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Archive for the tag “books: fiction”

Original fic: After Effect

A story written for my fiction class. It had to be under 500 words. I chose to do another “ripped from the headlines” story. This one is based on an accident that happened in the Vancouver area a while back. A teen waiting for the school bus was hit by a woman who then neglected to tell police she thought she hit someone. He broke both of his legs and wasn’t found until an hour later when the tow truck driver showed up. He was lucky to survive.

(c) Mitchell Joyce 2008

(c) Mitchell Joyce 2008

After Effect

When they say that your life flashes before your eyes when you are dying, what they really mean is that your future is played out. It’s like nature laughing in your face. Oh, you’re dying, haha, here’s everything you’ll miss. Loser. When I tried to explain this to my mother after the fact she cried.

“Eli, don’t say such things,” she moaned. Then she fretted over the way my blanket lay across my jacked-up legs.

I never saw the car that hit me. I was late for the bus on a Wednesday. The wind stung like a thousand bees, numbing my exposed skin. I got to the corner, checked my watch, and woke up in the ditch, snow all stuck in my lashes.

“Hmm,” I thought, “this isn’t right.”

I tried to move, but the air was too heavy. I shouted for help, but my voice got lost in the wind. I prayed for the angels to come, but they never did. I don’t remember feeling much pain, just cold. They said I was lucky.

I never saw the car that hit me, or the terrified look on the driver’s face when she neglected to tell the police I existed. While I lay in the ditch, feeling almost no pain, I saw the image of a girl. She had brown hair, sort of curly, and blue eyes. Our future together sped past my eyes in a blur. I tried to tell my mother about it; she tsked me and told me not to be silly.

“Only God knows what is in store for us.”

“Maybe God gave me the vision. To show me what to fight for.”

I got tsked again for that. Then fretted over while she attempted to hide her tears.

I never saw the car that hit me, or the terrified look on the driver’s face, nor remembered the man that found me. He came to tow away the wreck and heard moaning in the trees. I read about it in the paper–how he vomited at the sight of my mangled legs.

They say I may never walk again. That makes my mom cry. Everything makes her cry. I tried to tell her I was okay; I was alive. She can only sees the things I’ve lost because she didn’t see my future flash before her eyes–she didn’t see everything I will gain. Starting with the brown-haired girl visiting the kid in the room next door.

Original Fiction: Bad Kitty

Another story from my fiction workshop. This one is based on an incident that took place in my small town in 2011–an anti-government gun hoarder killed his family, set his house on fire, then had a shoot-out with the police. All of this took place blocks from my kids’ elementary school. I listened to the gunfire and watched the smoke from my yard about a mile away. It was intense.

(c) Betsy 2007

(c) Betsy 2007/Flickr

Bad Kitty

Her grandmother considered black cats to be harbingers of doom, Julia Carlson recalled as she left for work. Otis, the local stray, zipped across her yard, his black tail disappearing under her porch. Silly cat, she thought. She skipped down the rickety stairs, digging through her purse for a stick of gum. Alex would be at work today–he had dreamy chocolate eyes.

A cobalt blue car idled empty in the middle of the street, coughing up exhaust. She looked around for a driver. A man dressed in a business suit scrambled away from Mr. Peterson’s front door as the window of the car exploded, peppering Julia with shards of safety glass. Someone screamed; she didn’t think it was her.

Read more…

Original Fiction: The Spirit in Christmas

Written for my fiction workshop class. It’s kind of a tearjerker. I cried as I wrote it, and I cry every time I read it. Then again, I’m an emotional basket case.

(c) Matthew Kenwrick 2012

(c) Matthew Kenwrick 2012

The Spirit in Christmas

Harold eased the car up to the intersection, breaks squealing. He knew they needed replacing, but he’d spent the money on Christmas gifts for the girls. He glanced over at eleven-year-old Amelia. She drummed her fingers against the door, puffing hot breath onto the window.

“So, which way do you think?”

