review: will grayson, will grayson

First off, just wanted to apologize for the lack of updates and posts with substance lately. I've been in a bit of a blogging slump :/. Anyhow, onto the review!

Book Description

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both them legions of faithful fans.

My Opinion:

There is a lot of hype surrounding Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Understandably so, since it's John Green and David Leviathan, together. Writing. I don't think it's quite possible to go wrong with a pair like that. Add in a premise where two boys with the same name collide, and you get a pretty great book.

Will Grayson (penned by John Green) begins the book. He's much in the vein of Green's previous characters--nerdy and sweet--and he takes a backseat to a character that seems to outshine everyone else in a novel. In this case, Will Grayson is best friends with Tiny Cooper--a giant, flamboyantly gay football player who can't seem to stay in a relationship for longer than a few minutes. Tiny's melodramatic, a genius, and probably my favorite character in the book. Overall, Green's narrative was very enjoyable: I found myself endeared with Will's witty voice, his entertaining view on the world, and his strict rules regarding social interaction. As the chapters progress, Will falls in love for the first time and deals with backseat role he plays in Tiny Cooper's life and the possible end of their friendship.

Add in will grayson (penned by David Leviathan) to the mixture and you get a more serious element and therefore a more complex novel. Leviathan's will is depressed, finds solace with his internet friend Isaac, and hasn't yet come out with the fact that he's gay. It's quite easy to differentiate between the two Will's as both the authors have extremely different voices. Furthermore, will grayson's story is narrated entirely in undercase letters, which I thought was a nice touch considering will's obsession with IMing. However, I didn't enjoy Leviathan's chapters as much as Green's. I found his will to be stereotpyically emo, although in later chapters will developed more depth as he dealt with his issues.

The first part of the book moved a little slowly, and I only really got excited reading when the two Will Graysons finally met. Unfortunately, their paths soon diverge, but the following chapters really come together as the two Wills are faced with a whole host of problems: will must gather up the courage to finally come out and ride out the repercussions, while Will must sort out his friendship with Tiny and win over a girl. It is Tiny Dancer, the musical that Tiny Cooper is producing, that ties the plot together and allows for a very touching--if somewhat cheesy--ending.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a good read, although my (unreasonably) high expectations led to some disappointment as it wasn't what I had hoped for. For me, Will Grayson, Will Grayson wasn't as life-changing or as brilliant as it was for others--I just like it and would recommend it.

My Opinion: I give it a 8/10. Read it when you can :)


captivating thursday

Captivating Thursday is a meme hosted by me that showcases beautiful things--whether it be photos, quotes, poetry, music, videos, or anything else that I happen upon.

"We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down."

- Kurt Vonnegut

"To watch a leaf quivering in the rush of air was an exquisite joy. Up in the sky swallows swooping, swerving, flinging themselves in and out, round and round, yet always with perfect control as if elastics held them; and the flies rising and falling; and the sun spotting now this leaf, now that, in mockery, dazzling it with soft gold in pure good temper; and now again some chime (it might be a motor horn) tinkling divinely on the grass stalks—all of this, calm and reasonable as it was, made out of ordinary things as it was, was the truth now; beauty, that was the truth now. Beauty was everywhere."

-Virgina Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

"He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it."

-Cormac McCarthy, The Road

"My body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires."

James Joyce, Araby

The Manor Garden by Sylvia Plath (courtesy of stanford.edu)

The fountains are dry and the roses over.
Incense of death. Your day approaches.
The pears fatten like little buddhas.
A blue mist is dragging the lake.

You move through the era of fishes,
The smug centuries of the pig-
Head, toe and finger
Come clear of the shadow. History

Nourishes these broken flutings,
These crowns of acanthus,
And the crow settles her garments.
You inherit white heather, a bee's wing,

Two suicides, the family wolves,
Hours of blankness. Some hard stars
Already yellow the heavens.
The spider on its own string

Crosses the lake. The worms
Quit their usual habitations.
The small birds converge, converge
With their gifts to a difficult borning.


waiting on wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that spotlights eagerly awaited upcoming releases. It's hosted by Breaking the Spine.

I haven't done one of these in a while, but I'm really looking forward to You by Charles Benoit.


This wasn't the way it was supposed to go.

You're just a typical fifteen-year-old sophomore, an average guy named Kyle Chase. This can't be happening to you. But then, how do you explain all the blood? How do you explain how you got here in the first place?

There had to have been signs, had to have been some clues it was coming. Did you miss them, or ignore them? Maybe if you can figure out where it all went wrong, you can still make it right. Or is it already too late? Think fast, Kyle. Time's running out. How did this happen?

You is the riveting story of fifteen-year-old Kyle and the small choices he does and doesn't make that lead to his own destruction.

In his stunning young-adult debut, Charles Benoit mixes riveting tension with an insightful—and unsettling—portrait of an ordinary teen in a tale that is taut, powerful, and shattering.


So I've been doing some snooping and really can't find that much info on You. Other than that it's fantabulous and just about everybody who has gotten their hands on an ARC is raving nonstop about it. Seriously, I think You is set to be one of the best books of 2010. The amount of critical praise it's garnered is mind-boggling. Read more about it here.

I'm so excited, it's ridiculous.

Release Date: August 24, 2010


hypothetical bookish situation #3: if books were used as perfume

So I'm marveling, with a tight ball of pride sprouting in my chest (no, not a tumor) at my bookcases gracing the wall. They're full of...books. Which is pretty amazing.

