Friday, October 31, 2014

Book Blitz: Fairly Twisted Tales for a Horribly Ever After

Guys. Something really exciting happens today.

And, no, I'm not talking about Halloween (but, I mean, Happy Halloween!).

Last year, REUTS Publications had an awesome idea: bring a whole bunch of talented writers together, spend November writing four short stories based on a specific theme, and by the end of the month some of those entries were chose to be a part of an anthology to be published the following year. Call it Project REUTSway. I participated, but unfortunately none of my entries were chosen (although, I reread both of them last week for fun and good lord I'm not surprised that they didn't make the cut; my writing was sub-par at best compared to how much I've grown). I can almost absolutely promise you, though, that the winning tales are not only written well, but they'll urge you to leave the lights on at night.

And that really exciting thing?

Last year's anthology is! Check it out, and find some information on this year's REUTSway competition!


Fairly Twisted Tales for a Horribly Ever After

When it comes to fairy tales, there are plenty of things that go bump in the night. Things so morbid and grotesque, so sinister and diabolical, they haunt your imagination; warnings from generations past that still manage to terrify.

In 2013, authors came together for the annual Project REUTSway writing competition, penning their own interpretive twists on stories we're all familiar with. Seventeen were chosen, bringing twenty-five new versions to life. From The Brother's Grimm, to Hans Christian Andersen and beyond, these tales are not the ones you grew up with. They are, however, Fairly Twisted Tales for a Horribly Ever After. Dare to find out what happens when "once upon a time" ends in the stuff of nightmares?

An exclusive hardcover will be available from REUTS Publications in the coming weeks, but you can devour these stories now for Kindle and Nook!

REUTSway 2014

This NaNoWriMo season, REUTS Publication is inviting you join us in creating the next talented collection. So brush up on your histories, legends, and cultural lore, because we’ll be looking for the most original, fantastic versions of tales that have braved the centuries. The globe-trotting of world mythology will make weekly theme stops to visit Egyptian, Celtic, and even more rich lore from other areas of the world. This all starts November 1st, so make sure to grab your pens and ready those typing muscles for the twists that will be revealed on the Project REUTSway on twitter, or on their website. 


Guys, have you signed up to participate, yet? Or have you downloaded the anthology? Or both? Please tell me both, because I am.

Good luck to all, and have an awesome Halloween filled with twisted tales that, well, are kind of really twisted...

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@REUTSpub releases FAIRLY TWISTED TALES today, and check out this year's @ProjectREUTSway. Are you in? (Click to Tweet)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

To Those Who Have NaNo'd Before Me

I know a lot of ya'll are beginning to freak out because NaNoWriMo starts on Saturday, and I wish I could offer ya'll some kind words, but here's the only thing I can really say without lying to ya'll:

Writing 50,000 words in a month is hard.

I can tell you, however, that I've done it before. Last year, I told myself I wasn't going to participate in NaNo because I simply didn't have time (because NaNo comes right at the end of the semester when I usually have a million papers to write). So after that, I told myself that I'd just start writing a new idea on November 1 and see how far I get.

And then I accidentally wrote the entire 74 k word first draft of THE HOLLOW MEN. So that was fun.

What's I'm trying to say, though: ya'll are amazing for containing the determination and motivation that it'll take to write 50,000 words in a month, amidst everything else happening in your hectic lives. Some of ya'll will beat NaNo, some of ya'll won't, but everyone will have a document with many, many words that they can look back on and say: "That's right, I did that. I at least tried."

Which makes ya'll better people than I will ever be.

So to all those who have NaNo'd before me, and to everyone who will NaNo now, I just want to say good luck. I'll be cheering for ya'll all month!

And my question: what're ya'll going to be working on this month?

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It's almost time for NaNo! A message to everyone participating from blogger @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Author Interview: Anoosha Lalani

Okay, so after a very narrowly averted crisis in which my Hotmail account decided to delete an extremely important email with an extremely important document attached, I have something awesome for ya'll today. Remember a few weeks ago when I spotlighted the new book from Reuts, THE KEEPERS, by Anoosha Lalani?

Well, today I've got a very special interview, so read on to learn about Anoosha Lalani's love for math and a little bit about her writing process.


Warm-Up Question: tell us a little bit about yourself, things that a reader won’t be able to find in your author bio.

I really like math. I know math would not be something one would typically associate with a writer but there you go. I love calculus and algebra and math that makes your head hurt. I see them as puzzles and get such satisfaction when I can solve them. This is definitely something you wouldn’t find in my author bio.

