An update that is full of “Stuff & Things.”

I apologize for not really being around the past few months.  Life has been crazy with many complicating factors, but I am looking forward to a great fall.  I’ll be busy, that’s for sure – I have an internship lined up that will hopefully be starting in the next few weeks… two classes that are rumored to be our toughest – only one has met so far and I’ve found myself struggling to dislike this professor since I really don’t want to love the prof and hate the class… countless (text)books to read (well, okay, so only 3 textbooks, but you know, it seems like a lot more than that!!)… and countless actually fun books to read!! (No, I shouldn’t say that about my textbooks – I do enjoy parts of them, as nerdy as that sounds.  Once I get into the textbook lingo then I do much better.  Let’s just say, though, that that hasn’t quite happened yet… but we’re still on the first week of classes.)

I am sad because I am not sure if I will be able to participate in NaNoWriMo this year.  With the health problems that I have been having (nothing life-threatening, no worries 😉 ), plus a 15-hour-a-week internship and 2 classes, I have a feeling that by the time November rolls around I will be struggling to find time to fix myself a cuppa or read a chapter in a coveted book, much less be able to commit to writing 1667 words a day for a month.  However, I am going to try.  Camp NaNo this past July was a total flop – I got 15,000 words into it, almost exactly, and then got bogged down with… yup!! you guessed it – health problems and classes. (Yes, I did take classes all summer.  My actual summer was… *drumroll* …two weeks between spring and summer 1’s class, one week between summer 1 and summer 2’s classes, and then one week between summer 2’s class and the beginning of fall classes.  Guess I’m starting to feel a little bit of that “grownuppy” feeling… 😀 …but I can’t say that I am too fond of it.)

However, I am going to try and update this blog more often with things that vary from book reviews for books from NetGalley.  Not that anything is wrong with that, but I didn’t intend this blog to just be a book review blog.  I want to write about writing, I want to post snippets of my WIPs, I want to talk about all of the new and exciting things that are happening for me in the writing world – and the other world, for that matter. (Wait… there’s a world other than the writing world? *gasp* How is this news?! 😉 )

My most exciting piece of news?  I am trying to get involved with the International Justice Mission as… well, I don’t know what as.  But since it involves working with people who have been violently oppressed, and that is one of my passions, I thought it would be good to stick my nose out of the door of my safe little world and see if there is something that I could do to help now.  Maybe an internship over the summer months of next year.  I don’t know.  I just know that I want to be involved with their work, because it is good work that they are doing every day, whether in Washington DC or in Africa or Indonesia.

(Well, I thought it was exciting, anyway!! 🙂 Their website is here if you want to take a look at the work that they do in case you, perhaps, may be interested in supporting them in some way, shape, or form.)

Over and out, my friends.

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4 to 16 Characters – Kelly Hourihan.

5/5 stars.

I really enjoyed 4 to 16 Characters. The protagonist, Jane Shilling, is a very likable 15 year old girl who has lost her mom to a car crash in the past year. At the time the novel starts, she is living with an alcoholic dad and going to an alternative high school since she has a learning disability (about which we never learn very much).

I think since because I spend a lot of time at my computer, this book just really pulled me in with its storyline – Jane writes fanfics under what she calls an “alter” (technically this is the term used for another personality in people with Dissociative Identity Disorder, which she does not have, but she does make up different personalities online). She also has other “alters” to talk about things she doesn’t feel comfortable talking about as Jane. The story is told in the medium of journal entries, IM conversations, Tumblr-like reblogs, and emails. Overall, it was a very clever way for Ms. Hourihan to get the story flowing, and once you’re used to the format, it really pulls you in.

As a social worker to-be, I just want to throw out there that I loved Jane’s descriptions of her different therapists, as well as her interactions with Nora Acton. I felt like cheering Nora on for being such a flexible, wonderful therapist for Jane as the book went on. And while we’re on character love, I wanted to say that Gary, who at the end of the book is dating Jane, is a freaking amazing character as well as Jane. I was rooting for him the entirety of the book.

I will definitely be keeping Ms. Hourihan on my radar. Well done, I say, for an exciting and fun book that doesn’t shy away from some of the more difficult problems that today’s teens face.

Many thanks to Lemon Sherbet Press, via NetGalley, for letting me read and review this book.

My Basmati Bat Mitzvah – Paula Freedman

5/5 stars.

I really enjoyed this book. Originally I picked it up because I was curious to read about what it would be like for a young girl to embrace both her heritage as an Indian-American and her religion as a Jew, and I feel that Ms. Freedman did an excellent job showing us how Tara felt in a myriad of different situations involving the mix of the two. I also have to say that the author nailed what being a 12-year-old girl is like; it’s been awhile since I was that age, but two years ago I worked with a group of 6th graders and Tara seemed almost exactly like some of the girls in that group, in a good way.

I also liked the little blossom of romance between Tara and her best friend, Ben-O (Benjamin). It felt like a nice touch, but it wasn’t an overwhelming focus of the book or anything. I am secretly hoping for Ms. Freedman to write a sequel, because I want to see what Tara is like as she grows older!! She was such an interesting protagonist.

It was also interesting how Ms. Freedman managed to weave in serious elements to the story, such as a friend who shoplifts and who has trichotillomania (obsessive hair-pulling). And of course, the worries that Tara has about not knowing whether she believes in God or not, as she prepares for her Bat Mitzvah.

Well done, Ms. Freedman. Well done, indeed. I will definitely be keeping this author on my radar.

Many thanks to Amulet Books via NetGalley for an opportunity to read and review this book.