Except, I don't quite have book-smell permeating the room yet. The mustiness. The collective scent of hundreds of thousands pages imprinted with inky words. (I hope I don't sound like a sparkly book vampire when I'm talking about scent.)

But I want that smell--the one that hits you the moment you walk into a bookstore--in my room. And then I think...

What if the book-scent could be bottled up?
What if they sold book-scent as perfume? Car freshener? Shampoo?!

*le gasp*


(two vair, vair cool products)




1) Breath mints (smell like books in under 20 seconds & seal the deal!)
2) Shampoo (say goodbye to dry hair with book-smell & coconut moisturizing action!)
3) Book-Smell Scratch-n-Sniff Stickers & Markers (now even young kids can have book-smell too!)
4) Book-Smell Candles (Perfect for air freshening and romantic dinners!)

And now I'm thinking: a world with these products would be pretty interesting.


  • We wouldn't be able to tell who actually had books in their house and who didn't. Hence, it will be quite easy to fib about intellectual interest in reading and impress people of the other gender and future employers.

  • Misbehaving teenagers would suddenly have an alibi--with one spray of acqua di book--voila! They weren't out at the mall with their friends, they were at the LIBRARY (*gasp*--studying)!

  • We'd be bombarded by all sorts of commercials. It'd go something like:

    Ever wondered what it would be like to smell like books? Well, say GOODBYE to those boring smells invading your nostrils! *tosses fresheners labeled vanilla, jasmine, and apricot into handy trashcan*

    And say HELLO to a new, revolutionary scent. *holds up Super Book-Smell variety and smiles winningly*

    CALL 1800-BOOKSMELL NOW and get free shipping! (and we'll throw in a book carrier if you call within 5 minutes!).
  • A new corporation, BOOK-SMELL INC, will emerge. And become very, very rich. On the plus side, since the corporation is centered around books, much of the charity and donations will go to literacy programs.
  • The new book-smell craze will give rise to a essay-paper smell craze, and then perhaps a newspaper-smell craze. There will be nothing cooler than to smell like a combination of paper&ink.

  • It wouldn't be such a sad moment for new car buyers when that new-car smell goes away. Now they will be able to gallivant around town with book-smell permeating all surfaces of their car!

  • I'd be one very, very happy person.

Well, that's it for the crazy ramblings!

Unless you want to check out earlier proof of my insanity posts:

If books were made of chocolate

If dogs could read


just for laughs

Pure genius :)


captivating thursday

Captivating Thursday is a meme hosted by me that showcases beautiful things--whether it be photos, quotes, poetry, music, videos, or anything else that I happen upon.


"Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt and live like it's heaven on Earth."

-Mark Twain

"You can never have too much sky . You can fall asleep and wake up drunk on sky, and sky can keep you safe when you are sad. Here there is too much sadness and not enough sky. Butterflies too are few and so are flowers and most things that are beautiful. Still, we take what we can get and make the best of it."

-Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street


"What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies."

-Jack Kerouac, On the Road


"And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer."

— F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Candle Hat by Billy Collins (courtesy of poemhunter)

In most self-portraits it is the face that dominates:
Cezanne is a pair of eyes swimming in brushstrokes,
Van Gogh stares out of a halo of swirling darkness,
Rembrant looks relieved as if he were taking a breather
from painting The Blinding of Sampson.

But in this one Goya stands well back from the mirror
and is seen posed in the clutter of his studio
addressing a canvas tilted back on a tall easel.

He appears to be smiling out at us as if he knew
we would be amused by the extraordinary hat on his head
which is fitted around the brim with candle holders,
a device that allowed him to work into the night.

You can only wonder what it would be like
to be wearing such a chandelier on your head
as if you were a walking dining room or concert hall.

But once you see this hat there is no need to read
any biography of Goya or to memorize his dates.

To understand Goya you only have to imagine him
lighting the candles one by one, then placing
the hat on his head, ready for a night of work.

Imagine him surprising his wife with his new invention,
the laughing like a birthday cake when she saw the glow.

Imagine him flickering through the rooms of his house
with all the shadows flying across the walls.

Imagine a lost traveler knocking on his door
one dark night in the hill country of Spain.
"Come in, " he would say, "I was just painting myself,"
as he stood in the doorway holding up the wand of a brush,
illuminated in the blaze of his famous candle hat.

This song, Dog Days are Over, by Florence + the Machine is awesome but video is admittedly odd. Haha :)


review: the sky is everywhere by jandy nelson


Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in
town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.

(Courtesy of Goodreads)

My Opinion

Just about everything in The Sky is Everywhere is exquisite. From the asymmetrical cover that's my favorite of the year so far (the little hole in the heart is genius, as is the different size of the font) to the charming prose, Nelson has created a novel that's heart-aching and gorgeous.

Band geek Lennie has always been the pony to her sister Bailey's racehorse--content to grace the sidelines in the face of Bailey's vivacity. But when Bailey dies of arrhythmia suddenly, Lennie is left picking up the pieces. Her "plant"--which her eccentric Grandmother "Gram" believes is connected to Lennie's well-being--is wilting. She's pushing away those closest to her and doesn't feel like anyone understands her grief. Lennie is a hopeless romantic, and even Wuthering Heights, Lennie's favorite and much-obsessed-over book can't comfort her. Nothing can.

