Friday, June 15, 2012

Author Interview: Colleen Hoover

Hey all!

About a month ago, I posted a  review of the Slammed Series, by Colleen Hoover. Again, this book changed me, as in I bought an Avett Brothers CD and started writing again amazing, as in I'm working on an actual book myself amazing.

Colleen, incidentally, is a simply awesome human being and she agreed to do an interview for my blog. Here it is!

1. How long have you been writing?

Professionally? About 7 months. For fun, since I was five. I love, love, love to write. Slammed was my first attempt at a novel. I started it in December, 2011 and published it in January.

2. What inspired you to write Slammed?

I can’t say what one thing it was. It was really a culmination of things. I had an idea to write about a slam poet, I wanted to write something for my mother for Christmas, and I had plenty of time on my hands to think about it during my child’s theater rehearsals every night. I started making notes and ended up with a rough draft of a first chapter. I had no intentions of making a book, but once I fell in love with the characters I couldn’t stop.

3. When you started Slammed, did you know all along there would be a follow-up book?

I didn’t at all. Even after I published Slammed and a few of my friends were demanding more, I took it so far as to write a blog about how the story was finished and I wouldn’t be writing more about them. But one night I shot up out of bed, wondering what would have happened had Lake not had the courage to go slam for Will. I started writing ideas down for potential sequel drama, and by the next day I had an idea for book 2. 

4. How long did you spend writing Slammed, and Point of Retreat?

I don’t like to count it in terms of days because Slammed took me less than thirty days to write. What people don’t realize is that I spent every spare waking minute to write it, so the hours I spent on it could be equivalent to having spent a couple of hours a day on it for six months. Does that make sense? Lol. Point of Retreat took about the same amount of time. There’s no way in hell I could spit a book out now in thirty days now, though. I didn’t think anyone would read those so I didn’t feel any pressure while writing them. It’s completely different now. 

5. Did you try the traditional publishing route? If so, why did you go self pub? If not, why did you go right to self pub?

I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. Once I realized I had a book on my hands, I researched every possible avenue and learned everything I could learn in the short amount of time I’d been “writing.” I didn’t hesitate to self-publish once I learned about Amazon’s KDP program. I didn’t have enough confidence in my writing ability to think I had a chance with an agent considering how hard it is to get one. 

6. Slammed is full of excellent poetry- have you always written poetry?

I wouldn’t call it poetry. Lol. I would write off-the-wall, silly things for friends. But I’ve never written anything emotional or serious before until the poetry in Slammed.

7. What appeals to you about Slam Poetry, specifically?

Everything. The bravery of the poets, the truthfulness to their words, the performance aspect of it. I first watched it on a documentary called Brave New Voices on HBO and fell in love with it. 

8. Are you surprised by the awesomeness that is the success of the Slammed Series?

Floored. Daily. I had no idea it would reach the level of success it has. I wrote this on a whim, without any expectations at all. The fact that people are reading words that I wrote, and enjoying them, is a dream come true!

9. Who is your favorite character?

Oh, it’s Will. Hands down. 

10. Would you like to see it as a movie? I would. 

Heck yeah! That would be unbelievable. 

11. What advice do you have for authors who are attempting their first work?

A lot. A WHOLE lot. I’ll try to keep it short.

1) Never let anyone else influence your work. Write from your heart and don’t compare yourself to other authors. Every writing style has a reader, and you’ll eventually find yours. 

2) Never publicly bad-mouth another authors writing. Unfortunately, I’m seeing that a lot on Twitter these days. It’s in poor taste and suggests that you think your own writing is free of error. No one is perfect. 

3) Don’t force your book down people’s throats. If people want to read it, they’ll read it. Begging people to buy your book only turns people off, it doesn’t gain you readers.

4) Don’t write what’s selling. If I would have listened to all the advice out there, I would have NEVER written a piece of poetry in my book. Everywhere you look, agents and publishers advise against poetry. If I would have listened, I honestly don’t think Slammed would be where it is today. I guess it wouldn’t be, period. If you listen to the masses, you’ll get lost in the masses. 

5) You will feel like your writing is complete and utter shit. A lot. Some days you will think you are the most brilliant person on the planet. These vast swings in self-worth are needed to flush out the crap and write more of the great. Every author feels this way. The worry should set in when you STOP doubting yourself. 

