The last week of Camp NaNoWriMo has come and gone. Did you beat your word goal?
Daily Word Count: Day 22: 5,018
Day 23: 5,196
Day 24: 0
Day 25: 0
Day 26: 0
Day 27: 0
Day 28: 0
Week four total: 10,214
Overall total: 50,251
Technically, there are still two days left of Camp. So, there’s still sometime to boost your word count a little further.
I aimed to finish by the 24 of April because I got my wisdom teeth that day. Fortunately, I was able to stay focused and write the last 10k words of my story in two days.
My daily word count is zero after that due to recovery. I’ve been lying on the couch watching TV and playing video games for the past four days straight. I’m just starting to eat regular food again… kind of.
Normally, I would be trying to reach higher than 50k, but I think I’m all done. My novel wasn’t going where I wanted it to go anyway.
Far from being precious, the format proves perfect for accurately capturing the sweet histrionics and intimate intricacies of teenage girls. Grownups (and even teenage boys) might feel as if they’ve intercepted a raw feed from Girl Secret Headquarters, as the book’s three protagonists–identified by their screen names “SnowAngel,” “zoegirl,” and “mad maddie”–tough their way through a rough-and-tumble time in high school. Conversations range from the predictable (clothes, the delicate high-school popularity ecosystem, boys, boys in French class, boys in Old Navy commercials, etc.) to the the jarringly explicit (the girls discuss female ejaculation: “some girls really do, tho. i read it in our bodies, ourselves”) and the unintentionally hilarious (Maddie’s IM reduction of the Christian poem “Footprints”–“oh, no, my son. no, no, no. i was carrying u, don’t u c?”).
But Myracle’s triumph in ttyl comes in leveraging the language-stretching idiom of e-mail, text messaging, and IM. Reaching to express themselves, the girls communicate almost as much through punctuation and syntactical quirks as with words: “SnowAngel: ‘cuz–drumroll, please–ROB TYLER is in my french class!!! *breathes deeply, with hand to throbbing bosom* on friday we have to do “une dialogue” together. i get to ask for a bite of his hot dog.'”
TTYL was published way back in 2004. I remember reading it back then and thinking the book was amazing. This book is written in IM messages. I used to be on the computer nearly 24/7 chatting with my friends through AIM, so this book was right up my alley.
I was only about 11 or 12 when I read the book and the characters are 15 and 16. Upon reading the book now I realized just how much went over my head the first time I read it.
I loved the characters, I loved the IM format, I loved the drama of it all. I would have given that book five stars ten years ago after reading. Now? Not so much.
The concept of the IM format is great and the story is told really well from the three female protagonists gossiping to one another. The girls themselves–Zoe, Angela, and Maddie–are so different from each other. Zoe is the brains of the group. She always does well in school and never does too much to get herself into trouble. Angela is the princess. She’s always talking about boys, clothes, and make-up. Meanwhile, Maddie is the risk-taker. She’s blunt and sarcastic.
This book goes through the beginning of their sophomore year at school. Zoe finds herself involved with a teacher when he hits on her, Maddie gets into the wrong crowd of friends, and Angela has boy troubles. Typical teenager stuff, right?
Yeah, but some of the things that happen to them just seem unrealistic to me. Plus, all three girls were whiny and very immature. This is a dirty book–something that went over my head when I read it the first time a few years ago. That being said, it just made me have a love/hate relationship with the girls. If I can’t relate to the characters, then that’s a problem.
Overall, the book did tackle real-life high school problems. Hanging out with the wrong crowd of kids, finding and keeping a boyfriend, and just trying to stick together with your best friends. In that sense, it was good because I think most–if not all–teenagers go through that.
TTYL by Lauren Myracle gets 3 out of 5 stars.
“it’s funny how some things r easier to talk about over the computer, isn’t it?” –Lauren Myracle, TTYL
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Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
Written in beautiful prose, Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming is a memoir. Woodson describes her life from the moment she was born and beyond in free verse.
We get a closer look at her life, the ups and downs, the special moments and the not so special moments. We follow her as she moves from one place to another, the relationship between her and her family is uncanny.
Woodson was very observant as a young girl and learned a lot from her family and the world around her. She makes a big point to mention that she’s black, as is basically stated in the title, and how she lived in the era where black people were fighting for their own rights.
