a late waiting on wednesday

This week's pick: Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers

n Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. He seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on… but some questions should be left unanswered.


First: the cover is lovely
Third: Courtney Summers <33333333
Fourth: Ooh, photography.
Fifth: I SMELL A MURDERER IN CULLER EVANS. (okays, maybe I'm jumping to conclusions here. okay, I'm definitely jumping to conclusions. He's probably just the sweet love interest, sigh.)
Sixth: Who's as excited as meeeeeee?

To bad we have to wait until December 21, 2010


on reading the edible woman

I don't know if I mentioned it before or if it's readily apparent from all the CT posts, but I'm a huge Margaret Atwood fangirl. I started off with reading some of her novels a few years ago, but she's also the first author that incited in me a love of poetry.

She's definitely up high on the list for "authors I love and who have changed my reading perspective." Maybe even #1.

I picked up The Edible Woman at a bookstore this summer. I began reading it--casting aside the other bazillion books I'd splurged on--right away. I remember the way I sat on my bed and sank into this beautiful book.

The Edible Woman--as Atwood's debut, written in the 70s--had a different flavor than the other Atwood books I'd read, like The Handmaid's Tale or The Blind Assassin. There was something inherently different about this book . Something about Atwood's earlier writing style--still assured, yes. Still recognizably Atwood. But somehow less processed.

The Edible Woman tells the story of Marian, a 60's girl with a college diploma who works at job should care less for. She values her independence. Her voice is crisp; her pragmatical nature indisputable. She becomes engaged to Peter: her indisputably practical boyfriend. Things dissolve from there.

There was something of the surreal in this book. Marian gets engaged; things change. Some sort of roadblock forms in her mind as her life as a housewife, married to Peter, solidifies. She can't eat meat anymore. She can't eat much anymore. At one point, she hides under a bed. Her world is shattering; one night, she takes off racing down the streets for no reason at all.

Oh, how I love my crazy main characters.

The surrealism continues: her strange attraction to a graduate student, Duncan, who's frail and a bit like a helpless little boy. Her roommate's, Ainsley, hilarious antics, after a sudden and determined decision to get pregnant, just because. The frailty of her old college friend, Clara, who's weighed down by four squealing kids and who, to Marian, seems little more than someone who gives birth to kids.

There is something otherworldly about the prose and the writing.

Something that still puzzles me: the switch from first person to third person a bit into the book. I guess it could be representative of the way Marian's voice is removed, detached, as she advances further into an stifling engagement she doesn't truly want.

Really, I don't know.

Something I do know: this book is beautiful. It's non-preachy feminism. It's lovely prose-- I think, even though Atwood was so young when she wrote this book (only 24)-- it's as beautiful if not as beautiful as her later books. It's a character study, a relationship study. There's something ethereal to it, almost, as it examines all sorts of different women portrayed in this book. There's something symbolic behind everything, if you'd care to decipher it.

I loved the minor characters a little more than somewhat distant Marian, to tell the truth. Red-headed and eccentric Ainsley, who just wants to use men to further her own ends--she's quite funny. And melancholy Duncan: he seems so real to me that I wouldn't be surprised to see an emaciated figure walking down my street right now. I think he's one of my favorite characters in literature, of all time.

And there is something extraordinary about the minutiae elements in this book: the every day interactions elevated into something truly remarkable. The mundane suddenly something absolutely fascinating. It's like magical realism, but not quite.

Basically, this book just made me love Atwood even more, if that's even possible. And it says a lot that I chose to ramble about The Edible Woman over old favorites such as The Handmaid's Tale or The Blind Assassin. It's my favorite Atwood book.

Some quotes:

"So I'm finally going mad," she thought, "like everybody else. What a nuisance. Though I suppose it will be a change."

"Not liking other people's babies," said Ainsley, "isn't the same as not liking your own."
"After a while I noticed that a large drop of something wet had materialized on the table. I poked it with my finger and smudged it around a little before I realized with horror that it was a tear."

I think this is Atwood at her finest. Really, I'd wear a t-shirt around everywhere with "READ SOME ATWOOD" on the front if I could. Hopefully you'll get a chance to sometime--sooner rather than later :)


just gotta say I can't stand this

I might being stepping on some of your toes here, but I really can't stand a particular kind of review that I keep seeing on goodreads or amazon or whathaveyou review site.

The kind of review where the reviewer completely disregards the merits of a book and the actual craft of the book--things like writing quality, characters, voice, plot, setting. Where the actual quality of the book isn't even mentioned, and instead the whole review is a rant about how [insert drugs, cussing, sex here] is inappropriate for a YA book or for YA readers.

