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Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Am The Messenger Review

I AM THE MESSENGER by Markus Zusak
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers (May 31, 2006)
Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He's pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvetently stops a bank robbery.

That's when the first ace arrives in the mail.

That's when Ed becomes the messenger.

Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who's behind Ed's mission?

I've been a Zusak fangirl ever since I read THE BOOK THIEF so of course when I saw this book in the library I had to pick it up. It didn't disappoint. Zusak has a tendency to have me racing through the pages and then leave me amazed, shocked, and confused (in a good way) when I finally close the book. I think this is one of those books you have to read several times to truly enjoy and figure out all its secrets. I couldn't even think straight for like two hours after I finished.

The writing was incredible and gorgeous as always. There were several lines that I had to write down in a notebook because they were just so...right. I love Ed's voice and his personality. I love how every character felt like a real person. Like Suzanne or the Rose boys or even Ed is someone that I could pass on the street walking through town.

Overall: 10/10

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

Who sent the letters???? I NEED TO KNOW.

I'm glad that Ed and Audrey finally got together. Ed delivering the message to Audrey was one of the best book moments ever.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

RTW -- Best Book of September

I didn't have the best month reading-wise this time, but I'm...going to cheat. Again. I'm sorry. But I just can't choose which one of these two books was better.

Looking for Alaska by John Green
This book is still stuck in my head. I haven't stopped thinking about Alaska. She was so infuriating and intriguing and all around awesome... The writing and voice were incredible (as usual) and it's a plot that sticks with you long after you've turned the final page.

I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak
I'm not going to lie. I put off getting this book for awhile because it didn't really sound interesting to me and I don't go for the more plain (in my eyes) covers very often. But it was Markus Zusak (THE BOOK THIEF is one of my favorite books. Of all time.) and I saw it in the library so I just decided to grab it. Did. Not. Disappoint. Absolutely beautiful writing and voice. I'm still confused over the plot, but it's a good confused. I feel like that's the way it should be. That I have to puzzle out the rest of the mysteries on my own and learn from them.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Timeless Question

It's not "Where do we go when we die?" or "What is the meaning of life?" or "What came first: the chicken or the egg?"

No, I'm talking about "What's more important: a great idea or great execution?"

I'm going to say both.

The Idea
This is the plot. The life of the story. Without a great plot you're left with 100,000 words of rambling. The characters wouldn't be faced with many challenges, there wouldn't be a lot of tension, and readers won't be interested in the story. A great idea is the first thing that comes. The plot of the final draft might be slightly different than that of the "Eureka!" moment, but without it there wouldn't be a final draft.

The Execution
This is the skeleton of the story. Without great writing, the idea won't shine through and no one will be able to muddle through the writing to see how awesome your plot is. Think of the idea is an uncut diamond and the writing as the cutting and polishing. The diamond was beautiful before, but it isn't truly gorgeous until it has been cut to perfection.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Life's a Balancing Act

Sometimes it can be hard to find time to write among all the homework, jobs, friends, family, sports, and everything else in high school life. Here are five tips to help with the balancing act:

  1. Prioritize. Over the summer, I was able to spend my days doing whatever I wanted. When school started again, I had to take a look at my priorities and decide what was most important to me. Sometimes you have to give up things and that's okay.
  2. Schedule. If you're organized, schedule your time. Set aside time for studying and time for writing.
  3. Make time for writing. If you find yourself putting off writing for the next day because you "don't have time," make time. Now you shouldn't be looking at your writing as a chore. If schedule time for writing kills your desire to do it, take some time off and come back with a fresh outlook. I've been scheduling 30 minutes of writing time every night. Even on my busiest days I can still find a quick half hour to write. If that's too much for you, find twenty minutes or even ten. The important thing is to write.
  4. Set a word count goal. If time isn't your thing, make a word count goal. Write 1,000 words every day, even if you have writers' block. If that's too much, go for 500 words or even 250.
  5. Don't be afraid to give up things. If you have to take a blog vacation for a week, it's okay. If you have to cut your Twitter time down to an hour, it's okay. If you have to give up Facebook, it's okay. It's not the end of the world. The important thing is to keep up in school and enjoy your writing.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

RTW -- Fictional Friends

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.


