real-talk YA book reviews

Monthly Archives: September 2014

Here it is, folks. Another TBR post.

The last time I formalized a list of to-be-reads was back in March, but I’m happy to say that I’ve successfully read– and enjoyed!– all but one of those. So, along with that straggler, Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, here are four new additions to the queue this fall.

1.) Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. Westerfeld’s Uglies series was one of the absolute staples of my tween readerhood, and a major gateway to the dystopia scene. I know he’s been writing since then, but somehow he hasn’t been in my life for a long while. Afterworlds is getting a whole lot of hype, though, and it sounds like it might be just the thing to reunite us. It’s a rather sprawling novel that tells a duel story: a young woman debuting as a published novelist, and the girl who stars in her book. Their stories interweave and complement each other and it’s supposed to be really graceful and immersive and I want it.

2.) Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger. Steampunk. Steampunk. STEAMPUNK. STEAMPUNK. STEAMPUNK. STEAMPUNK.

Okay, confession, I haven’t actually read any steampunk. But I have spent a LOT of time looking at steampunk-style fashion. And I basically love it so much that my body could explode into a cloud of rainbow butterflies, and each individual butterfly would be weeping tears of pure light, and each tear would have a single glitter gleaming in the radiant sun of my love for steampunk. So why I have not officially read steampunk fiction, I just don’t know.

Etiquette & Espionage is set at a boarding school, and it’s becoming almost cliché for book bloggers to love boarding school books, but what’s not to love? I’m a tiny bit nervous because this is a “girl’s parents want her to sew and wear dresses but girl isn’t like other girls and rebels” story, and that’s a formula I’m getting a little bored with, to be honest. But there’s enough in this one’s favor that I want to give it a try. If it doesn’t work out, tumblr has supplied me with this list of other steampunk possibilities! (Granted, those were chosen based on cover aesthetics, but I’m sure at least some of them are good.)

3.) Something by David Sedaris. I don’t know what, I just know I’ve been interested in creative nonfiction lately, and I’ve heard that David Sedaris has a dry, witty sense of humor, which is right up my alley. I started flipping through Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls at a bookstore the other day (actually it was the Strand in NYC, which is literally paradise, but that’s another story), but there seemed to be a lot of scary medical stories in there, which I can’t stomach to save my life. So possibly not the best choice for me, although I love owls.

4.) Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman. This is the one I’m least positive I’m going to read, but I’ve joined the massive following of the Netflix series, and it would be cool to hear the true story in Kerman’s own words. Plus, like I said, I want to read more creative nonfiction. We’ll see.

I’m currently reading The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, and hopefully I’ll have it finished and ready to discuss next week. It’s a pretty unique book, so stay tuned. What to-reads are banging around your vague consciousness? Take it to the comments.


Hey there, fellow judges!

You may recall that I’ve been running a flash fiction contest to give away a 50% discount to Scrivener, a very rad writing program. Tonight, I’m more than pleased to announce to you your lovely champion. Drumroll please!

The winner is Em, with a lovely little story titled “The Women’s Studies Major’s Break-Up Story”.

As promised, Em will be receiving a code for 50% off her download of Scrivener, for added ease and organization on her continuing path of literary genius. Also as promised, her story will now be shared with all of you!

P.S.: If you like Em’s story, which I think you will, you can follow Em’s real-life adventures over at her highly entertaining blog, Tales from Hipster College.

Without further ado, I give you: “The Women’s Studies Major’s Break-Up Story”.


     Tuesday night wasn’t a busy night at campus pub, but the Women’s Studies major needed to relieve her heavy heart and her roommate’s friend, the English major’s, poetry course was canceled. You can guess who dragged whom to the student-run restaurant.

     “So,” the Women’s Studies major said to her friend for the evening. “You wanna know about the lovely, radiant, thoughtful, red-head that shall forever be known as ‘that beautiful-piece-of-scum.’”

     “Well, when you put it that way…”

      The Women’s Studies major sighed. “How far back should I go?”

      The English major shrugged. “Well, where did—”

     “Other-Prom.” She continued. “We met at Other-Prom, this dance for LGBTQ teens in Columbus. I was wearing this dressy-vest and black slacks and she was wearing this flow-y, glittery dress that could have slid off her body like cream. And her curly red hair was all over the place. You know what we had in common?”

