Archives for posts with tag: read

So I’ve been thinking about this on and off for a little while now, and then I had a conversation a few weeks ago that made it stick in my mind even more.

If you know me, you know that I’m quite the Pinterest frequenter, and of course I pin book things all the time.  Well, one of the things that pops up in my feed is bookcase pictures.  Some are cut into really neat shapes or painted in cool ways, but all too often I get pictures like this:

bookcase 1

Neat, right?  Behind the stuff on your shelf, you can see a map of the world painted.  Well, sure, if you only own a couple dozen books.  But my bookshelves look more like this:

IMG_3904You know what you can see behind my other books?  MORE BOOKS!!!  Yeah, I don’t really have enough space for you to see a cool design back there or a bright splash of color…

(P.S. Click on any of the pictures – that aren’t of my bookcases – to get to the seller or, in the case of the next pic, the blog it comes from!!)

And that brings me to the next picture…

bookcase 2

Again, pretty color, and again, not that many books.  A lot of the pictures that pop up through Pinterest are like this, too.  They show you really cool ways to organize and decorate a book case.  I mean, look at all the cool picture frames and nicknacks and sculpture pieces and organizing baskets that Kate @ Centsational Girl girl did!  She’s got a knack for finding great deals and putting them together in creative ways to make awesome stuff.

And I’ve seen a ton of posts about what shelf should house which nicknacks, which one for picture frames, and which one for books.  Which ONE for books???

Um, here’s my bookcase with nicknacks and picture frames…

IMG_3906They’re all tossed together up there on the top shelf, while everything else is stuffed full of books!  Again, if you look closely, you can see the second row behind the first on each of the shelves, and if you look not too closely you can see the books I don’t have room for stacked on top of the others!

As far as organization?  MOST of the books up front are the ones I haven’t read yet (with maybe 4 or 5 exceptions).  The ones at the back are the ones I’ve already read, but might want to reread or loan out.

Or how about this shelf?

IMG_39091. This used to be a microwave stand

2. The bottom door broke off so I ghetto-rigged it…

3. Organization goes as follows:  Books to the left of Lovecraft are ones that need to be loaned the next time I see the person they’re intended for.  Books from Lovecraft right are ones I haven’t read yet.  All those books you see on top?  Yeah, those are all the ones that other people have loaned me that I need to read and get back to them.  (That stack plus my loaners are missing some because they’re sitting on my table in a bag, waiting to go to Anne tomorrow!  Hi Anne!!!)

Oh, and behind the dark curtain of a door lie the books that I disliked SOOOO much that they’re going back to Half Price.  They stay hidden until I get a big enough stack 🙂

And then there are the bookends.  I LOVE bookends!  They’re so nifty and inventive!  Just check these bad boys out!!!

bookend 1bookends 2

But again, what would I do with those?  Bookends are made for people with a few books siting on a decorative wall shelf.  Not for me.

OR for people that want just a few books sitting in the middle of one shelf of a bookcase.  And I think we’ve established by now that that’s not me either.

IMG_3910Which brings me to my last bookshelf.  Yes, there ARE some DVDs taking up one whole shelf in there, GASP!  And candles, puppy pic, piggy banks, a pen jar…  But this shelf has ABSOLUTELY no organization beyond that!  When I was discussing bookshelves with my friends they were all lamenting that they wouldn’t know what to put on a bookshelf, because they didn’t know what books would be pretty enough to display.   Um…display?  Believe it or not, I did mini-tidyups on all 4 of these bookshelves before snapping pics of them!  To me, a bookshelf should be a display of all the things you love to read (that you didn’t download onto an ereader).  And if you want pretty books, buy hardcovers and take the slipcovers off.  But really, when you read/buy/trade/borrow/write as many books as I do…ain’t nobody got time for that!!

So what do you guys do?  Are your bookcases all nice and pretty?  Do you have just a dozen or so books, sparsely placed among nicknacks and artwork?  Or are you like me, and constantly running out of space on your shelves and begging for more??? (My husband is building me another one, by the way, I just don’t know where to put it!!)

Let me know your thoughts in the comments down below!!


