Thursday, December 29, 2016

Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu

I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season! One of my new year's resolutions is always to read more books, and I'm happy to say, I actually kept my resolution! I think I read between 20-25 books this year and I definitely have this blog to thank for pushing that number higher.

I've had my eye on Legend for awhile now. It's come highly recommended by several people, and now that I have read it, I can see why.

Legend is a duel point of view story that follows June, a highly regarded soldier of the ruling Republic, and Day, an outlaw whose goal is to find a cure for the rampant plagues infecting the poor and sabotage the Republic to destroy their hold on power. June's and Day's worlds collide when June's brother is murdered and Day becomes the top suspect. As June tries to figure out if Day really murdered her brother, she begins to uncover a much more sinister dealings within the Republic.

I really enjoyed Lu's world building in this story. It seemed so natural and she did a terrific job of twisting the reader's opinions of her world. I honestly couldn't tell (and still can't tell) whose side I was on. I think that Lu created her world and then created characters that fit seamlessly into it. I liked that she created relatively straightforward characters. Day is a fifteen year old boy who is a kind of parkour master and protests the Republic through mostly peaceful sabotage. He wants to protest his government and will use means necessary to do so, but he also makes sure no one is killed in the process. This trait made him seem more realistic.

June is also a fairly straightforward character. She is born into a family of soldiers, and when her brother is murdered, she goes to all lengths to find out who did it and why. Normally, straightforward characters bother me, but in this case, I liked it. Let me be clear, I'm not saying the characters had no depth! There just wasn't a whole lot of baggage to tie these characters down, and there weren't a whole lot of moral dilemmas to sort through. It made for a quick, intriguing, uncomplicated story.

Someone I know compared Legend to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and I can definitely see the parallels. Both books are post-apocolypic, have terrific characters, a secretive government, and a mystery that must be solved. But really, that's where the similarities end. I was about halfway through the book when someone mentioned The Hunger Games comparison and became a little afraid that Legend was going to be a Hunger Games clone. It isn't. I still can't pinpoint exactly why this book feels so different, but I really, really enjoyed it.

If there was one thing I would have changed, it was the "insta-love" between Day and June. Yes, yes, they are both described as being beautiful, but personally, I wanted a little more foundation to the relationship than that. Towards the end of the novel, there is a scene between the two main characters where they are both emotionally vulnerable and open up to each other about their pasts. I would have liked to see their love story come out of that connection, instead of their physical attraction and admiration of each other's physical abilities. At the end of the book, after everything the characters go through, I can see their love being a possibility. So, it really is just in the middle where their romance was a little annoying.

One of the great things about this series is that (as far as I know) it is already completed. No waiting for the next book to be released! Woohoo! I'm definitely going to go and buy Prodigy and Champion, sometime this week. I really want to find out what happens to these characters. I'll let you know how it goes.

There is an extremely good chance that Emily will blow all of her Christmas money on new books between now and New Year's Day. This is a good thing for readers of this blog because it means more reviews for you! Happy New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Writing an Obit

Jim Sheeler, one of the best professors I had at university, won the 2006 Pulitzer for Feature Writing with a 12,000-word article about a U.S. Marine Casualty Assistance Calls Officer. Sheeler specialized in writing obituaries, a fact I found difficult to wrap my head around. I had never really read obits, or even considered them as more than a death notification. But obituaries are far more important than I knew in 2008, and it took losing people of my own to appreciate a well-written obit.

Nothing is harder to write than the obituary of a loved one. As the family writer, it tends to fall to me to put a few words together. It puts me in an interesting position; I'm so close to the situation that the  task feels impossible. Yet, a part of me is still able to pull away and approach it like an assignment.

When my grandfather passed away last Tuesday, my mind went immediately to that class with Mr. Sheeler. How can I restrict myself to "a few words"? It's not enough. The distillation of a lifetime to an ounce of meaningful material is like trying to fit a sleeping bag into a Ziploc baggy. But then, I remember what I learned all those years ago. In the end, it's not about distilling a life, even if that's what it feels like. It's about telling a story.

First, though, I have to decide what kind of story I want to tell. Do I talk about how much he loved his family? His pranks? Do I talk about him growing up on the farm, or the jobs he took to support his kids and wife? He was a simple guy, and to the outside eye, it wouldn't seem like he was very interesting. That's the tricky part of the story–to portray the kind of depth you might find in a hidden pool without making it seem like just another hole filled with water. 

