Ya Asylum

Wednesday, September 17th 2014

The Struggles of Being a Mood Reader

I recently discovered something that perhaps I’ve known for awhile, but that I’ve kind of been pushing away because it’s really not the most convenient situation to be in. It appears that, however hard I attempt to force myself into loving certain books, it simply is not meant to be – and nonono, not for any fault of the book, but because of my own brain. Due to this condition, even the most gorgeous, touching, heart-wrenching book in the world can do nothing to move me when I’m not in the right frame of mind for it.

That’s right: I am one of the elusive race of bookworms known as the mood readers.

Noooooooo!

Okay, okay, so maybe I’m overdramatising it just a little bit. ;) The truth is, being a mood reader isn’t actually all that bad! It definitely has its perks (of being a wallflower) (I am so sorry I just had to make that reference). But before we delve into that, what exactly is a mood reader, anyway?

Simply put, mood readers can’t do it with the numbered TBR lists and the scheduled reading. We never know what we’re going to pick up next – unlike other readers, we rarely decide beforehand that after this book we’re going to read that one and after that one comes this one, etc, etc, etc. As the name implies, the books mood readers read depend solely on… well, on their mood.

For example: yesterday I finished an absolutely beautiful memoir by Jeannette Walls, entitled The Glass Castle. Now, I have an ARC I’m supposed to be reading and reviewing (I should really get started on that, actually…), only there’s a small problem: it’s an MG contemporary.

But Topaz, why is that a problem? you ask.

Perhaps a non-mood reader could jump right into a totally different style and genre of book… but I just can’t. Case in point: I tried to read the ARC yesterday and found it… well, almost trivial. Boring. The humour laced into it felt trite. My mind kept wandering. Under different circumstances, I might really be enjoying the book, but right now I just can’t get into it.

Unfortunately, my mind still hasn’t really gotten out of deep-insightful-heartfelt-memoir mode quite yet. I was at the library yesterday and found myself wandering over to the nonfiction section, and before I knew it – and despite my best intentions, no less! – I had checked out both of the other books that Jeannette Walls has written and was happily devouring them.

As you might have guessed, this can be slightly inconvenient at times.

Then there’s the opposite problem – when I jump from contemporary to horror to historical fiction to fantasy, unable to find something that can truly satisfy me. There are times when I have about 30 billion books in my TBR stack and I still have nothing to read. :P

But then there are books I read that I know, had I not been in the mood for them, I never would have enjoyed otherwise. More Than This, by Patrick Ness, is definitely one of those. I read it while I was on a road trip with my family (and yes, I’m one of those people who can read in moving vehicles. BE JEALOUS) and while normally I really, really don’t like scifi or dystopian books, I was kind of sick of contemporaries so I just picked it up out of curiosity. Possibly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made – More Than This turned out to be one my absolute favourite books, and I know I never would have read it in a different situation. So that was kind of mind-blowingly awesome. :D

So what about you? Can you plan your bookish schedules, or are you a mood reader like me? (PLEASE tell me I’m not the only one out there. I’M COUNTING ON YOU GUYS.) Let me know in the comments – I’d love to have a conversation!

topaz

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Wednesday, September 17th 2014

Welcome, Timon To Our Team!

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I’m happy to announce that we have a new addition to the YA ASYLUM team! TIMON is a horror buff and a friend, so I’m so glad he agreed to join in on the insanity that we have here. He’ll be writing reviews from time to time, along with other things. I’m very excited for the ideas he has for features and future author interviews.

This will also be very helpful to have three of us on board. TOPAZ is remarkable but still in school and writing (join her FROZEN HEARTS cover reveal!). I’ve started grad school, signed with my agent, and have a couple other fun things going on. I love this site, but it’ll be a lot more maintainable with the three of us than just one.  Plus, it brings a great mixture of opinions.

About Timon

I fell in love with horror at age 4. Then I became a cynic at age five when I discovered riding around in a van with my friends and unmasking monsters wasn’t a viable career choice. I’m hoping one day to buy an old creepy mansion on the edge of town and change my name to Old Man Smithers.