Enter Toby: Bailey's boyfriend, lanky, skater boy, and several years older. As someone who lost everything with Bailey's death, he can understand what's going through Lennie's mind . In him, Lennie feels a connection, and grief propels them from physical attraction to a shaky and torturous romance. However, there's a new boy in town--Joe Fontaine, fresh from Paris--who's gorgeous in every aspect. He's musically talented, sweet, perpetually cheerful, and perfect for Lennie. Lennie is caught up between these two boys, while her grief for Bailey makes her feel ashamed and guilty about her relationship with Toby and the newfound joy she's feeling.

I don't think it's quite possible to understand the beauty of this book without knowing that Nelson is a poet and originally intended that The Sky is Everywhere be a verse book. Vestiges of poetic prose remain, permeating every sentence of this book. Although Nelsons' play on word combination is a little hard to get used to at first, a chapter in or two I was able to really appreciate and revel in the depth of feeling behind her writing. An added extra bonus is the way Nelson sprinkles Lennie's poems throughout the book. Lennie pens her feelings, deepest emotions, contemplations, on scraps of whatever she can find--coffee cups, lollipop wrappers, book pages--and scatters them around town.

Here's one of the lovely poems:
There were once two sisters
who were not afraid of the dark
because the dark was full of the others voice
across the room,
because even when the night was thick
and starless
they walked home together from the river
seeing who could last the longest
without turning on her flashlight,
not afraid
because sometimes in the pitch of night
they'd lie on their backs
in the middle of the path
and look up until the stars came back
and when they did,
they'd reach their arms up to touch them
and did."

I think the setting and characters are also ingenious. Everyone is just so quirky, and I love it. I guess it's expected in a hippie-like Northern California town bordering redwood trees, where forty year old men such as Big, Lennie's Uncle, get married multiple times, attempt to raise insects from the dead, and smoke pot on a regular basis. Gram--with her always-green colored paintings and big heart is a memorable motherly figure. Lennie's house itself is a curiosity--and Lennie, literary girl that she is, names everything--from the Half-Mom portrait of the woman that deserted Lennie and Bailey at a young age that lies in the hallway, to the Inner Pumpkin Sanctum Lennie shared with Bailey.

The only thing I'm unsure about is the trajectory of the book--Lennie is fresh with grief in the beginning, but midway through, The Sky is Everywhere is almost solely focused on the romantic relationship she has with the two boys, a turn I wasn't quite expecting. Still, I suppose 300 pages of straight grieving is a little hard to stomach.

The twist with Joe at the end is absolutely perfect and gorgeous and possibly my favorite part of the book. The Sky is Everywhere is the type of book which I reread, hoping to overturn beautiful lines and scenes that I glossed through on the first read-through. A few quotes to give you an idea of the writing style:

"Grief is a house, where the chairs, have forgotten how to hold us, the mirrors how to reflect us, the walls how to contain us."

"The sky starts at our toes."

“As I walk through the redwood trees, my sneakers sopping up days of rain, I wonder why bereaved people even bother with mourning clothes when grief itself provides such an unmistakable wardrobe."

The Sky is Everywhere is one of those sweet, delightfully quirky novels in the style of I Capture the Castle* that will appeal to fans of If I Stay** who are looking for another touching, bittersweet novel to spend an afternoon with. It capably chronicles the confusion of life and being a teenager and first love.

I'm really looking forward to further works by Jandy Nelson. The Sky is Everywhere is a beautiful debut novel.

I give it a 9/10: definitely read it when you can :)

*Have you read I Capture the Castle? Please do if you haven't. It's one of my all time favorites.
** If I Stay is just plain great.


review: tangled by carolyn mackler


Jena, Dakota, Skye, and Owen are all at Paradise—the resort in the Caribbean, that is—for different reasons, but in Paradise their lives become tangled together in ways none of them can predict. Over the course of four months, through four voices and four stories, what happened in Paradise will change them all.

In this extraordinary novel, the Printz Honor–winning author brings us her most accomplished work yet. Tangled is a story of the secrets we keep, the risks we take, and the things we do for love.

(courtesy of Goodreads)

My Opinion*:

Tangled by Caroyln Mackler isn't as quite as tangled together as the title suggests. While there are four characters that narrate their own portion of the book, the summary is misleading. I was expecting this book to have simultaneous narratives, with the setting of Paradise resort remaining static. Instead, each teen has their own respective month to tell their story, and only one of the four parts ends up being set in Paradise. While reading, I almost felt like this book could have been expanded on and separated into four different novels. As it stands, Tangled is at both cringeworthy and heartwarming, depending on what part of the book you're reading. However, Mackler succeeds in creating four very distinct voices, and four very realistic and relatable characters.

Tangled opens with Jena, a sixteen-year-old girl who is very insecure about her body, and also jealous of her not-quite-friend, Skye. Jena's voice is very chatty, very bubbly. She has a habit of keeping an "Everthing book" in which she pastes quotes and memorable souvenirs, an quirk of her character that I quite liked. However, in the beginning I grew quickly annoyed by Jena's vapidness* and inability to talk about anything other than how Skye was perfect in every which way. Her continuous stream of self-loathing thoughts were a bit hard to bear: Jenna is just so very shallow and assigns her self-worth to what others think of her and her appearance. At the same time, she can be quite funny, in a cringeworthy-I-feel-embarrassed-for-you way that sometimes made me shake my head and sometimes laugh.

