Category Archives: Books

Harry Potter and the Name Game (Guest Post for The Brazen Bibliophile)

I was lucky enough to have the chance to participate in the Brazen Bibliophile’s Potter Week! My post is all about the symbolism and inspiration behind some of the names in Harry Potter. Want to hear more? Check out the post here, and while you’re at it, subscribe to Marissa’s blog because she is THE BEST.

Love Harry Potter? Read this post to learn more about your favorite characters,

I enjoy guest posting so if you’d like to feature my writing on your blog, let’s get in touch and work something out! ūüôā I’d love to return the favor in any way I can. Maybe we could do a swap. It’s a win-win situation.

You can contact me using the form on my blog or by shooting me a message on Facebook or Twitter.

Are you a Potterhead? Who are your favorite characters?


Book Review: Next Year, Things Will Be Different

Photo credit: <a href=>Designed by Starla</a>

Photo credit: Designed by Starla

Note: This post is not paid for or sponsored in any way. All opinions are entirely my own. Got a book you’d like me to review? Get in touch using my contact form and I’ll see what I can do. ūüôā

As a writer and blogger, sometimes I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to review a novel or a short story collection. This time around, I read¬†Next Year, Things Will Be Different: A Collection of Short Stories¬†by Tyramir Ross, John Biscarner, and J. C. Sayer and edited by Chris Forshner. I love reading YA fiction, so I was eager to dive right in. Here’s a breakdown of the stories that make up the collection:

Next Year by Tyramir Ross

Walker may not have finished high school yet, but he and his team are certainly finishing off every one of the G’laek they can. Now they face one of the oldest and most powerful of the ancient demons they have encountered. Can Walker use the power granted to him in Quellios of the Rising Waves, the great staff that conjures fire, as well as his own brains to save himself and his friends?
Illusion Of Choice by John Biscarner
When given the chance to have everything your heart desires, what would you ask for? Many of us have thought of what we would ask for, but have we ever really thought about the consequences of said wishes? Darren, a young teen, has been asked a simple question: ¬†“What do you want from life?”
The Garbage Man’s Boy by J.C. Sayer
In the 1950s, the small northern Ontario town of Mallieu was terrorised by a serial killer named the Ferry Man. ¬†Ron, the Garbage Man’s Boy, navigates small town politics in the wake of these murders, finding hidden truths he probably shouldn’t have found, while trying to protect the ones he loves from a terrible fate.

I love all of these stories. Each of them has well-crafted prose, believable characters, and an engaging plot. They combine everyday concerns with magic and a touch of darkness. Although “Next Year” and “Illusion of Choice” are based more in fantasy than “The Garbage Man’s Boy,” I find them no less appealing. Overall, these three stories succeed because they weave facets of adolescence–such as coming-of-age, loss of innocence, and the desire to find one’s place in the world–among the threads of narrative arc.

The only problem I have with the work is that it is so short. I didn’t want it to end. It’s been a while since I read a decent short story collection, and I’m pleased to say that this one didn’t let me down. If you’re looking for some new YA fiction to read, give this amazing collection a try.

If you’d like to read¬†Next Year, Things Will Be Different,¬†you can purchase it on Smashwords for 1.99 USD.

What short story collections have you read and enjoyed? Which of these stories sounds most interesting to you?

Tweet tweet:

Looking for some new YA fiction? @thecollegenov thinks you should check out Next Year, Things Will Be Different. #YA (Click to tweet)

Writer @thecollegenov reviews your next favorite YA short story collection. #NYTWBD #YA (Click to tweet)

Top 5 Must-Read Classics

Photo credit: Angelskiss31 on Flickr

Photo credit: Angelskiss31 on Flickr

I cannot stress enough the importance of reading in the life of a writer.

I’m not going to go on and on about it in this post, but yeah, you should be reading.

I can hear you asking now, “What am I supposed to read?” The short answer is everything you can find. Any book you can get your hands on will only help you improve your craft. Of course, it’s also important to read books in your genre so you can avoid the tropes and cliches that come with the territory.

