Saturday, December 10, 2011

An Attempt at a Short Story

I was looking through some old files and I stumbled across a short story that I had started for a creative writing class a few years back. Writing has been something I have wanted to do since I was young. However, I haven't really shared any of my writing samples. As a writer, this is something that needs to be done. So here is the start of my short story. If you have a few minutes to read this, I would appreciate any feedback (positive or negative). Thanks!
Short Story (unfinished)

The long burgundy curtain fluttered in the wind as a small figure ran across the room and plopped down at the window seat. Gigantic wooden bookshelves lined the walls and an oversized mahogany desk protruded out of the corner next to the window. Compared to the largeness of the room, Reed Wright seemed a miniature doll that might go unnoticed by an onlooker.

A mess of auburn ringlets cascaded across his pale forehead as his brilliant blue eyes scanned his surroundings. The curious countenance of the child had a hint of sadness as though there was a story behind them. His cheeks were flushed from a recent rush of adrenaline. Under the cherubic face, his mismatched wardrobe looked like he had dressed himself, an orange and blue stripped polo accompanied with bright red shirts. His thin legs and bare feet crossed as he sat looking around.

The sound of a slow tapping neared the room and Reed, fearing being found, pulled the curtain tightly around his little body. A minute later a sleek dark creature came sauntering into the room. Shadow, the family black lab, gazed around lazily, only half seeking his hider. The child stirred slightly behind the curtain and the dog’s ears perked up. He gave a small “ruff” which seemed to echo around the large library, making Reed giggle behind the curtain as their game came to an end.

Continuing to giggle, Reed jumped down from his perch and threw his arms around the dog. Shadow turned his head and licked the boy’s cheek, causing the child to shriek in delight. Letting go of his grip on the dog, Reed began to run around the room and Shadow followed. Soon the room was filled with sounds of barking and shrilling shrieks mixed with laughter. The two companions were in a world of their own, nothing could ruin their fun.

Apology for Absence

I want to apologize for my absence these past couple months. I have been unable to blog lately because I started a new teaching job. Due to working overtime, I have not been able to read any new books other than those sent to me from VOYA for review (which I cannot post on the blog). Once my life slows down again, I hope to start this blog back up. I'd much rather spend time reading new YA novels, but alas, I am stuck grading papers and writing lesson plans. Oh, joy...

Anyway, I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! This holiday season, may you find all the books you wished for under your tree.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: The Probability of Miracles

Teaser Tuesday is a wonderful meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.  All you have to do is provide two teaser sentences from your current read, avoid spoilers and include the title and author.

I posted The Probability of Miracles in my Cover Crazy post a couple weeks ago. Today I discovered the first chapter of Wendy Wunder's The Probability of Miracles. Instead of posting a passage, I thought I would post the entire chapter. 
The Probability of Miracles - Chapter 1

Interested? I know I am!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

mara dyer
Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Date Published: September 27th, 2011
Pages: 450

Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
She's wrong.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is one of the most appealing, mystifying, sinister books I have ever read. It seized my imagination from the start, “The ornate script on the board twisted in the candlelight, making the letters and numbers dance in my head,” (1). Michelle Hodkin excellent storytelling grabs the reader by the mind and doesn’t let go until the last page. My stomach hurt with anticipation.

The characters were so well developed. Mara is obviously plagued with emotional baggage after a traumatic event. However, at times I feel she could open up a little more. At the same time, I couldn’t even imagine the difficulty in trying to deal with her chilling past. Aside from the occasional intransigent moments, Mara is very witty. Although, she made enemies quickly at her new school, she didn’t deserve the harsh reputation that she received. I really liked her friend, Jamie. He definitely reminded me of some of my guy friends back in high school. Jamie was there for Mara even though he didn’t agree with her at times. Noah Shaw was totally swoonworthy. At first, he does come off a little as an arrogant prick, but throughout the story he becomes more and more irresistible. Extremely smart, incredibly good-looking, beautiful British accent…enough said.

The writing is so fluid and really sets a quick pace. I flew through the 450 pages of the book because it was well written and the story was completely enthralling. Here is one of my favorite lines, “I twisted my arm to curl him behind me and he unfolded there, the two of us snuggled like quotation marks in his room full of words,” (375). Sigh. Another element of the book that I thought was really well done is the cover. When I first saw the picture of the female being held by the male underwater, I was definitely intrigued. It is breath-taking and mysterious.

This was definitely one of my favorite reads of the summer. However, I do have to admit I was not really that thrilled about the ending. Hodkin throws in a twist that leaves the reader stunned and obviously left open for another book. It seems like every book I read is a series. It is definitely a good marketing on the part of the publisher, because I will by the second book since I loved almost every part of this one. But, come on! Can’t a story stand alone? Ending aside, I absolutely loved it. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is a MUST-READ for all readers who enjoy a little bit of love, a little bit of humor, and a lot of suspense!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

the future of usThe Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Release Date: November 21st, 2011
Razorbill, 309 pages

It's 1996, and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet.
Emma just got her first computer and an America Online CD-ROM.
Josh is her best friend. They power up and log on--and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future.
Everybody wonders what their Destiny will be. Josh and Emma are about to find out.