Everyone loves a good origin story; how did you get your start on writing, and what keeps you motivated?

Writing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember but I guess what first got me interested in books would be the stories my grandfather read me before putting me into bed. As I got older and learned how to read for myself, I started penning my own made-up stories down.  In terms of motivation, writing has always been something I’ve enjoyed doing. It’s a way for me to release stress. I’ve never really had to motivate myself to write, I’ve just always been writing. Finishing a novel on the other hand that took a lot of motivation.

When you write, are you a plotter or a pantser? What’s your process like?

I’m a pantser. The plot literally takes shape as I’m writing my story. My characters decide where the story is going to take them. They get themselves into their own messes. I simply observe.

On the same note: what’s your editing process like?

My editing process is a lot more organized. I’ll go through my manuscript two or three times, looking for potholes. There are always many that I have to resolve which makes the editing process quite long. I suppose it’s a perk of being a pantser.

What’s your favorite part of fleshing out and writing a story? Characters, plot, world-building, etc?

Characters! I think characters are the most significant part of a story. I love developing the personalities of my character. I’ve tried to give my characters important backstories as well that explain why they are the way they are. To me they are real life people that sit beside me while I type out their story. And no, I assure you, I’m not insane.

What’s been the most surprising thing about the journey to publication?

The fact that the whole journey actually happened. I’m still reeling from that. My book actually got published! Also just how smooth the whole experience has been. Huge shootout to guys at REUTS! 

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Keep writing! Don’t ever stop. Don’t ever quit on your writing. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had looked at my first draft and thought well I’m never going to compare to any actual published authors, time to quit.

Flash Round (Just for Fun):

Coffee or tea?

Tea, Coffee is too bitter for my liking.

Cats or dogs?


Summer or Winter?


High heels or tennis shoes?

High heels!

Describe yourself in one word.


Thanks for having me!


And now, in case you haven't already, check out Anoosha Lalani's debut, THE KEEPERS! I can guarantee ya'll that I've been just dying to get my hands on it!

The Keepers
Anoosha Lalani

Sixteen-year-old Isra Kalb has grown up starving in the slums of Islamabad. But hunger is only the beginning. When her father is mysteriously murdered and madness corrupts her mother's mind, she's left alone to fend for herself and her sister. Homeless and destitute, the only thing she has to remember her loving family by is a commonplace necklace--an amulet barely worth keeping.

Or so she thinks.

Swept into a web of lies, deceit and turmoil, Isra struggles to find a place for herself and Zaffirah, wondering if the strange creatures and visions she's seeing are indications of the madness that took her mother. But when Snatchers capture Zaffirah, Isra learns her amulet isn't so useless after all. Transported to Zarcane--the beastly garden where Adam and Eve were born--Isra comes face to face with her destiny. She's a Keeper, charged with protecting the borders of Zarcane and keeping the demon hordes lurking in the shadows from taking realms that are not their own. And she's not the only one; there's a second Keeper, a boy whose identity hasn't been revealed.

Now, in order to save her sister and fulfill her family's legacy as Keeper of the Amulet, she has to find the second Keeper and close the borders. Surrounded by betrayal, trapped between warring factions of angels, and desperate to save the only family she has left, Isra must decide:

Who can she trust when nothing is what it seems?

Amazon * Goodreads

Want to watch the amazing trailer made for THE KEEPERS? Check it out, right here.

Meet the Author:

Anoosha Lalani has always had an insatiable desire to escape reality. It was a childhood trait that never seemed to fade out. If Anoosha were to make one wish, it would be to have wings to journey off the face of this planet and into the worlds of her stories.

When she’s not writing, you may find Anoosha attending high school in Singapore. Having moved around so much, she has had the wonderful opportunity to be exposed to a vibrant range of cultures, which often seem to find their way into her stories. Anoosha was born in Pakistan, the setting of her most recent novel, The Keepers.

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@Rae_Slater has an interview with @anooshalalani, author of THE KEEPERS. Check it out! (Click to Tweet)

Monday, October 27, 2014

The History of Beginning: Choosing a Starting Point

"The idea of beginning, indeed the act of beginning, necessarily involves an act of delimination by which something is cut out of a great mass of material, separated from the mass, and made to stand for, as well be, a starting point, a beginning..."
                                                                                 -Edward W. Said, Orientalism
You know, I really think my theory professor would be proud to see me actually putting my homework to good use.

