Tag Archives: young adult

Discussing Life Is Strange Part II

Discussing Life Is Strange Part II is going to be more about theories for Episode 5. It’s still at least a month or more away from being available, and I’m obsessed. Can you tell? There are so many really interesting and cool things about this game. It’s story-based and takes zero gaming skill (or knowledge, really) and reminds me of a visual choose your own adventure novel.

 

After writing these two posts, I had a few thoughts when I read some articles on the games.  In this article, the developers of Life Is Strange, and they mentioned having real, live women on the team… as if this was some rare commodity. It was so sad to see that even though there are tons of female gamers, barely any women consult, write, or develop video games. Is it because none of them are trying? Is it due to sexism? I don’t know. But I have always wondered how to become a writer for console and PC games… Anyway, let’s get back to the topic at hand!

 

If you have not read Discussing Life Is Strange Part I yet, I suggest heading over there first.

 

WARNING SPOILERS FOR LIFE IS STRANGE AHEAD!

 

I have a few theories on things that I’m not 100% sure I can back up, but because I’m well-versed in story-telling tropes, I have an easier time figuring things out. (I called Mr. Jefferson at the very beginning of episode 1.) As far as twists and mystery, LIS is actually pretty damn good. I’ve seen high-budget films, books, and games that had much more predictable and lame outcomes. And because of the nature of the episodic format, the developers are able to make changes based on the fans’ reactions. No matter the ending, I’m so excited to see where everything is heading. So here are some of my theories. They are purely thoughts that I have and are in no way reflective of what will actually be in episode 5.

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1. Depending on your choices, someone will help Max initially get away from Jefferson. This one might be me projecting really hard because I want it to happen so badly. While Max will have to be the one to fix everything and save the day, I’m not 100% convinced she can get away by herself while being drugged up. My thought is that depending on your choices in the previous episodes, David or Kate could come and save Max. I almost thought that Victoria could be one of the options… but one could argue that she would have no reason to know where the bunker is. (I’d respond with the fact that she and Nathan were close and often drugged up, so there’s a chance she could know.) Some people even think Nathan is going to “redeem” himself and save her, maybe getting killed in the process, but I’m not convinced of this. I think it’s a bit too out of character as he has been established. David make the most sense, with Kate being an interesting possibility. My biggest concern, though, is that whoever does go to help her escape might end up dead (hopefully it’s not Warren or Kate!). And while David may be an ass, I don’t want him dead either… even if he did hit Chloe.

 

2. Many of the options you are able to choose can screw Chloe over in some way or another, which leads me to believe that there will be an option to leave her dead. My hope is that it’s just a way to make us really want to keep her alive, just like Max does, but there are so many options that are just mean to Chloe or hurt her feelings: letting David slap her and not taking the heat for the joint he caught her with, taking Kate’s phone call at the diner, siding with David during the family argument, having to let her father die, choosing whether or not to euthanize her second timeline self, getting her shot during shooting practice, etc.

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It concerns me a bit, but I hope the whole point of Max’s power is to save Chloe and stop the Prescotts (and the apocalypse for those who believe the Prescotts and the disaster are unrelated). Something that may support the idea that Chloe is supposed to live is Rachel’s spirit animal (the doe) and the storm. While my original thought was that the the storm was caused by the fact that Max is defying nature by using her power to constantly save Chloe, I’m starting to believe that her power was actually given to her as a means of saving not just Chloe, but everyone. I noticed an interesting pattern regarding when Max had “visions” of the storm. I noticed that several times, she gets the “vision” when Chloe is in danger or when she’s near Chloe. The only time this doesn’t count is the first time, which awoke her to her power… and then she went directly to where Chloe was to save her. I feel like this might support the idea that Max is supposed to save Chloe.

 

3. There seem to be some cult-like practices going on with the Prescotts, or at the very least, they have some majorly bad juju. Either they do weird and creepy things to keep their wealth… or who knows, but there were some interesting things in the bunker that seemed to indicate they knew it would be needed and that Nathan had to control himself because there was deeper importance to what they were doing. Similarly, I have a theory that the bad omens, and maybe even Max’s power is stemmed from the fact that the Prescotts are trying to take over sacred Native American land and that a girl was killed and then buried on the land. Technically, I don’t have proof that the barn or the shallow grave were actually on this “sacred” land, but the doe seems to be Rachel’s spirit animal, and it seems to fit that bad things happened and led to the crazy eco-issues.