It's totally and completely fine if you didn't like those elements in a book.

But it's the fact that a 1-star rating is given not based on merit, but a reviewer's stance on morality that drives me crazy. It's just not being fair to the author or the book. It's not fair at all.

Look, I have no issue with readers not liking/ getting offended by/ not enjoying cussing teenage characters or drug use or promiscuity in YA books. That's a decision that each person makes individually as a reader, and it's a matter of what someone personally does or doesn't like reading in a book. That's not what I'm bothered by.

However, I do get pretty antsy when I see a perfectly good book--in terms of writing or characterization or craft--given 1-star reviews solely because of the more "edgy" elements.

Maybe it's the fault of Amazon and Goodreads, since they don't have an option other than the 5-stars where reviewers can rate or explain that they didn't like the content. But as it stands, the preponderance of 1-star reviews given based off or a book's morality instead of actual quality devalues the integrity of a 5-star rating scale. 1s should be reserved for books that are completely terrible craft-wise and that would better serve as fire fuel because they're so bad. 1s shouldn't be reserved for otherwise good books that have content that discomfort some--but not all--readers.

But until the reviewing system is changed (which I don't see happening soon), I'd really like to see more balanced reviews. Okay, so you're all fired up about how the main character dropped f-bombs every other word. And you definitely didn't like that she was a cocaine addict. That's fine.

But what did you actually think about the writing? The plot? The craft that went behind this book? The character development and her relationships with other characters as she deals with the consequences of being a cussing cocaine addict?

In my opinion, those are crucial things that should be covered in a review before branching out to a personal dislike of a character's moral choices. Those are the things that should be factored in to how a book is rated. Those are the elements--when mentioned in a review--that will actually help people decide if a book is worth reading or not.

Are you bothered when 1-star reviews are given solely because of "edgy" content? Do you think giving books 1-stars/ 2-stars because of content is fair or even a good way of rating books?


review: the duff


Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

My Opinion:

Enter Bianca: a fierce girl who's feels she's the Duff (Designated Fat Ugly Friend). Enter Wesley: the gorgeous player that has no heart or soul.
Then sit back as these two battle (and love) it out, and you've got the resulting concoction of punchy, real, and engrossing that is The Duff.

Bianca is definitely a memorable main character: she jumps out at the pages from the first, spouting clever insults and her worries about family problems. But I like my snarky main characters. I like them quite a lot. I can understand why the constant cynicism and aggression that characterizes Bianca might rub some readers the wrong way--but that's the same reaction a sarcastic seventeen-year-old would get in real life, and it only seems fitting that she'd get the same reaction out of readers. One thing's for sure: some people will love Bianca, and some people will hate her.

I mostly loved her.

One thing I can say about this book? It's a breath of fresh air. Bianca is perfectly imperfect: she's not stunningly beautiful or scarily skinny, and she's definitely not yet another recycled teenage main character that populate so many YA books today. She feels real, and her witty observations are just the sort of thing I'd like to see more in YA: her assertion that in high school, teenagers shouldn't be "in love" but rather "in like"; her ability to have a crush on someone nerdy and nice rather than a chiseled marble statue; and her doubts about her relationship with Wesley.

It's the characters and the relationships that are the backbone of this book; and Keplinger succeeds in bringing to life a whole cast that has strikingly realistic interactions with each other. Cynical Bianca has two friends that aren't flimsy stock characters; Wesley--although definitely not a love interest I'd swoon over--has depth behind his playboy exterior; a sister he cares for, and a rather touching concern for Bianca--even as he plays his part as a womanizer. It's the teens that I feel came to life and took over this story--as it should be in YA. Bianca's relationship with her Dad and Mom is shaky; but I felt that the conflict between them could've stood to have been explored at a deeper level rather than a toss-up conflict that adds reasoning to Bianca's lusty interactions with Wesley. And I'd promised I'd start doing this more often, so for those of you who are deeply offended by cursing or sex in a book, steer clear of The Duff. Personally, I'm not bothered by it, and felt that it did create a further dimension of realness to The Duff--even if Bianca made some rather stupid decisions. The point is, she learned from it. The other point is that these are real teenagers you're reading about, not just what adults think teenagers are like.

And that's why I felt that this book had so much value.