I think we can all agree that beginning a novel can sometimes be the hardest part. Not just beginning it, but deciding where to begin. As usual, I cannot tell you the right answer; should you open with your character waking up from a nightmare? Or maybe finally exorcising that pesky ghost? Stealing candy from a baby? Or maybe it's the last day of school and they burst through those double doors, never to enter the building again until the end of summer?

When's too early and when's too late? Start too early and you're going to bore the reader; start too late and you're going to risk confusing the heck out of them. Either one can earn you a pacing too slow or too fast.

Seriously, deciding when to start your novel's a freaking physics equation. Those engineering majors have it easy compared to us. And while I can't tell you when to start (although, heck, I'm more than willing to shoot out some random ideas), I do have some tips that have to do with that quote I put at the top of this thing (and you thought I was just showing off my homework, weren't you?):
  • No matter where you begin, understand that there's some part of the story that you won't be able to tell. You've seen that iceberg info-graphic, right? five percent is above the water (that's what the reader gets), and ninety-five percent is under the water (what the reader will probably never know). You can't tell you character's entire life story, nor can you give a detailed history of the world your novel is set in. Understand from the start that there's some things that you'll know, but the reader won't.
  • With that in mind, start sifting through your information: what does the reader need to know right at the start? What can be explained later in the novel, through flashbacks (use these very carefully, though), or through some kind of explanation? If need be, make a chart, one side things that aren't life-or-death important (like, the character's favorite cartoon character when she was five), and things that are extremely necessary for the reader to know (like the moment that changed their life). Two extremes, maybe, but sorting these details into different places can help you figure out what needs to be narrated to the reader (the moment that changed their life), and the things that can appear as a simple detail later on (the character's best friend teasing them about their 5-year-old cartoon crush).
  • Now, look at your Need-to-Know column. What are the most important pieces? From that list, what does the reader need to know the moment they start reading your book? That's a good place to start, at least for a first draft (remember: you can always change where your book begins later on when you have more knowledge about your characters and setting).
That's basically the best place to start, in my opinion. Figure out what the reader needs to know about your main character, and figure out how to work it all into a scene. Examine what's been left out, what happened before that scene, and work out what parts of that "before" time need to somehow make their way into the rest of the novel-it can come in handy when trying to figure out character motivations and future events that are ripples from things that happened in the past.

Just remember: your characters had lives before you met them. It's your job to decide which pieces of them are important enough to greet the reader on page one.

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Every beginning is a part of a bigger story. @Rae_Slater weighs in on how to decide where your novel should start (Click to Tweet)

Your characters had lives before you met them, but what's the best place to introduce them to readers? via @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tea Time: Wither

So I'm kind of changing the way I do reviews, but only extremely slightly. Basically, I cut out judging and rating the covers because I'd like to focus, instead, on the writing of the actual writer, instead of lumping the entire product together (I do find covers to be extremely important when it comes to a decision of reading a books; basically, I actually judge books by their covers). For details on how I conduct my reviews, check out my page on reviews.

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**, Lauren DeStefano

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can't bring herself to hate him as much as she'd like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband's strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?

Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?

Narrative-This book is told from the first person POV in the perspective of our wonderful protagonist, Rhine.

If ya'll read my review for PERFECT RUIN, you might remember my mention at how adorably simple Destefano's writing style is, while at the same time not being too simple (as in: it's totally appropriate for the category of YA). Once again, she pulls it off: a simple voice that relays the wants and fears of Rhine. Her prose isn't overly descriptive, but at the same time she pulls off relaying this Wonderland-type setting to the reader, and tying it in with the narrator's ultimate desire to escape.

Ultimately, it's easy to get lost in, which, to me, is a fantastic quality.

Plot-What interested me most about this plot was the fact that I had absolutely no clue what DeStefano would do with it. It's also such a different concept compared to basically every other book I've seen recently that I knew I'd read it eventually.

The premise is ultimately pretty simple: the protagonist, Rhine, must escape her new home (basically a prison) and her new husband (from a forced marriage) in order to travel back to her home and reunite with her brother. This is the basic, overarching arc of the novel.

Another arc: her budding relationship/romance with the servant, Gabriel (as well as her conflicting emotions concerning her new husband).

However, what particularly struck me (and that I absolutely loved) was the focus that was put on Rhine's relationship with her sister wives: Jenna and Cecily.All three of them are completely and totally different, and each of them have different goals that ultimately drive the story. Each of these characters and their decisions were woven into the plot so tightly that while there weren't too many external events, enough was happening within the house and between the characters (including the husband and the husband's father) that there was never a single moment that I knew where the story was heading.