 

4. Jefferson could be a Prescott. Now, some people claim that Jefferson could be Nathan’s father Sean Prescott. I find this to be strange because people have seen Sean Prescott. Could he be in disguise? Could he be a random serial killer who took Nathan on as a protege? I’m not sure, but I doubt both of those. For a while, I have felt that Nathan could be his illegitimate son and/or Jefferson was perhaps his uncle. Jefferson could easily be a pseudonym. Though, there are some artifacts within the game that indicate Nathan, his father, and Jefferson are all working together somehow.

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My somewhat outlandish theory is that they are stealing the life force (energy, spirit, something metaphysical) of the girls by photographing them. Some people might think this idea is crazy, but reading some of the messages in the bunker left me with this idea. Then I vaguely recall reading that the movie playing in Nathan’s was inspired by Nosferatu, who is a vampire.

 

5. It’s possible Rachel’s death was an accident or a death of necessity, not a serial killer. Go with me on this one; I know it’s crazy. I’m extremely interested in the fact that Rachel was found dead, but Kate came back alive. What about the other girls? We know there were many, many other girls based on the number of red binders in the “Dark Room.” Were they all murdered, too? If so, why wasn’t Kate? Now, there were some people who mentioned that Jefferson made a comment that “Kate is/was nothing like Rachel,” implying that Kate might not have been worthy of whatever he’s doing. This could make sense, and I somewhat like this idea… But I’m having a strong feeling that says maybe he doesn’t actually murder them at all. Wouldn’t there be a lot more young girls missing? At one point, when Max and Chloe are checking out the photos of Rachel and Kate, they mention that Rachel looks aware and pissed. Perhaps he had to kill her because she was lucid (or maybe he got her pregnant?). Nathan also seemed genuinely excited when he mistook Max for Rachel at the diner. If they were killing girls, it seems weird that he would have any feelings at all. I wonder if he was hurting over the fact that they had to kill Rachel (or that Jefferson killed her; Nathan didn’t exactly look coherent when he posed with her), which could also explain why he’s being so erratic and violent.

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6. Nathan: victim or serial co-conspirator/rapist/vampire/all around creep and jerk? Many people are speculating that he is a victim and that he isn’t completely a willing participant. While there are some merits to these claims, I don’t think we can entirely leave him blameless. We know he is helping drug the girls (or at least Kate) and getting them back to the bunker. We also saw that he remained present for the pictures, as he is seen in one of them with Rachel. However, he does appear off in this picture. Is he posed? Is he completely doped out? Is he a willing participant? It’s definitely hard to tell. To me, he looks out of it and grim, perhaps unaware of what exactly was going on or too jacked up on meds and drugs to care. Now, one could easily see him as a victim, especially when reading some of the notes that imply his parents are enabling his bad habits, he has psychotic tendencies, is medicated (prescription and other), and also may be a rapist. Could this all be a product of his upbringing? Yes. But could it also be partially due to manipulation, mental instability, and self-medicating? Possibly. I don’t think he’s 100% just the victim here. What he did to Chloe was on his own time. It didn’t happen in the bunker. That was all him. At some point, a person can only use “product of environment” so much when the truth is that people are who they are.

 

Okay, that’s enough for now. If you haven’t checked the game out, please do! It’s really an awesome story-based game.

Discussing Life Is Strange Part I

Today’s post is going to be a combo of fangirl rambling, story analysis, and prediction. Typically, I don’t talk too much about one of my many passions outside of reading and writing fiction, but I’m making an exception for Life Is Strange because I believe it is very relevant to my work and to YA fiction as a whole. I’m a huge fan of video games, and currently, I’m obsessed with an episodic game called Life Is Strange. This game is in an episode format in which they release one of 4-6 parts of the the game every couple of months (sounds like the book trend that is popular right now, doesn’t it?), and the skill level is less traditional and more choice/prompt based, using action commands and selecting options.

