Judging Books by their Covers

A while back, like, several years ago, I was browsing the shelves of my local Barnes and Nobel, and I found a book that drew me in with its beautiful cover. That book was Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I mean, look at it:

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This is a great book cover. Sleek, represents exactly what the book it about. It made me pull it off the shelf. I read the blurb and was intrigued. So I texted my friend and said what do you think of a retelling fo Cinderella with robots? And she said something to the effect of “that sounds ridiculous.”  I carried the book around for a little bit but ended up putting it down before I got to the checkout, deciding that I’d look the book up and see what the Internet was saying.

As I’m sure you know, as you are the book Internet, this book was very well received, and I don’t think I saw a single under 3-star review on Goodreads when I first looked into it. All of a sudden this beautiful cover was showing up on Tumblr with rave reviews. So, next time I was in the bookstore I ran my finger down the spine of this book but didn’t buy it. I waited until it came out in paperback, then picked it up. I much prefer hardcover books, but I was afraid that I would wait to read it and by the time I got around to it, if I liked it, the rest of the series would be in paperback, and I am very into bookcase continuity. I can’t have one hardcover and the rest paperback. It is not okay.

So this book sat on my bookshelf for about 4 years. It would show prominently in the pictures I would post of my TBR pile because of that beautiful cover. My cousin asked several times if the Lunar Chronicles were any good because she was on the fence about reading it. To which I would say “I honestly haven’t read it because I have the same feelings about it.” and then I would feel so guilty about it. Why did I buy this book if I wasn’t sure if I would read it?

When I moved over Labor Day weekend, I put my bookshelf back together, Cinder sat on the top shelf with other books on my TBR list so I could look at them and pressure myself into reading more so I could get through this pile that seems to grow tenfold every time I read one book.

Then I started sniffing around book blogging considering starting my own. One of the books that showed on list after list: “best books” “best adaptations” “best sci-fi”  “favorite books” any list there was that praised a book Cinder, or the whole series was on it.

So as I started my own blog, I said to myself: “Well, Deanna, if you’re going to have a YA book blog, you are going to have to read the Robot Cinderella book.”

I think the main reason I didn’t want to read it was because I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, I know Cinderella. I know that story, I’ve been absorbing that story since I was a toddler. I’ve seen versions with cartoon mice, Brandy, Hillary Duff and Chad Michael Murray, I mean, I would have thought that I’d been this story in every way humanly imaginable. But there on my bookshelf sat a new imagining, one with Robots on what seemed to be a post-apocalyptic earth. What was this book going to be?

I made a WWW Wednesday post a couple weeks ago where I told the internet that the next book I was going to read was Cinder. Telling the internet is one way that I keep myself accountable. I tell the Internet that I’m going to the gym, and I go because I don’t want to lie to the Internet, that’s immoral. So the Internet keeps me in line. So I, unsure if I would enjoy it, opened up Cinder on a Monday night and started to read.

Tuesday, there was a very large snowstorm that hit the North East. So, since the all day marathon on Criminal Minds didn’t start until 11 on Tuesdays, I decided to read a little bit. I picked up Cinder and didn’t put it down until I the book was over. I missed a whole day of season 4 of Criminal Minds, which BTW is my favorite season.

Cinder is pretty much impossible to put down.

The book is a retelling of Cinderella, there is the evil step-mother, the ball, the “lost shoe” thing, but I think the book could really be summarized without using the “retelling of Cinderella” part. It’s a very different story for the familiar fairytale.

My major resistance against reading this book when I first bought it was not wanting to be bored by a story that I knew. I was worried that it would be too familiar. I think what made the book so interesting to me was that it was so different from Cinderella.

While recommending the book, I find myself saying “It’s a robot Cinderella, but it’s super good I promise. I know that sounds weird.”

I loved this book, I am reading the sequel Scarlet at the moment, as we haven’t had a snowstorm (and hopefully won’t have anymore) so I haven’t had the time to just sit and read a whole 400 page book in a day, I am about halfway through so I should be able to finish it over the weekend.

Although I’d seen so many praises of these books, I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was. I guess my point is to just read it. A book may seem like it’s going to be weird but trust the Goodreads page. If other bookish people think the book is good, it’s good. Trust your instincts about the book. You just may find your new favorite.

Are there any books that you were afraid to read for fear of disappointment and they ended up being great? I would love to hear about them!

 

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

 

Top Ten Tuesday Books: you can’t put down

 

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s list is Top Ten Books you can’t put down and read in one sitting. Featured image borrowed from the Broke and Bookish blog.

 

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a sucker for a love story. This one has a little bit more than the average YA love story. Eleanor and Park is a well-written real feeling story about first love.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer. This book man, I put off reading it as it gathered dust on my bookshelf for years. Then a well time snowstorm had me reading this whole book on a Tuesday afternoon. I’m currently reading the second book in the series. Meyer is a wonderfully gifted writer. I can’t wait to read the rest of her work.

The Sun is Also a Star Nicola Yoon. This book is so beautiful. I snapped my friend Jen about 3500 times in the day and a half it took me to read it telling her to read it. Again, I’m a sucker for love.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. I may have mentioned that Maureen Johnson is my favorite author. I don’t think I have mentioned that I’m one of those people who really loves crime, especially serial killers. Johnson’s Shades of London series is about ghost hunters in London, and the first book in that series deals with the ghost of Jack the Ripper. I love Johnson’s style of writing. Since we’ve been twitter friends for almost 10 years, I feel like her books are written by a friend.