There is so much love and hate in this story and so much history behind it all. We’re not just learning about Woodson’s childhood, but we’re also learning a little bit about the world in 1963.
I would highly recommend reading this novel to anyone. It’s quick, beautifully written, and teaches us a lot. I even had a hard time picking a favorite quote for this one and ended up going with one of the Haikus in the story.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson gets 5 out of 5 stars.
“Even the silence
has a story to tell you.
Just listen. Listen.”
–Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming
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Puck Dupree moved in with her sister after spending over a year trapped in the form of a fox. She had hoped to move on with a normal teenage life; however, trouble seems to have followed her. The Council wants her to partner with a mage or forfeit her life, a friend of hers has a stalker who may or may not be trying to destroy her, and a boy at school keeps watching her. If only she could decide if he wants to kiss her or kill her.
Puck’s Choice is about a high school girl learning to deal with normal, teenage, human things while at the same time coping with the fact that she’s a shifter. Puck doesn’t seem to mind that she’s a shifter, except she has a few bad memories because of it; her parents and her ex-boyfriend.
Throughout the novel, she’s trying to deal with memories from her past that haunt her as well as deal with present issues; like falling in love.
I love the characters in this novel. The thought of humans changing into animals intrigues me. Plus the fact that no one knows who’s human and who’s not. I think that’s what made the ending so exciting for me.
My only complaint is that the summary was kind of misleading. The Council doesn’t really come to play and get explained until the very end of the book and the boy at school only watches her for a chapter or two before they become good friends.
I have to admit as I read the novel I kept thinking it was four stars. However, when I read the ending I decided on five stars because everything was neatly tied up with a bow. I finally understood the significance of the title, we understood more about the Council, and even some of the characters.
Puck’s Choice by Skye Hegyes gets 5 out of 5 stars.
“I’m alive if that counts for anything.” –Skye Hegyes, Puck’s Choice
Be sure to check out my Goodreads page! Be sure to check out Skye’s blog!
Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the “Fun Home.” It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.
Fun Home is a memoir told in the form of a graphic novel. When I first picked up the book, I wondered why in the world Alison Bechdel decided to tell her story through that form. After reading the novel, I realized just exactly what they mean when they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Through the pictures, narration, and little dialogue, we see the true relationship Bechdel had with her late father. Throughout reading the book you’re left wondering, “was her father a good father or a bad one?”
After he dies, Bechdel learns a lot about her father. She realizes just what kind of a man he was and she learns all sorts of secrets about his life. She discovers she was like her father in many ways and as she discovers who he was, she learns a little bit about herself.
The pictures in the graphic novel are dull in color and it’s very rare any member of the family is smiling. It goes to show just how much of a “fun home” it was. I thought it was odd at first, but upon realizing what the characters were like, the pictures were really a great fit to the story. I think the story would be told better as a graphic novel rather than if it was told as a novel.
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel gets 4 out of 5 stars.
“Grief takes many forms, including the absence of grief.” –Alison Bechdel, Fun Home
Postcard-perfect Jar Island is home to charming tourist shops, pristine beaches, amazing oceanfront homes; and three girls secretly plotting revenge.
KAT is sick and tired of being bullied by her former best friend.
LILLIA has always looked out for her little sister, so when she discovers that one of her guy friends has been secretly hooking up with her, she’s going to put a stop to it.
MARY is perpetually haunted by a traumatic event from years past, and the boy who’s responsible has yet to get what’s coming to him.
None of the girls can act on their revenge fantasies alone without being suspected. But together anything is possible.
With an alliance in place, there will be no more, I wish I’d said…; or, If I could go back and do things differently… These girls will show Jar Island that revenge is a dish best enjoyed together.
I was originally going to review this book as a series (this is the first book of a trilogy), but decided against it so I can look at each book individually.
Burn For Burn is co-authored by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. I have heard of both these authors and their books are on my TBR list, but this was my first taste at what their writing is like.
I have a love/hate relationship with this book. Every time I picked up the book to read a few chapters, I only had complaints about it. Yet, I couldn’t put the book down; I read it in two days.