In my free time I love gaming (board and video), reading, and researching obscure things. I’m always searching for more horror­—except for splatterpunk. The kind that breaks open my skull, pulls out my brain, and fries it over an open fire for a few hours.

I write YA horror.

He’s being modest. He writes very good YA horror too. And obviously a very smart guy to join the team ;)

AlJC6rz

Note from Topaz: Welcome, welcome, Timon – it’s so wonderful to have fresh meat another member on the YA Asylum team! ;) I know all of us are so very excited to see you posting around here (by the way, don’t forget to check out Timon’s previous reviews on UNBREAKABLE and THE MERCILESS). Welcome to the madhouse!

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topaz

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Tuesday, September 16th 2014

Book Talk: Recommend Your Favorites!

booktalk

Hey all! So, I’ve been more and more interested in historical fiction lately — particularly YA historical fiction (extra points if it’s creepy and/or dark).

For example, I really enjoyed REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donelly (even if I disliked the main character). It was so intriguing and I’ve always been fascinated by French history. Of course, I was in love with IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS by Cat Winters. It was creepy, with a romance to die for, and a very, very unique time period. I vaguely knew about the flu epidemic, but it was interesting to learn more about it.

Let’s not forget SOMETHING STRANGE & DEADLY by Susan Dennard (the whole series). Historical isn’t it’s first genre, but it is a historical. It’s interesting and different, and I don’t think the story would’ve worked in the modern setting.

So I’ve read a few others, but those three are the first that pop to mind that I really loved.

Do you read historical fiction?

If so, do you have any recommendations for me?

As you can tell, I like my historicals not full on historicals. I like them with a dash of something else (Revolution had a modern twist, In the Shadow of Blackbirds had a paranormal one, and Something Strange & Deadly had both paranormal and steampunk aspects).

 

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Monday, September 15th 2014

Wrap-Up: New Deals, Books, & Posts

wrapupost

Back by popular demand! My weekly round-up post that includes the latest book deal news from Publisher’s Marketplace. I was so, so surprised by how many people approached me telling me they missed these posts. They take a lot of effort to put together, so I stopped. But since you lovelies keep asking for it back, I’ll be doing it on Monday from now on.

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Last Week Posts:

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Bookish & Writing News:

READING IS GOOD FOR YOU (INFO GRAPH)

As a GalleyCat reader, you are probably fond of reading. But did you know that reading is actually better at reducing stress than going for a walk or listening to music?

READ A LOST CHAPTER FROM CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

Roald Dahl‘s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and the new release contains a couple of previously unreleased chapters, which were edited out of an early draft of the original book.Vanity Fair has published one of these chapters entitled, “The Warming-Candy Room.”

FALLEN HEROS

Nobody falls harder than a hero. Think of all the heroes who have let us down. Tiger Woods, Oscar Pistorius, Hansie Cronje, OJ Simpson, Lance Armstrong – the list goes on and on. I am deliberately excluding politicians; a blog post only has so much space.

THE WORST WAY TO BEGIN YOUR NOVEL

No one reads more prospective novel beginnings than literary agents.

They’re the ones on the front lines, sifting through inboxes and slush piles. And they’re the ones who can tell us which Chapter One approaches are overused and cliché, as well as which techniques just plain don’t work.

THESE WRITING TIPS FROM GEORGE R.R. MARTIN AND ROBIN HOBB ARE JUST EPIC

The pair, who have written over 50 books between them, discussed their respective series and their different approaches to writing. Here are the highlights.

EMPOWERED BY EMBARRASSMENT

You know those times when you wish you were completely alone? Not because you wish for peace and quiet, but because you hate the fact that others witnessed what just happened to you? I’m talking about those embarrassing moments, the ones when your face burns so hot that you feel like you might just melt down into the ground – and you wouldn’t mind if you did! You know, those moments!

