elsie when I did was THE WAIT. It's like walking in to Chipotle, starving. And then seeing the extra long line, and the rookie employees's taking forever to fill burritos, and everyone in front of you paying with cash and taking for forever instead of swiping a card through Chipotle's lightning fast system.

Waiting sucks.

I started talking to Elsie on Twitter (at the time I was using a different Twitter account), and to my surprise she was kind enough to talk back!

That made me feel cool, so I legally changed the names of my three children to Elsie, Elsei, and ChipotleJessicaAlba.

A few weeks ago my son and I were in the YA section of BAM. That's right, my son and I were in the YA section at BAM with all the teenage girls. Normally, my 11-year-old son is only interested in the teenage girls who are there, but that particular day I was determined to get his attention with a book!! It was Dualed.

"Oh look, I've been waiting for this!" I said, pulling Dualed of the shelf and showing my son the awesome cover.

"Cool," said my son, still looking at a 13-year-old girl who was browsing the books on the shelf behind us.

Realizing that the simple mention of a book was no match for the mind control that the 13-year-old girl had on my son, I decided to bring out the big guns.

"Oh, yeah...I KNOW THE AUTHOR," I said, loud enough to grab his attention, as well as the attention of everyone in the store (including 13-year-old mind controller girl).

It worked.

"YOU KNOW THE AUTHOR? THAT'S COOL! It's really cool THAT YOU KNOW THE AUTHOR," he said (shouted), glancing back at 13-year-old girl.

13-year-old mind control girl looked at Dualed, then looked at me with doubt in her evil eyes. Then the little hater walked away. She was just jealous that I knew Elsie Chapman and SHE didn't.

"How do you know the author?" my son asked.

"Twitter."

"So you don't really know her?"

I hesitated, then said, "Well...I mean...I...Oh, shut up, you're grounded."


Dualed by Elsie Chapman did not disappoint me.

In the world of Dualed, there are two of everyone, born to different families and living completely separate lives. Every person has an Alt, and at some point, the "Board" will push a button and it's Alt against Alt...to the death.

So, you would basically be looking for you, even though it's not you, and trying to kill you, even though it's not really you, and other you is trying to kill you, too.

I'm making sound confusing on purpose (because that's how I am), but it's really not confusing at all when you read it.

It's a crazy idea. I'm not saying it makes much sense, but I don't analyze stories too deeply (as in, my brain don't be think'n), so it worked out. If a story keeps my attention, then I keep reading. If I like the characters, then I keep reading. Period (I spelled out "Period" to over-emphasize that I'm unwilling to discuss the matter further, not because it's the end of the sentence).

Seriously. What would you do if you had a short amount of time to hunt down a person that is exactly like you, and that person was hunting you at the same time? At some point you would find each other and be faced with...you! Could you kill you?

Dualed is a fun read. Knowing that West either has to kill or be killed drives the story.

I don't recommend it for those who only like stories with complex worlds and 16-dimensional characters.

I do recommend it for those who like quick, action-packed reads that make you ask yourself, "What would it be like if that were me?"

I give Dualed 4 out of 5 stars. That's right, stars. I can give stars too, ya know.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Creepy Zombie Babies

In case there ever really is a zombie apocalypse...

Please, please don't cradle a zombie baby like it's a real baby. Just don't.

*As usual, there will probably be spoilers in this review.

I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth and loved it!

Wow. I read a zombie book. I never thought that day would come.

Let me be clear: I DON'T LIKE ZOMBIE STUFF. I think it's weird. I didn't like the zombies in the story, I liked everything else. If Carrie Ryan replaced "zombies" with "ghosts" or "little Ryan Seacrests," it wouldn't have made a difference to me (although imagining little Ryan Seacrests trying to attack people is kinda funny).

I loved the title! It's so perfect for the story.

I loved the cover, too. I have the one with the one-eyed girl that stares at me like she's gonna kill me.

The writing was great. I was never confused (which is easy to do!), and I was definitely rooting for Mary. I really liked how Carrie Ryan weaved a faith/religion aspect into a zombie novel. Very different, but very cool.

The romance part of the story was a bit odd. I wasn't always sure who Mary loved (if anyone), and thinking about it distracted me at times. But, trying to figure out how Mary's "brotherly love" thing was gonna turn out kept me guessing, and that obviously kept me reading.

There were multiple factors driving me through the story. Will she escape? Who will she marry? What the hell is that scary ass sister-nun-thing-lady gonna do next? Who is the girl? Tunnels? Gates?

While reading, I had a sense of fear. Not like overwhelming, terrorizing, nightmare fear, but like, "I think a spider just crawled across my face while I'm lying in bed" fear. The zombies were pulling at the fence, groaning and moaning and being zombies for THE ENTIRE FREAKING STORY! There was no rest from it, and I think the thought of that is what unsettled me. It would be like having to listen to Pitbull all day every day.

There was one super weird scene that had me all like, "WTF?!"

Mary finds a zombie baby and like...loves on it. It was so weird. That was the only part of the story that I really felt validated for not liking zombie stuff. Who hugs a freaking zombie baby? Just throw it's zombie baby ass out the window!

I give The Forest of Hands and Teeth 4 out of 5 Creepy Zombie Babies.

I strongly recommend it! Even if you're like me and you don't care for zombie stuff, there's enough going on in the story to win you over.

Also, I think there should be a ban on books that have creepy zombie babies.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Yo, Sucker!

I was about to read Sucker Literary an anthology, so I looked up "anthology" to see what it meant.

Wikipedia, here I come.

I accidentally typed in "anthropology" and I was like, "Oh, shit...this is gonna suck." Of course, I eventually realized I caan't speelll, and picked up the book.

After I finished staring at the multi-colored sucker on the cover (and licked it twice), I began to read.

This is the second volume of Sucker Literary. It contains nine short YA stories, all very different from each other.

I haven't read many short stories, just the Harry Potter series, so this was exciting for me.

I experienced a range of emotions. I went from laughing my ass off at the end of the first story, to checking the cover to make sure I wasn't accidentally reading 50 Shades of YA, to deep thinking on some of life's important questions (which doesn't take much for me).

