Wednesday, September 24, 2014

this book is not about space


my first thought when I first heard the title of this book: SPAAAAACE!!!


this book is not about space.


honestly, if I hadn't been forewarned about the lack of space-life, my hopes would've been seriously dashed.

Life in Outer Space is about as far away from life in space as it can get--it's the story of a shy, nerdy, Australian sixteen year old, his friends, and the struggle of growing up and changing. I didn't know what to expect when I picked it up after another blog recommended it, but I'm glad I did. Why? Because this is one of the sweetest little romantic/real life books I've ever read. Right up there with Eleanor and Park. I might even like it better than Eleanor and Park, because it's different. It's not set in the past, it's not heavily laced with language, and as much as I love Park, I relate to Sam so much more.

It says on the book jacket: "Then Sam meets Camilla. She's beautiful, friendly, and completely irrelevant to his life. Sam is determined to ignore her, except that Camilla has a life of her own--and she's decided that he's going to be a part of it."


That's what I love about this book. Sam didn't want to be friends with Camilla. He was happy with his life of normality, with his 3 buddies, with coming home to his silently broken family. He wanted her to leave them alone, but she wouldn't have any of it and instead barged (in the most polite way possible) into his life. In most books--and the author even makes fun of this a little--the moment when Camilla makes her first appearance should've been slow-mo, with Sam's jaw dropping, and a dramatic spring breeze flinging her hair this way and that. But it wasn't. Sam just judges her appearance and tries to determine where she's going to fall into place at this school (because, as he puts it, he's dead inside). Camilla shoulders her way into his world, and somehow, it's like they were meant to be best friends from the beginning of time, because that's what happens.

But then Sam wakes up. And he doesn't like the way things are changing, like a snowball down a mountain slope. He doesn't want to deal with that.

And then he shuts down.

you idiot.
I love Sam so much. I "clicked" with him, as it were. If I could pick out a character that I wanted to be best friends with, I'd chose him. He's sarcastic, he likes to write, he's afraid of change, and he knows what it's like to wake up and realize that he's more than attached to a certain person, and he knows what it's like to be afraid of messing it all up again. He also converses in movie quotes, which is like an Olympic sport at my house, so I think we would get along pretty well--though our taste in movies is completely different. I'm not a horror movie fan, but it was pretty neat seeing how that semi-bizarre theme meshed with the rest of the story. That, and all the Star Wars references. I died because Camilla in the last chapter. Freaking died.


The rest of the characters were also lovable, though not so much as Sam. They all could've been a little more developed in my humble opinion (not a bad thing--it made Sam shine even more), even Camilla. I liked her, but I also disliked her. Mainly because she's that golden, free girl that comes in and changes everybody else. Very cliche, in my humble opinion. She also seemed just a little TOO perfect for me--a girl who is nerdy, a musical wizard, and a brainiac. AND a social butterfly? Yeah, that's a bit much. Her "secret" (which I saw coming the moment she visited Sam's house the first time) added dimension to her character, but not much depth, and her fear didn't do much to make her seem more human. Actually, the thing that humanized her the most was when Sam was left alone and she kept making him put one step in front of the other. That was when she felt the most real to me.

Mike...what can I say about Mike? At times, he felt dreadfully absent from the story (but that's just his character, I suppose), but he also felt more developed than Camilla. The relationship between him and Sam is one of the hilarious and guy-iest friendships I've ever read. I love that, although it does play a good part in the book, Mike's sexual orientation is not a MASSIVE dramatic deal (yes, this book has a gay character in it. You have been alerted.) I'm also thankful that we avoided the terrible "I'm gay and in love with my best friend" trope, because that would have been unnecessary on all parts and waaaaaaay too heavy in the drama department of life. I also loved that Mike had other issues besides his sexual orientation--i.e., trouble in school, frustration with his friends and their idiocy, quitting judo for other reasons than a guy...he was a very real character, just a little underdeveloped.
I love that I'm using this gif for Mike, of all people... XD
Adrian and Allison...I don't know what to say about these two. Out of the five friends, they were the least developed. Allison confused me, just because of how she was a shy, grimace-y person who didn't have any friends besides the guys at the beginning of the book, and immediately after Camilla shows up, she's accepted and loved. But maybe that's just because I don't understand the science that goes into girlish interactions (and unlike Sam, I am a girl). Adrian was the obnoxious yet adorable filler character who gave Sam someone who punch and I imagine he was an adorable Ewok for prom. Like, I can't even imagine  how adorable he was. But there wasn't much else to him, aside from him coming up with the vague idea of an intervention for Mike's behalf.

I don't know what to classify this book as. It's not just a romance. It's not just a "guy" book. It's not just a girl book. It's not just a comedy. It's not just a coming of age story. It's all these things, wrapped up in something that resembles a Chipotle burrito made of words. It's substantial and it'll satisfy your craving, but you'll gobble it up fast because it's made up of such delicious words. I can almost guarantee you'll want more after taking the last bite. I know I did.

tis magic. and  good writing.
As for language alerts, it was pretty clean--the word a-se was pretty common, but these kids are sixteen. What do you expect? Mike likes the word "frakking", which is one variation of fricking that I'd never seen before. Justin semi-drops the f-word, but the author changed one letter to make it into a different word, I guess. But I was pretty impressed, language wise (or lack thereof).