12. Do you have any advice specific to those of us attempting the self-publishing route?

Don’t go in with expectations. If you expect to have a best-seller right out of the gate, you’ll be let down. I realize my success happened really quickly and is rare, but it worries me that other authors will compare themselves to the authors who have had fast success. Just finishing your manuscript is a huge accomplishment in and of itself. Give it your best effort and be proud of every single milestone you reach. Wether it’s a best-seller or not, you accomplished something that millions of people only dream of. 

13. What are you working on now?

Well, based on reader demand, I’m finishing up Will’s Story. I really didn’t have any intention of writing or publishing this, but it sort of just happened. Now that I’ve put the first chapter out there, I’m afraid I’ll let a lot of readers down if I don’t finish it. 
I’m also working on a stand-alone titled FALL TOGETHER. It’s about a young girl and guy who are sort of thrown together in a class assignment at high school. Their names are Sky and Holder. It focuses on heavy subjects, so I think it will be classified as more mature young adult by the time I complete it. 

14. Any final words?

I butterflying love The Avett Brothers.

**Thank you SO much, Colleen, for taking the time out of your butterflyingly busy schedule to answer my questions!  Everyone should check out Colleen Hoover's webpage for information on Slammed, Point of Retreat, and her new projects!**


Monday, May 14, 2012

And the winner is...

Marielle! You're getting "Slammed" and "Point of Retreat!" I know you'll love them as much as I do!!

Mommy Diaries: The Case of the Broken Leg...

Let's cut to the chase. As nearly everyone knows- I broke my leg. I broke my fibula in a diagonal fashion, not before snapping all the ligaments in my ankle like a pile of sad rubber bands. This happened at midnight on Sunday, April 22nd- just over 3 weeks ago.

There's not even a good story that goes with it. I rolled my ankle in Danskos on a wet floor. The floor was just wet enough that I couldn't right myself and my ankle and leg were left to bear the fall. I've never broken anything, but when I hit the ground I looked up at my friend and said "my ankle is broken." It was gross.  The ligaments had all snapped so there was nothing holding my foot in place properly and it just kind of flopped from side to side. yuck.  By 8:00am I was in surgery and was gifted with 3 metal plates and 10 or 11 screws that are fashioning my ligaments in place while scar tissue forms.

Going home, however, is where our story begins.  When the PA was giving me my discharge information, my parents (who had only been home in MA from China for a few hours before my husband called them about my injury) were in the room.  This is how the conversation went;

PA: "Do you live by yourself?"
Me: "No with my husband...and my 3 kids."
PA (eyes beginning to widen in concern): "Oh ok," trying to sound cheery, "how old are your kids?"
Me: "I have a four-year-old and 2-and-a-half-year-old twins." (I say it as if she asked what State I reside in, because, well, it IS the State I reside in).
PA (eyes have fallen on the floor and she's trying to pick them up, feeling around the hospital floor): "Oh. WOW.'re going to need some help."
Me: (in my head) "I've been saying this for years." (what I actually said) "Yea, we're working on's ok."

And I wasn't lying, we were working on it and it would likely be ok, so get that look off your face (jk)...but really, get that look off your face. This is one of the few times in the history of my relationship with my husband that his work schedule of 2:30pm-11:00pm has worked in our favor.  This meant that while Quinn was at Head Start from 8:30am to 2:00pm, Scott would be here to help with the kids and with me. I understand that not every husband would be up for sudden mommy work, and I'm very grateful that he didn't try to weasel out of it.

We were in the middle of most parents' worst everyday nightmare- parent down. There are certainly worse things that can happen, but that's why I said "everyday nightmare."  Having a parent that's actively involved in a 2-parent household down and out is devastating to the ecosystem of the household. When that parent is the mom- it's an F5 tornado that's situated itself over the household. For 2 weeks I was instructed to be on my butt with my foot elevated unless I was "crutching" to the bathroom. Nightmare of 1st-world proportions.

As God would have it, my friends, family, and church all stepped in immediately to help. Scott's work (local high school) had a sign up sheet, and we were given enough meals to last more than a month (I assume, since both of our freezers are still full), and my friend Amy coordinated childcare efforts. People either came for the whole time between Scott going to work and the kids going to bed, or they split shifts as they needed. We had help cooking, cleaning, washing kids, bedtimes, and playing with kids.  This was all going very smoothly.

To everyone except for Quinn.

My broken leg is the worst thing that has ever happened to Quinn.

My sweet 4-year-old boy with Sensory Processing Disorder and a desperate need for order was thrown in to a vortex of different people every night (which was fun for a the first few nights but he tired of it quickly), an altered schedule, and a mom that couldn't jump in the van for afternoon playground runs, or even just easily take them outside. All of this was left in the hands of others as I sat on the couch, chair, or in my bed. This was not ok with Quinn. He hates my broken leg and he has made it very clear. He stares at my leg as if it's his arch enemy- the Riddler to his Batman.