 

So, even if you don’t usually care for games, this one is almost like an interactive choose your own adventure novel… except it’s not a book. How Life is Strange (LIS) pertains to my work and this blog, is that it most certainly falls into the YA category, despite some of the more serious themes, and story-wise, I would say it is sort of like a young adult, sci-fi version of the show Twin Peaks (though some have also compared it to Donnie Darko). In addition to that, both LIS and Twin Peaks (as well as Harper’s Island and old school Buffy) are somewhat inspiring one of my next novels. The book isn’t titled, yet, so I can’t give you more than that, but I promise to be more detailed in a different and later post.

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Anyway, the story in Life Is Strange is about Max, a teen at a prestigious art school for her senior year of class, waking up to find that she has the power to rewind time. She first uses this power to save a girl from being shot and killed by a classmate, and she eventually tries to help her friend discover what happened to a missing local girl. For anyone who knows nothing about Life Is Strange, I suggest playing it and/or watching a Youtube gamer play (Cryaotic is a pretty good one). I’ve done both (watched and played for myself), and it helps because you can see how different choices impact the story. Some choices have life-altering consequences for characters within the game. I suggest doing one or the other because if you haven’t watched or played the game, none of this post will make sense to you. Also, as a reminder, there absolutely will be SPOILERS in this post. TONS of them. So, if you haven’t played through all four of the currently available episodes, don’t be mad at me when I spoil stuff.

WARNING: LIFE IS STRANGE SPOILERS AHEAD!!

 

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So, as I wait impatiently for the fifth episode to arrive, I have read lot of discussions (and had some of my own) about the “shocking” end of episode 4 and theories for the concluding episode. I thought I’d share my own thoughts but also try to work out some interesting ideas in the process. First, there are a few things that I’m completely convinced of:

 

1. Rachel is truly dead (probably in any timeline). I know people are still holding onto the hope that maybe Max and Chloe are mistaken and it’s actually Nathan in the ground, but there’s no way. It’s her. I’m almost positive I saw Max open the plastic a little, which is why they recoiled from the smell later than when they had just uncovered her. This is when Chloe starts to freak out worse. It’s Rachel. There’s no way Chloe would leave without being 100% sure of this.

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2. Chloe was in love with Rachel. Some people are still arguing that they were just friends… but I will never believe that. I’d probably still deny it, even if the developers outright said it (which they have specifically mentioned it purposely being ambiguous). There is plenty of evidence to suggest that Chloe is actually bi (her room and some of her comments are probably the most obvious), but I don’t know if that matters. The point is really about the deep caring for someone else and how tragedies, choices, and emotions created by these relationships built on love and loyalty (friend-wise or romantically) effect life. Chloe’s reaction to Rachel’s death (both seeing her body and the manner in which she is hunting for revenge) is consistent with someone who was truly IN LOVE with that person. Even though she literally said the words “I LOVED HER” (twice!), some people are still taking this as “I loved her as my best friend and/or sister.” She also called her “my angel” in episode 1, and many times, she acted incredibly jealous about certain Amber-related things (Frank for instance). I’m not sure why people are in denial about this, but they are. I think the fact that she was truly in love with Rachel makes Chloe’s reactions and heartbreak that much sadder and beautiful. The scene when they find Rachel gets me. Every. Freaking. Time. LIS5

 

3. In Episode 5, Max is going to have to jump through one or more of the pictures of herself. This one is really obvious, mostly because of how insistent Warren was about having a picture with her. But, that aside, there are other indicators of this idea: the double moons, the whole monolog from bad-guy teacher-man at the beginning, and there have been several times where Max has taken selfies: in class, the one one the bed with Chloe, the very obvious one with Warren. There were allegedly a couple of other times the option was given, but the above three are the important ones. Hopefully, she’ll use one of these to make things right, but I have had a theory for a while now that the original first scene of her waking up from her “vision” of the tornado was actually her coming back from the future. The best option, of course, would be the go back to the Warren picture, but that seems way too easy. I have a feeling that the developers had intended for Max to go back through the first picture and let Chloe die, but now I’m convinced they changed their minds based on the fan outrage it would cause (which is a plus side to having episodic games like this).

