Trapped In An Elevator- New Anthology Released

 

Subliminal Reality

Isn’t the cover gorgeous?

I have a new story, Trapped in an Elevator, coming out in an anthology of horror stories, Subliminal Reality. All the stories explore the nature of reality, and how it might not be what you think.

Julie is late for an interview, and she gets into an elevator that has a lone man. When the elevator gets stuck, she slowly starts to realize that the man is not what he seems and her elevator ride makes her question what is real.

The anthology is available for preorder through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and it’s being released on April 30!

The Best Books I Read in March

February went super fast for me, but March seemed like such a long month. It didn’t drag or anything like that; I was very busy. It just felt like March took at least twice as long as February.

My reading was all over the place in March, but I did read a few really good ones. Here are my favorites.

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One of Us is Lying, by Karen M. McManus (YA mystery): It’s like The Breakfast Club, but with a murder. Five stereotypes enter detention, and one of them dies. (The jock, the brain, the pretty princess, the stoner-loser, and the gossipy outcast) The four who are left all had motive and are more than they seem to be at first glance. It’s fast-paced and twisty (in a good way).

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The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, by Lauren James (YA science fiction): In general, YA science fiction doesn’t tend to be as sciency as regular science fiction. It focuses more on character and relationships than setting, and that’s what I like. When stories get too bogged down in explaining things, I tune out.

Normally when characters are so isolated, the story can turn boring. No one wants to be alone with their own thoughts, let alone someone else’s. But there’s lots of drama, interesting backstory, and hints that something isn’t right. It’s a fun and creepy ride with a surprise ending I loved.

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Rich People Problems, by Kevin Kwan (Contemporary): If you’ve been following along with me, you know that I’m less thrilled with sequels than I once was. In general, I think the quality of a story diminishes.

The third installment of Crazy Rich Asians was quite good, but I am glad that the third one is the last one. I enjoyed it just a little less than the second one, and there was a storyline I just wasn’t into. But overall, it’s as much fun as the other two, and I’m not sorry I read it.

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The Pursuit of Happyness, by Chris Gardner (Biography): Chris Gardner made a promise to himself when he was a child, that no child of his would ever be fatherless. His childhood wasn’t pretty, and neither were a lot of the things he did as a young man and adult. He doesn’t sugar-coat how imperfect he is, and I really respect that. It’s a brutal look at how he became successful despite all his mistakes, and how he stayed determined through homelessness and single parenthood. I liked that he doesn’t make excuses for the terrible things he did, and he doesn’t pat himself on the back for making sure his child always came first. He’s just a man who did his best and was determined to be successful. I haven’t seen the movie, but I’ll bet that there’s a lot Hollywood left out. Definitely worth reading.

Did you read anything really good in March?

Judging Your Book Choices

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I was on Twitter the other day, and someone asked the question, “If you were on a first date with someone and asked them what their favorite book was, what would be a dealbreaker?”

I read through the comments, because that’s what I do. I was surprised by how judgemental people were. Some of the popular ones for women were: Infinite Jest, anything Ayn Rand, Lolita, Catcher in the Rye. For men, they were things like Eat, Pray, Love, Twilight, and 50 Shades of Gray.

When did we all become so willing to judge people based on a single metric? Like, I can understand if someone named Lolita as their favorite book, and then said, “I thought the relationship between Lolita and Hubert Humphrey was inspirational and healthy,” then okay, I can understand why you’d nope out.

But the book is considered a classic. (Full disclosure: I haven’t read it.) What if someone started talking about it being their favorite book based on literary merit? Would that change things?

I’m honestly distressed by this trend of judging people based on a single metric of opinion, and I’m really over people being judged based on their book choices.

We like what we like, and there’s a huge difference between behavior and opinion. People hold opinions for a lot of different reasons. I’m not going to judge you based on your book choices or your clothes choices or even who you voted for. I will judge you based on how you talk to the waitress who just took our order and how you treat my other friends (even if you don’t like them) and how you react when I tell you something important to me.

I’m always puzzled when I read articles talking about how most readers have a favorite book, and then a fake favorite book that they tell people about so that others judge them differently. The first time I read that, I thought, “Is this a thing? Why is this a thing?” But now I get it. If people are judging based on your reading material, then it makes sense that people might want to pretend.

I’m always curious why people love a book I hated, but I’d never judge someone for it. Tastes are different, and I like learning about other people through their entertainment choices. There are so many books out there that aren’t for me, but that doesn’t automatically make the person reading them into someone I wouldn’t like. Learn to get along with lots of different people, and I guarantee, life will be happier.

And don’t judge other people based on their choices, when those choices hurt literally no one. Just don’t.

What’s your favorite book(s)? Do you judge others based on their book choices? If so, help me understand why.

 

 

My Favorite Reads From February

February was a short month, but I read a lot of good books. It’s always nice when the library gods smile on me.

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Harry Potter series, by JK Rowling: I reread Harry Potter this month, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, and they were just as enjoyable as I remembered.