The Jessica Darling Series by Megan McCafferty. Yes, all 5 books in two days, including a trip to Bangor Maine from Augusta in a blizzard to buy the 4th and 5th books. They are a fun coming of age love story. They are great, highly recommend.

 

 

Suite Scarlett Maureen Johnson. Another Maureen Johnson, weird? This book is about a family that lives in a hotel in New York and a mysterious woman moves in, and Scarlett’s life changes forever. There is a very odd version of Hamlet, and a very sarcastic fun older brother named Spencer. It’s a fun story. I love this series.

We Were Liars E Lockhart. I have seen a lot of mixed reactions to this book, but I loved it. I didn’t see the twist, looking back at it I see some serious foreshadowing that I should have caught. This is a wonderful book. Well-written, great characters.

Fangirl Rainbow Rowell. As a fanfiction writer, this book hit me in a unique way that no other book has. Rowell gets it, the weird pressure that comes with writing a multi-chapter story for a popular series, but this book has more than just that. The characters are raw. The emotions are pure. If you haven’t read anything by Rowell, I recommend this one above all else.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephine Perkins. All three of the books in this series is so cute, but the first one has a special place in my heart. Boarding school, adorable teenage love, John Green made a video about how much he liked it, perfect ingredients for Deanna falling in love with love. I read the whole thing in one setting, and it was time well spent.

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. I read this book in, like, 4 hours. I loved it. In thinking about it too much to write this blog post, I realized that several of my favorite stories in other mediums, the season 4 episode of Supernatural There is a Monster at the End of This Book and the movie Stranger than Fiction, have a similar story line. Such a great writer, such a great story.


I have about 400 honorable mentions, including the rest of Maureen Johnson’s books, pretty much everything Ally Carter has written, and John Green’s novels. I’m a big fan of reading books in one sitting. I easily get lost in books with good stories and wonderful characters.

What about you? What are your one sitting books that you couldn’t get enough of?

 

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

Review: I Was Here Gayle Forman

Content Warning: this book is about suicide.

The Details:

Publisher:  Viking Juvenile
Published: January 27, 2015
Genres: YA, contemporary
My Rating: 5 sold Stars

Goodreads Blurb:

Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . They weren’t anymore.
 
When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her small dead-end town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.
 
I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.

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My Review:

This book is about survivors guilt. That feeling when something unexpectantly dies from what feels like a preventable event and you, the dead person’s friends and family, are left staring at what is left and wondering what you did wrong. This is something that I understand completely, and I relate to Cody and her journey deeply.

My personal story isn’t one that I’m comfortable sharing on this platform at the moment, but know that I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to finish this book when I read the blurb, but I decided to try it because I love Gayle Forman and what I found was something deeply touching and surprisingly beautiful.

The story opens with Meg’s death. It’s set up immediately. Cody, the dead girl’s best friend, is almost tired of having to go to memorials and wakes for her friend. She can’t bring herself to say anything about her friend at any of these events as much as she wants to. Meg’s parents as Cody to go to the college that Meg was studying at to collect Meg’s belongings. Cody agrees, and it is here that the story really begins.

Cody discusses her feeling about Meg, her best friend to the point where they were basically sisters, inseparable like many girlfriends are. Cody’s angry, confused, lost by what Meg did. She doesn’t get it. She doesn’t understand how this person that meant so much to her could leave her out of such a big decision. How could Meg leave and make Cody do this thing, this life thing, alone?

This book gets it. Gayle Forman writes about how Cody feels her guilt and anger so well. This book, although I was worried about how well I would be able to handle it, was exactly what I needed, to have my feeling validated.

Gayle Forman is known for her realism and profound writing, this example is no exception. It is very different from the books of hers I’ve read before If I Stay and  Where she Went as well as Just one Day and Just one Year. This story is about a very different kind of love. It’s beautiful and worth picking up.

Goodreads

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

Short Story Saturday: Home has four wheels

So this week it’s a piece of  Supernatural fanfiction again. I wasn’t going to post the whole thing because it’s kind of long, but why not.  I hope you enjoy it. I’ll stick a link to my AO3 profile at the bottom if you are interested in reading more of my fan fiction. I’m working on a brand new piece for next week. We’ll see how it goes.

Enjoy


The first night they spent in the Impala John felt like the absolute worst father in the world. As he pulled into the park and ride on their way from Kansas to West Virginia on the tail of something that seemed a little bit off, something like the thing that took Mary. He looked into the back seat at his two boys sound asleep not knowing anything was wrong. Sam had been asleep for hours in his car seat, there was a decent chance he was going to wake up soon, hungry, wet or both and demand attention. Dean, however, looked so uncomfortable in his booster seat it was almost funny. His cheek pressed tightly against the window, his little firefighter’s helmet askew on his head. John shut the car off in the darkest part of the park and ride. Dark car in the shadows was hard to see. It didn’t feel safe, but it felt safe enough with all the doors locked. He’d get a motel room when they got to West Virginia. Give Dean an actual bed with blankets and pillows. But for tonight this was the best he could do, and man did he feel so awful for doing it.
As it became more frequent, Dean started to ask questions. Sam didn’t seem to mind, but he was ten months old, and nothing really seemed to bother him as long as he had Dean within grabbing range and his dirty stuffed cow close in his hand.

“Daddy,” Dean whined as John unbuckled Dean from his booster seat so the little boy could lay down on the seat, at least it was a little more comfortable. “Why don’t we have a house anymore? I miss the apartment at the top of the stairs. Why can’t we go back there? I know we can’t go back to the big house because the fire ate it, but how come we have no house?”