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Okay, that’s enough rambling. Apologies for how long this was! But there is one last thing to mention. Who do I ship? Chloe/Max or Max/Warren? Easy answer: Chloe/Max. I’ll spare you the long answer, but it involves the fact that I really like Warren because he’s cute, sweet, protective, funny, dorky, etc. And he is crushing so hard on Max. I wish he could have her because it would be nice to see him get what he wants. But my fangirl-ness (and play through) are shipping Chloe and Max so hard… which is why Chloe must live so she and Max can be together. FOREVER.

 

Thanks for checking out Discussing Life Is Strange Part I! Next time, I’ll be talking about some specific theories and ideas I have. Tune in for that by visiting Discussing Life Is Strange Part II next week!

New Release: Fated Soul

Today is the last day to purchase Fated Soul at 99¢!

Tomorrow, August 16th, it will return to it’s normal price of $2.99. So this is your last chance to get it for this price! In the meantime, Fated Soul is being featured in the New Releases at Free Kindle Books & Tips.

Fated Soul is a young adult paranormal romance, but don’t let that fool you. It definitely has a dark side to it. For a limited time only, you can get this book for 99¢!

 

Fated Soul Book CoverFated Soul

Fated Soul for Kindle US | Fated Soul for Kindle UK

Adelaide has the power to save Trent from death, but messing with fate has dangerous consequences.

As an Exanimus, Adelaide’s job is to take care of the sands of fate and collect souls immediately after death. She loves her work and misses being a living, breathing teenaged girl, but the Exanimus Code restricts her from having individuality and empathizing with the souls she collects. When a mysterious, glowing hourglass appears in her possession, Adelaide can’t help but investigate the anomaly: a surfer named Trent.

Observing Trent in the days leading up to his death makes it impossible to watch him die. So Adelaide does the unthinkable and flips his hourglass, extending his life. In doing so, she brings a terrible imbalance to the world and becomes a key player in a covert revolution. When forced into hiding, she meets Trent and begins to fall for him, which makes it hard to choose between keeping him alive or repairing the damage she has caused. Will she choose what’s best for the greater good or lose love forever?

 

**The limited time offer of 99¢ is only good through August 15, 2015. After that, the price will return to its normal $2.99.**

Cover Reveal: Fated Soul

I know I showed you all the process for the Fated Soul (book 1 in The Hourglass Chronicles) cover, but I never showed you the final cover. On top of that, the working book blurb is finished. This dark(ish) paranormal romance is months away from being published. I think you all are really going to enjoy it. After that, I’ll be working on a special little something that I know a lot of people have been asking me for. Think along the lines of Rebecca + Fox. Very exciting! So, without further ado, here is Fated Soul.

 

Fated Soul CoverFated Soul

Coming Summer 2015!

Adelaide has the power to save Trent from death, but messing with fate has dangerous consequences.

As an Exanimus, Adelaide’s job is to look after the sands of fate and collect souls immediately after death. She loves her work but misses being a living, breathing teenaged girl. The Exanimus Code restricts her from empathizing and interacting with the souls she collects, and the fear of punishment keeps her on a strict schedule. When a mysterious, glowing hourglass appears in her possession, Adelaide can’t help but investigate the anomaly: a surfer named Trent.

Observing Trent in the days leading up to his death made it impossible to watch him die. So Adelaide does the unthinkable and flips his hourglass, extending his life. In doing so, she brings a terrible imbalance to the world and becomes the symbol of a covert rebellion. When forced into hiding, she meets Trent and begins to fall for him, making it impossible to choose between keeping him alive or setting back the balance. Will she choose what’s best for the greater good or lose her love forever?

 

Fated Soul is the first book in The Hourglass Chronicles.

 

Special Guest: Yasmin Shiraz

On today’s blog, we have a special guest: Yasmin Shiraz! Her newest book, Accused, is the sequel to Retaliation, which is a gritty young adult novel. Here is a little bit about the novel:

 

Accused-CoverAn easier and more peaceful life seemed to be destined for Ahmed and Tashera when they left Washington, DC and entered Georgia Atlantic University. But when Ahmed is accused of a crime that he didn’t commit and begins to be tried in the media, his popularity plummets, his self-esteem suffers, and his dreams of playing college basketball disappear.

Meanwhile, there is a serial rapist on campus who has been attacking freshman girls at record numbers and forcing them to keep silent. As Tashera learns about the girls, she begins to close in on the rapist. But is the attacker too crafty to be caught? Will the state prosecutor ignore key evidence to instead focus on the fame that comes with convicting a high profile basketball star?

