Anthology Spotlight: HORRORS: REAL, IMAGINED, AND DEADLY

So this actually came out a few months ago, but I’ve been so busy I never got to bragging posting about my short story that got accepted into the newest anthology coming from Elephant’s Bookshelf Press (I’ve had two other short stories published in their previous anthologies, so EBP is like my publishing family now. *wink-wink*).

But better late than never, amirite?

If you like Horror, this one’s for you. If you don’t like Horror, but you like ME, well, this one’s for you, too. Ha!

27160237

Fear is personal. What are you afraid of? What causes the hair on your neck to stand up? Do you worry about what your fears might mean? What horrifies you might be nothing to someone else. But there’s something for just about everyone in this collection of personal tales. Whether your fears remain secret or you laugh while you watch monsters devour your neighbors, we believe something in this collection will make you keep the lights on when you go to bed. The first collection from Elephant’s Bookshelf Press focused purely on horror stories, “Horrors: Real, Imagined, and Deadly” includes tales from E.B. Black, Kay Elam, Kim Graff, Justin Holley, Precy Larkins, Sarah Glenn Marsh, Mindy McGinnis, R.S. Mellette, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Matt Sinclair, A.M. Supinger, and Charlee Vale.

Published: November 4, 2015

Publisher: Elephant’s Bookshelf Press

Add to Goodreads

Available on Amazon!

 

My Review:

These are awesomely creepy tales!

THE DREAM HOUSE : I wrote this so of course I love it. (Haunted houses and creepy girls…yikes!)

BLOOD AND INK by Mindy McGinnis : Quite unexpected ending that may have sent me snickering (because I’m sometimes immature)–but I’m sure it’s a horrific end for…some people.

THE SOUND OF THE CHAIN by R.S. Mellette : Okay, this one terrified me. I had that uncomfortable, inward-cringing feeling because, while this is not your typical blood-and-gore horror (there’s no gore and it’s still terrifying!), the idea of this story coming true to life is enough to curdle one’s blood. The expert build-up of suspense had me on my toes, too. Well done!

A SECRET KEPT IN SHAME by A.M. Supinger : I had the pleasure of beta-reading this, and let me just say that A.M. Supinger knows how to evoke vivid imagery, as well as create intriguing characters that you can oddly sympathize with despite their villain status.

THE GODS WITHIN by Justin Holley : Justin Holley is a master horror writer (I have had the pleasure of beta-reading his novel-length works), and this one is grim and disturbing in a creeptastic way!

THE WILD HUNT by Sarah Glenn Marsh : I loved the suspense in this story, and not knowing where it was heading to, or what I was going to find in the end. And the ending didn’t disappoint, bringing the story to full circle!

CORRUPT by Kim Graff : Disturbing on so many levels. How do you decide who’s right and who’s wrong, especially when you’ve been brought up to believe in a certain truth? This reminds me of cults and the brainwashing that goes with their teaching. Except there are no cults in this story.

TIME TO PRAY by E.B. Black : Another favorite of mine! I’m still unnerved by this.

LOST SOLES by Madeline Mora-Summonte : A bit heartbreaking. Very suspenseful.

THE TROLLS by Kay Elam: Loved this one, too. Strange and unexpected and excellent character voice!

THE ICE TREE by Charlee Vale : Pretty imagery with a sad, creepy conclusion.

LOST by Matt Sinclair : Short but emotion-filled. Honestly, I felt sad reading this. But there’s also just the right amount of spine-tingling factor to close this anthology with that ending.

Looking Back: My 2015 Reads

I can’t believe it’s already 2016. A new year of new reads, yeah? 2015 was good to me. Not only did I manage to reach my Goodreads Reading Challenge of 200 books, I went over it by about 4 books. Granted I had quite a few graphic novels included in my Read list, but hey, a book is a book is a book. Besides, graphic novels are AWESOME! I love Art, and I love words. Graphic novels marry these two loves, which makes me a very, very happy girl.❤

I also discovered audiobooks. Running and listening to audiobooks at the same time is therapeutic…to me, anyway.

Someone once asked me whether I prefer e-books or print, and I answered: Both. My Kindle Fire took a plunge down the stairs (courtesy of 3-year-old) sometime last year, so I didn’t read as many e-books as I wanted, but Santa gifted me an iPad mini this Christmas. Helloooo, e-books! Seriously, I don’t care whether it’s a paperback, a hardcover, an audiobook, or an e-book. To me, a book is a book is a book.