He could hear Claire’s infectious enthusiasm urging him to the left like only his four-year-old princess could. He cranked the wheel, giving the whining engine just a little gas. Read more…

Original fic: A Girl I Used to Know


(c) ronholpic 2009

A Girl I Used to Know

Eve was a girl I used to know. Blond hair all trussed up in pink bows. She had eyes like emeralds, and a smile that frightened even the devil.
She talked to me once. We were ten, and I found her out in Vernon Woods, near the creek. She was poking at something in the dirt. She told me the raven had fallen from the sky. Dead. She said of a broken heart; I’m pretty sure it was a broken wing.
I helped her bury it under a willow tree. She said I was sweet and kissed me on the cheek. I ran home and never spoke to her again.
I opened the paper today; the headline read, “Bodies Found Under House Near Vernon Woods.” The suspect: a woman with blond curls, emerald eyes, and a devilish smile that sent shivers down my spine. She told the police they’d died of broken hearts. I’m pretty sure she was the one to break them.

Book Review: Reality Boy by A.S. King

Review of Reality Boy by A.S. King

realityboyStarted: 11/25/13; finished: 11/30/13

Goodreads rating: 3/5 stars

my rating: OK

pages: 272

found: netgalley.com


Reality Boy is the story of Gerald Faust, the youngest of three children that were presented to viewers on the reality show Network Nanny when he was just five years old. Back then he took his anger out on the drywall. And when that didn’t work he crapped on the table. All in front of the cameras.

In his small town he never outgrows his childhood as “The Crapper.” He’s seventeen now but has no friends and is still tormented by his oldest sister, Tasha, who lives in the basement and spends her time banging some guy. When she’s not trying to kill or provoke Gerald. Gerald’s other sister, Lisi, has escaped to college in Scotland. His mother is completely nuts and sees nothing Tasha does as wrong and keeps Gerald in special ed classes even though he’s not “retarded” as she calls him. His dad is a complete push-over and refuses to rock the boat.

Gerald feels completely abandoned by his family and society after they plastered his young indiscretions all over national TV before he could even understand the impact. So he goes about his life: school in the SPED room with the other “undesirables,” work at the arena where he deals with angry costumers and tries not to stare at the pretty girl on checkstand #1, and at the gym where he practices boxing despite being forbidden to get in the ring.

Things start to change the day a random hockey fan gives him a hug and lets him know that not everyone enjoyed watching him be tormented by his family on TV. Then he meets the son of a circus owner who hates his life just as much. And finally talks to the cute girl on checkstand #1 whose name is Hannah and wants to run away from him. But can he really do that? Run away and leave his crazy family behind?


For the most part I really liked this book. It was a look inside of a mentally ill teenage boy that has had to endure more than his fair share of issues in his seventeen years. Through flashbacks in the book you get glimpses of the realities of “reality TV,” and how Gerald was literally tortured by his psychopath sister, Tasha, who repeatedly tried to kill him and Lisi all while their mother looked the other way and always took Tasha’s side. Gerald learns very young that his mother doesn’t actually love him because she could never feel more love than she does for her first born and never wanted the other two kids. He lives in a sick and twisted family that made me want to scream. He begs his father to get him out of it but his father does nothing until the very end. It takes him finally running away with Hannah to get through to his father.

Gerald and Hannah’s relationship isn’t in the traditional style of rainbow and roses young adult romance. It’s much more real. The more secrets the two try to hide from each other the more screwed up things get. They fight a lot, they made up. It’s a confusing roller coaster of a ride but they might just be the only two people on the planet that can understand where the other is coming from.

I only gave it three stars mainly because the pacing seemed slow. Parts of the book just dragged on. At first I loved it and just couldn’t stop reading then after a night’s sleep I couldn’t get back into it and by the end I was just wondering when it was going to end.

Book Review: Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci

Review of Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci

tinstarStarted: 11/24/13; finished: 11/25/13

Goodreads rating: 4/5 stars

my rating: Cool with a touch of AWWW

pages: 240

found: netgalley

I’m a lover of sci-fi but most of the books I’ve been reading lately have been contemporary (romance) and the occasional dystopia. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book but after reading the first chapter I was hooked.

The book is about Tula Bane, young girl, that is betrayed by the man she trusted most in her life, Brother Blue—a sort of preacher leading their pilgrimage to one of Earth’s new colony planets. After questioning him about some cargo being left behind she is beaten nearly to death.

She recovers only to find her ship, the Prairie Rose, destroyed leaving her without her mother and sister, without another human being anywhere. She’s trapped, alone and scared, on the space station they docked at. Humans are seen in less than a good light. She makes friends with an insect-like alien named Heckleck who teaches her how to survive on the station.