Sam's life revolves around movies. Well, maybe not revolves. But they definitely are a big deal to him. He loves to dissect them, he loves to watch them, and he loves to quote them. And I can't go through this book without picking out a few of my favourite quotes. I just can't. I will try to use self control, though.

"I'm tired of not knowing things," I mumble.
Dad chuckles. "Yeah? Get used to it."
"You smell like cigarettes and...fajitas?"
"Yeah. I've had a weird day."
Mike lifts the ice pack and frowns at my face. "So which movie inspired this piece of brilliance?"
I attempt a scowl. "Not everything in my life is inspired by a movie, Michael."
Mike stares at me.
"
Karate Kid."
 "So. Are we concocting some elaborate scheme where we pretend to be twins to get your parents back together?"
"Am I supposed to know the reference?"
"Dude.
Parent Trap."
"Isn't that a Disney movie?"
"Yeah. So?"
"How gay are you, Mike?"
Mike snorts. "My cousin made me watch it last time I babysat. It was possibly the stupidest thing I've ever seen. Anyway, doubt we could pass for twins."
"Yeah. You can't pull off blond."
"You'd look even more emo with dark hair."
 “I think, because…well, I like the idea of coming up with a story that never existed before, but I don’t really want to be in charge. I don’t want to be famous. I guess I like the idea of sitting in the dark and knowing that I created the thing on screen, that it’s my story, but, like, no-one else has to know it was me. Does that make sense?”
 Her heavy winter coat is damp from the rain, and it feels like the actual Camilla is somewhere miles beneath layers of wool--but it is still her. And she is home. I want to tell her that I'm happy she's back, but the first words that slip out of my mouth are bizarre, even by my standards:
"You were gone for too long."
She pulls loose from my arms a little and peers up at me. Her face passes through a bunch of different things. For a rare second, it is serious. "I know."
"Everything just feels really...tilted," I mumble.
She squeezes my hand tightly between both of hers. "I'm sorry about your parents. I'm sorry I wasn't here when it happened. I'm sorry it's rained for ten days straight."
She grins. "And you, Sam, look great! How does it feel being an Imperial henchman?"
"Awesome. I am ready to crush all uprisings with my mindless conformity and surprisingly crap aim."
"You. Here. Sitting in a corner all by your lonesome. You're going to make me be incredibly cheesy. You know what I'm going to have to say."
"Camilla..."
She leans a little closer. "Nobody. Puts. Baby..."
"Camilla, I'm sort of, a little bit..."
"Sam, are you really going to make me finish that line?"
"...a little bit completely in love with you."
Objectively, I know the world continues to spin. The music hasn't stopped. People haven't frozen in place. There is nothing to mark that everything has changed.
"Camilla, you're one of the best friends I've ever had. You're smart and amazing and weird and probably the most beautiful person I've ever seen...and before I met you, all I wanted was just to fast-forward through everything. But, really, I think my life was just paused, or something. You...made me press play. You made everything move. And no matter where you go, or whatever you feel about me...I will love you forever for that."

Life In Outer Space was adorable and made me giggle and almost cry and I just really loved it. I mentioned this scene above, but I think my favourite part was when Camilla intervened (wow, there are a lot of best-friend-you-don't-know-what-you're-doing interventions in this book, aren't there) and sent Sam on mission after mission, to just to keep him going. My parents have never separated, unlike Sam's, but I've dealt with some pretty hard stuff in my teenaged life, and there were times when I just wanted to have a friend kick me in the rear and make me get out of my fetal position and go do something. I've only had one friend do that for me, and I have to say--it changed my life. I can't imagine how I would've made it through the past year without that friend telling me to keep pushing myself. So that part of Life in Outer Space especially spoke to me. But overall, it's an amazing book, and I recommend you go pick it up and read it.


Because, you know, nobody puts baby in a corner.

Monday, September 22, 2014

[bless the eyes that see: the unveiling]

so there's this boy.

his name is Emerson.

and recently, he's come an important person in my life.

he's kinda extraordinary, and when I say that, I mean he's ordinary, with a whole lot of extra on the side. he was almost a girl, but after thinking long and hard about it, his parents (aka, my brain) decided on having a boy (because that's totally how things work. O.o) Emerson has one younger brother, a frazzled mom, and a dad who died in an accident that was supposed to be as ordinary as Emerson.

But he didn't.

oh, he's dead, all right. hate to be a downer, but it's the truth. but how he died is the deception.

Emerson finds out all this and more after he starts seeing shapes in the dark. he learns that the world is way more extraordinary than he ever would've imagined. he learns what it truly means to be the Second Eye on the Eastern Border. 

and he learns that not all evil hides in the shadows--sometimes it walks the streets like any other ordinary person.

