Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review: I Came Out for This?: A Novel by Lisa Gitlin and Three Junes by Julia Glass

I Came Out for This?: A Novel by Lisa Gitlin is Running with Scissors meets Catcher in the Rye and has a love child with The (Real) L Word. At least, that was my impression.

I Came Out for This? is the story of a woman in her mid-forties who is newly out of the closet and head-over-heels for the wrong woman. For this horrible, wrong woman, the main character moves to DC, ends up renting an apartment in this crazy, cheap rent place, and living with prostitutes and thieves, so that she can occasionally go on dates with, and frequently get depressed over her. The book follows her journey through her personal journal, describing her experiences with dating other women and finally (maybe) getting over the wrong girl.

The novel is funny, raw, and frustrating. (And frustrating only because you want the characters to finally do the right thing.) It's certainly not your stereotypical lesbian coming out story. It was a little hard to get into at first, because I'm always weary of whiny MC's--hence why I was not a fan of  Catcher in the Rye--but Lisa Gitlin really won me over with this one.
                                     4 Out of 5 Stars

                                           ~ ~ ~

                              Three Junes by Julia Glass

I want to briefly introduce you to Three Junes. I can't review it or tell you if it was good or bad, because, honestly, I only read 2/3 of it, but since I read over 200 pages of it, I would like to share with you what I know. To give you an objective view of what you're getting into, so that you can choose or avoid it.

A brief summary of the book from the Library Journal : "At the story's onset, Scotsman Paul McLeod, the father of three grown sons, is newly widowed and on a group tour of the Greek islands as he reminisces about how he met and married his deceased wife and created their family. Next, in the book's longest section, we see the world through the eyes of Paul's eldest son, Fenno, a gay man transplanted to New York City and owner of a small bookstore, who learns lessons about love and loss that allow him to grow in unexpected ways. And finally there is Fern, an artist and book designer whom Paul met on his trip to Greece several years earlier. She is now a young widow, pregnant and also living in New York City, who must make sense of her own past and present to be able to move forward in her life."

1)The book is a very well written piece of literary fiction
2) The book is very slow.
3) The characters are intriguing, unique individuals who you want to get to know.
4) There's no real suspense in the book. You're not reading because you're on the edge of your seat and can't wait to see what will happen next, you're reading because you like the characters and want to see where their lives go.

Three Junes is a character study of three men. Obviously, I couldn't get through it, which may have been because I'm reading 2-3 books a week and need something that really grips me, but that doesn't mean that you won't love it. If you decide to read it, or if you have read it, let me know what you think.

<3 Gina Blechman

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Contest for the First 250 Words @ Shelly Watters' Blog!

Another deviation from the plan: Author Shelley Watters is hosting an agent judged first page contest, which I've been waiting for for weeks, so I've gotta go with that for today. Participants post the first 250 words of their YA or MG novel today, June 25, visit other blogs for critique on the 25th and 26th, and post the "final version" on her blog on the 27th.
The winner gets a full manuscript request from Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency!

Good luck to all involved!

Genre: YA Dystopian
Word Count: 95,000

First 250 Words

“You there!” The booming voice stirred Jade into alertness, reaching her eardrums with the subtlety of a blunt mallet. Only two lines of bushes and a wrought iron fence distanced her from the pairs of footsteps running her way. “You!” the officer shouted. “Where do you think you’re going?"
The officer barreled down the street, running after the young man who darted just a few feet ahead of him. The clunk, clunk of the officer's footsteps and the wheeze of his voice escalated as he ran. “You there! I said stop!”
The escapee continued running, dashing towards the bushes that lined the inside of the gates. Tall. Muscular. Short hair, Jade noted. But before anything else could be processed, he slammed into the fence in front of her, rattling it and then hitting the ground. The runner groaned angrily, coughing up the little air he had left in his lungs. Jade's heart pounded. She gasped with him. Beneath the cover of leaves and branches, the man was now nearly invisible.
           Jade turned her attention to the officer, whose face twisted in irritation as he paused to wipe the sweat from his brow.
“Peter! That’s not you again is it?” the officer barked. He flexed his muscles, perhaps for the gods to admire. "You know what happens to those who disobey, don't you, son? Don't want a repeat of last time do we?" 

