the writer's arsenal: room for interpretation

In my post on Query Letter Dos and Don'ts, I touched on the fact that you shouldn't praise yourself in your query. I want to expand on that a little bit because I see writers doing it wrong all the time. The rule to not praise yourself is twofold--don't praise yourself and don't praise your writing. Just show your hand and leave it up to the agents/editors/readers to judge for themselves.

When it comes to talking about yourself, avoiding self-praise shouldn't be difficult. Just stick to the facts: What's your writing experience? Notice I didn't say, "What's your life story?" or "How awesome do you think you are?" Right, cause nobody needs to know that. In a query letter, you need only list your credentials. Not "I've written the next bestseller". Not "My five divorces have made me super wise in the way of women". And definitely not "You are seriously missing out if you don't take me on because I'm a literary genius". Again, stick to the facts. Let your reader decide whether or not those writing contests you won make you a literary genius. Factual credentials = impressive, even if they're slim. Overstating your brilliance = major turn off.

So then let's talk about that bit of the query where you talk about your book. Writing a good blurb is an art in itself. So is writing a synopsis (and yes, a query blurb and a synopsis are different things--we'll cover that down the line). The blurb needs to tell your reader what your story is about, without just being a bunch of buzz-words. Not "It's a hilarious, touching, awe-inspiring journey through the human condition that will rock the genre to its core". As the author, that's not for you to say. Your blurb should give a sense of the plot and sure, even the themes, without blowing them out of proportion. It needs to walk the fine line between factual and enticing, without forcing subjective opinions into the mix. You can say that your story "explores themes of human frailty", without claiming it will "shatter our current interpretation of human frailty in the modern world". See the difference? If your book is funny, that should be conveyed in your writing, in your voice, in your blurb. It's classic "show, don't tell". Leave it up to the reader to say, "Hey, this sounds funny!"

It's the difference between this:
"Hey guys, wanna know who's hilarious? It's me! I'm hilarious!"

And this:

Okay, maybe you don't find that sailor/pac-man ghost as funny as I do, but that's kind of what I'm getting at here. It's open to interpretation. Don't say you're funny. Be funny. Your query letter, or pitch, is your first impression. You want to make a good one. You don't want to be this guy:

"Who wants to hear some super funny jokes about cancer?"

Semi-related P.S.: You know how some people will occasionally say "that's funny" instead of just laughing at something? I'm totally guilty of that. But I never say it because I'm trying to hide the fact that I didn't think something was funny. Quite the opposite in fact. I usually say it when I'm really impressed by how funny something is. So impressed I need to vocalize my feelings and make it really clear that I think something's funny. Trust me, it makes sense in my head :)

friday5 for February 22, 2013

1. Our dear PLL is getting some serious love this week in the form of an EW cover. And it's a topic worth discussing. YA-TV as I like to call it has often been passed off as "bad" or "guilty pleasure" television, but there are some seriously quality YA-TV shows being produced (much like how people misjudge YA as a book genre until they actually pick up a few and are blown away). And the way YA-TV is exploring the use of social media, not only as a marketing tool, but as an extension of the on-screen content, is fairly revolutionary. Go PLL!

2. Was it really just this past Monday that was a holiday? It feels like that was ages ago. This has been the longest four-day week ever. I swear on Wednesday, I was pleased that the week was flying by, but then Thursday and Friday came and I swear an extra day snuck in there to make this a usual work week. Or maybe I'm still recovering from being sick on the weekend. Yeah, I had a stomach bug. Ugh. Not a fun way to spend a long weekend. At any rate, I am definitely feeling the happy Friday vibes today.

3. Oscar time is almost here! I haven't seen many of the films this year--nor did I last year for that matter. Basically baby = fewer movies. At least fewer new releases. Netflix has everything else covered. But that's not why I watch the Oscars--let's face it, it's the fashion, the speeches and the potential for embarrassing awkwardness during said speeches. But mostly the fashion. I don't know what it is. I wouldn't consider myself a fashionable person. I don't subscribe to Elle or any other fashion magazines. But pretty celebs are pretty celebs. And there's just something about it...

4. We are drawing ever nearer to the film adaptation of Ender's Game. Wanna know how I know (aside from the way time and the calendar works)? Army logos have been released! And they are so very cool. I'm definitely getting excited for this film!

