Monday, June 23, 2014

Behind: The Scenes

After reading the title of this book and knowing who wrote it, I was sure I was about to read about scenes of people's behinds.

And guess what? I was right.

I read Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler and thought, "Shit. This is as good, if not better, than any YA romance novel I've ever read."

(This is a good time to let you know that I'm not being compensated in any way for this review. I did receive an ARC, but with no requirements or guidelines for my review. I will not, however, refuse to accept a Chipotle e-card from anyone for any reason EVER.)

Let's start with a line from the "About the Author" page in the back of the book:

Dahlia Adler is an Assistant Editor of Mathematics by day...

Okay, I bet you're thinking the exact same thing that I thought when I first read that: Damn, Dahlia sounds like a MAJOR nerd! Then add to that the fact that no one knows what the hell an "Editor of Mathematics" even is, and your expectations for this book fall somewhere between nerdish and geekish.

But, holy crap...this book is FREAKING AWESOME!! Now I'm not saying that Dahlia is not a total nerd-geek, I honestly don't know (but let's be honest...editor of mathematics??), but even if she is, who cares?!

Let me start with the characters.

Ally, the MC is one of my favorite characters in contemp YA. This is why: she's put in a very difficult situation, a situation no one would really know what to do in, and then, after a series of almost-meltdowns, she has a full-blown meltdown. It's basically what we all would have done in that situation, and this makes her one of the most believable characters I've read. She was funny, likable, and very real. Throughout the book I was imagining what it would have been like to be in her situation when I was in high school, and it was both fun and scary to think about. Ally is a great character!

Liam, the boy. Oh lord. After this book is on the shelves a few weeks all I'm going to be reading on Twitter is, "OMG I have a new book boyfriend!" Ladies, calm yourselves. Overall, I like Liam. I like him because he is an absolute gentleman to Ally and treats her with respect. His character gets pretty damn close to the "too perfect to be real" line, but the fact that he never comes across as an arrogant prick really seems to even things out. I'm glad that he has some darker history, some stuff from his past. It makes him much deeper than just a six-pack stud.

The rest of the characters are great, too. And I don't mean good, I mean great. From the family members to the friends to the Hollywood gossip bloggers, every character had an important part in making the story move forward.

The pace of the story, the way it unfolds, is perfection. Seriously. I kept turning pages like I was a robot. I forgot I was reading the story because I was so caught up in the story. THAT is all I really need.

The romance in the book is wonderful. I was misled just enough to never really be sure what was going to happen. The relationship that developed was sincere, and I was rooting for it to succeed. It's a great love story, a truly great love story.

Mark my words...if Dahlia keeps this up, she'll be one of the top YA Romance novelists on the block. All that "Editor of Mathematics" nonsense will be history.

I give Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler 6 out of 6 abs per pack.



Saturday, June 21, 2014

I Want To Edit Your Manuscript

It has happened.

I finally have the time to do it! I've been tossing this idea around in my mostly empty head for over a year now, but with three active kids consuming my life, I just didn't have the time to make it happen. But now...

I love writing YA. I love reading YA. I love blogging about YA. And guess what...I love editing YA, too. Go figure.

So I put together a neat little website that explains what I do.
Click Here----->  Real Men Edit YA.

Check it out!








Friday, June 13, 2014

I'm So Embarrassed

I'm ashamed. I don't know what's wrong with me. I mean...I'm an adult. I should know better.

I saw Divergent. I was the ONLY adult there. I felt so stupid. I felt so wrong for liking it. It was exciting and original and intense. I'm so immature. I bet I'm the only adult that's even heard of that movie.

I felt the same way with The Hunger Games, and Twilight, and Ender's Game, and all those Harry Potter movies. I'm basically the only adult in the world that likes that stuff. Maybe there's a few other misfits like me hiding in the shadows of the movie theater and creeping around the YA book shelves.

I'm just glad that Hollywood and the publishing world realizes that adults would NEVER be interested in this kind of childish nonsense!

And I hope no one EVER finds out that I like video games. How embarrassing would THAT be?!

And don't get me started on comic books. I feel so ridiculous every time I'm the only adult at the comic book store.

