Posted in Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Reading

November 9 by Colleen Hoover Book Review (No Spoilers)

November-9-Colleen-HooverNovember 9 by Colleen Hoover

Published November 10th 2015 by Atria Books
Paperback 310 pages
Rating: 5/5 stars

Over the past several years Colleen Hoover has become a breakout hit in the New Adult genre. She’s become known for her love stories with some kind of tragic element, and November 9 is no different.

But don’t let that deter you. Although this book does have some tragic moments, this book is funny. And I mean funny. Laugh-out-loud-and-try-to-cover-it-because-you’re-in-public funny.

I think this is one of those books that’s best read blind, meaning you should just pick it up and start reading without knowing anything about it, however, I’ll give you a quick idea of what it’s about.

November 9 follows the point of view of both sides of the love story as they meet once a year, every year, on November 9.

And that’s all I’m really going to tell you about the plot because trust me, you’re better off not knowing anything more than that.

I loved November 9—and this is coming from someone who isn’t a huge fan of the New Adult craze. I’ve found most of New Adult to just be love stories (usually with a very alpha-male type guy and passive female) with a lot of sex. But I find Colleen Hoover’s books to be different. Her books have so much more going on in them than just the romance. Her characters are so well developed, and you really dive into their lives and families outside of the romance, which I find really refreshing. And one of my favorite aspects of November 9 was how self-aware it was. I found myself laughing along with the characters as they poked fun at the various tropes seen in New Adult books.

Also, the romance wasn’t cringe-worthy. Dare I say it may have even been a little swoon-worthy if you’re into that kind of thing.

I love how the romance doesn’t just focus on love conquers all or we’ll do anything to be together. It focuses on what it means to be in a healthy relationship and how important it is to love yourself and know who you are before you make that commitment to another person. I found it realistic, smart, and overall just very enjoyable.

This is definitely a fast read. I finished it in less than 24 hours.

If you’re looking for a quick, fun, addictive read, this one’s for you.

Let me know if you’ve read November 9 or if you plan on picking it up!

Posted in Original Works

Going on: a poem

Something always has to be going on

Some distraction, some noise

Something to make us feel like we’re doing more than just standing in place

To make us feel like time isn’t just passing us by.

But we haven’t moved, and time hasn’t stopped

And there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do about it.

We do what we need to do to survive,

And we tell ourselves the lies that make it easier.

We squeeze our eyes shut and hum meaningless tunes

To block out the world around us,

To pretend we don’t know what’s going on.

But if no one is brave enough to look,

If no one is brave enough to stay awake,

Then the fires will keep burning with no one to stop them.

People will keep dying with no one to save them.

And the time will just keep passing and we’ll all still be standing still

And there will always be something else going on.

Posted in Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Reading

Anna Dressed in Blood Book Review (No Spoilers)

9378297Anna Dressed in Blood By Kendare Blake

Published October 17th 2011 by Tor Teen

Hardcover 320 pages

Rating: 4/5 stars

Goodreads

Just your average boy-meets-girl, boy-must-kill-girl, boy-actually-likes-girl, oh and girl-is-a-ghost story.

Anna Dressed in Blood follows Cas, bad-ass ghost hunter, who sets out to kill Anna, a murderous ghost more dangerous than any he’s ever seen. Things get complicated, however, when Cas realizes that maybe all of the killings aren’t Anna’s fault,  and there might be something greater at play.

I’ve wanted to read Anna Dressed in Blood for years. Literally years. And yet, for years it’s just been sitting on my shelves.

Why, you ask? I couldn’t tell you.

But finally I decided to pick it up and I’m so glad that I did.

I’m not going to lie, it took me awhile to get into the book. It’s not that the opening chapters aren’t interesting. In fact, they’re super engaging and well-written and raise a lot of questions. I guess it just took me awhile to feel any sort of connection to the characters. And whether that has to do with the book itself or just the mood I was in while reading it is anybody’s guess.

But overall, I really enjoyed the book. The humor, the romance, the violence, the twists. Yeah, all good.

But if one thing surprised me, it was the violence.

And I know what you’re thinking. “Katie. The book’s title is Anna Dressed in Blood” for crying out loud. Of course it was violent!”

But you have no idea. This book was dark and gritty and just flat-out brutal. But in the best possible way. (Needless to say, if you don’t like super graphic descriptions and lots of blood in your stories, this one might not be for you. But if that stuff doesn’t bother you, by all means, jump on in!)

Another really pleasant surprise was how involved Cas’s mom was in the story. Usually YA parents are kind of cast off into no-man’s-land for the purposes of plot, but having Cas’s mom as an equally important main character was really refreshing.

