I’m roughly 5,500 words into a very rough draft. This is an idea that has been floating around for about a month. I’ve never had a story idea come so vividly and easily before, so I feel like this is a good sign. I’ve had ideas in the past. Many ideas. Usually my ideas start with a cinematic scene, more often than not it is a climatic scene. That one scene will play over and over in my head with different takes and actors and backgrounds, and I will start to formulate a story from there. Right out of college, I had one such idea. I will spare you the gory details, but it wasn’t good. I had another idea last year for a fantasy that I worked on extensively for about 6 months, but I hit a wall and was not able to recover. I still like it, but I have set it aside for now. I may pick it back up in a few more years when it has aged a bit because I loved the characters. The characters were the strength, not the setting. I need to find them a home that they are worthy of. Read more
I’m not going to regale you with a nauseating story about how I have always wanted to write. Okay, I will.
Storytelling has been my window to the world. It has taught me how to put emotions into words and pictures. I could lie and say reading was my first love, but really, movie theaters were my first love.
I have a complicated relationship with my father. There was a lot resentment and anger growing up, but there was, and has always been, love. My father is a man of few words, but his few words are booming and exact. I am a woman of few words, but mine are quiet and exact. This caused a lot of miscommunication and distance, physical and emotional, especially when I was a teenager. Our language and middle ground has always been movies. Instead of talking, you watch and listen,you collectively observe. The room is dark. The music swells. The plot takes you out of your own plot. Some people will find this form of escapism unhealthy, dodging the real issues, but in our own strange way, stories helped us to connect. I’ve seen my father cry more times in a movie theater than I’ve seen him cry outside of one. I’ve probably seen him cry more times than most children have seen their own fathers cry. When my father told me that he was divorcing my mother, it was on the way to see a movie. I like to think that connection we had with theaters gave him the strength to tell me the worst thing he has ever had to tell me. You would think that safe space would become sullied with such a horrible memory, but it became a thread that helped mend.
A story is vulnerable, and allowing yourself to connect with that vulnerability takes strength. Yes, most of the movies we see together have more guns than dialogue or have a 30 or lower percentage rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but they are our movies. And the our is the most important part.
Liz, why not be a scriptwriter? I think in another life I would have done this. I really do think there is another version of myself in an alternate universe who lives in LA and works on a CW show or something, but Hollywood scares me. There is so much room for failure and not a lot of people to help you up. Movies are almost religious to me, and I would be worried about my mental state when I became disillusioned (the me in this reality, not the other version of myself). Also, there are books.
I’ve spent a lot of time in this first post about writing a book talking about movies, but I thought it was important for you to see where I am coming from and where that could lead.
The scariest thing in the world is to tell someone, “I am writing” because there are a lot of implications and expectations attached. So here it goes,
I am writing.
I am currently sick and out of commission. I just took NyQuil, so please excuse my writing if it becomes incoherent. I haven’t been reading the last few days, which explains the lack of book reviews, and I am currently plotting a story that has taken over my life. I won’t reveal too much, but it is a family dramedy. It’s crass. It’s dark. It’s inappropriate at times. I have a handful of scenes in rough stages, and I am putting the pieces together and filling the cracks. I hope to have a working rough draft in the next few weeks. I’ll leave you with one line,
“He was a corn-fed body with jazz eyes. Girls whispered about his love-making like he was a folklore hero.”
The story currently involves furniture making, script writing, and a lot of jokes about vaginas. Wish me luck.
xoxox zzzzzzzzzz zzz zzz zz
You know in my review for The Deal where I said I could read about hockey bros all day? I could read about hockey bros all day EXCEPT for John Logan AKA Logan. Ugh, could that name be anymore white bread? Yes, I can turn a carb into an adjective if this book is going to call itself a love story. This whole book is a mistake, but people did warn me that the first and third book in the series were the best, so I guess that automatically means the second is the worst.
The Mistake is about Logan and Grace. Grace is a lackluster freshman. Logan is a cookie cutter hunk. Logan makes a *~mistake~* and spends the rest of the book trying to show Grace he is a good guy who deserves a second chance. The story lacks the charm of The Deal, and I really didn’t enjoy it.