I love Sucker Literary. I love that aspiring (or established) YA authors have an opportunity to submit their writing, and potentially be showcased in a blossoming anthology (not anthropology!). Soon after, they're sure to find fame and fortune and TMZ weirdos following them around.

All the stories were excellent. And, in the back of the book, everyone involved in this volume has a picture of themselves with a sucker. I know you probably haven't seen it yet, but I'm awarding Laura Jones the Eyes Closed, Nice Lips, and About to Kiss a Sucker award.

No one asked me to suggest this, but I think all of you should support this YA anthology and not only order it, but submit your writing to it.

Go to the Sucker Literary website and give em' hell.

Also, their t-shirts are awesome.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Insignia

*Spoilers

The moral of the story is: DON'T LET ANYONE PUT A FREAKING COMPUTER IN YOUR BRAIN.

There. I had to get that off my chest.

This is not my kind of book, but I really liked it.

I don't play video games and I'm not interested in technology or politics. Insignia is full of all these things (and much more).

I struggled in the beginning of the book. I liked the main character, but I wasn't sure how to picture the video games he was playing. It reminded me of Ender's Game, which I hated (I know...crucify me). But, it ended up being a million times better than Ender's Game.

As I read more I began to easily picture what was happening and I became accustomed to the cool "tech" talk. I actually started feeling cool myself, but then I remembered I wasn't. (This is the part where you feel sorry for me and think of really neat-o ways to describe how cool I am in the comments section.)

I loved the characters. I like books that give me more than one or two characters to be friends with. And even a few to be enemies with.

I liked that Insignia had me guessing. Who is Medusa? What the hell is wrong with Blackburn? Is someone a spy or not? Does Wyatt like Tom or Yuri?

I didn't like the idea of having a computer thingy stuck in a person's brain. But, it was kinda interesting to see the characters giving each other viruses (get your mind outta the gutter!).

I really, really liked the main character Tom and his friend Vik. They made me lol ("laugh out loud" for you older folks) multiple times. They were realistic teenage boy characters.

I think my favorite part of the book is when Tom had to have his brain scanned through all his memories and Blackburn could see them playing out on a screen. What does Tom think about? What every teenage boy thinks about: his sculpted abs blazing as his female classmate's clothes fall off and they run to him for protection. I was like, "Damn! S.J. Kincaid stole my teenage mind."

Let's all agree that if the technology to do that ever shows up, we destroy it. Agreed?

I'm giving Insignia by S.J. Kincaid 4 out of 5 viruses.

And with that, it's good to be back.

P.S. When I left this city six months ago, there was no Chipotle. There is now a Chipotle. This may or may not have had something to do with my willingness to move here.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Short Break

Hello.

Unfortunately, I will be taking a short break from posting on this blog.

We've had a family emergency and are moving back to Wisconsin this weekend.

I'm a bit overwhelmed with packing and cleaning and supervising the wrestling matches between my sons.

Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated. If you don't pray, then your thoughts will do. If you don't have thoughts, then...

:)

See ya in a few weeks.


Aaron

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Something Like Freaking Awesome

*Spoilers

When I read a contemporary novel, I want more than anything to believe in the characters. I want them to be authentic.

With Something Like Normal, Trish Doller nailed it like Paige on spring break.

I didn't care much for the cover (but I must admit, the girl has nice eyelashes).

There are two blurbs on the back of the book. One starts with "Unflinching," and one starts with "Unflinchingly." Is it just me, or is that weird?

I LOVED this book. I loved the characters, the setting, the plot, the humor, the style, the words, the letters, the punctuation, the font, the page size, the everything.

I laughed at Travis's friend Kevlar every time he was mentioned. I could see and hear the all the characters. I was disappointed the book was so short.

I have no idea how Trish Doller wrote from a 19-year-old male Marine's POV so accurately. I honestly stopped reading a few times and re-checked the part of the cover that says, "She lives in Fort Myers, Florida, with her two mostly grown children, two dogs, and a pirate."

I was like, "Damn. So it is a she." It's amazing how well she pulls it off!

The main character, Travis, is home from Afghanistan. He's suffering from the effects of war. His welcome home gift is finding out his asshole brother is banging his super hot ex-girlfriend, and his dad is still the biggest jerk-ass in town.

There are more layers of drama in this book than there are at an 8th grade dance.

Harper. She's the love interest. The introduction of Harper to the reader is probably the best introduction of any character ever. She's so awesome. I loved how every time Harper did something that made me think she was cool, Travis would say something about how cool she was.

The relationship between Travis and Harper developed rather predictably, but I never felt like that took away from my interest in it.

Travis. He's tough. He's very honest about getting erections (which is like every other second). He's respectful to his Mama. And my favorite, when the drama in the story reaches new heights, he ADMITS he made a mistake, CONFESSES to Harper, and takes RESPONSIBILITY for his actions. RealMen.

I'm from Wisconsin, so I was disappointed that Travis's jerk dad was a former Green Bay Packer. Trish Doller loses a point for that.

I give Something Like Normal 5 out of 5 Green Bay Packers (Clay Matthews, Aaron Rodgers, Charles Woodson, Greg Jennings, and Jordy Nelson).

I strongly recommend this book.

Also, Trish, I'm sorry, but every time I say your last name I think "dollar." I picture you as like...a rapper.

$T-Dolla'$ or Holla' Dolla'

So, I thought it might be a good idea to challenge you to a rap battle. I'll rap my case for Harper. You rap your case for Travis.

We'll throw down in the comments section of this blog post. We'll drop a couple rhymes, then anybody and everybody jump in and declare your allegiance for either Harper or Travis by dropping a rhyme.

I'll start.
Whaaaaaaaaaaaat!
Yo, Harper is a queen
She's smooth 'n' clean
She's ahead of the pace
And when Travy come-a-callin' she be SMACKIN' his face!








Something Like Normal Rap Battle Tonight

Yo, tonight on the blog I'll be posting my review of Something Like Normal by Trish Doller.