He has tried several times to smack my leg, and succeeded on one occasion, but by then I had the big black boot on so my leg did not bear the brunt of his anger. He wanted me to open the bathroom door for him, and my friend was standing right there so she did it for him. This was not OK with Quinn. He threw himself on the floor kicking and screaming "I WANT MOMMY TO DO IT! I WANT MOMMY TO DO IT!" I went over to him, and he stood up and slammed the bathroom door shut so I would have to open it for him. He said he wanted mommy to do it.

He's fallen apart at school, too, but there's nothing I can really do about that right now since I'm dealing with his behavior at home. His life at home is upside down, and he's going to carry that to school.

I was in the tub last week and he came in and saw the large incision line and asked why I had it out of the water. I said "So it doesn't get sick" (not wanting to explain infection at the moment). He said, "So you don't die?"  This statement could mean that he associates sick and die, as he had a peer at school lose their mother this year and they told the kids she "got sick and died." I'm not sure that he knows, really, what die means, but he certainly is associating it with my leg and that pisses him off, makes him uncomfortable, and scares him.

The past week has been slightly better, because we've had our regular high school babysitters over in the afternoon. Finally, on Thursday of last week, Quinn crawled in to Kylee's lap as she was reading Aiden a story. He's accepted her place in our lives right now. But he still hates my broken leg.

Either way, today I went back to my job as an Aide in the preschool I work at. The kids were SO happy to see me and told me they missed me and loved me. They had some questions about the crutches and my boot, but they don't seem to hate my broken leg right now- they're just happy to have me there.

It's going to be a long start to summer. I still can't bear any weight on the leg, and won't be able to attempt such a feat for another 4 weeks. Even then, I'll need crutches probably right through July. Joy.

Moral of the story for moms out there: Don't break your leg......


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Book Review: Slammed Series (Colleen Hoover)

Rarely has a series elicited such passion from me on so many levels. Sure, I think lots of people would enjoy "The Twilight Saga," even more would enjoy "The Hunger Games Trilogy," and some sickos like me will LOVE LOVE LOVE the "Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy." However, most people who know me, who are friends with me, and who love reading, NEED to read "Slammed" and "Point of Retreat" by Colleen Hoover. Need. To.

This is not a paranormal love story like "The Twilight Saga" or "The Eden Trilogy." These are real people, real lives, no hope of eternity to linger in the distance- we are left to deal with the here and now.

This 2-book series follows Layken Cohen and William Cooper as they navigate what they hope to be a romance- filled relationship. Layken (Lake) is new to William's neighborhood and their connection is instant. Lake finds out after their first trip to a club night dedicated to Slam Poetry, that their connection is deeper that a skipped heartbeat. Will is a talented and dedicated slam poet, and you learn a lot about him, and yourself, while he's up on stage.

Let me give a huge shout out to the emotionally strong Layken Cohen. She doesn't pine away thinking, "what could Will POSSIBLY see in me, la la la...." She has the mentality, "He's hot, I like him, I know he likes me, what the HELL is the problem?!" She's got tenacity, and that's been so lacking at the core of so many female  characters lately....

Life throws 2 HUGE roadblocks in their way in the first novel- both of them could justifiably keep the lovers apart independently, but the double blow is enough to leave the reader in tears, praying for our fictional star-crossed pair. The physical romance is written tastefully and using the correct words to allow you to feel what Lake is feeling, and what Will is feeling. Each touch leaves you wanting more and each roadblock is so real that you can feel the punch in your gut. Again, we're not dealing with angels, vampires, werewolves- we are dealing with real life and you could be reading this story about a best friend.

The supporting characters are just that, beautifully supportive but they do not overtake the story. We are able to enjoy what they bring out of the main characters, but we're not left spending too much time wondering when they'll show up again. The main characters are that strong and that engrossing.

Poetry is essentially the third main character in this story- and it is done SO. WELL. The author clearly took time to study slam poetry as an art and performance, as her descriptions are dead on. Further, she is also a poet (not many writers are) and the poetry itself is done well, even while written through the characters' perspective. Take a minute to realize how awesome this is. Not only can she write poetry, but she can do it through several different characters that have different make ups, backgrounds, and emotions- that's a big deal. I've written poetry for nearly 20 years and I don't know if I could write it from inside the head of someone else. Even if they're a character I've created.