After Jenna's recount of her vacation in Paradise, Tangled jumps to Dakota, the boy that Jena hooked up with at Paradise. At face surface, Dakota is incredibly shallow as well--he seems only concerned with impressing girls and playing sports. However, as his narration continues, it's lovely to see his character take on a more three-dimensional feel as he struggles to deal with the death of his girlfriend a few months beforehand. He begins to transform from a guy that is incredibly unfeeling and selfish to one that thinks before he acts.

The jump to Skye's narrative is a bit sudden--we're finally introduced to the girl that Jena aspires to be. From the outside-looking-in, it seems that Skye has everything in the world--beauty, an acting career, and millions of dollars in the bank. However, she's been suffering from depression, and struggles to come to terms with the suicidal thoughts she's having. This part of the book mostly concerns the various auditions she's attending as an actress and is ultimately the most disconnected from the other narratives.

The book wraps up with a month from Owen's point of view. Gangly, red-haired, and the brother of Dakota, Owen is absolutely heartwarming. He was my favorite character of them all, and quite relatable. I really just wanted to reach into the book and give him a hug--he was so sweet and adorable in his social awkwardness and honesty. It is in Owen's narrative that we again encounter Jenna, who's made a remarkable change in just a few months. I grew to like Jenna in this part, as she has come to realize that her obsession with guys based of their looks and her warped sense of body image are problems that she needs to overcome. However, I found the blog posts that the two write to be a little cringeworthy as well, since they had a somewhat self-pitying tone to them.

If this review has been a little jumpy, it reflects the nature of Tangled. I did think the voices of the characters were each unique, but I felt like each character's conflicts had little relation to the other main character's, so the sections of the book in turn had little relation. I think this book would have been much stronger if it was just a dual perspective with Jenna and Owen, who were the most dynamic and interesting. Mackler's prose is very smooth and flows well--definitely focused on voice rather than on descriptions. Even though I had issues with the format of the book, Tangled was hard to put down. The character arcs of the four are the true triumph of this story--they evolve to be better people because of their problems. In the end I still have mixed feelings though--I liked and disliked a lot of elements, which I suppose is in accord to the disjointed nature of this novel.

Rating: I give it a 7/10. Maybe pick it up at the library but don't rush out to buy it.

*Sorry if this was a little spoilerish--I usually try not to spoil but this book was hard to review without giving things away :)

**Also, the fact that she looks up to Nicholas Sparks = bad sign. For laughs read this article, in which Sparks looks down on Cormac McCarthy and compares himself to Hemingway. ha. ha. ha.

FTC disclosure: I got this book from the library. Yay for free books!


comment system malfunctioning

EDIT: I think I've sorted it out for future posts, but read on if you're wondering what happened to any comments you made in the last few days.

It seems that my commenting system has been malfunctioning as of late. First on the "i'm baack" post, half of the comments on intense debate suddenly disappeared. And now on the high school post, the comments left yesterday have also disappeared, along with intense debate commenting system.

This is so, so strange!

In any case, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to leave comments and let you know that I've read them and appreciated them. I'm working at retrieving them, but I'm worried that I won't be able to.

Sorry for the inconvenience!



strange things about high school in ya books

Lately, I've definitely been experiencing a discrepancy between what high school is really like for me, and what I'm reading about in YA books and seeing in high school movies. So I'm sort of wondering where this is all coming from.

I remember thinking three years ago, as I was preparing myself for freshman year, better get ready for:

1) Nerds getting shoved into lockers. A lot.
2) The cafeteria being separated into very obvious cliques
3) "weird" people sitting in the corners, friendless and menacing
4)Jocks and cheerleaders ruling the school
5) Random people coming up to me and offering me drugs on a daily basis.

and um, lots of other misguided and stupid apprehensions. Maybe I'm just oblivious but in the three years I've been in high school, I've noticed that none of the above are true. In fact, they're blatantly false. My high school doesn't even have lockers, no one eats in the cafeteria unless they can help it, "weird" people have bigger groups of friends than jocks, and I've never come across a queen bee cheerleader or ruling football player. I like to shout a resounding NO to ever having someone ask me to do drugs with them.

And while I'm at it, I would also like to point out that most people don't pass notes under teacher's noses (it's called texting, haha), we like and use formspring and facebook a lot, Saturday school/detention is for people who are tardy, it's actually extremely easy to ditch and good kids do it quite often. Also, I've never experienced young lust love blooming during biology class. (What is with the whole I-meet-my-soulmate-in-biology thing in books nowadays? We do things like take notes on cell respiration in biology for two hours, in dead silence. NOTHING, I mean NOTHING could be less romantic.)

It's actually quite a pleasant surprise to not have to deal with any of the high school expectations I derived from what movies and books told me high school would be like. But where do they come from? Why do books continue to include wrongful high school stereotypes, when it's clear they aren't true?

I think many of these high school stereotypes come from teen movies, but sometimes I notice them leaking into YA novels too. And I think that sometimes YA novels take a bit of too much inspiration from teen movies when it comes to portraying high school dynamics.

So you can understand my confusion, when I read books in which mean jocks (of course hopelessly dumb, and good-looking) and cheerleaders (invariably blonde and well-dressed) are popular and pick on the poor, helpless outcasts or nerds who are really the awesome ones on the inside.

