Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Been a Glorious Month!

Today marks the one-month anniversary of Real Mean Read YA.

And after one month I can say with confidence that I don't have a freaking clue what I'm doing.

I wanted to congratulate everyone for being groovy.  Everyone has been friendly, encouraging, and has welcomed me into the consuming world of YA book blogging with open brains.

I've enjoyed communicating with all you cool bloggers, agents, and authors.

I've read ten books so far this year and hope to keep up that pace.  The only thing that might hold me back from my 2013 reading goal of 100 books is if I go on a Harry Potter movie marathon binge.

Three Things I've Noticed This Month

1. Most YA authors are friendly and seem sincerely grateful for their fans.

2. Most agents are helpful and encouraging to aspiring authors.  I found this to be refreshing.  I think agents get attacked daily with the same questions and tweets and emails that they continually ask people to not send.  If I was an agent, I'd be a werewolf agent.  Then, when I ate the people that contacted me via Twitter with their pitch, I wouldn't feel bad (I'm not sure if all werewolves are the same, but I'd be the Lupin kind.  You know, the kind where you're not responsible for what you do when there's a full moon).

3. Nerdy book girls are hot.


I'll be pushing hard the next few weeks to finish a revision of this story thing I've been working on for just under a year now.  That might affect the number of blog posts I make in February, but probably not.  

You should all follow my BFF (Best Farting Friend) @jolenehaley  She's a genius and helps me figure out really hard things like what adverbs are and how letters go together to make words, etc.

Make sure to say hi to me on Twitter from time to time.  That makes me feel happy.


Friday, January 25, 2013

That's not a tear! I have something in my eye.

Congratulations, Daisy Whitney, you made my eyes sweat.  Twice.

Ok, it wasn't sweat.  It was probably an issue with my contacts.

Ok, I don't wear contacts.  It was probably just my eyes urinating.

Ok, eyes don't urinate.  It was probably just water from the shower.

Ok, I don't bathe.  It was probably just...oh, hell.  Fine.  You made my eyes water with human tears that came out of my head.

Thanks to you and your book When You Were Here.

I love this book.  It moves a little slower than I'm used to, but given the story line I'm perfectly fine with that.  There were a few moments in the middle of the story that my mind began to wander...what should I have for dinner?...

Then Daisy Whitney smashed my face with a hammer.  Totally blindsided me. Slapped me across the face with a big wet cow tongue.  Grabbed me by the hair, lifted me off the ground, and said, "KABOOM."

I hate spoilers, so I don't want to say anything.  This book contains what I refer to as a "bomb scene."  It's not a twist and it's much more than a surprise.  It's one of those scenes that grips you so hard you feel like it's happening to you.  It explodes inside of you.

I give When You Were Here and easy 4 out of 5 hot wings (hot wings make me tear up), and I'd even throw in some ranch dressing and a Coke.

The writing is smooth perfection.  The characters are great.

Most of the story takes place in Japan.  It's done so well that picturing the setting was effortless.

Why Guys Should Read This Book

Daisy Whitney does an excellent job of writing from a young man's point of view. This young man suffers loss after loss after loss and has to not only deal with life, but with his own emotions.  In my opinion, guys suck at this.  We're generally afraid of letting anyone see us cry, or feel frustrated, or whatever might be perceived as weakness.  Instead, we hold it all in to save face, then explode at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons.  This is unhealthy.  For everyone.

This book does an excellent job showing a young man deal with his emotions in a very real, yet very successful way.  I applaud Daisy Whitney for this.

And if that's not enough for guys to read this...

There's some serious boner scenes, too.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A 343 Page Addiction

"Hey, big boy."

"Umm..."  I look around.  I'm the only one here.  Crap.  She's talking to me.

"Yeah, I'm talkin' to you.  Come here.  I got somthin' for ya."  She's holding a brown paper bag.  It's rolled tight on one end to hide its contents.

I don't like to judge people by their appearances, but this chick is shady looking. She's wearing a black trench coat, black boots, and a black top hat.  Her sunglasses seem a bit out of place.  They're as big as her face, gold frames, and...oh god...no, not bedazzled!

I gotta get outta here.  I was taught to never talk to someone that bedazzles things.

I turn, tripping over my own feet as I attempt to escape.  I fall.  I stare into the cracked pavement of this dark alley and wait.

The thuds of her boots stomp up behind me. I lie still, too scared to move.  What's she gonna do to me?  What if she tries to bedazzle my jeans!?