I'll be working on this obit for the rest of the week–I want it to sound just right. Obituaries, for me, are also a way to work through the loss of a loved one. Even if you didn't write it yourself, it can be comforting to see how a person's story ended. 

Michelle is thankful for work vacations, holiday cookies, and the best family and friends ever.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Book Review: Various Short Stories by Ray Bradbury

I blame Molly. By now, most of you know that Molly is my younger sister and she has a wonderful habit of making book recommendations which I promptly fall in love with. In the case of Ray Bradbury's stories, she got me hooked all the way back when she was in middle school. The first story she read was Frost and Fire in her English class. She brought home the story and told me that I simply had to read it.

I did. And I don't remember what it was about. But, I did read another one of Bradbury's stories: A Sound of Thunder. And it is, to this day, one of the best short stories that I have ever read. This week's review is a series of mini reviews, a short description of the story and why it is awesome. 

A Sound of Thunder
Themes: Time travel, consequences of actions, dinosaurs.
Did you ever see the movie The Butterfly Effect? If you enjoyed that, you'll love this. Eckels travels back in time to hunt the ultimate game: a Tyrannosaurus rex. But when Eckels gets spooked and runs away from his guide, his actions have disastrous consequences. I love, love, love this story because of the thought Bradbury put into it. Especially the science and risks behind time travel. The pacing and descriptions throughout the narrative make the reader nervous and jumpy right up until the end, where those feelings are replaced with dread and hopelessness. Read with a cup of tea.

All Summer in a Day
Themes: Space colonies, kids, social outcasts.
Margot is in a class of nine year olds who have grown up on Venus and never seen the sun. Margot is labeled the social pariah because she actually remembers what the sun is like, before her parents moved to the Venus colony. When the day finally comes that the sun is going to make an appearance, her classmates enact their revenge. I used this story in my classroom to show the basic elements of story. Plot arc, characters, mood, etc. It's almost the perfect example of the basic elements of story. When I recommend Bradbury's stories to people, it is always these two first. They are a terrific introduction to his work.

Here There Be Tygers
Themes: Ecology, exercising caution, unlikely utopias.
When a rocket full of anthropologists/mineralogists stumble upon what seems to be a perfect planet, one of their crew recommends caution until they find out exactly how the planet functions. When someone makes a mistake that angers the planet, the crew must decide whether to stay in the utopia or face the consequences of their actions. I liked that Bradbury turns the Star Trek trope of how to relate to the native population into what happens when the planet has a personality unto itself.

Bradbury's most famous work, Fahrenheit 451, is easily in my top ten favorite books. His short stories are a great introduction to the science fiction and fantasy genre. If you haven't given them a try, please do. You won't be disappointed. 

Emily is hoping that you all have a wonderful holiday season. She wants you to remember that a book is always the perfect gift, no matter what the occasion!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

My Favorite Christmas

It's funny. For years I've been trying to figure out how to get the "feeling" of Christmas just the way I remember it as a kid. Early on, we went to my grandparents' house for Christmas, and that tradition remained pretty constant with only a few interruptions here and there.

It was a blast. Sometimes it would just be my parents, brothers, and the two grandparents. But for the most part, we had cousins, aunts, and uncles around, too. The kids would goof off, run around the house, and play make believe in the crawl space next to the basement. If we got cool toys, we'd bust 'em out and have a grand old time. For my brother and myself, though, we generally got video games. Without having the system nearby to actually play.

Can't forget the food, though. It was a lot of food. And SUPER tasty. And we always had Egg Nog and apple cider, too. Two of my favorite drinks as a kid.

But none of those really stand out as my favorite Christmas.

I can't remember the year, but the company my dad owned had a job in Little Rock that needed to start setting up on December 26. So we rolled into Little Rock on Christmas Eve. We were going to check into the hotel and have a relaxed evening as a family, open presents, and then spend Christmas day doing fun stuff wherever we could actually find something to do.

But my mom got sick. Super sick. We thought she had strep, which was bad because she's DEATHLY allergic to anti-biotics. She'd been sick for a few days, and when we thought she was getting better, her fever spiked and my dad had to rush her to the hospital, leaving my brothers and me at the hotel (we were old enough to be left alone...older than any babysitter that might've been hired). Turned out, she had an ear infection (bad, but not as serious as strep) that they treated with a combination of anti-biotics and a MASSIVE dose of anti-histimen under serious medical supervision.