<3 Gina Blechman

Friday, June 24, 2011

How to Connect with Your MC: Blogfest

I know, I know. Fridays are usually book review days, but this seemed too good to pass up. (I promise there will be a book review for you tomorrow, okay?) 

For now, this post is all about Jeannie Campbell's How to Connect with Your MC Blogfest. The blogfest focuses on three questions that can really help you get to know your MC. goes:

My interview with Ronnie McGallen 

What is your greatest fear?
Fear? God, it seems to be everywhere these days, doesn't it? But how can I not go forward? How can I not... Damn, I don't know...
Greatest fear, greatest fear... I'd say hurting Brian--you know, my husband--but if that were true, well, I can't say that all went as I had hoped... It's not a fairy tale, you know? Getting older, it isn't always as easy as they make it out to be, and no matter how liberal people think they are... I want to be happy. But, I guess...I guess I fear that I don't know what that means anymore or how to get there. God damn it, Indie. She always had a way of bringing out, for good or bad, the most in me.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
Well, mother would say finding Brian, having the job I do, the house I in the nice town I live in. That's nice enough I suppose...for a woman like her. But sometimes? I look in the mirror and I look at my nearly forty-year old, worn down self, and I feel like half my life is gone and I don't even have half as much to show for it as I should...

What is your biggest regret?
Trying to predict what my regrets would be, listening to my mother, pretending that wanting was only that--something fleeting that would go away. Letting myself believe that I was being rash and couldn't've possibly known what was best for me at the time...and then never reconciling it as I got older, as I got married, as I went on with the next 20 years of my life. Seriously, take your pick. There's plenty to choose from.

Don't you get it? I just can't do this anymore.

<3 Gina Blechman

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

W.I.P. Wednesday: Part 5 aka Something Hidden

Indie’s lips taste don’t taste like sugar. They’re not glossed or moisturized, painted or flavored. None of that stupid girly crap. They’re raw. Her lips are raw and full and gritty like you’d expect them to be coming from a girl as real as she is. Of course, this is not the same as her kisses. Those are different—each one varied and beautiful. They can be soft, like pressing a freshly plucked petal against your lips. Tingling. Comforting. They can be warm like her whispering breath, or heavy and intense like pelting rain caught in summer wind.  
“Indie,” I breathe. She’s become distracted by the curve of my neck, kissing me, undressing me with her lips. “Indie.”
“I want to see you.”
“Hmm?" She's still kissing. I don't want her to stop.
I lift her chin, looking into her child-like eyes. “I want to see you.”
She flinches, suddenly so present that it makes me hurt. She eyes me up, thinking, wondering.
“Are you sure?” she asks.
 “Of course.”
“Because,” she looks deeper into my eyes, down at my wanting lips, “you can’t unsee once you see me.”
“But I want to. I need to know you. Indie, you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”
She's gone. Again. Back into her world. I should support that, that she has her own thoughts, but today...
“What is it? What’s wrong.”
            “I’m not who you think I am.” She looks back up at me, something dark and empty and vulnerable in her eyes—something I’ve never seen before.

<3 Gina Blechman 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Why Your Rough Draft Still Doesn't Feel Right & How to Fix It!

So you finally finished your story. You met all your deadlines. Your word count is where it needs to be. Everything's hunky-dory...except for one's not. As you read through your rough draft, you're starting to notice that your scenes need more than just a little fixing up, and that somehow they don't have the pizzazz you imagined.

You might be noticing a few or more of these symptoms:
1) The scenes are briefer than you want them to be
2) Your characters tend to do the same generic things a lot. (ex: any time there's a catastrophe they're all always sighing and fiddling. any time they're being comforting someone's hand is on top of someone else's hand, shoulder, or knee.)
3) Your scenes are overly passionate or under-enthusiastic.
4) You feel as though your story is missing depth in places
5) The suspense isn't building up the way you thought it would OR
6) Your suspense isn't fluid, but only appears scattered in different places
7) You find yourself wanting to know more about your characters
8) Describing the setting for the MC's home or favorite places is difficult for you
9) Something about the relationships between your characters isn't quite right

The problem is you don't know your characters well enough. You might have filled out one of those character questionnaires or made an outline and thought you knew your characters to the extent you needed, don't. The reason your characters are always doing the same things, why your scenes are briefer, why you can't describe their house or their favorite restaurant well enough, is because you don't know them well enough to know how they should be acting, what they should be doing to fill in the scene, and the types of places they like to go to or live in. You may know how they feel and why they feel that way, but you don't yet know how they react to all of the different levels of emotions or bits of conversation or whatever it is they're going through.

