Hey there,

I was really MIA from the blog this year and for that I apologize. Real life definitely got in the way and there’s just some stuff you can’t put on a blog.

I thought I should go back over my resolutions for this year and see how I did/what I could improve upon for 2016.

Here were my resolutions…

1. Finish my book – This did not happen. I ended last year on Chapter 41 and am presently on Chapter 62. I took about a 5 month hiatus from working on my second YA novel. It wasn’t intentional – I just couldn’t write. I would open up the document and stare at it. I’d edit some little things, but couldn’t advance the story any more. I lost my motivation to write and really felt like throwing in the towel. But a few months ago, I got some of my motivation back and have been slowly getting into the groove again. I love my characters and where this story is going, so I am going to keep going. They deserve to have closure. And so do I.

2. Help myself better with regard to my mental health – Yeah, this also didn’t happen. Which in hindsight was a huge mistake. I hit an all-time low with regard to my depression over the summer and really struggled with how to cope with it. I tried talking to some people I trusted about it and that backfired or failed for various reasons. I went onto 7 Cups of Tea and chatted with some people. That helped a little, but I think I needed more. I will likely look into seeing someone next year – even just one session – if I can afford it. I can’t let what happened this summer happen again for that length of time. I still have low days every now and again, but that was weeks and months of awfulness. I’m bouncing back, though, and am grateful for the people I still/now have in my corner.

3. See at least 1 show a month – Finally – something I did accomplish! I saw a ton of shows this year. I don’t have an exact number for you at the moment, but I definitely saw anywhere from 1-7 shows a month. My favorite show was Hamilton (of course, right?). My least favorite was Doctor Zhivago. But there was so much good theater this year! I recently saw School of Rock and Fiddler on the Roof. Both top notch.

4. Read more – As of right now, I’ve read 102 books this year. I’ve started two more books and hopefully I can finish those (and more?) in the next two weeks.

5. See more of my family – I did not see my Philly family at all this year 😦 That’s all on me. I did see my parents and siblings for the July 4th holiday and Thanksgiving, and will be closing out the year with them on a family vacation in Florida. And I’ll get to see my grandparents who I haven’t seen in a couple years!

6. Befriend at least one guy – Check! I’ve become better friends with one of the doormen I see a lot through work as well as befriended a friend of my brother. It is so great having these gentlemen as friends because of the fantastic conversations and stories shared. There are jokes and opinions and thoughtful interactions. I’m so grateful to have these guys in my life.

7. Have better social interactions – Still working on this, but I think I am getting better at interacting with others. I’m still kind of awkward, but that’s probably never going to completely stop. I know what I have to offer as a person, and if that comes via some rambling at times… *shrug*  I’ve worked some high profile events, as well as interact with people of a high social class than myself on a daily basis. I was raised in the Midwest, so I’m polite to a fault (especially when compared to other NYCers).

 

So, yeah… this year was a mixed bag. I don’t really have any set-in-stone resolutions for next year, but I hope to continue to read more, see as many shows as I am able, actually finish my book, and perhaps do better with regard to my social life (i.e. dating). This year it really hit me hard just how lonely I actually am. I like being alone, but being lonely is really starting to wear me down. (Both my siblings are married to great people and my folks have been happily married for 34 years. I am a 7th Wheel. And while I don’t *need* a significant other, it would selfishly be nice to have a special guy in my life.)

I hope your 2015 is ending well and that your 2016 starts off likewise.

Have a good one!

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I realize I have not posted on here since March. Apologies.

This won’t be a long post, but I just wanted to write something to say that I’m still here and it’s been an odd 6 months since I last checked in.

Since March, I have written several (a dozen?) more theater blogs for IN New York and have two more shows lined up over the next few weeks. I will link to all of those on here at some point, but if you’re super ambitious, go ahead and google IN NEW YORK and then type my name into the search bar on the website and all my stuff pops up. I’ve seen some pretty interesting things for them and look forward to all future assignments.

I’ve also seen a bunch of stuff on my own, of course! I saw Hamilton twice (once at the Public Theater and once on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers). Such a great show!! If you have the means, I highly recommend seeing it. There are no words to properly describe how amazing that show is. It should be mandatory viewing for any high school American History student. I seriously hope they air it on PBS or something some day because EVERYONE needs to see it. I definitely hope to see it a few more times. As it’ll run for years, I’m sure, I know I’ll have that opportunity. The OBC is amazing, though. I can’t wait for the soundtrack in a few days 🙂

What else… um, I attended the Tonys rehearsal again in June. That was fun! Nothing will ever top when I saw the rehearsal for when NPH hosted in 2013, but it still fantastic nonetheless. I am extremely lucky, I know. I then worked as a ticket taker at the Tonys Gala that night. Also super fun. I’m so grateful for these kinds of opportunities.