When Slammed (book 1) ends, we're left with a glimmer of hope, some sadness, and a yearning for more of Will and Lake's story.

"Point of Retreat" (POR) begins beautifully, but more challenges await our lovers. This book is full of emotional climax after climax and you WILL cry along with our characters. It's a true fight for love. The supporting characters have a larger role in POR, but they are still handled with care in the context of Will and Lake. Many times through the book they are ACTUALLY SUPPORTING Will or Lake for different reasons.

In POR we're given a deeper look in to Will's emotional determination and his ability to prove himself, and his love, to Lake. The roadblocks here are even more detrimental than in "Slammed," and I swear you must keep a tissue nearby. It feels so real.

While I generally favor a trilogy, and was nervous about starting a book that was only a 2-part series for fear that I'd be left wanting more, "Point of Retreat" didn't disappoint. Colleen Hoover was able to build the main characters, supporting characters, build several emotional climaxes, and leave us with a satisfactory resolution.

Poetry is prominent and urgent in POR, and is written just as thoughtfully and delivered just as well.

These are two books I feel strongly about being made in to movies. They would do well based on the character development and story lines on their own, but the element of slam poetry would play out beautifully on screen. And, hey, it never hurt to throw more poetry in to the world.

**This is how passionate I am about these 2 books. I own them on my Kindle. However, I'm going to purchase one copy of each book from the authors website and give them away. Leave a relevant comment either here, or on any Facebook link to this blog I have posted. You also must share this link on your Facebook page. On Monday evening (5/14), which is my birthday (!) I will select a name at random from the comments I receive, and mail you a copy of "Slammed" and "Point of Retreat." You must also promise to pass the books along when you're done ;) **


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Book Review: The Eden Trilogy (Nicole Williams)

The Broken Leg Reading Express is full steam ahead. In the 3 weeks since I broke my leg I've finished 6 books. "Wintergirls," which I've already reviewed, "The Eden Trilogy," which I'll review tonight, and the "Slammed" series (Colleen Hoover), which I'll review tonight or tomorrow.

The Eden Trilogy is comprised of "Eternal Eden," "Fallen Eden," and "United Eden," and is written by Nicole Williams. It's a paranormal romance following Bryn Dawson, a college student, and her not-so-normal love story with William Hayward.

I will say, it took me a good 30% of the first book to feel like I was on even footing. Part of that was due to things happening in the first book, that don't happen until later in other series (major character changes, definition of good and evil). We're lead to take a lot for granted until we're given background information. This irritated me at first. In fact, I emailed the friend who recommended the book and said, "Does this get better?" She assured me it did- and she was right. In retrospect, when reading the first book, we're just as confused as Bryn was when she was going through everything she goes through, and we learn things as she does. The rest of the series has a much more melodic flow.

While the male and female leads are formulaic (in a good way) regarding paranormal romances, the development of the paranormal "world" was well done. Details were well thought out, believable, but not overwhelming. Secondary characters, which are typically handled with caution in most romantic stories, are handled with authoritative zeal in this trilogy. They don't take over the story, but they are well developed enough to make you care about their own lives, and how there lives intertwine with our lovers. This particular trilogy has a "spin-off" called, "The Patrick Chronicles," the first book is called "Fissure," and it's based on the brother of the male lead, Will. I will be reading "Fissure" asap, and the conclusion of the series is due out shortly.

The trilogy follows the typical arc and, for me, that means that the 2nd book, "Fallen Eden," was my favorite. There is lots of action, lots of drama, and no need to rush to resolution. And, importantly, it leaves you wanting more.

The thing I appreciated most about the third book, "United Eden," is that where the ending would take place in most books, "United Eden," continues on a little more- allowing us to bask in the resolution for a while.

People who enjoyed "The Twilight Saga," will find comfort and familiarity in this series. However, this series takes it a step further. It starts in a place where "Breaking Dawn" ends. This series is about the life in a paranormal world, not trying to break in to it. This is why people who found "The Twilight Saga" slow, would also enjoy this series.

Soooo, check out The Eden Trilogy by Nicole Williams for a beautiful love story that will leave you seeing sapphire :)


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bella vs. Katniss

Let me preface this with a warning: SPOILER'S AHEAD- DO. NOT. READ. UNLESS YOU'VE READ, OR DON'T CARE TO READ, THE ENTIRE TWILIGHT SERIES AND THE ENTIRE HUNGER GAMES SERIES....KTHANKS.  I should also note that I've not read one single internet article comparing Bella Swan (Twilight) to Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games).  This is purely my opinion based on the novels.

