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 🙂

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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 🙂

Wow. It’s been a while since I last posted about the books I’ve read and I’ve read a bunch more since then. Even though I want to be getting back to the book I’m writing (I’m in the middle of re-writing/editing a second book and just started writing a brand spanking new book that I really wasn’t planning on writing but the words just started flowing… so, lots of writing the past few weeks!), here’s what I’ve been reading:

Dairy Queen – by Catherine Gilbert Murdock – A high school girl who grew up in a football-loving family and works on her family’s cow farm is coerced into training a rival team’s player. He’s a jerk at first, but of course they start to like each other. She then decides to try out for her own high school’s football team without telling him. I’m all for girl power when it comes to hard work and overcoming obstacles, but this book was predictable and a bit cheesetastic.

Debutante Hill – by Lois Duncan – Written in the 1950s, this “aw shucks” and “gee” filled book is about a rich high school girl who is upset that her dad forbids her from partaking in all the debutante events that one of her peer’s mom’s starts up. There is a definite rich kids vs. poor kids aspect to the story, as the protagonist agrees to go out with Dirk, a boy from the other side of the tracks (even though she’s totally seeing a rich guy who just went off to college). I liked Dirk a lot and really felt for his character throughout. He wasn’t a bad guy, just misunderstood and overlooked. I enjoyed this book for what it was worth and always appreciate it when a rich kid gets a reality check.

Unbreak My Heart – by Melissa Walker – This book is about a high school girl on a summer-long boat trip with her family and how she deals with a fallout with her BFF and befriends/crushes on a boy who is taking a boat-trip with his dad. The cover for this book is awful (as I’ve found most YA covers are) and I was embarrassed to be seen holding this book even though the story itself actually wasn’t half bad. I thought the protagonist was selfish, but most high school girls are. (I would know… I was one once.)

Catalyst – by Laurie Halse Anderson – Talk about a dramatic turn for the worst. Geez. I did like this book, as I like LHA’s writing style for the most part. Another selfish high school girl, but this time it’s one who was determined to get into the one and only college she applied to and be an overachieving perfect person. Her odd friendship (that’s too strong of a word, but I can’t think of anything better) with the troubled girl from school whose house burned down was really interesting and I thought this book went to a lot of dark places. I would recommend this, for sure.

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period – by Gennifer Choldenko – Um, so I was the completely wrong demographic for this book. (I mean, I am for all YA books, lets be real, but this book should have been labeled Middle Grade, as it was for younger middle schoolers at best.) If you are at a 5th grade reading level and want to read about a chubby white girl befriending a black boy and then them finding out they have more in common than they think, than go right ahead and read this. It was sadly an epic waste of my time even though it was well written.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – by Jennifer Smith – I love stories that are mostly set over 24 hours because it gives you a crash course in who these people are and whether they are compatible with each other as they are forced to be by each other’s side practically the whole time. (I’m writing a script about something similar, so this helped a lot in that regard.) I’m a huge fan of Smith and will gladly read any of her books. This was cute, funny, sad and just overall very enjoyable (albeit so far-fetched… I mean, stuff like this doesn’t really happen to m/any people). This was a quick, lovely read and I very much recommend it.

Subway Love – by Nora Raleigh Baskin – Nope. Just no. I was not a huge fan of the writing style or the plot once I got going. (A girl from the 70s and a boy from the present meet/interact/fall in love on a subway car that somehow lets them transcend time.) Each chapter had the same grainy picture at the beginning of it, which was credited to being from a Wikipedia page. Really? I sped through the second half of it so I could return it to the library as soon as humanly possible. While I respect the author for getting her work published, this book was unfortunately not for me. At all.

Pieces – by Chris Lynch – A boy’s brother dies and some of his organs are donated to other people. The boy then meets up with some of the recipients and questions what his relationship is/should be with these people who now house a piece of his brother. I thought the book was headed a different direction than it ended up going. I didn’t not like it, but I wanted more.

The Darlings in Love – by Melissa Kantor – I had a problem with the protagonists being 14 because their problems seemed more fitting to 16-18 year olds. The BFF-ness of it all was fine, but I don’t think that 14-year-olds can properly grasp the concept of being in love with someone. Like, crushes and whatnot, sure. But end-all-be-all relationships and love does not happen when you’re 14. (Did you see what happened to Romeo and Juliet? Wait till you’re older and actually understand, kids.)

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin – by Josh Berk – I liked that this book had a deaf protagonist who was friends with a nerdy polite kid, and that they solved a crime together. But I thought some of the word choices were silly. I’m not really a fan of silly. But, I get that this book is aimed at younger boys and younger boys seem to eat silly up. So, there you have it.