Here's how to solve this:
1) Write a new questionnaire for each of the major and minor characters, and see if your answers are different now that the rough draft is finished.
2) Write down everything about your MC's appearance. Then, add their favorite gestures or expressions. Using my MC as an example: "peach-toned, chapped, bottom heavy lips. rarely wears lipstick though sometimes gloss. Hates pouty lips, but loves to smirk." I did this for her eyes, hands, etc.
2) Ask yourself deep questions about your characters: First crush, first kiss, childhood dream, present dream, biggest fault, family life (early and present). All of those random little things that make us that we don't think about day to day. Include their thoughts on other characters, or note how they met the other characters.
3) Answer a few of these questions by writing a scene about them.
4) Rewrite a few scenes in a different style or tense. If your story is in 1st person present tense, try writing it in 1st person past tense. It helped me to write it like my MC was writing a journal entry or retelling it to a friend.

All of these little pieces will help you to understand your characters, what they like and don't like, their back stories and the ways they function. From this, you may find that your story is missing something that it needs to help it move ahead, something you skipped over in your desire to forward the story the way you originally planned. If not, you will most likely find that your characters were going about things incorrectly, in ways that aren't true to them. Either way, it's good news. You're on the verge of a major breakthrough.

Tune in tomorrow for tips on how to turn the insights you found into the manuscript you wanted.

<3 Gina Blechman

Sunday, June 19, 2011

We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han: Review

4 out of 5 stars.

We'll Always Have Summer is a fun, endearing YA romance--the standard love story with a twist. Belly is in love with two boys: good guy, Conrad, (who of course did something that caused them to break up, even though they still care for each other) and bad boy, Jeremiah, (who still she's dating even though they seem to have "meaningless" arguments quite often).

When Jeremiah does something that she at first thinks is the last straw, he comes back with an apology and an engagement ring and, SURPRISE, she says yes to his proposal. Except she still kind of loves Conrad. And (here's the twist) Conrad is sorta, kinda, most definitely Jeremiah's brother.

We'll Always Have Summer is a quick read that makes you feel all the right things: excitement, suspense, anger (you know, the whole, "why won't she just smarten up and go with the good guy!" thing), and, there are a few points where it might just make you laugh.

So, all in all, We'll Always Have Summer is a cute, quick, 4 out of 5 star YA read that you should pick up if you have the time.

<3 Gina Blechman

Friday, June 17, 2011

Review: Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

5 out of 5 stars.

From the first sentence "One sunny, crisp Saturday in September when I was seven years old, I watched my father drop dead," all the way until the very end, Sing You Home blew me away with its message, its creativity, and its soul.

Sing You Home is a novel about family, love, and what the two mean together, regardless of society's expectations. It's about a woman who divorces her husband, after years of trying and failing to have a baby, but ends up finding a new love and wanting to start a new family in a way that her society, and most importantly, her husband and his new church, does not support. Sing You Home is about fighting the good fight and not being afraid to want more for yourself and those you love.

Yes y'all, it's a lesbian/bisexual novel, but I soon realized when I started reading it that as much controversy as the book mentions and as many excellent arguments  it brings up, it's really just a book about finding and living your life with love and how no one has the right to take that away. Not that the topics of gay rights, gay adoption, and equality aren't excellently portrayed and generally awesome--they are--but if you only see the book for that, then you're missing the point. In fact, I think that's what makes the book so special. So often, novels with LGBT characters depict people struggling and cracking under society's pressures, fighting with themselves about who they really are. But the heroines of Sing You Home are all strong, unrelenting, and passionate people, who are committed to who they are and what they stand for--a positive message if I've ever read one. It's a great reminder that though being gay may lead to many burdens and inequalities from society, that it does not have to bring burdens and discomfort within oneself.