This Week's Topic:
If you went to high school with your characters, would you be friends?

I'd definitely be friends with Kaye. We're both shy and we both love horses. I think we'd become friends right away, but grow apart as we grew up. I'd want to get away and she'd want to stay in Nevada. We might try to stay in touch, but I don't think it would last long with either of us.

I wouldn't be friends with Skylar, but I might have a secret crush on him. Pre-BB Skylar would be a bad boy, a fleeting crush for me. I'd be in love with post-BB Skylar.

As for Belle, I don't think we could ever be friends. She's based on a mixed-up sophomore at my school and we just wouldn't get along. Belle and I would be unlikely to share viewpoints on most things and the arguments would never allow us to be friends.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Looking for Alaska Review

Looking for Alaska by John Green
before. Miles "Pudge" Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Francois Rebelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possible unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

after. Nothing is ever the same.

LOOKING FOR ALASKA was my second John Green book. I'm going to look for more soon.

The characters are incredible and so original. I'm still getting over the WORLD'S LARGEST COLLECTION OF BLACK SANTAS from Paper Towns. And now I have Miles who's obsessed with people's last words, the crazy but incredibly awesome Alaska, and Colonel dating a girl that he hates. I aspire to that level of character awesomeness.

I absolutely loved the pacing. There isn't one day where nothing happens and when there is, it's skipped over seamlessly. I also loved the constant countdown of before and after.

Overall: 9.5/10 -- Brilliant characters, plot, and writing but I just have one qualm that I will put in the spoiler section...

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

I literally couldn't stop reading through the first half. I sobbed my head off when Alaska died. But a few days after her death, I started to slack off a bit. I think it was because Miles spent so much time mourning and lashing out at his friends. Which is TOTALLY understandable, but hey he wasn't even dating the girl. They were DRUNK when they kissed and she promised him more. It was in character, but it turned me off. I'm wavering between 9.5 and 10.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Speak Loudly

Today, I returned from church to find that Twitter had exploded. I was scared to post this, but this is not the time to fall silent. This is the time to stand up and SPEAK.

SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson, the story of a young girl that is raped and decides to keep quiet, has been challenged by Mr. Scroggins. This is what he had to say:

One such book is called "Speak." They also watch the movie. This is a book about a very dysfunctional family. Schoolteachers are losers, adults are losers and the cheerleading squad scores more than the football team. They have sex on Saturday night and then are goddesses at church on Sunday morning. The cheer squad also gets their group-rate abortions at prom time. As the main character in the book is alone with a boy who is touching her female parts, she makes the statement that this is what high school is supposed to feel like. The boy then rapes her on the next page. Actually, the book and movie both contain two rape scenes.
Rape is not now, nor will it ever be, soft pornography. Rape is a disgusting and horrifying crime. It also happens every day. Telling kids it doesn't happen isn't going to change that. In fact, it just makes them a bigger target because they're blissfully unaware of the fact that it COULD happen to them.

SPEAK tells the truth about our world. Lots of people are on this journey RIGHT NOW. Taking books like this away is like telling victims that they are alone in this. That it's their fault and they just need to deal with it. Books should reflect the world we live in, a world that's not full of cotton candy clouds and unicorns. Books should make people more aware of this world and what it truly is like, so they don't get caught by surprise.

Being Christian is about helping people. Being Christian is NOT about pretending that sinning never happens. And pretending that sinning never happens and no one is ever hurt by disgusting acts such as these does absolutely nothing.

Scroggin's original article, and the stories and responses from people smarter than me:

Scroggin's article on why SPEAK and two other books should be banned

Laurie Halse Anderson responds

C. J. Redwine's astounding story

Cheryl Rainfield's incredible story

Veronica Roth's (Christian) take

Myra McEntire's take

Jennifer and Espe's response

Tomorrow I'm going to my school library to look for SPEAK (I can't get to the bookstore for two more weeks and I can't wait that long).