I’m also grateful I got to visit my family over the 4th of July! It sucks not seeing them more often, but 6 days in Indiana was a godsend. I really needed to see my family and getup of NYC for awhile. I did get into a huge fight with my sister, but I think in the long run it brought us closer together. I still don’t think she quite understands my anxiety or depression, but it’s all a work in progress.

Speaking of depression… man, that was a bumpy three months. Definitely the lowest I’ve ever felt in my whole entire life. I couldn’t write. There was a lot of tears and anger and withdrawing from social situations. I spent too much time in my head and that was not a good or safe place to be. But, a few weeks ago I started coming out of it. I’ve written a few pages of my second book since then. I talked to some friends and some kind strangers on the Internet. Sometimes it’s just so much easier telling your issues to someone who doesn’t know you because they don’t have preconceived notions of who you are or how you’re “supposed” to be.

As I’ve been coming out of my epic funk, I am actively trying to tell people how grateful I am for their positive impact on me. I’ve written some letters (hand-written or via the Internet) to people who have helped shaped aspects of my life over the years. I know how much it means to me when someone says Thank You, so I’m trying extra hard to do that for others. I guess it’s selfish of me, because I’m hoping to lift other people in the process, but it’s not like I am expecting anything from them in return.

So, yeah… progress on my 2nd book has been slow-going since I stopped writing for awhile. I’m still working on it, though, and I will see it through to the end. I want to know where the story is going. And I have almost all of it mapped out in my head, it’s just a matter of typing it out.

I also decided that I’m going to adapt one or maybe both of the (unfinished) feature-length film scripts I wrote into books. I’m definitely going to move forward with the 24-hour road trip script/book and after re-reading the other script about a girl and a musician… well, with a lot of editing I think that could be salvageable too. But certainly the road trip story needs to be finished. I love what I have of the script, but know it’ll never actually make it as a movie. But it could definitely be a book. And I am so attached to the plot (since most of it actually happened to me… I just completely fudged it into a maybe-love story, as in real life there was absolutely no love story). I just am so in love with what I wrote and want to finish it because oh my god I am so in love with it. Some of my favorite things I’ve ever written are trapped in that script and they need to be shared with more than just my old laptop. I am smiling so hard as I’m typing this out… I am SO IN LOVE WITH THAT SCRIPT. And I cannot freaking wait to type out those words again in book-form. That was such a great day. It was awful… but it was so great. And I will never forget how magical it felt in those moments. OH MY GOD I CAN’T WAIT TO SHARE THAT STORY WITH EVERYONE.

So, yes… the past six months have been interesting. And I am so, so sorry I bailed on all of you. (I say “all of you” like people actually read this… ha)  But I’m back! (Kind of…)  And hopefully there will be more progress on writing in the coming weeks/months/year 🙂

Have a fantastic day!

Hello friends!

Did you think I disappeared? It’s okay if you did… there’s been a lot of non-activity on here and for that I do sincerely apologize.

I have read 25 books in the last 3 months, but due to time constraints at the moment, I will not be posting my thoughts on all of them right this second. If you would like to keep tabs on what I’m reading, I encourage you to befriend me on Goodreads!

Speaking of books… my M/M YA ebook, Out at Home, is available on Amazon. It was published on December 6th and most people who have left comments/ratings seemed to have liked it. I will admit upfront that the book needs help on the editing-front. Unbeknownst to me, no one at the publishing company edited it before it was posted (to be honest, I don’t think anyone there actually read it…). Am I thrilled about that? No. But is that going to stop me? Also no. I have received some truly awful critiques and emails about the book, but I’m using them as a learning experience. Right now I’m 52+ chapters into writing a second YA novel (M/F this time) and am planning on querying agents when that’s finished later this year.

Another reason why I haven’t posted much on here is that I have been super busy seeing shows!

I mentioned in my New Years Resolutions post that I hoped to see at least one show a month. Even though I’m still broke as hell, I have been really privileged to see a bunch of shows this year thanks to my amazing blogging gig with IN New York magazine.

Here are my posts for shows I’ve seen this year:

Nevermore – Edgar Allan Poe: The Musical

Chicago the Musical – Chicago Continues to Razzle Dazzle Audiences With All Its Jazz

The Heidi Chronicles – Revival of The Heidi Chronicles Brings Feminism and Friendship Back to Broadway

Honeymoon in Vegas – Book Your Reservation For a Honeymoon in Vegas

(Stay tuned for more posts about On the Town, Fun House, Dr. Zhivago and Something Rotten!!)

In addition to the shows I’ve seen/will be seeing for my blogging gig, I saw Constellations and Brooklynite. Jakes Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson were beyond amazing in Constellations. We had 2nd row seats (because I was the first person in line for Rush tickets – woot) and it was a dream come true to see Gyllenhaal on stage. (Especially since I just saw his sister in The Real Thing a few months prior.) Brooklynite was great too! This time we had front row tickets for the Off-Broadway show starring the always adorable Matt Doyle.