The problem?

I've found that popularity (or lack of it) has absolutely no bearing on how cruel a person can be. Nerds are just as likely to pick on somebody as a jock is. That cheerleader that sits next to me in class? Total genius, and nice too. Can't say much about how popular she is though.

And another thing: I don't know if my high school is just the odd-one out, but I can barely tell who's popular and who's not. I'm kind of wary of using the word "popular", even though I have been. Popularity is such a weird term, anyhow. There is most definitely no queen bee that I'm aware of. There's no "in" group, in which the nerds and every other person is aspiring to be part of. We're just a random mixture of kids--who, yes--do separate into groups. But these groups are mostly based off of what activities we're involved in: there are the ASB kids, the soccer-playing kids, the artistically talented kids. But there's also the kids that have what seems like nothing in common except an English class together, and they get along well. There's a lot of interaction between these groups, as well. Cheerleaders are friends with anime-obsessed kids. Top students are friends with jocks. Sometimes, cheerleaders are the nerds. Sometimes, jocks are the top students. All these stereotypes are more often wrong then they're right.

And maybe, YA should reflect that.

I'm sort of wondering where all AP classes are in YA protagonist schedules.

And I'm a baffled by the total lack of students who are stressed out from school. There's not a sign of the college application frenzy that devours seniors in the fall, where everything anyone talks about is college. Where seniors are freaking out because this is their future on the line. What about the scholarship applications and financial aid applications to fill out?

And I'd like to see characters coming home from school and being buried under five hours of homework, or studying insanely for a test. Heck, I'd like to see someone studying frantically for the SAT/ACT, or bemoaning spending Saturdays taking standardized testing, or being consumed by their AP study guide and AP testing, or freaking out about finals week. I'd love to see characters who are procrastinating endlessly on assignments and staying up the whole night to do schoolwork. Or even doing something that remotely has to do with high school academics.

Okay, so maybe writing or reading about a character that just goes home and does their homework everyday for a few hours is boring, but it makes me resentful of all these YA characters who don't seem to have anything on their plate, school-wise, but are still described as "straight-A, ivy league-bound overachievers"


That is beyond ridiculous. And yet, they still have time to be in forever-in-love with paranormal creatures or out partying or whatever. If they really have that much time on their hands, they better have a 1.0 G.P.A and not be involved in an extracurricular activities at all (and their parents better be enrolling them in tutoring and grounding them. And for that matter, where are all the helicopter parents? Parents in general?).

We're not all devoted to our boyfriends or friends, and can't go out for hours everyday on weekdays just to hang out. I think about every single person I know is involved in some sort of after school activity. Sports (about half my school is on the track team). Clubs. Yearbook. Choir. ASB. Internships. Jobs. Dance. BLOGGING (tehe, just threw that in there).

And there's barely a sign of these after-school activities in YA books.

While some of the real aspects of high school might be boring to write or read about, it's a bit disconcerting to see some very important parts of high school completely left out of the books I'm reading. I'm left thinking that maybe I go to anomaly of a school, or that I'm completely oblivious to the workings of high school. Except, somehow I don't think so.

It'd be nice to see some of these stereotypes contradicted in contemporary books. It'd be nice to see some corresponding high school stress for students. I don't think some adults realize how busy teens are nowadays. We're running from school to sports to clubs to home to babysit and squeezing in time for the internet or TV. I'd like to see a character struggling to balance school with their social lives, and who by very virtue of their character subverts some of these stereotypes.

What do you think? Does high school in YA seem realistic to you?


i'm baaaaack!

I haven't seen you guys in like, forever. (actually, I've never seen any of you, but you know what I mean).

But what is this? These strange pastel-ly colors splashed across the header? The whiteness? The cleanliness? The strange, whimsical font in which the header is written?
I will admit to going slightly insane from the stress of AP exams but I will attest that this is still the same in which a girl reads blog, despite the difference of appearance.

: To disguise the underlying moldiness of the blog yesterday I decided to do some (much needed) renovations. This could have turned out terribly since:

1) I don't even know what HTML or CSS is

2) I forgot to back up my template before I started

3) Did I mention I don't know ANYTHING about, well, anything?

but miraculously my blog is in intact and I think, better for it. I designed the header and the heart with book titles and pretty much everything else new you see (not the blog template from scratch, I just fiddled around with it). I sort of had a revelation in terms of minimalism and clean lines (I'm such a fan of lines) so I decluttered my sidebar of all but the essentials, and I'll be adding a lot of the stuff I axed to my new pages (I'm still not quite done with those. I still need to do a new blog button as well.).

This was a very lovely experience because I found out that I can, in fact, do interwebby template things by myself and I stumbled across TYPOGRAPHY. Which I've seen before but hadn't realized was quite so cool. So I'll be experimenting with that from now on because it's strangely calming and soothing especially since I don't know what I'm doing.

However, there was a very, very scary moment in which I accidentally disabled the commenting system and there were no more comments on my blog and MY SCREAMS OF DESPAIR WERE HEARD THROUGHOUT THE NEIGHBORHOOD AND I ALMOST JUMPED OUT OF MY BEDROOM WINDOW AND STABBED MYSELF IN THE EYE WITH A PENCIL IN AN ATTEMPT TO OFF MYSELF. Ahem. It made me realize that losing all those comments would just suck. A lot. Which just made me realize how much I <3 you guys :)


And what am I doing with this new freedom? I FEEL AS FREE AS A BIRD. A BIRD. FREEEEEEEE. FLYING TO FREEDOM.