Everybody Sees the Ants – by A.S. King – This book has been staring me in the face for months and I finally checked it out. I regret not reading it sooner because it was just such a satisfying read. I think I’ve read 3 or 4 of King’s books so far and this was certainly my favorite. It’s about a boy who gets picked on a lot and his parents are worried he’s going to harm himself, so his mom takes him on a three-week vacation to visit his relatives. He keeps having dreams about rescuing his POW grandfather and then wakes up holding weird items from said dreams. He befriends a girl while on vacation and learns a lot about himself and his family. It’s just a really good book and I’m definitely not doing it justice.

Project Sweet Life – by Brent Hartinger – A super quick read about three friends and a summer of shenanigans as they tried to avoid getting summer jobs (but still trying to make money). I like Hartinger’s writing style, having read one of his books before. This book was good, but I won’t need to read it again.

Grand & Humble – by Brent Hartinger – Oh my god, I’m only just now getting the second meaning of the title as I’m writing this out and I read this book two weeks ago. DAMN, SON. This was the first book in a long while where I was actually super caught off guard by the plot twist. I thought I knew what was going on, but I totally did not. It’s about two high school boys and how their lives are eerily similar even though they have nothing and everything to do with each other. I’m describing it poorly, but it was a good read. Man, I feel so stupid for not getting the title sooner. (An accident happens at the junction of Grand & Humble, but there is totally another meaning behind it… oh my god.)

The Burn Journals – by Brent Runyon – This is a first person account told years after the fact about a 14-yr-old boy who set himself on fire in a suicide attempt (that he immediately regretted) and the physical, emotional and mental recovery he went through. Runyon is a phenomenal storyteller and I am so grateful that he shared his story like this. What a horrible, horrible thing to go through… but he did get through it. And it took a lot of work, and seemed very painful on a lot of levels. This book will stay with me, that’s for sure.

The Miracle Stealer – by Neil Connelly – A girl’s younger brother is seen as miracle worker in their small community and she thinks that they are using him. She tries to protect him, but some bad stuff goes down. I’m not a super religious person and I don’t really buy into the belief that some people are tools of God, so I could see where this girl was coming from. The book was okay, but I had a hard time believing that the kind of mom this book depicts would name her daughter “Anderson.” I know that’s a petty complaint, but it took me out of the story several times.

New Kid – by Tim Green – I yanked this book off the shelf at the library because it was about a boy playing baseball. While on vacation, I leant it to a friend and she read it before I did, saying I was going to hate the ending. And she was right – what a terrible ending. Geez. This was another book in the YA section that should have been labeled Middle Grade. Basically, this kid and his dad move around a lot because the dad’s job has kind of forced them into hiding. And his dad has a habit of making them move when the kid is literally in the middle of a baseball game. Sigh. It’s not great. And then the terrible ending happens.

Wintergirls – by Laurie Halse Anderson – This book is about a high school girl with anorexia. Her bulimic friend dies alone in a motel room and then the anorexic girl must deal with that death on top of her own body image issues. This is one of the few books I’ve ever read about eating disorders. I know I will never be able to fully understand the struggle of people who suffer from anorexia and bulimia, but I’m thankful for books like this to give me a glimpse into that world. This was a good read, albeit a sad and frustrating one.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – by Jesse Andrews – A Jewish high school boy and his black BFF who like to make shitty home movies befriend a Jewish girl from their school who is dying of cancer. No one falls in love and no huge lessons are learned, but it was fascinating to see how the characters all coped with what was going on. There were a lot of cultural stereotypes, but I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised about that.

Somebody Up There Hates You – by Hollis Seamon – More teens with cancer, but these kids are in Hospice. And there is love and sex and other shenanigans. This was a mostly enjoyable read despite the subject matter. I think I’m going to lay off the “kids with cancer” books for awhile, though.

Boys Wanted – by Flynn Meaney – There is a sudden shortage of desirable boys at the Wisconsin high school featured in the book. Told from Hunter and Kelly’s points of view, we follow them through their school year and how Hunter’s stock rises even though he was kind of a slacker. Even though this book was totally predictable, it wasn’t half bad. Hunter and Kelly were both likable.

On the Fence – by Kasie West – Another shitty cover that wasn’t even remotely close to depicting what actually happens in the book. (SOMEONE MAKE BETTER YA COVERS, PLEASE) The book is about a tomboy who has feelings for her next door neighbor and sometimes late at night they talk to each other through the fence. The girl ends up working at some clothes shop and along the way allows herself to be a bit more girly (clothes, makeup, whatnot). She thinks that’ll help in the guy department, though she is repeatedly told by her brothers and the boy next door to be herself (even though that has landed her zero dates thus far). This book wasn’t terrible, but it was also very predictable.