I’ll also be seeing Darren Criss on his opening night as Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I’ve seen the show three times so far (with NPH, Andrew Rannells and Michael C. Hall), so I’m looking forward to see how Darren will put his stamp on the role. Michael C. Hall was my favorite Hedwig by far. I don’t expect Darren to top him, but I am very interested in seeing how someone so young will tackle this role.

The heavy depression I was in surrounding the holidays has lifted considerably. Some things are still a bit (a lot) bumpy, but I’m definitely feeling loads better than I was. So that’s good, right?

And really that’s all that’s been going on. Oh, and I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix and HBO Go. (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was wonderful, as was The Newsroom. I’m catching up on Mad Men right now and am looking forward to Daredevil.)

Well – I must get back to work! Have a wonderful day 🙂

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the whole #YesAllWomen and #NotAllMen hashtags we’ve been seeing on Twitter.

This week alone I’ve been called “doll” and “Mami” a handful of times each, told “Smile. I know you see me,” was harassed via text message from a guy I told to not contact me again, sent an unsolicited video of that same guy masturbating, and then texted again by that same guy who harassed me and sent the video (*after* I had blocked his number on my phone… apparently that doesn’t stop texts getting through on your computer).

It might not be “all men,” but it sure is enough to make being a women trying to live her life a lot more stressful than it already is.

As I waited for the cops to come to my apartment on Monday night (because I called in to make a report against the guy who harassed me and sent the video…), I was texting with my friend who has had her fair share of harassing. She asked what I would say to that guy if I could say something with zero repercussions. Said I would tell him he’s the worst kind of guy – the guy who thinks he can do what he wants and get away with it. But that he needs to know his words and actions have consequences.

I said I would say worse things too, but really that I wish guys would get a f-ing clue about how awful they treat women. (And I know, *not all guys*… and I do know this. For example, my father and brother would NEVER harass women like I get harassed on a daily basis.) I then went into an epic monologue that said, “I can’t walk home listening to music because I have to keep aware of my surroundings. I have to stand there and take guys saying terrible things about me because I’m afraid if I do or say something, I might get attacked. I don’t live in fear, but I sure as shit feel like I have to watch what I do or say so as to not trigger some guy.”

I continued, “And I’m fucking sick of it. So I’m filing this police report because I can. Because he’s not here to stop me…. This is for the times when I got hurt and no one go in trouble. This is for the times I got told ‘boys will be boys.’ I am tired of getting stepped on because I’m a girl… I AM A FUCKING PERSON. Treat me like one. You know?”

And then I complained to her that I was mad I had to put my bra back on. (I called in my incident at 8:30pm and the cops didn’t show up until 10:30.) And you know how much it sucks to put your bra back on once you think it’s off for the night. (Am I right, ladies?)

So the cops came and I gave them all the information I had. And I cried because I was upset. But I wasn’t just upset about getting sent the masturbating video… I was upset because I am legitimately tired of being harassed.

This shouldn’t happen. TO ANYONE. No one deserves to be catcalled. No one deserves to be spoken down to. No one deserves to feel unsafe. No one deserves to have her boobs or her ass grabbed. No one deserves to get hit. No one deserves to get raped. Being a women should not be reason enough to be treated as less than. Because we’re not less than. We are equals. Or at least we’re supposed to be.

Where do you think men came from? Women’s bodies.

To all those men who repeatedly harass women – would you be okay with someone doing that to your mother? Your sister? Your grandma? Your girlfriend?

Here is where someone will argue that men get harassed too. Yes, they do… in fact, my brother has been harassed. BY ANOTHER MAN.

(Yes, women can and have harassed/assaulted/raped men. But go ahead and Google those statistics… you’ll see those cases are in the minority.)

The extra scary thing for me this week was that the guy who sent the harassing texts and the video was someone I don’t even know well at all. We messaged each other for a few days via a dating app and then texted for one day back in September. He asked me to tell him where I lived and send him pictures. I did neither of those things. He called me complicated. Then later he called me crazy because I wouldn’t drop what I was doing and go see a movie with him. (I was already in bed with a migraine, so I wasn’t going anywhere.) He was the one who said he didn’t want to continue talking to me. I told him that was fine and pointed out how I was not feeling well, and if that was “complicated and crazy” to him, that was his prerogative. He said he didn’t see my text saying i wasn’t feeling well and called himself a nice guy – citing that he hadn’t asked for obscene pictures.

Cut to four months later and this guy texts me on New Years Eve out of nowhere, and then a few days later. This “nice guy” calls me crazy again when I questioned why he was texting me and then sent me a video of himself jerking off. He then texted me again a few days after that even though I blocked his number by that point. The text didn’t come through my phone, but popped up when I logged onto my computer. Luckily a tech friend of mine walked me through how to block numbers on my computer so hopefully now I’ll never hear from him again.