I'll start with my conclusion, then try to show why. I like Bella Swan better. I know, I know. Throw feminist stones, if you will- it shocked me, too. How, indeed, could I possibly justify liking our delicate Bella Swan, over our hardcore, bow-slinging sister-friend Katniss Everdeen?

Resolve. That's why. Stay with me...

As I mentioned in my post regarding the Twilight Series, I was merely satisfied with the ending of the series. Bella didn't really have to sacrifice much to get LITERALLY EVERYTHING SHE WANTED. Edward, Jacob, a baby, her Cullen family, and her father, all lived happily ever after- no kidding. Gag me a little. Meanwhile, Katniss sacrificed EVERYTHING and did not end up with EVERYTHING she wanted, though she did get a lot. Maybe even most.

However, Katniss never knew what she wanted- and that's a big problem for me. An even bigger problem is that when she thought she knew what she wanted, she hesitated every damn step of the way. Initially, her goal was survival- she knew she wanted that, and she got it. Had I read ONLY Hunger Games (book 1) and especially Catching Fire (book 2) and ONLY Twilight (book 1), Katniss would be the CLEAR winner. Bottom line. She was strong, no one dictated anything for her. And she threw EVERYTHING on the line for her sister, not a boy..until she threw everything on the line for a boy (which was the major complaint many feminists had with the entire Twilight Series).

 Granted, while the series' have similarities, it can be rather like comparing apples and oranges because one is a paranormal love story dealing with eternity and immortality, while the other is a very realistic portrayal of a not-so-future America and is not, despite some reviews, a love story at all.

Taking both series as a whole, however, Bella comes out on top. Throughout the Twilight series, Bella's resolve for what SHE wanted grew stronger, she grew as a person, dealt with  very real teenage girl emotions, wants, and needs. She knew that her soul and Edward's soul (as she saw it) were destined, and she did all in her human power to cross over.  Not JUST to be with Edward for Eternity, but to be true to her soul and where it belonged.  She raced across the world to face The Volturi head on, which gives me chills every time I see it on screen. She held on to a baby that she wanted, because she knew it would be ok (although I found fault in this while reading it for the first time).

While I have my biggest issues reserved for Breaking Dawn (the final book), Bella dove in to her new role as  vampire and fought through unimaginable personal pain and confusion to save everyone she loved. Yes, yes, it's annoying that EVERYONE she loved came out unscathed, and no one had to sacrifice for HER (would we really have missed Rosalie?), but SHE decided, and SHE did it.  She became what she wanted first, even when others hesitated, including her beloved! She knew it would be best for both of them, he did not decide that for her. She was proud of who she was in the end, and her happily ever after was self-created.

Katniss's resolve, however, faltered greatly (in my eyes), as the series ran on- ESPECIALLY in Mockingjay. For goodness sake, the title of the book excited the hell out of me; by the time we get to Mockingjay we know that Katniss IS the mockingjay. She, however, does not. Or maybe she does. Or maybe not. The whiplash is infuriating. Katniss spent all of her time in Catching Fire being very calculating, cunning, planning, tough, and ready to give the ultimate middle finger to The Capitol.

Mockingjay was lackluster and slow. While it showed the reality of living in a hidden society preparing for a massive takeover- Katniss's resolve was gone. The anger and energy she could have- and maybe should have-gathered by seeing a destroyed District 12, the bones of those she grew up with, should have empowered her and STRENGTHENED her resolve as the mockingjay. But, this role was annoyingly left to Gale, the one we're lead to believe loved her though I don't totally buy it.Gale plotted, planned, acted, fought. I wanted so badly for Katniss to spit profanities and take an active role (despite President Coin) in the uprising, but she just became a drooling pawn for most of the book.

By the time Katniss found her resolve, her sister was blown to bits and she slept for some time, woke up, killed President Coin on her way to kill President Snow, and went back to sleep for a while longer. She was a damn hero and wasn't present. What. The. Hell.

 In the end, however, it did wrap up nicely. And, for the sake of psychology, I'm glad it did. Taking Mockingjay as an isolated book, Katniss's greatest strength comes in the Epilogue, in her ability to move past absolutely everything that happened in the first three novels. But even then, she didn't take an active role in maintaining the peace she had a piece in creating. She still didn't acknowledge the importance of her being the mockingjay, because she knew it wasn't her choice or her resolve. She said that her children would learn that their parents "had a role in it."  And that pisses me off.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"Wintergirls" Review

I want to jump ahead and review "Wintergirls" before tackling "Hunger Games" and "Fifty Shades of Grey."  I read "Wintergirls" most recently, so I'd like to get this review out there and get more people to read this- because it's a fantastic, deep read.