Grace and Logan’s hook up spots are the absolute worst. They dry hump in the closet of a movie theater. I had a friend who worked at a movie theater in high school, and I will never forget his horror stories. When they would turn the lights on to clean, he could see the rats scurry up and down the aisles. Is that an acceptable place to hook up?? Dry humping is nauseating as well. When has dry humping ever been hot and not awkward? They also hook up in the bathroom of a frat house. I have been in a frat bathroom a time or two, and that is literally the worst place you could ever imagine. What turns you on? The mold or the crusty Playboys? The empty roll of toilet paper or the pubic hair? You are more likely to get a staph infection than an orgasm in a frat bathroom. Grace needs someone to teach her standards. Woo her in a goddamn bed with clean sheets.
I was waiting for my car at Autobell because a flock of birds left purple shit spots all over it when I read the scene of Grace losing her V-card, and believe me, my story of a carwash was more entertaining than their sex. Logan came off super creepy, always calling her “babe” and “gorgeous” and asking if she was alright. Gag me with a spoon. Grace says in the first chapters of the book that she doesn’t care about her V-card, but they treat it like a fucking event. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think losing your virginity is something to disregard, but it is also not something you should have a parade for. I don’t feel like the author had a good handle on the middle ground, which I think she was going for.
There was a whole side plot about Logan’s family life and growing up in a dead end town, blah blah, he eventually conquers that and the woman he loves. Hooray.
Overall, this story wasn’t for me. The characters were boring and the sex was recycled. I could write a love story about Publix brand yogurt that is more compelling than The Mistake. Actually, don’t mind if I do…
I was young. I was wild and lost. There is no safe haven at 26. The future was a bleak path that I could not turn back from, and then you walked into my life, something strange and wonderful. There was hope in your eyes. You were smooth and fulfilling and only 200 calories. You showed me that there were many paths that I could walk–raspberry, mixed berry, mango–and you would be there to hold my hand. There was a strength to your silence, and I will always love you, Publix Fruit on the Bottom Yogurt.
1 out of 5 disembodied male torso and one Publix yogurt
This is After Hours Liz, so if you don’t like talking about penises, check out my review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Guys, I have no idea what fucking happened. One minute, I am browsing Goodreads because I am really bored with Crooked Kingdom (yeah, I said it), the grass always looks greener in some other book you don’t own, and the next thing I know, I am buying The Deal by Elle Kennedy. I seriously don’t know what happened. I was never against new adult, but it was something that was never on my radar. I’ve read like one or two romance novels in my day, mostly when I was in high school, sneaking them from my aunt’s collection at Thanksgiving, but I had never really felt the true power of romance. This book was like the first boy (or girl) you ever kissed, messy at times, completely awkward, but full of lust and sincerity. For the record, my first kiss, was with a boy named Cameron in a movie theater during Into The Blue with Jessica Alba and Paul Walker. The movie was horrible and so was the make out, but I digress.
This book blew me away. I am sorrrryy there are so many cheeky innuendos in this review. How can I pass them up?? I did not expect to like this book that much. It is told in dual prospective between college juniors, Garrett and Hannah. Garrett is your typical jock with a heart of gold and a penis of note, and Hannah is a studious, music geek with “narrow hips”, make what you will out of that, and a troubled past. Actually they both have troubling pasts, but they are the optimistic types I would liken to golden retrievers. The plot is the screenplay Jennifer Love Hewitt, riding high on her success in the late 90s, would have passed on, but good god, this book swept me off my feet like a blushing virgin. The dialogue is unbelievable (not the good unbelievable) at best but there is so much wit, and I loved the quirky situations our main characters found themselves in. The depiction of college is LAUGHABLE (and not the good kind), but I still found myself enjoying the world these characters roamed. Look, it’s not Hemingway, but does it have to be by a dead guy to be good? No, Hemingway could not write good sex like Kennedy. I loved, loved the main characters. They were well-rounded and they made me care. Garrett could have easily given off stalker vibes, but the author does a good job of playing the persistent suitor in a new way, and I can’t tell if she’s poking fun at the overused trope or not. Hannah is a strong character and downright funny.
The Deal handles heavy subjects. Abuse and rape, but it never comes off gimmicky or exploitive. Hannah tells us on the very first page that she was raped in high school. Rape is an important part of Hannah’s development but it does not become her defining characteristic. She shows that acceptance and resilience can be found among tragedy. Garrett does not fall into a savior role. He helps her to flower (god, I know it’s terrible, bear with me). She already has the power; she just needs help finding her groove. I found their stories honest and rooted for each to find happiness and peace.
