Ten facts about me you never knew you wanted to know

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1. I did the Disney College Program, Spring 2015, and I’m going back for another DCP this fall.

2. I’m actually starting a vlog channel for my Disney adventures (and probably for bookish videos too).

3. I have another blog devoted to the DCP. (don’t worry, not all of my facts are Disney related!)

4. I won NaNoWriMo in 2014 and actually have the manuscript up on SwoonReads now.

5. I’m in the middle of completing the first book in a trilogy that’s an intense retelling of Rapunzel. Witches and humans are at war. Rapunzel’s an assassin. It’s amazing. (And if you’re interested in being critique partners, let me know!)

6. I just graduated from college in May with a bachelor’s in English.

7. I love to play tennis and was captain of my high school’s varsity tennis team.

8. My favorite book of all time is Daughter of Smoke and Bone and I’m SO EXCITED for Laini Taylor’s new book this fall.

9. My favorite movie superhero is Captain America but in comics I love the new Ms. Marvel.

10. Last but not least . . grilled cheese is my ultimate weakness.

 

Career Talk Tuesday: Shannon Lee Alexander, author of LIFE AFTER JULIET

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Hello readers! This Tuesday I want to bring to you a special guest post by Shannon Lee Alexander, author of Life After Juliet which will be released on July 5th. Today she’s going to speak about her personal connection with writing and how this has led her to become an author! Without further ado, here’s Shannon!

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I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I’d kept a journal from the first moment my aunt gave me a diary with a little padlock to lock away all the icky feelings I didn’t know how to process.

Confrontation is not my thing. Growing up, I wasn’t comfortable expressing anger or disappointment with others or myself. Instead, I’d hide on the floor between my bed and the window and scribble away in my journal. Inside the journal, I could say anything (even the bad words I knew my parents would punish me for saying!) and I’d be safe. And what I discovered, in writing through my rage, was that I was truly angry about certain things, but that underneath that anger there were so many more layers of emotions.

Writing helped me tear down walls I didn’t even realize I was building around myself. It helped me process a world I couldn’t always understand. It helped me feel brave and powerful when I was scared and powerless. It made me who I am today.

Eventually, in high school, I started scribbling down bits of stories or character sketches of the people and places I liked to imagine. I’d even begin writing longer stories, following my characters around on adventures through my imagination. I say I started, and I mean it literally, because I never finished writing any of those stories. They were all abandoned whenever I’d hit a plot hole I couldn’t fill.

I’d usually make it about halfway to three-quarters through a way through a story before bailing on it entirely. I’d tell myself that I wasn’t quitting, but that I just was more interested in some new and shiny idea and that I’d come back to finish the other one someday.

Someday is a lie.

Because I wasn’t coming back to those stories. I was running away from them, much like I ran from the gross feelings I didn’t want to deal with when I was younger.

When I was twenty-three, my childhood friend Em was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She underwent surgery and chemo and was cancer free for five years. And then it came back, as ovarian cancer often does. But my Em wasn’t going to let it get her down. She was determined to hold on, to fight her cancer until a cure could be found. She was going to live her life to the end. She was going to finish strong.

After watching Em, I decided I needed to dig deep and find my own courage. I needed to finish a story, and it didn’t even have to be a good story, but I needed to prove to myself that I could do it. I needed to be just a small fraction as brave as my Em.

Em’s indominable spirit is what changed me from a person who dabbled in bits of stories into a novelist. Her enduring hope is what pushed me to use all the icky emotions swirling inside me and work through them through the fictional lives of my characters. In a way, my novels are very similar to my journals. They are a safe space to explore. And I hope that they offer that same space to readers, too.

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Thank you so much Shannon! It was a pleasure to have you and to learn more about what has inspired you to write!

For more about Life After Juliet, click here!