Many people told me to read this book and went on and on about Travis. After reading it, I decided that Harper is a much better character than Travis.

So, I've challenged Trish Doller to a rap battle. She has accepted.

In the comments section of the blog post, I will rap my case for Harper, while Trish will rap her case for Travis.

You are encouraged to join in and support either #TeamTravis or #TeamHarper with your own rapping skills.

Bring you best rhyming skills (because we don't have any) and throw down.

7:00 p.m. (Central)

Please join in, otherwise Trish and I will look like two big dorks rapping back and forth by ourselves.




Sunday, March 3, 2013

Wet Dog Smell

*There might be spoilers in this review. *

I went to the bookstore the other day to buy Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, but on the way from the parking lot to the front door I was attacked by a pack of wolves. They were snarling and growling as they surrounded me. I taunted them, removing my shirt to reveal my sculpted...ribs. I pounded my chest like a gorilla and roared like a lion. No pack of wolves was gonna stop me from getting that book.

They jumped on me, but I was able to wrestle them off and get inside the bookstore.

All I could think about on the drive home was that I smelled like dog. How would I explain this to Jessica Alba?

As soon as I walked in the door, Jessica's head snapped in my direction. She ran to me. Her cheeks were pink and she was putting her face right up to my clothes and taking deep sniffs.

"You smell SO good," she kept saying. She started kissing my face and neck and tugging at my shirt.

"What the hell has gotten into you?" I asked.

"Ohhh, you smell like dog," she moaned.

And this is where the story ends.  Because right now, if you haven't read Shiver, you're probably like WTF?! But if you've read it, you're probably laughing at the similarities between Jessica and the main character in the book: Grace.

I'm not sure how anyone can read this book and not be at least slightly disturbed at how much Grace loves wolves. I completely understand that she was bitten by a wolf and was still like 1% werewolf, but still, she's a freaking teenage girl talking about wolves (actual animals) like she wants to go all Ke$ha on them.

Gross.

Other than Grace wanting to give new meaning to "doggy style", there was one other thing that I found to be extremely unbelievable. There was a sister of a boy that had been bitten by a wolf. Everyone thought the boy was dead. When the sister found out he was alive and also happened to be a werewolf, she handled it like it was totally normal.

There's actually a scene where the werewolf brother confesses to the sister that he ate the family dog. She responds like, "Oh, silly boy. Why did you have to eat the dog?" This aspect of the story was SO weird. I needed the characters to at least try to doubt.

Other than those two things, it was really good!

Seriously, I think Maggie Stiefvater did an amazing job creating Mercy Falls, MN (which, if it was real, would not have been far from where I grew up in Wisconsin). I loved the scenery. It was easy to picture and at times I almost felt the cold weather being described.

The story was interesting. I'm not into paranormal so much, but amazingly, I wanted to keep reading this book. I literally lol'd a few times at myself. I would read a doggy love scene and be like, "Why do I wanna keep reading this?"

But, I did.

When that happens I give mad props to the author for doing a lot of things right. I didn't finish the book merely because I wanted to "get it over with." I genuinely wanted to know what was gonna happen. Maggie Stiefvater hooked me and I had to keep going. I pushed past the parts I thought were silly, and in the end I actually enjoyed the read.

I'll probably never completely heal from having the "teenage girl seems turned on by wolves" scenes, but, hey, I made it through Twilight.

I give Shiver 3 out of 5 Wet Dogs.

Monday, February 25, 2013

If I Stay

I read If I Stay by Gayle Forman and really liked it.

There were some things I loved about it, some things I had mixed feelings about, and no hate for nuthin'.

I loved the cover. It was an easy buy at the book store. No League Of Shadows invisibility skills needed for the purchase.

I had no idea what the story was about before I started reading. When I go into a book blind, multiple things can happen. Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised. Sometimes I'm like, "Oh, hell...vampires?" And other times the unexpected is so powerful it's as if the author somehow reached an invisible hand out of the book and grabbed me by the balls.

So yeah, Gayle Forman grabbed me by the balls (Can I say that?) right from the start.

As the story went on, though, I began to have mixed feelings about the pace. That initial attention-demanding, ball-grabbing was wearing off as the story dipped into the main character's (Mia) past. It was necessary and important in getting to know the characters, but I found myself not caring about the characters as much, and just wanting to see how the ending would play out.

I did like the characters, though. I found them to be authentic and interesting. I liked Adam (the boy). He was good to Mia and I liked watching them struggle with the idea of Mia having to leave for school. That's an issue most "young lovers" have to deal with at some point, so I'm glad Gayle Forman wrote about it in a realistic way.

One area I feel differently about than the peeps that LOVE this story, is the intensity of emotion I felt. Or, rather, I didn't feel any intense emotions while reading this story.

When I eat a reheated Chipotle burrito...it's really good. I eat it and enjoy it.

When I eat a fresh Chipotle burrito, with a side of guacamole and a coke...it's freakin' glory. (My friend accuses me of "making out" with the burrito. I personally don't think there's anything wrong with holding the burrito close to your lips and taking in the aroma before slowly sinking your teeth in.)

If I Stay was sort of a reheated burrito for me. I knew what choice Mia was going to make in the end (because there's a second book), so I missed feeling those intense emotions.

Seriously, the entire story hinges on Mia's big decision.  If you already know what she's gonna decide, it takes the suspense away.  Know what I mean?

With that said, I still give If I Stay 4 out of 5 reheated burritos. And, I'm definitely gonna read the second book: Where She Went.

The writing is excellent and the storytelling is unique.

I'm gonna go ice my balls now.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Top 5 Manly Disney Cartoon Characters

5. Buzz Lightyear


He's daring. He's courageous. And what do ladies like more than a confident man?

4. Tarzan

He's manly enough to wear a jungle speedo, and sensitive enough to hold a butterfly.

3. Mr. Incredible

What lady doesn't like a big man in spandex? And, he's a freakin' superhero!

2. Kronk

He's a woman's dream man. He's full of muscles. He's great with kids. He's a whiz in the kitchen. He'll do whatever you tell him to do without question.

1. Marlin

Everything in the ocean scares the fish shit outta him.