Now the sex. Yes, kids we are going talk about sex. Fab-fucking-tastic. The first sex scene between the two main characters features no penetration, but was literally hotter than any sex scene I have ever read. Her scenes make Sarah J Maas’ sex scenes look like the Mojave Desert. Kennedy’s sex scene would literally KO Maas’s sex scenes and get a 35-million-dollar endorsement deal from Nike. I know that sex is a slippery (sorry) subject for some. Not so much for the actually act(s) but because sex is all about comfort and preference. We all know what we are into, or at least what we aren’t. I found the scenes were tailor-made to put a woman’s thoughts first which is so refreshing, especially coming (ha) from an English major who was forced to read the Tropic of Cancer and listen to her professor lecture on the sex scenes (true story, bro). Yes, the story isn’t perfect. Yes, I cringed at times from the ridiculous “deal”, a plot point that is abandoned at the halfway mark, but found myself laughing out loud (literal lols, people) multiple times. I was giddy and obsessed. I was satisfied…with the reading experience.
I know that this series is a quartet with each book focusing on one of Garrett’s roommates, and I will be picking them up. I hope the Kennedy makes a whole series about every fucking member of that hockey team, and the janitors, and the dude who rides the Zamboni. I could read about annoying jocks and bated breaths all day.
Four out of five disembodied male torsos
(took off a star for the clunky plot and for too many mentions of Justin Bieber).
Let us take a cathartic dive into the trash heap that was 2016 and look back at the three worst books I read this year. I found them so atrocious that I wouldn’t mind traveling to a Fahrenheit 451 reality with all the known copies. They were so horrendous to the eye, and they would be lovely additions to Satan’s library. Please no tagging the authors. I love to talk about people behind their backs not to their faces. I am a coward. Open eyes and tight lips, people.
The Girl Before by Rena Olsen. This book is literally the toilet paper Gillian Flynn wipes her ass with. Actually, it is the toilet paper that Gillian Flynn uses to clean up her dog’s shits. Okay, okay. This book is about a girl who is kidnapped into a strange Midwestern-mafia style family where she is groomed to become a prostitute. She ends up becoming the wife to the boss’s son, and she helps groom the other children with a strange level of naiveté and pride. The book doesn’t have traditional chapters, which borders the line of gimmick, and switches between the past and the main character’s current captivity with the FBI. This book felt like a crap, short story I would have read in one of my creative writing classes. Honestly, this might be the worst book I read this year, but I did read to the end. It’s only like 200 pages, so it doesn’t waste TOO much of your day.
The Merciless II by Danielle Vega. I won’t spend too much time tearing this book down because I already did that once in my review. Review here. I will say that this is one of the worst books I have ever read. It is like if you took the worst story line of Gossip Girl and added a demon. Well, I guess Chuck was kind of always a demon, but like a real demon who kills people. Oh wait, Chuck killed his dad…okay well like a demon who possess girl’s bodies. I was actually very enthusiastic about the first book, but this book had too much Catholic fetishism for my taste. Maybe the whole book was a metaphor for puberty?
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas. Review here. I know that everyone has joined the Sarah J Maas is over party, but really the party started for me with this book. This book is HIGHLY dangerous and manipulative to its very young audience. It romanticized abuse, and don’t give me any of that “the second book explains everything” crap. I’m not here for your excuses. I don’t have as large of a bone to pick with Maas as other people do (mostly because I have never taken her writing to heart), but that doesn’t mean I don’t see why people hate her and her books. I will still finish this series and her ToG series because I can’t bring myself to quit right in the middle. I have to know what happens to these burning trash piles.
*Spoilers for the whole trilogy*
This has been the weekend of great cultural experiences. I finished The Fate of the Tearling, and I saw La La Land. I’ve been through an emotional roller coaster with both, so I don’t know if my review will make much sense. Honestly, my reviews never make sense, but I like to imagine they are endearing. Both book and film took me to another plane of human existence, and I will forever be grateful to them. On the surface the stories are not very similar, but when you scratch off the cover and cinema-scope, you are left with two worlds of fantasy that don’t necessarily end the way you want them to. Yes, I am building this book up at a grand level, but there is a long way to fall. I might as well enjoy it.
Fate is the third and final book in the Tearling trilogy. We follow Kelsea from her humble beginnings as a hidden princess to the queen of a dying kingdom. Erica Johansen creates a unique world with traditional, old world fantasy landscapes and modern day influences. Honestly, it is a wild ride, and when I realized that the people of the Tearling were essentially pilgrims from an alternate dystopian world, I about shit my pants. The Tearling is SO creative. The characters are tough but endearing, and Johansen, especially in this third book, really honed her craft at switching between perspectives. I found every story line and character very entertaining and likable, even at their worst.