You also need to read the classics.

The classics are classic for very good reasons. They can teach you more about writing than most classes and professors can. If you’d like to start reading classic literature, I have a few suggestions for you.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

If you haven’t read this book yet, what’s taking you so long? This novel has some of the most captivating description and imagery that I’ve ever read. I’m also a fan of Fitzgerald’s characters. Every one of them is clearly flawed yet still sympathetic.¬†Read this book!

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Orwell’s world-building skills are spectacular. He takes a world we think we know and turns it on its head, to terrifying effect. This novel is one of the earliest examples of a dystopian society in literature, too. If you like¬†The Hunger Games¬†and Divergent, you have Orwell to thank. Plus, after reading this book, you can correct everyone who thinks Big Brother is watching him or her.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

This novel is highly psychological and wonderful to read. It’s in the same vein as¬†Jane Eyre¬†though a little less intimidating because it’s more modern. I couldn’t put this book down, and the twist… well, let’s just say it will definitely keep you guessing. This novel is suspenseful, dramatic, and one of my all-time favorites.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

In his only novel, Wilde seamlessly mixes wit and humor with serious drama. It illustrates concepts of morality without being preachy and is overall one of the best books I can think of. Check it out.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Like¬†The Great Gatsby, Jane Eyre¬†is a novel you’ve probably read already. Still, I would encourage you to read it with new eyes. It presents the Gothic romance and the Byronic hero in ways that echo even in the present day. Read it.

These are just a few classic books that I think you should read. Hopefully these novels will mark the beginning of your journey into classic literature.

What do you think of these books? How has reading helped you become a better writer?

Tweet tweet:

Want to get into classic literature? Writer @thecollegenov has five novels that you should check out. (Click to tweet)

5 Worst Book to Movie Adaptations


“The book was better.”

It’s almost impossible to avoid hearing or uttering that phrase after seeing a film that’s been adapted from a novel.

And it’s true (of course it is) that Hollywood often fails to capture the magic of beloved literature. With that being said, not all adaptations are terrible. Most recently,¬†The Hunger Games¬†movie franchise has been praised for its accuracy.

At the same time, there are often more bad movie adaptations than good, especially when it comes to classics. Here are five of the worst book to movie adaptations.

5.¬†The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy¬†(2005)


Photo Credit

Douglas Adams’ spirited sci-fi romp falls flat when shoehorned into this gimmicky film version. The movie lacks most of the wit and charm of the book it’s derived from. The sole redeeming quality is Martin Freeman, who makes his American motion picture debut in this film.

4. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)


Photo Credit

I’m sure Alexandre Dumas would despise this adaptation. For one thing, a handful of characters have been entirely removed from the narrative. Moreover, the director even had the gall to change the original ending. Not even young Henry Cavill can save this one.

3. The Scarlet Letter (1995)


Photo Credit

I don’t know who thought Demi Moore and Gary Oldman would look good onscreen together, but… no. While Gary Oldman does a fine job of playing Dimmesdale, poor Demi Moore gets the shaft when it comes to the poorly-penned script. Most of the novel’s complexity is abandoned in favor of playing up sensuality and a lighter, happier ending. High school students beware: you’re better off reading the book.

2. Great Expectations (1998)


Photo Credit

Who reads a Dickens’ classic and thinks, “yeah, this book is¬†dying¬†for a modern-day rechristening?” Alfonso Cuaron, that’s who. This film functions like a weird mishmash of Titanic, Moulin Rouge,¬†and¬†a¬†teensy¬†bit of Dickens. Why did this happen?

1.¬†Gulliver’s Travels¬†(2010)

Jack Black stars in Gulliver's Travels.

Photo Credit

I don’t think I could think of a worse film adaptation than this one if I tried.¬†The film lacks most of what makes the original narrative great. On top of that, it’s¬†just not funny.¬†It tries too hard to be.

I’m sure there are worse movie adaptations than these out there, but I have yet to experience them.

What do you think of these adaptations? What other bad ones can you think of?

