January 29, 2018

Monday Review: IN SOME OTHER LIFE by Jessica Brody

Synopsis: I've finally been able to get back to some pleasure reading after a long stint of Cybils reading (which has now slowed down), and I picked up Jessica Brody's In Some Other Life for a bit of fun escapism—and I was not disappointed. As you might know, I enjoy fiction about parallel universes; this one follows high-achieving Kennedy Rhodes, superstar of the student newspaper at Southwest High. Her life seems great: cute longtime boyfriend, supportive family, ever-loyal best friend, and high hopes for getting into the Columbia journalism program. Her only secret regret is that she didn't attend the prestigious Windsor Academy, which sends 89 percent of its graduates to Ivy League schools.

Then, the disasters start piling up, culminating in one fateful moment: Kennedy takes an accidental fall down the steps and wakes up….in the life of some alternate version of herself: an alternate version that DID end up at Windsor Academy. As you might guess, at first it seems amazing and incredible, but looks can be deceiving…

Observations: This book was, above all, tongue-in-cheek funny. In some ways it felt like something I'd pair with my book The Latte Rebellion in terms of tone and style, as well as underlying theme—a well-meaning, earnest, but flawed main character gets caught up in circumstances beyond her control, and has to own up to her decisions in order to truly make good. While Kennedy isn't perfect, sometimes to the point of being annoying, her imperfections are completely relatable, and are in fact necessary for her overall growth.

I did end up guessing the big story twist relatively early on: the clues were clear and it seemed fairly obvious that alternate-Kennedy was up to something, and so I assume the reader is meant to realize what's going on before the narrator does. That was my only quibble with the story, though. The way everything wraps up was very satisfying, and I enjoyed how the various loose ends are dealt with, leaving things just a bit open-ended. And, as a bonus, the chapter titles were really fun.

Conclusion: This was a highly enjoyable story, with good pacing that kept me wanting to read it even when I probably should have been reading more Cybils finalists. Recommended for fans of paranormal and/or spec fic with a humorous twist.

I received my copy of this book courtesy of my library's ebook collection. You can find IN SOME OTHER LIFE by Jessica Brody at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!

January 15, 2018

Happy New Year--and Happy Writing!

Words of wisdom from Lawrence Ferlinghetti's typewriter in the Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., augmented with a few extra for those of us who need them.

May your 2018 be the best writing year yet!

Sarah and Tanita

January 09, 2018

2♦sdays @ our treehouse - 1/18 Challenge!

A few years back, B&N's Teen blog put up a post about which anthologies, in their opinion, had gotten the art of the young adult short story right. Their list included some headlining authors as well as smaller lights in the field. YA collections have always been useful for introducing lesser-known writers, which is why a couple of smart people in the industry, Nova Ren Suma and Emily X. R. Pan, have kicked off FORESHADOW. "FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology is to offer a unique new online venue for young adult short stories, with a commitment to showcasing underrepresented voices, boosting emerging writers, and highlighting the beauty and power of YA fiction." This monthly anthology is the opportunity that many writers have been waiting for.

To that end, our writing group thought it would be fun to do a little exercise of our own. Through the first (technical) half of 2018, January - June, every second Tuesday of the month, we're going to post an image here on Wonderland of a Creative Commons licensed Flickr picture to which you can respond - via short story (potentially something to be polished for subbing to Foreshadow or elsewhere), poem, or just a scene polishing up dialogue, setting, characterization, or anything else you'd like to work on. Maybe you're doing Morning Pages, and writing three pages first thing. You can certainly come up with some thoughts on this image, and even some thoughts which might spur some deeper creativity. For two weeks, you can join the fun by posting a link to share. We'll keep the momentum going the following month by posting another image the second Tuesday of February, the 13th, and so on, until we take a breather for summer. We hope this will be the little kick in the pants you need to get writing, keep writing, or polish up your skills.

And without further ado, this month's image:

Harryhausen Skeletons

Harryhausen Skeletons, by Flickr user Jürgen Fauth of Berlin.

Happy Writing! Please consider sharing your link!