My Heartbeat – by Garret Freymann-Weyt – Fourteen year old Emily (I think?) looks up to her 17-year-old brother, Link, and his best friend, James (who she is madly in love with). Link and James love each other, but Link is afraid to define himself as gay and James doesn’t like that Link is not open with how they feel about each other. They fight and part ways, but then James starts hanging out and then seeing Emily (which is basically a dream come true for her since she’s loved James since she was little, but also confusing because she knows James and her brother loved each other, though that love was never consummated for reasons). I had no idea what this book was about when I grabbed it off the shelf, but I’m glad I read it. Self-acceptance and acceptance from society are always hot-button issues and I thought this book was written really beautifully.

So, yeah… that’s what I’ve been reading. I’m in the middle of two books right now, but will wait until I’m done reading those (and several others) before I post about books again.

I’ve been super busy with the books I’m writing too. I’m presently querying agents/agencies regarding the book I finished writing in May. I’ve heard back from three places (all No) so far, but I’m going to just keep on querying. In the meantime, I’m re-writing/editing a book I wrote last summer (YA book about two high school teens and how they meet on vacation) in addition to writing a book about two high school freshmen navigating the challenges of self-perception/the public’s perception. I think I might put the vacation book on the backburner for a bit because I’m really finding some momentum with this college book. I got 15 pages written so far and hope to write a few more tonight before I head to bed.

As always, if you have any suggestions on books I should read, please let me know!

Have a good one

Wow, so I didn’t realize that I’ve read 15 YA books in the last month and a half… Some of them were really great and some of them were just plain awful. As I look ahead to the next book I’m planning on writing, I’m actively trying to read more books with a female protagonist. There are also some authors who I’ve grown attached too over the past few months, so I’ve been trying to read more of their work too.

Here’s my thoughts on what I’ve been reading:

Shine – Lauren Myracle – This book is about a hate crime in rural America. A young gay man is attacked at a gas station and his former BFF tries to piece together who did it because she feels the cops aren’t doing enough. It’s one of several books I’ve read recently where the female protagonist is a survivor of physical assault. I’m always interested to read how other girls (even fictional ones) deal with that. The book spans only a couple weeks. I like condensed time lines like that – I feel it offers a sense of urgency to solve the crime. This was a good book and I’m glad I finally read it. (I had checked it out of the library once before but had returned it before even cracking it open.)

Out of the Pocket – Bill Konigsberg – I wanted to read this book for months and I finally tracked down a copy! I’ve read one of Konigsberg’s other books (Openly Straight) and liked it a lot, but was desperate to read this one because it dealt with a gay high school football player. While I’m not a fan of football, I was eager to read this since my book is also about a gay high school sports player (baseball, though) and I thought this book would be educational to read. I like Konigsberg’s writing style and thought the story was engaging.

The Boy on the Bridge – Natalie Standiford – I was so disappointed while I was reading this book. I read Standiford’s How to Say Goodbye in Robot and LOVED it, but this book was the complete opposite of that… I hated it. And wished I could unread it or at least get those couple hours of my life back. The most disappointing aspect of the story was how the female protagonist was basically throwing away her education and her time in Russia for some boy she really didn’t know that well. What they had did not come across as love and it was frustrating as a reader to read page after page of this girl making a string of stupid and irresponsible decisions. I would put this female protagonist right up there with Bella Swan as terrible literary characters that little girls should never aspire to be.

Break – Hannah Moskowitz – I’ve read a few other books by Moskowitz, but I think this was her debut novel. It was about a boy who was determined to break every bone in his body so that they would grow back stronger. He had a really troubled home life (in that his younger brother was pretty much allergic to everything, and there was a crying baby around all the time, and his parents weren’t all that with it all the time) and his friend was an enabler with him wanting to break himself. It was really disturbing to read the thought process of this kid, because you just wanted to reach through the page and demand that he stop hurting himself.

Ask the Passengers – A.S. King – This book was about a high school girl coming to terms with her sexuality. (She was in a relationship with a girl she worked with at a catering company.) There was definitely more to the story than just that, but what I took away from this was how I really enjoy King’s writing. I’ve read a few of her books by now and they are good reads.

Boyfriends with Girlfriends – Alex Sanchez – This was another book I wish I could unread. I don’t get how people praise Sanchez’s writing because I feel he writes down to his intended audience and the end result is immature, silly and insulting. I get that this book was trying to open up people’s eyes about bisexuality and gender fluidity, but I could not get over how awful the dialogue was and how immature the descriptions of sex were. Also, his characters giggled a lot. Like, “tee hee” was written across more than several pages. The thing is, Sanchez is very well published within the LGBTQ YA genre. This was the second book of his that I’ve read. And while I thought The God Box was okay, I thought this was just plain bad. And I hate to write that because I fear someone will someday say that about my book… but I honestly was wondering how he justified writing the book the way he did. High school kids don’t talk like that. They just don’t.

