Delirium

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What if Love was outlawed? In Lauren Oliver’s book DELIRIUM, Love is a disease and there is a cure. All citizens of the United States must take the cure at age eighteen and be rid of the disease once and f28664211896or all. City’s are fenced in to protect the citizens from the Wilds where love sympathizers lurk. Lena is less than three months away from her cure date. She’s counting down the days until she’s matched with her future husband and is ready to be out from under her aunt’s thumb. Everything changes when she meets Alex. He’s a guard with secrets. Secrets and a wild past. What would you do for love?

I enjoyed DELIRIUM so much. I went in hesitantly. Unbelieving that O266964fe496904d37f5340c14a35a689.jpegliver could write yet another mind blowing book. Can she continue to produce amazing books? Is she flawed? Maybe but I didn’t see it in in this book. I’m a sucker for a good dystopian book. And the premise of LOVE being outlawed = Mind Blown. I loved how she managed to keep a lot of the book grounded around a semi-normal society. It wasn’t like THE GIVER or MATCHED or even DIVERGENT. It takes place in Portland and could easily be mistaken for a normal city. Minus the regulators, fences, and every person over the age of eighteen walking around like happy zombies.

I’m excited to take on book two. I don’t even feel the need for a break between books, like I often do in series. I’m ready to delve feet first and find out what happens to Lena and Alex. The cliffhanger ending is impossible to walk away from. 9f5a03023528442320b1ce8605b3d8f6.jpeg

Before I fall

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If there is one story I can read, reimagined time and time again, it’s the groundhog day – 12 days of chirstmas – butterfly effect – repete this day until you finally get it right – story. BEFORE I FALL was the perfect reimagined version of this. I was a fan of Lauren Oliver when I read PANIC, but I’m in love with her after BEFORE I FALL.

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

From the first pages, Oliver grips you and drags you into the depths of her story. Wave of emotions pound at you until the very last page. I worried that living the same seven days would fall flat on paper but Oliver manages to raise questions about love, life, death, and how we are all interconnected. In a lot of ways this reminds me of Jay Asher’s THIRTEEN REASONS WHY. It explores some of those same themes, what you do in life effects those around you. Living seven days through Sam’s eyes, was heart breaking, exilerating, and shatering all in the same breath.

Growing up, I was Juliet Skyes. I had my own version of Sam’s group. I never went so far as to consider suicide over their mean and hateful pranks, but I was lucky. I knew that after high school, none of it would mater anymore. I’d get a fresh start and they’d still be the shity person they were. Sometimes all of that’s hard to admit. No one wants to admit that they were bullied in school. Or that they were a bully.

I loved the transformation we see Sam go through. From mean girl to a girl who cares. She makes personal amends in every aspect of her life. With her parrents, sister, friends, people she doesn’t know, and ultimetly with the one person who needs it the most.

BEFORE I FALL was thoughtfully writen and it will go down as one of my favorites for years to come.

 

 

More Happy Than Not

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I think most readers of Adam Silvera’s MORE HAPPY THAN NOT, probably don’t remember Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but I do. Silvera’s first novel brings this idea of erasing bad memories, to a new generation. A rollercoaster of emotions have wrecked havoc on my emotional state while reading this book. I kept hoping for a happy ending, for the book to go a certain way and it never did what I thought it might. It’s hard to surprise me in a book and so for that, I’m thankful.

MORE HAPPY THAN NOT is about a boy who is considering a memory altercation procedure to help him forget that he’s gay. He believes that living a life as a straight teenager would make him happier and ultimately be easier on himself and his friends. Silvera himself says this book is about, “…science versus nature, friendship, sexuality, and a quest for happiness.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I’ve lost two people in my life to suicide, one of them just over a year ago. It breaks my heart that Homophobia still exists. That there are those who go out of their way to hurt another human over love. I’ll never wrap my head around that kind of hate. I teach at a middle school and I watch teenagers self-harm because they feel no one in the world understands what they’re going through. Books like these must continue to authored and must continue to be read. If all else, to give a ray of hope to those who are suffering, that they’re not alone.

Silvera’s book is unforgettable, painful, beautiful, and so many more words I can’t conjure at this moment.

13 Reasons Why

It’s no secret the internet has been blowing up with the new Netflix original series 13 REASONS WHY based on the book by Jay Asher produced by Selena Gomez and her mother.

I happened upon it last week and started watching it on a whim. I’d never heard of it or the book. In fact about three or four episode in, I did a little digging and found the book. I didn’t want any spoilers so I avoided the internet but ordered the book on audible. When I finished the TV show on Thursday, I started the book, and last night I started to re-watch the show for t13-reasons-why-splashhe second time.