I was already wary of meeting guys from dating websites. A lot of the guys who message me say super inappropriate things. Just last month, some guy messaged me, “Nice ass. Can I lick it?” My picture on the site was me in a winter coat… no ass in sight. I sent back a string of messages saying how that was super rude of him to message me and asked how he would respond if someone did that to a female relative. He messaged back that he did not intend to be rude – he legitimately thought there was nothing wrong about his message to me.

What makes guys think they can write such horrible things like that? I’m sure there are some women out there who are turned on by that kind of talk, but I would argue a majority of us are not. We think it’s rude and disrespectful.

Never once have I ever thought, “I would totally date this guy” after someone yells “HEY SEXY” at me on the street.

Did I tell you the other month, some guy followed me for half a block because I said “No thank you” to his proposition to take me out and get wine. He yelled at me, called me the C-word and then followed me. It was midday during the week.

Bad stuff doesn’t just happen after dark. Bad stuff doesn’t just happen online. Bad stuff doesn’t stop after it’s reported.

I am so aware of my surroundings all the time. I carry my keys between my fingers when I have to walk home late at night. I try to avoid eye contact with men I don’t know. I do all this to protect myself, but it doesn’t stop bad stuff from happening. What will stop bad stuff from happening would be if men took responsibility for their words and actions and didn’t do bad stuff to begin with. Men are not entitled to our attention or our time.

Rape culture exists, people. And it’s naive to think otherwise.

Do I think anything is going to come of the police report I filed on Monday? Honestly, no. But at least I felt like I did something. And hopefully if that happens to another women, she’ll report it too. We need to speak up for ourselves because no one else will. And we have to keep speaking up for ourselves to make it known that we won’t just give up.

Hello friends.

I cannot believe 2014 is almost over. Parts of this year dragged, but most of it flew by like whoa. There was so much I wanted to do, so much I did and so much I didn’t. I guess that’s how every year goes, though, doesn’t it?

Because I have a few minutes of free time, I thought I would take a look back at my 2014 Resolutions and see how I did.

1. Finish my book – THIS HAPPENED! Not only did I finish writing my book earlier this year, but it was released by Schlimmer Publishing as an ebook on Amazon on December 6, 2014! I am grinning like an idiot as I’m writing this because I can’t believe I did it. It took me about a year and a half to write it and then some more months to edit it. I got a lot of rejection emails from agents, but Schlimmer Publishing took a chance on me and my book is out. Holy shit. Right now it’s only available as an ebook on Amazon (Here’s the link! It’s called Out at Home and it’s a YA book about a gay high school junior named Caleb who moves with his mom from NYC to Kentucky. He’s a great baseball player but is forced to sit the bench at his new school despite his uncle being the coach because the roster is already full. You can also find the book on Goodreads!)

2. Finish my screenplay – This did not happen! But I’m okay with that. I did work on it a little, but did not finish writing it. I’m actually thinking about scrapping it as a screenplay and writing it as a book instead. I think I would be able to get a better handle on the characters and be able to explore their thoughts more as a book. I still love the story, though (especially because I lived it…), and do plan on finishing it at some point.

3. Go on more dates – Well, I did go on more dates in 2014 than I did in 2013… so, we’ll call this completed. I’m not one to share ample amounts of personal information with people, but since now we’re months after the fact, I will say that I did end up kind of seeing someone for a couple months at the beginning of the year. He actually took me on the most thoughtful date I have ever been on and even though things didn’t end great between us, I am thankful for the time I did spend with him. I learned a lot about myself during and after our time together and have a better idea of what I am looking for in a significant other.

4. See at least 1 show a month – With the exception of July, I did see at least one show a month. And since most months I actually saw multiple shows, we’ll call this completed. I think I saw 29 shows this year… (30 if you count the 2014 Tonys Rehearsals). Some Broadway, some Off-Broadway, some at 54 Below. Playbill released an article that 40 shows opened on Broadway this year. I saw 15 of them. I love live theater, okay? A lot.

5. Read more – I don’t know how many books I read in 2013, but in 2014 I read 99 books and in the middle of 2 more… so I might finish one of those by midnight on New Years Eve. I should just so I have an even 100 for the year. Hold up. Does my own book count? Because then I totally have 100 books read this year 🙂

6. Visit my sister in Arkansas – Did this in November! My parents flew me down to Arkansas for my birthday weekend. People were really nice down there. It was very refreshing to spend a few days in a harassment-free environment where guys were gentlemanly. I spent a few days with my sister and my parents drove down too and it was lovely. Way to be, Arkansas. (I have my A State hoodie on right now, actually… we went to a football game and they crushed whoever they were playing. I’m not much for football, but it was nice to see the marching band.)

7. (I had a 7th resolution that I didn’t post details about on here, but I still have my list from last year so I know what it was…) – This mystery resolution was also completed. It might not have been a success on a whole, but I did it. So it counts.