I find the courage to look up.

Her arm is extended.  The brown paper bag hangs over me.  "Don't ya wanna see what's inside?"

No.  I just want you to go away.,.you...you creepy bedazzler that wears a top hat in scary alleys.

"Yes, thank you."  What!?  Dammit!  What am I doing?  She must have some kind of mind control powers.

She drops the bag on the ground next to me.  "First one's free.  I've got 37 more. Bring me some red beads tomorrow.  Same time.  Same place."

I look down at the bag, wondering what's in it.  When I look back up at the creepy bedazzler lady...she's gone.

I reach for the bag.  I feel like Belle, reaching for the enchanted rose for the first time.  My hand is shaking.

What's in this bag?  What makes creepy bedazzler lady so sure I'll come back?

I unroll the end of the bag and slide my hand in.  I pull out something that's wrapped in used tin foil.  There are traces of beans and rice and guacamole.  It smells quite good, actually.

After licking the tin foil, I tear it open.  Inside the tin foil are pages that have been ripped out of a book.

I gasp.  I look around the alley again.  I'm alone (Duh.  I'm in Kansas...of course I'm alone).

I can't believe I'm holding these pages in my hands.  How did she get these?  These are dangerous. I've heard about people reading these...locking themselves in their rooms for hours...neglecting their children (*clears throat) because they were so addicted.

Hmm, maybe I'll just give them a try.  There's not too many pages.  If it's not good for me...I can stop.  Yeah, I'm strong.

After giving the tin foil one more good lick I throw it down in the alley (because that's what you do in alleys).

I could get killed for these pages.  I have to conceal them, so I stick them down my pants (because NO ONE will look there) and head home.

I move quickly through my house, hoping my mom doesn't question me.

"Get a job!" she says, jumping out from behind the couch.

"I'm holding out for management!"  I run to my room and lock the door.  I crawl under my bead and stick my hand down my pants (ha ha ha).  I pull it out (ha ha ha).

Here, right in front of me, is the first chapter of Pivot Point, by Kasie West.


Pivot Point definitely qualifies as a page turner.  At the end of every chapter I said one of two things: "Oh, shit!" or "What!?"

I describe this type of book as "story crack."  I thought I could stop, but I couldn't.

The MC, Addie, is a Searcher.  Whenever she faces a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes.  She's given a choice in the beginning of the book, and then the chapters alternate, showing the results of those two choices.

It's crazy!  Just when I was dying to know what happened next, I'd have to go to the other reality...where I was also dying to know what happened next.  At first, the two realities seemed like two separate stories, but I soon realized they were getting closer and closer to each other.  It's a powerful way to build suspense and I could NOT predict the ending.

We've had a lot of teenagers live with us over the years, so I'm pretty good at judging if a book's teenage characters are believable or not.  I'm happy to say that the characters in Pivot Point are not only believable, but likable.  Generally, at least one (if not all) the teenage characters in a book annoy the shit outta me.  I'm usually left wondering...why?  I wouldn't say I fell in love with any of the characters (maybe Addie's best friend because she's flirty and the teenage me would have been like O.o), but like I said, no one annoyed the shit outta me.  This works well, since I would call Pivot Point a plot-driven story.  I did care about what was going to happen to the characters, but I was more interested in how it was going to happen.

Why Guys Should Read This Book

-A drug dealing character named "Poison."  (I know, right!?  Poison!)

-Tons of football talk.

-Flirty girls that aren't annoying.

-Lies, threats and murder.

AND, because Pivot Point has two realities going, it has two Tarzans (or "male love interests" for you non-Tarzan lovers).  I don't want to give anything away here, but in the end, Addie has two guys to choose from. One turns out to be a jack ass, and the other a good guy.  You can't figure it out until the end though, so good luck. Why guys should care?  Because some guys need help understanding this:  Girls like guys that treat them well and respect them.  They don't like jack asses.

I give Pivot Point 10 out of 10 slurps of sweet tea.

Follow Kasie West on Twitter @KasieWest

Follow Kasie's agent, Michelle Wolfson, on Twitter @WolfsonLiterary



In case you're wondering...

I returned to the alley with red beads.  The shady lady in black gave me the next chapter and more instructions of what color beads to bring next.  I did this 37 times.

"What's with the beads?" I asked her at our last meeting.

"What beads?"