(Warning: This is a long list, but will not include all of the books I’ve read in 2015)

FAVORITE YA READS I WILL HAPPILY RECOMMEND TO MY FRIENDS:

  • A MURDER OF MAGPIES by Sarah Bromley
  • THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE by Patrick Ness
  • TIGER LILY by Jodi Lynn Anderson
  • JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta
  • SMALL DAMAGES by Beth Kephart
  • ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell
  • LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green
  • SKINNY by Donna Cooner
  • SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY by Julie Murphy
  • INLAND by Kat Rosenfield
  • SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie

1162022  7514925  22910900  A-Murder-of-Magpies-Cover

BOOKS WRITTEN BY MY FRIENDS THAT YOU SHOULD TOTALLY CHECK OUT (because they’re awesome!):

  • DARE ME by Eric Devine (realistic, lots of swearing LOL! But it makes you think)
  • INTO A MILLION PIECES by Angela V. Cook (edgy as in succubi edgy, you get?, mysterious, a little heartbreaking)
  • ENSNARED (#3) by A.G. Howard (this ends the Splintered trilogy; a fab fantasy series!)
  • REMAKE by Ilima Todd (if you can choose who to be, would you?, sci-fi)
  • THE UNHAPPENING OF GENESIS LEE by Shallee McArthur (cool sci-fi about memories)
  • STITCHING SNOW by R.C. Lewis (a kickass Snow White in space!)
  • KILLING RUBY ROSE by Jessie Humphries (a vigilante Veronica Mars with super cool shoes)
  • DATE WITH A ROCKSTAR by Sarah Gagnon (dystopian, reality tv, sweet romance)
  • HOLLY HEARTS HOLLYWOOD by Kenley Conrad (charming main character)
  • LAST YEAR’S MISTAKE by Gina Ciocca (teen angst, teen romance, make-your-heart-flutter)
  • I AM HER REVENGE by Meredith Moore (psycho mom)
  • THE SUMMER I FOUND YOU by Jolene Perry (sweet NA Romance)
  • FOR SURE AND CERTAIN by Anya Monroe (NA, Amish, Romance)
  • EXTRACTION by Stephanie Diaz (cool sci-fi/dystopian)

17290704  22447220  23158400  2229964220578610  1606700823230475

 

COOL/QUIRKY/SPECULATIVE FIC/FANTASY/SCI-FI/PARANORMAL:

  • NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE by Amy K.Nichols (cool parallel-world-type sci-fi)
  • THE WALLS AROUND US by Nova Ren Suma
  • PAPER MAGICIAN by Charlie N. Holmberg (loved this!)
  • JACKABY by William Ritter (Sherlock Holmes paranormal-style)
  • COMPULSION by Martina Boone
  • HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER by Lish McBride
  • RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard
  • (DON’T YOU) FORGET ABOUT ME by Kate Karyus Quinn (strange and quirky, but I liked it)
  • EVERY DAY by David Levithan
  • ALPHA GODDESS by Amalie Howard
  • THE BODY ELECTRIC by Beth Revis

20312462  18599667  18044277

DYSTOPIAN/APOCALYPTIC/END-OF-WORLD:

  • VIVIAN APPLE AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Katie Coyle (cults)
  • MORE THAN THIS by Patrick Ness
  • ASHFALL by Mike Mullin (volcanoes)
  • THE GIVER by Lois Lowry
  • ALL WE HAVE IS NOW by Lisa Schroeder
  • THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner
  • THE PROGRAM by Suzanne Young
  • GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE by Andrew Smith (weird alien end-of-world story)

21969786  11366397  18079719

HISTORICAL FIC:

  • A NIGHT DIVIDED by Jennifer A. Nielsen (a wonderful story of a young girl’s bravery at the time of the Berlin Wall dividing east and west Germany)
  • THE WALLED CITY by Ryan Graudin (based on Kowloon city in Hong Kong)

22024488  18196040

THRILLERS/HORROR:

  • KILLER INSTINCT by S. E. Green (messed-up vigilante teen who’s after serial killers)
  • KILLER WITHIN by S.E. Green
  • IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS by Cat Winters (ghosts! yay!)
  • WHITE SPACE by Ilsa J. Bick
  • 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil (sci-fi and horror combined, really)
  • INSOMNIA by J.R. Johansson
  • CONVERSION by Katherine Howe

18343196  13112915  15836516

CONTEMPORARY/REALISTIC:

  • CRANK by Ellen Hopkins (drug addiction)
  • SCHIZO by Nic Sheff (schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, mental illness)
  • CAN’T LOOK AWAY by Donna Cooner
  • 100 SIDEWAYS MILES by Andrew Smith (epilepsy, seizures)
  • STICK by Andrew Smith (lgbt, deformity, abuse, physical abuse, bullying)
  • GEORGE by Alex Gino (trans)
  • COMPLICIT by Stephanie Kuehn
  • GET EVEN by Gretchen McNeil (bullying, thriller)
  • CATALYST by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • THE HALF-LIFE OF MOLLY PIERCE by Katrina Leno (mental illness)
  • ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE by Benjamin Alire Saenz (lgbt)
  • BEHIND THE SCENES by Dahlia Adler (Hollywood, romance)

16068973  18762415  18404113   170171

SERIES I LOVED:

  • The HUNGER GAMES trilogy by Suzanne Collins (this was a re-read, and I loved the series even more the second time around)
  • The THRONE OF GLASS series by Sarah J. Maas (so good!)
  • The RAZORLAND series by Ann Aguirre (zombies! But not your typical zombies…)

7137327  10193062  10596724

  • I HUNT KILLERS trilogy by Barry Lyga (so disturbing, and yet I couldn’t put it down)
  • The RAVEN BOYS series by Maggie Stiefvater (I cannot wait for the last book!)

SEQUELS TO SERIES I’VE ALREADY STARTED BUT HAVEN’T FINISHED:

  • IN THE END (#2) by Demitria Lunetta (fast-paced read, suspenseful)
  • PRODIGY (#2) by Marie Lu
  • MONSTERS OF MEN (#3) by Patrick Ness (great ending to this trilogy)
  • INSURGENT #2) by Veronica Roth
  • ALLEGIANT (#3) by Veronica Roth
  • THE LAST APPRENTICE by Joseph Delaney; books #9, #12, and #13

MIDDLE GRADE:

  • HOLES by Louis Sachar (such a clever book)
  • BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson (beautiful! this is a novel-in-verse)
  • SPINDLERS by Lauren Oliver
  • A YEAR OF SHADOWS by Claire Legrand
  • FORTUNATELY, THE MILK by Neil Gaiman (charming!)
  • Roald Dahl’s books:

6327 39988 63106319  6687  6689  6693  31456  194755  74532

  • BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA by Katherine Paterson
  • NUMBER THE STARS by Lois Lowry (a beautiful story about courage during the Nazi era)
  • BUD, NOT BUDDY by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • EARWIG AND THE WITCH by Diana Wynne Jones (I love Diana Wynne Jones’s books!)
  • SADAKO AND THE THOUSAND PAPER CRANES by Eleanor Coerr (this got me started on origami)
  • THE HYPNOTISTS by Gordon Korman (a fun, quirky adventure!)
  • BREAKING THE ICE by Gail Nall (one of my absolute favorite reads! And my daughter loves this, too!)

20662374

NONFICTION:

  • A THOUSAND MILES TO FREEDOM: My Escape from North Korea by Eunsun Kim with Sebastien Falletti (a compelling and harrowing account)
  • HOLD STILL: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann
  • BRAIN ON FIRE: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan (I am always fascinated with books that have a medical slant to them–it’s the Science geek in me resurfacing)
  • ON WRITING: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
  • IMPRISONED: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans during World War II by Martin W. Sandler
  • WHAT I TALK ABOUT WHEN I TALK ABOUT RUNNING by Haruki Murakami (Relatable because I like running–though I don’t do long distance the way Murakami does–and writing)
  • AMERICAN GYPSY by Oksana Marafioti (I love reading about other cultures. This one enthralled me)
  • PEOPLE I WANT TO PUNCH IN THE THROAT by Jen Mann
  • MAUDE by Donna Mabry

13547180  12107713

CLASSICS:

  • FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD by Thomas Hardy
  • A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens (bah! humbug!)
  • THE WAR OF THE WORLDS by H.G. Wells
  • THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO NEST by Ken Kesey
  • THE YELLOW WALLPAPER AND OTHER STORIES by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell
  • WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE by Shirley Jackson (delightfully creepy)
  • THE LOTTERY AND OTHER STORIES by Shirley Jackson
  • PETER PAN by J.M. Barrie
  • THE LITTLE PRINCE by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (love!)
  • THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA series by C.S. Lewis

ADULT FICTION:

  • THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt (complex and brilliant)
  • THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins
  • THE HISTORY OF LOVE by Nicole Krauss (beautiful. I may have cried a little while reading this)
  • THE BONE CLOCKS by David Mitchell
  • WICKED: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
  • PRACTICAL MAGIC by Alice Hoffman
  • THE GOOD GIRL by Mary Kubica (reminded me of Gone Girl though the plot is entirely different. I guess it’s the vibe or tone of the story that feels similar)
  • THE SILENT WIFE by A.S.A. Harrison
  • I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson
  • LIKE FAMILY by Paolo Giordano
  • AFTER DARK by Haruki Murakami (Murakami’s writing is so atmospheric)
  • COLORLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI AND HIS YEARS OF PILGRIMAGE by Haruki Murakami
  • ALEX by Pierre Lemaitre (a page-turner!)
  • A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab (I love the different Londons)
  • Stieg Larsson’s trilogy:

2429135  5060378  6892870

  • ROOMS by Lauren Oliver
  • GARDEN SPELLS by Sarah Addison Allen (so sweet and charming!)

GRAPHIC NOVELS:

  • AMULET series (1-6 books) by Kazu Kibuishi (Loooove! And what’s even better is that my 7-year-old loves this series too. We can’t wait for book 7, which comes out next month, btw)

1238684  6277410  7955881  10537195  13436384  20578979

  • THROUGH THE WOODS by Emily Carroll (lovely illustrations! And I love Carroll’s brand of horror. Subtle but effective) 
  • EL DEAFO by Cece Bell (you cannot NOT love this)
  • NIMONA by Nicole Stevenson (a favorite! Multidimensional characters and a story that has a lot of depth)
  • MANGA MAN by Barry Lyga
  • MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (split into 4 books) by Hayao Miyazaki
  • THE DUMBEST IDEA EVER by Jimmy Gownley
  • SMILE by Raina Telgemeier
  • THIS ONE SUMMER bym Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
  • WONDERSTRUCK by Brian Selznick
  • THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET by Brian Selznick
  • THE GRAVEYARD BOOK Vol 1 & 2 by Neil Gaiman
  • DEATH (deluxe edition) by Neil Gaiman
  • CORALINE by Neil Gaiman
  • CITY OF LIGHT, CITY OF DARK by Avi
  • THE CITY OF EMBER (book 1) by Jeanne DuPrau
  • LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES by Laini Taylor (A re-read because I love Laini Taylor’s prose, and I love the artwork in this book–which is done by her husband, who is a talented illustrator)
  • I AM PRINCESS X by Cherie Priest (I’m a new fan of this author)

6369113  17408897

SHORT STORIES/ANTHOLOGIES:

  • DOUBLE CROSSED by Ally Carter
  • THE GIRL AND THE MACHINE by Beth Revis
  • THE STRANGE LIBRARY by Haruki Murakami
  • HOW THEY MET AND OTHER STORIES by David Levithan
  • HORRORS: REAL, IMAGINED, AND DEADLY edited by Matt Sinclair (My short story is included in this anthology! So you should go check it out <3)

27160237

 

 

 

Book Spotlight: JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta

055

I usually keep a photo record of my 2015 reads on my Instagram account. Follow me if you’re interested to see what I’m currently reading (and what my past reads are). IG: @precylarkins

Taking a break from revising to do a few book spotlights because I love getting to recommend books to people. And this particular book is one of my all-time favorites!

About the Book: YA Contemporary

I’m dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.

Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs—the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor’s only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother—who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

The moving, joyous and brilliantly compelling new novel from the best-selling, multi-award-winning author of Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca. (blurb from Goodreads)

About the Author:

Melina Marchetta was born in Sydney Australia. Her first novel, Looking For Alibrandi was awarded the Children’s Book Council of Australia award in 1993 and her second novel, Saving Francesca won the same award in 2004. Looking For Alibrandi was made into a major film in 2000 and won the Australian Film Institute Award for best Film and best adapted screen play, also written by the author. On the Jellicoe Road was released in 2006 and won the WAYRBA voted by teenagers in Western Australia in 2008. It also won the US Printz Medal in 2009 for excellence in YA literature. This was followed up by Finnikin of the Rock in 2008 which won the Aurealis Award for YA fantasy, The Piper’s Son in 2010 which was shortlisted for the Qld Premier’s Lit Award, NSW Premier’s Lit Award, Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, CBC awards and longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. Her follow up to Finnikin, Froi of the Exiles will be released in Australia in October and the US in March 2012.