Marvel-ous Mondays: “Civil War” was so stressful

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Civil War

author : mark millar

artist : steve mcniven

pages : [paperback] 208

favorite character : captain america

summary :

The landscape of the Marvel Universe is changing, and it’s time to choose: Whose side are you on? A conflict has been brewing from more than a year, threatening to pit friend against friend, brother against brother – and all it will take is a single misstep to cost thousands their lives and ignite the fuse.

Collecting Civil War #1-7.

review :

I can’t remember the last time that I was so stressed out reading a comic.

I mean, sure–I’ve seen the Civil War movie and loved it, but didn’t know how different it would be from the comic world. This was a much more intense version I think just because the comic could include so many more characters and concepts that wouldn’t have worked in the movie. Of course, it was slightly confusing to me because I didn’t know who some of the heroes were, but for the most part that was fine. I mean, who doesn’t know who Captain America and Iron Man are?

Captain America is one of my favorite heroes, which automatically made me want to take his side. I definitely did in the movie. This comic succeeded in making me see both sides of the argument more clearly and really stressed me when I thought that there was really no clean answer to the disagreement. Superheroes being registered and working for the government would probably keep less civilians in danger, make sure that there was less property damage, and generally keep people from getting too angry over the actions of these heroes. On the other hand, knowing their identities would put the heroes’ families in danger, it would take away their freedom, and as we’ve seen all too often in the Marvel universe when you have someone else telling you who the bad guys are, things can get corrupt real fast.

I flew through this volume because there was so much going on. Plot twists, trying to determine who would take what side. Also, surprising, I really liked Spiderman in this. For some reason I just haven’t been able to really get into him, but his role in this storyline was really interesting and I felt like it did a lot to show me who he is as a character.

I’d definitely recommend this volume. It’s fun. It’s different from anything that I’ve read so far. If you’re looking for action and suspense, you definitely need look no further.

5/5 stars

 

Children’s Book Chat: Kitty Conquers the Big Bully by KayeC Jones

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Kitty Conquers the Big Bully

author : KayeC Jones

pages : [ebook] 33

summary :

Meet Kitty, a daring and sweet little girl who won’t take anyone talking mean, especially neighborhood bullies who make all the kids cry.

Kitty finally goes face-to-face with the biggest bully who declares to her that girls can’t do anything but “clean and bake cookies”. Instead of flourishing fists and sinking to the bully’s level, she uses her wits and thinks her way out of the situation.

This wonderful story teaches everyone, not only girls, to believe in themselves and not to doubt their dreams and wishes, no matter what those dreams and wishes happen to be.

review :

I really enjoyed this book! It’s a unique twist on a positive story about how to react to a bully. Kitty is told that girls can’t do ‘anything’–sexism at its finest, which even kids are subjected to and need to know how to push back against. Kitty doesn’t for a moment doubt herself and instead begins to think of all of the different things that she is able to do, no matter what anyone else thinks or tells her.

An adorable little addition to the book is the appearance of her two stuffed animal friends, a bear and a bunny, on every page. If it was fun for me to look to see where they’d be or what they would be doing on each page, I’m sure children would love to point out where they are or discuss what they’re doing in relation to their good friend Kitty.

One thing that was slightly distracting about the text and that made me take a star off for my review was that sometimes the text suffered a little from straining to make the lines rhyme. Something the rhythm would be thrown off because it wouldn’t be a perfect rhyme or odd words would be used to successfully complete the rhyme pattern.

Overall, this is such a cute story. The pictures are adorable and then the message of the story is a great and empowering one. I would definitely recommend this picture book!

4/5 stars

 

 

 

Rocket Girl was a very interested if cliched graphic novel

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Rocket Girl Volume 1: Times Squared

author : brandon montclare

artist: amy reeder

pages : [paperback] 120

favorite character : annie

summary :

The NYTPD sent her to 1986 New York City to investigate the Quintum Mechanics megacorporation for Crimes Against Time. Piecing together the clues, Dayoung Johansson discovers the “Future” she calls home–a high-tech alternate reality version of 2013–shouldn’t exist at all!

review :

I picked this volume up from the library because the concept seemed pretty interesting. Even though it’s based on a few science fiction tropes (traveling back in time to save the future, corrupt government, companies taking over seemingly the entire future) there were some interesting and unique concepts in here.