When my mom was feeling well enough to leave the hospital (only a few hours later), we all hopped into the truck to find some place for dinner, or fun, or something. I can't really remember. What I do remember was being together, laughing at A Very Veggie Christmas, the first VeggieTales Christmas album.

I think that was the year I got my first leather jacket (brown suede, which I still have but doesn't fit). Aside from the event that my dad was working, I don't remember a lot about the rest of the trip, though. Still, more than any other Christmas as a kid, that one stands out as FEELING very Christmas-y.

New traditions are something my wife and I are building as we get older. This is our eighth Christmas as a married couple (our ninth anniversary is next Wednesday), and we're still figuring things out. We like the traditions we have, and it's becoming more and more fun, cozy, and something we look forward to. And some day I hope to look back and say I have a new favorite Christmas. One that I remember more vividly than the last one.

Giles managed to connect to the wifi at work, so he can actually blog on his lunch break, now.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Do You Have Staying Power?

I always thought the career I picked in college would be the one I stuck with for the rest of my days. The days until I became a NYT bestseller sleeping on mountains of money, that is*.

A few crazy things have happened to remove me from that college-era choice and set me on the track toward something totally different. I shouldn’t be surprised—when I was younger I flip-flopped from  architect to astronaut to lawyer to writer so many times I lost count. I thought Older Michelle would have slightly better staying power.

Ah, “staying power”—that little jab at your ability to see things through. Can you stick it out? Are you strong enough? Life will be better on the other side…you just have to stick with it. Some things, I believe, have no-negotiation requirements for “staying power”. There is no quitting option. Yet, other things in life need to be set aside, whether for our own sanity or someone else’s.

I have a handful of friends and family members who, thanks to this infamous “staying power” are struggling with a sense of defeat. They have job problems, friend problems, writing problems, creative problems…and every single one of them is tired of being told that ending a chapter in their life is admitting they are somehow defective. If I quit now, am I a failure? Can I stop without losing face? Why don’t I have any staying power? It might be hard to see the answer if you’re still wrapped up in the middle of ugly circumstances, but I can tell you now that quitting is not always equivalent to failure.   

I recently decided to set aside my copywriting career** to do something I had until a few months ago only jokingly considered: teaching. Part of me feels pathetic—like leaving the marketing industry is going to leave some kind of black mark on my soul. And yet, a whole other part of me is incredibly excited because I know, deep down, that I’m finally going to be doing something fulfilling. I'm quitting, yes, but not because I don't have the stamina to rise in a competitive, challenging field. It's because this whole sell-people-all-the-things gig just isn't doing it for me, and I'm not sure it ever has. I'd still like to do some freelancing for creative projects, but I doubt I'll ever sit in a cubicle ever again.

No one can tell you if your struggle is meant to be dealt with over time or through a swift blow to the head, but I can tell you this: No one can make you feel inferior without your consent***. Do what you need to do. Don’t worry about the trolls. 

Michelle was recently accepted into the Boettcher Teacher Residency in Denver. She'll be an apprentice teacher and full-time masters-seeking student starting July 2017.
*Wink, wink. HA.
**NOT leaving my fiction career, just to clarify. THAT is very much still in progress.
***Likely a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, but also possibly from clergyman W. E. Channing. See the interesting article here.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Taking Care of the Writers in Your Life

Sadly, I do not have a review of CyberWorld as promised last week. This is because I (finally) have a new job! This is an especially big deal because I've been looking and applying for various jobs since June...and it is now December. Oofta. It's not easy to change careers!

We've been talking a lot recently about how to take care of yourself as a writer which led me to think, "What about the other side? How can we take care of the writers in our lives?" Being the wife of a writer, and having my best friends as writers, there are sometimes I can feel completely helpless when they are about to "lose it". I don't like that feeling. So, here are some tips I have found that work to encourage and take care of the writers in my life.

1. Ask them about their work! And listen to what they say...
This may seem obvious, but when you are surrounded by writers, sometimes you simply forget. I love watching their faces light up when I ask how their project is going. Sometimes though, their face falls and they look like you just kicked their puppy. This is the perfect opportunity to offer encouragement and yourself as a sounding board.

2. Give them time to write.
Giles and I are homebodies. No denying it. But sometimes we get into phases where we over plan our social schedules and spend only one night a week at home. Not helpful to a writer! (Giles tends to get itchy.) Leave a couple of nights a week open so they can pour their heart onto the page.