The romance was probably my least favorite part. It wasn’t super well developed and I felt like it was just thrown in there because it’s hard not to have romance in a YA novel now-a-days. It wasn’t bad, but the book could have been perfectly fine without it.

The romance aside, I would definitely recommend this book. It’s a super-fast read with lots of action, laughs, and excitement. Overall, I’d give Anna Dressed in Blood 4 stars, and highly recommend for fans of horror or anything dark and creepy. The book definitely isn’t scary, but it’s very atmospheric and dark.

Let me know if you’ve read Anna Dressed in Blood or if you plan on picking it up!

Posted in Writing & Publishing, Writing Tips

Misconceptions About Writing YA Fiction

If you’re intending to write for the young adult audience then you’d best believe you must write a squeaky clean manuscript because no teenager has ever heard a curse word, had sex, had alcohol, done drugs, or been exposed to violence. Young adults are innocent, angelic creatures, and our society absolutely cannot allow them to be tainted and influenced by such horrors in their literature. Therefore, if you plan to write for this age, your manuscript must not contain any of these elements. So. Basically, it can’t have any conflict.

Not.

I’m amazed by how often I see questions from aspiring writers wondering if it’s okay for their YA WIP to have a cuss word or a heated make out scene or some kind of violent battle. What’s even more surprising, is the amount of people who advise them to avoid these elements.

Books shouldn’t glamorize these elements and encourage young adults to go do drugs or fight, but it’s ridiculous to think teens aren’t exposed to these kinds of things daily. As long as your love scene or battle is important to the plot, there is no plausible reason for why it shouldn’t be allowed in your manuscript.

There are no guidelines saying that if you use the F-word or have a certain amount of blood spilled or too many characters make out that your novel can no longer be qualified as YA.

Use your best judgment.

Is this element absolutely necessary to your story? Does it further explore character, plot, or backstory?

If yes, keep it. If not, decide if you want it for shock factor, to be gratuitous, or because you believe it furthers your story.

Young adult novels can have violence in them. They can contain bad language. There can be sexual content, drugs, alcohol. As long as there’s a reason they’re in your book.

Just because it’s targeted toward a younger audience, doesn’t mean you have to scoop the realism and truth from your words and stuff the void with lies. Kids aren’t stupid. And you’d be naïve to think they won’t be exposed to such content even if they don’t read it in a book.

What are your thoughts on the content in Young Adult novels? Where do you draw the line?

Posted in NaNoWriMo, Writing & Publishing, Writing Tips

Why Even People Who Don’t Like NaNoWriMo Should Try It

A lot of people disagree with NaNoWriMo. Some go as far as to dislike the event and the entire community that comes together every November (or April and July if you’re a camper) to take on the challenge of writing a novel in a month.

I’m here to tell you why you shouldn’t listen to them.

What they say isn’t wrong. I won’t argue with you there. Yes, no one is going to write a perfect, polished, best-selling novel in 30 days. I don’t care if you’re J.K. Rowling or Stephen King or Charles Dickens–you aren’t going to pull it off.

But the thing is, that’s not even what NaNoWriMo is about.

No one expects you to have a perfect novel at the end of those 30 days. No one expects anything of you, actually. Because NaNoWriMo is purely about you challenging yourself and attaining a personal goal. And best case scenario, it’s about you finishing a rough draft.

I’m going to repeat that a little louder for my folks in the back.

YOU’RE WRITING A ROUGH DRAFT.

NaNo is about getting the words on the page. It’s about gritting your teeth and forcing yourself to write until the end even if you don’t love your idea as much as you thought you did in those first few weeks. It’s about challenging yourself to finish what you started and get a foundation down on paper for you to work with later. It’s about developing the habit of writing regularly. To put it most simply: it’s about whatever the hell you want it to be. NaNo is for you. NaNo is about you. And whatever you put into it is what you’re going to get out of it.

So yes, I disagree with the misguided people who send off their freshly NaNo-ed manuscripts to agents and publishers, thinking it’s done. But that’s only a small fraction of the NaNo community. Most people acknowledge that when December 1st strikes, their work has only really begun.

NaNo is a stepping stone–a very, very important stepping stone. It provides that little push that so many people need. It provides a community for writers plagued with doubt who almost stop halfway through, but soldier on surrounded by their fellow writer cheerleaders. It forces people to start, which is something 90% of people who say they want to write a novel don’t do.

So harp on NaNo all you want, but there’s a reason thousands and thousands of people participate every single year.

And if you want to write a book–if you so much as want to give it a shot just to see how it goes, you should think about participating too.

It won’t be the end of the road. It won’t give you a finished product. And it may or may not lead to publication down the line.

But it’s a stepping stone. It’s a start.