"Wintergirls", by Laurie Halse Anderson, follows 18-year-old Lia, and her struggle through the deepest, darkest, pockets of anorexia, and back. She loses her friend Cassie due to side effects of an eating disorder, and this book tracks Lia's grief and attempt at healing.

The title of one review I read said it best, "This book is not about anorexia."  While that is the disease that Lia has, this book is about loss, pain, family strife, divorce, promises, friendship, life, and hope. This book, however, is not for the faint of heart. It's very intense. While the author claims to have done a lot of research for this book, the emotions and actions of Lia are so raw- so real- that it wouldn't surprise me if Laurie herself struggled with disordered eating at some point in her life.  Further, I did a lot of research in high school and college on eating disorders. Even with my knowledge of the disease, I found parts of the book hard to read- because I knew it was real.

 Teenagers struggle daily with so much, and are held captive by new and raging hormones. Anderson captures these struggles with such emotion, it was like I was back in high school, reading a friends journal or something of the like.

Download or buy this book (I have 1 copy to loan!) and you won't be disappointed.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Twilight Saga

This post might come as old news, "been there/ done that", to some, but it's fairly new to me. I just want to have a not-so-brief post discussing the Twilight Saga (books) since I enjoyed the series....and have nothing better to do with my broken leg.

The premiere novel, "Twilight," was published in 2005- the year I graduated college. During that time I didn't read much at all, except non-fiction, and this just didn't show up on my radar. In fact, nothing showed up on my radar until October 2011 when I noticed incessant "Breaking Dawn: Part 1" trailers.

Four books and three movies had been released without my noticing. This becomes important, because by the time I made the fateful decision to "just download 'Twilight' on my Kindle," I knew NOTHING. Well, not nothing. I knew there was a vampire, a warewolf, and a girl (ahh the old story). I knew I had seen conversations about "Team Edward" and "Team Jacob" but I, A. Didn't know who was who and B. Didn't know why there were teams. I also only vaguely recalled seeing a preview for one of the movies on TV, which I now know was "New Moon." That was it. Well, I had also seen previews to "Breaking Dawn: Part 1," so I then knew Edward was the vamp, Jacob was the wolf, and there would be a wedding and some disfiguring pregnancy. It was all fairly out of context.

I mentioned to my friend Jessica, "I think I'll download 'Twilight', have you read these books?"  I was met with a brief silence followed by, "are you kidding? you neverreadthemohmygod." She told me to read "Twilight" and get back to her.

It all started so a book...

I was friggen HOOOOOOOOKED! And, technically speaking, I still can't explain why (and neither can my other literary-inclined friends).

 "Twilight" was, I'll say it, poorly written- technically. I don't mean technically as people use to imply air quotes. I mean the technical style of writing was-maybe not poor- but fair at best. I could have easily written that book in high school- if not sooner. I know that this was Stephanie Meyer's first novel, and it was written for the YA audience, but I feel the publishing house could have polished her skills. If Bella "shrugged" her coat off or on one more time I was going to mail Mrs. Meyer a thesaurus.  It's interesting to note, however, that the writing at the end of the novel was better than at the beginning- like she had to be warmed up. Further, the technical writing in each book got better...But, again, oddly, it didn't matter- I kept reading! That means something...

However, the book had me hooked. The emotions Stephanie Meyer was able to write about were so spot-on for a teenage girl, it was like I was thrown back in to high school. When she described being touched by Edward, it was real, electricity that everyone feels- despite the fact that hers was more- because he was a vampire.

After I read "Twilight," I HAD to read New Moon, and since all the books were released, I didn't have to wait. I would read the book, watch the movie, and move on to the next book. The "Twilight" movie was ok, but soooo much of that book happened in Bella's head, it would have been impossible to have an exact copy- it was good for people who did and did not read the book.

I finished the series in 8 days. "Eclipse" was my favorite book of the series because there was a lot of action, a lot of back story, and a lot of interaction between Jacob and Edward- which hadn't happened in the previous 2 stories. "New Moon," was my favorite movie adaptation of all 4 movies that have been released  so far. "New Moon" was incredibly depressing and emotive. I thought they did a fabulous job with the acting, direction, and sound track to tie it all together for the movie. I could watch "New Moon" all day.

The series is INCREDIBLY romantic, on a young adult level. You can feel the urgency and passion in Edward's words and actions toward Bella, the physical heartbreak and longing in Jacob, and the constant confusion and unfamiliar feelings of Bella.