The book is told in the points of view of the three main characters, Zoe, Max (Zoe's ex-husband), and Vanessa (Zoe's new partner), which gives readers a complete picture of the whole event. It's a fantastic story as told by all sides, and I would recommend giving it a read.

<3 Gina Blechman

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Top 10 Tips for a #1 Break-Up Scene (with 5 Stellar Cinematic Examples)

I recently had to write a break-up scene in my manuscript, and I found myself going to youtube for inspiration. The thing about break-ups is that they're super personal. Sometimes there's screaming. Sometimes there's silence. Sometimes pleading. Sometimes just a disappointed nod and an exit. Sometimes the breakdown is during the break-up scene, sometimes after (not everyone wants to show their feelings in front of others), and sometimes it doesn't occur till weeks later. Sometimes there's guilt. Sometimes anger. Confusion. Lust. Self-deprication. Sex..... (hey, it happens...) It all depends on the characters.

To have a truly stellar break-up scene consider the following:
(BU=Breaker-upper HB=the heart broken person)
1) Who is breaking up with whom? What is the BU's motivations?
2) How does the BU feel about the person he/she is breaking up with?
3) What does the break-up initiator feel about herself in relation to the break-up? (Does she hate herself for it? Does she dream of it?)
4) How does the BU show his/her emotions? (Is he/she normally a loud or quiet person? Touchy feely or not so much?)
5) How does the HB feel about the BU?
6) How does the HB show emotion?
7) How long have the two been together and what is there relationship status?
8) Is this a surprise for the HB? Maybe it's a surprise for the BU and he/she just snaps?
9) What things need to be brought up in this discussion and in what order? (Does it start with toe nail clippings, rise to tardiness, and end in "GOD DAMNIT YOU BASTARD, I KNOW YOU'RE CHEATING ON ME!" Or is it as simple as "I can't do this." "What?" "We're done.")
10) What do the characters need to feel and do once the scene is over?

And now for the examples (in no particular order)

1) Dangerous Liaisons. Never scene the movie, but I found the scene and it's AWESOME.

2) Grey's Anatomy: Addison + Derek (sorry for the music in the background, but a really excellent example if you watch the whole thing through)

3) Closer: Alex + Dan Breakup Scene

4) Tipping the Velvet: Nan and Kitty (You should skip till 1min and can watch till about 4:50. It's a great example of the before and after break-up)

5)Grey's Anatomy: Alex Karev + Izzie Stevens

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

W.I.P. Wednesday: Part 4 aka Logic Vs. Libido.

"Oh, come on now. We've gotta test out the merchandise. Have to make sure--" Dawn spreads her legs and lifts her dress enough to just barely show what's underneath. Not underwear. "that you'll be good for our guests."
"Wait." My sex dazzled mind pauses, trying to remember why it's fighting.
Go with it, Libido says. Go with them.
"You've slept with..."
"Every single one of them." Adele whispers.
I feel like I'm going to vomit. Fuck.
Are you happy now? (That’s the distinct voice of Logic, by the way.)
"Looks like somebody's wet,” Dawn croons.
Fuck. Fuck. Maybe it’ll distract them if--"I have my period.” Is that even a deterrent in this case?
Maybe. Dawn slide's back and looks at Adele for direction.
"It's okay." I don't know how I cough up the words. "I only wanted to see what was going on, that's all."
I scooch forward and Dawn dismounts. Her eyes say all I need to know. Wimp. Maybe I am.
Maybe that's why every woman brings the feel of Dawn's hands and Adele's lips as I find my way back through the house. I wonder how long it took for them aquire followers of this magnitude. And how long did it take for them to fuck 'em all?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review: Already Home by Susan Mallery

4 out of 5 Stars

Already Home is the first novel I've read on my romance journey this summer that's made me want to keep reading from the very start. It's a story about a woman, Jenna, who buys shop space, on a whim, to start her own cooking store,  only to find out that her potentially devastating, capricious purchase isn't nearly as surprising as the events to come. Through her shop, Jenna meets and hires a woman who is soon to be her new best friend, is visited by her birth parents who arrive without warning, and is re-approached by her least favorite man in the world, her ex-husband. She also gets the opportunity--it is a romance novel, after all--to discover, through her friend and herself, who the right kind of man is and which ones aren't worth the time or the bruising. And neither are the sort that either would expect.