28 Ed: Any zombies out there?
Shaun: Don’t say that!
Ed: What?
Shaun: That!
Ed: What?
Shaun: The zed-word. Don’t say it!
Ed: Why not?
Shaun: Because it’s ridiculous!
Ed: All right… are there any out there, though?
Shaun: I can’t see any. Maybe it’s not as bad as all that…Oh, no, there they are.
    Shaun of the Dead

28 shaun-of-the-dead
29 “It wouldn’t have mattered if they were scratches or not,” he says, his voice like liquid. “I was bitten during the escape from the house.”
My limbs go weak, everything inside me folding in collapsing on itself.
“I was already dead,” he says, opening his eyes.
Carrie Ryan, The Forest of Hands and Teeth

28 The_Forest_of_Hands_and_Teeth
30 Harry Solomon: I could do it with my eyes closed!
Tommy Solomon: You do everything with your eyes closed!
 3rd Rock From the Sun

28 harry
31 I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see
John Newton, “Amazing Grace”

28 amazing_grace
1 Jorgen von Strangle: For failing to distract the dragon, the handsome fairy loses! However, he is still very sexy.
Wandisimo: This I can live with.
    The Fairly Odd Parents

28 wandisimo
2-3 I’m too sexy for my shirt
Too sexy for my shirt
So sexy it hurts
Right Said Fred, “I’m Too Sexy”

28 Too_Sexy_2007

So in my writing group a few weeks ago we discussed how you go about choosing and then writing the ethnicity of your characters.  I was a little late to the group, but jumped right in with the conversation.  I felt like I had somewhat of a handle on the topic – I’d faced it when writing this first book.

Race can be very important in certain characters, and in this book certain characters’ ethnicities  play a very important role in defining who they are.  Others could be mentally recast by the reader and it wouldn’t make a difference.  Though sometimes being a Caucasian writer, it can be hard (at least for me) to figure out just how to let on that a character is “non-white”.  Just look at the foolishness that happened when The Hunger Games movie released.  With Rue described as having dark skin and brown hair, people still seemed floored when she wasn’t white.  Without having to go through all that drama all over again, I will say this: not everyone who believed she wasn’t white thought she was black.   I had one friend who thought that making her black and from the agricultural District was meant to symbolize that the Capitol had reinstituted slavery.  Then I had another that though that it was a reference to migrant workers and that Rue had been Hispanic.  Both valid answers.  But only one turned out to be correct as to the author’s intent.

So what else is there to do, then?  Never mention race?  Dance around it until I’m halfway through reading a 500 pg book before I realize that one of the two main characters is black??? Because I tell you what, that is super distracting.  We all cast the movies of the books we read in our own heads, and it’s really jarring to realize after 250 pages that you’ve been wrong the whole time.   Though I do understand the problem.  I had a minor character in this book who was black, with an African accent, and an African-themed name.  I think she’s awesome and strong and beautiful, but there is that fear that I’ll somehow been seen as racist unless I danced around the issue and implied rather than told you what she looked like.  Then, during about the one millionth rewrite I realized: just tell your audience what she looks like and move on.  She’s a black girl.  Deal with it.  I also have characters with Gypsy, Irish, Hispanic, Elvish, animal, and all kinds of other origins.  It helps define who they are, though admittedly to varying degrees.

And so it was when my writing group then asked, “If you changed the race of your main character, would it change your story,” I answered “Absolutely!”  My characters are half-Hispanic, half-Caucasian.  Take a couple of black kids, or Korean kids, European kids…whatever, and throw them in the same situation, they’d all react differently.  Because even if they were raised in the exact same location their entire lives, the way people perceive us changes how we view ourselves, for good or for bad.  ESPECIALLY in our teen years.

That said, I think I just hit a breakthrough in my next book.  I need my anti-girl-next-door character to be strong, sexy, NOT BLONDE, and vicious, but in a calm, understated sort of way.  I kept picturing this gorgeous Hispanic girl filling the role, but somehow could just not wrap my head around her without a lot of outward fire in her personality.  Then, while searching for clothing inspiration online, I figured it out: I needed to make her Japanese.  Same strong, sexy, viscous non-blonde I imagined, but now with a self-control that comes from centuries of culture and tradition.  She just fits better now.

In the moments I allow myself to think about the days when I might actually get published, I do worry sometimes how people will take things like what I’ve just said here and if I’ll end up getting boycotted because I’m so offensive.  And the answer is…probably.  Authors get boycotted all the time for all different kinds of things.  So if the worse thing I did was diversify my cast of characters and use their backgrounds to enrich and enhance them and make them more real to both me and my readers, then so be it.  We need more diversity in YA anyway.