"Breaking Dawn," however, I still have some issues with. I nearly stopped reading the book during the first half. While my friends assured me, "it will all work out in the end," I was highly annoyed by Bella's sudden resolve, as she was generally not self confident and lambish through the series. I get that there was the underlying message of her being able to be in control of her body, but I didn't really buy it- neither did Jacob. It was the first time in the entire series that I was "Team Jacob." In this instance, I actually liked this movie BETTER than the first half of the book (the last movie is split in to two parts) because it was able to rush through a lot of the "no I want the baby, I can't explain why- but I do" text in the book that made me scream.

Further, the ending was just OK. It was tied up neatly in a nice brown package with some twine...But there was no sacrifice. I'll save further critique for several months from now when the 2nd part of Breaking Dawn comes out, since I have many friends who only watch the movies- don't read the books.

Also, I'm not going to even address the constant critique of Meyer's use of the novel as an impetus to push her Mormon values on the readers. I read the entire series without knowing of this criticism and I never "got that" and I have some hardcore feminism/ Women's Studies in my background. I think it was just something for people to pick at. Get over it- it's fanciful.

I still recommend that people read this series. Despite it's incredible length (I think the shortest book is 400 pages? and the longest is over 600), it's an easy read and will suck you in to a wonderful world :)

Later I will discuss "The Hunger Games" books, each will get it's own post because each book is so intense and so different. Not that The Twilight Saga isn't- but I don't feel like reviewing THAT many books ;)


Friday, April 27, 2012

Starting Over...

...We've been here before. With my apologies for my inconsistency. Mommybloggers have my respect because I just can't find the time- really, I can't!  I posted before Quinn's birthday, had ideas for more posts, but they never came. I've been reading book after book, which is cut in to my blogging time. No blogs came.

Then. I. broke. my. leg.

Last Satruday night.

Moms, I'll give you a moment to let your eyes readjust and your lower jaw to find your mouth again. As moms, we know that anything that physically incapacitates us is one of the Horsemen, just awful.   I won't get in to the details of how it happened- there aren't many, danskos + wet floor= broken fibula and torn ligaments/tendons in ankle area. This translated in to surgery to place 3 plates and 10 or 11 screws to get everything back in alignment.

Here I sit. On my couch. I'm going to have to start it all over. I had just gotten in to a great diet/exercise routine that was producing visible and consistent results. Now I have to/ get to start over. With PT. Taking it slow. building up strength and endurance. Listening to my body. Taking it Slow. Want to get 100%.

Since November I've read 11 books. The Twilight Series (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn), The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mocking Jay), Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, Fifty Shades Freed), and Wintergirls.  I was bitten by the series bug and just read and read and read. I finished Wintergirls this afternoon and loved it. I'm going to start A Prayer For Owen Meany today.

I didn't read much fiction since I finished the Sweet Valley High series in middle school, aside from required readings. When you're a sociology major in college, you read lots and lots and lots of non fiction in the form of demographics, case studies, anthropological memoirs...But I'm reminding myself how much reading fiction is so relaxing, is better than TV, and is so vital to the "undumbing" of civilization.

While I'm healing I'd like to discuss the books I've read, am reading, and will take suggestions on which ones to read. I read quickly. One must when one has 3 toddlers and nap and bedtimes equal reading time.  My husband is being FANTASTIC with this broken leg nonsense and has stepped in to the Mr. Mom role well- but not without the incredible support from our family, friends, church, and community- everyone is just wonderful.  I'm going to focus on continuing to journal my food so I don't gain weight whilst I sit on this couch. Reading and blogging will help as well.

I hope to post tonight with a brief discussion on the Twilight Saga. :)


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Then the tears came...

I cried in church last I was front of everyone. Rather, I couldn't finish what I WANTED to say because the tears cut me off and filled in the rest.

Nearly 2 weeks ago Quinn had tubes put in his ears. Big deal, lots of kids get tubes- right? Not so much.

When I would tell people he was getting tubes they would say, "ah, ear infections?" And I'd have to explain that he's only had 2 or 3 ear infections in his 4 years of life, and not the 14 a year that often ignites talks of tubes. Quinn failed his hearing test at school...then again at the audiologist. The audiologist stated that Quinn couldn't hear much below 45 decibels, which is a relatively normal speaking volume-except for in this house ;) The ENT said that there was a significant fluid build-up behind his eardrums- no real "reason" like 7 million ear infections...just poor drainage with stuffy noses, etc that most of us don't notice.