3. Offer to read/edit/make comments/etc.
When Michelle first asked me to read her pages, my thought was, "Um, are you sure?" I'm not a great writer, my punctuation leaves something to be desired, and grammar is a foreign language to me. Her response? "But you're a READER. I want someone to just read and tell me if the story grabs your attention." I'm pretty sure I've read seven different endings for her WIP up to today. And one of my suggestions even made it to the page! (Assuming she hasn't changed the ending...again.)

4. Review their work! (See picture above.)
For those writers you know who have something published out in the world, read and review their work in as many places as you can. Preorders, reviews, and shameless promotion from you pushes their work to the top of the charts on Amazon. Guys, reviews don't have to be fancy. Even just one line of "I liked it: good characters, plot, and ending" can boost ratings. Also, follow your favorite authors on Goodreads. You can ask them questions about their work and you'll even get a monthly newsletter with answers to the questions. It's pretty sweet!

Since we began Beyond the Trope, I've met so many amazing writers who put out incredible work. I would need all of my fingers and toes, and Giles', and the cat's to begin to count how many writers I can now call my friends. Take care of the writers in your life so they can continue to put awesome stories into our world!

Emily is really hoping she'll be able to finish CyberWorld this week. She has started it and is enjoying what she's read so far! On Thursday she's thinking about taking cookies to the critique group. Just another way to take care of "her" writers!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

'Round the Bend

My new job is definitely a lot more work than I ever thought it was going to be. But not in a bad way. I'm learning more and stretching my abilities as a worker more quickly than I ever knew could be possible. The great thing is that, as busy as it's been, I think I'm getting close to a point where I can focus on day-to-day projects that will let me work normal hours (instead of crazy overtime) and shut my brain down when I'm not at work.

The good news: blogging and writing will start to pick up again. Quality and depth will become the focus on my posts again. And I think I'll be able to push through to the end of my draft, too.'

For now, I'm just coming around the bend on what I expect to be a job that I will continue to grow at while being able to pursue my writing.

Nope, Giles doesn't have a bio to post. He's just a guy, working a job and writing a blog.

Monday, December 12, 2016

How to Approach Tough Critique Notes

Criticism, even when it’s constructive, can hurt. If you’re getting the comments from someone you don’t feel understands (or is really reading) your pages, it can get frustrating as well as painful.

Over the years, I’ve developed a sneaky way to deal with tough critique notes. It’s called avoidance.

That’s probably not what you were expecting. Some writers will tell you to jump right in. Listen to the notes (if they’re being given in person). Talk to your readers, get all the answers. Figure things out right then and there.


The toughest critique notes—you’ll know them by the sound your soul makes as it rips in two—deserve to be shut in a drawer until they soften up a bit. It’s okay to move on. Forget how messed up Chapter 10 is, and go on to Chapter 11. But when you finally decide you need to tackle those problems, head on, here’s one system you could use:

  1. Finish off the easy fixes first. Did someone forget to put on pants, or did no one trip over the unconscious guard in the doorway? Skim for the things that will take a few seconds to improve.
  2. Second, aim for those loophole-type issues that made you facepalm and say, “I can’t believe I missed that.” These, like the low-hanging fruit of No. 1, will make you feel pretty good about cleaning things up.
  3. Third, take a sip of your favorite beverage, stuff your face with you favorite dessert, and then re-read those tough notes.
  4. After you’ve read them, go watch a half-hour show on Netflix. Trust me.
  5. Eat more dessert.
  6. Map out your plan of attack and decimate those difficult critique notes like the little pieces of trash they are. Show them who’s boss. Rip your chapter to shreds and use band-aids to put it back together. What the heck? Why not use duct tape. That stuff fixes everything. And when you’ve finally beaten your pages back into shape, sit back…relax…and eat more dessert. 

Michelle's current Netflix show of choice is The Office. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Book Review: Black Dove White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

A few months ago, I gushed over Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity and told you all to go and get it. If you did, I hope you enjoyed it because I have a new one to recommend. Black Dove White Raven was published just last year, and if you like historical fiction, I would highly recommend you pick it up. This story has the same feelings as her other works: serious, highly researched, and deeply emotional. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In Black Dove White Raven, Emilia's (Em) and Teo’s lives are brutally interrupted when their mothers’ plane is brought down in a freak accident during a stunt show. Teo’s mother is killed, but Em’s mother, Rhoda, survives. As a result of the accident, and to fulfill a wish of Teo’s mother’s, Rhoda decides to move the family to Ethiopia where raising a white daughter alongside a black adopted son shouldn’t be as difficult as it would be in 1930s America. The family stays in Ethiopia for six years and is content with their lives there until in 1936, Italy invades, and suddenly the family is at a loss as to what they should do. With Em’s father being Italian and Teo’s father being Ethiopian, the family has to decide where their loyalties lie and if escape is even an option.