Hey, it’s Hanna, Hanna Baker. Don’t adjust your…whatever device you’re hearing this on. It’s me, live and in stereo. No return engagements, no encore, and this time, absolutely no requests. Get a snack. Settle in. Because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to this tape you’re one of the reasons why.

Both the show and the book are set in the aftermath of a suicide. From the very first lines we know, Hannah killed herself. She leaves behind seven tapes, with thirteen reasons why she took her own life. Each reason corresponding to a person. Both the book and the show follow Clay Jensen as he listens to the tapes. We hear Hannah’s story right alongside Clay.

This book, and especially this show, set out to do something bigger than other books and movies about suicide. It sets out to show readers and viewers the consequences of their actions. It attempts to prevent tragedies, like Hannah Baker’s, from ever happening. Hit it head on and target the Alex Standalls, the Justin Foleys, the Tyler Downs, the Sheri Hollands and the Zach Dempseys why-are-book-fans-skeptical-about-the-dramatic-13-reasons-why-trailerof the world. Your actions matter and everything affects everything. At the end of it all, Hannah Baker is still dead. There is no saving her with a happily ever after. There are no friends or a love interest that will magic her back to life. The point of all of it is to learn from your mistakes. But how do you do that? By being exposed to them. That’s what this book does. It exposes every bad decision that affected Hannah’s mental health.

Mental Health is one of those topics that is still overlooked and taken for granted. There is still a certain amount of taboo associated and it’s largely misunderstood. Suicide is often viewed as selfish because understanding how someone’s mind can betray them is hard. Understanding how seemingly trivial moments derail someone’s entire life can be incomprehensible. And that’s why this show and book are important. It wasn’t created to help someone who battles with depression,  it wasn’t made for the person who teeters on the edge of a cliff. It’s made for the rest of us. For those who find hilarity in a “hot or not” list. Hannah’s name made “the best ass,” and this is created for those who don’t see a 13-reasons-why_0problem with that. Who think, boys will be boys and teenagers are just being teenagers. But that one moment put a target on her bottom and changed the way others perceived her. It took her life one more step out of her control. She became a sum of body parts worthy of sexualization instead of Hannah Baker.

The show is graphic. They portray rape and suicide without a wavering camera.  If they had hopes of impacting their audience, of making people think twice about their decisions, then they couldn’t afford to avoid the true weight of a person’s actions. The moment when Hannah broke while she was being raped, still sends a chill through me thinking about it. I cried along side her when she slit her wrists in the bathtub. Those images were impactful because they needed to be. If it makes you uncomfortable, then it succeeded. You were supposed to squirm.

Each action was just as harmful as the next and watching that build is an important part of understanding how any decision can be the one that pushes someone over that edge to suicide. Rape wasn’t treated with any more harshness than the “hot or not,” list. Adults don’t get out of it either. Mr. Porter, the school counselor was just as responsible for Hannah’s death as the person as the boy who was stealing her complement notes. At the end of the day, you don’t know how much your words can hurt someone. How your actions can affect them in ways you’ll never imagine. Every person was forced to see themselves for what they’d done and evaluate their actions. Live with the consequences of that. What I appreciated with regards to the show, was that every person was shown a little sympathy except for Bryce, the rapist. By not showing any sympathy to him, viewers have no excuses for his behavior. He is a bad person and fuck that. But everyone else was just as human as Hannah.

This show is equally hard to watch as it was hard to look away. The book was just as powerful and I recommend both. The TV show takes it one step further, by expanding on the lives of each character. It also ends with the potential for wrongs made right by refusing to silence the things that have happened. It’s the one thing I wish the book would have done. If we can’t have a happy ending, then I want to know that people have changed. They’ve woken to their mistakes. If this does one thing, it forces viewers and readers to evaluate themselves. Making this series and book without a doubt invaluable.

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Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between

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I can remember the first time I watched a preview for Gilmore Girls. I was the same age as one of the main characters, Rory Gilmore. I fell in love from the first episode and have since watched it several times. I even started a blog as a class assignment a few years ago called MirandomReviewsGilmoreGirls.tumblr.com where I started to review one episode per day as a commitment to writing. Something I’d like to make a living at some day.

Fast forward to Lauren Graham’s book, TALKING AS FAST AS I CAN. DUH! I had to read it and I was not disappointed. Lauren covers everything from her start in Hollywood, her first novel, Gilmore girls, Parenthood, and what it was like to go back to Gilmore Girls again.  As a fan of both Lauren and her shows, I don’t think that there was a way to be disappointed in this book. So maybe that makes me a bit bias. I can own it.