I didn’t love the three main girls who are out for revenge. The characters make or break the book and since I couldn’t find any interest in these girls, that was a deal-breaker for me. All three of them talk like the stereotypical “dumb blonde” adding the word “like” unnecessarily in the middle of their sentences. It made the girls seem annoying to me.
On the other hand, that kind of voice is unique and really showed the personalities of the girls. The novel is told in three different POVs, one for each girl and each POV is in first person. In that case, the voice was well done and makes sense.
Do you see why I have a love/hate relationship with the book now?
The characters are seniors in high school, which makes them about 17/18-years-old. For their age, their revenge tactics were kind of weak. Switching sunscreen with a different lotion to make the boy’s skin burn and break out isn’t exactly what I had in mind for high schoolers to do… middle school maybe, but not high school.
Then drugs get involved and the book becomes predictable–someone is going to get seriously hurt or even die.
And that’s how the book ends. You don’t know the result or consequences of the drugging. The girls panic for the last chapter and that’s all she wrote.
I guess we’ll have to read the next to book to figure out what happens.
Burn For Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian gets 3 out of 5 stars.
“It’s funny. I don’t think boys even know how to hold a grudge.” –Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian, Burn For Burn
Ruth Ozeki’s mesmerizing debut novel has captivated readers and reviewers worldwide. When documentarian Jane Takagi-Little finally lands a job producing a Japanese television show that just happens to be sponsored by an American meat-exporting business, she uncovers some unsavory truths about love, fertility, and a dangerous hormone called DES. Soon she will also cross paths with Akiko Ueno, a beleaguered Japanese housewife struggling to escape her overbearing husband.
To be honest, the summary makes the novel sound better than I think it really is. I had a tough time reading through it.
At 361-pages, there are 12 chapters. Each chapter bounces back and forth between the characters’ point of views. There are three different female characters we follow, but one character is only followed two or three times throughout the book. The other two bounce back and forth; one being in first person, the other being written in third person. Sounds confusing? It is.
We follow Jane Takagi-Little through her journey of “meats” where she documents for a Japanese television show. Through this, she meets a woman named Akiko Ueno and discovers she is having problems at home with her husband. Jane also meets other women and discovers they have problems of their own due to the meat industry. Jane herself ends up running into a bit of trouble.
A huge theme of this novel is feminism. We follow most of the female characters and the men in the book aren’t exactly “women-friendly.” The point of the Japanese TV show is to have the “perfect” family with “attractive” wives.
I couldn’t attach myself to most of the characters. I didn’t create that character-reader bond with any of them. I felt a little sorry for Akiko, but I think that was mostly because that poor woman just could not get a break. Ruth Ozeki really made that character suffer and didn’t let up one bit. The characters drive the story and if I don’t think the characters are likable, then I’m not going to enjoy the plot.
My Year Of Meats by Ruth L. Ozeki gets 2 out of 5 stars.
Fed on a media diet of really bad news, we live in a perpetual state of repressed panic. We are paralyzed by bad knowledge, from which the only escape is playing dumb. Ignorance becomes empowering because it enables people to live. Stupidity becomes proactive, a political statement. Our collective norm. –Ruth L. Ozeki, My Year Of Meats
Doomed to – or blessed with – eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing than it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.
This book, being about 135 pages, is a quick-read and fast-paced. I wish the story was a bit longer so I could read more, but I think it’s perfect the way it is. Any more detail and I think the story wouldn’t be telling itself and would be ruined. However, I do think that the relationship between Winnie and some of the Tuck family members could have been developed a little more.
This was my first time reading it since fifth grade, but I still enjoyed it all the same. The book is about family, secrets, and life and death. It’s about protecting who you love and selflessness. It is–more or less–a tragic love story.
The story hits home with anyone who has feelings; especially the ending.
“‘Life. Moving, growing, changing, never the same two minutes together.'” –Tuck, Tuck Everlasting
Sylvia Plath’s shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity.
Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.
I had to read this book for my American Women Novelists class. Upon reading the summary of the book I thought it sounded pretty interesting. I’ve heard of the author before, Sylvia Plath, but I never looked into her to pick up one of her books. In fact, this is her only novel. Everything else she published were poems and things like that.