Already Home is an honest, sweet, and funny love story, focusing on the meaning of family, doing what's right for one's self, and, of course, the right and wrong ways to fall in love. It's a quick and easy read, unburdened by excess plot or over-complicated BS. It's the type of novel that will make you laugh and give you the urge to bake chocolate chip cookies all at the same time.

I'd definitely recommend Already Home as a beach read; however, be warned, there is a lot of talk of food, cooking, and recipes, and you may just get a little bit hungry. (I know I did!)

<3 Gina Blechma

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tips on how to write a novel in a month + info on my rough draft.

After just 32 days, my rough draft for my second novel, (still working on a name, though I do have one nearly definate idea), is complete at 68,000 words. I couldn't be more thrilled than I am now. Seriously. It's crazy. I've spent so much time working on it (lots of twelve hour days and late nights) and it's all blown by so quickly. I plan to add a few scenes in various places before I start my full read through edit, probably bringing the W.I.P. to about 75,000 words.

First off, some tips for trying to write a novel in a month's time.
1) Approximate how many words your novel will be.
2) Once you have a word count, figure out how many words you will have to type per day to reach that goal. (Keep in mind, I had originally planned for 80k, soon realized that wasn't in the cards, and just let things go how they needed to.)
3) Set a time to write everyday. I find it's easiest if you start when you wake up, at least for a half hour, so that you'll have something to think about for the rest of the day. Even waking up a half hour early to get into the groove and then working on it during some x-hour time period when you get home works.
4) Make some sort of system to mark your acheivements. For both of my novels, I made a list of all of the major plot points and then checked them off as I got to them. Then, I made a much more specific list for the last 15k words. For my last novel, where I went by pages completed not words, I made a grid with the amount of pages I expected to fill, and at the end of the day, I stamped a square for every page I'd finished.
5) Be prepared to work late into the night. It happens. Nothin you can do about it.
6) Some days you may need a break, and that's okay. There were a few days this month where I didn't write at all. But, then again, there were some days, like today, where I wrote upwards of 6,000 words.
7) Keep a positive attitude. Sometimes you just don't feel like writing. When this happens, treat yourself to a glass of wine, mug of coffee/tea/cocoa, whatever, put on some fitting music, and get to it. Once you get past the first 500 words, it should be smooth sailing. If it's not, try acting out the scene you're working on or doing something to put yourself in the main character's shoes. Always works for me. (Still stumped? Check out Getting down with your writer self: foreplay, braingasms, and their place in writing)

Now, about my manuscript.
Now that she's reaching the darker side of her thirty-ninth year, Ronnie McGallen is restless with her desires to search for something more. All of her life, Ronnie's done what other people have told her to do, and where has that landed her exactly? With a nice enough husband she doesn't love, a nice enough job that's long lost its appeal, and a life that isn't hers. To put it simply: Ronnie went straight from being a Smashing Pumpkins obsessed, over-acheiving, hard-rock-loving college student to a bored, 10th grade english teacher who only goes to concerts if they're acoustic and if her and her husband have the option of sitting down.

Yes, it's time to branch out, Ronnie decides. Time to get wild and figure out about all of this life that she's been missing. At least, this is until Ronnie accidentally discovers Leighlah Bell, a sweeter than pie, Southern belle waitress, who Ronnie can't stop thinking about. It's innocent at first. Mere intruige. Perhaps more than a bit of attraction. But when these thoughts turn into feelings and these feelings into a relationship--well, that may be a little more 'life' than Ronnie had bargained for.

The lesson learned? Maybe getting older doesn't mean getting wiser. Maybe getting older just means finally having to face all of the things we buried during our youth.

I'll be looking for Beta readers sometime in August. Let me know if you might be interested.

<3 Gina Blechman

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

W.I.P Wednesday: Part 3 a.k.a. "The Lesbian Procedure" or "The Gaystapo"

"Ya know, I can kind of see it now," Mark says, refilling my wine glass as I dig into my pad thai.

"Can see what now?"

"The dykeness."