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What If It’s Us, by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera (YA contemporary): This was such an enjoyable read, like a rom com but with two teenage boys as the main characters. It was fun and light. I appreciated that “coming out” was not a focus of the book, and these were just two boys who had a meet cute and then a romance fraught with all the things that could happen to anyone.

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The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily, by Laura Creedle (YA contemporary): I adored this book. Lily struggles with ADHD. Abelard is on the spectrum. They’re “different,” but that doesn’t mean they can’t find love.

I liked this book a great deal, partly because the author got the mental health “right.” I went to a panel she was on, and she talked about having ADHD herself, and that she talked to people about Abelard in order to make sure that he was presented as sensitively and accurately as possible. Neither of them devolved into stereotypes; they felt like fleshed-out people, and I loved them. It was also just a fantastic story and an enjoyable read.

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China Rich Girlfriend, by Kevin Kwan (Contemporary): I didn’t expect to love Crazy Rich Asians as much as I did, and I was skeptical about reading the second one. Honestly, I liked this one better than the first. Both books have a mess of characters I struggled to keep track of, but I was able to focus on the handful of main characters I really love, and it was fun to watch all the crazy things that happen to them. Considering how much work I have to do to remember who everyone is, this is a light and fast read.

What was the best thing you read this month?

Rereading Harry Potter

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I recently decided to reread all the Harry Potter books in order. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

I don’t know how long it had been since my last read; at least five years. I only know that because I’ve been on Goodreads for five years, and I hadn’t “read” them yet.

I know some people get apprehensive about rereading beloved books, but in general, I don’t. Even if they don’t hold up, I tend to remember why I loved them and that makes it okay, even if there are more flaws than I remember.

For me, Harry Potter was just as good as it always was, maybe even better. It was lovely to watch Harry, Hermione, and Ron grow up all over again. For me, they’ll always be 17. It was just as hard to watch the deaths of the people and creatures I loved, but the triumph of good over evil was just as gratifying as ever.

When I did a search about “rereading Harry Potter,” I came up with lots of blogs and articles talking about the books’ flaws, and I think that’s the easy way out. Criticizing something is easy, and for some reason, it’s trendy to criticize things that are popular.

Loving something despite its flaws, acknowledging them and still being able to say, “That was a fantastic ride” is something else. Being critical of things has become almost a virtue in modern society. It’s not cool to like something too much or be a fan. Being too sincere is actually a flaw according to many people.

But I remember the purity of being a Harry Potter fan, of standing in line at the bookstore at midnight, waiting for the book to release. I remember the debate: Is Snape good or evil? The drama: Will Harry live or die? No, I can’t recapture exactly what that felt like, but I can remember.

Rereading Harry Potter was fun, and I didn’t try to notice the flaws. I read it and loved it and accepted it just as it is. And to me, it’s still perfect.

What books are still perfect to you, despite their flaws?

7 Reasons Why I Disliked Netflix’s Interpretation of Watership Down

I’ll start off spoiler-free, then warn you before I get there in case you don’t want me to tell you things. I get it.

I’m not usually into tearing down the creative work of others, and I’m not comfortable publicly bashing books I hate. Because maybe someone else loves it.

But I don’t feel like Netflix is going to worry too much about my opinion. And I adore Watership Down, by Richard Adams. I was so excited for the new animated series. I love James McAvoy. And I thought that John Boyega as Bigwig was going to be gold.

Whenever screenwriters adapt a book into a movie or TV series, things will have to change. It’s open to interpretation, and as two different mediums, they have different strengths. I get that.

For example (not a spoiler), they had more female characters in the Netflix version, and these female rabbits had some agency. In the book, they stuck more to the way rabbits in the wild act. Female rabbits having agency is fine and doesn’t have to change the story in a significant way. That was a good change.

I just feel like the screenwriters didn’t get the original book. And my reasons are all spoilers, either for the book or the series. You’ve been warned. Spoilers below the picture.