“Because Daddy has work to do,” John explained. “You’ll understand when you’re a little bit bigger.”

“How much bigger?” Dean yawned.

“Not much bigger,” John smiled.

He watched Dean place a pillow stolen from one of the motels they’d stayed at against Sam’s car seat and arrange himself, then placed a blanket over the boy. After wishing his boys a good night, he closed the door and climbed into the front.

“Daddy,” Dean said softly. “If I get much bigger, I’m not gotta fit back here no more.”

“We’ll figure it out when we get there kiddo,” John said, balling up a sweatshirt and placing it against the passenger’s side door. “Everything will work out. I promise.”

“Are we looking for Momma?” Dean asked sleepily.

He asked the same question every night, and every night John had the same answer: “Yeah, Buddy, we’re still looking for what took Momma.”

“I hope you find it soon,” Dean mumbled. “I miss my bed.”

“Good night, Dean,” John replied.

He didn’t know how much more of Dean saying things like that he could take. He was driven in two very different directions. On the one hand, he had boys to raise, make sure they grow up protected and happy. On the other hand, he had the image of the love of his life, on fire, cut open, dead and pinned to the ceiling by an unknown force, a demon, that psychic had said. If he kept on the path he was on, if he kept searching for what put Mary up there, he was protecting his boys. It was a doubled edged sword he was playing with. It had no right answer. He stared at the ceiling until he heard Dean’s breath start to even out, then closed his own eyes to grab a couple hours before Sammy needed attention.

—————
As the boys got bigger, it got a little easier. Dean had figured out exactly what John was doing on accident right before his seventh birthday while John and Bobby talked strategy at Bobby’s kitchen table. He’d taken it pretty well considering, thought of John as a kind of superhero. John chalked it up to the little boy already knowing that there were bad things out there. There had to be if something took away his mom.

When they left Bobby’s after Dean finished first grade, heading off to hunt a ghoul in Oklahoma, the routine of sleeping in the car started up again. Dean jumped right back into it, almost like he was more used to sleeping in the car than a real bed. If that didn’t break John’s heart, there were few things that ever would.

Sam was much more reluctant. He liked having his space. He liked sharing a bed with his big brother. He liked being able to sleep with his face pressed right up against Dean’s side, but he also liked being able to take up a good two-thirds of a full sized bed with his tiny frame. Squishing the two of them into the backseat was touchy.

Outside of Nebraska, John found a nice safe looking parking lot to crash for the night and told Dean to get Sammy ready for bed. John laid down across the front, head on a sweatshirt and was out in a matter of seconds. Dean helped Sammy into his pajamas and got a bottle of water out of a cooler in the foot well under Sam’s booster seat and helped his brother with his toothbrush before changing himself and brushing his teeth.

“How come, we can’t go to a place with the bed?” Sam started. He held his toothbrush out to Dean to put away while clutching his dirty stuffed cow, Moocha, close to his chest.

“Because Dad stopped here,” Dean explained. “So we have to sleep in the car.”

“I don’t want to,” Sam pouted.

“Then you can sleep outside,” Dean nodded. “More room for me.”

“I don’t want to,” Sam said shaking his head. “I’ll be boy napped. Moocha get cow-napped!”

“You’re too annoying to get kidnapped, Sammy,” Dean said seriously. “They’ll return you before too long.”

“Not funny, De,” Sam said.

Dean shrugged and laid down with his head by the driver’s side door. He balled up one of John’s shirts as a pillow and pulled at Sam who was standing in the foot well down to lay against him.

“You tell me a story?” Sam whispered.

“Too dark,” Dean said. “Just go to sleep. I’ll read you a story when we get to a motel.”

“Promise?” Sam asked, pressing a bony elbow into Dean’s ribcage as he tried to find a comfortable position.

“Yes, Sammy, I promise,” Dean replied.

“You’re the best big brother in the world,” Sam yawned.

“I know,” Dean smiled, wrapping an arm around Sam’s back to make sure that he didn’t fall off the seat in the middle of the night.

Dean lay there listening to Sammy breathe and his dad snore for a while until he started to drift himself. Just as he was reaching a place where sleep was within reach, Sam started to shiver.

“Dean,” a tiny voice said. “I’m very cold.”

Dean took the shirt from against the door and draped it over the two of them.

“But now you gots no pillow,” Sam yawned.

“It’ll be okay Sammy,” Dean assured. “It’ll be okay for now. Everything will be better someday. I’m going to make everything better for you.”

“Promise,” Sam said sleepily, his body getting heavy again against Dean’s side.

“Even if it kills me, Sammy,” Dean promised. “Everything’s gonna be better for you.”

 

Dean stole a couple pillows and one of the blankets from the next motel they were stuck in a while his Dad took down a vampire nest. It was much easier to get Sammy to sleep when he was warm. It seemed weird since the kid was a walking radiator, but Sam need blankets to sleep, and Dad wasn’t stopping at Kmart because Sammy was whining about being cold. So Dean did the only thing he knew how. There was only so much he could work with being seven and barely tall enough to reach the stove to make decent spaghetti-O’s let alone walk around a store by himself.

It was a little bit more comfortable in the car with those things, but Dad wasn’t too happy about it.

“Where did you get that, Dean?” John sighed when Dean pulled the blanket out his duffle in a parking lot near an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere Iowa.

“I got them from the motel,” Dean confessed. “Sam’s always cold, and it’s hard to sleep when you don’t have a pillow. And there’s only so many clean shirts that I can use as a pillow, and my neck hurts in the morning.”

