Ten 2017 Must-Read Books

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Top 10 Books I’m excited to see come out in 2017 (with a couple of honorary mentions because there are so many good ones!)

Just as a note, I feel I should mention that not all books I want to read are on this list. There are some books that I have omitted that I probably will read that I left out for various reasons. For example, eventually I will want to read Ships of the Dead (Magnus Chase #3) by Rick Riordan, but I haven’t actually read the Hammer of Thor so I decided it probably wasn’t proper to include it on this list, even though I am still relatively excited that it’s coming out.

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NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month)

This last November (and October…and September…and maybe August) I have been really slacking on this website. I really don’t have much of an excuse for August and September except for the all to common “I was busy.” However, in October and November I had (somewhat) of a legitimate excuse. This year I decided to participate in the National November Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) so for the second half of October I spent it deciding what story I wanted to pursue and planning it out. Then in November I started writing.

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NaNoWriMo started in 1999 with 21 participants. Since then the event has been steadily growing until this year which had more than 430,000 participants! It’s a pretty simple concept: for the month of November you need to write at least 50,000 words that cumulates into some sort of story. Basically, you speed write a short novel. It’s quite a challenging task and I’ve never done it before so I figured why not try it.

in the school

At first, I figured it wouldn’t be that bad. I mean 1667 words a day doesn’t sound that hard. On the first few days the words just flowed. I did my 1667 words and then some. Of course, after about 4 days of that it all came to a screeching halt. After the opening scenes the story just sort of stopped. In all my planning I only really got the skeleton of the story together. I had all the big scenes planned, but I realized I never finalized the bridges that linked the scenes together. I slugged through the first 10,000 words. I kept hoping that once I reached a certain point in the story it would start flowing again. Well, I kept holding out hope and it never came. At the end of 30 days I ended up with the slim 13,530 words. Quite an impressive amount for me, but a colossal failure for the challenge. Even though I wasn’t able to successfully complete NaNoWriMo I did learn a lot.

nanowrimoFor starters, writing a book is hard! I mean, I always knew that it was hard but now I have a tiny glimpse of how authors actually work. I know it’s a bit presumptuous, but on a slight level I can sort of understand the troubles authors can go through writing their stories. The worst book I’ve ever read was still better than the drivel I wrote.

Which brings me to my second point, I thought about sharing what my story is about but, in the end, I’ve decided against it. I’ve had this story idea for quite some time, but it was always just sort of a fleeting idea. The basic summary has always been the same, only the filling has changed. My story ideas and the way I write reveals my inner most thoughts and the way I think. I let my readers see the world as I see it. It’s somewhat of an intimate experience. That’s what happens when I read other people’s work (for the most part). I would imagine it’s not like this for all writers, but for me that’s how it is. I’m a bit wary of people reading my story and judging it, especially in it’s unfinished state. Having someone reading my story is basically sharing a part of myself.

nano_2015_bannerBottom line, participating in NaNoWriMo was a wonderful experience. I didn’t finish but I certainly don’t intend to give up now! It may take a few months (or probably more), but I will continue until I hopefully finish. I hope that one day, maybe when the story is finished, I will be confidant enough to at least share what the story is about and maybe the whole story in and of itself. It may not be any good, and it probably won’t be publishing worthy, but that won’t change the fact that it’s mine. And next November maybe I try again with a different story and hopefully be able to complete the challenge!

Review! Poison is Not Polite

poison-is-not-polite-9781481422154_lgAuthor: Robin Stevens

336 Pages-Ages 10 and up

Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on April 26, 2016

Summary (from amazon.com):

Schoolgirl detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are at Daisy’s home, Fallingford, for the holidays. Daisy’s glamorous mother is throwing a tea party for Daisy’s birthday, and the whole family is invited, from eccentric Aunt Saskia to dashing Uncle Felix. But it soon becomes clear that this party isn’t about Daisy after all—and she is furious. But Daisy’s anger falls to the wayside when one of their guests falls seriously and mysteriously ill—and everything points to poison. It’s up to Daisy and Hazel to find out what’s really going on.

With wild storms preventing everyone from leaving, or the police from arriving, Fallingford suddenly feels like a very dangerous place to be. Not a single person present is what they seem—and everyone has a secret or two. And when someone very close to Daisy begins to act suspiciously, the Detective Society does everything they can to reveal the truth…no matter the consequences.

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Scary Godmother

17305Author and Artist: Jill Thompson

192 Pages–Ages 10 and up!

Published by: Dark Horse Books on October 26, 2010

Summary (from amazon.com):

It’s Halloween night, and it’s up to Scary Godmother to show one little girl just how much fun spooky can be! Meet Hannah Marie, who, with the help of Scary Godmother, stands up to her mean-spirited cousin Jimmy and her fear of monsters on her first Halloween adventure with the big kids. Later, Hannah joins forces with Orson, the vampire boy, to unravel a mystery near and dear to their hearts. Some of Scary Godmother’s closest (and most frightful) pals get in on the fun too, including Bug-A-Boo, the Boozle, and Skully Pettibone.

Four of Thompson’s Eisner Award-winning, fully painted children’s books are collected here, in their entirety, for the first time (Scary Godmother, The Revenge of Jimmy, The Mystery Date, and The Boo Flu). This deluxe edition also features some of the earliest concept designs for this haunting and imaginative series.