Rocket Girl, aka DaYoung Johansson, is sent back to 1986. Nevermind the amount of technological advances that would have to happen between then and 2013 to not only make this tech but DaYoung’s future possible, it’s interesting. She’s a police officer? For some reason the NYPD decided that teenagers are more trustworthy (a terrible idea, really) and that they should really run the show when it comes to cops. Once you’re 20, you bounce out of the New York Teen Police Department and basically aim for a job in private security. Nothing bad could come of that, right?

It was cool to have the comic set in the 1980s. The hair, the fashion, the atmosphere of NYC. It’s all seen sort of from DaYoung’s perspective, as she zips around the city in her jetpack. The only thing is, for all of the metal commentary done by her (and there’s TONS of interior monologue) she never really comments on the past other than to go on about how there’s no wonder it’s a terrible place because all of the cops are old. It would have been fun to see her showing Annie (a scientist who houses her after DaYoung arrives in the past) future tech, or commenting on Annie’s wardrobe, or . . her reaction to any of this, really, because DaYoung had no prep whatsoever for going to the past. And being stuck there where she won’t even blend in.

To expand more on my thoughts about her interior monologues, there was too much of it for how little we get from it. I would need to read each set of pages twice, once for the actual dialogue of the scenes and again for all of the thoughts in her head because she’d only think a word per panel at some points. Bouncing back and forth between her thoughts and the actual action would have been way too confusing and I would have ended up missing a lot. In the end I was still frustrated because it really lifted me out of the story.

I did like that there were some twists that make me feel like these comics will be even better if these ideas are expanded upon in the future. Other people follow DaYoung to the past. DaYoung seems like she’s finally going to try to blend into society, which would be funny and show a lot about her version of 2013. There are a few other things that I’d prefer not to spoil, if you’re interested in reading this collection. Overall, there’s so much potential. It’s just off to a little bit of a rocky start.

3/5 stars

 

An interview with Shannon Lee Alexander, author of Life After Juliet

Hello readers! Today I have an interview for you, from the lovely Shannon Lee Alexander! She is the author of Life After Juliet, which releases today! So settle down, read a little about her, and then don’t forget to pick up your copy!

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What initially inspired you to write Life After Juliet?

I am an accidental serial novelist. I’d never intended to write a companion to LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES. I was happy with the story’s end, at least until my editor asked, “What happens to Becca?” Boom! I had to know the answer for myself! So, I began writing Becca’s story, and after many drafts and agonizing critique sessions with my writing group, LIFE AFTER JULIET was completed.

What was most challenging about writing this book?

Tapping in to my own grief from losing a friend, but making sure Becca’s experience with her own grief was very different from mine. While Becca and I are similar, we are not the same person, so I needed to honor her journey and not allow my experiences to color hers.

What are you most excited for people to experience in Life After Juliet when it is released on July 5th?

Max Herrera. No, wait! Darby Jones. No! Victor Song…and Kelli and Miles and Greg…oh, and Thomas, too! I’m excited about sharing all these new characters that Becca meets. There are so many wonderful characters in this story. Each of them surprised me as I was writing LIFE AFTER JULIET. I can’t wait for you all to meet them!

What writers have inspired you?

Wilson Rawls, the author of WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS, was the first writer to give me a book hangover. I was in third grade, but I still remember that completely empty feeling I had at the end of that book. Harper Lee’s beautiful writing and amazing characters in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD have inspired me time and again. Her work plays a big role in LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES. There are many characters and themes in that book inspired by Ms. Lee. I’ve also always loved theater and reading plays. And Shakespeare is a staple of the theater. Although Romeo and Juliet is not my favorite Shakespearean play, it was fun to draw parallels to it in LIFE AFTER JULIET.