I enjoy reading books about “insanity” because it has a certain thriller edge to it. Well… the book was not what I expected to say the least. I still enjoyed it, though. Halfway through the book I found myself wondering, “is there going to be a happy ending for this protagonist?”
The novel is an autobiographical work of fiction. Sylvia Plath herself went through depression and seemingly all the stages her main character did. I did a little research on Sylvia Plath for my class and discovered she committed suicide at the young age of 31. After finding that out, I had to ask myself again… will the book have a happy ending?
I’m not going to say anymore due to spoilers, but I will say I do recommend the book. It’s a quick read at 244 pages so it can be fast-paced at some times. Yet, it seemed to go by so slow (in a good way).
“The more hopeless you were, the further away they hid you.” –Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Four Clans of wild cats have shared the forest for generations, thriving in their territories. But tensions are running high, and ThunderClan must assert its strength or risk falling prey to its power-hungry neighbors.
Into this time of uncertainty, a kit is born. A prophecy foretells that Bluekit will be as strong as fire, destined to blaze through the ranks of her Clan. But with this prophecy comes the foreshadowing of her destruction by the one enemy she cannot outrun.
As Bluekit gains power and eventually earns her leader name, Bluestar, she fights to protect her Clan. But secrets from the past threaten to surface–secrets that may destroy ThunderClan . . . and Bluestar.
If you’ve read the Warriors series by Erin Hunter, you will know that Bluestar’s Prophecy is a special edition book; it is not part of any main series. The first series revolves around a certain cat with Bluestar as the leader of ThunderClan. Bluestar’s Prophecy revolves around Bluestar as the main character; it’s kind of like her biography. The story starts from when she first opens her eyes as a kit and ends not too long after she becomes leader.
All Warriors books are sad for their own reasons, but I have to say that this book is the saddest (so far that I’ve read). Bluestar had many struggles in her life when it came to her family, when it came to mating, and when it came figuring out what was best for her Clan.
I was kind of surprised Erin Hunter gave Bluestar such a tragic back story, but then again that’s what made Buestar who is she. You know, character development and all that stuff.
Despite it’s depressing moments, it was a good book overall. If you have yet to read it (or, if you’ve yet to read the Warriors series), I highly recommend it. It’s in the middle-grade section and I started reading the series when it first came out when I was 11-years-old. I’m 21 now and books are still coming out… I have a lot of catching up to do.
“‘Is that hope? I will never lose sight of it, I promise.'” –Bluefur, Bluestar’s Prophecy
Harry is waiting in Privet Drive. The Order of the Phoenix is coming to escort him safely away without Voldemort and his supporters knowing – if they can. But what will Harry do then? How can he fulfill the momentous and seemingly impossible task that Professor Dumbledore has left him?
The epic finale to an epic series.
I can’t begin to explain the amount of feels I have for this book; for this series. I am way behind on the times when it comes to reading this series and finally read it because I needed to read it for school. I read the first six books within a couple of months, but it took me a little while to read the last one.
I think maybe it was because I knew how it ended (according to the movie) and I didn’t want it to end. There are so many things in the books that did not happen in the movies, the books made me appreciate the Harry Potter world so much more. I don’t know why I have never read the books before.
However, I finally decided to read the last novel and I cried through half of it. Most were sad tears with a few characters dying, but some were happy tears.
Overall, I am satisfied with the ending of the novel, but like many others, I want more. I’m sad that the series ended and despite how different the movies are, I just want to sit on the couch all day and marathon all eight movies.
“‘Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?'” –Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Walt Disney is an American hero–the creator of Mickey Mouse, and a man who changed the face of American culture. After years of research, with the full cooperation of the Disney family and access to private papers and letters, Bob Thomas produced the definitive biography of the man behind the legend–the unschooled cartoonist from Kansas City who went bankrupt on his first movie venture but became the genius who produced unmatched works of animation. Complete with a rare collection of photographs, Bob Thomas’ biography is a fascinating and inspirational work that captures the spirit of Walt Disney.
I bought this book when l found a cute store called The Writers Stop at Disney. I discovered a lot of brand new things about Walt Disney down there so l decided to buy his biography to learn some more.
Recently, l watched the movie “Saving Mr. Banks” with my sister and parents and that got me in the mood to finally read the biography.