But when his son needs him, he faces his fears.
He finds courage deep inside his smelly fish scales.

This is a Real Man. 
He's unselfish. He's courageous.
He risks his life for his son.
He's motivated by love.
Impressing others with his manliness is the last thing on his mind. 
His priorities are in the correct order.
He's man enough to make the changes in his life that are needed to be a great dad.
This is a Real Man. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Summer I Turned Manly

I read The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, then I checked to see if I was still a man.

This is the type of book I hand to the cashier with the cover facing down. It's the kind of cover the cashier smiles at if the buyer is a teenage girl. But if you happen to be a grown man, you get fingerprinted.

The cover is neat and clean. Well, except for the tall dude on the right giving the, "I'm watching you out of the corner of my eye" creeper look. And yes, there is ONE girl, and TWO boys on the cover. Ugh.

Ok, this is a story for teenage girls.  And, after reading it, I can confirm that this is a story for teenage girls.

This is the first YA book in a while that tested my manhood.

This is a tough review for me because this book wasn't written for adult men.  I want (so badly) to make fun of it, but I can't. Why? Because I believe most teenage girls will like this story.

The writing style is smooth, but the story itself is a little bland. I found it easy to put the book down and wander around the house aimlessly.  I didn't connect with any of the characters.  In fact, two of the characters (Conrad and Taylor) were super annoying.  I felt like the time spent reading about Belly's brother and the two dads in the story made an already slow pace get even slower.

I wanted to like the main character, Belly, but I just couldn't.  She did the one thing that annoys the hell outta me more than anything: she liked the guy that was the biggest dickhead in the story.  She had other options.  There are TWO boys on the cover.

I'm rating this book on two different scales.  On the manly scale it gets a 0 out of 5 testicles.  On the "I understand this book is for teenage girls" scale it gets a 3.5 out of 5 best friend necklaces.

I equate reading this book to a nice walk around the block.  Nothing exciting or new to see, but hell, anything's better than sitting inside and watching Dance Mom's all day.

I was holding out hope that in the end, Belly would make me like her by doing something I didn't expect.  She let me down.

I give credit to Jenny Han for writing for a specific market and having much success.

This one wasn't for me.  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

All The Single Ladies

To all you single nerdy book girls:

Happy Valentine's Day!

Are you dateless this Valentines's Day?  No problem.  Say hello to St. Clair Gosling.

Sit back, relax, and put yourself in the place of Nerd Girl.


St. Clair Gosling

If one more woman in this damn office gets flowers, I'm going to throw my new Kindle through the window.

It's Valentine's Day. I'm the only girl at work that doesn't have a date tonight. It's the fifth year in a row that I've had this honor. Out of 123 woman on this floor, 122 have received flowers.  Every one but me.

My mom sent me a Valentine's E-card.  This only makes things worse.

It's almost time to go home.  The women around me are chatting like schoolgirls about their hunky dates. I've given up hope.  I'm just going to go home and listen to Single Ladies by Beyonce, over and over and over.  Then I'll watch Big Bang Theory, play video games, and end the night with The Deathly Hallows.

"Excuse me, are you Nerd Girl?"

I quickly minimize the window on my computer screen showing pictures of One Direction and turn to answer.

"Yeah, I'm..."

I'm speechless.

"I'm St. Clair Gosling, from Accounting."

"Oh, hi."  Well, hello, St. Clair.

"I was just looking for that report on the Chipotle account," he says.

"Oh...umm...I wasn't working on that."  Dammit!  Don't leave, God of Accounting and perfect hair.

"Sorry.  I'll track it down."  He leaves.

I put my elbows on my desk and plant my face in my hands.  Looks like tonight it's just me, Beyonce, and a large pizza.

"Sorry to bother you again," says St. Clair.

My head pops up.  "You're not bothering me.  I was just...praying."

"Praying?  I could...come back."

"No, no...umm, Amen.  What's up?"  You want me to watch you do push ups with your shirt off?  Sure.

"I'm sure you already have plans tonight, but--"

"No, I don't have plans.  My...date called earlier and he's...sick.  Bird flu."

"Sorry to hear that.  Maybe fate has brought us together?  Would you like to meet me somewhere tonight?"  He runs his manly hand through his thick, perfect head of black hair.

"Yeah, that would be neat."  Neat?  I'm such a dumb ass!  Neat?

"Fantastic.  There's something I've been wanting to talk to you about."

He smiles.  He has straight, white teeth.  He definitely flosses.  Which means he takes care of his teeth.  Which means he probably has breath that smells like peppermint.  Which means I'm probably going to stick my tongue down his throat after he takes me to a romantic dinner.

"Yeah, fantastic," I say.

Later that evening...

"Shall we?" he says, placing his hand on my lower back and leading me into the diner of a 2-star hotel.

It's not exactly what I was picturing for our romantic Valentine's date, but I guess it's better than sitting at home by myself.  Our table is wobbly, the silverware is dirty, the lighting is bad, and it smells like mildew.

"So, tell me about yourself," I say.

He smiles.  He looks just like David Beckham when he smiles.

"Well, let's see.  I like to work out.  I do 500 Sit Ups a day.  I like to cruise around in my Ferrari.  I LOVE reading YA.  I listen to Beyonce.  I take care of orphans.  I get tattoos.  I do squats so I can have firm butt cheeks.  I read Harry Potter every night.  I speak French, Italian, and whatever other language you think is sexy.  I haven't lost one hair to baldness.  In fact, the top of my head is the only place I even have hair.  I play video games.  I visit Comic Con every year.  I dress up as Gandalf and visit children's hospitals.  I'm an adviser for both Marvel and DC.  I love Pride and Prejudice.  I did a Calvin Klein underwear commercial.  I won first place in a Ryan Gosling look-a-like contest AND a Channing Tatum look-a-like contest.  I have six college degrees.  I also wrote a book titled, Bad Boys Guide to Puppies."

Did he say something about firm butt cheeks?

I'm in love.  Like, true love.  I'm going to propose to him tonight.