“Don’t steal anything ever again,” John said sternly, doing his best not to raise his voice. “You know what happens when you steal things, Dean? You go to jail. Do you want to go to jail?”

“No, sir,” Dean replied shaking his head, wide-eyed. “But what if Sammy needs something?”

“Then tell me, and I’ll get it,” John answered.

“What if you don’t get it?”

“I’ll get it,” John said.

“I told you Sam wanted a blanket to sleep and you didn’t do nothing about it,” Dean said. “And you told me that Sam is my job and I’m supposed to take care of him.”

“Don’t talk back to me,” John said seriously, having no counter argument for his seven-year-old son. “Get ready for bed.”

Dean tucked Sammy in the best way he could, pulling out a flashlight to read a couple King Arthur tales in the kid’s magazine her nicked from the last doctor’s office they were in. Sam fell asleep against his shoulder with a very soft snore before Dean shut off his light and places the side of his face against Sam’s hair and allowed himself to fall asleep.

——
After Dean broke his arm during his misstep on a werewolf hunt when he was eleven, living in the car got very difficult. The poor kid’s arm was trapped with his elbow bent for weeks. When he had room to move around in his sleep, he wasn’t comfortable, let alone when he was stuck with his needy seven-year-old brother who couldn’t decide if he wanted to be next to Dean or have his own half of the back seat to himself.

“You’re going to sleep over there when you sit,” Dean decided for him. “I’m going to sleep over here on my side. I can’t sleep when you’re in the way. And when I hit you in the face with my cast you cry. So just give me space.”

“I don’t want to give you space,” Sam said sticking out his tongue.

“Dad!” Dean whined. “Make Sam stay away from me.”

“Boys!” John’s voice echoed and seemed just that much scarier when it was confined to the car his eyes never leaving the road. They had to be back in Delaware by tomorrow afternoon if Dean was going to make it back to school for Monday. “If you don’t knock it off, I’m dropping the two of you off at the next fire station I see.”

“I don’t think it works like that,” Sam said. “That only works for babies.”

“Then he’ll have no problem getting rid of you,” Dean spat.

“The next person to talk gets left of the side of the road,” John said seriously. “Both of you go to sleep so I can get us where we gotta be.”

The boys started to settle for a moment, not wanting to get in trouble. But the problem with keeping two young boys in the backseat of a car for long periods of time was that the only thing they had to entertain themselves was each other. After a few minutes of settling, Sam started to fidget and kicked Dean’s feet away from him.

“Stop it, Sam,” Dean hissed through his teeth.

Sammy started to laugh. “Looks like you’re getting left on the side of the road.”

Suddenly the car slammed to a stop, gravel kicking up on both sides as John maneuvered it on to the shoulder. Dean looked over at Sam with his eyes wide. Neither little boy had ever imagined that John would make good on his threats.

“Samuel, get your ass up here now,” John said, low and angry.

Sam popped the door and made it to the front seat as fast as he could.

“I got a lot of driving to do,” John said. “If the two of you can’t behave for a few hours, I don’t know what I’m going to do with you.”

“You can leave us a Bobby’s,” Dean said softly.

“I have a very important job,” John continued like he didn’t hear Dean. “I don’t think either of you understands how important that job is. I can’t do it with the two of you acting like children all the time.”

“We are children,” Sam said seriously.

“You know what I mean,” John growled. “Now the two of you are going to go to sleep because that’s what I told you to do to. And hopefully when you wake up, we’ll be back at the duplex, and you can have your space for a little bit. Because you both are grounded and spending time in the separate room with nothing but homework for the next week. If you don’t knock it off, you’re both going to be in even bigger trouble. Do you understand?”

An echo of “yes, sir” came from both boys very quickly.

Sam curled up in the passenger’s seat, and Dean spread out in the back, his broken are up against the back of the seat in the most comfortable way he could.

John drove, eyes straight ahead. He’d never regret his choice to live his life this way. He was doing his best. Could he have stayed in the little one bedroom apartment in Lawrence and just let things be? Of course, he could have, but he took a trip to see that psychic and that changed everything. This was what was best for his boys. And if he ended this, if he found that thing that put Mary on that ceiling, his boys would never have to live like this. His boys would go to school, have lives, families. He was doing this for the greater good. He was raising his boys the only way he thought was right. He was protecting them. Making sure that everything would be okay.

—–
The bigger the boys got, the more uncomfortable the car became. Dean took to riding shotgun most of the time by the time he was fourteen (he’d been driving the car on and off since he was twelve, so riding shot gun most of the time was a small step), but come night it was still John in the front, and the two boys jammed in the back seat. The decided that the best way to both fits was to lay so that each of their heads was against a door, old pillows or sweatshirts keeping the armrest from digging into their necks. Sam had to sleep with his head against the passenger’s door: he shoved that army man in the ash tray, he could have it stab in the head at night. The biggest problem was that the boys were much too big to fit on half a seat. Sam was still small for a ten-year-old, hadn’t started his never ending growth spirts yet, but Dean was well over five foot at fourteen and cramming into such a small space was awful, especially when his little brother complained when Dean went even a millimeter over the half way mark of the seat.

It was worse than when Sam was little because he uses to invade all of Dean’s space and not care. Even when Dean was Sam’s age, Sam would be all up in his business and Dean had to pretend he didn’t care because he loved his brother. Now he had to deal with Sam being a huge brat one hundred percent of the time and even worse in the car.

“When are we stopping?” Sam whined around one in the morning in the middle of nowhere somewhere in the Midwest.

“See any place to stop?” John replied seriously. “You want to sleep, you got a big bench seat right there. Lay down. You’ve done it a million times.”