5 WRITING TIPS FROM TANA FRENCH

I’m still very much in the apprentice stage of writing. I read somewhere that you need to write a million words before you know what you’re doing – so I’m headed that way, but I’m nowhere near there. But, for what they’re worth, here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

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New Deals:

YA BOOK DEALS REPORTED TO PUBLISHERS MARKETPLACE:

YA DIGITAL BOOK DEALS REPORTED TO PUBLISHERS MARKETPLACE: 1

GENRES:

Contemporary: 2
Fantasy: 1
Paranormal: 1 (Digital & Debut)
Retelling: 1 (Debut)

 

For more specific information check out the YA deals page at Publishers Marketplace (membership is required).

Please note that these are only the deals reported to Publishers Marketplace. There are quite a few literary agents that do not report their deals to Publishing Marketplace so there could be more deals than just this.

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Horror News: 

BOOK DEALS: 1

Michael Hodges’s THE PULLER, about a young man trapped in a remote mountain cabin by an invisible creature, to Gary Lucas at Severed Press, by Laura Wood at FinePrint Literary Management.

 

 

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Sunday, September 14th 2014

Cover Reveal: CLAIMING ATARIS

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Seventeen year old Quincy learns she is the heir to a royal kingdom. To claim her place in the Thalassic, she must allow the ocean to claim her, as a mermaid.

Thalassa means of the sea. Every single important moment in Quincy’s life has to do with water. She sits now at the bottom of the pool at her new school, drowning. Feeling like someone was holding her there. She was about to die in the same way her parents did three years ago. Quincy is about to gulp down the water when two strong arms grab her and rip her from the water. Her last fleeting thought before breaking the surface was “If I would have taken a breath underwater, it would have felt like coming home.”

At the state Water Polo match Quincy sees through the mortal glamour and finds that some of the players have fins, like merman. Was this going to be Quincy’s new life?

RUBY KNIGHT — WEBSITETWITTERADD IT TO GOODREADS

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Tuesday, September 9th 2014

Guest Review: Unbreakable by Kami Garcia

UnbreakableUnbreakable by Kami Garcia
Genres: Paranormal
Published by Little on October 1st 2013
Goodreads
I never believed in ghosts. Until one tried to kill me.

When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

Suspense, romance, and the paranormal meet in this chilling urban fantasy, the first book in a new series from Kami Garcia, bestselling coauthor of the Beautiful Creatures novels.
Buy the Book (Book Depository)Buy the Book (Amazon)

Kim: We have a guest reviewer today here on YA Asylum, Timon! He reviewed for us previously. He’s our resident horror buff. Take it away, Timon. 

The Real Housewives of Scooby-doo

My first review here at YA Asylum was my own personal Halloween. I was Michael Meyers, relentlessly pursuing The Merciless as I was—ahem—merciless in dismembering that book. Today, we’re stalking Kami Garcia’s Unbreakable, cutting her phone lines, standing in the corner of her vision, but now I feel less like the dizzying awesome that was the first Michael movie and more like Halloween 6: Going Through The Motions.

Because the characters are such tsunamis of bland, I’ve already forgotten most of them, and the less time I spend fact checking the better for my delicate grasp on sanity. For example, all I remember about the big bad is he’s a demon, his name starts with a v, and sounded like an off-brand Avon for even older women. So we’ll call him Lord Murder Twiddlethumbs, Master of Sloth, Binge-Watcher of All the Shows on Netflix, and Lover of Hugs.

I don’t even want to bother with a synopsis of Unthinkable, but here we go. Kennedy Waters, the ‘protagonist,’ comes home one night to find her mother dead. She discovers a vengeance spirit killed her darling mother after Seventeen cover models and twin bothers, Jared and Lucas Lovetriangle—um, sorry, I meant Lockhart, break into her room and kill the nasty in the most boring way possible. (Hint: you kill them with salt.) They take her to their HQ where the book becomes a mess of Real Housewives drama with the cast of an MTV remake of Scooby-doo in a bad Supernatural episode.