After a terrible meal, he asks, "So, what would you do with an extra $500 a month?"

He's already wanting to give me money!  "I don't know.  I'd probably save up enough to go visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter."

"Wonderful.  So you could say that's one of your goals?  You know, achieving that goal is easier than you think.  I'd like to take you to another room now."

It's happening.  He wants to take me to another room...on Valentine's Day!

"That sounds neat."  Neat?!  What the hell is wrong with me?

As I follow him out the room and down the dim hotel hallway, I barely notice all the people in suits and slicked back hair chattering away about vitamins and cleaning products.

This is gonna be a night to remember.  No more lonely Valentine's for this Nerd Girl.

He brings me into a room full of people, but I don't even care.  I'm too focused on thinking about what his abs must look like.

We sit down next to a nervous looking elderly woman.

I gaze at St. Clair.  He's perfect.  He's everything I ever wanted in a man.  I'm going to marry him.

A man at the front of the room taps a small microphone and says, "Welcome, everyone.  Our Amway meeting will start in about five minutes.  It's a terrific day."

Shit.








Saturday, February 9, 2013

My First Negative Review

You know how some authors are really good at creating worlds the reader can get lost in?

Well, brother and sisters, The Maze Runner by James Dashner had me feeling more lost than a blind penguin at Disney World.

I don't get it. I really don't get it. How did this book become a New York Times Bestseller?

This is my first negative review. I'm not a negative person, so it pains me to do this. I also am a strong believer in encouraging others, so again, this is hard for me. I actually wrote a somewhat negative review for a different book yesterday, and then deleted it because I felt bad.

This book pushed me over the limit, though.  I hated it that much.

The Maze Runner was an easy buy at the bookstore. No girls in flowy dresses on the cover. I didn't have to avoid eye contact with the cashier when handing it over. I was just a manly man buying a manly book written by a man.

It was awful. I laughed at it, not with it. I rolled my eyes at how the plot unfolded. I looked out my window at the happy clouds to calm myself.

I literally hated the characters. I wanted them all to die. They made up all these weird words that confused me. They were inconsistent and unbelievable. I think they were all raging alcoholics. They were always slamming their fists on the table and yelling, then being completely normal in the next sentence.

"Hi, Jimmy.  That's a cute puppy."

"WHAT THE HELL YOU TALKIN' BOUT? BASTARD!!!!!" says Jimmy, grabbing the kid next to him and biting his ears off.

"I just wanted you to know I like your puppy.

"Oh, that's cool.  So how have you been?"

That's what it felt like.

There was one girl. She was annoying and unbelievable. Her and the super annoying main character get along great. I think they even have a little insta-like. This works out great cuz they're both annoying as hell. They can grow up and make annoying, confusing, unbelievable, undeveloped character babies together.

I couldn't picture anything in this book. If it wasn't for the picture on the cover, I would have pictured nothing. Actually, I would have probably just pictured Jessica Alba eating a Chipotle burrito. That would have been a much more enjoyable experience. All I really knew was that a bunch of boys were in compound thing and every day they run out in a maze and try to find an exit.

Yeah. So exciting.

There's these things that will get the characters if they stay in the maze at night. They're called...grievers. These have the weirdest descriptions of anything I've ever read. I have no idea what they are, or what they look like, or what they do, or...

Slimy squishy cows with blades and saws that come out of them? What?

The worst part of all is that there's no real action until page 200. I'm serious. I wanted to quit on pages 20, 40, 53, 67, 82, 109, 121, 134, 145, 159, 170, 189, 200.

Finally, the last hundred pages delivers a little action and some answers.  But, at that point...WHO GIVES A RAT'S ASS?

It's kinda like stopping at the gas station on your way to the prison to serve your life sentence and buying the $300 million dollar winning lotto ticket.

It doesn't matter.  It's too late.

All these characters where getting killed and the main character was so tore up and I was like, "So who just died?" I felt like a serial killer laughing at the character deaths. I started getting a kick out of how the main character cared so much every time someone died. And the author would go on and on about it like it was soooo emotional.  I was still like, "So who just died?"

The only emotions I felt reading this book were frustration and annoyance. Ok that's not true. I got a little excited thinking about Jessica Alba, but that had nothing to do with the book.

I give The Maze Runner 2 out of 5 slimy cows.





  

Monday, February 4, 2013

FanMANing over Wild Awake and Hilary T. Smith

*This review will not contain any spoilers.  I was going to give away all the surprises, but Hilary T. Smith broke into my house in the middle of the night screaming and punching holes in my walls like a madwoman!

"If you even think about putting spoilers in your review I'll come back here and rip down all your Luna Lovegood posters!"  She found my weak spot.  I was defeated before I even had a chance to fight. 


"Stop being a bitch-nacho."  -Wild Awake

I mean...is there really anything else I need to say?


Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith is my favorite contemporary YA read of all-time.

I realize that's a bold statement but I mean every word of it.  I don't know Hilary outside of a few tweets and emails, and I'm not being compensated for this review in any way.

Wild Awake follows 17-year-old Kiri Byrd through six crazy-ass weeks of being home alone. Six weeks of discovering family secrets, love, loss, chaos, music, madness, heartbreak, and...

My prediction is that Wild Awake will go bat-shit crazy with the "I don't read much" teenage crowd.

Why?

-Every character is authentic, believable, relatable, and memorable.  If you hear someone talking about the characters in this book and they say, "well, that's not how teenagers talk."  Grab them by the ears, put your face directly in front of theirs, and as loud as you can, yell, "BULL SHIT!"

-Clean, crisp, clear setting.  I'm NOT a setting kinda guy.  Books that go on and on and on about setting make me and everyone else with ADD wanna drink a case of Mountain Dew and play foosball for 9 hours.  Action, baby.  Gimme some action braided in with setting.  Setting is usually the only part of a book I struggle with.  I can't stand books that describe things like what color the front door of the house is, and how wide it is, and what color the door handle is, and the scratch on the lower left side, and the bush to the right with three leaves missing, and the blade of grass next to the bush that's cut a half inch shorter than the other blades of grass, and the blade of grass next to that blade of grass that's a little slimmer than the blade of grass on the other side of the cement sidewalk...the sidewalk that's three and a half feet wide that Grandpa helped put in.  The sidewalk that stretches down to the dirty road filled with old cars parked along the filthy curb speckled with Burger King cups and Chipotle napkins.  Two feet from the napkins are more blades of grass. There's a little worm sunbathing.  There's a ladybug buggin'.  There's a little green grass snake about 12 inches long and about .34 inches wide.  It has a smile on it face that's about .12 inches across.