I absolutely loved this aspect of it; while the whole novel was set off by a big event, much of the novel was fueled by a sort of internal politics that covered a very real fear of becoming yet another tool in the race for discovering a cure for this disease. There's also a really interesting exploration of love and acceptance: one character wants nothing to do with her new husband; another will do anything to please him and become the perfect wife (even being the first to carry a child, at the young age of 13); and then there's Rhine, who's willing to use her husband in order to get what she wants. But with her growing understanding of him, her opinion changes.

Maybe this ultimately sounds a bit muddled, but the bottom line is that I think I even enjoyed the plot arc of one of the sister wives more than I enjoyed Rhine's: Cecily was such a sweet character, but totally taken advantage of due to the world she lives in due to a fantasy the world's fed her basically all her life.

So that's another thing: the world building in this book wasn't exactly outlined and described in the "traditional" sense, I suppose, but rather the reader gets to see it through the eyes of three different girls who came from three different places, getting to see not only overlapping facts but the results of three different backgrounds clashing in one place.

Okay, I think that's enough of my incessant rambling. Basically: be aware that there's not a lot of "major" things happening; the external world almost disappears, and instead the plot is very character-driven, their relationships and secrets pushing it forward. Don't expect too much action, but if you want to read a novel about people and their experiences and their motives, then go for it because by putting the characters in such an incredibly drastic world there's no telling what could happen.

Characters-This book largely focuses on three characters: Rhine, Jenna, and Cecily. As mentioned above, their most interesting traits stem from their own background: Rhine is an orphan who lived with her brother, Jenna a young woman who worked as a prostitute with her sisters, and Cecily (also an orphan), had no siblings but lived in an orphanage.

Rhine has family to return to; Jenna and Cecily have none. Also notable are their age differences: Rhine is in the middle of her teenage years, Jenna is almost at the end of her life, and Cecily is only thirteen.

Each of them are equally as headstrong as another, in my opinion. They all have goals that they'll do anything to achieve, they're all incredibly stubborn in their own way. What sets them apart, however, is exactly what I've already mentioned: everything they do, and hope, and wish for is rooted in where they were before the events that begin the novel, which gives them an extra level of sympathy that I, personally, couldn't help but feel for them. Even Cecily, who absolutely loves her new life and basically plays into the hands of her husband and father-in-law (well, I'd argue father-in-law more than husband, but that can be debated), and who also does everything she can to get Rhine and Jenna to forget their old lives, is worthy of some level of sympathy.

Here's what I thought DeStefano did really well: Cecily is probably one of the most annoying girls ever, but I pitied her for a single reason that Rhine, herself, points out: she simply doesn't know any better.

Which plays into a concept I really liked about the whole thing (and, really, what I like about every piece of fiction): what makes people handle the same reality differently?

I've been in the middle of FEVER (book two) for about two weeks, now, but I'll get there eventually. Ultimately, I did enjoy WITHER, and I definitely recommend it for people who enjoy exploring relationships and watching how secret motives can kind of explode and ricochet off of other people.

Final Answer: 4 / 5

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WITHER @LaurenDeStefano earns 4 / 5 stars from blogger @Rae_Slater. Read the review (Click to Tweet)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

College Relevancy

Yesterday, I learned how to identify a gerund from an infinitive from a participial. It took me five total hours and I'm blaming my current state of exhaustion on the fact that diagramming sentences with verbals in them is hard.

But, I mean, there is a plus side.

Yesterday I read this article from Dear English Major: an interview with Nicole Wayland. In it, she mentions taking certain elective classes that will kind of plump up your resume, and when I read that part I immediately thought of my ENGL 451/551 class, Practicum in American Grammar.

Fun Fact: every time I tell someone that I'm taking a class on grammar, their face kind of screws up like there's a bad smell and I get the inevitable question: "Why?"

My answer's the same every time: "'s fun!"

Backtrack to my first paragraph. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it gives me headaches. Yes, it takes me five-six hours just to work through a single chapter and all of the exercises. But, now, I get to explore the inner workings of a sentence. Now, whenever I work on my MS, I mentally deconstruct every sentence I write and I can put a name to all of the little pieces I get out of it.

I love editing; ya'll have probably heard that too many times to count, but it's true. I also feel like this class is helping me with my skills: for example, we just finished a chapter on identifying active and passive voice, and practicing turning active into passive and vice versa. It's useful.

And if it's useful, it gets me the college credits I need, and it'll help me out with a possible future career that I've already learned has stolen my heart? Well, get out of the way everyone who says English degrees and grammar is useless. Rae's coming through.