I browsed a few reviews after finishing, and I have to be honest. We are all entitled to our own opinions, but some of you are completely wrong about the ending. I am trying to find the least offensive way of saying it, but you are so dead wrong. The ending was perfect, and though there were more neat, conventional endings that could have happened, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
(For everyone that doesn’t care about spoilers and are just reading the review, wanting to know what happens: Kelsea uses magical sapphires to go back in time to a critical moment in the Tearling’s past. She, along with the help of two women from the past, change history, this includes crawling out of one character’s mouth and killing (?) the bad guy, and Kelsea wakes up in a Utopian society. None of her friends remember her, and she is no longer queen because there is no royal family. I know, when you break it down to its simplest form it sounds bonkers. Trust me, though. Trust me.)
Kelsea makes a queen-sized sacrifice, and her isolation and depression at the end of the novel was real and heartbreaking. It’s very easy to write the ending off as cheap, but when you really think about all the struggles Kelsea has endured and the sacrifices she is willing to make for her country, isn’t losing her country and identity the hardest thing? We all have that selfish want for recognition for our deeds, but Kelsea’s whole life is gone. The people she cared for are happy and healthy, but they do not remember her. She is forced to live in a world of peace while a storm still rages inside of her, and finding that semblance of peace will be a lifelong struggle for her now. It appears to be a happy ending, a world without violence and greed, but Kelsea’s struggle shows that there will always be strife within. It’s an eerie ending that deserves further consideration, and should not be written off just because we don’t get all the answers and Kelsea doesn’t end up happy with Pen and the Mace (kind of still bitter about that, but I get it). Yes, we still don’t know what the fuck was up with those sapphires, but I am okay with that. I am okay with the ambiguity of the magic. Magic isn’t science, and it doesn’t always need Brandon Sanderson level glossaries at the end of the book to explain everything.
In conclusion: it’s not the ending that we wanted, but it is the ending that we needed. I will follow Erica Johansen to the depths of hell.
Three Dark Crowns is the book that got me out of this post-Trump election slump. It lifted me from the bowels of the patriarchy and sheathed me in dazzling armor to slay everyone in my wake. Now, I wait patiently for the second book. Alright, not that patiently.
The book follows three young sisters born with three unique gifts. Poisoner. Elemental. Naturalist. Each sister grows up apart on the far reaches of the island nation, Fennbirn. They are raised to sharpen their powers because they will one day fight each other to the death to be crowned the one,true queen. I know. Woah. It’s like Hunger Games but at a family reunion. AND IT IS AMAZING. Guys, I have not had this much enthusiasm about a first book in a series since…. since Truthwitch, and I fucking loooved Truthwitch. This is like Truthwitch’s dangerous cousin who has no qualms about cutting off your head and putting it on a spike with Christmas dinner. I actually had true emotions after finishing. The ending was so surprising and satisfying that I went on a run right after because I had to let off some of the adrenaline. This book MADE ME RUN. And not a lot of things make me run, besides knife-wielding maniacs (it’s happened a time or two to everyone).
I’ve heard some criticism about the pacing and overall confusion of the first half of the book. Honestly, DO NOT LISTEN TO THOSE FOOLS. I loved the slow burn of the first half. A fantasy should be a slow burn. You should be confused and second guessing yourself because you are literally in a different world…with magic. (I have very strong opinions of people who use that excuse in fantasy reviews, if you couldn’t already tell.)
My only gripe was the love interests. More specially Joseph. Joseph is literally the worst character in existence, and I wouldn’t mind seeing his head on a spike. The girls, though. Oh man, the sisters (and the companions) in this book are amazing, and I would to love drink wine with all the ladies and watch Bravo shows with them.
Three Dark Crowns is not a cheap date. Kendare Blake doesn’t spoon feed you mushy peas. She doesn’t hold your hand through the hard bits. She treats you like the goddamn #girlboss that you are and creates the bomb, matriarchal fantasy you have been waiting for since reading Lord of the Rings in middle school, even then knowing there were not enough vaginas in Middle Earth.
Liz, you haven’t posted anything the last two weeks. I know! Jesus, you don’t have to remind me of my failures or shortcomings. I am going to be completely transparent here. I have not been reading the last three weeks or so, and because I have not been reading, I have not been inspired to write posts about books. Honestly, I have been fully engulfed in the story I am planning. There have been highs and lows. There are days of brilliant inspiration and days of utter shame and despair. I had a spark of an idea during a run back in April or May. I thought about it all night, and I wrote out a 5 page outline of what was swimming in my head. I then immediately forgot about.
