Month: July 2016

Ode to Mo(jito)

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Mint Mojito,

Fresh from Philz,

Your melting ice cubes

Give me chills.

You’re oh-so-lovely,

very sweet,

causing guest visits

to repeat.

That frothy goodness,

dose of caffeine,

sprig of mint;

watch sippers preen.

Yet you often

disappear

too fast;

Alas,

our time together

won’t last.

mint mojito

Scare Me: Share Your Haunted House Experiences

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My current work-in-progress features, and largely occurs in, a haunted house. Please help me stay inspired by sharing your own experiences, urban legends, etc., regarding haunted houses! I would love to hear your thoughts.

haunted house

Getting Punished because your Parents Suck

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Today, we’re going to talk about a book I received as an ARC from Netgalley:

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The book is Defending Taylorby Miranda Kenneally.

defending taylor

This book was pretty awful. I skimmed, primarily because it was occasionally amusing in its’ ridiculousness. To be fair, I think that this book might be well liked by prudish moms who want their kids to read an unrealistic portrayal of what could possibly, potentially happen to a kid who does something stupid, gets caught, and whose parents steadfastly refuse to act in their best interests in order to “teach them a lesson.” Since I am not that reader, I am going to make fun of it.

  • Taylor’s “dream vacation” is being set loose in a museum to… read placards.

Museums. Set me loose in one, and I could stay for weeks, reading all the little placards describing each exhibit.

Honey, if you have to read all of the placards, you’re not really a museum buff. You’re a trivia buff, or someone who wants to seem more intelligent than she is.

  • A teenager with tattoos is a huge deal. Huge.

…I’ve always done exactly what my parents asked of me. Sure, I bent the rules here and there, like when I used my sister’s driver’s license to get my ankle tattoo, but overall, I’ve been a very good daughter.

A teenage girl who is procuring illegal tattoos is not any parents definition of a “good” girl. If you delight in being rebellious once in awhile, that’s totally fine, but don’t turn around and pretend you’re a fucking saint. You broke the law to get something permanently etched on your skin that you’ll probably regret in five years. Get over yourself.

  • Anyone who thinks of you as “the druggie girl” for taking Adderall is a fucking idiot.

Taking those pills and taking the blame for Ben didn’t just get me kicked out of school. It didn’t just mess up my dad’s job. It changed people’s perception of me. From here on out, I’ll be the druggie girl.

Emphasis in the quote above is not mine. I’m calling bullshit on this entire thing. First of all, if you’re getting kicked out of school because you got caught with Adderall, particularly when your father is a senator, then the administration has it out for you or something. It’s ridiculous. I don’t advocate abusing prescription drugs, but taking Adderall once in awhile to stay awake is not the same as snorting cocaine off your boyfriend’s ass. In addition, if your father is a senator, and he doesn’t use his connections to prevent you from getting kicked out of school to “teach you a lesson,” then he’s not going to do well in politics, anyway, and he ruined his own job by showing that to everyone. Anyone who feels bad for Taylor’s father is far more empathetic than he deserves. Any person off the street who has applied for a job knows that you have 6 seconds to make an impression on people – are we supposed to believe a senator wouldn’t consider the implications of his daughter being kicked out of school on a bogus charge on his own reputation? A senator who cannot give that much thought to his own reputation doesn’t deserve to be a senator.

  • The teacher from Pretty Little Liars is in here, and he doesn’t know how to dance.

He leads me to the dance floor, where he sets one hand on my hip and eases me into a fluid foxtrot. He’s very good…

Honey, if he’s putting his hand on your hip, he’s not “very good,” he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing. If he knew what he was doing, he would have placed his hand beneath your left shoulder, so that your frame would be correct, and you would be able to feel his signals regarding what moves to do.

(Pretty Little Liars reference because the love interest’s name is Ezra.)

  • While narrating, Taylor makes up nonsensical phrases

I pull a deep breath.

Breathing is an action, not a muscle. How on earth did you pull it?

  • Is Taylor supposed to be in high school or in a nursing home?

‘What’s going on?’ I ask, a little miffed. I hate it when people look at their phones awhile they’re spending time with me. It makes me feel like I’m not worth their time.

Good luck existing, as a teenager.

  • Taylor talking about her crush is embarrassing.