The book is 360 pages and it’s very detailed. Bob Thomas, the author, did a great job explaining Walt Disney’s life. Apparently the author has written many other biographies. So even if Walt Disney isn’t your kind of guy, l would look up who else Bob Thomas wrote about.
“Imagination is an intuitive thing; I think it’s something you’re born with. But it has to be developed.” –Walt Disney, from “Walt Disney: An American Original”
You’ve never read a book like The Reason I Jump. Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.
Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?” (Naoki’s answer: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”) With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights—into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory—are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again.
In his introduction, bestselling novelist David Mitchell writes that Naoki’s words allowed him to feel, for the first time, as if his own autistic child was explaining what was happening in his mind. “It is no exaggeration to say that The Reason I Jump allowed me to round a corner in our relationship.” This translation was a labor of love by David and his wife, KA Yoshida, so they’d be able to share that feeling with friends, the wider autism community, and beyond. Naoki’s book, in its beauty, truthfulness, and simplicity, is a gift to be shared.
This book is a quick read of being a mere 135 pages. I read it in just a couple of hours. The topic is gentle, but can be sensitive to some. Being a special education teacher this book jumped out at me when I first heard of it. My co-worker actually recommended it to me. My sister, also a special education teacher, was the one who gave it to me not knowing I wanted it.
Told through an “interview” style, the reader gets a good insight on what it’s like to be autistic. Naoki Higashida explains to us how difficult it is to be autistic and how confusing it is. However, he also explains the good things about being autistic as well. “Normal” people just don’t see the world the same way an autistic person does.
It explained a lot to me because I could relate most of the questions to the kids at my work. For example, why do they spin so much? Or, why are they so fascinated with numbers? If you want to know the answers, I suggest you read the book. It’s very informative.
“To give the short version, I’ve learned that every human being, with or without disabilities, needs to strive to do their best, and by striving for happiness you will arrive at happiness.” –Naoki Higashida, The Reason I Jump
I sat down this morning at my computer and wrote another 3,004 words for my NaNo. My current word count is 34,038 which makes me ahead of about 700 words or so.
I’m writing a collection of short stories (really short… each is about 1,000 words long). I’ve been using different prompts I find in books and on the Internet. A few prompts were really good and I can see them becoming novels. Maybe they will some day. Some of the prompts… well, you can tell I was just trying to get the words down.
This morning, instead of doing a prompt I wrote a quick scene with George and Lilah from my novel Detective Florence. This scene has nothing to do with the novel at hand. In fact, it’s an idea for an upcoming two/three-book series for the characters. I always imagined having a case in each novel that surround one larger case that takes two or three books to solve. I have a few cases in mind which means that so far George and Lilah are going to be in at least four different series (minimum eight books, maximum 12 books… and ideas are still coming).
The scene I wrote this morning is from one of those cases. By doing that, I came up with so many more ideas for that case. I planned on that being the fourth case in the series, but I may end up writing it as the second one. We’ll see how it turns out.
Because, you know… I still have to finish up the first case which will probably be two novels. I planned on a trilogy, but George and Lilah didn’t want to work on the case for that long. I have to write the third book, but it will most likely tag onto the second book, which is in the middle of the edits.
Once NaNo is over, George and Lilah are going to get my undivided attention. So I think it helped that I was able to write a quick scene with the two of them this morning.
I edited 50 pages today. That’s a lot (for me) in one day. I did ten pages at a time taking breaks in between. These breaks consisted of me reading or playing my new Ninja Turtles video game. Or…chasing my real turtle, cat, and dog. I had all three of them in my office with me wanting to play each time l sat down to edit. They slept when l was on my own break. They’re good helpers, aren’t they?
I also worked a bit on my Popular Fiction contest for Writer’s Digest today. The deadline is the 15th, so l have to get going on that. I decided to write a short story based off of my Short Short Sunday #18. I revised and edited what l wrote so far and figured out some characters and such. Tomorrow l’ll have to actually write it and see how that turns out.
Tomorrow is also the first day of school, so l’m not sure if l’m going to be able to get as much editing done. It’s only the first day, so l’m not going to have a mountain of homework, but l still have to keep checking on the website. I hope to get a lot done, though.