Kennedy shows up and fights spirits better than the people who’ve trained for years. The stakes are never given for why Kennedy should stick with the spirit hunters, instead of going to Wal-Mart, buying a saltshaker, and never looking back. The characters are only ever in danger when they go to a spooktacular location, each one ripped from the Horror’s Greatest Hits Collection, including a haunted well, an orphanage, a prison, a magic shop, and a Victorian house. They are never, ever, in danger in any other part of the book, even though they’re living in a van.

And that’s when I figured out the Big Dumb Twist™. If you’re ever reading a YA horror novel with the trifecta of plot-induced stupidity, characters with black holes for personalities, and a lack of tension, guess what? The author has sacrificed everything for the Big Dumb Twist™.

I don’t know where writers get the idea that horror MUST have A SHOCKING TWIST, but it needs to stop. Now. It’s like no one’s ever explained to them the difference between a twist and being unpredictable. Literally nothing makes horror more predicable than a Big Dumb Twist™.

The twist here is that the super secret weapon the characters want to use against Lord Murder Twiddlethumbs, Politest of All Demon Spawn, discover it actually summons Lord Murder Twiddlethumbs, Protector of Butterflies.

Huh, you’d think someone in the super secret spirit hunting society would’ve written that down somewhere. For example, Blandy McBlanderson’s Shopping List: eggs, milk, and oh yeah, the secret weapon is secretly *not* a secret weapon. Or secret.

Never once do the characters stop and use their brains to analyze their assumptions, or do research, or even think. It takes a ghost, who the ‘protagonist’ thinks is working for Lord Murder Twiddlethumbs, Taker of Every Buzzfeed Quiz, spelling it out for them in the climax, and even then the warning doesn’t penetrate their lobotomized skulls.

So let’s recap. If everyone stayed at home with their salt shakers, nothing bad would’ve happened. At all. That means that if the characters were smart, this book wouldn’t exist. Oops.

But here’s the heartbreaking part, stylistically Kami Garcia is top-notch, and her prose flows like gently rolling waves at dusk. The atmosphere in each haunted location works beautifully, in spite of something always undercutting the tension. The horror fun land tours are complete cliché storms, but with the exception of the prison, they pulled me back into the story. They gave me the creeps. They tingled my spine. However, this book fails because the spooky scenes are the only parts with atmosphere. I’ll save this point for it’s own article, but atmosphere is more than tarting up the sets with cobwebs and eerie sounds. Atmosphere is to horror what world building is to fantasy. No atmosphere. No horror.

The next book in the series comes out later this month, and as much as I want to give Kami Garcia another chance, I don’t want to read another word about these Big Brother contestants. I’d only recommend this book for really young readers who aren’t horror veterans.

~ Post by Timon

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Friday, September 5th 2014

Bookish Playlist: “Carry On”

bookishplaylist

*circus master voice* Ladies and gentlemen! INTRODUUUUUCING a brand new YA Asylum feature: bookish playlists! :D I’ve been toying with this idea for quite awhile now and finally I was basically like what the hell, might as well give it a try, right? Bookish playlists are exactly what they sound like: playlists created specifically with a certain book in mind (usually one of my personal favourites because, um, where’s the logic in creating a playlist for a book one hates…?). They combine my two great loves, books and music, and hopefully they’ll make the reading experience even more fun for re-readers and first-timers alike!

I don’t think any of us will be too terribly shocked to learn that for the debut of this feature I chose what’s only my favourite book in the history of the universe: Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell.

I highly doubt there will ever be a day when I don’t dissolve into a puddle of feels and happiness at the mere mention of this book. (It took me like three hours to make this playlist because I was too busy rereading my favourite parts when I was supposed to be just skimming and looking for song-worthy sections. *sigh*) Please note that this will have SPOILERS for the book, so if that’s something that bothers you then I’d strongly advise you to skip over this post.