In July I started thinking seriously about my idea again. I plotted out some more, I wrote a few scenes and shared them with family members and friends, and I wrote a lot of back story to this thing that has taken over my life. I will admit I have been harping on the back story the last two weeks, and it has hindered my creative juices. I’ve spent so much time trying to figure out all the plot holes that I haven’t written anything. So I am going to combat this beginning November 1st.
The title says you aren’t doing NaNoWriMo. I know this, and you really are a smart ass, do you know that? I am NOT doing NaNoWriMo. I know my daily schedule. I know my mental capabilities and stress levels. I know that I will not complete NaNoWriMo. I don’t think it is a defeatist attitude. I think I have a realistic grasp on my writing habits, and I do not want to set myself up for failure. I am very serious about this story. It is something I want to pursue full heartedly. I have true faith in it. I think the spirit of NaNoWriMo is amazing, though, so I want to be part of it in some way. There is something wonderful about so many people starting projects at once and lifting each other up, so I am going to force myself to stop planning and second guessing and start WRITING on November 1st. I have set a more realistic goal of 50,000 by the end of the year. I think it will still be a challenge but more acceptable to my lifestyle. I am not going to be utilizing the NaNoWriMo site, but I have signed up on MyWriteClub.com which is a simple, social media site that allows you to keep a word count of what you have written and set goals. You can also follow friends, and see their goals and progress. It really brings out my competitiveness, and I think it will be a great way to keep me accountable. You can follow me here.
I will end this post with five things about my story:
- It follows three best friends.
- One is gay.
- One is bi.
- All three are female.
- One of them beats the shit out of a man while completely naked.
Six crows walk into a bar. The bartender says, “What the hell! How did all these birds get in here?” The bartender tries to swat them out the front door and yells to a patron, “Call the caw-ps!”
Okay, I really liked this book. I have been wondering why my gut reaction was to give it 3 stars (only on Goodreads because I don’t use star ratings to my blog). I thought about changing it to 4 stars, but I think I am sticking with 3.
It’s almost unfair to rate this book. People have said over and over, “Oh, you don’t have to read the original trilogy to read Six of Crows.” At the end of the day, I am not so sure about that. I had a lot of disconnect to the story and world in the beginning. It took a very long time to understand or care about any of these characters’ motivations. I felt like someone gave me the gooey insides of an apple pie but forgot to include the pie shell–still enjoyable but a pie is not a pie without the shell.
Don’t let this discourage you. The story was still really, really good. It follows Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and an ensemble cast as they try to steal from a Las Vegas casino. Oh, did I just describe the plot of Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven? Sorry. Six of Crows follows six moody teenagers (da crows), hardened by lives of crime and tragedy, who attempt to perform an impossible heist. Each chapter switches between 5 of the crows (where are the Wylan chapters?!), and the plot unravels quickly and precisely. I would recommend this book to anyone who is getting over a reading slump or has a free weekend ahead of them because this book does move very quickly. I felt like one second we were strolling through Ketterdam, and the next, ships were exploding and people were dying. Because the writing is very cinematic, some of the writing does fall short. The character development was generic at times. They felt like every other teenager I’ve ever read about, BUT that doesn’t mean I wasn’t obsessed with them. Inej? Good god, what a sorceress of emotions. NINA? Stole my heart. Matthias, hubba hubba. Wylan? I wanted more. Jesper? I WANTED MORE! Kaz? Well, Kaz was honestly the least interesting character (he’s the generic I was referring to earlier). I’m just really bored of the internal struggle of bad boys, but I did imagine Joe Cole from Peaky Blinders as Kaz which made the reading experience VERY enjoyable. Honestly, if Leigh Bardugo did not base Kaz’s character off Peaky Blinders, then I will eat my own words (I will eat my computer).
Bardugo does that annoying thing with Kaz that Sarah J Maas does with Aelin in Throne of Glass, where one character seems to know EVERYTHING, and everyone is always in awe that this person knows everything. It is a sloppy way of revealing plot twists.
I will read Crooked Kingdom, at some point, but I didn’t have that immediate need to read the sequel when I finished. I do want to know what happens to these little baby (what is the word for infant crow*?) cinnamon rolls, but I can wait.
*I looked it up. The word for baby crow is chick. Six of Chicks sounds like an amazing book or girl band.