“I don’t want to,” Sam continued to whine.

“I’m not listening to you be a bitch for hours,” Dean sighed. “Just lay down and go to sleep.”

“Stop being such a jerk and stop calling me the b-word,” Sam cried. “I don’t want to sleep in the car like a homeless person. Kids at school are going to find out, and it’s going to be awful. I get made fun of enough already.”

“Shut up, Sam,” Dean said. “It’s not that bad. Stop caring about what other people think and maybe you’ll be able to relax.”

“How can you not care what people think?” Sam asked.

“Because I don’t,” Dean smirked. He pulled his legs up on the seat and folded up a sweatshirt to press against the cold window.

“Keep your feet on your side this time,” Sam grumbled. He slammed his book shut and clicked off his flashlight, finally giving up that there would be a magical motel that popped up in the middle of the soybean fields.

“I’ll my best, Sammy,” Dean promised.

“Just do it. I don’t want to be kicked,” Sam said.

“You’ve spent most of your miserable life shafting me in the ribs with your boney elbows and sticking your ice feet against my thighs,” Dean replied. “You can deal with being kicked because I’m taller than you.”

Sam rolled his eyes and curled up into the smallest ball he could under a blanket that was probably stolen from a motel a million years before.

Dean slept with his face toward the seat and his knees pressed up against the seat back while Sam slept the other way. Dean figured it was easiest, less chance of kicking Sam and more chance of kicking the front seat if he got too cramped up. Inevitably, however, since he was a good foot and a half taller than his brother Dean’s leg crossed into Sam’s territory and if that’d didn’t make John want to leave the two of them to hitchhike to Bobby’s from where ever they were, nothing ever would. The high pitched squeal from Sam was animal, obnoxious and one hundred percent unnecessary.

“Dean!”

“I didn’t even freaking’ touch you!” Dean yelled back. “Stop being a freakin’ drama queen for two freakin’ seconds.”

“Watch your Goddamn mouth,” John yelled pulling the car to the shoulder with lightning reflexes, with as loud as Sam screamed it was a miracle that John didn’t steer the car into oncoming traffic. “Whatever the two of you are doing, knock it off. We’ve got a long way to drive ahead of us, and I’m sick of the two of you fighting constantly.”

“Then act like a parent and give an actual place to sleep,” Sam sighed.

This time Dean kicked him for real, hard. Sam started to complain again, but he looked over a Dean to see his very serious “knock it off” face.

“If you don’t like the way I do things,” John said in that scary warning tone that always shook both boys down to their bones. “You’re welcome to get out of this car and be on your own for the rest of your life.”

“Dad, he’s ten,” Dean said.

“Well,” John said turning around, extending one of his arms across the back of the seat. “He likes to talk like he’s grown. If he wants to act grown he can start doing it for real.”
Sam looked to his brother to defend him.

“I’m sorry,” Dean mumbled. “I won’t cross into his half of the back seat again. It would be way easier if we stopped at motels more often. Or if you left us back at the base sometimes. I’m big enough to take care of Sam for a couple days, maybe a week by myself. It’ll stop the fighting. We’re just way too big for this.”

John let his face relax. Dean had a point, as much as he hated to admit it. This life had given John a bit of a warped sense of how to protect his boys. They’d be fine by themselves. Dean had been taking care of Sammy by himself for close to ten years in short bursts. John could figure out how to keep them safe. Right now it looked like the only thing they needed to be kept safe from was each other.

“I’m willing to consider it,” John said, blood pressure falling. “But Sam has to understand that he’s not in charge. Anywhere. He’s just a kid. I got a job to do. A very important job.”

“We know,” Sam sighed. “The fate of the world doesn’t seem to care that you have kids to take care of. And Wendigoes don’t take breaks because we’re in school.”

“Sam,” Dean said softly before their dad had a chance to start yelling.

The younger boys rolled his eyes as hard as he could.

“This is the last time I’m warning you,” John said. “It’s close to three in the morning. You both need to go to sleep. When you wake up, we should be in Arizona. I got a contact that might be able to hook us up with a rental for a couple months. Might even have cable.”

Sam opened his mouth, but Dean kicked him again before he could think of saying something rude. This kid was never going to stop being a huge pain in everyone’s ass.

“Just go to sleep,” John continued. “Go to sleep, and I’ll do what I can make it better. You boys are most important. You’ve always been the most important.”

“Yeah,” Dean said sarcasm thick in his voice as he tried to find a comfortable spot again.

 

Before turning back onto the road, John took a long look in the rear view mirror. He wondered what happened. It felt like a couple days ago he was looking back there to see two car seats and a little boy with firefighter’s helmet. Now he had a teenager and a middle schooler that might as well be one with the attitude on him. His boys lay twisted together like a pretzel, both giving up precious space to the other one. He would second guess his choices all the time looking into those faces, but he knew he was doing the right thing. He was saving people. He was making sure that no one else had to what they were doing.

—–

At seventeen in South Carolina, Dean Winchester was arrested for vandalism in a cemetery, but John and Dean had a Rawhead to hunt, which made Dean miss a court date, and now Dean had a warrant for jumping bail. This left little time for finding a new place, at least not in this state, so John took the boys on the road, again.
He’d kept good on his promise, let Dean take care of Sam at some makeshift homestead for a little bit while John took on one man hunts. It made Sam complain less, which was a miracle within itself. However, this was a do or die situation, and those boys were going to have to share a backseat for a night.

“Can’t Dean just sleep up front?” Sam begged. “Or we can get a hotel.”