5. I knew what my YA book rec would be this week from the moment I tore open the shipping carton containing my pre-ordered copy! Let's take a look at Mind Games by Kiersten White: 

Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future.

Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways… or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.

In a stunning departure from her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy, Kiersten White delivers a slick, edgy, heartstoppingly intense psychological thriller about two sisters determined to protect each other—no matter the cost.
(Summary from
If you want to talk about voice in YA, there's a good chance I'll bring up Kiersten White. Yes, the Paranormalcy trilogy's Evie bore a striking resemblance to another blonde, paranormally-entangled teen (*cough*buffy*cough*), but that didn't make me love her any less. Kiersten has a very distinct voice, a knack for humor, and some serious story-telling skills. While I certainly enjoyed her debut trilogy, I think I'm looking forward to Mind Games even more. The concept is beyond intriguing, but beyond that, it sounds exactly like the kind of book a talented author should write after she's established herself and needs to spread her wings a little further. I can't wait to dive in!

Happy weekend!

pretty little recap: where the wilden things are

Can Spencer fly any further off the handle? Is Creeper Toby ever going to have some 'splainin to do? Is Ezra going to lay the smack down on Brezra's lame attempt to snag his ladyfriend? Let's dive in!
3.20 Hot Water
Previously on PLL: Mama Ezra means business. Relationship drama all around! Spencer manages to make Crazy Mona look sane. Emily and elevators don't mix, and Jason? Well, our dear J-Pouf is missing!

Tension is all about the hand-on-cup/hand-on-face. Photo credit: ABC Family
Liars assemble! ...and be sad and mopey. Wilden is such a creepy dude. I have a feeling he isn't part of the A team though. I think he's just regular type creepy. Which in a way, is worse. At least A teamers have an excuse for their behaviour ("Team building exercise!") but being a weirdo for weirdo's sake is just... *shudder*.

He's definitely gunning for Hannah. And doing it in front of Ashley? Not smart, Wilden. Ashley is deffo the kind of mom who handles her own, you know? Don't mess, Wilden. Don't mess.

Melissa is probably the worst sister in the world. Not because she's gonna narc on Spence, but because she doesn't even bother to ask Spence if she's OK. But we already knew Melissa is psycho...

So J-Pouf is just laying low? That's not very exciting. OR maybe it's suspicious? No, it's lame. Moving on!

Aria + Ezra reunion = more of the same. That scarf Aria is wearing is very fringey. Not that I'd expect anything less. This conversation isn't very dramatic. I guess everything's just okay now. So...great? Oh wait... the whole Brezra thing. How could I forget so easily? Maybe there are some fireworks to be set off... But really, if I were Aria, (there are so many ways to finish that sentence and most of them start with, "I wouldn't wear..."), if I were Aria, I'd just be all "BT-dubbs, Fitzy--your bro totally tried to get all up in this while you were playing baby-daddy with your ex. But I told him it wasn't happening. So get mad at him, not me." How hard is that?

Spencer is being mopey again. Poor, sad Spencer. Is it possible that Aria's mom is going to be the first person to really realize how far Spencer is gone? She probably wishes Spencer was her daughter instead of Aria. I would.

PRODUCT PLACEMENT TIME! Keep trying, Bing. Google will continue to own you forever and ever.

Run Spencer, run away from Aria! Awww Team Sparia. I forgot about that. Okay, I'll allow it. But I still think it's funny that Spencer will semi-confine in some people (Emily, Aria's mom), but Aria sends her running.

Weird tension at the costume shop. More hot lesbians. I swear Rosewood is hot lesbian central. I somehow have a feeling the software Emily is snooping through isn't based on real costume store software (which probably doesn't exist). The interface is a little too perfect for exactly what Emily is looking for. Everybody knows small shops run their inventory on DOS and it crashes any time you try to do anything with it. Or am I just remembering what things were like in the 90s? No, I think you effed this one up, PLL. But it's a clue so I'll allow it.

The tail-end of a phone conversation with Hot Caleb is NOT an acceptable substitute for a real Hot Caleb scene. But mention of Hanna's lesbian allure, followed by Aria storming awkwardly into the room comes close. It's become abundantly clear that Aria has very different priorities than everyone else on this show. Who cares about Ezra's mom? Everyone you know has almost been MURDERED recently!