      “You were both gay and single?”

      “Well, duh,” The Women’s Studies major grinned. “No, we were both wearing red converse sneakers. And we both noticed. And we were both Seniors at our respective high schools. And we both knew how to swing-dance.”

     “I didn’t know you danced!” The English major piped cheerfully.

     “Actually, I didn’t, but I was strong enough to lift her over my head and around my body and what have you. People thought we were the shit: instant favorites. We were joined at the hip all evening.” The Women’s Studies major took a sip of her illegal pint. “At the end of the night, she found a sharp-y and wrote her phone number and Facebook name on the bottom of my shoe. I was so busy flirting that I hardly noticed. And high. I could’ve been high.” The English major giggled. The Women’s Studies major didn’t care. “Three dates later we were ‘official’, or as ‘official’ as the close-minded community we lived in would allow. We graduated from our respective high schools. Attended each other’s grad parties. Went out. Snap chatted. Sexted, but you don’t know that. We were regulars at the sushi place down the street from me. Did you hear that? Regulars at a sushi place. Good God, I really changed for her. I mean, I was nice to people. I was even bubbly. I don’t know what the fuck she did to me, but I was a nice person to be around. I wore those fuck’n converses everywhere; so did she.”

      “So then college?” The English major assumed out aloud.

      “I’m gett’n there!” The Women’s Studies major insisted. “So, then, college. She was going to Cincinnati for statistics and I was going to this lovely hipster college for, what? I didn’t even know. Point is, neither of us wanted to call off the relationship because we thought we were in love. First love, you could say. She was patient with me and our personalities did that whole yin-yang deal; it worked. We said we’d get through college, see each other as often as we could, and then we’d be together again in a quick and easy four years. And so we split off.”

      “Like cells in mitosis,” the English major mused.

     “Quit being poetic.” The women’s-studies major playfully retorted. “At first: constant communication. I mean, all the time. Texting, phone calls, the works. Saw her at Thanksgiving break,” she paused. “For about an hour.” The Women’s Studies major took another sip of her almost drowned pint. “I visited her for spring break Freshman year, and it was like the time and distance wasn’t a problem. We hit it off great. Her friends loved me. She still loved me.”

     “Oh,” the English major sighed.

      “With or without her, I wore those fucking converses around all the fucking time, trying to feel close to her on this campus full of dykes, pardon my French.”


     “Lots of lesbians here, you know, but I didn’t go for any of ’em in the past two years I’ve been here. I’ve been waiting out for my lovely lady, who kept promising me that she’d come. I’m the one who believed her.” She sighed. “For summer break, that prick got an internship in Louisville; I visited her for a weekend. After that, she promised me, promised me, that she’d visit this year.” The Women’s Studies major ordered another pint; fake ID to the rescue. She continued. “You know how many fucking dates I passed up because I thought she’d come see me? I did the solo-lesbian gig at a school where much of the student body is gay. You know how shitty that feels?”

      “I’m sorry,” the English major frowned sympathetically.

     “And, to no one’s surprise but my own, she never came. That lying bitch never called it off either; always kept me hanging. So you know what I did on our ‘two year’ anniversary?” The second pint came.

      “What’d ya do?”

      The Women’s Studies major grinned. “I walked my ass down to the mailroom, barefoot, boxed up those red converse sneakers, and sent them on their way to Cincinnati. I was done. Two years after that fucking prom, I freed myself.” She smiled. “I am a free woman, I’m 20 years old,”

      “Don’t say that too loudly,” the English major advised, eyeing the beer.

     “We gotta live while we’re young! We can’t go wasting our time with people who don’t love us! Two years of my college life are gone, I won’t get ’em back, and now I’m gonna enjoy myself, damnit! Here’s to singlehood!” The Women’s Studies major raised her new pint just as a thin, red-headed woman walked in the door of the pub, carrying a pair of worn, red converse sneakers. The English major first glanced at the red shoes in her grasp. Then the red shoes on the woman’s feet. Then at the Women’s Studies major. The Women’s Studies major dropped her pint.