So, yes… I think I did pretty well with regard to my 2014 Resolutions. I tried to make them practical and I think that worked out for the best.

Now onto 2015. To be perfectly honest, a lot of the resolutions are going to be similar. Here goes:

1. Finish my book – This isn’t cheating, y’all, as I’m presently writing another YA book! I’m 41 chapters in to a new book about a college freshman named Emmy. I’m completely in love with my characters and am determined to finish writing this and query it to agents sometime in the future.

2. Help myself better with regard to my mental health – This is the biggest change compared to last year’s resolutions. It has become apparent to me toward the end of 2014 that I exhibit a lot of the symptoms of depression. I was actually diagnosed with depression in high school, though I still think that was a mis-diagnosis and leaned more toward anxiety than depression. Presently, though, I do believe this epic funk I’m in is more than just me being sad. SO, I’m going to look further into how to help myself get better and see where that takes me.

3. See at least 1 show a month – Though I know I’m going to be in a pretty crappy financial crunch in 2015 because of the ridiculous increase in my health insurance, I’m going to do my best to budget at least one show a month for myself. Live theater is my happy place. And since we’ve already established I’m depressed, it would be unwise to take away such a big part of my life that brings me happiness. I was recently asked to be a guest theater blogger for an online magazine, so I’m hoping that will allow me to see some shows this year.

4. Read more – I would love to read another 100 books this year. More if possible! Reading is also one of the things that brings me joy (most of the time).

5. See more of my family – Though this will likely be mostly through Face Time, I would like to see more of my family in 2015. My siblings, parents and I all live in 4 different states in 2 different time zones. Visiting each other is not always feasible, but hopefully we can embrace Face Time a bit more. And I need to make a better effort to see my family who live in Philly. I didn’t see them at all in 2014 :/ I was invited to see them over Christmas, but I couldn’t bring myself to battle New Jersey Transit over the holiday. All those people. I just couldn’t.

6. Befriend at least one guy – This is different from the “go on more dates” resolution I made last year because I’m actually in need of guy friends. I don’t have many anymore, and I don’t have ANY in NYC. This makes me sad.

7. Have better social interactions – This applies to people in general – friends and potential friends/SOs. I’m super socially awkward and am very aware of this. It’s not that I can’t be a functioning person around people – I can – it’s that I get overwhelmed by new people and large social gatherings. I’m decent at interacting one-on-one with people. I’m not interested in dating around at all. I’m more of a “get to know one person really well” sort of person. So far that hasn’t really worked out that well, but now that I have a better grasp on what I’m looking for in a person and what I have to offer in a relationship, I think I can move forward on this front. We shall see!

I think that’s a decent list!

So, goodbye 2014. It’s been a crazy year. There were a lot of great times and some not so swell. I’m hoping 2015 is a good one.

Have a safe, healthy and happy New Year 🙂

Hello friends,

Exciting news! My first YA novel – Out at Home – is now available on Amazon as an ebook!

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The book’s description is thus:
“This young adult novel combines gay themes with sports and high school relationships.

Caleb Hanson and his newly single mom pack up their car and drive from the only home he’s ever known in New York City to his uncle’s house in middle-of-nowhere Kentucky. In NYC, Caleb was the star pitcher of his high school’s baseball team and openly fooled around with his best friend, Jackson.

In Kentucky, Caleb opts to stay in the closet, but is forced to sit the bench because the Bullfrogs’ roster is already full. When Caleb is paired up with Danny Thompson, the team’s distractingly attractive catcher, to throw batting practice, Caleb realizes that being stuck in small-town America might have some perks after all.

Something clicks between the boys, though their newfound friendship is soon challenged when signs are misread and accusations are made. Caleb and Danny rely on each other to work through their insecurities and find themselves growing closer on and off the field. But will small-minded teammates and the pressures of being someone other people expect you to be be enough to break Caleb and Danny’s burgeoning relationship, or can their love of the game take them and the Bullfrogs to another State Championship?”

(I LOVE BASEBALL, OKAY?)

Here is the link to Amazon, should you want to give it a gander 🙂

Feel free to share the link with your friends, family, neighbors, bank tellers, etc!

And if you happen to read the book, I would be beyond appreciative if you could leave a comment/review on the Amazon page! Reviews and Word of Mouth are going to be the best way for the book to gain any sort of exposure. A huge Thank You to my family and friends who have already ordered the book. Even though I’m bonkers nervous for people I know to read it, I am wholly humbled by the love and support I have received so far. This is legitimately a dream come true for me.

I really loved writing this and have outlined a sequel should anyone ever be interested in it 🙂 In the meantime, I’m presently working on another YA book and am about 1/2 way done with that.

If you have any questions/comments/concerns, please let me know!

And if you are interested, here’s a link to the Facebook page I started for me and the book 🙂

Have a fantastic day!

-Katie

Hello!