Marly’s Ghost – David Levithan – This was my palette cleanser after the Sanchez fiasco. A modern retelling of A Christmas Carol, Marly’s Ghost is about a young man mourning the death of his girlfriend. Her ghost comes to visit him around Valentine’s Day and says that he’ll be visited by three ghosts. The boy overcomes his Bah Humbug feelings about the holiday that’s meant to celebrate love and finds that he can and will love again. It wasn’t a real head-scratcher, nor was it on par with some of his other books, but I enjoyed it. This was a very quick read.

The Sky is Everywhere – Jandy Nelson – A high school girl’s older sister died and she and her extended family that she lives with are in mourning. During this time, she gets closer to her dead sister’s boyfriend, as well as the new boy in town who just started up at her school. It’s easy to see why both guys are attractive – one helps her remember her sister, while the other is a new distraction from it all. There was a lot of poetry in this book (as the protagonist was prone to writing prose on anything she could get her hands on), but I thought it added rather than detracted from the main focus of the book.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz – A.S. King – A high school girl’s former BFF died and she’s the only person who knows the truth about his death, though she doesn’t tell anyone for a long while. She lives with her dad (as her young mother ditched them when Vera turned 12) and they don’t relate super well with each other (although they do love each other). Vera gets a bit self-destructive at times, but she eventually comes clean about everything. Again, I just really dig King’s writing style.

You are Here – Jennifer E. Smith – I LOVED THIS BOOK. I just really wish the cover reflected the characters better. (The cover has two obscenely attractive high school students sitting on/leaning on a car, whereas the kids in the book are much more normal/dorky than that. I’m sorry, but if the book describes the boy as bespectacled and with a bad haircut, don’t put some glasses-less Abercrombie looking dude on the front cover. I almost didn’t pick this book up because I thought it was about attractive teen runaways.) I forget the characters’ names, but the main girl finds out that she had a twin brother who died days after they were born, so she decides she’s going to steal her older brother’s car and drive from NY to NC to see her dead brother’s grave. When the car breaks down, she calls the quiet neighbor boy (Patrick! I think…) and he runs away from home to go with her on her journey. His stipulation for going is that they stop at some historical landmarks along the way. The two teens were friendly with each other, but were never really friends. During their trip, they find out a lot about each other and themselves. I thought this book was really well written and I cared dearly for these characters (especially the boy) as they made their way to NC. I would gladly read this again someday.

Being Friends With Boys – Terra Elan McVoy – I was intrigued because this book was about a high school girl who managed her guy friends’ band, but then it turned into a drama-fest about, well, being friends with boys. I liked that the protagonist was depicted as an average girl (like, she wasn’t super skinny or flawlessly beautiful), but I did not like how the book went on and on about her feelings for a couple guys, but then in the last couple chapters it’s all “hold the phone, I’m madly in love with this guy who I haven’t really talked about since the first third of the book.” It was an okay read, but I’m not racing out to read anything else by this author.

Dying to Know You – Aidan Chambers – Another book that I loved, but the cover (and title) was completely misleading. The cover had two goldfish on it… which really had not much to do with the book being about an 18-year-old plumber befriending an elderly writer and how their friendship grew while the writer was trying to help the plumber write about himself to appease his girlfriend. The book was charming and the main character was the writer – which was a little odd for a YA book, but I dug it nonetheless.

Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust – Leanne Liberman – This book had been staring me in the face every time I go to the library and peruse the Ls for more David Levithan books. I am fascinated by the Holocaust, so I bit. It wasn’t a bad book. It was about a Jewish girl who basically was sick of hearing about the Holocaust and decided to renounce her Jewish-ness. However, she found she was unable to do that when a group of guys from her school (including her crush) were joking around and pretending they were Nazis. The overarching themes of cultural respect and self-acceptance were good.

Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson – Taking place over the course of a school year, the protagonist continues to close in on herself as her peers continue to blame her for calling the cops at a party. The truth is something terrible happened to her at said party, but no one else knows. She finally finds her voice (through words and art) and gets the confidence to stand up for herself. This book was really powerful on a personal level because of the subject matter. While i did not experience the same kind of assault as the protagonist, we were the same age when it happened. I wanted her to speak up so badly, but at the same time I understand why she didn’t. This was a good read and I’m looking forward to reading more books from the same author.

This is What Happiness Looks Like – Jennifer E. Smith – I liked the premise of this book. A teenage movie star accidentally emails a teenage girl about his pet pig (because he misspelled the email address he was actually trying to reach). They befriend each other online and email back and forth for awhile when he decides to shoot his next movie in her town and meet her in person. Drama and teenage feels ensue, but it wasn’t cheesy (even though it easily could have been). I liked Smith’s other book better, but I’m definitely keeping my eye out for more of her stuff. She’s really great at writing description and it makes me jealous.