Wilden and Ashley. Ashley with the death glare. Don't say I didn't warn you, Wilden. You mess with the mama bear and you get the CLAWS!

So Wren was actually hitting on Spencer? That's... awkward. Nothing like using someone's mental health as a pick up line. Weird, Wren. Really weird. But I suppose you'd still be a step up from Spencer's last boyfriend. Have you seen Creeper Toby's do-rag?

Ugh. More Aria relationship drama. Scale it back, Aria. Perspective. At least Hanna and Emily are giving her the "Don't care. Don't care. Don't care." look.

Wren's going for it! Spencer probably isn't in a healthy enough place to get involved with anyone, but where's the fun in that?

Ezra isn't going to apologize for loving Aria, you guys. He just isn't. Even if he realizes what a phenomenal disaster she is and breaks up with her, he's NOT going to apologize. Cause that's how he rolls. He's an adult, yo. An adult dating a young girl. And he won't let his mom boss him around!

Emily and Paige are laying it all out on the table. Looks like Paige has been keeping secrets. This could be a sweet make-up scene, but it just makes me miss Maya. Or wish Emily would hit up that hot lesbian bar and find herself someone who isn't Paige, and didn't try to drown her. So, pretty much anybody there.

General tip: Never listen to headphones by yourself in the dark (you know, unless you're lying down going to sleep). You WILL be startled by something. It's just a bad idea!

Melissa still isn't being a good sister. Even her advice comes off as a threat.

I'm just going to ignore this Ezria scene. Or... I was going to... and then I saw the back of Aria's dress and her ridiculous shiny red pants. I feel ill. She looks like she was mauled by a tiger while trying on a child's Spiderman costume. Who can ignore that??

"Routine traffic stop" for Ashley. What are the odds? Oh Wilden, why you gotta be so squicky?

Uh oh! Spencer is going to over-steam herself like Hannah Horvath did on GIRLS last week! Don't do it Spencer! You don't have a hot guy around to come to your rescue! You just have a scary shadowy figure! Not the same thing!!

Wilden has crossed the line from creepy to scary. But Ashley's not havin any of that! I totally warned you, Wilden! If you're still alive, don't you dare pretend I didn't warn you to not mess with the CLAWS! Mama Ashley will do anything for her Hanna. Only thing more dangerous is a Mama Ashley + Handma team!

CeCe seems pretty genuine and freaked here. I tend to believe her, but it's also possible she's a good actress. So Melissa was with Ali, CeCe and Wilden at the cape, eh?

This is officially worse than Hannah Horvath's steam encounter on GIRLS. No passing out for Spencer, just a whole lot of burning panic. At least Aria's randomness came in handy for once!

Ashley thinks she killed Wilden. Of course, she didn't stick around to find out. Cause when you think you might have accidentally killed someone, you shouldn't stick around to try and save them. You should go back later with your daughter and let her help you clean up the mess. Ashley's tough, but she's not that bright. Also, when you try and kill someone who might come after you and your family, you'd better make sure they're actually dead. Also, don't do it in front of a cop car with a camera recording your every move. Things aren't looking good for Mama Ash.

Spencer is finally ready to spill about Creeper Toby!

I'm guessing that rather lovely funeral wreath the random A teamer is assembling isn't for some side business the team has been working on--Floral A-rrangements or some such nonsense. Looks like more death is on the horizon! It is kind of a nice gesture to provide the wreath. Those things are expensive. The A team may be cruel, but never let it be said that they're not generous!

friday5 for February 15, 2013

1. Happy Valentine's Day! With a baby at home, The past two Valentine's Days have been more about family than romance in my house--and honestly, it's kind of nice. Valentine's Day really is a Hallmark holiday. We should be showing our loved ones we love them all year around. We don't need a special day... that said, while I've never been big on the Hallmark-ness of it all, I am a fan of romantic dinners, chocolates and yes, even roses. But until the husband and I can easily return to that kind of Valentine's Day, I'm perfectly happy just celebrating my family.