I really enjoyed the back and forth narrative of Em and Teo throughout the novel. Both of the kids were engaging storytellers, and I liked the distinct voices the author gave them. The ending...holy cow. Intense doesn’t begin to cover it. The ending became even better for me when I discovered that the events the author includes in her climax could have, and possibly did, happen (even though there is no “official” record). I also loved the way the author addressed the ideas of friendship, race, and war. There was no preaching, just a steady, wonderful story of a family trying to live together in peace.

While there are so many wonderful layers that add so much depth to Black Dove White Raven, there were times that the story seemed to drag. The parts of the story that seemed to move the fastest where the sections that took place in the United States. Perhaps this was because I was familiar with the time period, as well as the setting. When the story moved to Ethiopia, the narrative started to move a lot slower. I honestly think it was because I was not familiar with Ethiopia’s history or its involvement in World War II. That being said, I really appreciated the Author’s Note at the end of the book which told the real story of the beginnings of the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1935-36. I had no idea that a lot of historians believe this conflict was really the opening gambit of World War II. I wonder if knowing this before reading the novel would have helped the story to move more quickly from my perspective. With that in mind, I may have to I go back and read this book a second time.

One last thought: technically, this book is shelved in the young adult section of the bookstore, but I don’t know if I necessarily agree with that placement. True, our narrators are sixteen and seventeen years old, but I certainly didn’t picture them that way in my head. I think it would take a special kind of young adult to enjoy this book. In particular, one who is obsessed with history, flight, and doesn’t mind fighting through difficult-to-pronounce names, places, and technical jargon.

I have liked all of Elizabeth Wein’s young adult novels so far. I’m going to be very interested to see where she goes next!

Emily is excited that next week’s review is going to be of CyberWorld, Hex Publisher’s new cyberpunk anthology! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Taking Critiques

It's not easy to take critiques, especially in the early days of letting someone else read what you wrote. It's important, though. Really important. Critiques—especially the ones that can be hard to take—often make the difference between a good book and a GREAT book.

That's why it's important to learn how to listen to and read the notes from critique partners without taking it personally. Because it's not personal. Not really.

To be fair, there are VERY rare occasions where a critique parter will single out the writer instead of focusing on the problems in the writing. Unless that happens, though, it's the WRITING that is broken and in need of work. NOT you.

Now, as easy as it is to say all this, it's not always simple to apply it. I've been receiving critiques for over a decade, and much of it coming from the anonymous critiquers on the internet, which means they CAN make it personal without caring. But a few months ago, I got some serious notes from my critique group on pages I really thought were much better than they turned out to be. I didn't take it personally, but it still made me bristle. I WANTED to take it personally, and I wanted to fight back.

You know what I did, though? I talked back a little, then readjusted my attitude and started asking questions intended to help me understand what was wrong, what I missed in my delivery, and how they thought I could make it better. It took a lot of humility and didn't feel much better, even with the attitude adjustment, but I LEARNED.

Giles still has a lot going on, but he's getting his act together, slowly but surely.

Monday, December 5, 2016

What a Twitter Pitch Needs

Last week I participated in Pitch Madness, a sort of Twitter party/contest/hangout designed to give aspiring authors some visibility to agents and editors. It’s the second time I’ve joined in, but only the first time I had even remotely  interesting pitches.

While I certainly don’t have Twitter pitching down to an art*, I do think that I’ve gotten better since I last tried #PitMad. If anything, I hope other aspiring authors or pitch-writers can learn from the mistakes I made/make.

To start, let’s inspect the tweets I sent out earlier this year:

Oof. I was pretty bummed in June that none of my tweets got attention, but looking at them today, I’m not surprised. My primary reaction to them is, “Meh.” Girl who kills with a touch? Meh. Get rid of superpowers? Meh. All three pitches are wordy to the point of being their own stumbling blocks.

Pitches are notoriously difficult—even when you have an elevator ride instead of 140 characters. A successful pitch (or “logline”) should provide a character and stakes at the very minimum. Those three early pitches did a lot of describing. I was so worried about getting the “deadly abilities” point across that I didn’t even bother with my main character’s arc or personal stake in the story.