TALKING AS FAST AS I CAN, was quick-witted, humorous, and it felt honest. Lauren has admitted she likes to keep her private life, well… private. So this book wasn’t overly personal or filled with the nitty gritty details that sometimes we crave about people we admire. But it was fun, it was light, and it did give me a better sense of who she is. In a lot of ways, Lauren Graham is the embodiment of Lorelai Gilmore and it shines through in this book.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print

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I’ve been on a bit of an editing kick after finishing the first draft of my second novel, MONA. I’ve read everything I can get my hands on. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print  by Browne and King has been one of the best finds of this year! I would highly recommend this book to every person who has written or wants to write a book. It is written in a way that keeps you interested, engaged, and learning all the while.

Even though I felt like I knew most of these rules, for lack of a better word, it was helpful to have them laid out in such a way. I attended the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference this past May and one of the courses I took was based on this book. It’s taken me this long to get around to reading it, but I’m thankful I did. It’s chock full of examples, mini-exercises, and do’s and don’ts of editing your own stuff.

A must read for every writer!

 

Scrappy Little Nobody

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By Anna Kendrick

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I’m a sucker for an autobiography. So of course, I bought Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody. I read it enthusiastically and loved every damn page. Sometimes Autobiographies are hit and miss. This of course, is always worth it because when it’s a hit, it’s a home run. And Anna’s book was a no-hitter! … Maybe I’m mixing up my sports terms. Yay team, go sports!

This book left me feeling like I’d just spent the afternoon with Anna and we’re close bffs. It’s effortlessly funny, witty, and relatable.

“I was never the girl to strap on a snowboard and head straight for a black diamond, but if I saw “advanced” in the corner of a Martha Stewart Living recipe, I’d think, bring it on you crazy bitch.”1*f-4kubs55q6fV5c6hn5Oyw.jpeg

I don’t often finish a book without some sort of criticism. Scrappy Little Nobody was without a doubt the best Autobiography I’ve read this year. I enjoyed the ease of her essays. Part of me hopes she takes on another book at some point, because I would read that as well. I would read them all to infinity.

 

Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies

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By Kojo Steven Sakai Performed by Lauren Ezzo / Performed by Lauren Ezzo

I was scanning through Twitter like one does and came across an author friend of mine who said her book was up on Audiobook Boom! only I’d never heard of it till that moment. So of course being the book nerd that I am, I had to see what she was talking about.  I was surprised to see Audiobook Boom! was giving away free audio books to anyone who would simply write a review. I thought, why the hell not. I read them like candy anyways, so I might as well do one for an author who’s looking to move forward a bit. So in exchange for a free copy of the audio book, I’m writing this brutally honest review. And so without further ado, I present to you Romeo & Juliet vs. Zombies.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I picked ROMEO & JULIET VS. ZOMBIES as my book. I’d never heard of the author or the book before but I’m usually willing to give everything a go at least once. This was not what I’d expected at all. It wasn’t like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies which is sort of what I was expecting. Instead, it was a gender bent retelling. I enjoyed most of it for this reason alone. Romeo’s nickname was Princess and Juliet was a warrior. I loved the priest who secretly hated everyone and was trying to bring destruction instead of  peace.

That all being said, and keeping in mind I know nothing of this author, it felt like a debut book. There were times when the writing was a bit sloppy and the adverbs made me cringe. On a whole, I feel like the unique story made up for this. I can’t help but feel it would be a stronger book with maybe one more edit from fresh eyes. Someone who can cut out the telling and transform it to showing. On a whole though, it wasn’t half bad and I think I picked a decent title for my first Audiobook Boom! title. In the end, if you’re a fan of Shakespeare or Romeo and Juliet, I’d say give this a try. Zombies only ever spice things up a bit!

The Positives & Negatives Of This Week

November has been tough on all of us. I don’t know there’s a single person, I know, who wouldn’t agree with this statement. As many of you know, I’m a substitute teacher. I subbed in a 6th-grade science class the morning after the election and was disheartened to break up a fight between two boys.

The first boy came into the classroom cheering “Trump! Trump! Trump!” He turned and looked at a Hispanic boy and said, “Finally my president is going to deport your ass.” Before I could even respond the other boy stands up and says, “Maybe, but your president will nuke this planet and then you’ll die.” Yay for middle school…. not.

If you’re wondering, yes, I put a stop to the negativity and made it clear that any more talk would result in a swift punishment with the principle. I absolutely have no tolerance for bigotry or hatred of any kind. More than that, it broke my heart that I had to have this conversation with 10 & 11-year-olds.