Check out the playlist, entitled Carry On, on 8tracks by clicking on the cover below! :D

Album Cover

i. I’m Only Me When I’m With You // Taylor Swift

well, you drive me crazy half the time
the other half I’m only trying to let you know
that what I feel is true
and I’m only me when I’m with you

At the beginning of the book there’s Cath and Wren: two people, one unit. This song seemed pretty appropriate to describe how they function – there can’t be one without the other. Even when they don’t have anybody else, they’ll always have each other. They’re a set pair, and the best part is that they wouldn’t have it any other way.

ii. The Scientist // Coldplay

nobody said it was easy
it’s such a shame for us to part
nobody said it was easy
no one ever said it would be this hard

… aaaand then it all falls to pieces! Of course I had to include my favourite song in the world because it’s just so heartwrenchingly descriptive of Cath and Wren’s relationship as they drift further and further apart. I think this would probably be sung from Cath’s point of view – especially the lyric take me back to the start. It’s not just about Wren at that point – she wants everything to go back to the way it was.

iii. Pompeii // Bastille

 but if you close your eyes
does it almost feel like nothing changed at all?

and if you close your eyes
does it almost feel like you’ve been here before?

how am I gonna be an optimist about this?
how am I gonna be an optimist about this?

For Simon and Baz, because of the terrible threat they’re facing in the form of the Insidious Humdrum. But also because of the struggle they have in their relationship in Cath’s fanfics – they’re supposed to hate each other, and yet they somehow form an almost twisted connection just because they’ve been through too much together not to have that strong of a bond.

iv. Shelter From The Storm // Bob Dylan

 ’twas in another lifetime, one of toil and bond
when blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud
I came in from the darkness, a creature void of form
Come in, she said, I’ll give you shelter from the storm

Simon and Baz are constantly sheltering each other from storms, and this song draws further parallels between Cath’s fanfic universe and Gemma Doyle’s canon. The lyric in another lifetime makes me so sad because perhaps if Simon and Baz’s circumstances weren’t as drastic as in the canon, they might have grown as close as they did in Cath’s fanfiction. :(

v. Tee Shirt // Birdy

I know, ’cause I’ve spent half this morning
thinking about the tee shirt you sleep in
I should know, ’cause I’d spend the whole day
listening to your message I’m keeping
and never deleting

Turning to happier topics, because Cath and Levi are asdfghjkl; adorable and it’s totally my new headcanon that Cath listens to this song with a big, goofy smile on her face while thinking of him (and then of course Reagan looks over and asks in a completely exasperated tone of voice what Cath is so happy about even though of course she knows already… ;))

vi. Stay Stay Stay // Taylor Swift

you took the time to memorise me
my fears, my hopes and dreams
I just like hanging out with you all the time
all those times that you didn’t leave
it’s been occurring to me
I’d like to hang out with you for my whole life

YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH CATH AND LEVI, OKAY. And this song just perfectly encompasses the schmoopy, fluffy elements of their relationship – the idea that even though they’re complete opposites, Levi just understands her in a way no one else save for maybe Wren ever has before.

vii. You’ve Got A Friend In Me // Randy Newman

you’ve got a friend in me
you’ve got a friend in me
when the road looks rough ahead

and you’re miles and miles from your nice warm bed
you just remember what your old pal said:
boy, you’ve got a friend in me

Is there ANYONE here who can say that as swoon-worthy as Cath and Levi are, Cath and Reagan don’t have one of the most amazing friendships ever to grace the pages of books? From the very beginning (“I took this side,” she said, nodding to the pile of boxes on the right side of the room. “But it doesn’t matter. If you’ve got feng shui issues, feel free to move my shit.”), Reagan just does not care about anything or anyone, which makes it all the more endearing when she and Cath become the best of friends.

viii. Brave // Sara Bareilles

and since your history of silence
won’t do you any good, did you think it could?
let your words be anything but empty
why don’t you tell them the truth? 