Ya feel me?

I was lost in Kiri's world without ever realizing it.  I can still picture everything. Everything.

-Hilary writes in a way that won't scare the "I only read when I'm forced to read boring books in school" crowd.  And at the same time, more advanced readers will be like, "Damn, yo!  H. Smith got skillz!"

I mean, let's face it the average teenage boy thinks about food, girls, food, girls, food and girls.

"So, average teenage boy, what did you think about the plot in that classic novel you just read in English class?"

"I liked the sex part."

Had I been assigned to read Wild Awake in high school, I would have read it and been excited to discuss it with my class.  I would have been engaged in writing essays about the deeper themes laced throughout the story.  I wouldn't have spent entire class periods staring at the hot girl with tan legs sitting across from me while the teacher rambled on and on about...?

There's more emotion packed into Wild Awake than there are ingredients in my burrito (and that's A LOT).  I lol'd so many times that I started keeping track.  Then I got so lost in the story that I forgot to continue keeping track.  Then I thought I'd read it a second time and really keep track.  Then I read it a second time and got so lost in the story that I forgot to keep track.  I am a failure.

Wild Awake is an Emotion Smoothie.  A well crafted mix of joy, pain, loss, gain, happy, sad, crazy, mad. (That's right, bitches...rhyming skills.)

"Oh, so you laughed a lot?"
"Yes."
"So it's like...a funny book?"
"Well, some of it is."

"Oh, so you cried?"
"I didn't cry!"
"Oh, so..."
"Stop looking at me like you know I cried!  Someone shot me in the eye with a pellet gun while I was reading!"


Buy this book, read it, then give it to a teenage boy that doesn't "read stupid books."  Tell him there's sex, drugs and Battle of the Bands in it.  When his eyes glaze over...that means he's thinking about it.  Quick!  Repeat this part, "Sex. There's sex in it."

He might not make eye contact with you, but he'll take the book.

I give Wild Awake 10 out of 10 nachos.  I'll even throw in a side of guacamole and some jalapenos.

Order Wild Awake here.

Follow Hilary on Twitter here.

Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Been a Glorious Month!

Today marks the one-month anniversary of Real Mean Read YA.

And after one month I can say with confidence that I don't have a freaking clue what I'm doing.

I wanted to congratulate everyone for being groovy.  Everyone has been friendly, encouraging, and has welcomed me into the consuming world of YA book blogging with open brains.

I've enjoyed communicating with all you cool bloggers, agents, and authors.

I've read ten books so far this year and hope to keep up that pace.  The only thing that might hold me back from my 2013 reading goal of 100 books is if I go on a Harry Potter movie marathon binge.

Three Things I've Noticed This Month

1. Most YA authors are friendly and seem sincerely grateful for their fans.

2. Most agents are helpful and encouraging to aspiring authors.  I found this to be refreshing.  I think agents get attacked daily with the same questions and tweets and emails that they continually ask people to not send.  If I was an agent, I'd be a werewolf agent.  Then, when I ate the people that contacted me via Twitter with their pitch, I wouldn't feel bad (I'm not sure if all werewolves are the same, but I'd be the Lupin kind.  You know, the kind where you're not responsible for what you do when there's a full moon).

3. Nerdy book girls are hot.


I'll be pushing hard the next few weeks to finish a revision of this story thing I've been working on for just under a year now.  That might affect the number of blog posts I make in February, but probably not.  

You should all follow my BFF (Best Farting Friend) @jolenehaley  She's a genius and helps me figure out really hard things like what adverbs are and how letters go together to make words, etc.

Make sure to say hi to me on Twitter from time to time.  That makes me feel happy.


Friday, January 25, 2013

That's not a tear! I have something in my eye.

Congratulations, Daisy Whitney, you made my eyes sweat.  Twice.

Ok, it wasn't sweat.  It was probably an issue with my contacts.

Ok, I don't wear contacts.  It was probably just my eyes urinating.

Ok, eyes don't urinate.  It was probably just water from the shower.

Ok, I don't bathe.  It was probably just...oh, hell.  Fine.  You made my eyes water with human tears that came out of my head.

Thanks to you and your book When You Were Here.

I love this book.  It moves a little slower than I'm used to, but given the story line I'm perfectly fine with that.  There were a few moments in the middle of the story that my mind began to wander...what should I have for dinner?...

Then Daisy Whitney smashed my face with a hammer.  Totally blindsided me. Slapped me across the face with a big wet cow tongue.  Grabbed me by the hair, lifted me off the ground, and said, "KABOOM."

I hate spoilers, so I don't want to say anything.  This book contains what I refer to as a "bomb scene."  It's not a twist and it's much more than a surprise.  It's one of those scenes that grips you so hard you feel like it's happening to you.  It explodes inside of you.

I give When You Were Here and easy 4 out of 5 hot wings (hot wings make me tear up), and I'd even throw in some ranch dressing and a Coke.

The writing is smooth perfection.  The characters are great.

Most of the story takes place in Japan.  It's done so well that picturing the setting was effortless.

Why Guys Should Read This Book

Daisy Whitney does an excellent job of writing from a young man's point of view. This young man suffers loss after loss after loss and has to not only deal with life, but with his own emotions.  In my opinion, guys suck at this.  We're generally afraid of letting anyone see us cry, or feel frustrated, or whatever might be perceived as weakness.  Instead, we hold it all in to save face, then explode at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons.  This is unhealthy.  For everyone.

This book does an excellent job showing a young man deal with his emotions in a very real, yet very successful way.  I applaud Daisy Whitney for this.

And if that's not enough for guys to read this...