Write a letter. Buy the book. Read the book. But don't sit back and let people tell the rest of us what we can and can't read. Stand up and SPEAK LOUDLY.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Week in Short

Holy crap, where did my week go? I can't believe it's already Saturday night... This is my third week of school and it is getting easier. I'm falling back into my routine. Unfortunately my routine hasn't left much time open for writing lately, but BB is progressing. I've outlined the rest through the ending and I'm really excited to finish the first draft.

And in this edition of Week in Short...

Must Read:

Courage in the face of fell circumstances
The evolution of Amy Lukavic's agent-snagging query

News:
Jessica Faust is accepting queries again!

Moonrat says goodbye to Editorial Ass

Literary Rambles:
A use for those darn word verifications

Literaticat:
Frontlist, backlist, and midlist explained

Mad Woman in the Forest:
Inside book tours

Querytracker:
Confidence and determination: succeeding as a writer

Story Flip:
Points of view

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Releases -- Annexed, Paranormalcy, and Personal Demons

Annexed by Sharon Dogar
Everyone knows about Anne Frank and her life hidden in the secret annex – but what about the boy who was also trapped there with her?

In this powerful and gripping novel, Sharon Dogar explores what this might have been like from Peter’s point of view. What was it like to be forced into hiding with Anne Frank, first to hate her and then to find yourself falling in love with her? Especially with your parents and her parents all watching almost everything you do together. To know you’re being written about in Anne’s diary, day after day? What’s it like to start questioning your religion, wondering why simply being Jewish inspires such hatred and persecution? Or to just sit and wait and watch while others die, and wish you were fighting.

As Peter and Anne become closer and closer in their confined quarters, how can they make sense of what they see happening around them?

Anne’s diary ends on August 4, 1944, but Peter’s story takes us on, beyond their betrayal and into the Nazi death camps. He details with accuracy, clarity and compassion the reality of day to day survival in Auschwitz – and ultimately the horrific fates of the Annex’s occupants.

[I'm getting Annexed the next time I go to the bookstore. I want this book. SO MUCH.]

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.
But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
So much for normal.
Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

Frannie Cavanaugh is a good Catholic girl with a bit of a wicked streak. She's spent years keeping everyone at a distance—even her closest friends—and it seems her senior year will be more of the same...until Luc Cain enrolls in her class. No one knows where he came from, but Frannie can't seem to stay away from him. What she doesn't know is that Luc works in Acquisitions—for Hell—and she possesses a unique skill set that has the King of Hell tingling with anticipation. All Luc has to do is get her to sin, and he’s as tempting as they come. Frannie doesn’t stand a chance.

Unfortunately for Luc, Heaven has other plans, and the angel, Gabe, is going to do whatever it takes to make sure that Luc doesn’t get what he came for. And it isn't long before they find themselves fighting for more than just her soul.

But if Luc fails, there will be Hell to pay…for all of them.
[*drools on PD's cover.* I can't wait to add this one to my collection.]

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Types of Books

In my mind, books can be divided into four categories.

#1 Slow and Steady to Savor
These are, in my mind, the best. These are the books I read slowly so that I can enjoy every word. The books that I never want to end. I might stop and put the book down every chapter or two to think about what's happened, but it always pulls me back a few seconds later.

#2 ZOMG WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
These are almost equal to #1. These are the books that are full of suspense. Tension! Action! They drag you through the pages, racing to see how it all turns out. However, they may be lacking something besides tension keeping me reading.

#3 Let Me Just Skip Ahead...
These books are typically good in some areas because they make me want to see how it all ends, but they lack the tension or the likeable characters or the concise writing to keep me reading through normally. These books might be longer than they need to be, or the pacing might be too slow.