Here is that massive book post I promised you ages ago. (It’s been a crazy few weeks. My ebook should be available soon and I’m busy writing a second YA novel. I just finished the first part – about 80K words – and will start on Part 2 tomorrow. I’m very much in love with this book and working on it is really fulfilling, albeit emotionally taxing.)

And now, here are the books I’ve read…

Very Far Away from Anywhere Else – by Ursula K. LeGuin – God, by now I read this book about 3 months ago. I remember that the cover did not accurately represent the main characters and that I really loved the book, though I cannot for the life of me specifically remember why. The two leads were friends (as I recall) and I think there was some pressure to be more, but that wasn’t important to them. What was important was moving forward and finding something to be passionate about in life. She had her music. He had… well, shit… I don’t remember. But it was a good book, I swear!

The Shape of Things to Come – by Maud Casey – I’ve been reading a lot of YA books (since I’m writing YA books) but decided to deviate and read something about a 30something (because I’m 30). Wrong move, Kate. I was hoping this book would help me on my path to figuring out what to do with my life, but instead it just made me feel more confused and sad and depressed. I liked how it was written, but content-wise, this wasn’t the best thing for me to be reading at this odd juncture in my life.

The Geography of You and Me – by Jennifer E. Smith – I love Jennifer E. Smith’s writing style. Her stories are really very simple, but her characters are so layered and relatable and you just really want to see their journey through because you can’t help but care. And you want to know what happens, even though it’s pretty easy to figure it out on your own. This book was about two teens who meet one night during an epic blackout in NYC, only to be separated soon thereafter because of families moving and other unforeseeable circumstances. They keep in touch via postcards until they don’t. These are characters you root for because you want good things for them. And I will gladly read anything by Jennifer E. Smith. Always.

Dreams of Significant Girls – by Cristina Garcia – I thought this was a really interesting book. I loved how it followed the same three characters for three summers and showed how so much can really change over that period of time, especially when said characters came from such different backgrounds. It’s always fascinating to read about people who are stuck living with people they would rather not, but seeing how their relationships grow and shift was very fulfilling. Plus, the book was just super well written.

#16thingsithoughtweretrue – by Janet Gurtler – I had it in my head that I wasn’t going to like this book because I wasn’t too impressed by the plot summary. But then I found myself really caring about the roadtrip and the characters who weren’t the protagonist. This book seriously plot-twisted at the end and I remember audibly yelling, “NOOOOOOO.”

Adorkable – by Sarra Manning – I do fancy a good British book every now and again and was glad I pulled this one off the shelf at the library. Quirky girl snogs popular boy even though they kind of hate each other. But then they don’t. And it becomes a big to-do about independence and self-respect and identity and relationships and vulnerability whatnot. It was an entertaining read.

Franny and Zooey – by J.D. Salinger – I tried, you guys. I tried and I failed. I get that reading Salinger is supposed to rock my world, but I was not into this book at all. Perhaps I’m so far removed from the way of life depicted in this book that I just didn’t care. Or perhaps it was because I was having an off day when I read it. Either way, I sped through this just to be done with it. Go ahead and judge.

Divergent – by Veronica Roth – I had to see what everyone was talking about. I’m a little over dystopian books/franchises at this point but powered through. It’s not that I didn’t like Tris, she just is not among my favorite literary heroines as of late. Four, despite his obvious (read: purposeful) character flaws is a little too perfect. Too chaste. And, I could not wrap my head around how people thought it was weird or wrong to identify with more than one group. I did like the book better than the movie, though. For what it’s worth.

Eleanor & Park – by Raindow Rowell – My heart is gone. This book ripped it out of my chest, tore it in two and threw it in the Hudson River. (I read a lot of this book while sitting at the pier in between work.) I had heard really good things about this book and found they were all true. This was wonderfully written, devastatingly gut-wrenching and altogether feelings mangling. Eleanor reminded me so much of someone I once knew well and I wanted to reach through the pages and tell her that she deserves so much more out of life than what she was being handed by her shitty stepfather and terrible kids at school. Reading the ever-growing friendship/relationship between Eleanor and Park made my heart hurt. They ways they showed they cared for each other were precious gifts to the reader. Reading this book was so intimate because of how guarded Eleanor kept herself. And rightly so – holy shit that poor girl was not having an easy time out of existing in her circumstances. I loved this book. I loved Eleanor and Park. I hated how this book made me feel when I was done reading it. If I had my heart, it would still be hurting.

Insurgent – by Veronica Roth – Here we go. Round 2. Tris and Four and those other people are doing stuff because of the government and whatnot. Honestly, I don’t really remember the plot that much. (I’m writing this about 2 months after I finished reading the book. You can tell it obviously didn’t leave that big of an impression on me.) I read this because I had just finished Divergent and the library had it. I still didn’t see what the big deal about being Divergent was… like, of course people are going to identify with more than one character trait. (I could not suspend the disbelief needed to enjoy this series.)