The years pass with Tula making a living as a petty criminal, always under the watchful eye of the constable, Tournour. That is until there’s a coup among the galactic government. Things start to change including the arrival of three new humans. It’s been years since Tula has seen any of her kind and it throws her into a tailspin. Conspiracies, deaths, losses begin to add up for her. Through it all her hatred for Brother Blue keeps her going. Her mission is to kill him at all costs.


I really loved this book. I loved the writing from the very first paragraph. It just grabbed me. The station is crafted and shared with such care to detail. I can picture all the different species that inhabit the place and can feel Tula’s pain and loneliness of being the only human there. Her friendship with Heckleck starts out tenuous but before long you can see that he does care for her and does his best to teach her to survive should anything happen to him.

And always in the background is Tournour, the chief constable, that Tula considers intrusive to her business. But there’s a lot about aliens she just doesn’t understand. I knew from the beginning that Tournour was looking out for her. He was always around to make sure nothing bad happened to her. I assumed he felt a fatherly affection for her until the end when another of his species explains how young Tournour really is. And then I got the twist of these two character that danced around each other the entire book.

I just loved the whole backdrop to the story and how the aliens mixed together, the portrayal of humans being low on the totem pole. The thing I found hardest to follow was Tula’s scamming with Els (one of the humans that crashes at the station). Maybe I was getting tired but the whole thing just fogged over in my mind. I didn’t know who to trust but I had a feeling it would turn out the way it did. Nobody was who they seemed at the station.

This book reminded me of all the reasons I love sci-fi but left me feeling like something was missing. Tula doesn’t get her revenge. I have heard through other reviewers at Goodreads I did learn there is a sequel in the making due out in 2015. I can’t wait to find out what happens.

Book Review: Kiss, Kiss, Bark! by Kim Williams Justesen

Review of Kiss, Kiss, Bark! by Kim Williams Justesen

kisskissbarkStarted: 11/22/13; finished: 11/22/13

Goodreads rating: 3/5 stars

my rating: cute

pages: 176

found: netgalley

Don’t let the cover fool you, this is pure YA although this book would appeal to the younger side of the genre more. The book centers around fourteen-year-old Mattie who has to spend most of her summer vacation babysitting her four-year-old brother, Donny. Who thinks he is a dog. Mattie finds him intolerable and he’s ruining her life. She’s not very nice to him as it’s appointed out by her best friend, Livvy. But Mattie has other things on her mind besides taking Donny for a walk on a leash.

She has crush on Livvy’s older brother, Nate, who acts like they are a nuisance. It doesn’t help that Livvy is throwing herself at Nate’s friend, Chris. Which is just embarrassing. Livvy takes a liking to Donny as she knows what it’s like to be the discarded younger sibling. Meanwhile, Nate actually asks Mattie out causing a riff between the two best friends.

This book is really short so great for the younger end of the YA age group. I thought the book was cute although Mattie’s treatment of Donny sometimes went over the edge. But having a thirteen-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son I see how they sometimes fight. If it weren’t for my other three kids coming in between the two of them I’m sure there would be even more animosity. Despite that I found it made Mattie more real because siblings fight.

The little romance that develops between Mattie and Nate is cute. I loved that she stood up to him about his treatment of his sister even if it risked her relationship with the guy she’s been crushing on for years. But she doesn’t relate that to her own treatment of her brother until he falls seriously ill.

There’s not a lot of depth here. Donny’s scenes are alternately funny (as he acts like a dog) and annoying ( as he talks like a two-year-old). The author has kids and grandkids so I’m not sure why she picked Donny’s voice the way she did. With five kids only one spoke that way at four and she was speech delayed. My other kids might have mispronounced a few words here and there but otherwise spoke clearly and with complete sentences. As I was reading I kept thinking my three-year-ole spoke better than Donny. The relationship between Mattie and Nate is chaste and sweet as they fumble to figure things out like any young teens (their first date reminds me a lot of my dates at thirteen—where we were forced to take our younger brothers no less).

All-in-all a cute little story that touches on a lot of feelings that young teens go through. I recommend this to young girls in the twelve to fourteen age range.