#4: I'm Done
These are the books I don't even bother to see through to the end for one reason or another. I might hate the main character. The premise might be something I'm not interested in. I might just want to read something else more. The writing might bother my head.

Do you have categories for the books you read? Which one do you prefer, #1 or #2?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

RTW -- Going Back in Time

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
If you could travel back to any historical era for research purposes, which would you choose?

This one was really hard for me because I don't write historicals and it takes a fantastic exception to get me to read one.

But...I think I would have to choose Victorian times. I've always wanted to go there and even if it was just for research, I still think that would be the time period I would choose. Back to the time of arranged marriages and princes and corsets.

Or maybe Hitler Germany, just because I have a fascination with World War 2. THE BOOK THIEF is undoubtedly one of my favorite books ever, Valkyrie is one of my favorite movies, and ANNEXED is number one on my "To Read" list. It would be horrible, but I'd love to know how everything really happened.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Girl in the Arena

Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines
The fans all went wild. So did the paparazzi. But her father would up dead, killed in the arena on one of the biggest fight nights of the year. But by gladiator rules, Lyn is forced to marry her father's killer. Unless she fights him herself...

I bought this book expecting it to be filled with action, suspense, and intrigue. I bought it at the same time as Mockingjay and was expecting something in the same vein. Sometimes it can be good for a book to be unexpected, but this one was so far separated that I felt confused. I spent most of the book waiting and hoping for the big fight and it didn't happen until the very end.

The writing style was way different. I thought I would get used to it and I kind of did, but the farther I got into the book the harder it became to read. The way of formatting dialogue is hard to follow and almost made me put the book down. My mom picked it up and read a couple pages and refused to keep going simply because of the format.

I loved Lyn and the story in the beginning, but as the story went on both of them fell short. The plot itself dragged on and on while I waited for the big fight. Lyn almost didn't feel real with some of her thoughts and decisions, especially regarding Uber.

I liked Lyn in the beginning, in fact, she seemed to almost be me with how she acted in some situations. But after awhile she just started to get annoying. She would go into a flashback and it would take me a couple of pages to realize what was going on. She never seemed to hate the man who killed her father nearly as much as she should have. Allison just bothered me. After all she'd been through it made sense that she was the way she was, but it didn't make sense why she didn't really seem to care about her children. I loved Mark though and I still want to know more about him than anyone else. Thad was a sweetheart too.

I loved how the book was set in modern times, but after awhile it seemed almost too modern. It severely dates the book and instead of making it close to home, it makes the world we live in now almost unreal. The whole idea of War Tickets fascinated me, though.

Overall: 4.5/10

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

I can't believe she actually started to like Uber. I mean, the man killed her father. He didn't even have to. It says right in the beginning that Glad fights aren't always to the death so I don't understand why Uber couldn't just beat Tommy.

It took me forever to realize that Allison was dead. Lyn's brain was scrambled by the realization, but it made that whole scene hard to follow when she went on about the bathroom.

The only part of the ending that I didn't see coming was Thad's stabbing. It still doesn't feel right to me. I had to read it twice to realize what happened.

I wish the epilogue had revealed more than the fact that the fight never happened and Thad survived. I want to know that Lyn ends up with Mark.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Beastly Review

Beastly by Alex Flinn
A beast. Not quite wolf or gorilla or dog, but a horrible new creature with fangs, claws, and hair springing from every pore. I am a walking monster.

You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. And I'll stay this way forever -- unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, the perfect girl, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly...beastly.

BEASTLY is a rather adorable modern retelling of the old tale, Beauty and the Beast. I watched the Disney movie just as I was in the first few chapters of the book and it was rather interesting to see the parallels. I picked it up because there's a movie coming out in March and I wanted to read the book first. (I would've gone to see the movie regardless. I mean, Alex. Pettyfer. Enough said.)

I wasn't sure about the chat room thing at the beginning. It kind of threw me off and appeared a little gimmicky. As I got farther into the story, I came to look forward to it. Though I'm disappointed that we didn't get to see what happened to one of the characters. I'm kind of hoping for a companion novel featuring her...