So, yeah… that’s what I’ve been reading. Most of it was good. Some of it was not.

I’m still working on my book! I finished a major round of edits yesterday. I will be looking into literary agents in the coming weeks to try and get that process rolling. Some days I’m really confident in what I wrote. Others I am not. Of the friends who I sent the first draft, four of them gave me some really useful notes, which I did take into consideration as I edited. I know the book still needs some help, but it is coming along.

(I also went to a few theater shows in the past few weeks, but I’ll write that up in another post a little later.)

If you have any book recommendations, let me know!! I’m always reading 🙂

I am so behind on updates here. I’ve seen several Broadway/theater shows and have read a bunch of books. This will be a books post and I’ll work on a theater post next week (since I’m seeing two more shows this weekend… WHAT?! Yep. I love me some theater.).

So, without further ado… here’s what I’ve been reading since my last book post.

I am J – by Cris Beam – This is the first book I’ve ever read about a transgendered teen and it was a good read. The protagonist J was born in the body of a girl but identified as male and was eager to start on testosterone. It was very interesting to read how he dealt with internal and external conflicts. Though I cannot wholly identify with J, I was grateful to have a little glimpse into his world.

Every Day – by David Levithan – This book almost broke me. It’s about A, a person who spends every day of his/her life in the body of someone else. A does not identify as male or female, but during the few weeks this book covers in A’s life, A falls for the girlfriend of a boy whose body he inhabits one day. It was cool to read about how A dealt with the similarities and differences of the day to day lives of others and how s/he has had to experience other people’s lives without any prior knowledge of their pasts. (A can access memories/habits/allergies, but it’s not an instant thing all the time.) I am a fan of Levithan’s work and this book in particular was both a pleasure and a pain to read. I was craving some closure at the end but it never came. I’d like to read this again some day.

One in Every Crowd – by Ivan E. Coyote – This was a collection of Coyote’s autobiographical short stories. Coyote is a queer author and her stories covered her childhood into adulthood. Her being queer was not the main focus, but that aspect of her life definitely colored all of the entries in the book. I liked her writing style, but her stories seemed repetitious to me and I found myself skimming through some of them. Though I was not a huge fan of this book, it was inspiring to read because it reminded me of the book of autobiographical short stories I wanted to write.

The Lover’s Dictionary – by David Levithan – This wasn’t really a novel, per se, but an actual dictionary of words (A-Z) that dealt with relationships and for each word, there were some sentences or a couple paragraphs that gave a story example of the word in relation to the author’s own relationship. This was a super quick read, but a very powerful one at that. This will eventually end up on my massive book shelf once I get my own place. A must-read. Trust me.

Invisibility – by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan – Um, no. Just… no. This book was a story about an invisible boy (his mom was cursed by her father) and the one girl who can see him. Their 16-yr-old selves start getting all swoony on each other, her little brother is gay, and there’s spell-seekers and spell-casters. I wanted to not finish reading this because I kept stopping to belittle myself for starting it to begin with. But, David Levithan’s name was attached to it, so I read. I will never compromise myself like this again if I can help it. It was a silly book and did not offer me any sort of inspiration or joy as I read it.

An Abundance of Katherines – by John Green – WHY do I keep reading John Green books? I wholly disliked the protagonist and thought the whole thing was rather pretentious. I am not on the John Green bandwagon (sorry, not sorry). I do like his writing style, but I rarely like the characters, which leads to a usually frustrating reading experience (see also: Paper Towns). Plus, you can only read the words “Jew-fro” and “man boobs” so many times before you want to throw the book across the room. Why did he date so many people named Katherine? Or, rather, why would so many girls named Katherine date this boy? He seemed like a jerk.

Leave Myself Behind – by Bart Yates – I LOVED this book. I had zero expectations and no prior knowledge of what this book was about, but it was on some list I had and it was at the library, so I snatched it up and then read it in a couple days because I could not put it down. I liked this protagonist – he wasn’t a perfect kid, but he was so well written. I felt bad about why his mom was a little off (family drama… yikes), but liked their relationship. And thought it’s cliché, I like it when the main character falls for the neighbor boy.

Love, Football, and Other Contact Sports – by Alden R. Carter – Ugh. I did not like this book of short stories. Not only was it all about football (ew), but I just didn’t care about any of the characters. I skimmed the back half of the book. No me gusta.

Reality Boy – by A.S. King – This was an interesting read. It was about a boy whose family was on a reality nanny show when he was five years old. The book takes place when he’s 16, so it’s very much the aftermath of his 15 minutes of fame and how being on that reality show basically ruined his family life and left him as an outlier among his peers. Though I could have done without all the poop references (the kid would crap on tables, in shoes, etc… when he was on the reality show and was then nicknamed “Crapper”), I liked the book on a whole and was very glad I picked it up.