If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be?

Just one? No fair! Um…I had no idea how to answer this, so I asked my son. He said he’d meet Percy Jackson because Percy’s always surrounded by friends so he’d get to meet them, too. He said, “It’s all about where you meet them, Mom.” My son is a genius. So, I’d want to meet Harry Potter, in The Great Hall at the opening feast during the fourth year. Then, I’d get to meet just about everyone!

What was the last book you read?

I’m so glad you asked because I just finished a beautiful book and I’m dying to tell people about it. MAYBE A FOX by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee is a gorgeous middle grade book about a girl and a fox and the heartbreaking ways in which they are connected, the ways in which we’re all connected, even if we’re too wrapped up in our own lives to notice. I LOVED this book. It tugged at my heart in all the right ways, and tissues were definitely necessary at the end.

—  — —

Thanks so much Shannon! I think your son has definitely cracked the code on the fictional characters question. The problem is, I love both Percy and Harry so much, so how to choose between them???

If you want to learn more about Shannon and Life After Juliet, click here!

The Woods: The Arrow, a very gruesome and gory graphic novel

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The Woods, Vol 1: The Arrow

author : james tynion iv & michael dialynas

pages : [paperback] 128

summary :

WHY WE LOVE IT: As fans of James Tynion IV’s work in the Batman universe (BATMAN ETERNAL, RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS), we were eager to publish his first original comic series. THE WOODS gives us that same eerie, smalltown horror feel we get whenever we read a Stephen King novel.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: James Tynion IV is a former protege of BATMAN writer Scott Snyder, so you know he’s learned a lot about how to craft a compelling tale. If you’re fan of teen conspiracy comics like Morning Glories, Sheltered, and Revival, you’ll immediately be sucked into THE WOODS.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: On October 16, 2013, 437 students, 52 teachers, and 24 additional staff from Bay Point Preparatory High School in suburban Milwaukee, WI vanished without a trace. Countless light years away, far outside the bounds of the charted universe, 513 people find themselves in the middle of an ancient, primordial wilderness. Where are they? Why are they there? The answers will prove stranger than anyone could possibly imagine.

Collects issues 1 to 4 of the critically acclaimed series.

review :

I picked up this volume on a whim when I was browsing the graphic novel section of my library. The concept seemed interesting and I liked the way that the artwork is done, so I decided to give it a shot. While this wasn’t my favorite, there was definitely enough intrigue here to get my interest.

This at first reminded me of the Quarantine books, because it’s an isolated high school and kind of shows how teens will begin to build their own society (or crumble under the pressure) when they’re removed from everything they know and find familiar and are faced with a deadly situation. Except in this case, we also have the faculty and principal struggling to decide what to do with the student body now that the entire high school has somehow been transported to an alien moon. As can be expected, nothing is going to go smoothly. Especially when the moon’s inhabitants are lethal.

While I liked the slow build to these issues, where a little more information is teased out in each chapter, there was never quite enough. I was still looking for the original thing that was going to happen here, what would make this series really stand out. I think that I’m still looking for it, even among all the high school drama and nightmarish creatures. Maybe a lot of it is the unnecessary gore? The shock factor wasn’t enough to really impress me.

I do like that there seems to be some kind of underlying conspiracy here that we’ll find out more about, eventually. I know that there are at least four more volumes to come after this, so I hope that the anticipation isn’t built up too much and that the revelations start coming. I’m intrigued enough to immediately reserve volume two, mostly because I’m hoping for more. Particularly because some of the main characters are being mysteriously vague and frustrating. And when the character who’s an asshole starts to seem to know more than anyone else, that’s when I have to begin to worry.

Overall, I liked this volume. It was a super quick read. But it wasn’t anything to rave over, and I’m hoping the next volumes really pick up the spooky conspiracy/alien atmosphere introduced here!

3/5 stars