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Showing posts from June, 2011

The Magic and the Healing Review

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The Magic and the Healing
by Nick O'Donohoe
BJ Vaughan is in her last year of vet school--and in the first year of mourning her mother's death. Her grades have slipped, and she wonders if she really is capable of working with animals after all. Then her mentor, Dr. Sugar Dobbs, asks if she will join a few other select students to treat some very unusual animals. They go offsite, to Crossroads, a world where the creatures of imagination live and breathe--and hurt. And where BJ, tending to centaurs and griffins and magical cats, will discover the joy of healing and the wonder of magic.

This book could've been so much better than it was. The premise showed so much promise, but everything else was off. The vet parts were interesting, but felt like a fantasy-version of a James Herriot book and were weighted down with terminology. I almost stopped reading this one several times.

The narrator, BJ, really got under my skin. She was so obsessed with the fact that she might be…

Writing is like a Journey

***Quick Note: I won't be participating in RTW this week because I'm currently at college orientation and won't be back until sometime late tonight.***

The need for adventure hits you. You pack your things, load up the car, and head off into the sunset. Some jerk flips you off while you try to get onto the highway. There's twelve miles of construction. Halfway there and your car blows a tire and you have to pull over and figure out how to change it. While you're standing on the side of the road wondering why you ever thought this was a good idea, families in minivans and guys in sportscars rush by.

You find your courage and get back on the road. You get off at your exit, but there's a detour that takes you several miles out of your way. You finally into the parking lot of your hotel, rent a room, and collapse in bed, too exhausted to do anything else until you at least get a nap.

The decision to take the trip is like getting an idea. It sounds fantastic at firs…

New Releases -- Ten Things We Did; Sisterhood Everlasting; Paper Covers Rock

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Ten Things We Didby Sarah Mlynowski
2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house – parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn't have. If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn't jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe "opportunity" isn't the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: "Lied to Our Parents"). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up "Skipping School" (#3), "Throwing a Crazy Party" (#8), "Buying a Hot Tub" (#4), and, um, "Harboring a Fugitive" (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them. In this hilarious and bittersweet tale, Sarah Mlynowski mines the heart and mind of a girl on her own for the first time. To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own…

Writer and Beta Reader Etiquette

Guidelines for The Writer
Do...
Objectively discuss critique points.
Wait a couple of days between reading the critique and doing anything besides thinking about it. Give it time to soak in first. If you have any ideas of how to fix some of the points addressed, jot them down so you don't forget, but do not start.
Ask politely for clarification on a pointThank them for their time, even if you don't like some of the points they make Ask for a certain kind of critique if that's what you want. If you want someone to be gentle, ask them. If you want a through line-by-line critique, ask for it. Unless what you're looking for is just straight praise. Consider all advice and disregard what you don't agree with
Do not...
Get defensive after reading a critique
Insult your beta reader's writing ability Ask a beta reader to read something of yours and then not listen to any of their points
Email your beta and tell them exactly why they're wrong Use published books as an excus…

Week in Short

I cannot believe how fast this week went by. I managed to pick up a new show addiction: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Why did I wait so long to start watching this show?? I'm only on episode seven of season one (revisions got in the way), but I'm already in love with it. Especially Angel.

Song of the Week: Play On -- Carrie Underwood

Must Read:How to dig out of the Pit of Despair


Adventures in Agentland:
Everything you wanted to know about conferences and Natalie's NY trip

BookEnds:
Meeting an agent at a conference

GLA:
Advantages of keeping your day job

Nathan Bransford:
Five openings to avoid

Queryshark:
#205 -- commercial fiction

Querytracker:
Signing with the wrong agent

Tea & Biscuits:
What's in a name?

Everyone have a great weekend and I'll see you on Monday!

Pottermore Unveiled!

After many days of speculation and waiting, J.K. Rowling has officially announced Pottermore! The Pottermore site itself is finally open as well! The site doesn't actually open until October, but Rowling says there will be a chance for a lucky few to enter the site early.

I don't know about you guys, but I know I'll be there on the 31st of July and, if I'm not lucky that day, definitely in October.

I know there was a part of me that was seriously hoping for a new book (even though I had a feeling that wasn't going to be the news), but I'm excited about the Pottermore game too. What do you guys think?

RTW -- 5 Things to Save

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
This Week's Topic:
The house is on fire and you've only got time to grab five things. What are they?

I am operating under the assumption that my mom and all of my cats are out of the house.

The first thing I would take is my Grandma's nativity scene. My grandma sculpted it out of clay and painted it by hand when I was young. A relative thought I should have it and gave it to me as a graduation present.

My Stacy Westfall poster. A couple years ago, Stacy Westfall was at an event here in Michigan and I managed to talk my grandpa into driving three hours one-way to see her. While I was there, I got a poster of her famous bareback and bridleless performance. She wrote "Chase your dreams!" and signed it. For …

Pets in Fiction

I noticed recently while reading a book and hanging out with my cat that there aren't a lot of pets in fiction. In fact, I'm having trouble naming one book that includes a pet not central to the main plot (example: books like Black Stallion, Pony Pals, and other books where a key point to the plot is that the MCs have horses).