P.S. There was a really cool YouTube video I wanted to include that was about The Hunger Games and racial diversity in YA, but I couldn’t find it.  It’s 3 minutes long, and discusses things like the study that discovered that in 775 YA novels surveyed, only 2% had African Americans on the cover.  Check out the artical (fascinating!) and let me know if you happen to find that video!

So I psyched myself up and went to go see Sea of Monsters this weekend…

First of all, let me explain.  The reason I had to “psych myself up” in the first place, is that the first Percy Jackson movie was just So. Dang. BAD.  Seriously, I am not a fan.  And it’s not that i don’t love the books!  I do!  In fact, my best friend and my non-boyfriend (now husband) all read the first one together on a road trip, and to keep up with tradition, we still read Rick Riordan books whenever we’re headed out of town.  In fact, I’m looking forward to House of Hades coming out in October, partly so that we’ll have something to read on our anniversary trip!  (Finally almost done with Mark of Athena!)


Also, let me tell you that I am NOT one of those people who can’t accept that the movie is going to be different than the book.  Hello?  Film major here!  But even varying greatly from the book isn’t an excuse to make a bad movie.  It just isn’t.  As book lover we all love to say that the book is better than the movie, but that’s not always true.  In New Moon they fixed my biggest problem with Jacob by leaving out his Emo “kiss me or I’ll let myself die” speech.  (Sorry, girls, but any boy that tries to force you into a romantic encounter in order to prevent their suicide isn’t worth your time.  Or a romantic.  Or someone you should continue to associate with at all…)  Or, in Stardust, based on the novel by Neil Gaiman (who I LOVE), I actually like parts of the movie version better.  In the book, Yvainne doesn’t meet up with the witches until the very, very end of the story.  I like that she’s got something scary to run from in the movie.  It makes things more intense.


Ooh!  Or what about all the songs about bathing or Tom Bombadil that we cut from Tolkien?  I could have done without those in reading the books…

But The Lightning Theif was just BAD.  There were parts of it I liked, sure, but as the discrepancies kept adding up, and the film problems kept mounting, I think I hit my final roadblock when creepy Persephone started hitting on Grover.  Ew.  Just ew.

And you KNOW a kids’ movie has missed the mark when the 9 yr old girl behind you suddenly says “No, Mom, I’m sorry.  But this is not like the book at ALL!”  Kids should just be impressed that the book character has come to life in a magical way.  If you miss that, then you fail.

And if you’re one of the people that loved the first movie, then I apologize.  Like what you want.  I’ll watch Twilight or the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie any day of the week for some good campy fun, and I can attest that there is such a thing as a good bad movie.  But for me, this one just wasn’t it…


So, needless to say, I was a little nervous about seeing this one.  In fact, my husband refused to go see it with us.  I think he was almost convinced until he saw the Mist turned into a spray in the trailer and then he checked out again.  But like I said, I’m willing to let a certain amount go…  Plus, Nathan Fillion AND Anthony Head AND Stanly Tucci…I’m willing to give it a shot.

All that said, Sea of Monsters was WAAAAAAAY better than the first one!  Anthony Head makes a great Chiron.  Tucci is great as always.  As is Nathan Fillion.  Leven Rambin (who you might recognize from playing Glimmer in Hunger Games) made an EXCELLENT Clarisse.  Seriously, I was routing for her even when she was up against Percy.  She’s pretty freaking awesome.  Plus after The Host, I have to say that I now have a deeper love of  Jake Abel (oh, and did I mention that I met him in person and got an autographed poster of that movie and how super nice he was? 🙂  )

sea of monsters

In this one, the special effects better.  The storyline is truer to the original work.  And it’s FUNNY.  They did a lot to make sure to bring the funny in this one and it paid off.  And sure, they had to change some things, like making the prophecy say “reach the age of 20” because, let’s face it, these actors were already way too old to be pulling off 14 yr olds in the first one, but you could really feel them trying to fix some of the mistakes made in the first movie, so much props there.

sea of monsters clarisse

But the relationship Percy and Tyson develop is great, and really makes Percy have to change his way of looking at things.  He also provides a great way of Annabeth to grow and change as well (just like she did in the books).


