August TBR

My TBR is a little short this month but I’m okay with it. Two of these books are ARCs (Shadow Weaver and Shimmer and Burn) and the other two are, obviously, already out. I’ve decided to blend my shelves to get to these things more sporadically because my ARCs are getting in the way of my purchases.  Continue reading “August TBR”

Little Monsters ★★★★☆

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I don’t know if this is obvious, I love thrillers.

Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.

Recently, I posted a big long list of YA tropes, which you can view here. On it, are evil (cheerleader-esque) teenage girls. And there were a lot of them in Little Monsters. BUT… I love them so much. They’re so evil I love it. I’m a terrible person.

Kacey is a new girl in a small town. She had a big fight with her highly unstable mother and moved in with her father, whom she’s never met, and his family in Broken Falls. But lucky for her she made new friends: Bailey and Jade.

Queue my other least favorite tropes: girl goes to party, girl doesn’t make it home.

Okay, the party is presented like the usual “girl goes to party and tries drugs for the first time,” it’s a legitimate social gathering here and it’s huge, because Kacey wasn’t invited. As the summary says.

In a small town where everyone already has tight and long-form relationships, it’s not long before everyone suspects Kacey and she, rightfully so, begins to retreat inward and keep her loyalties to herself.

I did, despite many red herrings, guess the culprit, but I did suspect a few others before that.

I really loved the depiction of the small town, complete with its own local legends and universal small town culture. It really added to the general mood of Little Monsters.

I also loved the friendships. It was all so accurate about how complicated teenaged friendships can be. All the obsessions and jealousy was turned up for the sake of the story but it never popped me out of the book.

One thing that did bother me is Kacey’s “Mysterious Past,” which is never fully pinned down. It added to the mystery for sure, but definitely took away from the project as a whole. I think if Bailey’s journal entries, our only alternate viewpoint, could have been expanded to help us better understand Kacey.

Definitely a solid YA thriller and it’s already out! So go pick it up and… you know… don’t read it before bed. (You’ve been warned)

The Gallery of Unfinished Girls ★★★☆☆

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A little slow and a little weird, but definitely worth the read.

Mercedes Moreno is an artist. At least, she thinks she could be, even though she hasn’t been able to paint anything worthwhile since her award-winning piece Food Poisoning #1 last year.

Her lack of inspiration might be because her abuela is lying comatose in faraway Puerto Rico after suffering a stroke. Or the fact that Mercedes is in love with her best friend, Victoria, but is too afraid to admit her true feelings.

Despite Mercedes’s creative block, art starts to show up in unexpected ways. A piano appears on her front lawn one morning, and a mysterious new neighbor invites Mercedes to paint with her at the Red Mangrove Estate.

At the Estate, Mercedes can create in ways she never has before. She can share her deepest secrets and feel safe. But Mercedes can’t take anything out of the Estate, including her new-found clarity. As her life continues to crumble around her, the Estate offers more solace than she could hope for. But Mercedes can’t live both lives forever, and ultimately she must choose between this perfect world of art and truth and a much messier reality.

Let’s start with the awesomeness that is a bisexual main character. I really loved watching her come to terms with her sexuality and how that inward struggle prevented her from addressing her passions, as many inward struggles do. Her front most struggle is to create a second painting in a series about… well… food poisoning… a little weird but you do you. But her real struggle is not only coming out to her best friend but also admitting that she has more than friendly feelings for her. All great things needed in YA.

And even with that–it’s not really a romance. Don’t go into this expecting a romance. Go into The Gallery of Unfinished Girls expecting a coming of age story. Because that’s what this is. And honestly, I think we need more “coming into feelings” stories and less “having feelings returned” stories.

Now onto other things. The writing is not bad. It’s not meh, either. It’s actually a very well written book, but I wasn’t ever really drawn into the book. I blame the flat opening. A piano suddenly shows up on the front lawn one day and then… nothing really happens for a few days… I think the opening would have benefited from more magical things occurring to keep us interested. Instead, there is a lot of introspective downtime in front of partially complete canvases.

Which is totally relate-able to as a writer who has sat in front of many a blank screen before, but I need that summed up in my fiction.

Ultimately, I enjoyed it and recommend that you pick it up, but it’s not a must have or don’t bother.

Bring Your Own Book #12

Blog Features & HeadersIt’s Thursday again! Which means it’s time for Bring Your Own Book! Make sure to leave your answers in the comments.

Past Winners

—.

Here are the rules:

  • I’ll post the goal. (Lines from an action movie, currency in a dystopia, etc)
  • You post the answer and a citation. (The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas p19)
  • You can play with ANY book! Fiction, non-fiction, YA, Adult, picture book, even a newspaper or a magazine.
  • Borrow phrases or whole sentences-just make sure to cite it.

Ready?

Reasons to leave early

WoW: Before She Ignites

Before She Ignites
Jodi Meadows
Publication Date: September 26th 2017
Buy it here!

28524058.jpgBefore

Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

I’m actually reading this for review and I’m super excited. I love the cover, I think it’s GORGEOUS. As for the book, it’s a little slow up front, but I’m really enjoying where it’s at right now. Review to come closer to release date!

YA Trope Master List

Blog Features & Headers (1).pngI reached out in the YA Bloggers Group for some Tropes that we are all sick of. Here is a list so far. Please, feel free to add to this in the comments.