After Quinn's surgery, specifically right when we got home at 10am and proceeded to my bedroom to take a nap, he heard the cat eating- presumably for the first time. He sat up in bed and said "WHAT'S THAT SOUND?!" Describing this specific revelation in Church cracked my voice and I couldn't share that Quinn cried when I yelled from one room to another with him standing right next to me- because it hurt his ears, or that the next several days were filled with walks to the bus stop that made him stop dead in his tracks to look around at where any given sound came from.

Quinn's speaking volume is gradually getting lower too, and our house is becoming a quieter place as well. I have to pay attention to his new sensitivity. If I snap loudly at him, he's been driven to tears. If the house gets loud and full of commotion, he seems to either retreat or overreact as if it's sensory overload (which it is).

It's another new way of life around here, as my big man hits FOUR YEARS OLD TOMORROW!

Birthday post will come tomorrow :)

Love you buddy!


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Like climbing Mt. Everest...

The title of this post comes from a blog I was just introduced to. Her January 4th post (the first one I read) hit so close to home that I posted it on my Facebook page as "the best commentary on motherhood I've ever read." Here's the link for you to get caught up... ...All caught up? Awesome, right?

Might I add that motherhood, some days, is like climbing Mt. Everest WHILE IT'S ON FIRE, and other days it's like you've grown wings and can soar up it.

The Chronos moments are those like I summarized in my run-on paragraph describing my hiatus. Those are all snippets of time, and things that have happened and we've just moved on.

The Kairos moments we can see on most days, but describe the summation of parenting- of mothering. I highlight mothering because it IS different. Yes, growing a child doesn't make one a mother. But, for those of us who grew, nursed, and are raising our children- it's MOTHERING. Mothering is, and will likely remain, the single most spiritual connection with God I will ever have until I meet Him myself. Raising children gives you a direct line to the Big Guy. Not only because children are more spiritually attuned than the rest of us, but God GAVE them SPECIFICALLY to us. I think about that sometimes when I'm having a particularly difficult day. I think "well, if someone else could be doing it better I'm sure God would have given the kids to on!"

I hope you take the time to read that post- it's really great, and is truly the only reason for this post :)

Carry on fellow mommy warriors ;)


Friday, January 6, 2012

Stop all the clocks...

...Thank you W.H. Auden...Well, I only wish we could. Then, we could ignore the fact that I haven't had a post since JULY. July? Seriously?

I'd call this a hiatus. Before I typed that word, I thought, "I can't truly call it a hiatus because I didn't KNOW it was going to be a hiatus." In truth, I had no intentions between then and now of posting- alas it was a hiatus. And, I found a great quote to help bookend the time away, "Thus began a break of undetermined length and meaning." (Jacob Slichter).

I like the "...and meaning" part of that quote. What did my hiatus mean?

I can tell you what I DID during that time: Quinn's hair grew back, I started working as an Aide in a Pre-K 3 classroom at a CATHOLIC school (much more on that later), Paige and Aiden turned 2, I'm still not losing weight, I stopped trying to lose weight, I started trying to lose weight, marriage counseling (cue the gasp), Quinn started Head Start, Quinn was evaluated by the Committee on Preschool Special Education, he was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder/Sensory Seeking, Quinn subsequently failed a hearing test at school, then again at the audiologist, leading to our appt in a week with the ENT to see if tubes in his ears will fix the significant hearing loss apparently caused by extreme fluid build up behind his ear drum, friends have become pregnant with 2nd babies, my baby brother got engaged to his FABULOUS girlfriend, people have come out of the closet, people have locked themselves in the closet, people forget where the closet is, people think the closet matters, I read the ENTIRE Twilight series in 10 days, and have seen all 4 movies that have been released thus far- 3 of them many more than one time, Christmas happened in all of its yuletide glory, and here I sit, January of 2012 the year the Mayans ran out of room on their calendar... ;)

But, what did that all mean? I've become a better mother, hopefully a better wife, but I've become one that realizes she NEEDS to write. Something. Every. Single. Day. Writing has always come easily to me. Poems, short stories, this blog. However, when life gets busy and I forget that writing connects ME to MY life...I get all disoriented, disillusioned, and lots of other nasty dis- words. My ONLY New Year's resolution is to write more. I hope you all get to see most of it- I've always been an open book- that's how people learn and grow. I hope as I sort out my subconsciously planned hiatus, you can be there with me and we can all move forward, and be better.

Let us not, "pack up the moon and dismantle the sun." as Auden depressingly writes in one of my favorite poems of all time. Rather, lets grow together- be better together.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." ~Aristotle