Book Review: Five Summers by Una LaMarche

Review of Five Summers by Una MaMarche

fivesummersStarted: 11/20/13; finished: 11/21/13

Goodreads rating: 4/5 stars

my rating: AWWW

pages: 384

found: library


Five Summers is the story of four best friends—Emma, Skylar, Maddie, and Jo—who meet at a sleep-away camp when they are ten. The story is told from their multiple point of views through different times in their life hinging around their first camp reunion at the age of seventeen.

Jo, whose father owns the camp, and Skylar are still there as counselors. Emma is living in New York with her brother in her aunt’s condo and interning at a magazine publisher. Maddie is flipping burgers back home and getting dumped by her boyfriend.

The four friends have lost contact during the three years since their last night of camp but the reunion is supposed to bring them all back together like they used to be. They all have ideas of how things will go.

Emma is trying to ignore the feelings she used to have for one of the boys at camp, Adam. The boy she had a crush on for years and chickened out of kissing on her last night at camp. Skylar has a big secret to tell her best friend, Emma, concerning the same boy. Maddie is living a lie at camp and knows she has to tell her friends the truth about her real life. And Jo wants things to go back to how they were, before she found out Maddie’s secret, before they all went their separate ways. The problem is things are about to get really messy.

Having never gone to camp myself I really enjoyed this book and how it portrayed camp. Also never having friends like the JEMS (as they called themselves—Jo, Emma, Maddie and Skylar) is hit a sore nerve. I honestly don’t know what it’s like to have friends like this and it makes me sad that I missed out on that as a child and still am because of my debilitating social anxiety.

I liked how the book skipped around from present to past as the girls remembered pacts they had made as kids and were now breaking intentionally and unintentionally as the reunion goes on.

I also really loved all the girls. I felt each girl had a little in common with me so I understood how they were feeling. I think I liked Jo the best who always felt like she didn’t fit in. She was quirky with her love for the camp she grew up and her penchant to take charge as if she were her father.

There was also a lot of angst in this book, which my readers might know now that I love. There were so many subplots having to do with dating and hooking up and love that I basically got my fill of UST and angst. I was kind of shocked about Adam’s behavior. I really thought Emma would be different for him (and kind of says she was) but at the end he’s become a total douche-nozzle. But even then I kind of liked him because I think he might have been genuinely sorry—like he got stuck in this reputation and didn’t know how to get out of it. Still, he was an ass to Emma and Skylar and deserved what he got.

My favorite, though, was Jo and Nate. Jo was so adorably clueless to Nate’s attentions until the girls started pointing it out and then suddenly she got it. I loved that as much as Nate adored her he wasn’t afraid to stand up against her even if it meant he might lose her. They complimented each other perfectly and were the most healthy couple of the entire story

I give this book 3 and ¾ stars. Why the minus ¼? For ragging on Southwest Airlines for losing Maddie’s luggage. Okay, I’m joking but as part of the Southwest family (my husband works for them) I feel a need to stand up for them. I actually laughed when she mentioned the lost luggage and Southwest.

So I really loved this book. There were many parts where I wanted to cry because of the pain the girls were in. Or because of what I missed as a kid/teen. It made me really feel what the girls were feeling, remembering what it was like to be a teen and in a crazy relationship (I did have one despite my awkward anxiety).

I did want to see Skylar confront Adam, though. More than what was shown. And I really want to know if Adam ever changes his ways. I guess that’s what fanfiction is for.* This would make a great summer read, especially for anyone that ever went to camp.


*Must. Not. Write. Fanfic. Must finish NaNo first.

Book Review: Stargazing from Nowhere by Isabel and Marilyn Thomas

Review of Stargazing from Nowhere by Isabel and Marilyn Thomas

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00044]Started: 11/19/13; finished: 11/19/13

Goodreads rating: 3/5 stars

my rating: OK

pages: 448

found: netgalley


I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked the premise about a small town girl, Kristen, who blogs about celebrities getting to meet one of those celebrities, one she thoroughly trashed on her blog but secretly has a crush on. I liked that Michael, the drummer of the band she used to like but then didn’t like, is actually just a normal guy under a lot of pressure. I loved all the unresolved sexual tension and the angst and the sweet little romance between Kristen and Michael.