I snort so hard a beansprout almost comes out of my nose."What?"

"It's okay. I get it now." He places his hand on my wrist and nods--a gesture that would have been more than a little disturbing if I couldn't see the smile creeping up on his lips or the laughter in his eyes. We both start chuckling, and he takes a sip of wine to stop himself.

"Thank you for your support," I kid. Though, somehow, it feels more right than if Marc had said it seriously. I know he understands.

I've never thought about it before now--being gay, or lesbian, or bisexual, or, I guess, even straight for that matter. The last time I remember thinking on it at all is when Brian had asked me about my reading material. "She wouldn’t happen to be a lesbian, would she?" he'd asked, referring to the woman who had suggested the novel. It felt dirty.

I don't know if it was the clinicalness of it--'lesbian' having that same doctor-like sound as 'vagina' or 'cesarian. "I'm sorry miss, but we're going to have to perform the lesbian procedure on you just now. Try to lay back and relax. The nurse is coming with something for the pain."--or if it was the idea, the female on female sin that my mother's priest could probably be found preaching about, or, most likely, if it was more about a sin of action rather than one of sexuality. The fact that, as far as I was concerned, lesbian wasn't who I am, but an affair I'm having. Lesbian didn't make me think of Leighlah--that relationship is something I can't even imagine labeling--but of my unfaithfullness to my husband.

"Really, I should have figured as much. Look at you. In your little band t-shirt and jeans, gettin your butch on."

"Excuse you?" I wipe away the sweet Reisling that just came dribbling out my nose. It was bound to happen eventually. "Today was dress down Friday, and I wasn't expecting to be analyzed by the gay police."

"The gaystopo," he jokes, with a little too much flair.

I glance at him sideways. "You're an ass." But I can't stop smiling. This is what I needed. The big brother who doesn't want to talk about all of the things I'm doing wrong or ask stupid questions, but only wants to tease me and ask how hot my girlfriend is.

"You know, Leighlah got me this shirt." The admission brings a dorky, embarrassed smile to my face. The one that means you really love someone, my mother told me once.

"Aww, isn't that sweet? You wouldn't happen to have a pic of this woman would you."

I show him a snapshot I took of her the morning we made love in her beach house. The morning she told me all of her secrets. Her white robe drapes loosely over her full breasts. She's smiling. Laughing actually, which you can tell if you look closely at the way her head is tilting up and her blue eyes are sparkling.

Marc grabs the phone from me and stares at the picture for a long time. I know why he's staring. He thinks she's beautiful. Yeah, I think. I think she's beautiful too.

<3 Gina Blechman

Monday, June 6, 2011

Review: Tricks by Ellen Hopkins

3.5 out of 5 Stars

Tricks is the story of 5 teenagers who rely on sex or prostitution to provide them with either money or freedom from their extreme home situations. The book was inspired by the fact that the average age for kids to become victims of prosititution today is 12-14 years old. Though these students are all in highschool, the book helps delve into the emotions that both straight and gay, wanted and unwanted, and real and paid for sex can cause.

All in all, the story was pretty good. I started out absolutely loving it. It's told in true Ellen Hopkins' fashion--meaning, in poetry instead of prose. The characters are interesting and different. Some are running away, some are kicked out. For some their issues stem from religion, for others it's due to their sexuality, due to abuse, or just due to a lack of money. No doubt, it's a good story. Plus, the changes in point of view and the way that poetry allows the story to be told are both very moving.

The only problem that really started to hurt the story towards the end is that it's predictable. It's 600 pages of poetry, and after you get through about 300, you pretty much know how things are going to play out. Plus, all of the characters just happen to go to Los Vegas and just happen to work for the same agency or in the same area. It gets a bit too coincidence-y for me. The one last pet peeve, though I do applaud Hopkins for her ability to make all of the dozens of sex scene feel new and real, is that not one of the characters ever makes a logical decision until maybe one of the last 20 poems. I think it would have been more interesting if there was one logical character in the mix that could shed a new light on the interactions with the other kids. It would make it less predictable. For me, when you totally polarize all of your characters so that they always think one way and want one thing, it starts to make things drag.

Either way, still a great read if you're looking for something light (not in topic obviously, but in style). Being written in poetry, it's relatively quick and easy to get through.