A great logline shoots your reader with the conflict of your novel. If you can’t fit the your plot conflict into a simple sentence, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with one of two problems. Either A) it’s not high concept enough or B) you don’t actually know your book very well. A quick note on “high concept”: This buzzword can be defined in many ways. I think of the “concept” as the essence of a story. Having a “high” concept, to me, means the book’s essence is striking and easy to communicate. A high concept story is unique and appeals to a large audience.

When I wrote those original Twitter pitches, I thought my book was high concept, but you wouldn’t know it by what I tweeted. Now look at my (slightly better but still not great) new pitches:

If there’s one thing I got better at, it’s wording. I don’t even know the girl who came up with those confusing tweets in the beginning of this blog. Sheesh. When I re-read the new versions, I’m reminded of the short sentences Netflix uses to describe their movies. Snappy, simple, to the point.

The originals focused on what the characters did, not what would happen if they failed. There was nothing to care about. They want to get rid of superpowers? That’s nice. Good for them. But no one wants to read a book that has no tension. I learned this part of pitching from my mentor, Sharon Johnston, who is the master of the query letter. She is absolutely brilliant where it comes to picking out a book's essence. 

My new pitches are by no means perfect, but they show how much I’ve grown as a writer in the past six months. I’m going to push harder than ever to keep growing and to write better each day I turn on my computer.

Michelle ate four cookies today, and she isn't even sorry.

*Actually, I’m STILL TERRIBLE at Twitter pitching. Ugh. I need more practice.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Book Review: Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie

Apparently, I know nothing about Peter Pan. I, like most people, grew up thinking the story of Peter Pan was the story that Disney told me way back when they created their cartoon in 1953. You know the story: Peter flies into the Darlings' nursery, takes away Wendy to be his mother, and adventures ensue in Neverland. What I didn't realize is that the cartoon version that most of us are familiar with is actually the third story in Peter's saga, appropriately called Peter and Wendy. This is the story that I will be talking about this week.

Most of us know the story of Peter and Wendy, so I won't summarize the whole thing here. Instead, I will compare Disney's 1953 cartoon and the story of Peter and Wendy and what makes them so different from each other. 

First of all, the story gives so much more background into the Darling family. It actually gives personalities to Mr. and Mrs. Darling, and the book reveals that both of them actually have a decent relationship with their children. The story also goes into detail about how Nana came to be with the family. I loved how it makes Nana seem more like a  human than a dog, something that always seemed to be lacking in the cartoon. 

Next, the characters of Wendy, John, and Michael in the story are very similar to the way they were in the cartoon. Peter and Tinker Bell on the other hand? Oofta. Not so much. In the story, Peter is the most self-centered, egotistical, and cocky little boy that I have ever come across. He's so bad in fact, that the author reveals that this is the true reason that Captain Hook actually hates Peter. (You know, besides that whole hand thing.) When it comes to Tinker Bell, she does start out with an aversion to Wendy, just like she does in the cartoon, but she takes her hatred of Wendy to a murderous level quite a few times throughout the narrative. It was difficult for me to reconsile the cute green fairy in my head to the one that was printed on the page.

With all of that said, I really enjoyed the ending of the story much more than the cartoon. Yes, Wendy and her brothers return to their parents, and Peter promises to return every spring so Wendy can do his spring cleaning. But the story actually takes it past Peter's first departure and shows Wendy as she grows up, after she has her own daughter and granddaughter. In a way, Peter becomes a living legend to the decendents of Wendy, except the legend actually comes to life.

I enjoyed reading "the real story" of Peter Pan. While it was difficult to merge my mental pictures of the story with what was written on the page, there were enough similarities in the story to make it feel familiar. To get the whole story of Peter Pan, someone would have to take the time to read Peter and Wendy, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, and The Blot on Peter Pan. Then, a person should probably watch Disney's 1953 cartoon Peter Pan, NBC's 1954 musical production of Peter Pan starring Mary Martin, and 1991's Hook starring Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman. And, finally, if possible, get their hands on a copy of Barrie's original play. (Yes, this was a play before it was a novel!) Then, and only then, would someone get the full picture of Peter Pan

When Emily pulled Peter Pan off her bookshelf, she realized her copy was a Borders Classic edition. She instantly felt sad and went into a three minute mourning period for her beloved bookstore. She can't help it really. After all, if it wasn't for Borders, she and Giles may not have met!