This is such an awesome idea for a book. I remember the days when my friends and I would go on AOL, when (to us) the internet was this new, awesome, mysterious thing. Being able to easily connect with people from all over the world was such a great concept. Then when Facebook came around, it brought whole new possibilities concerning social networking. I cannot wait to get my hands on this book!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Review: S’mores Cupcake from One World Cafe

one world cafe
Cupcake: S’mores
Company: One World Café
Location:  Baltimore, MD
Website: One World Café

The other day I went to Baltimore to visit some old college friends. Everyone in the group (except for myself) is either vegetarian or vegan, so naturally we went to a vegetarian/vegan restaurant, One World Café. On the corner of West University Parkway and Canterbury Road (near John Hopkins University), this cozy café offers no only coffee, tea, and baked goods, but also serves great food and has a full bar. I definitely recommend this café if you in want of really good vegetarian/vegan food.

When it was time for dessert, I scanned the menu and decided to go with the s’mores cupcake. The café did offer vegan cupcakes, but I guess I had my mind set on something with chocolate. I am a huge s’morSmores cupcakees fan. When the waitress brought out the cupcake, I was very impressed with the appearance. The plate was drizzled with chocolate syrup and the vanilla cupcake with chocolate icing was topped with marshmallows, graham crackers, and more chocolate syrup. It definitely looked very appealing. However, when I took a bite, my hopes were a little crushed. The cake part was somewhat dry. It didn’t really taste that fresh. The flavor was just okay—an average vanilla cake. The icing was not that impressive either. I felt that it was too thick. It was more like a fudge. When I am eating a cupcake, I prefer a light and fluffy icing, rather than something so heavy. Also, the icing was very sweet and very chocolaty—it was almost too much.

Overall, I probably would not go back to get cupcake from One World Café (although, I am curious about the vegan cupcakes). It was the worst cupcake I’ve ever had, but it was very far from the best.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Title: Beauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray
Publisher: Scholastic
Date Published: May 24th, 2011
Pages: 390

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program--or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan--or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up? (GoodReads)

I’m sure everyone has thought about the answer to the question, “What would you do if stranded on a [supposedly] deserted island?” Well, Libba Bray has twisted this scenario around to bring her readers a hilarious and engaging story about teenage beauty pageant contestants stranded on a deserted island (or so they thought) after a disastrous plane crash. Upon hearing the premise of this novel, I knew I had to read it! Definitely sounds a little like a female version of Lord of the Flies meets reality television.

Beauty Queens reads as though it is a television show, with a “word from your sponsor” to commercial breaks in-between chapters. This unique format allows the readers to almost feel as though they are sitting on the couch watching the unfolding events, rather than reading. Unlike regular commercials, however, the reader won’t want to turn the channel, because each break provides elements of satire that are congruent with the rest of the story.

Like a television show, this book has a whole cast of characters. There is no one protagonist in this case. Bray uses a third person omniscient narration in order to cover all aspects of the Teen Dreamers.  A cool feature she added was the “Miss Teen Dream Fun Fact Page” scattered throughout the book, which provided a little background information about the surviving Teen Dreamers. This helps readers keep track of everyone involved.  At the same time, Bray expertly gives a voice to each character, separating their personal characteristics. The beauty queens are not annoying and dumb, as they were initially presented. One of the beauty queens, Mary Lou (Miss Nebraska), points out, “Maybe girls need an island to find themselves. Maybe they need a place where no one’s watching them so they can be who they really are” (177). Without the pressure of looking pretty and being judged, the girls let down their guard and can just be themselves. They discover how diminishing the whole beauty act is for not just themselves, but all females.

Bray uses satire to humorously point out aspects of our culture. For example, “Lady ‘Stache Off” is a multi-use product that not only removes hair, but also moisturizes, self-tans, and sanitizes toilets. The slogan is “Lady ‘Stash Off. Because there’s nothing wrong with you...that can’t be fixed” (37). Themes such as sexism and race are also pretty heavy throughout the book. Many of the girls begin to realize that beauty pageants are so much more than looking pretty and smiling at the judges, “Because it’s wrong! It exploits women. We’re parading around in bathing suits and evening gowns, letting people judge us for the way we look. No wonder the world doesn’t take us seriously” (54).

This is a great book for anyone looking for a good laugh as well as a novel that makes the reader stop and think. It would be great for a book club because there are so many aspects that can be discussed. Definitely pick up Beauty Queens before the summer is through!

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