Better off Friends – by Elizabeth Eulberg – I very much enjoyed this book. Set in Wisconsin, it’s about a girl who befriends the new boy from California and is set from 7th grade through most of high school. They are best friends and everyone just assumes they are together or will get together. They date other people and ultimately come to terms with what kind of relationship works best between them. Friendships between teenage boys and girls are a tricky thing and I thought this book captured the ebb and flow of that time in a person’s life rather well. So many emotions. So much angst. So many changes. Sometimes just being friends is the best option. Sometimes it’s not.

The Distance Between Us – by Kasie West – West’s covers are awful, but her books are easy to get through and somewhat enjoyable. This time around, the girl is kinda poor, the guy is super rich, and class-based struggles ensue. There’s more to it than that, obviously, but that’s the general gist of it. I’ve read another one of West’s books and do keep an eye out for her name on my library shelves. I know her books won’t challenge me, but they are entertaining.

One Man Guy – by Michael Barakiva – A teenage boy comes to terms with his sexuality amid a very religious and culturally-focused family. Set in NYC, he befriends another gay kid and they have adventures throughout the city. This was an easy read and though it didn’t leave a lasting impression on me I was glad I read it, if only to get another author’s perspective on the subject matter.

Boy Meets Boy – by David Levithan – The story of a gay boy who meets and falls for another gay boy with minimal drama. That’s really it – their town is accepting of LGBTQ people for the most part. Miscommunications are worked through. I mean, there are some characters who are not all for all-things LGBTQ, but on a whole this is pretty much a paint-by-numbers with regards to plot progression. It was still a good read. Not my favorite Levithan book, but I did like it.

Then Again, Maybe I Won’t – by Judy Blume – I thought I had read every Judy Blume book when I was younger, but I never read this one. Maybe because its protagonist was a young man and when I was younger I kind of flocked to female characters. (Or biographies of people from various wars.) This was about a kid whose family becomes a little more well off than they used to be and how the new money affects them. It was basically a morality tale saying how you shouldn’t be a dick even though you’ve come into some money. I love Judy Blume, though. Forever and always.

The Beginning of Everything – by Robyn Schneider – I fell a little bit in love with this book and then it kind of threw me for a nasty loop when all the pieces came together. That being said, I would still totally recommend this because sometimes getting emotionally destroyed by a book is entirely satisfying (albeit rough on the feels). The main character was a tennis star at his school until his leg got smashed in a car accident. He quickly falls from the very top of the social food chain and goes through school limping to the beat of a new drummer, if you will. Plus there’s a mysterious new girl in town. That never ends well, does it? I’m keeping an eye out for other titles by Schneider in hopes of getting my heart ripped out again.

Boys Like You – by Juliana Stone – This book is about an NYC girl named Monroe who spends the summer down in Louisiana with her grandma after an unfortunate accident back home. She unwillingly befriends a local boy with a bad reputation and a super guilty conscious. Their relationship gets closer as they deal with their shit together and individually. I didn’t feel like this book covered much new ground with regard to the genre, but I get the appeal for a teenage audience (angst and a hot guy who plays guitar).

Winger – by Andrew Smith – This is a book about a 14-year-old junior who is in love with his 16-year-old junior best friend. Winger plays rugby, dorms with delinquints and has a hella intense year at school that involves drinking, injuries, love, death, cartoons and all sorts of coming-of-age plot that kind of just hits you in the feels. I very much enjoyed this book even though parts of it really made me sad. Smith’s writing style, though… I want to be able to absorb it just by clutching onto his books.

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist – by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – I’ve seen this movie several times but never read the book even though this is one of my friend’s favorite books of all time. I saw it on the shelf at the library and grabbed it. I love David Levithan and will read anything with his name on it. I was glad I read this book and enjoyed it enough, but I think since I’m so in love with the movie and I saw that first, I’m going to favor the film adaptation. Sorry, but not really. Still read the book, though. For reals.

Bossypants – by Tina Fey – This was one of those books that made me laugh out loud when I was reading it in the park. To the point where I had to cover my mouth and try to disguise my laughter as a coughing fit lest I be judged. I love Tina Fey. She is one of my lady heroes and I will forever be indebted to her for her work on SNL, 30 Rock and Mean Girls. (And since I love her so much, I’m going to, from now on, pretend that I didn’t see Date Night or This is Where I Leave You.) Fey is a smart, strong woman who knows comedy well. She’s a great writer and she knows what works. I admire her candidness and appreciate her comedy and writing pointers. This was a great read. Between this and Mindy Kaling’s book, I feel like there are people out there who might just understand my weirdness.

