Wednesday, May 23, 2012

No more books for me!

As of today, I am on a self-imposed book buying ban.

That's it. No more.

I sink wayyyy too much money into my every-growing TBR stack. Seriously, it's like a disease. And since the pace of my reading has slowed to a trickle during my revision stages, I'm putting a stop to this.

I need to save up for England. I don't want books eating up that money. All the shiny new books I want (Second Chance Summer, In Honor, oh how I want you...) will still be around when I'm back from my trip and rolling in the cash again.

Help me stay strong, dear blog readers! I'll need all the encouragement I can get!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

I won't even bother posting cover images in my reviews anymore. I'm just so lazy. I always think I should, but the thought of even trying to obtain a properly sized image and format it correctly... just makes me want to go to bed. Mentally exhausting. So my reviews from this point on will just be thoughts spewed out onto my keyboard, and if you don't like it, well, I'll link to Goodreads so you can see the pretty pictures.

I read and really enjoyed Kirsten Hubbard's debut novel, Like Mandarin, so I knew she could craft a great story and a beyond-amazing setting going into Wanderlove. I anticipated that I'd like Wanderlove a lot for those reasons.

And hot damn, I was right. But I didn't quite anticipate what this book would do to me.

So our protagonist is Bria Sandoval. She just graduated from high school and just broke up with a controlling boyfriend who didn't deserve her at all and why the heck couldn't she see that, come on Bria, you're way too good for him and gahhhh.

I effing loved Bria. I don't say this often about YA protagonists. I've been known to get hives at any inkling of angst from a Too Stupid To Live heroine, which are all too common in this little book community. Bria is the oppose of TSTL. Even when she annoyed me, like in her memories of her idiot boyfriend, she wasn't being stupid. She was being real.

That's what I didn't anticipate about this book. How it would remind me of myself in so, so many different ways.

This book is about traveling. Backpacking in Central America, to be precise, which is not a place I've ever dreamed of going. Hot, sticky, tropical climates and hot, sticky, dirty backroad methods of travel are definitely not my thing. But it doesn't matter, because Wanderlove really did awaken wanderlove in me.

When I was fourteen, I got the chance to go to France with my French Immersion school. I leapt at the chance, got a job, and worked for a year to pay for the ten-day trip myself, no help from Mommy and Daddy. Five years ago this month, I went, had a fabulous time, and returned with my appetite whetted, ready to jet off again the next chance I got.

My family isn't big on traveling. We do road trips -- I've been all over most of my province squashed in a car with my brother and sister -- but I had never even been on a plane before my France trip. The chance for me to go somewhere else hasn't come yet, even five years later. Soon. I've scraping my pennies together to go to England, but then my car broke down and I had to buy a new one and some health-related stuff happened in my family and it's been one delay after another for the past year and it's looking like maybe I can go in September. It's feeling really far away, like it might never happen.

And that's what Wanderlove reminded me: that I want it so, so bad. I want to get out of here, go somewhere different, learn new things and see beauty. I was starting to forget that, in the wake of financial trouble and delays and things getting in my way. I had almost forgotten that the enormous desire to just go is all I really need. As long as I have that, I'll find a way.

So, yeah. My review of Wanderlove is actually a ramble about my own sad little life. Ah, well. That's the mark of a good book. I was too wrapped up in what it was making me feel and what it was giving to me that nothing else mattered. It's a great story. Great writing. Kirsten's illustrations are gorgeous (although I wish there were a lot more of them), and even though Central America never really appealed to me before, I keep finding myself Googling pictures of the locales in the book and sighing, thinking "maybe, someday."

In short, it's really good. You should read it. Escape inside it's pages and then work towards Bria's journey of discovery yourself, one day.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

So this NYT article made me have feelings

And thoughts. So many feelings and thoughts.

Maureen Johnson wrote a great blog post about this a while back, so my own feels kind of useless, but I just can't pass up the opportunity to say some things.

Okay. So. This is the article. You should read it; I promise it's interesting.


...did you read it?

Okay, well, I was a child who wrote novels. I was thirteen when I wrote my first one, and I did that thing the whole publishing industry is kind of figuring out right now -- I wrote a fanfiction and then switched the names and called it original fiction. I laugh about it now, but at the time I was proud as fucking punch and dead set on getting it published.

But I didn't.

Thank GOD I didn't. I don't have any of the novel anymore, and I wish I did because it was so awful it would be great for comedic value, but it was bad. Seriously, seriously bad. And luckily, not too long after I wrote it, I realized that. I put it away and started something else.

Rinse and repeat. I wrote a novel. I'd look at it again, decide it wasn't going anywhere, start something new.

Until I was eighteen, I never queried. And I'm so glad I didn't. I saved myself a lot of angst.

I also didn't self-publish.

And I'm infinitely glad I didn't self-publish.

If I, or my parents, had decided to self-publish my first awful novel, I doubt I would be the writer I am today. Sure, maybe I would have been proud and excited and felt like a rockstar for a couple weeks, but right now I would be pretty damn mortified. 

I probably wouldn't have continued writing.

When you take an unfinished product -- it feels awful, calling a kid's first novel a 'product' -- and you put it into "real book" form, you're validating it. You're putting it on a pedestal and calling it an achievement. Of course, finishing a novel is an achievement at any age. But it's not just about finishing a novel. It's about the journey, and this phenomenon of parents paying to self-publish their kids' books cuts that journey off. It moves the end point up and deprives the young writer of all the growth they could gain.

Publication is the end point for a lot of writers' journeys. Outside validation of our work -- it's what we're all in pursuit of. But if you take Little Timmy's book and say "yes, Timmy, good job, you are truly an accomplished novelist," Timmy is just going to feel good about himself for a few seconds and move on.

He's not going to have anything else to work for. He's going to feel like he's been there, accomplished that. He's not going to grow as a writer.

I understand why parents would want to reward their children. I understand why parents do this. But I can't help but think it's too much. It's coddling, and it's not going to be good for the kids in the long run. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Random update & a music rec

Whoa, Blogger... change everything since my last post, why don't you... so confused. I hate when websites change their looks/interfaces/almost everything. It's so disorienting. It makes me feel like an ancient thing.

Anyway. I have a few reviews in the pipeline, and a few post ideas, so I guess stay tuned for those. Mostly I'm just working a lot (got this promotion at work back in January and still kind of adjusting to it) and writing a bit. Working on a first draft again. That's weird.

I mentioned it in a post a little while ago, but this new book is a big departure for me. Well, not really, since it's still YA, but this one has a magical realism twist similar to Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. If I had to pick two things to compare it to, I'd say it's like Francesca Lia Block wrote a mash-up of Before I Fall and It's A Wonderful Life. I love it so far, but it's a challenge. It's kind of coming out slow, which I have to remind myself is okay.

Aside from writing, Kate Miller-Heidke is ruling my life these days. I discovered her last album about a year and a half ago, and her new album, Nightflight, just came out and it is frickin' amazing, guys. It's the first album in a while I've been able to immerse myself in completely. It just... works. As an album, as a story, as an experience, it all just comes together. I love that, when an album is an album, a cohesive whole.

Anyway, I'm going to stop rambling and leave you with the title track from Kate Miller-Heidke's new album :) see you soon.