I'm doing it. It's happening. NaNo 2014 is going to be a thing for me, and I'm super excited. After being pretty dedicated to the great ones and the general, having a very different pet project for only the month of November is quite the thrilling prospect. Stopping after November and focusing once more on the great ones will be a trouble, I imagine, but still--I get to be scary. Or I'm going to try and be scary. I've only tried it once before, and I have to say some of what I wrote still gives me the chills.


As of right now, my plotting file is thin and sassy as all get out (it's like my time writing as Matt has rubbed off on me or something) which I will have to fix, because Emerson is not sassy at all. He's very much normal, thank you very much. I like Emerson. He seems like a nice kid--it's actually kind of funny, but he's the first MC that I've had in a long time that wasn't the same age as me. I've always felt more comfortable writing about characters closer in age to myself (thus resulting in my protagonists getting older and older over the years), but I'm stepping out on a limb here and writing about a 13/14 year old boy instead. I know, I know, boys that age can behave like they're a completely different species, but luckily, I have my brother to observe. Should be an adventure.

I love Emerson's name. It's so pompous and pretentious and that's so not him. I also love Scratch's nickname, because it's so him. I haven't given him a real name yet, and I doubt that I actually will. I want him to forever remain a scruff little vagabond with quick knife skills in my mind, and not become some Randolph or William or Steve. He's Scratch and that's that. But who's Scratch, you ask.

tsk tsk. Getting ahead of ourselves already, are we?

It's isn't Scratch's turn to be introduced today. It isn't even Emerson's turn. It's not even an actual character's turn.

Today, I introduce you to my latest plot bunny that made it out of the cage and onto the page (see what I did there?)

An empty street. An empty house. A broken light.
They left weeks ago, but the light on the porch still flickers on and off as steady as a heartbeat. One would think it would've died already, but every night at seven o'clock, when the Residents come trickling back to home after work, it comes on with a snap. Most folks don't notice its regular flashes, being too keen on getting back to their wives and meals and beds, but a few stop to observe. Some even climb up the steps to take a closer look. One even went inside the abandoned home to flick off the switch and keep that annoying light from coming on ever again.
He never came out again.
But no matter if they stopped, no matter if they walked on, every person who walked by the old blue house with the latched down shutters felt a fingertip of chill trace down their spine. They couldn't explain it, but it was as if someone were watching them and breathing icy cold air down their necks.
But it was just a light, and it was only an abandoned house.
Nothing more, nothing less.
It was silly to imagine eyes following innocent footsteps.

Who knows who will show up and meet you all next week? Oh wait, that's right. I do.

but authors don't tell secrets.

Or at least, they don't tell a lot of them all at once.

Friday, September 19, 2014

burn-out

if more people took the time to slow down, rest in the soft, spring-time grass, and look up at the cloud spattered sky, everyone would be happier.
but what was the point in happiness? Euphoria and endorphins couldn't fill an empty stomach. They couldn't pay the bills, do homework, or wash the dishes. They only lifted a person up to the clouds before they inevitably fell again. That process--happiness, heartbreak, more happiness, more heartbreak--over and over again...what good did it do? Was it even worth it?
Maybe it was because of the happiness that the bad days became bearable. Because of the repetitive aspect of life, one always knew that something at least a little better was on its way, and that was an encouragement in itself...
not grass, but who cares...

Jon absently picked at the slippery grass beneath his fingers, mulling over his debate with himself. Something about it missed the mark; he just couldn't figure out what. He wished he could more objective with himself, but today, he was too exhausted to pick a meaningful fight.

He never told anyone he had these arguments against his own mind, not even Matt or Colt. Colt wouldn't care--he'd joke that Jon had finally gone off the deep end and then spend the rest of the day hovering over him like an anxious mother hen. Matt, on the other hand, would over-dissect it. He'd make it into a scientific formula, something with no warmth or emotion or surprise to it. It would all be predictable and deathly boring. This argument needed those emotions to thrive, not to be squashed out.

The clouds scuttled across the sky like fleecy crabs, and Jon's eyes grew heavier by the second. The soft grass beneath his head was too close to a pillow and the warm breeze flowing over his bare arms was too similar to a blanket. He hadn't slept well in a week, and nature's lullaby was working its magic.

But he needed to stay awake. The argument wasn't over. It never was.

Just five minutes, he begged his raging mind. Just five simple minutes of thoughtless sleep?

His eyelids slipped...closing, closing, closing...

"Hey, are you Jon North?"

He popped one eye open with a groan and saw a Kid--middle-schooler? Absurdly baby-faced high-schooler?--standing directly above him. A battered soccer ball was tightly tucked under his arm.

"I am." He sat up. "Do I know you?"

The kid laughed. "Heck no. I know all about you, thought!"

Really, he thought. You'd be scared kid if you did.

"So what do you want?" He choked back at yawn that threatened its way out. His mind screamed that this little kid wasn't important; only the great argument was. That was the Matty side of him coming out. People weren't important; facts were. But Jon  was Jon, a completely different person in the same body. And to Jon, people were the most important.