There are no words to describe how proud I was of Cath when she finally learned how to stand up to those who were making her school year miserable and live a life where she wasn’t always cowering and waiting for Wren to speak up for her. Also, bonus: at the same time, Simon figures out the secret behind defeating the Insidious Humdrum and of course, it’s all about being brave.

ix. Home // Action Item

even the perfect words will never be enough
to explain exactly what you’ve done
oh, I can try and try to stand on my own
but I will always come home

I think one of the most beautiful and overlooked relationships in Fangirl is between Cath and her father. Although slightly eccentric, Cath’s dad was the one who convinced her to go back to school for a second semester and who played a huge part in bringing her and Wren back together. Even though Cath does learn how to stand on her own feet, she doesn’t forget about her father – and as the song says, she never fails to come back home to him.

x. Carry On (Acoustic) // Fun.

if you’re lost and alone
or you’re sinking like a stone
carry on
may your past be the sound
of your feet upon the ground
carry on

(Before someone asks: there’s really no reason why I chose the acoustic version of “Carry On” except… I dunno, I just like it better? :P) This, of course, is in honour of Cath’s beautiful fanfic, Carry On, Simon, that gets her through a lot of the stress of college – but also because I think a recurring theme in the book is sticking it out through whatever troubles befall you. No matter what happens, Cath never gives up on herself or her friends or her family, and that’s one of the things I admire most about her.

… aaaand that’s all for this playlist, folks! What do you guys think of the songs I chose – are there any you’d add or take out? If you have any suggestions for future bookish playlists, please do let me know in the comments (check out this Goodreads shelf for my favourite books, or this one for all the books I’ve read!). Can’t wait to hear what you think. :D

topaz2

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Saturday, August 30th 2014

Review: Secrets of a Social Outcast, by Francene Carroll

Secrets of a Social OutcastSecrets of a Social Outcast by Francene Carroll
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eBook
Source: ARC from author
Goodreads
Gabrielle Bridges has always found it easy to fit in at school but at the beginning of Year 8 her life changes dramatically. First, the boy she's been crushing on for ages is mean to her, then she's kicked out of her friendship group. To top it off her BFF moves away to Sydney. Just when Gabby thinks things couldn't get any worse, Annakey Lucas, the nastiest bully in her year, decides to turn the whole school against her.How will Gabby survive Yr 8 when her entire life is falling to pieces?
Buy the Book (Book Depository)Buy the Book (Amazon)

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Another note: the following review will most likely contain copious ranting, sarcasm, exasperated GIFs, and other scathing diatribes against this book. You have been warned.

I just… am so, so incredibly disappointed right now. I had such high hopes for Secrets of a Social Outcast, but it did not work out for me. At all. By the middle of the book I was forcing myself to stick it out through the end in hopes that it might improve. No such luck – the ending seemed at best predictable and at worst contrived.

The Lord is Testing Me

Although there were quite a few things that irked me about Secrets of a Social Outcast, I think it really boils down to one major thing: the MC and I never quite clicked. Secrets is written in diary format by Gabrielle Bridges (aka Gabby and/or Wednesday Addams, depending on one’s relationship with her). From the beginning, her voice grated on my nerves. Gabby is whiny, naive, and almost startlingly self-centred. On the first page itself she endears herself to her lovely readers with this wonderful passage on her supposedly non-brain dead state and how she’s being deprived of – AND I QUOTE – the “basic necessities of life”. (Woe is me.)

I wish I could keep this diary on my laptop like a normal person but my parents check my computer all the time in case I get stalked by a paedophile (or more likely to find out if I’m looking at stuff I’m not supposed to). Seriously! Do they really think I’m going to hook up with a total stranger I meet online? I’m not completely brain dead but they obviously don’t agree because I have no privacy whatsoever. I’m not even allowed to have Facebook until I’m 14 and that’s almost a year away. I don’t know how I’m going to survive till then. All my friends and even my 10 year old cousin are on there. It’s so embarrassing being the odd one out. It’s totally my parents’ fault for depriving me of the basic necessities of life. If I end up being a social outcast it will all be their fault.