Tashera is beyond stressed as she divides her time between trying to find enough evidence to clear Ahmed while at the same time stopping the rapist who roams the campus of Georgia Atlantic. Ahmed and Tashera’s journey into a new life away from home is more challenging than they ever thought that it would be.

 

I quested Yasmin with explaining what her main character, Taresha, would choose in her Apocalypse Survival Arsenal. Here’s what she said:

 

Bottled Water – an unlimited supply that has been stashed someone safe like under a house.

Dried Fruit – especially dried apple and bananas. She wants to maintain her regularity and get some potassium.

An All – Weather Jacket & Pants – Tashera hates being cold.

Flashlight – Never know when there will be no lights. Plus Tashera may way to find other people who need her help.

Tent – Just in case all the houses have been destroyed, she’ll like to sleep in a tent.

Astronaut Food – Tashera is totally up for trying new food. She’s as tough as any astronaut.

Matches – She’s a total girl scout and could rub two pieces of wood together, but she doesn’t want to show off and would also like to use matches.

Hiking Boots – She likes protecting her feet.

Wool Socks – Keep your feet warm and dry.

Sleeping Bag – In case she sleeps outside, she wants to be warm.

Sunscreen – She wants to protect her great skin.

Sat Phone – She wants to be able to call people or be called in case she is needed.

Hat with a Brim and a string – Wants to protect her head from bugs, or protect her skin from the sun.

Bottle of aspirin – Just in case she has an ache.

A swiss army knife – She used to carry a switchblade as a tool for self-defense, she prefers the swiss army knife now for survival.

Lip balm – She doesn’t like chafed, chapped lips.

Pink Nail polish – She wants to remember what it was like to be a carefree girl every now and then.

The Bible – Since it’s the apocalypse, I guess Tashera will need to pray! She wants to learn about the miracles just in case one happens during the apocalypse.

 

YasHBD2013

 

Yasmin Shiraz is the author of The Blueprint for My Girls as well as The Blueprint for My Girls in Love. She is an empowerment speaker and program developer who has delivered programs and keynotes based on her books.

She is the author of the ALA’s Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers selection, Retaliation. She has spoken at over 100 colleges nationwide on topics such as empowerment, black history and hip hop culture.

She is an award winning film director as her film, Can She Be Saved? won 4 film awards including Best New film.

When not writing books, she produces documentaries for her company, Still Eye Rise Films.

Author Links:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads  | Google +

 

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Next Project Hints

undineAtSeaSo, I’ve been sending links to images that hint at the subject of my next young adult novel project. It will be a stand alone novel, which I know is a risk. As I work on it, I’ve been inspired by two of my favorite artists: Arthur Rackham and John William Waterhouse.

undineCrystalVaultThe first piece of inspiration is the story and art of Undine, illustrated by Arthur Rackham. He is a well-known artist who illustrated books like Undine and Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland. He is also known for fantastical and whimsical illustrations of the fae folk as well as fairy tales. His artwork reminds me of the ocean, and it is magical. This particular story, Undine, is about a water nymph who is taken in by a fisherman and his wife. She wishes to gain a soul, but in order to do so, she must marry a human. It’s considered a romantic fairy tale of sorts.

 

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After Arthur Rackham, I am also drawing inspiration from John William Waterhouse. I enjoy his artwork so much that I even tried to replicate this particular painting during an art assignment in school. We were supposed to emulate a master painter’s work, and this mermaid was the painting I chose. I wish I could find the old painting, but it has been lost in my recent move. If I find it, though, I get a picture posted. At any rate, Waterhouse is so inspirational because he paints a lot of beautiful, flowing women and water.  (Can you sense a theme?) I love his mermaid, and the way he treats water is just so pretty. These are a couple of my favorites, but I do love Lady of Shalott and The Siren.

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Another hint, and this one is really sad, but I never realized that The Prince and the Pauper was not actually a fairy tale, nor did I realize that it was written by Mark Twain. Please don’t think any less of me. I just never put two and two together. So embarrassing!

 

 

So, there are my hints and inspirations. Can you guess the subject of my next YA book yet?