The kid had a way of smiling that squished his eyes together and stretched his upper lip too tight and made all his freckles bunch together like a swarm of ants, and Jon smiled back at him just because of how young and idiotic he looked. And happy. He looked happy.

"I'm Bryson," he said. "I play on the Ashburn Jaguars, and I've heard all about you from Coach."

Ah. Junior-high. The still gappy teeth made sense now.

"And?" asked Jon. "You just wanted to say hi!"

"I wanted to just to talk to you! You're a legend to our team! Coach says you were the best player he ever had!"

"Me?" That was slightly unbelievably. He was also the player who'd plastic wrapped Coach's car for a joke, hid everyone's shin guards and cleats before their biggest game, and skipped practices left and right. Hardly the makings of a legend. Or anything.

"That one game--where you scored those three hat-tricks--I was there!" He looked like he was ready to explode with excitement at the memory. "Of course, I was only like 9, but I still remember how wicked it was! How'd you even do it?"

"How'd I do it?" It had been a joke. Colt told him to score as many points as he could, but to boggle the other team's mind while doing it, because their goalie had asked Leslie Carver, the prettiest girl in town, out before he had. And thus, Jon came up with dominating the ball for three straight goals, letting the other team score an absurdly easy goal, then rise and repeat. Coach had yelled at him for playing as an individual and not as a team, but he couldn't hide how impressed he was. "Uh...I don't really know. I guess it was pure dumb luck."

"Dang." The boy sucked air between his teeth. "It sure sucks that you quit the team the next month. You were on fire."

Jon looked down at his shoes and grinned slightly. "That's the thing, kid," he said. "When you're on fire, sometimes you burn out. Happens to the best of us." And the worst of us. "You got a game soon?"

"Tomorrow, actually," he blurted out eagerly. "At the Rec Center."

"You should go practice then. Who knows, maybe I'll see you there."

"Really?" His voice shot up and peaked with excitement. "You'd do that?"

Jon shrugged. "Maybe." But then he winked at the kid and grinned.

"Oh gosh. Dude. Oh man. Thank you so much!!" He reached forward to shake Jon's hand or something--um, what?!--when a huge gust of wind sent the folder by Jon's feet flying open and a few of his papers scattered like startled sparrows. Bryson dropped his ball and scurried to pick them up before Jon even had a chance to stand up.

"Here you go," he gulped, handing him the crumpled papers. "Might want to put your folder in your backpack."

"...Thanks."

"No, thank you!" The kid picked up his ball again. "I was having a super crappy day, but meeting you made today awesome! Thank you so much!" And before Jon could say a single word, he was gone, running down the hill and whooping for the pure joy of it.

Jon looked down at the papers in his hand, which were now a little torn and muddy. Dear Matty, read one in smudged pencil lead. He sighed, then crumpled the papers with his hand into a tiny ball.


These can wait a little longer, he decided as he stretched out on the soft grass again. For Bryson's sake.

He let his eyes slide shut, but his mind whirred down, preventing sleep and peace of mind. His argument had changed, and he knew this was his missing piece.
if more people took the time to slow down, talk to an innocently clueless kid, realize they were actually worth something, and change their perspective around, they might see a little more point in living.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

[top ten tuesday] eight is the perfect number.

Top Ten Tuesday is a book-related link-up that several bloggers I follow take part in. There have been multiple moments when I thought, "Hey, this looks fun! I should do it too." but every time I sat down to write the blogpost, I either didn't like the topic or I was having a creative low that day. So that's why you haven't seen a TTT post yet.

But that's all changing, as of now.

this weeks theme: Top Authors I've Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More

1). Amy Efaw. This lady gets first place in this list because a) After was an amazing book, and b) because she was kind enough to message me and now follows me on twitter. Which gives me warm squeeing feelings on the inside. She only has two books out currently (and is working on her third), but if After was anything to go by, she's an incredible author. I actually have her other book Battle Dress sitting on my shelf this very moment. Need to read that one. SOON.



2). Orson Scott Card. Believe it or not, Ender's Game is the only book of his that I've read. I started Ender's Shadow (and own both it and The Shadow of the Hegemon) but have finished neither. It's a crying shame, because Ender's Game is one of the best, thought-provoking books out there, and Bean is adorable. So I also need to read Ender's Shadow SOON


maybe doing this post wasn't a good idea...my to-read pile is increasing drastically...


3).  Marilynne Robinson. Reading Gilead literally changed my life. I thought I was going to hate that book, but I ended up falling in love with the somewhat snarky old man, his wife, and his son, and I almost hated getting closer to the end, because I knew that if the letters ended, it meant the old man was dead. I haven't heard if her other two books are any good, but I hope they're at least of the same caliber as Gilead.

4). Robin Brande. Okay, I cheated on this one. I put her down on the list and then later remembered that I've read both Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature and Fat Cat. Shame on me. But I really like Brande's writing style. I don't agree with every thing she wrote about in either book, but I fell in love with the characters and I felt invested in both stories. Plus, Casey. Is there anybody in this world who wouldn't want a best friend/boyfriend who lives and breathes Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and all such other things?