Well, I'll be back to blogging, for sure. Reading. Writing. Listening to music. I have my life back. *happy dances*. I am very leisurely typing this out and there is no more sense of impending doooom. *cries a little* *gabbles incoherently*

SO HAPPY TO BE BACK! I can't wait to get back into commenting, I haven't visited some of my favorite blogs in forever. And thank you X1000 for all the lovely comments you left, I've been reading them all (even if I haven't been replying).

And what did a miss? blogging scandals? awesome posts? your awesomeness? (of course, I missed that, tehe). Fill me in or link to things that you want me to see :)

*restrictions such as vacation apply. tehe.


teen writer interview: vee

Teen writer interviews are a recurring feature on my blog, in which I invite some very talented teens who are seriously pursuing publication over for a spotlight. They're the authors of the future!

Name/Alias: Vahini, but I prefer to go by Vee and most people around the blogosphere know me as “Ink”.

choco: Don't you mean INKCREDIBLE?! Tehe.

Age: Seventeen

Blog: Ramblings of a Writer

Any other social networks/places where you want people to find you: I should really get a Facebook just so I can have something here.

Can your share a few excerpts from your manuscript The Colors of Sky?

These are a few of my favorite snips:

“I sit by the lake, feet getting kissed by the water, palms getting kissed by Dante and the moon.”

“His voice is a whisper. His words drop into the hot chocolate, floating for a second before getting lost in the rich velvet folds.

Treasures of my memory, only.”

“If I could swirl my brush through sunlight, I could paint light over my mother. Illuminate her; make sense of the vague shadows she’s wrapped herself in.

But I can’t dip my paintbrush in sunlight. Just like I can’t find heaven, can’t play artist with lakes and skies and nights. Because the world is not my canvas and it wasn’t meant to be.”
choco: those are just beautiful :)

You’re currently querying The Colors of Sky, and you’ve got some pretty jaw-dropping query stats! Could you share them? What’s the querying process been like for you?

Well, I actually just landed an agent but…


Querying was pretty hectic. It was actually one of the most amazingly hectic things I’ve ever done.

My query stats look impressive – 16 fulls and 14 partials, total – but you have to keep in mind that I queried over a hundred people. And you have to keep in mind that one of those fulls was requested after an agent read my blog (aspiring writers, get a blog. 1) The blogosphere is so friendly and full of useful information. 2) People really do read your blog, no matter how much you think they don’t) and another came via the Miss Snark’s First Victim Secret Agent contest – which is awesome. If you’re about to query, you should definitely try and enter.

Anyway, back to the beginning. I started querying Skylar’s Story in early January, and as I’ve already said it was hectic for me. I sent out queries, got requests, sent out the requested material. And waited. And bit my nails. And then made myself a cup of tea. And then drank the tea. Finally, I realized that staring at my inbox was not going to produce a response.

I think I got my first response to a full about a week after I sent it: An almost-form rejection with a compliment tacked to the bottom. I was discouraged, but I had six other fulls out there at that point, so I shrugged it off.

The next day I got another rejection, but it wasn’t an outright rejection. It was a revision request. Not too bad, I figured. I agreed with the changes, so I started to make them.

By the time I was done making them I’d gotten another revision request, a send-me-your-next-book, and an I-like-this-but-don’t-love-this. I also got told that my voice was too young, and my voice was too old and my dialogue was too thematic from people who I felt didn’t *get* my manuscript.

I used the feedback from the people whom I did feel got the manuscript, who had given me largely positive rejections with some pretty detailed feedback, and kept whacking the manuscript into shape. Then I got yet another detailed revision request – which made pretty similar points to the other two – so I just fixed everything up and sent the manuscript to betas who loved it.

So I sent it on to the agents who’d requested revisions.

Both the agents I sent the revised manuscript to offered. In that next week I emailed around and told everyone what my deadline was, and I’d appreciate it if they got back to me. I had another offer in three days’ time, a few more rejections, and a couple of “I’m-loving-this-but-I’m-not-sure-if-I-can-get-back-to-you-on-times”. I considered extending my deadline but, ultimately decided against it.

I’d made my decision based on gut feeling about two days after getting those first offers, and even though I spent the better part of the next week agonizing over it, I think there was a part of me that always knew who I was going to go with in the end.

So I signed with Ammi-Joan Paquette at Erin Murphy Literary Agency and we’re currently polishing up Skylar’s Story, which has had a title change to The Colors of Sky, so we can submit it to editors.

Colors play a big part in The Colors of Sky. Can you tell us a bit about your penchant for colors?

I love colors. I don’t know why, but I do.

When I was a kid I used to love painting, and I suppose that’s a part of it. I just think that color is what makes our world beautiful, all of these totally different shades melting into each other. I just love color, basically – I’ve already said that, but I don’t think it can hurt to restate it.

Color does play a big role in my book. The book is, really, about how the other relationships we have with people are really all we have to define ourselves by and they can be beautiful, and blissful or they can be fraught with tension. But either way, that’s what we have in this world, ultimately. We have “human connections” with each other.