Fangirl – by Rainbow Rowell – Okay. So this is all about fandom obsession. I’m on Tumblr. I’ve read stuff on fanfiction websites. (Hell, I even wrote a paper for my grad school internet ethics class about the legality of fanfiction.) But I’ve never been as far into fandom as Cath so I could not really sympathize with how far she dug herself into the fandom lifestyle. I get being a fan of someone/something to the point of decorating your room, wearing shirts, etc… But when you submit fanfiction for a college assignment – sorry, but that’s not acceptable. Fandom is great for fitting in with people online (or even in person), but that can’t be your only thing you have going for you. And I guess that’s what frustrated me most about this book. I wanted to reach through the pages and shake Cath a bit and tell her she needs to find a hobby. I’m a hermit who spends a bulk of her time reading and writing too, so there was definitely stuff I could relate to too. But on a whole, the book mostly frustrated me despite how much I liked how it was written.

Allegiant – by Veronica Roth – Finally. The last one. I breezed through the first two books and this one as well. I kind of felt obligated to finish out the trilogy even though I wasn’t entirely on board with it. But, I’m glad I read them all so now I get what the hype is about with regard to the movies. (I don’t agree with it, but I get it… there’s a difference.) I wasn’t that surprised by the ending, though I can see why so many people flipped out over it. Props to Roth for not shying away from doing something hard as opposed to appeasing the fans.

Happy Accidents – by Jane Lynch – I love memoirs that don’t just paint a rosy picture of what it’s like to be rich and famous these days. It turns out Lynch wasn’t the nicest person ever, nor did she ever have it super easy as she tried to launch her acting career. I liked reading about her struggles with coming out, trying to get featured more in her early days in comedy, and how hard work and a lot of luck played a major part in getting her where she is today. I did find it awkward to read all about how she met her wife because they are now divorced and that’s sad. I’ve seen a lot of her films. A Mighty Wind will always be my favorite. Those New Main Street Singers are awesome.

100 Sideways Miles – by Andrew Smith – I will read anything Andrew Smith writes. So when I saw this title on the shelf, I grabbed it and debated between flying through it or taking my time to savor Smith’s writing style (which I envy like whoa). Smith is such a great storyteller and I love the relationships he forms between his characters. He writes teenage male friendships so well. And I loved how this book measured passing time using distance the Earth travels around the son. (The title refers to five seconds – or the amount of time it took for a dead horse to fall off a truck on a bridge and onto him and his mom below.) Even the most far-fetched aspects of this book are still believable because the narrator is just so damn convincing and likable. Thank you, Andrew Smith.

If You Find Me – by Emily Murdoch – Wow. I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did, but then again you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, are you? (BUT I DO! I TOTALLY DO! ALL THE TIME!) This book was about two girls (15 and 8, I believe) who live in the woods with their mother ever since they were little. Their mom leaves them and the older girl’s biological father and a social worker come find them. The girls have to acclimate back into society in their new living situation (which includes a stepmom and stepsister) and going to school. Of course some serious shit went down in the woods, but the girls persevered because survival was all they’d ever known. Good book. And now I’m on the lookout for other titles by Murdoch.

The Book Thief – by Markus Zusak – I not so secretly am fascinated by stories (fictional or not) set during the World Wars, especially WWII. I was unaware that this book was written from Death’s perspective (that’s not a spoiler – it’s easy to get that right off the bat when Death speaks about taking people’s souls…), but found that to be a really intriguing POV. I knew the title character was a little girl (I saw the movie trailer, though have yet to see the movie) and figured this book would break my heart. That’s a bit of an understatement. Death gives you some of the bigger, more gut-wrenching plot points ahead of time but the blows are still just as big and painful. This was a long book (500+ pages) with very, very tiny font. I was still able to get through it in a few days because it was such a good read even though it made me sad. I very much recommend this book.

Hope Was Here – by Joan Bauer – This was a super quick read about a girl named Hope (nee Tulip) who lived with her aunt. They moved around working at various diners in various states. This book was about their latest move to middle of nowhere Wisconsin (which I could relate to, as I used to live in Minnesota). Though I never worked at a diner, I caught on quick to the lingo and could empathize with the customer service woes (I worked at Macy’s. I get it.) Hope was a straight-laced girl with a crush on a good guy and the gumption to fight for what was right even though she got the short end of the stick in big ways throughout her life. I liked this enough that if I come across any more of Bauer’s books at the library, I’d give them a whirl.

King Dork – by Frank Portman – This book had a bunch of blurbs on the covers and inside boasting how hilarious it was. I realized halfway through the book that almost all of said blurbs were written by dudes. The book had its charming moments and I did laugh out loud a couple times, but I’m sure it would have had a bigger impact on me if I were a 15-year-old boy. Thomas (aka Chi-Mo, aka Moe) was likable enough and I did feel bad that he was at the bottom of the social food chain. There was a lot of plot (a LOT of plot) and at times I felt like there was too much going on, but it wasn’t impossible to keep straight and if you thought about it, you could see how most of the plot twists came to be/kind of made sense.

So, yeah! If you’ve got any book recommendations, please let me know!