5). Sally Nicholls. sooooo...pretty much the only reason that's kept me from reading any other books from this author is that Ways to Live Forever kinda broke my heart. As a kid who's dealt with cancer in the family twice now--and had a possible leukemia scare when I was little--it was guaranteed that I wasn't going to make it through the book without crying. I'm not that much of a crier, but this one got me. This author could've seriously overplayed the last moments Sam had, but she did it just right. And writing this is really making me want to go back and reread  this heartbreaking book again. and it's a kid book, guys. it's great. read it.


6). Tess Hilmo. I admit it, I didn't even know this author had books other than With a Name Like Love. But she does, and I just put Skies Like These on hold. I didn't think I was going to like With A Name Like Love because of its title--I was dead sure it was going to be a sappy romance--but it turned out really cute and the mystery element was neat and I love the Penderwick-sisters feel we had going on. Though the frog scene was kinda gross.

7). Jill Williamson. I follow this lady on Go Teen Writers, and I'm sad to say I've only read one of her books. But it's not my fault!!! My silly library only has Replication, and while that is a great read, what I really want to read is her fantasy series. *sighs* You need to step up your game, library people.


8). James Dashner okay, this is a complete cop-out. You all already know I need to read the rest of the Maze Runner books. But I'm running short on authors whose works of literature I haven't completely devoured. So yeah. Need to finish those books.

And I think we'll stop there, but eight's the perfect number and I'm done with racking my brain for the evening. Time for some brainless reading/TV.



Have you read any of these authors' books? Did you like them? How about some other authors that you need more of? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Have a great week!!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

{how to live: a girl like me}

I don't know about you, but the age of fourteen to fifteen was one of the hardest times of my life. Not just because I was just coming out of the awkward preteen stage and still figuring out who exactly I was, but because I felt oh so alone. I had friends--I had lots of friends--but I didn't feel comfortable talking to them. I thought my best friend was getting tired of me. I was going through some very difficult family issues at the time--and while some of the things happening I wasn't allowed to talk about, the rest of it I just didn't think they would want to hear about it or that they would even understand, seeing how they'd never experience something like this. I felt alone and scared and broken and I didn't know what to do.

Nowadays, I'm better. Not perfect, but better. I have friends who will listen to me rant--and who I return the favour toward, I have a better grasp on understanding when people do something without meaning it, and I have a better relationship with God. The road to "grow up" is never easy, and I am by no means finished, but getting out of that spot in my life helped me understand that I will make it through whatever comes across my path.

But you see--there's this girl I know. I've met her only a handful of times. I may never meet her again. I'm friends with her on several different social medias, and she is truly a sweet girl. A little awkward at times, but she has a good heart. She's pretty even if she thinks she isn't, has a beautiful smile, and is determined  and creative. She's a little on the nerdy side of life, but that's just the way she is. And the more I look at her, the more I see myself.


She told me several times that she felt rejected from the group. That she felt awkward just standing there while everybody else was getting close and having fun. When I or someone else complimented her on her clothes or her hair, she would quickly laugh and say, "Thanks," but you could tell she thought you didn't mean it. Every time someone would approach her to do something, she'd get all excited and happy in the moment, but the next time they came around picked someone else, she'd deflated all over again.


Watching her is like watching me all over again. And at the beginning, it hurt so so much.

I didn't like remembering that time. Heck, if I could, I'd forget it all! But as I watched her struggle and withdraw, it only made me want to pull her back in again.

To call her to join the game that we were playing.
To sit down with her at lunch.
To smile at her randomly.
To sit and talk with her.

These are not things I normally do. I wish I could do them easily, but they are hard and honestly, I forget to be friendly and welcoming sometimes. But with this girl...I felt like I had to do them. Not because I felt pity for her--heavens no--but because I didn't want to make another human being feel rejected like I had.

Like I said, I may never meet this girl again, but last week, she told me I was one of her favourite people and that I had done so much for her. That she loved me.

And I don't know about you, but that made it all worth it. All the awkward moments when we were sitting together and neither one of us knew what to talk about. All the times when I had to step out of my comfort zone and hug her. It was totally worth it.


And I guess what I want to finish with is this: if there is anyone in your life that you see falling down the same hard road as you were in the past, please be there for them. You of all people know what it's like--don't let them do it alone. Because--contrary to popular belief--alone does not keep us safe. We are such stupid people for not realizing this after all these years. So find that person or those people who need you right now. Who need you to send them a little note in the mail, saying that you appreciate them and hope they have a good week. Who need to you give them surprise hugs. Who need you to be the big brother or sister that they never got to have. Who need you to pray for them. Who need you to include them. Who need you to love them.


Be there for them. Love them. Include them.

For both their sake, and yours.

Monday, September 8, 2014

just keeping running, just keep running, what do we do, we run run run

I just finished reading the Maze Runner, by James Dashner. It's taken me over a year to read this book.