The F-It List – by Julie Halpern – The premise of this book was good – a girl’s best friend gets cancer and she agrees to help her cancer friend complete items on her Bucket List (which they rename the “fuck-it list”). But, that bucket list was not the main focus of the book… no, instead the female protagonist gets all moody and thinks about hooking up with some mysterious/weirdo kid at her school. The best friend with cancer plot line is omnipresent, but only because the protagonist keeps bringing it up as an after thought to her passive-aggressive bit she keeps doing with the guy she obviously wants to date but instead keeps pushing him away because she’s a bitch. (Yep, I said it. I’m a girl, so I can say things like that.) The protagonist was selfish. For pretty much the whole book. Selfish. And that really bothered me.

Nothing Pink – by Mark Hardy – This was a quick read, but a good one. It was about a gay boy whose parents/family were heavily involved in the church (and they think homosexuality is a sin). It was interesting to read about his relationship with God/the church juxtaposed against his parents’ opinions about his sexuality. I probably don’t ever need to read this again, but I was glad I picked it up from the library.

Happy Families – by Tanita S. Davis – Another book about a transgendered person, but this time it was the father of 16-yr-old twins. The twins were not very open to the thought of their father wanting to live as a woman. I don’t know if I was supposed to feel bad for the kids, because I did not. I thought they were brats. This was a decent read, but I was mostly disappointed in the main characters.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – by Mark Haddon – Oh my goodness, read this book! I knew this was adapted into a play and will open on Broadway later this year, so I wanted to read it before I saw the play and I’m so glad I did. What a great book! It’s about a 15-yr-old autistic boy (he’s a math savant) who finds his neighbor’s dog dead and he decides to figure out who murdered it. Along the way, there are some huge revelations about his parents and the neighbors and it’s an awful lot for him to take in. I found myself identifying a lot with Christopher and really felt for him when he was having trouble reading people, when his routines were disrupted and how he coped with trying to calm himself down.

So, yeah… that’s what I’ve been reading the past few weeks. I just got an email from the library saying a book I’ve wanted to read for awhile now is ready for me to pick up, so I’m super excited to start that tomorrow.

With all the reading I’ve been doing, I’ve still been writing my own book. I’m in the middle of writing Chapter 28 and have a few more chapters left to go. The past couple chapters have been really draining to write because of the subject matter (spoiler alert – one of my characters is the survivor of a hate crime). But, it’s onwards and upwards from now on. I’m giving these guys a happy ending, dammit.

Have you read any good books lately? I’m always looking for suggestions!

So, I haven’t posted on here in forever. But I have finished reading a few books over the past few weeks and have a few recommendations among them.

 

I think the last time I made a post about books I was reading Stick, so I’ll start with that…

 

Stick – by Andrew Smith – This book about Stick (real name “Stark”) and his older, gay brother Bosten was an enjoyable read. It wasn’t a super happy read (their home life was terrible), but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I wanted to give most of the characters hugs. I liked that it was mostly about a sibling relationship, and brothers at that. I am drawn to stories about boys/men dealing with emotional stuff and having to talk about it with other boys/men. Man feelings. Can you dig it?

 

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares – by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn – I very much enjoyed the premise of this book. Lily and Dash communicate via a shared notebook and they make each other go on little adventures. It was a friendship story where people were friends through the written word before meeting in person. (Of course it develops into a story about teens liking each other, because that’s how these things take shape…) I loved this book until I really didn’t. It took a really strange (re: wholly silly/unbelievable) plot turn toward the end and took me out of the magical cuteness that the story had been up until that point. I don’t like when things get silly. I don’t feel it advances the plot and it actually is quite insulting. As a reader, I don’t like it when the author (or authors, in this case) takes the story on a route that pulls you completely out of the book. I honestly stopped reading at one point, shut the book and heaved a heavy sigh of disgust. I still liked this book (for the most part), I just wish it would have taken a better route to get to the ending.

 

Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List – by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn – This is the first thing (co-)written by David Levithan that I hated. I couldn’t wait to finish the book because I needed to return it to the library as soon as humanly possible. I could not stand the female protagonist and her immaturity. Naomi (straight high school girl) was basically madly in love with her gay guy BFF Ely and she kept getting mad at him for not returning the feelings (and for kissing her boyfriend, who turned out to be gay). It’s frustrating to read about characters who are best friends even though one of them is a kind of terrible/selfish/ignorant person. I liked Ely for the most part, but even he got on my nerves. I do not recommend this book. I just… ugh.