2. The spring-cleaning itch. I don't see any reason to wait until spring to start your spring cleaning. Sometimes the mood just strikes and if you tend to have moments of laziness like I do, then you should embrace to urge to purge (not in the barfy way) when it strikes. This week, I found myself flagging articles of clothing in my closet, things I've worn this winter that I'm ready to put in storage or donate, despite season not being over. I always find a good clean and sort to be refreshing and I come out of it with a clear head. In fact, cleaning and organizing is a great project to work on when you have writer's block. Something about the process really clears out the mental cobwebs!

3. This happened. And the internet wept with pure unadulterated joy. Obama is clearly someone who never forgets to be awesome.

4. I don't know what to think about this. Apparently, Shailene Woodley is being considered for the role of Hazel in The Fault in Our Stars film. As I've said before, I have full confidence in Shailene's acting abilities, but given that we're about to see her as Tris in the film adaptation of Divergent, I worry. Is that silly? I certainly don't want any of these young actresses to be pigeonholed or type-cast, but I feel like relatively fresh faces can go a long way when it comes to YA film adaptations. We wouldn't have wanted to see K-Stew as Katniss or Tris. It's not that we can't accept her taking on other roles, but in the mainstream YA film world, she's Bella. On the other side of things, The Fault in Our Stars isn't a series. It's not going to be a franchise of films the way Divergent will. Maybe that's enough of a separation.

5. The YA book rec is a bit different this week. Instead of highlighting a new release, I want to bring your attention to the exciting new cover art for Harry Potter!

I am seriously diggin' this cover! The Harry Potter books are timeless modern classics and I believe they will continue to be taught in schools and read by children for generations to come. It makes sense that the covers will receive a little refresh from time to time to attract new readers. I believe only the cover for the first book (which we in Canada happily refer to as The PHILOSOPHER'S Stone) has been released so far, but I'm greatly looking forward to what else they have in store!

Happy weekend!

pretty little recap: time heals all crazy--except sometimes not

Get those ShamWows ready cause Emily's remembering things, Spencer's gone crackerjacks, and it's a pretty little guarantee that more shiz is gonna hit the fan...
3.19 What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted
Previously on PLL: Ali might have been pregnant, Ezra might be a little girl, and the Grand Master A might be an Ali look-a-like with really vibrant taste in outerwear...
Photo credit: ABC Family
The liars are finally on to Spencer's downward spiral. Thank goodness. She needs help, STAT! Hanna is totally wrong about Spencer not needing junk food, by the way. Everybody knows junk food = break-up food, plus Spencer is looking pretty frail these days. I think a cheeseburger would go a long way...

A has left Spencer a secret message carved into her sunglasses. Come on, A! Why can't you leave a note in her locker like a normal person? What if one of the other liars picks those bad boys up by accident, mistaking them for their own sunglasses and then they're all "OMG, what up with T, Spencer? WHAT UP WITH T?!"

Blah blah blah Aria/Ezra drama.

Looks like Spencer is putting the icular in extra-curricular activities. Strip academic decathlon?

Emily's line about maybe bringing more cupcakes is already a serious contender for best line of the night.

I know the A teamers have Spencer cornered, but it's painful watching her avoid telling Emily what Creeper Toby did. Can't they do what people in movies do when they think they're being spied on? Find a safe room to have the conversation or write it down, or talk about it while pretending you don't know each other at a news stand or water fountain (as one person drinks and the other stretches because they just happened to be jogging in the area). That is how these things should be handled, amiright?

Brezra is rushing around like a guy trying to escape somewhere he's not supposed to be... oh wait.. yeah. Awkward Brezra. Awkward that you arrived in the first place and awkward that you are trying to pack a box of cereal in your bag.

Aria is still working with that photographer? Wasn't that... like a year ago? And hasn't it.. not come up at all since then?

Hanna and Hot Caleb fighting. Sad face. Hanna's concern is sweet, but she needs to respect Hot Caleb's boundaries. It's one thing to suggest and support, it's another to set up unwanted play dates with estranged family members.

Jason's pouffy hair is so distracting. I can't quite follow what he and Emily are talking about because his hair keeps getting in the way... something about boats and... pouffy hair? Wait no, something about Ali's maybebaby.

Clearly Wren is a) fooled by Crazy Mona like so many before him or b) part of the A team. Either way, Spencer has a plan...

Aww, Hot Caleb is wearing a nice shirt and being all sweet! That's so adorable I just want to save this moment in my back pocket so that I can pull it out when I'm feeling down. Sigh. Hot Caleb. You make the world a better place.