And I'm really not sure what to make of it yet.


Now the over a year thing wasn't exactly my fault. I started reading it last summer, I believe, but had to return it quickly because it was in popular demand at the time. I read a little under half of it.

And then forgot about it.

I understand your looks of disapproval. I'm ashamed of myself.
here's the honest truth about me: if a book doesn't hold me at gunpoint and force me to finish it within 48 hours, I rarely go back and finish it. The few exceptions are The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green (le gasp! I know I'm speaking sacrilge, but it's a true story, bro), Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell, and Allegiant, by Veronica Roth. All three of those books took me months to get through, and for no particular reason at all. I just couldn't force myself to speed through them. Even now, I have two books--Gone, by Michael Grant, and Champion, by Marie Lu--that I've started but probably won't finish before I need to return them to the library. Call it a disease. Or a bad habit.

So what made me finish reading the Maze Runner?

Well, to be straight-forward, the movie is coming out in less than two weeks. And I desperately want to see this movie. Partially because the trailer is so intense and awesome and looks so cool, and partially because I'm going to spend all 113 minutes staring at the screen and saying with pride, "That's my special snowflake up there, being all awesome and saving the world--wait, that's Thomas, not Colt..."

I have a very hard time accepting the fact that Dylan O'Brien exists and that Colton does not.

one and the same, I tell you.
yup. No lie.
Annnnnyhooo, I picked up this book again when my friend texted me saying we needed to see it as soon as it came out. My general rule of thumb is that I should read the book before seeing the movie; not because I want to be superior to everybody who hasn't read it, but mostly because I like to see the whole story, especially the parts that don't make it in. I can't appreciate a movie to its fullest without experiencing the book first. It just doesn't happen.

I liked the Maze Runner. I really did. I liked the whole premise of it, the unique cast of characters, and the setting was brilliant. The Maze fascinated me, and I wish I hadn't seen the trailer for the movie before I got to the Grievers, because I really wanted to be able to picture them as the book described them, without any exterior aide. I especially loved everybody's names and the meaning behind them. All except for Minho. I'm sorry, I can't picture Minho as anybody but this dork. Tru fact.
I mean, he looks perfect for the character. But Choi Minho will always come to mind when I see his name.
I also didn't like the Maze Runner. I really didn't. I figured out the end about halfway through, I saw the Griever's Box coming from miles away, and Gally's disappearance...yeah. Kinda called that. I really hate it when I can guess the plot of a book that I really want to like. And I'm not saying that the Maze Runner is a bad book because it's a tad bit predictable. I'm just saying I don't like it because I kind of spoiled it for myself. There wasn't a giant surprise. There wasn't something that made me raise my eyebrows in shock.

Except for Chuck at the end. I'm dreading that part in the movie. Don't want to have to relive that... *cries a million tears*


I have a feeling I'm going to like the movie better than the book (and that probably has something to do with my Colt/Thomas issues). I am going to give The Scorch Trials a shot, because the Scorch kind of intrigued me, though it is just another trope of a dystopia style book. But I'll get through that. Hopefully.

Overall, I'm stuck halfway between liking the Maze Runner and really really NOT liking it. And I can't make up my mind which it is.

So how about you read it and tell me what you think about below? Hmm? Would you do that for me?

It's the start of a brand new week, everybody! Hope you have a good one!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I really just don't like her, okay...

it's that time of the month again!! The Beautiful People peoples have done it again, and we have a brand-new bunch of questions to answer in the month of September. And you know what the cherry on top is? This month, we even have a fancy theme for this round of Beautiful People! Guess what the theme is?!

Viiiiiiiiillllllllaaaaaaaiiiiiinnnnnnnnssssssssss...


*headdesks repeatedly*

I knew I was going to have issues with not having a distinct villain. Even though I kind of defined my type of villain/conflict here, I still don't have a go-to person when themes like this come up. This being said, it's a little frustrating. More than a little.

But I'm going to persevere through.

Why?

Because Beautiful People is worth it.

I thought about doing Matt for this month's questions because of how self-harmful he can be with his thoughts and words, but I'm kind of saving him for a special batch of questions, ones perfect for him and him alone. I also thought about doing Linds (HA!--she's like the complete opposite of a villain!) or Sam's dad, but I don't think he's developed enough for me to do that quite yet. So instead, I decided to go with my least favourite character that I've ever had the displeasure of writing.

Jade Carpenter.

To be honest, Jade is not a crucial part of this story. She's Sammy's aunt, she owns a failing inn in Perimont Village, and she was once Mrs. North's best friend in high school. She's also a jerk. Like, really. I hate her. A lot. There's a reason why I decided to start the story out with just Matt and bring Sam in later, and that reason is that I really really hate writing Jade. She's so harsh and rude to Sam and Linds without realizing what she's doing. She wants to help the girls, deep down underneath, but she goes about it in all the wrong ways. She's a clueless baddie in the worst way, and she makes me cringe every time she opens her mouth because I know she's going to do some harm, one way or another.