 

Maurice – by E.M. Forster – I’ve seen just about every E.M. Forster film adaptation except for Maurice, so I was very keen to track down this book and read that before I ultimately track down the film. It was interesting to read about the relationship between two guys set in the early 1900s, but heartbreaking at the same time. I admit that I skimmed the last half of the book (it was due at the library the following day and couldn’t be renewed), but I got the general gist of it. It was a good read and I really do want to see the movie.

 

Gone, Gone, Gone – by Hannah Moskowitz – This book is about a gay teen named Craig who is living near DC post-9/11 (when all the sniper stuff was going on). Someone broke into his house and all his pets ran away. Also, his ex-boyfriend’s father died in 9/11 and was now at some mental institution. Craig falls hard for a new kid, Lio (he was a cancer kid and his twin brother died when they were younger). So, basically a lot of drama on top of even more drama. Oh, and these boys love each other after a few weeks/months. Do 15-year-olds really fall in love like this? Every time I read a YA book and the 13-16 year old characters go on and on and on about falling in love, I’m like, “Really?” I think back to when I was in middle school and early high school. I wasn’t in love with anyone. I had massive crushes on people, yes, but even then I knew I wasn’t mature enough to be in love. So when I read all these books about kids falling in love, I wonder if I just missed out on something early on, or if I’m supposed to suspend disbelief because everyone just loves reading about people being in love. (For the record, the book I’m writing is about high school juniors and though they like each other an awful lot, they are not going to profess their love for each other because they’ve known each other for, like, two months.) I thought this book was a little too heavy on the drama, but I liked Moskowitz’s writing style and decided if I came across any more of her books, I’d give them a whirl.

 

When Love Comes to Town – by Tom Lennon – I pulled this book off the shelf at the library because the spine was the hands of two guys clasped. I was pleased to see that once I got the book off the shelf, the book front and back had the two guys – just two dudes wearing plaid shirts and jeans holding hands. Adorable. The book itself was a little less adorable, but really interesting. It was about this gay high school senior named Neil who knew he was gay since he was about 10 or 11, but was scared to come out because it was Ireland in the early 90s. Throughout the book he told some people and tried to embrace his identity. He went to a gay bar, he chatted up and befriended some other gay guys, and he finally told his parents he was gay. His story had obvious ups and downs and I just kept asking “But what about Ian?” as Neil found himself falling for a guy named Shane even though Ian from school was the better choice of who he should be with. I liked this book a lot and it was really cool to read an Irish book about LGBT youth.

 

Marco Impossible – by Hannah Moskowitz – See, told you I’d read more of her books if I found them. The premise of this book was kind of cheeseball – 13-year-old Marco and his sidekick/BFF Stephen were going to break into the high school prom so Marco could confess his love to Benji, who was on his way back to England for the summer. (Again – 13-year-olds in love?)  Though I balked at the premise, I actually enjoyed the book. It was cool to read about Marco and Stephen’s friendship and how Marco being gay was not a big deal but a very big deal at the same time. Straight Stephen was mad that Marco was going to a different high school than him come the fall, but during their night of shenanigans in order to get Marco into that prom, Stephen finally pieces together that Marco has a target on his back at all times because he’s gay and he’s not safe because some of the other kids are out to get him. Reading about hate crimes makes me sad. I mean, I got picked on in school for being a bit of a nerd, but little Marco gets his locker bashed in and death threats because he likes boys. You legitimately worry that Marco’s plan to publicly proclaim his love for Benji is a fatal trainwreck just waiting to happen, but you still want to watch it happen because maybe, just maybe, it won’t turn out as bad as you think it probably will. I liked this better than Gone, Gone, Gone because there was a healthy dose of comedy surrounding the more serious moments.

 

The Death Cure – by James Dashner – This is the prequel to the Maze Runner trilogy and I haven’t finished reading it yet. I actually started reading this after Gone, Gone, Gone but I find it so boring that I put it down and read the other books instead. It’s due at the library this week and I don’t feel like renewing it, but I will try to finish reading it even though I am really not liking it. I thought it was going to be about Thomas and Theresa pre-Maze, but it’s not. It’s about characters I don’t really care about thirteen years before The Maze Runner takes place. I’m maybe 11 or 12 chapters in so far and I’m very underwhelmed by the writing and the plot. I honestly wish I hadn’t started reading this, but I feel obligated to finish it. Once I finish it, I have two newer David Levithan books waiting for me.

 

So, yeah… this is what I’ve been reading the past few weeks.

 

If you have any good recommendations, let me know!

Hey y’all.

So, reading. It’s the bee’s knees.

(You know what is not the bee’s knees? Robin Thicke. I’m watching New Year’s Rockin’ Eve right now and he’s singing “Blurred Lines” and as catchy as this song is, it is terrible. And he’s a creep.)

But I digress.

I finished reading four books in the past couple weeks and just started another book today. READING!