Will, surprisingly, was my favorite character. He wouldn't put up with any of Kyle's BS and I loved him for that. I think he's also Lumiere from the original story. Lumiere was my favorite character from the Disney movie too.

The romance itself was a little too cute for me. I wish it had been a little more modern. I'm also still a little unsure over the "girl falling in love with her kidnapper" kind of thing. Because even though she wasn't fully kidnapped, she was being held hostage like in the tale. And in this day and age it just didn't feel right.

I know that the main theme is not judging people by their looks, but we could've gone without Lindy's speech and fears at the very end. The story got the theme across perfectly.

All that being said, I still loved the story. there were a couple surprises at the end that caught me off guard that I enjoyed that I'm kicking myself now for not seeing coming. I'm still going to see the movie. From the trailers, it looks like it might be a little truer to modern times.

Overall: 8/10

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Brainstorming to Break Writers' Block

Brainstorming is one of my favorite ways to defeat writers' block. It's very easy and you can come up with a lot of ideas. You don't even have to use them all then. Some could be saved for later scenes or even other novels. You never know what you'll come up with.

Step 1: Open a blank Word doc. You can also brainstorm right on the manuscript, but I like to have a fresh page for my brainstorming. I'm weird that way.

Step 2: Use bullets. This is the easiest way to keep your brain vomit organized.

Step 3: Write down any and all ideas of what could happen next. No matter how stupid it sounds, write it down. This is very important. Give yourself permission to write down things that would never happen in a million years. This opens up the brain space for new ideas to be created and may even give you a springboard for a scene later in the novel. Think back to any small threads that might be fleshed out into a larger plot point. Think "what's the worst that could happen?" Remind yourself of your characters' motivations and arcs and try to see if there is a way you could advance them. Think ahead to what's going to happen in the future (if you already know) and what happened in the past. See if there is anything that could happen between those points to advance the plot.

Step 4: Once you have all your ideas written down, go through them. If any of them gives you that "I can't wait to write" feeling, run with it. Combine ideas if you want. Cross out any that definitely wouldn't work in your story.

Step 5: Put that idea into action and get writing!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

RTW -- My DUFF Kit

Ugh, school. It's sucking up all my time and energy. Hoping that once I settle back into my routine, things will get better. I don't even have homework yet...

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic:
What's in your DUFF kit?

1. Favorite drink: Root beer. It's heaven in a bottle and I almost never get to drink it.

2. Most comfy and old shoes: A pair that I don't own anymore, my old blue Reeboks. Unfortunately I outgrew them two years ago and bought a pair of purple Nikes. I will always be a Reebok girl.

3. Movies featuring favorite male actor: I don't have one favorite male actor so 10 Things I Hate About You, Titanic, both Princess Diaries movies, the Proposal, anything with Alex Pettyfer, Orlando Bloom, or Johnny Depp.

4. Favorite junk food: Ughhh this is like asking me to pick my all-time favorite BOOK. But I'd have to say Krunches Kettle Cooked Potato Chips. The sweet Hawaiian onion ones. The bags are way too small every time. I can eat the entire bag in an entire afternoon.

5. Purple and white pajama pants and my extra-large black shirt with the horses on the front. It's way too big for me, but it's great for relaxing at home.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Duff Review

The Duff by Kody Keplinger
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "the Duff," she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Wore, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.


I'm just going to start off saying that I LOVE this book. It's one of those books where I pause after every chapter to savor the book and think it over. I don't stop because I'm bored or because I want to do something else; I stop because I want a chance to think it over before I move on. Every time I closed the book, I couldn't wait to get back to it. It had that magnetic pull and I found myself closing out everything around me just to read "one more chapter." I easily devoured it in one afternoon without even noticing. The moment I was done, I couldn't wait to read it again.