If you're still in college like me, or even high school, just remember to take classes that are both relevant to your degree and useful for whatever future career you've chosen. It makes homework feel a little less like work, and a little more like...home?

(Okay, too cheesy?)

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Gerunds, elective classes, and the sea of career choices. What they all have in common for @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)

In college? Why not choose courses and activities that cater to what you love? (Click to Tweet)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Writing: The First Mile

Yeah, I've got no end to the writing/jogging comparison, lately. So sue me.

I mean, writing really is like running a marathon. Or just running. Or jogging/walking/biking/crawling and every combination thereof. It's grueling, it costs you sweat and the occasional tears, uses up your energy like you're going to die tomorrow, anyway, so why bother saving it? You ache, cramp up, and need that much-welcomed chocolate break later, am I right?

Therefore, writing really is like working out. And just like working out, starting is the hardest part.

I've finally started some edits on my WIP; just some small things to start out, since I'm waiting to see what a few people think so I can work their feedback into this next draft, as well. All I know, is that for the last two weeks I've been totally ready to begin again. Two weeks ago, I actually pulled up two word documents: my most recent draft, and a blank document for the new draft.

Then I stared at both of them for ten minutes, blankly wondering what the hell I was doing with my life and maybe I should take up zoo-keeping, instead.

I did the same thing two days later, and then again over the weekend, and, guys, this is like a never-ending vicious cycle.

Can you relate? Maybe not even to that, exactly, but something similar? Because it doesn't matter if you're writing the first word of a manuscript ever, or if you're on draft ten. Starting is really hard.

How do you fix the problem? Suck in your breath and hold it until you turn blue, down some coffee (or the beverage of your choice), and just start slamming your fingers on the keyboard while hoping that readable words are coming out. Start with a word, then a sentence. A sentence turns into a paragraph, a paragraph to a page...see the pattern?

Once you start, it's easy. Personally, every time I sit down to start something knew or begin a new draft of an old work, I feel like I've forgotten how to write. But once I saw, "Screw it," and just start, it all comes back to me. The further I get, the easier it becomes, which folds over to when I take a break in the middle of a chapter and start again the next day. When there's something looking back at you, it's a lot easier to just follow the road map and drive.

Just like working out: the first half a mile, sometimes mile, is torture. I feel my muscles working, feel my shortness of breath. I notice everything that my body is doing to get me to stop. Then I get into a rhythm and eventually I forget about it: I warm up, I find a pattern and a pace. My body realizes, "Holy shit, I guess I can do this," and it takes over. Before I know it I've been on the treadmill for thirty minutes and almost have three miles under my belt.

And you've almost got a thousand words; maybe even two thousand.

So sit your butt in that chair and just write. Really, there are no excuses. If you've got the time and the atmosphere, just start and see where it takes you, and trust that you actually do know what you're doing. Try just ten minutes, even; set a timer, write, and by the time that ten minutes is up you'll have at least gotten a sentence or two, heck maybe even an entire paragraph.

Trust me, guys: starting really is the hardest part. If you can get past that, then finishing the novel's the easiest thing in the world.

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Writing those first words is a lot easier than you might think. @Rae_Slater talks starting at the beginning (Click to Tweet)

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Tea Time: Six Months Later

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound** Months Later, Natalie D. Richards

When Chloe fell asleep in study hall, it was the middle of May. When she wakes up, snow is on the ground and she can't remember the last six months of her life.

Before, she'd been a mediocre student. Now, she's on track for valedictorian and being recruited by Ivy League schools. Before, she never had a chance with super jock Blake. Now he's her boyfriend. Before, she and Maggie were inseparable. Now her best friend won't speak to her.

What happened to her? Remembering the truth could be more dangerous than she knows...

Cover- The cover is honestly what caught my eye. I originally became aware of this book through a post on Mindy McGinnis's blog, and almost passed over it but the cover was so simple and, in my opinion, interesting enough to garner a look at the pitch, which ultimately sold me (have I ever mentioned that I love stories that mess with the memory?).

Narrative- This book is told from the first-person POV of the main character, Chloe, and I have to say that what I appreciate most was how simple it was. No fancy speech, just a narration that sounded like I was having a conversation with someone. It was easy to follow, which means it was super easy to get lost in and just keep turning the pages.

Don't mistake simple for the kind of simple that's too simple, though. I don't mean "simple" like short sentences and small words (which I actually have come across before). I mean that Richards didn't try to go for language that was too flowery or overstepped; everything was natural, which means it was incredibly easy to follow the story.