“Well,” John explained. “We’re only an hour outta town, and you’re brother can’t read a calendar, so I don’t got a lot of choices since five-oh is out looking for him.”

“Don’t pin this all on me,” Dean sighed.

“Then I’ll sleep in the front while you drive,” Sam suggested. “Not enough room for two people.”

“Nope,” John said pulling off the highway at a rest stop and driving the car to the back. “I need my six to keep the car on the road. We’re all crashing in the car.”

“Can I go sleep in the truck stop bathroom,” Sam asked.

“Do you have a death wish?” John asked. He climbed out of the car to grab the duffle bags and bottled water out of the trunk. When he leaned back in, he said: “You’ll be fine for a night.”

“This is not okay,” Sam mumbled. “How are we going to do this?”

“Whatever it is you decide, keep it down,” John called from the front seat as he laid down and within a matter of minutes started snoring.

“It’s annoying how quickly he can just fall asleep,” Sam said rolling his eyes.

“Something about being in Nam I think,” Dean replied. “He can sleep in puddles and all sorts of shit.”

“I was thinking we could try sleeping back to back,” Sam said, getting to the task at hand.

“We should probably cuddle,” Dean said seriously. “This is basically half a twin bed. The only way we’re going to fit is if you play little spoon.”

“No,” Sam answered. He shoved Dean aside and laid down with his face toward the seat.

“This is dumb,” Dean mumbled, and he did his best to fit on what was left of the seat.

As he expected there wasn’t enough room this way. Sam was pressed so close to the seat that he almost could breathe and Dean was holding himself up on the seat with an arm extended down into the foot well. Very quickly Dean’s arm started to cramp and fall asleep.

“Kid,” Dean sighed. “This isn’t going to work. I know you want it to, but I’m telling ya, it’s not gonna work.”

“I’m not cuddling with you, Dean,” Sam huffed.

“Then you can sleep with my feet if your face,” Dean said. “Because little spoon or face full of feet are your choices.”

“You’d get a face full of my feet too,” Sam said.

“No,” Dean smirked. “You’re still too short, but I know you don’t want socks in my face. It’s one night Sammy. You’ll live. I won’t tell your friends.”

Sam grunted an “It’s Sam” under his breath as he sat up. This was truly ridiculous. “Never get arrested again. I need a bed.”

“I’ll do my best, kiddo,” Dean promised. “This ain’t all my fault, though. Hunt took longer than Dad thought it would. I didn’t skip bail on purpose.”

“Whatever, just lay down I’m tired.”

Dean switched places and laid down with his back against the seat. He pulled Sam down next to him, his little brother’s back to his chest.

“Just like old times,” Dean joked. “Only way more awkward.”

“Yeah,” Sam chuckled. “Only I’m not quite as bony, and I have socks on so my feet aren’t cold.”

“You could still benefit from a little muscle,” Dean said. “But you’ll get there. Still a kid. You’d look weird as a super buff thirteen-year-old.”

“Boys,” a sleepy voice came from the front seat. “Go to sleep.”

“Yes, sir,” the boys echoed.

They both let the darkness of the night encompass them and their tiredness from the day wash over, and they fell into a rhythmic sleep.

 

—–

After John bought his truck, he almost always stopped at a place with a bed to sleep. If he didn’t, Dean would because he hated to listen to Sam complain and using a fake credit card to keep the kid from whining for twelve hours was money well spent.

When Sam went off to school, and Dean and John went their separate ways, Dean became a frequenter of YMCA showers and spent most of his nights alone in his car. Unless he was lucky enough to find a lady. Then he had a warm bed to sleep in. It didn’t really seem worth it to get a room if it was just him. When John was around, they two got a motel room, usually at a table and did all things that functioning humans did.

Dean did enjoy working alone, he just hated being alone. He found himself listening to top forty stations because he missed his brother. Sleeping alone in the car was awkward and weird. It was too quiet. There was no snoring from his father or Sam’s mindless talking. Just the sounds of the road. It was horrible, but he did it. He managed for almost three years until he pulled Sam from that burning apartment.

He could tell Sam hated being back, hated the road, the kid always had. Dean liked having his passenger’s seat full, no matter how grumpy that passenger was.
Somewhere between Wisconsin and Pennsylvania the boys needed to sleep.

“I’m dying Sammy, I gotta pull off,” Dean said. Sam had his face placed against the window. He sat up with a jerk as Dean pulled off the road.

“What are you doing?” Sam asked.

“I know you hate it,” Dean said seriously. “I know you hate this whole thing, but I’m exhausted, and who the hell knows where there’s a motel, so I’m crashing. You should too.” Dean reached down and pulled off his shoes before turning in the seat and sticking is toes under Sam’s legs.

“We’re not cuddling are we?” Sam sighed.

“You got the whole back seat, dude,” Dean smirked. “Plenty of space.”

“Not enough for two grown men,” Sam complained as he popped the door and climbed into the back.

“It’s better than it used to be,” Dean said once Sam got situated. “I know you hate it. I don’t need to hear about it. We’re both too damn exhausted to keep driving. We’ll get a hotel after we talk to dad’s contact in Pennsylvania. It’ll be fine.”

“I wasn’t going to complain, Dean,” Sam yawned. “I’m in this. I gotta be now.”

The boys settled, and it felt like they were going to enter sleep when Sam’s voice, soft as it used to be when he was little came from the back.

“Dean, can you tell me about her? What you remember? What happened?”

“To Mom?” Dean asked.

“Yeah,” Sam answered. “All I got is what Dad said, which is nothing. I just, what are up against?”