There are some things that I wish could've been a little different: there was a slight shift in writing style after the first few chapters that should've been ironed out by the time of publication, and also, the ending just didn't quite do it for me. It came together too nicely and too easily; with the blink of an eye, Bianca's problems were resolved. The ending was not in line with the rest of the ambiance of the book; nor was Bianca's final attitude towards Wesley. Things were too neat, and far too pretty for a book and main character that aren't afraid to deal with the ugly side of things.

However, I will say that I really appreciated the self-esteem issues explored in this book: I'm sure just about every girl and possibly boy has felt like The Duff at one point. And I did love the chemistry between Bianca and Wesley; it kept me reading, just to see what insult she'd throw at him next.

Overall, The Duff was a very strong debut by an author I'm eager to read more from in the future. I'm really grateful as a reader that Keplinger was able to take a step back from the cliches and often untrue descriptions of high school that are so pervasive throughout YA; and to deliver a setting that rings true to me as a teenager.

The Duff is snarky and punchy and just what teen readers need from contemporary YA--a new voice that's got some gumption to it, and most of all, a whole lot of realism.

My Rating: 8/10. Pretty good read overall, pick it up if you have a chance. Oh, and I LOVE the cover. For once, there's a girl on the cover that stays true to what I'd expect her to look like based off of descriptions--there isn't any of that annoying skinny-fying and glamorizing (she has freckles!) done here. I'm doing my happy-dance for covers right now. :)

FTC Disclosure: I received the ARC for review from the publisher


falling out of love with books

Something rather crushing happened yesterday, when I went to dig through my bookshelves for this novel I used to love when I was in sixth grade. I started reading it. It was okay, but not wonderful like I remembered it to be.

I mostly noticed how I didn't care for the voice, or the way author described things, or the dialogue. I used to love every inch of that book and reread it obsessively, but yesterday I realized it was just kinda not that great.

I'd fallen out of love with a book.

Now, I still love plenty of books I loved in sixth grade. But some books I was sure I'd love forever--well, they're not that loved anymore.

And I think it's because I review books.

Before, if I didn't like a book, it was only a vague, unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach after I read a book and decided I'd wasted my time and then decided I'd never read it again. But I didn't put this dislike of a book into words or even think much about why I disliked a book until I began book reviewing.

Now, it's hard for me to put my critical mind aside when I'm reading. The flaws in a book stand out.

And I think that's why--not just because I'm older and different--I can fall out of love with a book.

And I wonder if that's really a good thing. I mean, I can have comfort in the fact that there's a reason I love or hate a book, but it's not as comforting to know that I can't just pick up any book I want and have an enjoyable time reading it, or even expect that my reading favorites will still be the same books a year from now.

Why do you think you fall out of love with books? Is it just time passing? Different tastes? Or did you suddenly become aware of flaws you hadn't noticed before?


teen writer interview: emilia plater

Teen writer interviews are a feature on my blog, where I invite some very talented teens who are seriously pursuing publication over for a spotlight.


Emilia Plater

Age: 17 (Life is going by so fast! AHH)

Blog: Punk Writer Kid

Twitter: @emiliaplater

Represented By: Suzie Townsend of FinePrint Literary Management


Food: Chinese

Song: Hey by The Pixies

Weather: 75 degrees and sunny. I'm on the wrong coastline!

Movie: Catch Me If You Can

Write the autobiography of your life in a sentence, using at least three of these words: watermelon, tusks, sibilant, boots, reindeer, finagle, crusty, scuba, watershed, turban.

Once, a girl with the ability to eat a whole watermelon in one sitting put on some boots and scuba'd this world with her TUSKS. Metaphorically.

(faux cover below)

Query/ Summary for Autochromatic:

I'm awful at short s ummaries, so y'all get the Big Query Kahuna. Much apologies! Here we go...

Ask seventeen-year-old Riley Tanner how she's dealing with the death of her boyfriend, Adrian, and she'll respond with an eye-roll and a "fantastically." Truth is, the car crash wrecked her world, and Riley has pretty much accepted her fate as a screwed-up therapy case. But when she starts getting texts from Adrian's phone number, each containing a different address, her plan to spend the summer not thinking about him falls apart.

Desperate to track down the sender - mostly so she can punch that creep in the face - Riley sets off on a follow-the-texts road trip with her best friend. From New York City to the Wild West, she meets people from Adrian's past who she didn't know existed. Their stories of betrayal, alcoholism, and messed-up family dramas paint a not-so-pretty picture of the guy she thought she loved. Great.