All the characters were very round, though I did get caught off guard by Casey's outburst towards the end. I don't think there was a single character that I didn't relate to in some way. I also enjoyed that Bianca stayed strong and true to herself throughout the entire book. She didn't automatically get weak after she met the guy. As for Wesley...well, who doesn't love him?

It portrays high school in a realistic and very non-sugarcoated way. I also love that it's shown that anyone can be and is a Duff no matter who they are.

THE DUFF is definitely a book for older teens, but it is one that I, at least, will keep on my shelf for many years to come.

Overall: 10/10

Friday, September 3, 2010

Week in Short

Before we begin, I have a couple of announcements to make.

1. I'm taking Monday off blogging because of the holiday. Also, I'll be on vacation with family. Though I'm taking the laptop and have taken my mom's past troubles with hotel wi-fi as a challenge to figure out how it works.

2. I'm starting school on Tuesday (ugh). I'll still be blogging every day during the week, but I'm moving Week in Shorts to Saturday to give me extra time to catch up on blog posts without having to worry about it on top of Friday night football games.

Okay...on to this week!

Song of the week: Mine by Taylor Swift (Yes, I'm addicted. The video is adorable. *hides*)

Must Read:
Violence in young adult [I have a post scheduled about this myself for next week. I think I'm going to cancel it. Everything has already been said here.]
Skeletal first drafts
Hannah Moskowitz: The Agent Story part 1, part 2, and part 3
Learning from the masters

News:
Banned Books Reading Challenge began Wednesday!

Adventures in Children's Publishing
Making the most of criticism

Gatekeeper:
Exclusives are unwise

GLA:
Successful query: Shadow Hills

GotYA:
Beta analogy using Lord of the Rings

Kidlit
Name dropping in dialogue
How to know when it works
Chapters and scenes and where to break

Mandy Hubbard:
What kind of career do you want?

Nathan Bransford:
First ideas
High-concept

Rachelle Gardner:
Writing online book reviews

Pub Rants:
Interesting reason for a pseudonym

Story Flip:
What's the worst that could happen?

Writer Unboxed:
Interview with literary agent Elisabeth Weed

YAHighway:
Query lessons to be learned from Princess Bride

***
Burning Bridges hit 35k last night. I was hoping to finish it before I went back to school, but I don't think that's going to happen. I'm thinking that it's going to be about 55k-60k all told.

Everyone have a wonderful holiday weekend. If you're on the coast, stay safe and dry. See you all Tuesday.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Banned Books Reading Challenge

It's September so it means it's time for the Banned Books Challenge! The challenge is to read a set goal number of banned/challenged books in the next month and a half. My goal is to read seven books, but your goal can be as many as you wish. This is something I've been wanting to do since sophomore year two years ago when I learned that censorship in literature still exists today and even more so in the light of Ellen Hopkin's censorship at the Teen Lit Festival.

Click here to join the Banned Book Challenge

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

RTW -- August's Best Book(s)

Today is the first day of September. O.O What happened to my summer???

I read so many awesome books last month...I could stare at this screen for twenty minutes without coming to a decision. So...I'm just going to post them both. The first one I read on Thursday in about four hours. The second one I read on Wednesday in abut seven. I didn't want to put either of them down for more than a few minutes, for different reasons.

The Duff by Kody Keplinger
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "the Duff," she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Wore, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

I loved this book so much. I could hardly put it down because every time I tried to eat dinner or something, it dragged me back in. I can't wait to read it again. The characters are almost like real teenagers and I found myself relating in a way to every one. And seriously, who doesn't love Wesley?

[Official review soon to come. As soon as I can formulate coherent thoughts.]

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans -- except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay -- no matter what the personal cost.

It has now been a week since I finished this book. My view on it has not changed. I still think it's a ten, but I don't know what I think about it. I like it, but...I just don't know. I'm getting ready to read it again so I can really dissect it this time instead of just rushing through to see how it all ends.

Spoiler-free official review
[Spoiler-filled review to come as soon as I read it a second time.]