Ezra takes my hand. Gazes into my eyes. The low museum lights emphasize his handsome face. He’s a great work of art.

Stop. Now.

  • Taylor = hypocrite

‘I’m sorry I’m not worth suffering through a little gossip at parties. Not that I give a shit about those things.’

Um… you’ve literally spent the entirety of the preceding pages bitching about how the things you got blamed for and actually did have changed others’ perception of you and your family. So, I’m not really convinced that you don’t “give a shit about those things.”

  • Like, every freakin’ character in this novel is addicted to painkillers

‘I had to take this pill, Percocet, for a month to help with the pain. It made me drowsy all the time and messed up my stomach. But the worst part was when I had to give it up. I wanted it all the time. I’d wake up in the morning thinking about it.’

Thank you, girl delivering after-school special monologue.

  • Seriously… your dad sucks

He laughs nervously and won’t meet my gaze. Guilt presses on my heart.

I suddenly don’t feel like doing this college interview. I don’t feel like doing much of anything.

Stop feeling guilty! Your father is acting like a child.

  • Bitch can’t decide whether or not to apply to Yale, on the chance that she gets in, and goes even though she doesn’t want to go.

Just send your app in, bitch! It just gives you more options.

  • WTF

My parents wave back, but my sister flips me off, then follows with a thumbs-up. I return the thumbs up and roll my eyes.

I have… no idea what the author is getting at here.

  • As the novel progresses, Taylor and her parents sound less and less intelligent.

And I’m glad my parents know I was never into serious drugs.

Um… did you parents seriously think you were into “serious drugs?” You got caught with some Adderall pills. Give me a freakin’ break.

  • …And so does her boyfriend.

‘He’s so happy to hear that I want to go to school again. I think he’d be excited no matter what I wanted to study. I could’ve told him I want to be a gynecologist.’

Why would your father have a problem with your becoming a highly paid doctor?

In summation, I wouldn’t recommend. While I see where the author was trying to go with this novel, it doesn’t work.

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Have you read Defending Taylor? Do you agree with my assessment? Disagree? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Groff Vocabulary

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Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies is wonderful. Dizzying in its’ intensity and displaying both wit and a deft use of vocabulary, I truly enjoyed this novel.

Yet it is the author’s use of vocabulary that I found myself noting, particularly towards the beginning of the novel. Groff is not afraid to use big words. It is refreshing to see, and following are some of the words she used, and the way that she used them, which caused me to sit straighter and take note.

(All page references the following volume: Groff, Lauren. Fates and Furies. New York: Riverhead, 2015. Print.)

pleinair (adj.) of or relating to a branch of impressionism that attempts to represent outdoor light and air

But Mathilde was right to agitate for pleinair consummation.

-4

exigency (n.) something that is necessary in a particular situation

The baby was exigency.

-7

hallux (n.) the innermost digit (as the big toe) of a hind or lower limb

Goodness, he would lick her crown to hallux.

-20

clerestory (n.)  the upper part of a wall that rises above a roof and that has windows

During the day, high clerestory Windows shifted light from one to the next.

-28

dendrite (n.) a branching treelike figure produced on or in a mineral by a foreign mineral

She plugged in the strand of Christmas lights that they had twined through the branches above, and the tree sparked into a dendrite.

-52-53

caesura (n.) a usually rhetorical break in the flow of sound in the middle of a line of verse

He regarded Lancelot for a caesura and finally relaxed into an off-kilter smile.

-124

prolix (adj.) using too many words

And then came the prolix period, when they did not stop talking.

-134

anneal (v.) to heat and then slowly cool (metal, glass, etc.) in order to make it stronger

Something hot in her began to cool and, in cooling, to anneal.

-275

bellicose (adj.) having or showing a tendency to argue or fight

She came downstairs to find that [the dog] had chewed on the rug, had left a mess of urine on the floor, was looking at her with a bellicose light in her eye.

-289

vitiligo (n.) a skin disorder manifested by smooth white spots on various parts of the body

…the cashier watching her with open mouth, skin piebald with vitiligo

-368

What’s your favorite word lately? Who is an author that you consider to use beautiful words and phrasing? Please let me know in the comments!

Classical References & Sex

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Today,  I am going to review Dora’s Box, by Walker Long.