Oh no! Hot UncleDad is a no show. Not cool, Hot UncleDad. Nobody upsets Hot Caleb like that. Might have to set the A team on that guy...

Aria + Ezra + Brezra = 2-for-1. Thanks for that grossness, CeCe.

Hooray! Hot UncleDad has arrived! But Hot Caleb is not looking too happy about the delay. Don't screw this up, Hot UncleDad. Way to go Hanna, breaking the ice with pee jokes. That is how you do it!

Ah! Creepy person in the bushes! (I assume.) Officially creeped as usual, PLL. Even Jason's pouffy hair is no comfort!

I should have known that Aria and Brezra would get into crazy antics, but really? A spilled wine on the white carpet bit? That's bad even for an Aria scene.

Hanna is looking for ways to keep Hot UncleDad in town. And Ashley is wondering if Hanna wants him there for Hot Caleb or for herself. Is this a Hanna's dad thing? Or... is this going to be an extra-creepy Hanna and Hot UncleDad romance thing? Please, let's not go there...

Wow, Jason's hair is pouffy to the extreme in this flashback! It's blinding!! I'm not surprised he mistook CeCe for Ali with all that pouf getting in the way.

I'm kinda digging off-the-handle Spencer. She's bold and unpredictable. It's like she's pushed through the sadness to become terrifying and mentally unstable, but in an oddly appealing way. I don't know where this train of crazy is heading, but I'm sticking around for the ride!

And we're back to the comedic antics of Aria and Brezra... with Aria offering Brezra the couch at her house. Cause that's a good idea. Oh, who am I kidding? I don't care what Aria and her stripey-polka-dotty-plaid outfit do.

Oh Hot Caleb and Hanna. You are one of the best couples--teen-aged or otherwise--on TV. Sure, they fight, but they're so great together and have such great chemistry! And hooray for Hot UncleDad sticking around for Hot Caleb!

The creepiness continues for Emily and J-Pouf (his new name until he cuts his hair). Where is this going??

Eewww. CeCe's stains. Aria needs to recognize that the time she is spending with Brezra is basically going to destroy her relationship with Ezra. If one still exists.... and he's kissing her. That's not surprising. And yet, I didn't see it coming. I guess things are about to get even messier...

Emily and J-Pouf are basically in a haunted elevator shaft. That's right. HAUNTED. Whoa. What?? Did that just happen? Did J-Pouf just plummet to his death? No, surely, that can't be... Surely, he's just injured, or we're supposed to think he's dead, but really he's part of the A team and we'll later have a big reveal where we find out he didn't die and has been messing with them all along. Right? RIGHT? I don't even care that might about him, but I feel like his pouf and I have grown closer this evening...

Secular pizza time! Uh oh... All is not well with Hot UncleDad after all. Ugh. This is the last thing Hot Caleb needs!

SOS for J-Pouf. He lives! And the picture of Ali and CeCe on the cape is gone. Dun dun dun!

The emergency appears to have jolted Spencer back to reality a bit. Maybe this is the beginning of her return to normal.

J-Pouf? Gone? Nooo! It wasn't until we almost lost him that I realized how much his pouffy hair matters to me! And now you turn around and take him away again? WHAT IS GOING ON???

At least I can take comfort in the fact that the closing A scene once again demonstrates that the A teamers have way too much time on their hands AND must have access to a fairly decent photo printer. Random, A teamers. Really random.

Until next week!

between the covers and beyond

There's an intimacy in reading that separates it from other forms of consumable art. Yes, it can be argued that the consumption of any art is, in its own way, an intimate experience, but with reading, it's more apparent.

Aside from academic settings, authorly events and of course, the bedtime story, reading is typically a solo act--a silent, private act. The reader alone decides which book to pick up--and whether or not to later put it down. While you certainly can watch a movie by yourself, it's generally a group activity. The choice of what to watch is a shared experience (even if one person is calling the shots and the other is complacent). The reactions to the film are shared as well.

Guilty-pleasure reads are easier to "get away with" than guilty-pleasure viewings. And e-readers and tablets make reading an even more private experience. I find myself wondering if books like Fifty Shades of Gray would have taken off if not for the privacy of the e-reader. Not that the readers of that book are all about keeping it a secret. Word of mouth is what allowed Fifty Shades to be the sensation it was. But how many readers would have taken the plunge without the covert nature of the e-reader?