I’m hoping to head to residency with a nice long list. So without further ado, and in no particular order, here is the list thus far:

ALSO THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS HELPED ME PUT THIS TOGETHER THIS FAR

  1. Unqualified protagonist succeeds over overly qualified antagonist/supporting character
  2. Overly simple characterization
  3. Love Triangles
  4. Gullible Martyrs
  5. Unambiguously bad bad guy
  6. Obscure prologues used to garner interest in a story that is otherwise flat
  7. pretty girls who don’t think they’re pretty
  8. the othering of feminine past times
  9. inst-love/love at first sight/love without build up
  10. Stockholm romance
  11. Mr. Tall-dark-and-perfect
  12. Brooding bad boy love interest
  13. Royal Realization: what’s that? you who match the description and age perfectly for the long lost princes are–in fact–THE long lost princess? *gasp*
  14. instant mastery over undiscovered powers
  15. undiscovered powers, who did you get through life without even suspecting?
  16. dead parents
  17. alcoholic parents
  18. otherwise absentee parents
  19. Trilogies
  20. THE CHOSEN ONE
  21. Checkov’s blatantly smoking gun that no one else seems to realize except the reader
  22. The MC being kept kept from their own history by friends/family (like knowing Harry is a horcrux)
  23. weird names are for high fantasy & and high sci-fi and even then, not so much
  24. Forced/justified attractiveness over true description. ie no more “He’s the kind of good looking that physically aches.’ (Snow Like Ashes)
  25. Uniqueness does not equal Value. Heroes are heroes because of their actions not because they have pink hair and/or magic
  26. switching POV: if you are going to switch your characters need to sound different and contribute their own information to the story
  27. slaps in suspension of disbelief:
    1. plotholes
    2. tropes
    3. crap world building
    4. info dumping
    5.  anyone believing the protagonist on try #1
  28. Mary Sue/Gary Stu
  29. Characters who are just tough by existing. Show us through action.
  30. Teened down dialogue. (Which has been accompanied by “We don’t talk like that!” and “No one talks like that!”)
  31. Female characters obsessed with classic literature
  32. being fixed by a love interest
  33. angst
  34. in order to seem “fierce” and “warrior-like” girls have to hate dresses and things that people deem “girly”
  35. can’t people just like what they like? Why labels? D: Used to see this so much in the fantasy novels.
  36. The pretty, rich, mean girl cheerleader that is EVILLLLLLLLLLLLL (of course, usually a fake blonde).
  37. Texting done wrong
  38. Complete and utter lack of diversity. One non-white character does not make your work diverse.
  39. The “I’m not like other girls” trope. Like, what’s wrong with girls?
  40. Lack of female friendship. I see this a lot in fantasy but in contemporary too, where the protagonist has a million friends who are boys, but no girl friends. Drives me up the wall, because girl friends are the best thing in the world!
  41. When the unqualified protagonist who just discovered a fantasy world acts as if they know everything about it and ignores qualified characters (think Clary in the Shadowhunters TV series, not book series). I don’t know if this is a trope, but I notice it a lot.
  42. Unnecessary romance: think SJM and how every single one of her characters has to be in a relationship despite the relationship doing nothing for the actual plot.
  43. When the girl is a virgin but the guy has all this experience.
  44. WHEN THE FEMALE CHARACTER BITES HER LIP AND THE MALE CHARACTER IS OBSESSED WITH THAT. (I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve bitten my lip and no guys have been into that.)
  45. When a mentally ill or disabled character is “fixed” by a love interest. Just, no.
  46. Lack of diversity – there’s a million characters in the story and all are white/straight, and then the author adds them and then they’re killed off.
  47. Rory Gilmore-esque characters. Some of us play sports.
  48. No physically or intellectually handicapped characters unless they’re sidekicks, little brothers, or underdogs. Make them MCs!
  49. Dead mothers, specifically.

A Little Hiatus

Blog Features & Headers.pngSchool starts for me in T-minus one week. Holy crap. So I’ll be off the MTWRF schedule that I’ve held for the Summer. I will hopefully, keep to a Tuesday/Thursday schedule. I’m pursuing my MFA, so I’ll still be reading and reviewing but weekly posts may be scarce here for a bit. Still cannot believe I’m in an MFA program.

I thought I’d make more progress on my manuscript this summer but I only managed to rewrite 150 pages. There’s just 100 left to go for the one I have completed, but 40,000 words left on the MS I’m working on. And that’s just my YA work. I also have this middle grade piece that I want to explore but I don’t want to spread myself thin when I’ve got two big critical papers to write this semester.

I know that I want to explore narrative design in video games and how it relates to YA. Last semester I wrote a really cool piece on how and when multiple points of view were appropriate for a piece. I might further explore that OR take on one of the many tropes that people have added to my ever growing list.

ON THAT NOTE:

We got our workshop pieces to critique and I was wondering what your LEAST favorite tropes in YA are. Leave them in the comments. My goal is to have a big list by the time our first workshop hits. I also have a master list post that some people have already contributed to, which you can find here.

Bring Your Own Book #11

Blog Features & HeadersIt’s Thursday again! Which means it’s time for Bring Your Own Book! Make sure to leave your answers in the comments.

Past Winners

—.

Here are the rules:

  • I’ll post the goal. (Lines from an action movie, currency in a dystopia, etc)
  • You post the answer and a citation. (The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas p19)
  • You can play with ANY book! Fiction, non-fiction, YA, Adult, picture book, even a newspaper or a magazine.
  • Borrow phrases or whole sentences-just make sure to cite it.

Ready?

The Latest Ad Slogan for (a company of your choosing)

WoW: Little Monsters

Little Monsters
Kara Thomas
Publication Date: July 25th 2017
Buy it here!

32320750.jpgKacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.