I mean I can understand it in a fantasy where the main character goes tearing off on a six-month journey to find the Golden Teapot because then the poor little animal would be left starving at home. But what about in a nice contemporary when no one goes off on a long, harrowing journey?

Pets are great. How a person treats animals says a lot about them. The person that throws a gym bag full of kittens out the window of a moving car obviously doesn't care that animals are living creatures too. The person that hears the mewing while jogging by and stops to investigate and then takes the kittens home is loving and nurturing.

Why do you think there aren'…

Horse Dreams Review

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Horse Dreams
by Dandi Daley Mackall
Tyndall House Publishers, Inc
ARC Review
Release date: September 1, 2011
Fourth-grader Ellie James has a great imagination. She spends a lot of time daydreaming of owning a black stallion show horse and winning trophies in the horse show. But when the answer to all her dreams and prayers gallops into her life, will Ellie be able to recognize it?

Overall, this was a cute book and I think younger readers will really enjoy it. It's a fast-paced adventure that I think any horse-loving girl can relate to. I mean, what little girl bitten by the horse bug doesn't dream about owning their own beautiful horse?

I loved the horsey comparisons that she used for description. For instance, in the beginning scene when she compares her teacher to a racehorse. That definitely added a distinct feel to the voice.

Ellie's mom was a little confusing sometimes with her random sayings, but that was part of her character and it added to her personality.…

Week in Short

Song of the Week: If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away by Justin Moore

Must Read:
When it's okay to quit
Choosing the wrong agent
Sex vs relationships in YA -- This is a definite must-read for any YA reader or writer

News:
Biggest news of the week came from J.K. Rowling when her street view search led to Pottermore. The website links to a Youtube page counting down the days until J.K. Rowling's announcement. What does it all mean? Your guess is as good as mine! Could the long hoped for confirmation of more books be in the near future? Only five days to go until we find out!

The sequel to Veronica Roth's Divergent has a title! And I LOVE it!

Brittany over at Hills and Corkscrews is running a blogfest specifically for teen writers this summer. The deadline for signing up is June 22 and the blogfest runs from July 1st to the 9th.

Adventures in Space:
After the Call: interview with Katy Upperman

BookEnds:
Email etiquette
Query Workshop Wednesday

Kt Literary:
Comparing yourself to oth…

New Releases -- Ashes, Ashes; Forgotten; Possession

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Ashes, Ashes
by Jo Treggiari
Epidemics, floods, droughts--for sixteen-year-old Lucy, the end of the world came and went, taking 99% of the population with it. As the weather continues to rage out of control, and Sweepers clean the streets of plague victims, Lucy survives alone in the wilds of Central Park. But when she's rescued from a pack of hunting dogs by a mysterious boy named Aidan, she reluctantly realizes she can't continue on her own. She joins his band of survivors, yet, a new danger awaits her: the Sweepers are looking for her. There's something special about Lucy, and they will stop at nothing to have her.
Forgotten
by Cat Patrick
Each night when 16 year-old London Lane goes to sleep, her whole world disappears. In the morning, all that's left is a note telling her about a day she can't remember. The whole scenario doesn't exactly make high school or dating that hot guy whose name she can't seem to recall any easier. But when London st…

RTW -- Off-the-Cuff Blurb

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:

You're re-reading one of your favs when someone asks the dreaded question: "What's that book about?" Give us your best off-the-cuff blurb of any book, any genre, and have your readers try to guess the title in the comments!

One girl goes on the run after taking revenge on the bandits that killed her mother and destroyed their farm. Along the way she meets a handsome and powerful mage who takes her under his wing. With him, she travels all the way to the courts of royalty where she discovers that she has more magic than she ever dreamed.

This is one of my favorite books of all time. What is it?

Almost Perfect Review

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Almost Perfect
by Brian Katcher
Eighteen-year-old Logan Witherspoon has just discovered that his girlfriend of three years cheated on him. But things start to look up when a new student enrolls in his small-town high school. Tall, unconventionally pretty, and a bit awkward, Sage Hendricks appeals to Logan at a time when he trusts no one. And as Logan learns more about Sage, he realizes that she needs a friend as much as he does, if not more. One day, he acts on his growing attraction and kisses her. Moments later, he wishes he hadn't. Sage discloses a secret: biologically, she's a boy. Enraged, frightened, and feeling betrayed, Logan lashes at at Sage. Once his anger has cooled, however, his regrets lead him to attempt to rekindle their friendship. Impressed that Logan is even trying to understand, Sage agrees to give him a second chance. But Logan has no idea how rocky the road back to friendship will be, or how many unexpected, exciting, and painful places he and Sage will vis…

Divergent Review

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Divergent
by Veronica Roth
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as …

RTW -- Strange Google Searches

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 is the strangest/weirdest thing you've ever researched?

This was a long one for me. I was almost surprised when I realized how many strange things I've researched over the years. I couldn't narrow it down to just one so here are some of the strangest things I've ever researched.
What would happen during a drug bust of a teen partyDamage caused by falling out a two-story windowFrench curse wordsFrench nursery rhymesAgoraphobiaPost-traumatic stress disorderHow a girl can help a cast horse by herselfHow long someone could be in a coma without significant damageWhether or not smoking weed stains the wallsWhether a brand or tattoo would last longerWhat would happen if the entire royal family died …