This brings me to the in-development Fifty Shades of Gray movie. I get it. Book sells like gangbusters, film rights are optioned, film gets green lit because there's clearly an audience and money to be made. But this is not another teen movie. I don't see how anyone can expect the film to do anywhere near as well as the book did. This is NC-17 territory. Which is fine because probably nobody under 17 should be reading the books either. But let's go back to what I said about reading being an intimate experience. You can read Fifty Shades of Gray and enjoy it privately. The subject matter is intimately consumed. Now take that content and put it up on a big screen. Ratings aside, how likely are Fifty's readers to go see the story re-enacted in living colour glory? There will certainly be people who have no issue with it, but I can't help but feel that a large portion of the novel's audience would be less keen to bring what had been an intimate reading experience into the very public venue of a theater.

Of course, I may be completely misjudging the times. Maybe we are ready for a mainstream NC-17 film. But I'm reluctant to think so...

Are there any books you've enjoyed as a personal reading experience that you wouldn't as eagerly consume in a more public format?

Photo credit: Hellmy

friday5 for February 8, 2013

So yesterday, we were hit by Snowmageddon. For reals. I was stuck in my car, trying to get to work, and then trying to get home from work, for much of the day. If that's not a good excuse for why I wasn't able to post this yesterday, I don't know what is. The important part is, it's here! The Friday5, appearing on a Saturday (....again).

In a previous post, I mentioned that I'm thinking of making some changes to the Friday5 and that's true. It's sort of evolved into a round-up of pop-culture links, which is okay, but I want to try and mix a little personal stuff into it moving forward. And so, the first step in that direction starts today....

1. Snowmageddon. We're often told that any winter storm headed our way is going to be Snowmageddon. I think the people delivering the news figure that if they always predict Snowmageddon, eventually they'll be right. I'd say that this time, they were. The snow is piled so high outside my house right now, that opening the front door involves shifting snow out of the way. So yeah, that's a lot of snow. Did the whatshisname groundhog predict an early spring? He's probably laughing in his little groundhog hole as we speak. Jerk.

2. Community has returned! It's been a long, long, long LONG wait, but Community is finally back on our television screens. It almost felt like a dream watching it on Thursday. The show is under new management, with the previous show-runner out the door and a couple of new guys in charge. Honestly, I don't know if the show felt slightly different because I knew that or if it genuinely felt slightly different. I still enjoyed it greatly, but it felt almost like... they were trying to pack too much in? I don't know. Like I said, I enjoyed it greatly and I'm very confident that any blip in quality (again, not really in quality, just in...meshing with previous stuff?) will be smoothed out the new guys get their footing. I'm really looking forward to the new season! Even if we are going to randomly get Halloween and Christmas episodes at odd times. I'd take a full season of poorly-timed holiday Community episodes over a normal season of any other comedy currently on network television.

3. Emma Roberts has been cast as Lena in the pilot for Lauren Oliver's Delirium. I don't know Emma Roberts that well. I think I've only ever seen her in a couple of indie flicks. But I recall she did a good job and if she's been cast as Lena, I'm sure she's up to snuff. It's interesting to see film actors showing up in TV more and more (or is it just me?). The husband and I have been watching The Following (not bad, though the Poe references are way too heavy-handed) and it's a bit odd to watch Kevin Bacon do his thing on the small screen. I will definitely be watching Delirium when and if it makes it onto my television--the fact that they've cast "a big name" for Lena is a good sign that they're going to put the effort in to do this series right. 

4. Exciting news to share regarding Harlequin Teen author Julie Kagawa! Julie's new, untitled book series has been optioned by Universal! Hooray for Julie!  Having dealt with Julie in my day job, I can honestly say that she is fantastic and I'm so happy to see her succeeding across the boards. If you haven't picked up any of Julie's books before, and you love richly detailed fantasy YA with strong characters, you are certainly missing out. She's extremely talented and her Iron Fey books have earned their special place on my YA bookshelf. Congratulations Julie!