Plot- Where do I begin?

Truth be told, this is one of the best mysteries in YA that I've read in awhile (need I remind you how disappointed I was after reading The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die?). I admit, too, that originally I thought  this was going to be more gen-fic than anything else, but by the time I hit chapter two (*cough*when Chloe wakes up six months later) I kind of started realizing there was something more sinister going on because there was a lot of tension in the air between Chloe and two other characters who showed up right away: Adam and Blake.

And let me tell you: tension is an understatement.

In a nutshell: whoa. Like, the only thing worse than what happened to Chloe is that Richards did a pretty fabulous job in making sure you don't get any answers. At all. Until it's almost too late. And, honestly, I'm disappointed with myself because I feel like some of it should have been way more obvious to me in the beginning. But it wasn't.

I was totally duped.

Okay, a bigger nutshell to help ya'll get a feel for it: smart protagonist, amnesia, lemon tea, SAT study group, drugs, human experimentation, murder, and a major corporation about to go under. Spells a rather delicious recipe for disaster, right? And all of it's wrapped up in the eyes of a main character I actually like (as in: I totally want to be friends with her, but that's for the next section of the review).

Seriously, though: mystery and suspense so thick that I kept thinking, "Okay, something bad should happen right about..." *flips page* "Okay, maybe next chapter." I really enjoyed figuring out this puzzle.

Okay, but there is one thing that kind of got me. My fiction professor has a saying, and it's one of the sayings that I actually agree with: "If you introduce a gun on the first page, it needs to go off by the last page." In the case of SIX MONTHS LATER, there's no gun, but shots certainly do get fired by the end of the book. The effect of this is somewhat jarring; the perpetrator/enemy just kind of shows up at the end. Overall it kind of works, but I'm the kind of person who enjoys when the enemy shows up early on, if only so they're familiar when they show up and I can go either "I KNEW IT!" or "Wait, WHAT?"

Characters-Okay, so I mentioned, already, that I wanted to be Chloe's friend, so I'll start with her.

Chloe is real. And I mean that as in: when she wakes up and it's suddenly November and she can't remember the last six months of her life, she tries to reason it out and be logical: Okay, this is weird. Maybe I just need to get some sleep. I mean, the thing is: she wakes up and her life is good (well, objectively speaking). Good grades, people like her, every college in the country wants her, and she's dating the guy she's crushed on for ages. The biggest thing that weirds her out and acts as the first knife in the back: her best friend hates her. Whoa, back up, now something really isn't right.

From there, she goes to figuring out who she can trust, and she gets rightfully peeved when every time she asks someone what's happened, they don't tell her. So she starts her research, and starts acting weird, and admittedly if I wasn't inside her head I'd think she's acting totally paranoid, too.

Something about her character was so totally normal that I just clicked with her, and I definitely agreed with her that the "old" version of her was way better than the "new."

Okay, now on to Blake and Adam, because they're both totally in on the action, too. On the outside, Blake is the sweet, perfect, attentive boyfriend (except for the part when he orders for Chloe at a restaurant; I wanted to punch him for that). Meanwhile, Adam's the dark dude with a troubled past, despite his awesome grades. Then again, Blake turns out to be the creepy guy (like, every time he came around I got shivers while reading, and it wasn't the cold), and Adam's the one you feel safe with.

Yet, every single time they popped up, I really could not figure out if I could trust them

I loved the characters in this book, both for their depth and how real they felt, but also because I really feel like I should thank Richards for something: they're not stereotypical high school students. I mean, yeah, there's the overachievers and an obvious divide of the "good" kids versus those from the wrong side of the tracks. But there's no stereotypical cliques: stupid jocks who are bullying the nerds, nasty cheerleaders, and everyone who gets good grades has frizzy or greasy hair, glasses, and probably braces.

Richards gave high school and teenagers the kind of respect they deserve. And her characters paid off so freaking well.

Yes, I really liked this book. It doesn't replace anything at the very top of my all-time favorite's list, but it's honestly the best YA mystery that I've had the pleasure of reading in a long time. I highly recommend it, and I'm definitely going to look forward to Richards' next book, coming out January 2015.

Final Answer: 4.25 / 5

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Mystery in a small town: lemon tea and a monster conspiracy. SIX MONTHS LATER @NatDRichards (Click to Tweet)

Craving an uncanny mystery starring an amnesiac? SIX MONTHS LATER @NatDRichards got 4.25 / 5 stars from @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)