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  1. All the rabbits fought with each other all the time. In the book, the rabbits bicker and fight in the beginning, but after they rescue Bigwig from the snare, they all acknowledge their strengths and start to act like a team. In the Netflix series, they continue bickering and acting like bratty children until the very end.
  2. Kehaar was a jerk. In the book, Kehaar is defensive and angry at first, making sure the rabbits know he can defend himself and is no one’s victim. But once he learns that he can trust them, he becomes an ally. He’s dependable, loyal, and helpful. In the Netflix series, he’s cagey and unreliable. I think it was supposed to be funny, but it wasn’t.
  3. Bigwig was a bro. Who was the version of Bigwig in the series? The best things about the Bigwig of the books is that he’s tough but with a kind heart. He might complain about things, but he’s always the first one to volunteer to do anything difficult. And even though he’s big and could overpower Hazel in a fight, he’s willing to acknowledge that Hazel is the better leader. But in the Netflix series, he’s always spoiling for a fight, challenging Hazel and basically flexing his big muscles. What a waste of John Boyega.
  4. They seemed dumb. The rabbits in the book came up with plans and executed them. They were organized and worked together. The rabbits of the Netflix series were always reacting with no real idea of what was next.
  5. Why was there all this romance?? I love romance, and most of my favorite stories have romance, but not every story needs it. They gave the girl rabbits more agency and larger parts, which is 100% fine with me. But why did they have to make it all romantic with these love scenes between the various rabbit couples? It struck the wrong chord with me. Watership Down is an adventure story, and while I could get behind some sweet nose touching or some subtle signs of affection, speeches about how one rabbit loves the other in the middle of gearing up for battle just seemed out of place. Not going to lie, I yelled at the TV.
  6. I didn’t entirely understand why they changed certain things. I get it, they needed to change some things because it’s a different format and the book is pretty long. But why did Buckthorn and one of the other rabbits (Dandelion? Bluebell?) argue with one another all the time? And why was Bluebell the storyteller instead of Dandelion? And why did everyone just impulsively do things, like go to the farm and others to Efrafa? Would it really have made it that much longer for them to take a moment to plan to do it like in the book? What purpose did those changes serve to the story they were trying to tell?
  7. The ending didn’t do anything for me. Hazel died… so what? Now, maybe this is because I was mad at the rest of the series, but the ending just fell flat for me. I was so irritated by it that I took out my book and read the epilogue to my husband, who got a bit teary-eyed and agreed that the book version was much more touching.

This could have been something amazing, and they totally missed the mark. I’m so sad about it, but the writers didn’t seem to understand the characters. I kind of wished I hadn’t watched it because it just made me sad and angry. I know movie versions of beloved books are often not as good, but it doesn’t usually make me feel like this.

Did you watch the Netflix series? What did you think?

11 Reasons Rereading is the Best

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Last week I wrote a blog post: 12 Reasons Spoilers Are the Worst. I think spoilers can ruin an experience because you can only read something for the first time once.

Saying spoilers are the worst but rereading is the best might seem contradictory, but it’s not. Reading something for the first time and reading something for the second time (or the fiftieth time) are completely different experiences.

Here’s why I say rereading is the best:

  1. Because I already know what’s going to happen, I can read at a more leisurely pace, luxuriating in the story. The first time through, I often race to get to the end as quickly as possible.
  2. It’s fun spotting details that foreshadowed what was going to happen. When I catch them on the first read-through, it makes me feel smart. But because I read pretty quickly, I do often miss details that I catch the second time through.
  3. It’s like visiting an old friend. Because I know my friends so well, we often repeat stories, but it’s still fun to hear them (or tell them) again and again. Because even though we lived it and we know how it ends, reliving the journey brings it all back. Rereading a beloved book is like that.
  4. When life is stressful, I don’t want any surprises. There are many times I have high hopes for a book and it turns out to be a disappointment. When I’m stressed out, I don’t want that. I want to turn to something I know won’t let me down.
  5. I can appreciate the author’s skill. This didn’t used to be a reason for me to reread, but the more I write, the more I can see when an author executes a book skillfully, and then also less than skillfully. It’s delightful to study a beloved book for how the author made it awesome. (Though frankly, the answer to this is often “magic.”)
  6. If a sequel I’m excited about is coming out, rereading refreshes all those details. I got on board with Harry Potter after The Goblet of Fire. From then on, when a new book was coming out, it was so much fun to read each of the books that came before so that I was fresh from reading them for the sequels. It got me even more excited for the sequels. I’ve done this with other books too, like This Savage Song/ Our Dark Duet.
  7. To study a specific aspect of writing. There are times when I’ll be like, “I really need help putting more emotion on the page… who does that well?” And then I’ll seek out a book that moved me to study how it was done. (Again, usually, it’s magic.)
  8. Reading in tandem is fun. If a friend is reading a book I love, I’ll often reread that book so that when we discuss it (and we will discuss it), it’s fresh in my mind. There’s nothing I love more than sharing the worlds I enjoy.
  9. I want to refresh some kind of lesson/ learning. I reread Pollyanna almost every year. I try to live by the central idea of that book, that there’s always a reason to be glad. I also reread some of my favorite writing books. Recently, I reread Big Magic because I felt like I needed a reminder that creativity wants to come out and play with me, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.
  10. Sometimes I can’t afford the distraction that a new book would be. When I enjoy a book, I literally can’t put it down. Adulting gets put on hold. I read and read until I finish. There are times when I want to read for 15 minutes or a half hour, and I can’t afford to go past that. That’s when it works to pick up a book I’ve read so that it’s not so hard to get on with adulting.
  11. It’s relaxing. There’s not the same anticipation that there was with reading a book for the first time, so I can just enjoy it.

All that being said, there are some books that if I could magically forget what happened so I could go back and experience it again for the first time, I absolutely would! Since that isn’t possible (yet), rereading it is as close as I’m going to get.

What book(s) do you love to reread?