Dora's Box

Much as both my blog post title and the title of Walker’s book insinuates, this book is based on the Classical myth of Pandora’s Box, as well as an erotica.

Pandore

This novella is certainly interesting. Not quite my cup of tea, but not ill-written. I am more of a “character” reader, and this novella is a “plot” book. But if you are a “plot” reader, I definitely recommend.

Pandora's_box_(artist_unknown)

The plot is intriguing, and full of sex. If you are not okay with graphic sex scenes, stay away. If you are fine with them, or crave them, then this novel might be for you. Essentially, protagonist Dora is a lonely, hard-working university student who loses her work-study job through the university. As her thoughts turn to necessities such as paying the rent, paying her tuition, etc., Dora naturally makes a pecuniary wish around an heirloom box that she inherited from her grandmother… and it comes true. She soon comes to realize that the crazy stories her grandmother used to tell about the box are true… and more wishes ensue.

Opened_up_a_Pandora's_box

But with the power to make great wishes comes great responsibility (and the recommendation to word your wishes very carefully)… Dora’s wishes tend to have unintended consequences.

Niobid_Painter_-_Red-Figure_Amphora_with_Musical_Scene_-_Walters_482712_-_Side_A

Overall, I was interested in the plot. I thought the author took this story to very interesting places, and while I had an idea of where the story was ultimately going, I was not sure what course the author would take to get there. However, as I mentioned earlier, I am a character reader. The characters were not really engaging, for me. They interacted okay, and the reasons behind the things that they did were actually well done. It was the characters themselves. Dora is so annoying. Her roommate is only slightly less annoying. The guy she has a crush on is a total dick, and he’s probably my favorite character.

Dick_Van_Dyke_2_crop
Everyone loves Dick van Dyke

Again, if you’re a plot reader, this book is entertaining and I recommend. If you’re a character reader, I suggest giving it a pass. There is the added bonus that, if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read it free of charge.

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Nothin’ beats FREE

Have you read Dora’s Box? Or would you like to? Please share your thoughts in the comments below?

A “Different” Description

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Alycia Linwood’s Different (Tainted Elements) (Volume 1) is an e-book deal this week, but the description is absolutely baffling:

WTF

Who, if they woke up with fire on their body would not expect everything in their life to change?

I’m assuming it’s a misleading description, but it is absolutely ridiculous.

Have you read Different? Please explain this odd description in the comments below!

The Perfect Ending

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As a treat, I recently purchased a copy of Sarah Dessen’s latest novel Saint Anything.

st. anything

As usual,Dessen’s writing was an enjoyable experience. She starts in medias rei, introduces the reader to Sydney, builds up a sense of camaraderie juxtaposed against a sense of menace created by both one of the characters, in particular, and the well-meaning but oblivious actions of Sydney’s parents. What stuck out to me the most, however, was the ending. Saint Anything has the perfect ending for this novel.

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As a writer, one of the most difficult things for me is writing the end. The beginning is easy, the middle is harder, but doable – knowing when and how to end the story is my Achilles’ heel.

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#achillesheel #classicalreferences

Yet the ending is, I would argue, the most important. It is harder to grasp the attention of the reader with an uninteresting beginning, or if the middle begins to lose steam, but if the attention can be grasped, and the middle waded through, all can be forgiven if the ending is right. A story that goes the other way – with an interesting beginning, but a terrible ending, is less likely to be remembered in a positive light, at least for me.

L0040392 A father reading a novel with an affecting plot to family.
Terrible ending… just terrible!

Upon reading the last word of Saint Anything, I felt a sense of peace. That might sound like an exaggeration, but I truly felt that the story had appropriately ended. It came full circle, and managed to provide closure to the reader without spelling everything out for us. It was slightly sad and slightly happy. It was uncertain, it was realistic, but still provided closure. It was perfect.

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And then, almost immediately after this realization that the ending was perfect for this story, I had the second realization, that a lot of readers probably hated it, because it was left open-ended. It’s an ending that is clearly the beginning of a new story – but one that the reader will likely be left out of, that will not actually be written. Personally, I loved this aspect – to end a story with a sense of hope and possibility and uncertainty feels so realistic and wonderful to me, as a reader.

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#allthefeels

But not every reader is me. So I ask you – what is your opinion? As a reader, do you prefer a beginning that hooks & reels you in? Or a great ending? And what makes a great ending?