She turned and walked away.  The back of her trench coat had a bedazzled unicorn on it.

The moral of the story?

STAY AWAY FROM CRAZY ASS PEOPLE THAT BEDAZZLE THINGS

Friday, January 18, 2013

Veronica Rossi Just Kicked My Ass

"The house is on fire!" she screamed.

I kept reading.

"Put the book down and get out!"

I kept reading.  I could feel the heat, but I thought it was from the story.

"You idiot!  The house is on fire!"  She was pulling on my arm, but I wouldn't budge.

"Stop reading that book!"

But I couldn't stop, because I was reading Under The Never Sky.  

It's not a book you can just stop.


I selected two books: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (I know, manly), and Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.  When I buy two books, I always choose the one with the least girly looking cover to put on top of the stack.  I don't know why I do this, since the cashier is going to see both books anyways, but still, I do it.

I put Under the Never Sky on top.  The cover is half black, so that's like...tough. The girl on the cover looks like she's walking towards me with the intent to stuff my head in a toilet.  Also, if you can just slip into my imagination for a moment (scary place), the girl on the cover totally looks like she blasted a nuclear fart bomb. (Seriously, look at the cover with that in mind and you won't stop laughing.)

This book made my top ten list, and I don't even have a top ten list!

Everything I want in a YA read was there:

-A story compelling enough to make me need to put the garbage can next to my chair because I was so nervous and emotional I thought I was gonna barf.

-An awesome, interesting, and NOT ANNOYING female MC named Aria.

-A male MC that I describe as a cross between Jason Bourne and Braveheart. (Although, his name is Perry and I kept picturing Perry the Platypus from Phineas and Ferb.)

-Lots of good killing.

-Some creepy ass cannibal dudes that wear crow masks.

-A bunch of shit I never saw coming...never!

-Every character mattered.  I never once said, "Oh hell!  Get on with it!  Someone hurry up and kill this loser."

-The setting is original, creative, easy to picture, fun to imagine, and sometimes dreadful to think about.

-The Aether.  Kinda like the mother of all lightning storms times a billion.  It's kinda like, "If yo ass get caught in the Aether, yo ass is fried."  This created some amazing scenes in the story.


I love this book.  I love it so much I could marry it.

The romance in this story develops naturally.  It starts when Perry watches Aria touch a berry to her lip.  Veronica Rossi doesn't write this in the story, but I know Perry totally pops a boner in this scene.  The romance grows and grows (pun intended) and is so believable and awesome.

Well done Veronica Rossi!  Follow Veronica on Twitter at @V_Rossibooks

In honor of @ABoredAuthor , I give Under the Never Sky 5 out of 5 chocolate cake slices.











Saturday, January 12, 2013

Paper Towns...but really, John Green

If John Green walked up to me and said, "Spread your legs, because I'm gonna kick you in the balls."

I'd be like, "But, that will hurt."

John Green would just stare at me.

I would think of Alaska.  Then I would think of Margo, the new girl in my life.  Then I would look John Green in the eyes.  Then I would spread my legs.


I was gonna buy a Sarah Dessen book, but my oldest son was with me.  I picked up one of her books.  The cover featured a teenage girl on a bike wearing a bikini top and booty shorts.  There was no way in hell I was gonna try to explain that to my son.  I put it back, but made a mental note...

I slid Paper Towns out from the tightly packed John Green shelf.

Now THIS is a manly book cover.  There's a big, red...thumbtack..on it.  It was probably a very sharp, dangerous thumbtack.  There's no telling how many able-bodied men lost fingers trying to push that thumbtack in.  Yes.  This must be a manly book.

Just as I began to pull away from the bookshelf my eyes were pulled back by a mysterious force.

Time stood still.

The letters on the cover spelling Paper Towns started moving.  They swirled and jumped and changed places.  Some of the letters disappeared.  Five letters remained: A, E, N, S, P.

And then one by one they started dropping into place.

S...N...A...P...E

Snape.

"Oh my god," I said.

John Green is not who we think he is.


Paper Towns is a good read.  I like Looking for Alaska better, but I like Margo (Paper Towns MC) better than Alaska (Looking for Alaska MC) as a girlfriend for the teenage me.

Paper Towns has all the John Green trademarks: teenagers that sound like teenagers, flawless humor and life's deep questions explored in an appropriate, and clever, way.

John Green is a master at creating authentic characters.  I wouldn't be surprised if he disguised himself as a 16-year-old boy and still attended high school.