There's some serious boner scenes, too.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A 343 Page Addiction

"Hey, big boy."

"Umm..."  I look around.  I'm the only one here.  Crap.  She's talking to me.

"Yeah, I'm talkin' to you.  Come here.  I got somthin' for ya."  She's holding a brown paper bag.  It's rolled tight on one end to hide its contents.

I don't like to judge people by their appearances, but this chick is shady looking. She's wearing a black trench coat, black boots, and a black top hat.  Her sunglasses seem a bit out of place.  They're as big as her face, gold frames, and...oh god...no, not bedazzled!

I gotta get outta here.  I was taught to never talk to someone that bedazzles things.

I turn, tripping over my own feet as I attempt to escape.  I fall.  I stare into the cracked pavement of this dark alley and wait.

The thuds of her boots stomp up behind me. I lie still, too scared to move.  What's she gonna do to me?  What if she tries to bedazzle my jeans!?

I find the courage to look up.

Her arm is extended.  The brown paper bag hangs over me.  "Don't ya wanna see what's inside?"

No.  I just want you to go away.,.you...you creepy bedazzler that wears a top hat in scary alleys.

"Yes, thank you."  What!?  Dammit!  What am I doing?  She must have some kind of mind control powers.

She drops the bag on the ground next to me.  "First one's free.  I've got 37 more. Bring me some red beads tomorrow.  Same time.  Same place."

I look down at the bag, wondering what's in it.  When I look back up at the creepy bedazzler lady...she's gone.

I reach for the bag.  I feel like Belle, reaching for the enchanted rose for the first time.  My hand is shaking.

What's in this bag?  What makes creepy bedazzler lady so sure I'll come back?

I unroll the end of the bag and slide my hand in.  I pull out something that's wrapped in used tin foil.  There are traces of beans and rice and guacamole.  It smells quite good, actually.

After licking the tin foil, I tear it open.  Inside the tin foil are pages that have been ripped out of a book.

I gasp.  I look around the alley again.  I'm alone (Duh.  I'm in Kansas...of course I'm alone).

I can't believe I'm holding these pages in my hands.  How did she get these?  These are dangerous. I've heard about people reading these...locking themselves in their rooms for hours...neglecting their children (*clears throat) because they were so addicted.

Hmm, maybe I'll just give them a try.  There's not too many pages.  If it's not good for me...I can stop.  Yeah, I'm strong.

After giving the tin foil one more good lick I throw it down in the alley (because that's what you do in alleys).

I could get killed for these pages.  I have to conceal them, so I stick them down my pants (because NO ONE will look there) and head home.

I move quickly through my house, hoping my mom doesn't question me.

"Get a job!" she says, jumping out from behind the couch.

"I'm holding out for management!"  I run to my room and lock the door.  I crawl under my bead and stick my hand down my pants (ha ha ha).  I pull it out (ha ha ha).

Here, right in front of me, is the first chapter of Pivot Point, by Kasie West.


Pivot Point definitely qualifies as a page turner.  At the end of every chapter I said one of two things: "Oh, shit!" or "What!?"

I describe this type of book as "story crack."  I thought I could stop, but I couldn't.

The MC, Addie, is a Searcher.  Whenever she faces a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes.  She's given a choice in the beginning of the book, and then the chapters alternate, showing the results of those two choices.

It's crazy!  Just when I was dying to know what happened next, I'd have to go to the other reality...where I was also dying to know what happened next.  At first, the two realities seemed like two separate stories, but I soon realized they were getting closer and closer to each other.  It's a powerful way to build suspense and I could NOT predict the ending.

We've had a lot of teenagers live with us over the years, so I'm pretty good at judging if a book's teenage characters are believable or not.  I'm happy to say that the characters in Pivot Point are not only believable, but likable.  Generally, at least one (if not all) the teenage characters in a book annoy the shit outta me.  I'm usually left wondering...why?  I wouldn't say I fell in love with any of the characters (maybe Addie's best friend because she's flirty and the teenage me would have been like O.o), but like I said, no one annoyed the shit outta me.  This works well, since I would call Pivot Point a plot-driven story.  I did care about what was going to happen to the characters, but I was more interested in how it was going to happen.

Why Guys Should Read This Book

-A drug dealing character named "Poison."  (I know, right!?  Poison!)

-Tons of football talk.

-Flirty girls that aren't annoying.

-Lies, threats and murder.

AND, because Pivot Point has two realities going, it has two Tarzans (or "male love interests" for you non-Tarzan lovers).  I don't want to give anything away here, but in the end, Addie has two guys to choose from. One turns out to be a jack ass, and the other a good guy.  You can't figure it out until the end though, so good luck. Why guys should care?  Because some guys need help understanding this:  Girls like guys that treat them well and respect them.  They don't like jack asses.

I give Pivot Point 10 out of 10 slurps of sweet tea.

Follow Kasie West on Twitter @KasieWest

Follow Kasie's agent, Michelle Wolfson, on Twitter @WolfsonLiterary



In case you're wondering...

I returned to the alley with red beads.  The shady lady in black gave me the next chapter and more instructions of what color beads to bring next.  I did this 37 times.

"What's with the beads?" I asked her at our last meeting.

"What beads?"

She turned and walked away.  The back of her trench coat had a bedazzled unicorn on it.

The moral of the story?

STAY AWAY FROM CRAZY ASS PEOPLE THAT BEDAZZLE THINGS

Friday, January 18, 2013

Veronica Rossi Just Kicked My Ass

"The house is on fire!" she screamed.

I kept reading.

"Put the book down and get out!"

I kept reading.  I could feel the heat, but I thought it was from the story.

"You idiot!  The house is on fire!"  She was pulling on my arm, but I wouldn't budge.

"Stop reading that book!"

But I couldn't stop, because I was reading Under The Never Sky.  

It's not a book you can just stop.


I selected two books: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (I know, manly), and Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.  When I buy two books, I always choose the one with the least girly looking cover to put on top of the stack.  I don't know why I do this, since the cashier is going to see both books anyways, but still, I do it.