With her beliefs caught in a crapstorm, Riley recognizes the real source of her frustration: Adrian's mistakes. But there's nothing in the Angsty Teen manual about conflict resolution with dead people, and things only get worse when her best friend heads home after a fight. Stranded on the wrong side of the country, Riley has to make a choice: give up healing for good, or ask for help from the one person who refuses to show their face...

IWAGR: Wow. I'd seriously buy this book in a heartbeat if I saw it at the bookstore.

Can you share a favorite scene or a few excerpts from Autochromatic?

My favorite scene is a little too spoilery (I'm a sucker for Climactic Breakdowns), but here are a few of my fave bits! They characterize Riley well, muah hah.

Screw twinkling lights. I prefer the city in the morning. The real people come out now -- the suits on their way to work, the hardcore drunks on their way home, the crazy muscular runners. Sunlight bleeds into the sidewalk cracks and ramps up the contrast of the colors, plastic colors, trash colors. This is the real city, awake again after a chaotic Saturday night, collective hangover chiseling everything to an edge. That’s not printed on the stupid posters in Times Square.

Watch me. No way. This room flashes to mine, zooms in on my bed, where sheets snarl around my ankles. People are studying me, Riley Tanner, age seventeen, boyfriend died in a car crash, isn’t that sad? They’re wondering, whispering as gunfire pain sears at my middle, cutting my organs, warping my spine. All day , all night, no medicine works and two words writhe in my ear. Suicide watch.

That camping trip was great. Adrian and I were allowed to have our own tent, and we almost had sex in it after a day of rock-climbing, but then my dad started making bear noises ten feet away and we co llapsed into laughter.
IWAGR: Those are really awesome! LOVE.

What was it like landing an agent?

Oh my gosh, it was amazing and exciting and insane! It's been a month, and I still don't think it's sunk in. I'm probably going to be sitting in school someday soon when I randomly start having a freak attack because it's finally hit me. This is happening. Huh?

What does your book sound like? (Describe it as if it were a song.)

I hear guitar, power electric guitar, with a dash of piano melody for the the more touchy-feely moments. A great drum beat. Lots of annoying cymbal crashing during the chorus. And for some reason, a trumpet. Veery interesting.

INWAGR: Interesting indeed!

What inspired you to begin writing in the first place? When did you get serious about it? And what keeps you sticking with it?

In the beginning, my "inspiration" was a little twisted: I wanted to write a book for the sake of being that cool kid who writes a book. Looking back, I think emo 15-year-old me was searching for something - a jumpstart, a break in the monotony, a reason for being, whatever you want to call it. It just so happens that the week I started writing AC, something shifted, and suddenly it hit me that I had, as an emo 15-year-old, stumbled upon my freakin' calling. Whoaman!

Despite all that, I didn't know if I'd be able to stick with it. But it's been a year and a half since then, and whether it's the words, or the people, or the addictive highs, or something else altogether, I'm still here. Honestly, I couldn't feel more blessed.

Can you describe your writing style?

Whine, procrastinate, write two sentences, check Facebook, eat, write. No, just kidding... sort of, hee! Above all, I try to keep it real, no holds barred. In AC, Riley's gritty, tell-all voice really helps me do that. But overall, the visceral reaction is something I'm always hunting for. It may take a few rounds of hammering, but once that cool turn of phrase shows itself, or that breakdown hits just the right note, I've done my job.

Looking at my excerpts, apparently I'm a lover of run-on sentences. I promise they're only a slight problem!

What’s your ultimate writing dream and where do you see yourself in ten years time writing-wise?

In ten years, I hope to be writing novels for a living, or at least part of a living. Earth-shattering, I know - I just hope they're good!

When it comes to an ultimate writing dream, right now I feel like seeing my writing on the pages of a real-live book would be the most amazing thing in the world. But I'm also a big believer in the idea that under every desire lies another one waiting to break free. So maybe one day I'll dream of nothing less than penning an NYT bestseller - or, more likely, of simply being someone with the power to shake things up and make people think a little differently. Whatever happens will happen - and I can't wait to go along for the ride!

What is your favorite hobby other than writing?

Would you believe me if I told you I'm a professional whale trainer? No? Yeah, I wouldn't either. Hmm... Well, there's reading, and creepily drawing portraits of my friends when they're not looking. OH! My dream is to travel like crazy, and I've already been to a few pretty sweet places. Yes, I choose traveling. Which is funny, because my parents are always bugging me to get out of my room. Oh, moms and dads.


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?