With the colors, what I was trying to do was demonstrate on some level, that when you deny yourself those natural human connections (as Sky does) your world feels kind of washed out. And then when you build up those human connections (as Sky does) color sort of shoots back into your world, and suddenly everything is beautiful – but not perfect -- again.

The colors are, I suppose – especially for Ravi the love interest – a way for me to demonstrate the mental outlook of the characters.

And I have no idea if that makes any sense and I’m sorry to all your blog-readers if I just went totally nerdy on everyone, haha :)

choco: It totally made sense :D

Creepy-as-heck (but oh so sparkly) half-unicorn, quarter leprechaun, quarter human stalker guy tries to watch Skylar as she sleeps and tell her what to do all the time (in a possible ploy to eat her later on in). WHAT DOES SKY DO?

1. Skylar thinks, and says out loud, “I must be totally crazy. Seriously, this quarter-leprechaun, quarter-human must be a figment of my imagination.”
2. Skylar says, “Oh, I’m talking to myself. Isn’t that the first sign of insanity…Maybe seeing creepy stalker leprechaun-unicorn humans is the second.”
3. Skylar decides that, hey, okay, ASSUMING that this is real and the stalker guy isn’t just an indication of her overwhelming crazy, she’s going to GET HIM THE HELL AWAY FROM HER.
4. Also, she’s totally going to steal his pot of gold before she does that.
5. She goes to her uncle Greg
6. If that doesn’t pan out, she calls the freaking cops. BECAUSE HE’S CREEPY, man.
7. She paints unicorn-human-stalker guy in all his creepy sparkly glory. Years from now, this will be considered a masterpiece, and the world will think she was high. But no, it really happened.
8. Unless she was crazy, after all…

choco: Bwhahahaha!

I’ve heard that you drew a bit of inspiration for The Colors of Sky from your own life. Can you tell us a little about that?

Well, it really was just a very little bit. I mean, my mum is most-definitely-certainly not a drug addict. Or a jail bird. Nor did she burn my house to the ground leaving me permanently scarred and abandoned at the age of six.

To be clear.

Um. So yeah, the inspiration that comes from my real life is basically just places. I’ve been to a lot of the places in the book. For instance, there’s this awesome scene in an art gallery where the characters are getting all romantic (because I’m a geek, and art galleries and poetry are just total turn ons in my mind, shut up) and I’ve been to that art gallery. I’ve been to that weird post-modern section and made fun of blob shaped things and what-not.

I’ve also lit fireworks in my grandparents’ backyard. Well, not me personally, but other members of my family. I’m Hindu (well, I’m really agnostic – I HATE saying that, it’s such a freaking buzz word, but I can’t think of anything else to call it – but I was brought up as a Hindu) and that’s how we celebrate Diwali – The Festival of Lights.

Also, for any Aussies out there: NO this was not done in Sydney. Yes, it would have been totally TERRIBLE for me to light fireworks anywhere in Australia, because that would inevitably lead to a bushfire, which would inevitably lead to people dying. I grew up in South Africa. This is where the firework-lighting took place.

What inspired you to begin writing in the first place? When did you get serious about it? And what keeps you sticking with it when writing is being a big meanie?

I don’t know what inspired me to start writing in the first place. Really, I don’t. When I was fourteen-ish, I used to say that writing was my therapy (and now I’m thinking: therapy for what, fourteen-year-old self?!! You had – still have, for that matter – such a rosy life!). And then I realized it wasn’t therapy, it was just this thing that would always be a part of me.

It wasn’t like I made a conscious decision to be a writer, like all the good things in life, it just sorta happened.

I suppose I got serious at around fifteen. I’m not sure why. But I think it had something to do with an over-inflated ego and a couple of NaNoWriMo successes. I had a lot to learn at that stage.

As for the reason I keep sticking with it…Well, it’s pretty simple. I don’t have a totally healthy relationship with writing at this stage of my life. It’s like this: I write or I go slightly insane. So I write, even when it feels like pulling teeth.

Since writers are known to have quirks, what are some of yours?

I dislike square tables (seriously, they encourage you to think inside the square, when you’re supposed to be thinking outside the square, you know?)

Can you describe your writing style?

It really depends on the project, but I guess it’s voice-heavy and imagery-heavy. You should get a little bit of an idea of what it’s like from reading the snippets of The Colors of Sky I’ve posted.

I like to think I’m simultaneously dark, and uplifting. I’m probably being wishful in that thinking, haha.

What’s your ultimate writing dream and where do you see yourself in ten years time writing-wise? Personally, I just want to be able to buy a crumbling castle.

We’re totally getting that castle together. Getting a castle has actually for-real been my goal since I was fourteen or fifteen. I remember watching all these architecture shows about people who were renovating them, and how you could make it a viable investment by turning it into a hotel…

But anyways, my ultimate WRITING dream. Well, I’d love to have something published, but more than that I’d love to connect with people. I want to make you laugh, cry, smile, whatever. Basically: let me entertain you. And hopefully enlighten you at the same time, haha.

What’s your writing process? (and no modesty here, I KNOW you write super fast.)

I do write pretty fast. I guess it’s something to do with my whole unhealthy relationship with writing (I’m working on making it healthier at the moment, though). Basically, I get an idea and I just let it sit for a while. It’s in my mind, it bubbles away and after a little while I’ll jot something down in my moleskine (because I’m a writer cliché). After I jot something down little snippets of story tend to just come to me for the rest of that day, and they all wind up in the moleskine. Then I look at those words for a while and piece a basic story together around them. I suppose this is my form of plotting.