1. What is their motive?
to make my life miserable. Just kidding. I don't know what her motive is. To get rid of the girls, I guess, but to also keep them out of harm's way. Or to keep Sam from doing something stupid like running away. 

2. What do they want, and what are they prepared to do to get it?
She wants to keep Linds from growing up like her sister has: aloof, no friends, and tied to her past. She also wants Sam to just be normal for once. She tries so hard to be a mom figure for them, but she has no idea what she's doing and that backfires so much. 

3. How do they deal with conflict?
heh...they don't. The tension between Sam and Jade will simmer for days, then they'll have one giant spat and blow up everything (figuratively, of course) and then not talk to each other for the rest of the week. 

4. Describe their current place of residence.
Jade lives in a back apartment of her run-down inn--it's actually the nicest part of the building. She has a TV, a fridge, a couch the color of puce (not to be confused with puke, as Linds often is), and she is quite happy in her little hole. The girls...not so much. 

5. If they were writing this story, how would it end?
Sam would never leave. She'd never meet Matt and Colt, and she'd never run into her father again. Actually, that's not true. Sam would leave. But she'd leave Linds behind, because Jade is beyond the point of saving Sam from her history. She just wants Linds to be normal. 

6. What habits, speech patterns, etc. are unique to them?
Jade is a very tall woman, and she has this habit of leaning over people who are short than her that bothers the dickens out of Matthew (and me, indirectly. Seriously, tall people. Be nice.) She also runs her fingers through her hair a lot, making it messy and disheveled. 

7. How do they show love? What do they like to do with/for people they love?
once again...heh...they don't. The only person I imagine Jade loves is Linds, and even then, I've never seen her show it. 

8. Do they have any pets?
nope.

9. Where would they go to relax/think?
Jade likes to take a warm bath when she has to de-stress and mull over things; however, she is not a bubble bath person. Heavens no. 

10. What is their weapon of choice? (FYI: words, eyes/looks, and fists count as weapons, too.)
Words are definitely her weapons. She can make a biting remark faster than any villain could draw his sword, and she also knows how to give the worst judging looks. Sam is a voice of experience.

no more of that.

*shivers* there, that's over. No more talking about Jade. I can shove her back into the dark closet where she hides when I'm not writing her. Actually, a section heavy with her is coming up... *groans* But I also get to write a sassy conversation between her and Matthew. And I'm really looking forward to that.


Because there's nothing better than Matthew sass.

Nothing.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

pears, pizza, and maraschino cherries

[I've decided to particpate in a monthly writing link-up called chatterbox. the lovely Rachel Heffington comes up with a topic, and then it's your job to have your characters chatter away about it. This is my first time taking part, and it was so much fun to write Matt and Sam bickering about nothing important. Which they do a lot of. But still. It's fun.] 


"Your opinion on pears?"

"Pears?"

"Yes, pears, Matthew. Don't play deaf."

"I wasn't. Your question was absurd enough for me to mishear. Are you sure you meant pears?"

"Of course. Pears are one of the most amazing things that exist on this planet, and if you dislike them, then we are truly meant to be enemies."

"I don't like pears."

"You may find yourself murdered in your sleep tonight."

"Thanks for the warning."

"So what fruit do you like? Oranges? Bananas? Maraschino cherries?"

"No, nope, and definitely not. Maraschino cherries shouldn't exist. They're disgusting. Like red jelly bugs."

"Even on shakes?"

"Especially on shakes."

"This conversation is making me hungry."

"Then stop talking."

"We should order some food. Something besides pizza, since Colt's not here?"

"I don't know how you survive, girl. You sat by my bed for six hours straight, and here you are blabbering about pears and pizza and maraschino cherries. You should be dead tired."

"I am dead tired. That's why I need food. Come onnnnnn...."

"No...."

"Please...."

"...as long as it doesn't involve pizza. Or pears."

"You're my second favourite person in this room right now."

"You and I are the only ones in here."

"Exactly."


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

{after}

Devon Sky Davenport, the girl who was supposed to be everything that her mother wasn't, had an ordinary life. She played soccer--the keeper position--, she babysat, she took care of her childish mother. She was a determined and dedicated individual and she had so much promise, until the day when IT happened. Everything vanished at that moment, and life began anew--a life filled with lawyers, cell rooms, and despair. Why? All because of IT.

The thing is...Devon doesn't remember how IT happened. And she doesn't want to remember.


Holy guacamole, this book. I remember seeing it on the shelves at the library a few times, was a little intrigued by the whole soccer player thing (what can I say, it my favourite sport and always will be), but ultimately didn't want to deal with the teenaged pregnancy deal. I was sure it was going to be chock-full of boy-girl drama, parent drama, school drama...and I didn't want to go there. I don't like drama in books. Makes me want to rip my eyeballs out. Or bang my head against a brick wall.

After, by Amy Efaw, was unexpected, to say the least. It happened so fast, so quickly, that I could hardly keep up. When I got down to the past handful of pages, I was so confused and scared. "Wait. There isn't enough page space left for Devon's final trial. This isn't right!!!!" But then the last chapter happened. And everything was right. It was perfect, like an obstinate puzzle piece snapping into place.