5. YA book rec time! Another week of fab released, but we seriously need to discuss Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger. Carriger has been rockin it in the adult steam punk world for a while with her Parasol Protectorate books. Now she brings her fantastico writing style to YA with this, and I quote, "Finishing School Book the First".
This cover is way 2legit2quit, you guys.
Are you still wearing your socks? Did you somehow manage to retain them in spite of the severe cool-itude of that cover? Well, keep a tight hold on those puppies cause if that didn't blow em off, this very probably will:
It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Sophronia Temminnick at 14 is a great trial more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners -- and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Her poor mother, desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady, enrolls the lively tomboy in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage -- in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.
(Summary from
This book will be amazing. My proof? Exhibit A: Boarding school books are the bee's knees. Exhibit B: Boarding school books featuring sassy tomboy heroines who get into wacky hijinks will steal your heart every time. And Exhibit C: Boarding school books + "CURTSY AND THROW A KNIFE AT THE SAME TIME". I rest my case. Carriger: 1 - Everybody Else Ever: 0

Happy weekend!

pretty little recap: deja dead all over again

Alison is dead! Oh wait, we already knew that... well, it's time to bury her again because the first go round clearly didn't stick. Does everybody have their shovel handy? Good, then let's get started...

3.18 Dead to Me
Previously on PLL: Ezra haz kid. Ezra haz brother. Creeper Toby haz secrets. Alison haz journal. Spencer haz sadness. Also a private eye. Cop dude haz Ali's notebook. Dun dun dun!

"Oh crap! I totally left the oven on!" Photo credit: ABC Family
More sadness and moping. Spencer's misery is contagious. Emily's mom's job at the police station is already working its way into this week's episode.

Alison is being buried. Again. But the things she was buried with the first time around are still missing. That's clearly going to be important at some point... Whoa! Spencer's misery is turning to anger. Strap yourselves in, PLLers, we're in for another bumpy ride!

Hanna and Aria probably should ditch their respective Ali souvenirs. Hanging onto such things NEVER ends well. I swear these people never learn their lessons...

I have a sinking feeling Spencer is going to lay thy smack down on Crazy Mona. And I for one can't wait!

Yay for Hot Caleb! I've missed you so much! Oooh Hot Caleb backstory! He's so tortured, but in a heartwarming way, not an intimidating way. And his fashion sense is impeccable in that "it looks like I don't care, but I dressed this way to make you melt" sort of way. Hooray Hot Caleb!

Aria is creepin around Ezra's place...with his brother... that's... probably not going to end well.  And now he's asking her to continue to stop by... yeah, not going to end well...

Spencer is still looking worn out. I'm totally buying this downward spiral. Well done, PLL. Well done. The PI keeping tabs on Creeper Toby doesn't seem to have much to report... hydrangeas? What up with that?

Emily, meet your new after-school hang-out--the police station! Lots of opportunity to stumble across clues there... like a weird French A-centric postcard! Dun dun dun!

Spencer continues to be testy. But Emily isn't havin any of that. Good girl, Em! Looks like the French postcard is yet another memento from chez dead Ali. Spencer's pro translation to translation skills to the rescue! Err, not rescue.. looks like the heat is on and Emily's... feeling the heat? I got nothing...

Looks like the whole Paige/other girl storyline is being explained away rather easily. Paige was merely investigating, not cheating. OR WAS SHE? Nah, I think we're supposed to believe everything's on the up and up there...

Yes! Thank you Hanna for being reasonable and pointing out that Aria is anything but reasonable! The world makes sense. For some reason, Aria doesn't want to ditch the incriminating earrings... which is strange because I seem to recall they were rather classy. So not Aria's taste...

Looks like we're FINALLY dealing with the whole Emily killed someone situation. Looks like she's not so "no big deal" about it after all. In fact, she seems to be a little "Murder is my thing now, didn't you hear?"

Ugh. Tear out my heart, Sad Spencer. Girl seriously needs to stop keeping this Creeper Toby stuff to herself. Yeah, okay, if my friends were as unreliable as the other liars are, I'd be a little hesitant about making myself vulnerable too, but their hearts are in the right place and nobody does break-ups like your best lady-pals. Plus, you know, THEIR LIVES MIGHT BE IN IN DANGER! But that's secondary....

Hot Caleb! Aww and Hanna in a cute farm-inspired outfit! Hot Caleb is being all angsty over family drama. Hanna needs to give him more hugs! More hugs all around!