Adults just shouldn't do what they like, ya know? They should do what complete strangers think they should do. Let's drop all this "be true to yourself" garbage. Let's live to please strangers. Because judging other people is okay. It's how we know right from wrong.

And the most important lesson in life is this: Do what adults are supposed to do. Find the really smart, mature adults, and ask them for the rules of adulthood. They will tell you what you can and can't do. If you follow their rules and are unhappy, too bad. It's better to be unhappy than to be embarrassed for liking things that teenagers like.

I mean let's face it, the leaders of our world don't read stupid YA books, or watch stupid comic book movies. And look how perfectly they run the world. Look how happy and fulfilled they are.

It's time to grow up! You wanna read? Then read the freaking dictionary! You wanna watch a movie? Why? So your brain can turn to mush? You need to be watching C-SPAN!

You don't need to relate to and try to understand younger generations! They're stupid teenagers! They aren't capable of anything, and nothing that is written or made for them has any substance in it! Rape, suicide, eating disorders, divorcing parents, bullying, racism, sexism...huh. This stuff only applies to teenagers.

I'm not gonna be embarrassed anymore! I'm taking my Harry Potter poster down and replacing it with a copy of a Van Gogh. And no more Iggy Azalea on the radio! When I drive, we listen to Beethoven.

And I'm done watching sports! I'm always the only adult watching. What kind of educated adult would spend their time watching a 20-year-old kid try to make a ball go in a hoop? Games are for kids, not adults.

And the next time I go to Disney World, I'm not gonna enjoy it. That place is for kids. I'm embarrassed at how much fun I've had there as an adult.

And you know what's really starting to piss me off? When those damn teenagers show up in one of MY R-rated dramas. How dare they think they can come in and pretend to understand the complexity of a movie made for adults?! Teenagers are only capable of believing in vampires and having farting contests.

I'm also ashamed that I have the Angry Birds app on my phone. Just another disgusting sign that I'm one of the only adults in the world that would do such an immature thing.

I'm just saying, that no matter who we really are, we should all strive to be like the mature, sophisticated, older people that are just oozing with happiness.

Now excuse me, I have to finish coloring my Care Bears coloring book.

"Read what you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you're reading was written for children."
-Ruth Graham

"Think what you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you think is stupid."
-Aaron Bergh

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Boredom in Our Stars

Ok. Well. Um. Let's see, here.

I read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and I was like

(That's an unfinished sentence...get it, get it?)

This story gave me those same feelings that I had back in high school when I was forced to read some old book that bored me out of my mind and had my late-1990's teenage brain daydreaming about Gwen Stefani instead of trying to appreciate the classics.

I'm...conflicted?

I'm also frustrated because I'll never really know what my true reaction would have been to this book because someone FREAKING SPOILED IT FOR ME. So, I really think that screwed me up. I was trying to read the book like I didn't know how things turned out. But I did know, so...

I'm breaking this up into two parts: things I didn't love, and things that made me laugh (but weren't supposed to be funny). Hitting it from two angles should work out great since I'm a lot like Gollum.

First, it's super hard to read a book when expectations are as high as Wiz Khalifa. And with the movie coming out, John Green everywhere I turn, and #TFIOS trending on Twitter every day, it's tough to just try to "read a book." It's more like an application to be a Nerdfighter. I kinda felt like I was going to tryouts. All this stuff skews my reading of the story, it's my fault for waiting so long. The fault is not in my stars, it's in my procrastination.

I do want to say this right up front, though. This is an absolutely beautiful line:

"I fell in love the way you fall asleep. Slowly, and then all at once." 

Seriously, I would get this tattooed on my throat.

Things I Didn't Love

The characters. Look, I don't care what anyone says, Hazel and Augustus are not believable characters in any way whatsoever. No. This is what Hazel and Augustus are: the teenage girl version of today's John Green, and the teenage boy version of today's John Green. Hazel and Augustus are the same person to me.

I have seven years of experience as a teenager. I lived and worked with teenagers for quite a few years. Hazel and Augustus are not teenagers, they're second year grad students in a prestigious MFA program.