I put Under the Never Sky on top.  The cover is half black, so that's like...tough. The girl on the cover looks like she's walking towards me with the intent to stuff my head in a toilet.  Also, if you can just slip into my imagination for a moment (scary place), the girl on the cover totally looks like she blasted a nuclear fart bomb. (Seriously, look at the cover with that in mind and you won't stop laughing.)

This book made my top ten list, and I don't even have a top ten list!

Everything I want in a YA read was there:

-A story compelling enough to make me need to put the garbage can next to my chair because I was so nervous and emotional I thought I was gonna barf.

-An awesome, interesting, and NOT ANNOYING female MC named Aria.

-A male MC that I describe as a cross between Jason Bourne and Braveheart. (Although, his name is Perry and I kept picturing Perry the Platypus from Phineas and Ferb.)

-Lots of good killing.

-Some creepy ass cannibal dudes that wear crow masks.

-A bunch of shit I never saw coming...never!

-Every character mattered.  I never once said, "Oh hell!  Get on with it!  Someone hurry up and kill this loser."

-The setting is original, creative, easy to picture, fun to imagine, and sometimes dreadful to think about.

-The Aether.  Kinda like the mother of all lightning storms times a billion.  It's kinda like, "If yo ass get caught in the Aether, yo ass is fried."  This created some amazing scenes in the story.


I love this book.  I love it so much I could marry it.

The romance in this story develops naturally.  It starts when Perry watches Aria touch a berry to her lip.  Veronica Rossi doesn't write this in the story, but I know Perry totally pops a boner in this scene.  The romance grows and grows (pun intended) and is so believable and awesome.

Well done Veronica Rossi!  Follow Veronica on Twitter at @V_Rossibooks

In honor of @ABoredAuthor , I give Under the Never Sky 5 out of 5 chocolate cake slices.











Saturday, January 12, 2013

Paper Towns...but really, John Green

If John Green walked up to me and said, "Spread your legs, because I'm gonna kick you in the balls."

I'd be like, "But, that will hurt."

John Green would just stare at me.

I would think of Alaska.  Then I would think of Margo, the new girl in my life.  Then I would look John Green in the eyes.  Then I would spread my legs.


I was gonna buy a Sarah Dessen book, but my oldest son was with me.  I picked up one of her books.  The cover featured a teenage girl on a bike wearing a bikini top and booty shorts.  There was no way in hell I was gonna try to explain that to my son.  I put it back, but made a mental note...

I slid Paper Towns out from the tightly packed John Green shelf.

Now THIS is a manly book cover.  There's a big, red...thumbtack..on it.  It was probably a very sharp, dangerous thumbtack.  There's no telling how many able-bodied men lost fingers trying to push that thumbtack in.  Yes.  This must be a manly book.

Just as I began to pull away from the bookshelf my eyes were pulled back by a mysterious force.

Time stood still.

The letters on the cover spelling Paper Towns started moving.  They swirled and jumped and changed places.  Some of the letters disappeared.  Five letters remained: A, E, N, S, P.

And then one by one they started dropping into place.

S...N...A...P...E

Snape.

"Oh my god," I said.

John Green is not who we think he is.


Paper Towns is a good read.  I like Looking for Alaska better, but I like Margo (Paper Towns MC) better than Alaska (Looking for Alaska MC) as a girlfriend for the teenage me.

Paper Towns has all the John Green trademarks: teenagers that sound like teenagers, flawless humor and life's deep questions explored in an appropriate, and clever, way.

John Green is a master at creating authentic characters.  I wouldn't be surprised if he disguised himself as a 16-year-old boy and still attended high school.

My only complaint about this book is it didn't have enough Margo in it.  Most of the book is other characters speculating about Margo.  I just wanted more actual Margo.

Why Guys Should Read This Book

Margo

Loads of sex jokes

The world's largest collection of Black Santas

Honeybunnies



It's a good read.  I recommend it.  I give it 5 out of 7 burritos.












Friday, January 11, 2013

A Manly Review of "Hush, Hush"

"Hush, Hush" was originally just a manly looking book I grabbed to hide "Anna and the French Kiss" under on the way to checkout.

Now I'm glad I actually bought it.

Let me start by commenting on the cover.  At first glance, it appears that some kind of man/angel is falling through the cloudy sky.  But, if you look closely (and use your chemically altered imagination) you can see the feathers from a crow that got his ass blasted by a shotgun.

There were no crows mentioned in the book, so I'm confused.

Ok, this story was awesome.  I don't like angel/fallen angel stories...at all.  This one, though, I liked.

I started out thinking, "Oh, hell.  What's Bella doing in this story?"  All I had was the girl who was just SO attracted to the dreamy boy that was so bad for her.  Pages and pages of sexual tension.  I swear, angel boy had a boner for the first 100 pages.

Then, I couldn't get past his name...Patch.  It's not the worst name, but when all you can picture is Robin Williams as Patch Freakin' Adams...it changes things.

Then, in an attempt to get Robin Williams out of my mind, I repeated Patch over and over until I got confused and started saying Stitch.  So then I was picturing Stitch (from Lilo and Stitch) every time I read Patch.  That was actually kinda cool.

I was really struggling.

Thankfully, after taking my meds, I got into the story.  I could NOT predict what was going to happen.  I couldn't figure out who was who.  THAT is what kept me reading.  Brilliant story telling.  My interest level rose with each page.  Just enough confusion to keep me going, but not make me give up.  New characters dropped in at just the right time.

It's like Becca Fitzpatrick had the Half Blood Prince's book and was adding just the right amounts of everything.

I ended up really liking "Hush, Hush."  (I still have no idea what "Hush, Hush" means?)

I liked the main characters.  The writing was money.  Excellent book.

Why Guys Should Read This Book

Action

Murder

AND...(here I go) yet another great example of HOW NOT TO TREAT A GIRL.

Don't be a creepy ass dude, and make a girl have to go tell a teacher she feels threatened by you.  This isn't cool.

Well done, Becca Fitzpatrick!!!  Keeping the attention of a 33-year-old man with ADD may not have been your goal, but you did it!