After that, I just write. I think a lot of writing is what writers like to call BIC – Butt in Chair. You just have to sit down and do it, there’s no magical process or anything – at least not for me.

Drafts usually get done in under a month, and revisions take me a fortnight before I send the manuscript to beta readers. Then making those changes takes around four days (I know, that’s a really specific amount of time, but it’s totally true).

Besides writing, what’s your favorite hobby?

Reading. Oh my God. I don’t even know if that counts as non-writing, haha.

If it doesn’t, I like debating but in an oh-this-scares-the-shit-out-of-me-so-it’s-perversely-fun kind of way.

I also like hanging out with my friends, of course, and I sing pretty much constantly (this means it sucks to live in the same house as me, because I invariably sound like a strangled cat. Yep, my poor family).

What’s the most important thing in your writing? (A gripping plot? Humor? Beautiful descriptions? Great dialogue? Great voice? Awesome characters?) What do you strive to perfect?

As much as I love ALL of those things, I don’t think it’s any of them that’s the most important to me. What’s most important to me are the little ideas that underpin a lot of scenes.

What I mean by that is that after examining all my favorite books I came to the conclusion that the stuff that connected with me the most was story, yes, but there were all these little bits of ideas wrapped up inside the story.

For instance, some kids can be skateboarding or something, but at the same time there’s this idea coming through a scene that you fall and you get up and then you fall again and you get up again etc, and that scene is an idea as well as an event. It’s persistence, not just skateboarding, you know?

I’m not at all sure if I articulated that properly, but suffice it to say that Ideas in books, my own and other people’s, make me happy-dance on the inside :)

What’s it like being a teen who’s trying to break into an industry that isn’t exactly teen-friendly?

I don’t think the industry isn’t teen-friendly, to be honest. I think due to the success of a couple of teen writers (S.E Hinton, guys), people aren’t all that skeptical about teenagers being able to make it.

That said, being a teen trying to break into what is primarily an adult industry is pretty scary. I had – have, still to an extent – all these worries about people either judging my writing badly because of my age, or worse, people publishing my writing BECAUSE of my age. I mean, I want to get by on good writing, not my age. Those two things made me exclude my age from my queries.

I think it may have been a bit of a shock when my agent found out I was seventeen, but really, it wasn’t that big of a deal. My parents just co-signed the contract and that was that. But at least I knew that it was my writing that had got me there, and not people being impressed by my relatively young age.

Some Favorites:

Food: Chocolate – do you even have to ask?
Band/Song: Muse, Narrow Stairs by Death Cab, Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap (at the moment, my favorite song changes all the time)
Weather: Rain on a sunny day. I love-love-love the smell when rain hits hot tarmac. It’s amazing – seriously, breathe deeply next time you get caught in a sun shower.
Movie: Matilda – I wish it were something cooler, but it isn’t.

What authors have influenced your writing style the most and why?

Oscar Wilde, because he’s amazing and reading The Picture of Dorian Gray taught me not to be afraid of imagery. Before that, I was so afraid I was going to bog down my pacing and annoy my readers.

Chuck Pahlaniuk. All I can say is: His voice, dear God, his voice.

Melina Marchetta, because she made me love YA with her book Looking for Alibrandi, and because her prose is simply amazing in Jellicoe Road. She writes real, flawed characters and I want to be able to do that.

John Green. You know that thing I was saying about Ideas in writing? John Green’s books feel like that to me. All these little ideas (for instance the paper towns in Paper Towns, that was a very cool idea) kind of make every single one his books something amazing and to be savored, for me.

I hear you’re working on something new. How’s that project going?

Well, my new project The Gnome is Watching, is going pretty well. I’ve finished up the first draft and it’s currently getting sent out to beta readers (one of which will hopefully be you :)).

choco: *keels over from excitement*

And lastly, the MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION OF YOUR LIFE: a garden gnome comes to life (huh?) and *SURPRISE* is dying for some reading material that will live up to the cool glasses he wears. What five of your favorite books do you lend him and why?

Fight Club by Chuck Pahlaniuk. Reasons why? Well, I think I’ve already mentioned “His voice, dear God, his voice”. Beyond that, though, there’s the face that this book is such a subversive look at current generations. It’s just amazing.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. It’s so delicately constructed, with all these pretty lines and amazing words but the narrative is still so strong. It’s absolutely, totally compelling.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. It has the most amazingly cool characters (in a really flawed way) that will definitely live up to the cool glasses this gnome is wearing.

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. I love Jane Austen, she’s my favorite author and we share a birthday (which is pretty freaking cool, if you ask me :)). Pride and Prejudice is awesome. It’s just…Amazing characters, sparkling dialogue, social commentary, and a good bad-boy romance all rolled up into one awesomesauce novel.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. Because these two guys writing a book together? Wow. Oh my God. They’re both incredibly-amazingly-awesome and when they get together their awesome multiplies and then they’re incredibly-amazingly-awesome squared. And that’s my kinda geeky explanation for why I’d give the garden gnome Will Grayson, Will Grayson, haha.

Those are pretty awesome choices :)

And that concludes the interview. Thanks Vee for letting me interview you! Who else is blown away by her writing and great taste in books? I know I am!

And readers, don't forget to check out her awesome blog over at Ramblings of a Writer.