“I never saw her,” Dean said. “I didn’t… I wasn’t in the room when the fire… you know. But the way Dad says it, it was just what happened to your girl. Up on the ceiling, cut open. I just got outta there as fast I could. Did what dad told me to.”

“What was she like?” Sam asked. “If we’re going to hunt this thing, I want to know everything it took from me.”

“Sammy,” Dean sighed. “I was four years old. I remember a mom. She stayed a home with us. She taught me to read, tie my shoes. We used to color together. I remember making tapes with her from her records. I can’t tell ya much more.”

“Just tell me something,” Sam begged.

Tell me a story, Dean thought. All of a sudden Sam was two again. Sharp elbows digging into him in the dark begging for him to tell a story while Dad slept in the front.

“Not too long before you were born,” Dean started. “I want to say it was Thanksgiving, but I was three, so I don’t really remember all the details. I remember her cooking, and then Dad’s parents were over, and I had to dress nice. But I remember her, in this light green dress, dancing to the radio. She let me help her, standing on a step stool so I could reach the stove. I got to stir the vegetables. I just remember being really, really happy.”

“We were normal,” Sam said.

“For a little bit, yeah,” Dean said. “I miss her, Sam, I do. I’ve fought my whole life fix what happened to us. And I think we are. We’re doing something good. I said it in Colorado, and I’ll say it million times, it’s the family business, saving people. We’re doing this for her. Maybe you’re doing for Jess. You had normal with her, I had normal with Mom. Maybe that’s what this thing wanted.”

“Maybe,” Sam said softly. “We have to find it Dad, get this thing outta here, kill it, whatever.”

“We will Sammy,” Dean promised. “We gotta be close if it’s striking back at us. We’ll find a pattern. You’re good at that. We’ll fix it.”

“It hurts, Dean,” Sam whispered.

“I know bud,” Dean nodded. “I wish I could fix it. I’d do anything to fix it. You know that. But if we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll heal.”

“I hope so,” Sam replied. “Thanks, Jerk.”

“Goodnight, Bitch.”

Dean listened until Sam’s breath evened out, knowing he only had a few hours before the kid woke up screaming. Maybe his little brother would sleep through the night tonight. Dean hoped that he would, Sam deserved better than what he was given. Dean had worked his whole life to make sure Sam got better, and he was still in the back seat of his Dad’s car.

Someday this wouldn’t be their life. Dean would make it right for his brother if it was the last thing he ever did.

 

Archive of Our Own

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

Expanding my reading experiences

Full disclosure: I work for the company that published the book that I will be talking about today. I was not involved in this book, but I do know the author.

A few months ago, I realized that I read the same kinds of books. I read mostly Young Adult contemporary books, many of the same authors and authors that those authors thank in their acknowledgments of their books over and over. I mean, if you read, let’s say the acknowledgments of a Gayle Forman book, those authors are mainly the ones I read. Maureen Johnson thanks most of the same authors on her back page, as does John Green, Libba Bray, Rainbow Rowell, etc.

Because of this, I signed up for Uppercase so I would get new books by authors I was unfamiliar with and expand my reading safe zone. It’s also why I started this blog, I wanted to find people to connect to and find books outside my usual reading.

One other thing that has pushed my reading limits is working for Stitched Smile Publications, which is a horror publisher. Horror wouldn’t be my number one favorite thing, but when I was applying for internships as I finished up my master’s degree, I liked that it was outside of my regular comfort zone. Thankfully, the CEO agreed, and I’ve been editing for them for about a year.

Late last spring, Stitched released a book that felt different than other releases we’d done in the time I’ve been there (it was all of 3 months, but you know when things just feel different). This release was Drudging up Memories by AJ Brown. It’s a zombie apocalypse book. I, as previously mentioned, don’t read a lot of those, so being a part of this horror community I wanted to check it out.

I started reading this book in August. Over Labor Day weekend, I moved and lost the book.

I still have no idea where the physical copy of this book is.

Then in October, when the podcast I talked about last week debuted. I got audible and was guilted into listening to the Alexander Hamilton biography, and not too long after that the audiobook version of Drudging up Memories was released.

So before I continue talking about the book, I’m going to talk about something that either everyone does, or makes me a crazy person. Even writing makes me feel like I might be a crazy person, so if you do this, tell me.

I don’t read books in my own voice. Like, the voice in my head reading the book. For a while, the voice that read me books was one of my high school English teachers. I, because I am a normal human, have a cassette tape of my teacher reading parts of The Great Gatsby, and because I liked their reading aloud voice, that teacher read me A Prayer for Owen Meany in my head. Then  I stumbled head first into Nerdfighteria, and John Green read the first chapter of Paper Towns over the internet, and well, John Green read me books in my head for, like, 6 years. This is a little weird with a female narrator, but I made it work. Then I heard Maureen Johnson’s voice, and I would use hers for some books. Sometimes, I will use my friend Jen’s voice for a change-up but rarely do I hear my own voice in my voice as I read a book.

This particular, I’m going to call it a quirk,  made Drudging up Memories an odd book to read. As I mentioned earlier, I know the author. I have been on Skype calls with him as part of my job. I know his voice, but translating that voice into a reading voice wasn’t as easy as it usually is and this book wasn’t a book that worked with my go to male narrator, John Green. AJ Brown, and the main character of the book, Hank Walker, are southern. All my go to narrators have either neutral or northern accents. To feel the book, it had to be read with that accent. Like reading Harry Potter. Reading Hagrid’s dialogue feels weird in an American accent. You, or at least I, had to read it with an English-accented narrator in my head to have the narrative feel authentic to me.