Well, I’m sorry your feelings are hurt, princess. Indeed, HOW are you going to SURVIVE without the staple of life that is Facebook? Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll all come to your funeral once you die of technology deprivation.

Continuing on with the list of Gabby’s crimes: she’s so hypocritical, it’s almost laughable. Case in point: when Annakey Lucas, a girl at her school who Gabby identifies as “Skanky Annakey”, starts making fun of her behind her back, she has the gall to be offended and even complains to her dear diary about how she doesn’t know what she’s done to deserve this. On page 17:

I can’t believe she’s doing this. I’ve barely even spoken to her and I can’t think of anything I’ve done to make her hate me.

WELL, THEN TRY THINKING HARDER.

Thank goodness, in the second half of the book Gabby becomes slightly more bearable. Unfortunately, the reason for this is that suddenly the whole school starts hating her and she has no friends whatsoever. So why exactly does it take severe bullying for Gabby to start maturing? (Now, isn’t that the million-dollar question.) The thing that made me really sad, however, was that I just could not relate to Gabby at all. Even when reached her lowest point and began self-harming, and no matter how many times she announced that her “life was ending” (and believe me, there were quite a few times), I just couldn’t feel the desolation. There was always a part of my mind wondering why she had to be so melodramatic. On page 35, she complains about her parents:

My whole life is falling to pieces and they think I’m sulking like a spoiled brat!

And I’m just sitting here going… I dunno, sweetheart, you seem pretty bratty to me.

Then, in the span of a week, Gabby goes from cutting herself to totally defiant and set on the decision that no bully is going to affect her own self-perception. And okay, I can understand how an experience like that might want you to turn yourself around, but a week? How can she do a complete 180 that quickly?

Not to mention – what a coincidence that all the bullies are caught in the act, in the same week. (I can’t be the only one who sees something very, very wrong there.)

Fast-forward to when Gabby’s tentatively building up her social status once more. You’d think that she might have learned something from the whole bullying episode and mellowed out a little bit, right?

No such luck. She calls good ol’ Skanky Annakey a “worthless slut” TO HER FACE, quoting Annakey’s own father – which, I gotta say, is a pretty low blow. Later she goes onto announce that Annakey deserved it and she wouldn’t have done anything different given the chance. So who exactly is the bully here…?

Some more choice gems, from page 55:

Even Annakey didn’t say anything to me or Brooke today. She was much quieter than she usually is, probably because she’s scared of getting into trouble again. I wish she’d just do something and be expelled once and for all. We all know it’s going to happen eventually and that she’ll end up a complete no-hoper just like her parents.

And from pages 65-66, Gabby’s reaction to Annakey’s genuine apology for the bullying:

I know the only reason she apologised is because everyone hates her. She’s seen me hanging out with Lochie [popular boy] and some of the cool kids so she thinks if she becomes friends with me then that will be a way for her to get back in with her old friends … I got really angry and said, “I know it’s only because you have no friends and you’re just trying to use me. You can take your apology and shove it. There’s nothing you can say to make up for what you did to me and I’m glad you’re finally getting what you deserve.”

Anyway. I think you get the general gist: girl is mean, ignorant, and immature. Girl gets bullied. Girl is now mean, ignorant, slightly more mature, and about a hundred times preachier.  My eyes are hurting from the amount of times I rolled them reading this book. Perhaps if so much of Secrets wasn’t spent in Gabby’s head I might have found it slightly more tolerable, but that isn’t the case. Had it not been for my policy of not DNFing ARCs, I most certainly wouldn’t have struggled through it all.

Take my advice: skip over this one. You’ll thank yourself for it.

topaz2

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Thursday, August 28th 2014

Moving to Montreal + Grad School + Signing With An Agent

Heeeey all! 

It’s the reclusive Kim here. I know, I know. I’ve been horrible about updating lately, but this summer has been a lot of rushing around for me.