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Disney Descendants 2

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Information released so far (from ohmy.disney.com):

Release: Summer of 2017

Written by: Josann McGibbon and Sara Parriott

Director, Executive Producer, Choreographer: Kenny Ortega

The summary to date:

The story deepens in the music-driven sequel to the global smash hit “Descendants,” as the teenage sons and daughters of Disney’s most infamous villains — Mal, Evie, Carlos and Jay (also known as Villain Kids or VKs) — try to find their place in idyllic Auradon. When the pressure to be royally perfect becomes too much for Mal, she returns to her rotten roots on the Isle of the Lost where her archenemy Uma, the daughter of Ursula, has taken her spot as self-proclaimed queen of the run-down town.  Uma, still resentful over not being selected by Ben to go to Auradon Prep with the other Villain Kids, stirs her pirate gang including Captain Hook’s son Harry and Gaston’s son Gil, to break the barrier between the Isle of the Lost and Auradon, and unleash all the villains imprisoned on the Isle, once and for all.

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Review! The Fine Art of Pretending

FIne-Art-cover-315x480Author: Rachel Harris

256 Pages–Ages 12 (and up)

Published by: Spencer Hill Contemporary on September 20, 2014

Summary (from rachelharriswrites.com):

According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you’re friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 Announced

TSLOP_Banner_01Before The Secret Life of Pets has even finished it’s run in the regular theaters, Illumination has already announced the sequel and it’s release date (July 13, 2018). If you follow my blog you already know what I thought about the first movie. I just wasn’t the biggest fan even though critics and audiences seemed to like it and give it positive reviews. The Secret Life of Pets got a 75% “certified fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has grossed (as of August 8. 2016) $502.9 million worldwide.

Even though I didn’t really like The Secret Life of Pets, I haven’t completely disregarded the sequel. In fact for the Despicable Me franchise I actually liked the sequel more than the original, so it’s completely possible that I will like this sequel more than the original. Though, I actually really liked the original Despicable Me in the first place, while I wasn’t a big fan of The Secret Life of Pets so this sequel is going to have to be like 100x better for me to enjoy it. They haven’t released any sort of summary about what the movie would be about, but it probably will be some sort of variation of this movie with wittier lines, a more cohesive story, and better character development.

I wish this was how I was awaiting the sequel.

I wish this was how I was awaiting the sequel.

Apparently Illumination believes that The Secret Life of Pets is successful enough to constitute a new franchise around it, making it the second from Illumination after Despicable Me. Illumination was founded in 2007 and it’s first movie, Despicable Me, was released in 2010. I remember in 2010 walking through my mall there were HUGE posters of the characters hanging from the ceiling, there were McDonalds Despicable Me toys, and the commercials were airing all the time. Everywhere I turned there was something Despicable Me related! There was no way that you could miss that the movie was coming ouslice_despicable_me_logo_01t. All that marketing payed off because the studio grossed $543.1 million on a $69 million budget. For a studio’s first film it really became extremely successful with the second film grossing $970.8 million and the Minions spinoff grossing $1.159 billion.  I wonder will The Secrets Life of Pets franchise be as successful? Honestly, I don’t think so but I also didn’t think the original movie was very good and most people seem to disagree with me so who knows? I’ll probably keep an eye on this franchise out of curiosity, but I don’t see myself participating much in the consumer craze.

Review! Wacky Raceland #1

DC-Comics-Wacky-Raceland-1Writers: Ken Pontac

Artists: Leonardo Manco

32 Pages—Teen+

Published by: DC Comics on June 8, 2016

Summary (from dccomics.com):

The world has ended, but the race has just begun! Penelope Pitstop, Peter Perfect and the rest of the Wacky Racers vie for the finish line in a contest where the winner takes all and second place is death. Today’s trial: the shattered maze of freeways known as the Überpass, where they’re beset by giant sand beasts, mutated insects, and worst of all, Dick Dastardly’s murderously poor sportsmanship. The last thing they need after surviving the race is a brutal bar fight in a local dive, but that’s just what they get!
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Review! Death of a Bacon Heiress

c64062ae-1d18-44cc-86f7-f2a547229f38Authors: Lee Hollis

320 Pages–Teen (and up)

Published by: Kenshington on March 29, 2016

Summary (from leehollismysteries.com):

When Hayley is invited to do a cooking demo on one of daytime’s most popular talk shows, it’s a welcome distraction from her empty nest blues. And the newfound fame certainly has its perks–especially when Olivia Redmond, the posh bacon heiress of Redmond Meats, offers Hayley a writing gig with a juicy paycheck.

But Hayley’s good fortune fizzles fast. The heiress is found dead with her pet pot-bellied pig, Pork Chop, squealing bloody murder beside her body, and clogged arteries aren’t to blame. It turns out Olivia’s inherited a wealth of enemies over the years, and as Hayley trims the fat off a mounting list of suspects, it’s clear that being rich and hot-tempered can be a recipe for disaster…

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Review! The Secret Life of Pets

The_Secret_Life_of_Pets_posterRuntime: 90 minutes

Release date: July 8, 2016

Budget: $75 million

Summary:

Max (Louis C.K.) is a spoiled terrier who enjoys a comfortable life in a New York building until his owner adopts Duke, a giant and unruly canine. During their walk outside, they encounter a group of ferocious alley cats and wind up in a truck that’s bound for the pound. Luckily, a rebellious bunny named Snowball swoops in to save the doggy duo from captivity. In exchange, Snowball demands that Max and Duke join his gang of abandoned pets on a mission against the humans who’ve done them wrong.

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