My only complaint about this book is it didn't have enough Margo in it.  Most of the book is other characters speculating about Margo.  I just wanted more actual Margo.

Why Guys Should Read This Book

Margo

Loads of sex jokes

The world's largest collection of Black Santas

Honeybunnies



It's a good read.  I recommend it.  I give it 5 out of 7 burritos.












Friday, January 11, 2013

A Manly Review of "Hush, Hush"

"Hush, Hush" was originally just a manly looking book I grabbed to hide "Anna and the French Kiss" under on the way to checkout.

Now I'm glad I actually bought it.

Let me start by commenting on the cover.  At first glance, it appears that some kind of man/angel is falling through the cloudy sky.  But, if you look closely (and use your chemically altered imagination) you can see the feathers from a crow that got his ass blasted by a shotgun.

There were no crows mentioned in the book, so I'm confused.

Ok, this story was awesome.  I don't like angel/fallen angel stories...at all.  This one, though, I liked.

I started out thinking, "Oh, hell.  What's Bella doing in this story?"  All I had was the girl who was just SO attracted to the dreamy boy that was so bad for her.  Pages and pages of sexual tension.  I swear, angel boy had a boner for the first 100 pages.

Then, I couldn't get past his name...Patch.  It's not the worst name, but when all you can picture is Robin Williams as Patch Freakin' Adams...it changes things.

Then, in an attempt to get Robin Williams out of my mind, I repeated Patch over and over until I got confused and started saying Stitch.  So then I was picturing Stitch (from Lilo and Stitch) every time I read Patch.  That was actually kinda cool.

I was really struggling.

Thankfully, after taking my meds, I got into the story.  I could NOT predict what was going to happen.  I couldn't figure out who was who.  THAT is what kept me reading.  Brilliant story telling.  My interest level rose with each page.  Just enough confusion to keep me going, but not make me give up.  New characters dropped in at just the right time.

It's like Becca Fitzpatrick had the Half Blood Prince's book and was adding just the right amounts of everything.

I ended up really liking "Hush, Hush."  (I still have no idea what "Hush, Hush" means?)

I liked the main characters.  The writing was money.  Excellent book.

Why Guys Should Read This Book

Action

Murder

AND...(here I go) yet another great example of HOW NOT TO TREAT A GIRL.

Don't be a creepy ass dude, and make a girl have to go tell a teacher she feels threatened by you.  This isn't cool.

Well done, Becca Fitzpatrick!!!  Keeping the attention of a 33-year-old man with ADD may not have been your goal, but you did it!










Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Manly Review of "Anna and the French Kiss"

I'll be honest...I considered buying this one online.

It was a Tuesday, late afternoon.  Slow time of day for the YA section of the bookstore...  

I approached with caution, careful to first walk past the teen books towards the calendars.  

I turn, pretending to look for someone...it's clear.

I move quickly down the back aisles towards YA.  (Why do they have to put the teen section in the front of the damn store?)  I normally don't mind if strangers see me buying books with teenage girls on the cover, but today is different.  I'm buying Anna and the French Kiss.  

This book is so girly that the guy on the cover doesn't even have a head.  Just a giant hand with creepy long fingers and a double jointed elbow.  AND, "French Kiss" is on the cover.  You understand why I'm in stealth mode?

I sneak around the corner.  "Perkins...Perkins...." 

Busted.  She's so short I don't see her until it's too late.  Our eyes meet, I look away hoping to quickly find a book with a dragon on the cover that I can pretend to be interested in.  

Wait...did she look away, too?  It's another adult.  She's glancing at me out of the corner of her eye.  She's wondering if I notice her...age.  I do.  Oh, yes...I do.

I feel better.  I can find the French Kiss  book now and she won't judge me.

I search through the shelves and find it.  I've heard great things about this book.  I momentarily forget what I'm doing and hold the book out for everyone to see as I stare at the cover wondering how much french kissing is actually in the book.

She comes around the corner and I feel her stop dead in her tracks.  Out of habit I turn to see her, my mind hasn't recovered yet from French Kiss and I have a dumb ass smile on my face.

Her eyes fall on the book in my hand.  She gives me "the look" and leaves.  


I'm home now.  It's a safe place, so I leave the book on my desk.  

"Dad?"  It's my 9 yr old daughter.  She's staring at the book with a "gross" look on her little freckled face.