Dude, reading that list of qualities made me drool! I really try my best to achieve them all, since the whole package is always ideal. But I'll be the first to admit that voice is what hooks me the most in YA, and it's one of my favorite things to develop. I've found that once you've got the main character's essence down, suddenly the humor's there too, closely followed by the descriptions, and the snappy dialogue... Riley comprises the core of AC, and from her has sprung plot changes, characters I want her to clash with, everything. I owe her a lot!

Even though in my head, Riley is pretty much a real-live person, I've had to work a lot on perfecting those minor characters, particularly their motivations. Having a whole cast of real characters is truly what makes a story memorable - any LOST fan will tell you that. Then you get to finish the book and think... "Wait, where do I find these people?"

What’s a word you absolutely hate? One that you absolutely love?

For some reason, the word 'lips' has always freaked me out. I sort of have to use it though, because my characters are always smiling like idiots (it's a problem), and you can only use 'mouth' and 'smile' so many times. I absolutely love the word 'gambol.' Which sucks, because if I made any of my characters do it, they'd kill me. I'll have to stick them in a meadow of happy flowers sometime and see what they do THEN.

If you ever made it on to the front page of a newspaper, what would it be for?

I swear I'm not lying - my immediate answer was "for burning something down." I mean, ideally, it'd be for setting up a kitten orphanage, or for a record-breaking book release, but... yeah. I suck at cooking.

Invent a writing or reading related superpower.

The power to stop time. Unrelated! you exclaim accusingly. But oh, it is so related. Can you imagine being able to stop time for a little in the middle of crazy-busy day, sit down, and read a cool book or write a chapter or two before returning to the grind? Hells yeah. And the possibilities for pranks are endless, but that actually isn't writing related, so I'll keep 'em to myself. (One word: whales.)

And lastly, the MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION OF YOUR LIFE: In a top-secret experiment (that is probably very unethical and illegal) SCIENTISTS HAVE ENGINEERED A BREED OF OH-SO-CUTE kittens that can *gasp* read. Desperate to make sure these kittens get the reading education they need, you ninja five of your favorite books into the laboratory. What are they and why let the kitties read them?

OMG! Okay. Okay. No pressure. Just molding the minds of adorable kittens that will inevitably rule the world with their cuteness. Let's see... I'd want to make sure they don't feel weird, being able to read and all, so I'd use The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie to teach them the importance of being yourself. Then, I'd want them to be prepared for the possibility of a zombie outbreak when they rule the world, so stick in World War Z by Max Brooks.

After that, it's time for some lessons about love and hate and women's issues: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers and The Bell Jar by Slyvia Plath (don't get too depressed, kitties!). And finally, the eternal Harry Potter series (it counts as one), because no living creature should ever have to endure an existence without magic. Yay!

IWAGR: Aww man, those are all awesome books--I freaking love Alexie and Rowling and Plath and Rowling. Those kitties are gonna have lots of fun reading them :p


Thank you Emilia for letting me interview you! Who else thinks this girl is made of awesome?

Don't forget to check out her (also) awesome blog over at Punk Writer Kid.


waiting on wednesday: so shelly

Until now, high school junior, John Keats, has only tiptoed near the edges of the vortex that is schoolmate and literary prodigy, Gordon Byron. That is, until their mutual friend, Shelly, drowns in a sailing accident.

After stealing Shelly's ashes from her wake at Trinity Catholic High School, the boys set a course for the small Lake Erie island where Shelly's body had washed ashore and to where she wished to be returned. It would be one last "so Shelly" romantic quest. At least that's what they think. As they navigate around the obstacles and resist temptations during their odyssey, Keats and Gordon glue together the shattered pieces of Shelly's and their own pasts while attempting to make sense of her tragic and premature end.


I love the cleverness of how all the main characters mentioned are named after a poets.

And my gawd, I already love this book. I stated googling Percy Shelley out of pure curiosity, and got sucked into reading up about him.

From wikipedia:

On 8 July 1822, less than a month before his 30th birthday, Shelley drowned in a sudden storm while sailing back from Livorno to Lerici in his schooner, Don Juan.

So I'm guessing book is at least loosely based on Shelley-Byron-Keat's real lives.


Mostly because:
1. I love poetry
2. This book seems like a modern, fictionalized version of the poet's lives.
3. It seems like a fresh idea in YA. And it's already exudes cleverness from just a short blurb--I looove clever things.

At first I thought this book might be cool, but the more I read up on it, the more excited I'm getting XD

To be published February 8th 2011