People don't talk like Hazel and Augustus, especially teenagers. If we had some backstory or something on how both of these characters were notable geniuses with photographic memories that were perfect for memorizing long, boring sections of confusing poems and books, that would've helped. But, I understood them to be average teenagers with the exception of their fights with cancer?

Like the other John Green books I've read, there were paragraphs, and sometimes entire pages, that I scanned over because they were so boring. I'm not sure how he gets away with it. I guess when you're super successful, you can do whatever you want? Like when J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer had success with their first books, they were then allowed to write crazy-ass long books that could have easily been trimmed way down without affecting the story one bit. I feel like these "shoulda-been-cut" parts of TFIOS popped up way too often. If it doesn't move the story forward, it damn well better have a very important purpose.

This was a very boring read. I can honestly say, that if it wasn't for all the hype, and the fact that I do (believe it or not) like John Green, I would not have finished this book. The only thing that drives the story is wondering who is going to die in the end. That's it. Trying to find out how Augustus and Hazel's favorite book ends is not interesting or exciting. I didn't care how that book ended. Everything they quoted from it was lame. I wasn't reading TFIOS thinking, "Oh, oh my...Hazel just HAS to find out how that story ends! Because if she doesn't, then...then...something terrible will happen!" Nope, if she doesn't find out how it ends, nothing happens. I know this because she doesn't find out how it ends from the original author, which is what a large part of the book was dedicated to, and NOTHING HAPPENS. I admit, for a few moments when Van Houten shows up in the end, I got excited that perhaps it was all going to come together. That there was something that I never saw coming. Nope.

Things That Made Me Laugh (But Weren't Supposed To Be Funny)

Augustus likes to keep a smoke between his lips, but never smokes. hahahaha That was my main source of comic relief throughout the book. That's the dumbest thing I've ever pictured. Hey I have a good idea, how about Hazel walks around holding a loaded gun to her head, ya know, for the sake of metaphors. And the strange (and almost dark) connection between the smoke in Augustus's mouth, and the fact that Hazel CAN'T FREAKING BREATH, is just flat out ridiculous.

Augustus's friend, you know, the kid that had his life turned upside down from getting dumped, but not from HAVING ZERO EYES. Attitude about going blind: whatever, let's play video games. Attitude about getting dumped: break everything and have nothing left to live for.

I did love how the old drunk stranger, Van Houten, hitches a ride with Hazel and her parents, and Hazel lays into him, and her parents act like this is completely normal.

And the kiss scene followed by strangers watching and clapping? Hahahaha What?!

The funniest part, though, the part that I can't believe I haven't heard mention of yet, is when Hazel and Augustus meet. Here's my fatherly advice to all teenage girls: if you go to a cancer support group with people that are suffering and dying, and a guy you've never met nor seen stares at you for an uncomfortably long time while others are sharing their stories, punch that motherfucker in the nose as hard as you can and run like Speedy Gonzalez out to your mom. Then call the police. If you don't feel comfortable punching him in the face, then simply say, "Stop looking at me." But for the love of god, DON'T GO TO HIS HOUSE.

Ready?

"A boy was staring at me."

"...his eyes were still on me."

"He was still watching me."

And here's the best part! This is the key! It makes everything okay and safe.

"A nonhot boy stares at you relentlessly and it is, at best, awkward and, at worst a form of assault. But a hot boy...well.

No. Absolutely not. This is not the message that I want my daughter to learn. "Oh, hey Kam, ummm, look...if a ugly guy ever stares at you to the point that you feel assaulted, take action. But if a really hot guy stares at you relentlessly, definitely go to his house with him. Because all hot guys are trustworthy and would never do anything to harm you. But ugly guys? Huh, stay away from those dangerous ugly guys."

I give TFIOS 9 out of 17 throat tattoos.

I actually don't hate this book. I hate some things about it, but overall, I can say that it's more of my personal preference that I didn't care for it, and not that it's a terribly written book.

I AM, however, very excited to see the movie now! My daughter read TFIOS before me, and when her little friend asked her is she wanted to go see the movie, she told her no because she wants to see it with me. For that reason alone, reading The Fault in Our Stars was well worth it.

And even though I would rather reread Twilight a hundred times before I reread TFIOS, I casually recommend it.