"It's not about french kissing," I stutter.  "The story is in...France, or something...so...do you get it?"

"Yeah, but it looks girly."

"Don't you have homework to do?"

"No."

"Well...then you're grounded."

"Why?"

"I don't know...just get outta here."

She giggles and leaves.  Kids.


I loved Anna and the French Kiss.  It's not my kinda book, but I read it effortlessly and enjoyed every page of it.  I chuckled through the entire read.  I liked Anna.  I liked all the friends.  I liked the overall situation Anna found herself in.  

I found the dialogue to be spot on.  It didn't sound like an adult trying to sound like a teenager, dude.  

Whatevs...

I actually liked the boy.  For once, a love interest that isn't a dumb shit.  St. Clair is a cool dude.  He's not an arrogant bad boy that treats Anna like she's worthless.  I love that he isn't Mr. Perfect.  He doesn't have enough integrity too NOT CHEAT on his long time girlfriend, but this (I believe) was dealt with in an appropriate way.  He admits his mistakes.  As I reader, I believe him...he didn't know what to do and he was scared.  (I appreciate male characters that can admit these things...now we just have to get teenage boys to read!)

Why Guys Should Read This Book

It's funny.  It's realistic.  The female characters are likeable, realistic and attractive.  Paris is cool.  

There's a great contrast between two male characters that Anna is involved with that guys should learn from.  

Dave is nice to Anna.  He pursues her.  She makes out with him.  It's all he was interested in.  He ends up being a dick face and telling everyone Anna slept with him.  A real winner.

St. Clair is nice to Anna.  They become friends.  He falls in love, but doesn't know what to do.  He screws up and let's it go to far.  He admits his mistakes.  He apologizes.  He doesn't blame anyone else.  He takes responsibility for his choices.  

He says things like, 

"No matter what a terrible boyfriend I was..."

"I'm sorry for what happened..."

"I've been so stupid..."

"You're the most incredible girl I've ever known.  You're gorgeous and smart, and you make me laugh like no one else can.  And I can talk to you..."

Take notes guys...take notes.





Thursday, January 3, 2013

Uglies vs. Dragons

Warning: This post contains material that is downright disgusting.  Read at your own risk, bitches.

I woke up the other night to the sound of splattering.  I held my breath, hoping it would all just go away.  Silly me.  I knew the sound.  It was the sound of vomit hitting a wood floor.

Being the Real Man that I am, I rolled out of bed and walked across the hall into my son's room.

He greeted me by vomiting near my feet.

He vomited on his blankets.  The mattress.  The floor.  The toys on the floor (Legos).  Everywhere.

I took him to the bathroom to clean up.  I got him a drink.  I changed...everything.  I soaked and rinsed those damn Legos.  I thought about banging my head on the floor.

The next night I heard my oldest son, Luke, making some absurd noise.  I was still hanging on to Real Man status (barely), so I went to check on him.  He, like my younger son, greeted me with vomit.  He's a little better aim with his chunks, but still.

The next night my daughter banged the hell out of our bedroom door.  I jolted awake.  "I don't feel good," she said.  She was sick.  She vomited.

I've lost a lot of sleep over the last couple of nights.  I feel like crap.  But, I have a reading goal, so I've still been getting up at 5 a.m. to read.  I've been reading a little slower and I may have skimmed a page or two, but I wasn't going to start the year off falling behind on my goal.

It's been torture.

 Look, if I'm that tired, your book better be freakin' amazing.  The one I was reading wasn't.  Not for me.  I  MADE myself finish it.  I always feel like I owe it to the author.

Today, you guessed it, I became sick.  The last one in this house to fall.

I've had to stay in bed all day.  Boring.  I couldn't fall back asleep and my stomach felt like I was about to give birth to triplets.  I wasn't vomiting though people...

Let's just say I have an idea of what it feels like when a pregnant women's water breaks.

Why tell you all this?  Because I know every one of you has been there.  You know how crappy (ha ha) it feels.

I decided to start my new book to help me get my mind off the fire breathing dragon living in my ass.

Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld.

Now THAT'S what I'm talking about.  Look, regardless of how I'm feeling, I've been able to stay completely locked into this story.  I'm tired, sick, hungry, delusional.  But, I just HAVE to keep reading.

THIS is how I judge a book.  I have no idea what he's doing and not doing with the writing.  I could care less.  I just know I want to find out what happens on the next page.

Well done, Scott.  You're a Real Man.