The audiobook for this novel had the pieces fit into place for me as a reader. The narrator, John Malone, was the perfect voice I needed to get deeply into the book. This novel is very different from what I usually read, as I’ve mentioned, but not just because of its subject matter. For most of the book, there is only one character. Just one man against a dying world. There are flashbacks to before the world– for lack of a better term–ended, but mostly it’s a man a stuffed bear in a bunny costume. It’s a deeply emotional book, which I think is different from the average zombie apocalypse novel.
I have seen some bloggers talk about how they can’t do audiobooks, which is totally cool, to each their own, but I thought I was that kind of person until recently. I think it’s worth giving them a try if you haven’t. Audible does give you a free book with a trial, and I’m pretty sure that there are ways to find books online for free somewhere. My town library has audiobooks. If small town New Hampshire has audiobooks in their libraries, I’m willing to bet towns and cities with more people than cows also have audiobooks.

I like being read to in general. I always enjoyed that part of English class. I think that’s why I like audiobooks. It also lets me do other things, like do work or drive while “reading.” I can read more books this way. I, literally, never would have finished the Alexander Hamilton biography if I was reading it. I would have given up when it hit the Federalist Papers, but with the audiobook, two hours and that deep political– read boring as heck– part of the book was over.

It was kind of perfect that I lost the physical copy of Drudging up Memories, I got more out of it listening to it than I did reading it the “regular” way. The voice was better, felt more right.

I think that it’s important to read and experience books in different ways, expand your comfort zone and dip your toes in a different genre or medium. I think that here in the book blogging community, we stick to our comfort zones so that what we write about we are experts in. Sometimes it’s nice to jump out. Try something new. You might just surprise yourself with how much you like it.

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

WWW Wednesday #4

WWW Wednesday is a meme currently hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s very simple – answer the three questions and leave a link in Sam’s post.

The Three Ws are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I am currently 17 pages into Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. If it’s 1/3 as interesting and fun and gripping as the first one, it will be a very quick read and solid 5-star review.

 

 

 

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I am still listening to Jane Eyre on Audiobook. I got distracted listening to podcasts, and I had to start it over because I forgot what was happening, but I’m making solid progress now. I like it; I just have to pay more attention to it that I do with most of the books I listen to because it’s not a history book and I have to follow the plot.

 

 

 

 

What did you recently finish reading?

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I am from the North East, and we had a enormous snow storm yesterday, so I read Cinder yesterday. What a great book. I bought this book when it came out in paperback in 2012 or 2013, and I didn’t read it until yesterday. I don’t know why I was so weary about it. It was great through. I’m not sure if I’m going to do a review on this book or the series as a whole when I finish it.

 

 

There are a few other books that I have finished, including I Was Here by Gayle Forman. A review is forthcoming.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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I read the first book in this series a while back, and I found Thumped on my shelf while I was cleaning it out, so this is up next. I remember really enjoying the first one, and I really loved Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling series.

 

 

 

 

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My next audiobook will be Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. There’s a Hulu show (I think) based on this book, and it looks pretty cool, and since I don’t have Hulu, I’m going to listen to the book.

 

 

 

What Are You Reading?

 

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

Review: Frost Blood Elly Blake

The Details:

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: January 10th, 2017
Genres: YA, fantastic, magic, romance
My Rating: 4 Stars

Goodreads Blurb:

The frost king will burn.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.

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My Review:

Last week I discussed Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels that I’ve read and enjoyed, and I’m not sure if it was 100% clear in that post, but that particular genre isn’t exactly my favorite of all time. This book coming shortly after a reading a book with similar but not the same storylines, I was a little weary about whether or not this was going to be my cup of tea. However, I was pleasantly surprised.

This story starts with the heroine, Ruby, being discovered as a Fire Blood in a Frost Blood kingdom. She has the power to control Fire, and this is a threat to the people who can control Frost who rule the kingdom. Acceptable and plausible plot, I like it.

After Ruby’s mother is killed by the frost blood king’s men, she is taken to jail and held there for 5 months. Durning this time, she is tortured, cold water is thrown on her so she can’t produce fire. Then she’s rescued. During the time while she is traveling it is discussed that she is physically weak (and also smells because she hasn’t bathed in 5 months. This was an important part for me, and I was very pleased the Elly Blake included it. Thank you for realism Ms. Blake.)

Ruby is rescued by a teenage-ish age guy and a bunch of monks. The teenage-ish age guy Arcus wears a mask and hood all the time that covers his face, so he obviously looks like this:

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I mean, that’s what I saw in my head when Ruby describes him. Arcus is a super strong frost blood, and together with help from the monks, Ruby learns to use her power and gets stronger because there is a good chance that she probably is the child talked about it prophesy because why not.

Just as Ruby is getting to the pivotal moment of her training, she is captured but the Frost Blood King, then major spoilers, so that’s the end of my talking about the plot.

Real talk though, I enjoyed this book. Parts of it were a little cliche, but, you know, trappings of genre. It wasn’t super predictable, the characters were well formed. Although the love interest was clearly Kylo Ren, he grows on you over the story. I like his character arc.

Ruby is a strong narrator, who feels like a “regular” 17-year-old girl, her conflicted feelings about Kylo Ren/ Arcus, her want to revenge her mother, her feelings of inadequacy, she feels like a real person.

Overall this book is well written and enjoyable. I recommend it to fans of the fantasy genre and those who are on the fence about whether or not fantasy is something you don’t exactly love. It’s just a good book.

Goodreads

Until next time Internet,

Deanna