As some of you might know, I’m moving to Montreal (should be in Canada when this post goes live!). As you read this post, I’m probably on the road from Kansas City to Montreal. I’ll be starting my classes at McGill next week. I’m pursuing a Masters in Information Studies (which is essentially a librarian science degree). I’d love to become a Youth Service Librarian in the future, with a focus on YA and MG fiction :)

I plan to have a lot more regular posts, probably around two per week. And the lovely Topaz is going to keep posting too, like the awesome girl she is. But it will probably be a week before I can do that. I gotta get situated in my new apartment.

(Don’t worry, I’m bringing more books with me than clothes to Montreal.)

On top of that, I have some even more exciting news. I’ve mentioned from time to time that I also write YA fiction. On Tuesday, I signed with Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency. So I’m officially an agented writer (yayyy). You can read more about here at my How I Got My Agent post if you want.

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Wednesday, August 27th 2014

Book Blitz: IN THE REARVIEW by Maria Ann Green

Check out Maria Ann Green’s In the Rearview promo event hosted by Itching for Books. Continue for an excerpt and enter the giveaway:



22877564
Release date: August 19th 2014
Publisher: Astraea Press
Purchase: Amazon | B&N

Synopsis via Goodreads:

When Meagan’s secret is found out, and she realizes there is no way to outrun her habit of cutting, she tries to work through it, and her depression, before she cuts too deep, making a mistake that can never be undone.
 
Meagan’s problems aren’t like every other adolescent’s no matter how much she wishes they could be. Hers are worse. They’ve pulled her down into the depths of a depression that is anything but normal. She begins her pattern of self-harm as her depression threatens to drown her. She starts with one cut that leads to the next, and the next. After starting, it’s apparent that there’s no stopping, and Meagan spirals into a dark and cruel world she doesn’t understand. Meagan cuts to feel better, but that comfort doesn’t last long enough, and soon life is worse than it ever was before.
 
While learning to quit cutting Meagan faces life-altering obstacles and grows up in the process. IN THE REARVIEW is a story of pain, loss, confusion, and hope told through Meagan’s poems, journal entries, and a splash of narrative.




Maria Ann Green

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maria Green currently lives in Minnesota, despite its bitter winters, with her husband. She graduated with a degree in Psychology and a minor in English. When she isn’t writing, Maria loves to read with a cup of strong coffee or a glass of sweet wine, craft, and spend time with her family. This is her first published novel. 

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

 
 
 


EXCERPT
===============
 

 

 Meagan stared down at her desk. Her focus moved beyond the assignment in front of her without actually seeing what she was looking toward. There were lines, spaces of white, and blobs of writing, but nothing seemed important enough to consider closely.  Truthfully she didn’t care. 


 She didn’t feel the need to focus. 
 Her gaze slowly moved up to the front of the classroom, and again she fixated on a point past what was before her. She did not concentrate on the teacher. There was a face, a moving mouth, but she didn’t connect it with the sounds struggling slowly, like sticky sludge past her ears. She didn’t hear the instructions being uttered; each word fell on deaf ears as she mindlessly doodled. 

 

 Twisting her hair around her finger, she thought about how nice it would be to be at home, in bed, with the curtains closed instead of in this loud and hyper school. It seemed her classmates had recently started caring too much about what was going on around them. There was too much drama, too much noise, too much concern jumping all around her. It was all so taxing. 


 It was such a bother. 
 Meagan, in contrast, was usually in a world of her own. Her head felt fuzzy most of the time, and unless she used a lot of energy, most conversations sounded muffled, like there was cotton in her ears. She didn’t feel the need to engage anymore. Her desire to try so hard just to do what had once come easily had dwindled to nothing. At first she’d tried, but not now. Not anymore. It had become too difficult to care. 
 And that was her biggest problem. Meagan didn’t care much about any of these changes. She was fine walking through school without any effort. Her feet felt a little heavier as each day passed, and her head felt a little more under pressure of a crushing fog that numbed her, but she pushed through it all. She didn’t mind neglecting what used to bring her excitement. In fact, it was just easier not to give a crap. 
 Everything was distinctly lackluster these days.


 
 
 
 
 
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