So, if like me, you were a bit disheartened by the first movie, you should definitely go and see this one.  It’s much better.  I know I’m making the hubby see it now.  AND it appears that they’re trying to make the rest of the 3 books into movies as well (which they really should have been trying to do in the first place).  So yes, I say you should see this one, it’s a fun adaptation, and good even if you haven’t read all the books.  Though, I must say, if you’re a Rick Riordan fan and you aren’t following him on Twitter (or Facebook) you totally should.  He’s on their regularly, responding to fans, and you get fun insights, updates, news stories that relate to his books, and fun little tidbits like this:

RT: Christ4Everyone 13 Aug

My wife with our daughters, Thalia & Annabeth. Thanks @camphalfblood for giving us such beautiful and unique names.



How cute is that???  And GREAT characters to name your girls after.  Strong, intelligent, fierce… I love it!  So follow him @camphalfblood .  For serious.


And one last thing before I let you go…if you like reading YA or love stories at all, you should totally check out The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.  Seriously.  It’s awesome.

statisticalAnd this is coming from a person that does not read straight contemporary YA romance…like ever.  Generally there needs to be some kind of mystical, fantastical, post-apocalyptic element in there for me to get really into a YA romance.  This one I finished in two days and just devoured it.  it’s a boy and girl who meet on a plane while the girl in on her way to her father’s wedding….to the woman he had an affair with to break up their family in the first place.  There’s just something compelling about Hadley and her issues with her dad, and the sweet (did I mention British) Oliver and their intense, sudden connection that makes you hope desperately for Fate to keep intervening on their behalf.  Haven’t we all had one of those “You’re Beautiful” moments where we meet a person in passing, and are left wondering “What if?” as soon as the moment is gone?  Seriously, check out this book.  It’s pretty darn good.

So today I’m working on a story that originally started out as a short story, but quickly turned itself into a short novel.  No, that’s not true.  It started as a scrap picture from a high school dance my sister went to several years ago.  I carried the tale around in my head for a while, but never got around to actually writing it down. It doesn’t end well.  I figured for a first novel I might go with something a little more traditional, and then work up to this one.  That is if you call a story about Elves, Sasquatch, and gypsies typical.  (Which I do.)

Once I sat down to start writing this one, though, it decided all on its own that it wanted to be a longer story.  So I’m thinking, once finished, it could be one of those nice 200-250 pg novels you pick up and read through in a couple of days.  But we’ll see.  My plans for length often end up far short of the finished product.

So today when I was writing it I started to do some research for the thing the mystical woman could give to the troubled teen, to help him out along the way.  But it needed to be symbolic, even if you never bothered to look up the symbolism.  Well, after searching for a while and not finding anything, I finally stumbled across a whole new angle for my mystic.  It’s good, and I like it, but once again I have the same problem staring me in the face: how much is too much to reveal?

On the one hand, I write Young Adult Fiction.  Younger readers are not stupid, by any means, but they’re definitely not as well versed in mythology and ancient literature.  So I could afford to be a bit more obvious, and assume that while some of the clues will be missed, the easier ones will be picked up on.

On the other hand, I’m the kind of writer who never likes to give anything away.  I don’t like to tell you what I’m working on while I’m working on it (you’ll notice I gave very few details here), and I don’t want the layering to be too obvious.  Obvious is easy.  Better to be too deep than to be too easy.  (Remember this girls, it will be on the final exam!)

Then again, if it’s only going to be a 200 page book, how much subterfuge do I really need?  Especially when the mystic isn’t the point of the story, the kid is.  She’s more of a secondary character.  So I guess I could afford to be a little more open, right?  Probably.  Besides, it isn’t like the mythology I’m referencing is one of the most commonly used ones, so I’ll probably be fine.  Then again, I’ll let you know whenever I get around to the second draft.  As Hemingway once so eloquently put it: The first draft of anything is s***.

So do you love Young Adult Fiction like I do? Do you like books that make you think? Then if you haven’t checked out anything by Neal Shusterman, you’re missing out. I’ve read 5 or more of his books so far, and haven’t found one I didn’t love!
This one is called Unwind, the basic concept is this: the second American Civil War was fought about one thing – the right to choose. In the end it was decided that from conception to age 13, no one could touch a life. Then, from 13 – 18, your parents can choose to have you “Unwound”, so that you’re chopped up into little pieces, and transplanted into other people. That way life goes on, right? Following the stories of three very different teens, Shusterman finds an ingenious way to address the issue from different perspectives, letting you, the reader decide for yourself.
Want to learn more? Check it out here…