 

This book was AMAZING! So beautiful and heartfelt, so touching and poignant. I cried, I smiled, I cried some more while reading this. I envy those who haven’t read this yet because there is something magical about that first read, that first experience with JELLICOE ROAD. To be honest, at the beginning, I wasn’t immediately into it, just because I was reading 3 other books at around the same time. But then I got into it. Really got into it, and I couldn’t tear myself away from the pages–from the characters and their hopes desires dreams, from the past that even years later would encroach and entwine upon the present, from the relationships and friendships that are so flawed but oh so real and sometimes, heartbreaking.

Please, please, please add this to your TBR, or better yet, go pick it up now and read. You won’t regret it.

Video

We are not OTHER

I’ve always been an easygoing person, until I had kids. Let me rephrase that: I didn’t become a mama bear until I had my cubs to take care of. This post is probably going to sound rant-y, but whatever. The mama bear’s claws are out.

I’ve never thought of myself as an outsider, even though I was born and raised in the Philippines, a country located in Southeast Asia (for those of you who do not know.) Ethnically, I identify as Asian. Legally, I’m American because I swore an oath and everything, and I have all the rights an American citizen possesses (yes, I can and do vote!). I’m short in stature, has black hair, brown eyes, and I do not have vampirish pale white skin. I often get mistaken as Hispanic (because apparently, in the great U.S. of A., you’re either White or Mexican *rolls eyes*) or if people get wind that I lived in Hawaii for a short period of time, they think I’m Hawaiian. I get the surprised look and the comment: “Wow, your English is very good” when someone I don’t know hears me talk (Yes, your English is good, too. *high five*).

And yet, through all these misadventures, my response has always been a smile, a brief explanation (or sometimes I don’t bother correcting them), and a thank you. Because I was raised to be polite and kind.

I’ve always been able to shrug off stupid observations/comments because (1) I recognize that not everyone travels a lot and so therefore, their lack of world perspective makes them vulnerably ignorant to the fact that Hawai’i, for instance, is not a different country, but is actually part of America (true story: some woman at a furniture store once asked me if I like living in the US now, after I told her I just moved here from Hawai’i); (2) I have always been happy and confident with who I am, never mind where I came from; and (3) I know that sometimes, what may seem as a derisive comment is really just a person’s naivete and lack of education showing through, and has no bearing whatsoever on my self-worth and my intelligence.

I’ve always been able to laugh it off because I like to believe in a world that tries to be good. Never mind the embarrassing blunders.

But recently, when it came to my attention that one of my kids experienced discrimination at school, I became outraged. Because you see, my kid didn’t get it from her peers, she got it from her teacher. An educator. An authority figure. Someone who is responsible for influencing and shaping the minds of impressionable young kids.

Someone who should have been an example of rightness and fairness and equality, but wasn’t.

My children are half-white, half-Filipino. They are beautiful and wonderfully intelligent creatures who are incredibly proud of their heritage, and incredibly proud of being Americans. They were born here. They’ve been living a privileged life, but at the same time, have been offered insights to other cultures and other places through travel, books, and Mom’s personal stories. My husband and his family are no strangers to diversity — my in-laws lived in Japan for a time. I have a Japanese sister-in-law, and a Chinese brother-in-law. My nephew and niece are half-Chinese, half-Filipino. And if my sister, who lives in London, marries, I could possibly have a British brother-in-law. We’re an international family. We don’t think of ourselves as “other”, certainly not my children, and with the world being as diverse as it is now, it’s not a rare thing to know people whose parents/families come from different backgrounds.

We’re not “other”, unless someone points it out.

Case #1: While filling out a form at school that included a question of race, my kid was told not to fill in the Caucasian category “because you’re not White”, but to fill in the hole for “Pacific Islander”. My daughter, who did not know what Pacific Islander meant at that time, did what she was told, albeit with a measure of confusion and the vague feeling that she was being discriminated against the color of her skin. And to make matters worse, the teacher said this aloud, in front of the whole class (she also allegedly said the same thing to a Hispanic classmate) so that the kids who never once questioned my daughter’s race were now treating her as “other” because of this incident.

FYI, my kid’s not a Pacific Islander. Someone needs to re-learn World Geography. *facepalm*

Case #2: While the teacher was reading the story of the first female Hispanic astronaut, she made the comment that this Mexican lady had to work extra hard to attain her goals. She then, allegedly, turned to my daughter, and asked her in front of the class: “How does it make you feel that you’ll have to work extra hard to attain your goals?”