Here’s what I finished:

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy (by Helen Fielding) – Oh, boy. I really wanted to like this book because I loved the first two Bridget Jones books. But this… this was not v.g. Fielding spent so much of the book having Bridget obsess over her Twitter follower numbers and talking about farting with her toy boy that she missed an opportunity to tell a really heartfelt story. There were a few moments where her words tugged on my emotions, but they were few and a far between. I was really upset as I read the book because I found myself wanting to smack Bridget and being frustrated about her screenwriting when I didn’t think that character had that kind of clout. It’s not a spoiler that Bridget is no longer married to Mark Darcy (that is mentioned within pages of the book). They didn’t divorce; he died. Fielding killed off Mark Darcy. Whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhy? I sincerely hope they don’t adapt this into a film because it was so depressing to read, I don’t think I could handle seeing Squints McGee Zellweger reprise her role.

The Death Cure (by James Dashner) – a big HUZZAH that my library had the last book in the Maze Runner trilogy without me having to put it on hold. While this was my least favorite of the three books, I devoured it because I needed to know what happened to Thomas and his friends from the Glade. This is totally on me, but I never had a clear picture of Brenda in my head as I was reading and that bothered me because she was such an important character. I’m actually a lot surprised that Dashner had so much about Thomas’s feelings toward the two girls in his life. It didn’t distract from the overarching story and it definitely added a layer to Thomas that his male Glade friends weren’t entirely privy to… but these books are definitely aimed toward young men (though the two people who recommended the books to me are female). I told my brother he should read this trilogy. The books are all well written and Dashner really created very vivid pictures of the Glade and the Scorch. I’m really looking forward to The Maze Runner movie. These books were a quick, fun read. They aren’t too long and they are very much page-turners. You just want to know what happens next 🙂

Every You, Every Me (by David Levithan; pictures by Jonathan Farmer) – David Levithan, let me love you down. I very much admire his writing and this book was no exception. The story was really fascinating (a high school boy’s best friend is sent away because of her self-destructive ways because of her mental health issues… he receives photos of her and tries to figure out who they are from with the help of his bff’s boyfriend). There are words/phrases/passages that are crossed out (but still readable) so you know what the narrator was thinking. His thought process is very relatable and it’s interesting to read how he interacts with other characters juxtaposed against what he’s actually thinking. Throughout the book, there are photos that the narrator receives and they allow you to better follow along the story. I read this book in about 2 hours because I couldn’t put it down. (I was also on a plane and it was a good distraction from flying because I hate flying.)

someday this pain will be useful to you (by Peter Cameron) – I’m so glad I grabbed this book off the shelf at the library. I honestly had no idea what it was about, but it turned out to be perfect for me because it fit within the genre I’m writing. The title is what grabbed me, but the writing is what kept me reading. (This was another book I finished in less than a day.) I really loved Cameron’s writing style and will definitely be on the lookout for anything else he’s written. His protagonist, James, was relatable and likable (albeit a bit of a troublemaker… though I found myself siding with him). James liked being alone and didn’t like talking. As I read, I thought to myself that this was the kind of boy I would have wanted to be friends with and probably would have had a crush on. James, though, was gay, but it wasn’t really a huge part of the story. (Sure, both his parents asked him point blank if he was gay and he did admit to liking a colleague… but he also said that he never acted on his homosexuality, nor did he ever think that he would be intimate with anyone.) The bulk of James’s story had to do with not wanting to go to college and how he had run away for a couple days during school function in Washington, D.C. (James lived in NYC). I really, really liked this book. It was adapted into a film, so I’m going to try and track that down.

Stick (by Andrew Smith) – I’m not done reading this, as I just started it this afternoon, but I am 88 pages in and I’m enjoying this as well. This was another book I kind of just grabbed off the shelf, but I’m glad I did. It’s about a 13-year-old boy named Stark (his nickname is “Stick” because he’s really tall and thin) and his older brother, Bosten (16). Their parents are terrible people who beat them, have odd house rules, and only let them shower on weekends. Both Stark and Bosten have best friends (Stark/Emily, Bosten/Paul) and they are basically in love with said best friends. Stark just found out that his brother is gay and I’m already scared for Bosten and hope that their parents won’t find out. (Though, I’m fairly sure they do at some point – because that would be the predictable plot line.) Oh, and Stark only has one ear. He was only born with one ear. So, some of the book is written how he hears… with large gaps/spaces between some of the words/phrases. Stark is a likable protagonist and I’m eager to read the rest of his story.

I find it helpful to read books with young male protagonists because I’m writing a book with a young male protagonist. And since I’m a female and don’t have firsthand experience to write from, it’s really educational and insightful to be reading books written by men about male characters. Yay for fun research 🙂

If you have any book recommendations, let me know!