The Best Books I’ve Read Since April

I’ve been absent for a while, and as I’ve mentioned, I was editing my book and working with my agent.

The last time I posted a “best books” list was for March, and while I haven’t been posting, I have definitely been reading. I had a run of not so great books, then luckily I had a run of really enjoyable ones. Here are the ones I recommend.

The Boy and Girl Who Broke the WorldThe Boy And Girl Who Broke The World, by Amy Reed (speculative YA): I honestly cannot say enough good things about this book. It’s so many things. Beautiful, ugly, honest, strange, haunting. When I started it, I thought it was going to be a pretty standard YA book full of the usual tropes. Two chapters in, I realized I was wrong, and I was completely hooked. If you only read one YA book this year, this is the one I recommend.

 

The HelpThe Help, by Kathryn Stockett (historical fiction): I realize I’m late to the party and everyone else has already read this book or watched the movie, but I never claimed to be a trendsetter. This book was amazing! This book is set in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962 and centers around two black maids and a white socialite who wants to tell their story. If history had been taught through historical fiction like this, I guarantee I would have paid attention.

 

RecursionRecursion, by Blake Crouch (science fiction): I had no idea what was going on for a long time, but the book hooked me early and kept me reading. It was a twisty science fiction thriller with great characters. I loved every minute of the ride and will end up reading it again just so I can better enjoy all the things that happened at the beginning that I didn’t understand.

 

The Reckless Oath We MadeThe Reckless Oath We Made, by Bryn Greenwood (contemporary romance): Full disclosure: I will read and adore anything Bryn Greenwood writes. That being said, this book was wonderful. The main female character is kind of prickly. Her love interest is autistic and is a sword-carrying knight. It’s a strange romance, but beautiful to see two very different people overcoming obstacles. And just in case you think this is just a boy-meets-girl plot, it all begins when Zee’s sister is kidnapped during a prison breakout. This book is a wild ride.

The Astonishing Color of AfterThe Astonishing Color of After, by Emily X.R. Pan (YA magical realism): After her mother’s suicide, Leigh becomes convinced her mother is a bird, and that her mother wants Leigh to visit her estranged grandparents in Taiwan. It’s a book about grief that’s real and raw, and the device of the bird as her mother is lovely.

 

We Are The AntsWe Are the Ants, by Shaun David Hutchinson (YA science fiction): Henry is periodically abducted by aliens. During one abduction, they tell him that the world will end in 144 days, and if he wants to stop it, he has to push a big red button. Henry isn’t sure the world is worth saving, and the book is his exploration of all the terrible and maybe not so terrible things in his life. I would have pushed the button right away, but this book did a great job of showing me why Henry didn’t.

 

Have you read anything great lately?

I Am Agented!

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted on my blog since April! That’s probably the longest stretch I’ve ever gone.

Some of you may remember that I announced that I was working on edits, and that’s why I’d been so sporadic about posting. Well, for the last year, I’ve been working with an agent on editing my book, and we finally made our relationship official.

I am being represented by the wonderful Susan Velazquez at JABberwocky Literary Agency. Since I love Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, it seems like a perfect fit. (The Jabberwocky appears in the sequel, Through The Looking-Glass)

So, stay tuned. I’m going to try to get back into blogging periodically, and I’ll definitely let you know as things happen.

The 10 Best Things About Editing

IMG_3686

I know a lot of people don’t like editing. Honestly, I don’t really mind it. That being said, some of these are 100% serious; others are tongue-in-cheek. I’ll leave you to decide which are which.

  1. You get to know your story reeeeeaaaaallly well. Do you want to know on what page a certain event occurs? I’ve read my book 8,000 times now. I can probably tell you what the fourth word in the fifteenth row on page 210 is. (It’s actually “plugged.”
  2. It’s exciting when it all comes together. It’s not always fun to delete a phrase I loved, but it feels fantastic when I replace it with something better, clearer, or more plot relevant.
  3. You get better at spotting scenes that aren’t plot relevant. These are painful to cut, especially when I love them. But if it doesn’t further the plot or character, it’s got to go. Even if the writing is brilliant.
  4. You can complain on Twitter using the hashtag #amediting and get tons of sympathy! There is always someone talking about editing. Always.
  5. You get to find out how much you love your story. Everyone reaches a point where they hate their story. All relationships have low points. I love my story, and I show it love by making the best it can be. I’ve passed the point of hatred and actually gotten back to the point where I enjoy it again.
  6. You learn how to write better. This is a big one. Learning what needs to be cut and why has helped me be a better writer. Everything is a process and a learning experience. No pain, no gain and all that.
  7. The red pen is satisfying. At some point, I print out my whole book and go through it with a red pen. It’s wonderful to see all those printed pages, but also a lot of fun to scribble all over them and write myself notes.
  8.  You find out what you’re made of. There are a lot of quotes and advice on the internet that basically boil down to, “It’s not the most talented writers who succeed, it’s the most determined.” It’s easy to say that nothing will stop you from writing, but critiques and edits are frustrating. Being willing to edit a story so many times you’ve lost count says something about who you are and what you’re willing to do to succeed.
  9. Anyone can start something, but not everyone can finish something. Closely related to #8, editing a book is a serious commitment that not everyone is willing to follow through with.
  10. If you keep editing, you’ll eventually have something to be proud of. I’ve been happy with every version of my story, but I’m happier with each revision. I look back at early version and think, “I thought that was ready??” One of these days, I’ll have a version that I’ll be proud of when I type “The End” and still love six months later.

Editing… do you love it or hate it?

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.

Screen Shot 2019-04-03 at 10.51.18 AM

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).

iu-2

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.

iu

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.

iu-3

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

IMG_3534.jpeg

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.

Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 10.07.53 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 10.08.11 PM

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.

3-8p6_020218

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.

Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 10.08.38 PM

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?