Devon was such an curious character. Her narrative was so withdrawn and passive, but it wasn't boring or stilted. You could obviously feel her disconnect with the rest of the world and, indirectly, how lonely she was. I really appreciated how the story didn't revolve around Connor and Devon's relationship, instead focusing on the aftermath of it all. Actually, to be more accurate, the aftermath of the aftermath. You never see Devon completely at Ground Zero--you only get to visit that in incomplete flashbacks. Her personality, as well, was flawless. Her rigid standards for herself, her determination in soccer, her isolation from everything...it all fit together. I loved that she was so true to her character. I never saw a moment  when she switched from a serious, focused person to a flighty, teenaged girl. Even with Connor, she was still herself, and I enjoyed seeing a character as serious as she was. Wish there were more like her.



I have so many favourite things about this book, but I'm going to narrow it down to two things. The first thing that made me fall in love was the imagery in After. I saw everything. I could picture the Davenport's apartment. I could picture the bathroom after That Night. I saw the trash can in my head. Devon's cell, the school room, the trials...they filled my mind perfectly, and yet the author didn't shove the descriptions down my throat. If I could pinpoint one style of writing that I wish I could pull off, it would be After's. I also loved the imagery in the poetry theme, how it aided the flashbacks and how it added to Devon's character.

I don't know if other people experience this, but different books have different colors for me. The Bible, for example, is a rich earthy brown. Eleanor and Park is blue and light brown. After is gray, and the imagery fell perfectly in line with that color. Colorful enough to be interesting, drab enough to fit the story.


My second love in After is the pure psychology of it. Devon rejecting IT. Her mother during the trial. The hesitance of those around Devon to pry into her life. Psychology is something that has always fascinated me, and Efaw did a brilliant job of portraying it accurately. When it was Dr. Bacon's turn to speak during the trial, it helped piece together so many of the broken pieces of the story, for Devon, the judge, and the reader. Even the things that hadn't been directly addressed made sense. I give a double-thumbs up for the author's researching on this.

No book is perfect. Teen pregnancy is somewhat a touchy subject, and so is what happens to babies after their mothers reject them. There are two instances of the f-word smack dab in the middle of the book, but the rest of the language is mainly a light sprinkling of the d-word and the Lord's name in vain. The description of That Night is rough and bloody, but that's just the way the birth process is. So if any of these things are off-putting to you, I'd suggest you steer clear of this book. If not, then I 100% recommend this to you all. It's already on my "To Buy" book list, if that tells you anything. 
 
After is a curious, mind-stretching book, so be careful.
It might take you by surprise, like it did me.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

life in general 2.0

last time I did this, life kinda sucked. correction: life really sucked. but it's gotten better, just like it always does, so it's time for another update. Bear the randomosity with me, k?

my grandmother passed away. she actually passed away about a month ago, but I never had the right time or opportunity to say anything about it, and honestly, it wasn't much of a big deal for me. That sounds rather harsh, but it's the truth. When it happened, I was three hours away from home at camp. I didn't go to her funeral, her visitation, or her memorial celebration. Instead, I was surrounded with my wonderful Junior High girls, my fellow counselors, and the interns and staff. They took care of me and gave me lots of hugs and love and helped me get through those long days of worrying how my family was coping.

thank you for that.

my mom's eye? Nearly better. She still can't see out of that eye very well, but she's driving. She goes out into the sunshine. She's probably going to have to have a corneal transplant, but her eye isn't going to rupture any more. She doesn't have to have drops every half hour any more. She isn't on heavy pain meds. And those are all things to be thankful for.

guys, I might be going to college in January. A month ago, I had no plans to attend college this year. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, and I didn't want to step out on a limb. However, God opened my eyes to his call for me, and now I'm planning on going to college next semester. And I can't wait. I've had multiple interests in what I want to do with the rest of my life, but I've never felt a pull as strong as this one. It feels right.

on the other side of things, school...is interesting. Remembering to do my geometry is a struggle. My last English class begins this Thursday. I'm still trying to get back into the groove of doing school after my summer of not doing any. 


I'm reading so much more than I did last year. Eleanor and Park, The Maze Runner, Tallgrass, Code Name Verity, The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet...all books I've read within the past month/am reading right now. That's more books than I read over last semester, probably. I just really am falling back in love with reading, guys. And it's amazing.

I'm driving. Holy cow am I driving. Today is the third day in a row that I drove, and not just on the piddly little country roads that I used to practice on. I've driven into or out of town, on bigger roads, dealing with heavier traffic and stoplights and other crazy stuff. And the fact that it's not scaring me as much is very scary, but in a good way. Like a scary growing up way.

so yeah. this is my life right now. and it could turn sucky any moment now. In fact, writing this post is probably jinxing it, and I should prepare myself for a string of hard times. but you know what? I don't care.
in yo face, life.

Life is good right now, and I'm gonna be happy about it.