P.S.¬†In Conversation with–Bob Gale, Co-Writer of Back to the Future and Selections from Pixar’s 22 Rules for Storytelling.

Book Review: The Successful Novelist by David Morrell


David Morrell is a genius.

There’s no getting around that fact. After reading this book, I am more than convinced that this man has more writing talent in his pinky than I do in my whole body.

I digress.

When I mentioned on¬†Twitter¬†that Stephen King’s¬†On Writing¬†is one of the most influential books about writing that I have ever read, someone suggested that I look up¬†David Morrell’s book¬†The Successful Novelist: A Lifetime of Lessons about Writing and Publishing.

I’m delighted I did.

This book, like King’s, provides a veritable treasure trove of knowledge regarding the craft and the business of writing. However, Morrell takes a much more practical approach, giving out advice for you to use in your daily writing sessions. King’s book is largely memoir with some practical bits sprinkled in. On the whole, Morrell seems so much more approachable.

The Successful Novelist¬†is suitable for writers of all skill levels. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been writing for ages, this book is for you.

It’s also short, succinct, and easy to read and understand. What more could you want?

Go out and pick up your copy today. This book will change your life.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? What book would you like to see me review next?

P.S. Book Review: Adulting by Kelly Williams Brown.

5 Great Gifts for Readers and Writers


I’ve got a birthday coming up (June 17), and when I was in school, my summer birthday bummed me out. Now that I’m older it doesn’t make much of a difference. If anything, it’s better now because people tend to be less busy in the summer, which means that there’s more time to celebrate.

If you’re like me and you have a birthday this summer, people have probably already started asking you what you’d like to receive. Can’t think of anything? I’ve got you covered. Here are five great gifts for readers and writers–most of which are fairly cheap.

1. Vintage Book iDock, Anthropologie, $68

Book iDock from Anthropologie

Photo Credit

2. Light Man, J-List, $16.80


Photo Credit

3. Large Floating Book Shelf, Shop Plasticland, $18


Photo Credit

4. iPhone Book Case, Etsy, $9.99


Photo Credit

5. Olde Book Pillow Classics, ThinkGeek, $17.99


Photo Credit

Hopefully this post has given you some ideas for presents you can give to or receive from your friends and loved ones. Full disclosure: I just ordered the Sherlock Holmes book pillow and I’m way too excited about it.

What do you think of these gifts? What others do you think I should add to this list?

P.S. How to Write a Thank You Note.

Author Spotlight: Haruki Murakami


This post is a feature I’ve been wanting to write for some time. I discovered Murakami and his work about a year and a half ago, via the Selected Shorts podcast, where I first heard his short story “The Iceman” read aloud. Shortly after, I plunged headfirst into the bizarre, engrossing world of¬†1Q84¬†and haven’t been the same since.

Prevalent motifs throughout Murakami’s extensive body of work include cats, dreams and hallucinations, magical realism, androgyny, ears, aliens, fate, and coincidences (that are usually so much more than simple coincidences). Most if not all of these motifs can be seen in his longest work,¬†1Q84. The title clearly pays homage to Orwell’s¬†Nineteen Eighty-Four,¬†but the story is not the same.

As much as I’d like to write a review on¬†1Q84,¬†that’s another post for another day. We’re here to talk about some of Murakami’s other work. He is considered one of the foremost authorities on modern literary fiction, having published several different short stories, novels, and nonfiction essays. Some of his most notable works include “The Iceman,”¬†After Dark, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Kafka on the Shore,¬†and¬†Norwegian¬†Wood¬†(the movie adaptation for which is currently on Netflix). His prose is captivating, magical, and sure to win you over from the very first page.

If you’ve never read Murakami, check out “The Iceman.” And be sure to let me know what you think about it!

Have you read Murakami? What do you think of him?

P.S. Book Review: Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews, Book Review: Oleanders in Alaska by Matt Thompson, Book Review: Adulting by Kelly Williams Brown, and Book Review: Morning Glory by Allison Blanchard.