Ha! Even Hot Caleb's uncle thinks Hot Caleb's hot. No one is immune! Hmmm. Hanna sure is asking a lot of questions. It's sweet though. Hanna and Hot Caleb are never allowed to break up again!

Ezra's brother, who I've just now decided to call Brezra, is working his magic on silly susceptible Aria and her silly outfit-of-the-week. Yeah, this isn't good...

Whoa. WHOA. Emily's hypno-therapy is revealing that she...killed Ali????? That can't be right. It just can't be... Is Doctor S (why do they keep going back to her? She kinda sucks at her job...) using hypnosis to plant ideas in Emily's brain??? Or is Emily just confused?

Awww, Hot Caleb's uncle seems nice. Maybe he should be Hot Caleb's dad! I hope this isn't that last we see of that guy. He has good taste in dudes. Which is totally creepy and weird... so kinda fitting for this show when you think about it.

Emily is freaking. And rightfully so. But surely she isn't the killer. You'll never convince me, PLL! NEVER! Aria, sure, I'd buy that. But Emily? No way.

Spencer's PI has figured out the mystery of the we just need to peak behind door number one...

Apparently Brezra is totally cool with punching his physics teacher's husband in the street WITH A PIZZA BOX! That guy's got flare. Oh Aria, scandal just follows you around! Ooooh hand-holding. Okay, it's the fleeing-the-scene kind, but still. This really won't end well...

So Breza, brother of dates-girls-in-high-school Ezra, hit on his physics teacher? That's classic! He and Aria can totally bond over teacher-seduction techniques!

Hot Caleb, how do you manage to still be hot even when you're bitter? The pic of baby Hot Caleb is clearly warming Hot Caleb's heart. And aww, Hot Uncle has been carrying around that picture in his wallet. Waitaminute... are they pointing toward Hot Uncle being Hot Caleb's real dad? Maybe my suggestion that he should be Hot Caleb's dad was spot on! Gold star for me!

Crazy Mona and Doctor S. Something fishy is going on there... I'm really not trusting the doc. Especially if Crazy Mona owes her...

The key! The room! The big reveal! And it' old mattress? Huh. Spencer's crying. She's clearly as disappointed as I am. Was anybody else expecting something super insane and elaborate? A cleaned out room so isn't the A team's style.I half-expected a mini-circus of staged dolls acting out planned nefarious deeds..

"I don't care if it's Santa Claus, consider me creeped." <--Best line of the night goes to Hanna! Gold star for Hanna!

Spencer is really flying off the handle, telling Jason about Ali's maybe-baby. Looks like the other liars are catching on that something's seriously off. FINALLY! Haven't you all noticed that Spencer has "crazy eyes"?

The sprinklers are a trigger for Emily. Looks like she didn't kill Ali. No surprise there. But now we have a blonde in a red coat to focus on... someone who was there the night Ali's grave was dug up. And is the A-Boss according to Emily's (questionable) memory. Not Crazy Mona... maybe Creeper Toby in a blonde wig? Yeah, unlikely...But let's allow ourselves to enjoy that visual for a moment....

Spencer is just beyond now. Carving Creeper Toby's name into the marble of (his mother's grave?) It's deep end time, people! How far will she go down this dark path?

And what's up with the A-teamer buying liquor? Are we to assume this is a clue that they're over 21? That they have a fake I.D.? I'm confused... It's Doctor S, isn't it? Ezra? Mr. Aria? HANDMA? I need answers!

Until next week!

quick update

Quick update to keep you all looped in:

Yes, I realize I didn't do a Friday5 last week.

And yes, I realize I didn't do a Monday post either.

I don't want this blog to turn into constant apology posts. I'm still trying to find a routine that works. There was a wee spot o' life stuff that got in the way last week. But I've decided I'm going to try to draft the Friday5 as the week progresses instead of all in one go like I have been. I'm hoping that will help. It's all about trial and error. I'm also re-thinking the content of the Friday5 a bit. There will probably be some changes down the line. If there's anything you'd like to see included, please hit up the comments! 

In the meantime, there will be a Friday5 this week and of course, the Pretty Little Recap!

Now, let's all enjoy this picture of a dog who just got his Ph.D in being adorable:

Photo by Matt Barber, CC License