At this point, what’s done is done. Whoever you voted for, supported, happy or sad over – it’s done. However, what matters now is bridging this divide and setting an example for the younger generations. I know that these kids are only mimicking what they see at home, but it doesn’t make it okay.

I didn’t start this blog with the intentions of being political at all. I’ve managed to hold my tongue and stay off of social media. But I guess it comes out eventually. Life goes on. We still have to wake up every day and go to work, feed our families, pay our bills, and for me, I still have to write.

So in addition to this small bit of political word vomit, I wanted to share with you a short blog post I wrote for my writer’s group. I hope you enjoy it. If you feel like checking out some of the other writer’s posts, I encourage you to look us up here.

BETA READERS

By Miranda Boyer

Yesterday I finished the first round of edits on my new manuscript:

MOTHER NATURE MoNa.

beta-readers-wantedI’m over the moon about this but what’s next is always the terrifying part to me… beta readers. Putting my life into someone else’s hands. After all, a book is hours of my life that I can hold in the palm of my hands. Someone I know said that once and It’s stuck with me ever since. I’m putting my work into the palm of a stranger and waiting for them to judge me fit or send me back to start again.beta-reader-superhero

It’s terrifying.

But also, it’s the only way. The only way to learn, to grow, to give my story a voice of its own. To let it breathe life and take flight. It can never be anything more if I don’t actually put it out into the world with a little bit of trust. A bit of faith that it will come back none the weaker, instead, stronger for having more eyes look upon it.

In my experience, this is the part of the writer’s journey that is skimped on. Fear takes hold and prevents the writer from the ability to grow and learn from others. To take criticism and turn the ordinary into extraordinary. The fear that their single edit wasn’t perfect. I’m here to tell you it wasn’t. In fact, you need five or six or twenty more edits imagesbefore it’s perfect. Even then, you could probably go one more time. The reality is that you will never grow as a writer if you don’t put your book out there for others. I’m not talking about self-publishing. That’s a fine choice for some, but it doesn’t negate the fact you still need beta readers first.

So here I am. Waiting to be judged. Waiting to be told that it’s not good enough, hoping to be told it was funny, witty, emotional, anything other than my biggest fear – that I might not be cut out for this game. In the back of my mind, that little voice warns me not to even feed those fears. Because no good can come of keep-calm-and-start-revisingit. So instead, I’ll wait. With hope in my heart. I will push on and start something new. Distraction is good and I have many stories to tell.

 

 

For The Love Of Macs

So I got a new computer over the weekend. I went in anticipating buying the older 2012 Macbook Pro and upgrading some of the features. Dropping $1800 on the retna 13.3 inch Macbook Pro was just a bit out of price range. Until I walked into best buy and found a perfect condition (minus a couple of EXTREMELY light scratches on the shell) open box for only $1300 of the exact dream computer that was out of grip. WHAT?! Fate? I think so.

So the last two days I’ve been transferring information and setting up all my applications, installing all my software and getting used to some of the new features that differ from my old 2010 model. So far, I have nothing but good things to say about it. I’ve been in love with Mac computers since I was in the fourth grade. My school received a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant, and (ironically enough) spent the money on a new computer lab filled with Macs. This was back in the early 90s and let me just say, it was love at first sight.

Computer lab day was every Wednesday after lunch and before reading (my other favorite part of school… are you surprised? Yea… didn’t think so). I’d sit at computer number 7, because that was my lucky number. I’d run my fingers over the keyboard and dream that some day I’d learn to type fanciful stories, clicking it’s keys until the whole page filled with words. I’m fairly confident that my love a good clicky keyboard was born in this room.

My longing would temporarily ease when I’d get to pick between Oregon Trail or Kid Pix. Sometimes the choice would be too much and 30 minutes would go by way too quickly, but I’d usually die of dysentery with just enough time to spell my name out with primary and neon colored blobs. Once in a while, I’d open a document and just press keys. I’d type out my name or something to the effect of, “Miranda is the best.” Slowly I’d fall into a rhythmic pattern clicking the keys, pressing enter at the end of each line, and filing the page letter after letter.

In some ways, my love for writing was born of daydreams at the hands of a Mac. In the back of my mind, as the years passed, I always associated owning one with making my dreams come true. It might sound stupid, but it is what it is. I know logically that I’ve known I wanted to be a writer, for an entire year more then I knew I loved Macs. Even more, that I wrote for years on a PC before owning one of my own.

But still. In my mind they will forever be intertwined.

And I’m okay with that.