<3 Gina Blechman

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Review: Rage: A Love Story by Julieann Peters

2.5 Stars
Rage: A Love Story is a good enough book about two girls--one a goody-goody with dead parents, one a bad seed with parents she wishes were dead--who fall in love. Okay, maybe it's a lot less like love and a lot more like denial and abuse, but get the idea.

As previously stated, Rage is a decent story. The pace is excellent. The story is written in the voice of the characters and is very true to them. Rage brings up the topic of abusive relationships in a realistic way. I had no problems speeding through it. It's these things that make it a 2.5 star instead of a 2 star book.

There were a few things that irked me though.
1) The characters are 18 (or nearly) year old girls graduating high school, but every once in a while the conversation and thought processes seem befitting of highschool freshman or even eighth graders. I could understand this for the bad girl with the drug adled parents, but not from the goody-goody, super genius. She's top of her class, at the very least there should be some sort of explanation as to her sudden extreme plummet in diction. (Of course, I could be biased from my own goody-goody experience with some not-so-goody women,) but it just didn't feel right to me. I kept picturing the girls as far younger than they were.

2) There wasn't a lot of explanation of why the sweet geek would fall for the druggie degenerate. It's not that the event is improbable, but there does need to be a reason. The story begins with the MC already having a crush on the promiscuous, abusive lesbian, when there are plenty of better girls to choose from, and we never really get to know why. We can sort of assume the reason, but there's never a flashback to the first memory of liking the girl and what struck her as so special.

The reason this still gets that extra half star (and yes, this was well thought out) is because you feel like you're right there with the characters. Even when it's unrealistic, even when you want to know why, even when you're angry at them for being stupid, you feel what they're going through. Still, the plot isn't original enough to give it that midpoint push to make it 3 star material. You can't just add lesbians into the mix and act like the whole scenario hasn't been done before. As much as I usually enjoy Julieann Peters, I can't completely back this one.

Would I suggest adding this book to your summer reading? I wouldn't dissuade you from it. However, I think the books to be reviewed next week will be far better.

<3 Gina Blechman

P.S. Pet peeve: I was looking at the Amazon ratings for this book and noticed the average was 4 stars. Then I looked at the comments which were full of people saying "OMG, this book was so great, because it totally opened my eyes to the fact that lesbians can be in abusive relationships too. I never thought of a woman abusing another woman before." Okay, it's fantastic that this book helped to make some people more open-minded, and I'm grateful for that. And if we remove the iffy, occassionally unrealistic age thing, it is a pretty accurate portrayal of what an abusive relationship looks and feels like. BUT just because a book is trying to promote a certain cause that may or may not be highly discussed does NOT make it a good book. I'm not saying Rage is a bad book, (it certainly isn't), I'm just saying that I have a very high standard; therefore, the controversy of a book's topic does not play into it's rating.

I also think that sometimes LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) YA books get higher ratings from LGBT teens than they should, because many LGBT teens are starved for media that relates to them. I know whthat I used to be so excited at any chance to get my hands on a book with gay, bisexual, or transgendered characters, being so regularly bombarded with hetero media, that even the books that weren't that great seemed at least pretty good in my eyes. Of course, now I rate much harsher than I did when I was 14.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

W.I.P. Wednesday: Part 2

I've decided to post the segments in no particular order as to make things more interesting:

I shut the bathroom door, sit on the closed toilet seat, and open my mouth for the secrets to flow. I can't control what comes out--the low, gravelly moan, painful to my own ears. I put my hands to my lips, sucking in air to quiet myself. I can't have him hear me. I can't let him know. In an instance of rage, I grab one of the yellow, sunflower towels off of the rack and chuck it across the tiny half-bathroom. It sloshes to the floor, and I feel no better.

"Stupid," I mutter to myself. The mantra makes me calm. "Stupid, stupid, stupid."

The sunflower wallpaper blurs and I wipe more tears from my eyes. I stand up, lean against the bathroom counter, and give myself the most fed-up look I can muster.

"You're going to be fine," I say, as I splash water on my face, then pick up the hand towel from the floor. "He's your husband. He's a good man. And you love him."

<3 Gina Blechman