But I had a lot of problems with the book. First, it just went on and on and on and on. It probably could have ended at about the halfway mark and still been a decent, sweet love story. But is just when on with the main character, Kristen, thinking the same things over and over. A lot of it self-pity and whining because she screwed up her life by keeping secrets and just being stupid. Okay, she’s fifteen, going on sixteen so some of it is forgivable and I can’t say I wouldn’t have done anything differently in her case because confrontation always scared me, but after awhile it got annoying.

Second, her mom… I wanted to strangle her at certain points. Namely when she invites Michael over only to insult him and make both of them feel stupid and hurt. What kind of person does that? She’s just as immature as her daughter and she gets increasingly selfish as the book goes on about her dancing thing. I have five kids of my own so I get wanting to do stuff for yourself but she was blaming her daughter for her potential loss at the competition. That’s messed up.

Third, everything was too perfect. Michael was perfect, the guys in the band were nearly perfect, Scott was perfect, Uncle Jack was perfect. Especially Uncle Jack. Even Maggie came off as perfect. Oh, and Colin. While I was reading this my thirteen-year-old daughter came in carrying on and on about One Direction and their fans and some mobbing in LA today. It wasn’t the first time I looked at the story and felt it kind of read like fanfiction, with the names changed. It sounds like some of the 1D fanfic my daughter and her friends write (not saying this is fanfic, just that it reads like it). Kristen is like the anti-Mary Sue where everything she does is bad and screws stuff up more.

Another thing that bugged me is we never do find out who hacked her blog or blew her cover. I would have liked to have known just for curiosity’s sake.

I did love the ending. It brought closure to Kristen and Michael. But in the end I gave it a gracious three stars. It would have gotten more if half the pages had been cut, Kristen had confessed or her cover blown at the midpoint and then they get back together shortly after that. There was so much subplot that could have been taken out at the end and so much internal dialogue that was just whining and rambling on about her problems that she created over and over.

Book Review: The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry

Review of The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry

thesummerifoundyouStarted: 11/18/13; finished: 11/19/13

Goodreads rating: 5/5 stars

my rating: GAH

pages: 239

found: netgalley

Okay, so I’m trying to finish up the last 13,000 words or so of my NaNoWriMo novel and I’m just kind floating there with no motivation or inspiration. I need to read, I think. I need some good old-fashioned teen love drama to get me in the right mood to write my teen love drama novel.

And boy did I get it with this book. I gave it five stars probably because I was in such a mood for this kind of book. It just had me all twisted up inside. In a good way.

The book is about Kate, a senior in high school, who has been dealing with the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes for a year. Or more precisely, not dealing with it. She’s got her parents and sister and best friend worrying about her constantly, making her feel closed in. Then her boyfriend breaks up with her. Here comes the teen drama. Oh, how perfectly this book captured the melodrama of being seventeen.

Enter, Aiden Connelly (which happens to be a name we almost chose for our last child). He’s living above the garage of Kate’s best friend, her cousin. Aiden’s trying to figure out his life after losing his arm in Afghanistan.

The two get set up, sort of, by Jen (the best friend) as a kind of distraction from their problems. Despite Kate saying just about every inappropriate thing you could say to a guy with only one arm there’s a connection between them.

The book is from both POVs so you get to see how confused both of them are as they wade through their ever changing lives and slowly fall in love. Okay, it wasn’t that slow, but it takes them awhile to figure it out.


I know a lot of people don’t like this kind of drama but I live for it. I loved the heartache and confusion and fears. Heck, I’m almost 37 and I still have a lot of that drama going on in my life—like finishing school and figuring out what I want to do with my life once my kids are all in school.

I did feel some of the book was predictable and Kate kind of annoyed me that she wasn’t taking things seriously but she’s only 17. I can picture myself at that age just wanting to ignore the problem instead of facing it straight on. I kind of did that with my own crippling depression.

I LOVED Aiden, though. Even Kate describing his shoulder and scars… it made him all the more appealing. And I loved how he was written, muddling through life trying to figure out how to live with only one arm. And not his dominate arm. I felt his frustration and anger. I remember in grade school we did this experiment where we all taped our thumbs to our palms and went around for the day without opposable thumbs. It was nearly impossible to do anything.

My only big complaint is they never say the words. They both say they really like each other but I wanted those three little words. Still, I thought it was a beautiful story.

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