Wait, was she insinuating that my kid is Hispanic? And say that she is, how is that a bad thing? Why the condescension? That’s hardly necessary.

There are apparently many more stories like these, but my daughter said that she’s proud of who she is, and her heritage, and she wasn’t really bothered by the teacher’s comments. She was more bothered by the fact that these incidents were all very public displays, and how, because of this, her peers would treat her as “other”.

I’m extremely proud of my girl, but I’m also saddened by the fact that an early age, she’s already learned to tolerate such derisive, ignorant comments because what else can you do?

And to those who are on the other side of the equation, this is your question too: What else can you do? How can you avoid being THAT person? (whether unwittingly or not, take responsibility, why don’t you?)

Well, here are a few suggestions:

1. READ

2. TRAVEL (Or if you can’t, take a look around you, and you may be surprised by how much you can learn from what’s beyond your own backyard)

3. GET EDUCATED

4. SHUT YOUR TRAP IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT

5. BE KIND

The funniest thing is that my daughter was the first one in her entire grade to earn the Great American award in her school. She finished all the requirements before everyone else (recite all 50 states and their capitals; recite the Declaration of Independence; recite/sing all the verses to our National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner; do a service project; write an essay on Abraham Lincoln; recite the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, etc.)

 

Now excuse me, this mama bear needs to go back and hibernate. My blood pressure’s slightly elevated.

Something funny just because:

 

Series Spotlight: The Razorland Trilogy (ENCLAVE, OUTPOST, HORDE) by Ann Aguirre

I flew through this series in just a few days. Read book 1 in one day, book 2 in one day, and book 3 in 2 days (but only because I was getting sick; otherwise, I would have finished it in just a day as well). Guys, this is now one of my favorite series ever. And I’m the kind of reader who is usually slow at following up on sequels. Even if I love the first book, it’d take me months or years before I pick up the next book in the series. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because sequels can be potentially disappointing? Or maybe there’s just way too many books on my TBR list. *shrugs*

But this series? Yeah, 1,2,3, boom! And I was done. It’s a post-apocalyptic world crawling with zombie-like Freaks, and you’d think that would be so cliched by this point, but no. There’s great characterization, excellent worldbuilding (in that it’s such a believable scenario), and the writing is tight. The main character, Deuce, belongs to the Definitely Strong Female Protagonist list, but Ms. Aguirre wonderfully balances Deuce’s strengths with her weaknesses so that we don’t just have a kick-ass protagonist for the sake of being kick-ass, but a three-dimensional character who has a lot to learn.   

Book #1: ENCLAVE

7137327New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20’s. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters–or Freaks–who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight–guided by Fade’s long-ago memories–in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs.

 

 

 

Book #2: OUTPOST

10193062Deuce’s whole world has changed.

Down below, she was considered an adult. Now, topside in a town called Salvation, she’s a brat in need of training in the eyes of the townsfolk. She doesn’t fit in with the other girls: Deuce only knows how to fight.

To make matters worse, her Hunter partner, Fade, keeps Deuce at a distance. Her feelings for Fade haven’t changed, but he seems not to want her around anymore. Confused and lonely, she starts looking for a way out.

Deuce signs up to serve in the summer patrols—those who make sure the planters can work the fields without danger. It should be routine, but things have been changing on the surface, just as they did below ground. The Freaks have grown smarter. They’re watching. Waiting. Planning. The monsters don’t intend to let Salvation survive, and it may take a girl like Deuce to turn back the tide.

 

Book #3: HORDE

10596724The horde is coming.

Salvation is surrounded, monsters at the gates, and this time, they’re not going away. When Deuce, Fade, Stalker and Tegan set out, the odds are against them. But the odds have been stacked against Deuce from the moment she was born. She might not be a Huntress anymore, but she doesn’t run. With her knives in hand and her companions at her side, she will not falter, whether fighting for her life or Fade’s love.

Ahead, the battle of a lifetime awaits. Freaks are everywhere, attacking settlements, setting up scouts, perimeters, and patrols. There hasn’t been a war like this in centuries, and humans have forgotten how to stand and fight. Unless Deuce can lead them.

This time, however, more than the fate of a single enclave or outpost hangs in the balance. This time, Deuce carries the banner for the survival of all humanity.

 

About the Author:

Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes all kinds of books, emo music, action movies and Doctor Who. She writes all kind of fiction in multiple genres, both YA and for adults. (Source: Goodreads)