Wednesday, April 30, 2014

DE FIANCE

So, I started reading De Fiance by C.J. Redwine and I was extremely disappointed to find out that there are no engaged characters in the book! So after reading and reading and never coming across a "fiance," I finally realized that the title of the book is Defiance. That made so much more sense.

OK, deep breath.

This book...I...I...

*wipes tear of joy running down cheek

I loved it! L-O-V-E.

After I finished it, I legit dropped to one knee and said, "Defiance, I love you. Would you do me the honor of spending the rest of your life in my arms?"

I waited for like three hours until my knee hurt real bad, but Defiance wouldn't answer.

It hurt on my insides. The rejection was more than I could handle, and also my knee was throbbing and my leg was starting to cramp up.

And then it hit me: books don't have vocal chords and stuff...or mouths...and...other parts, they choose to communicate in other ways.

After slapping myself in the forehead I said, "Defiance, if you love me and want to be with me forever, give me a sign."

Then it happened. It really happened. You may find this hard to believe, but I SWEAR that it happened. I saw it with my own three eyes! The girl on the cover of the book...you know, the one with the red hair...she turned and winked at me. I SWEAR!!

It was sign.

Also, has anyone seen my medication?

I almost don't know where to begin. There are so many things that I love about Defiance. It's a perfect example of why YA is the coolest kid in school. It's like drinking the perfect smoothie with all the important ingredients added at all the right times and mixed together in a way that maximizes the joy of the experience.

Action? Yes
Romance? Yes
Originality? Yes
Characters to love? Yes
Characters to hate? Yes
Characters with different motivations? Yes
Chapters to compel the reader to start the next chapter even though it's really freaking late? Yes
Excellent writing? Yes
Cool setting? Yes
Awesomeness? Yes
Reasons to Fanman? Yes
Author with a cool last name? Yes
Book cover that doesn't make me roll my eyes? Yes

Lame story? No
Stupid, annoying characters? No
Cheesy, unrealistic teenage love? No
Boring? No
Makes me barf? No
Checked Twitter while reading? No
Fell asleep while reading? No
Used pages for a campfire? No

Ya feel me?

The main character is so awesome! She's the perfect mix of kick-your-ass and vulnerability. We get to see both sides! This makes her easy to relate to and it makes you want her to succeed.

The "bad guy" in this story is an asshole. I hate him and I want him to get his tail kicked. But, he's not just a monster without a cause, he has his own motivations...you can feel it. C.J. did an amazing job of making me want to see him defeated, while still making me want to learn more about him. That's a difficult task!

The lover boy in this story is one of the best I've read. Like, I didn't throw up in my mouth even once. He has a past that drives him, a present that he doesn't always know what to do with, and a plan for the future that he's constantly working out. And most importantly, he treats his lady with respect and isn't threatened by her mad killing skillz. He's the kind of guy that YA needs more of.

The fantasy element to the story is perfect. It doesn't overwhelm the plot, but instead makes it interesting and unique. Love it.

I give Defiance an EASY 7 out of 7 marriage proposals.

OH! One more thing...there are tree people in the story. I just feel like you should know that.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Captain America (but really, Scarlett Johansson)

I saw Captain America: The Winter Solider and thought, "Captain America is SO much better when Scarlett Johansson is in it."

I saw the first Captain America, otherwise known as, "Wake me up when it's over," and couldn't believe how terrible it was. Like, awful. Like, Did Not Finish. Like, someone needs to be fired.

When I heard there was going to be a second Captain America I was pretty disappointed in humanity, but now that I've seen it, there's new hope rising up inside of me for the future of my children.

It was FREAKING AMAZING!!!

There was actually a story this time! Wow! In fact, there were so many stories crossing paths in the movie it felt like reading six comic books at the same time. Somehow it worked, though, and it was brilliant.

The characters were great. There were multiple villains, new characters introduced, and Scarlett Johansson kicking ass.

The action, the fighting, the one-liners...they were all worthy of the Rampaging Marvel Movie Machine.

You should definitely see this movie. I mean, it's no Batman Begins, but it's pretty awesome.

And Scarlett Johansson is in it.