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Friday, January 28, 2011

Blast from the Past Blogoversy Highlights

Saturday was Writers' Chasm's two-year-anniversary so I wanted to do something to celebrate. :) So I dug up some of the highlights from my last couple years.

On January 29th, 2009, I typed my first words for the blogosphere:
Hi I'm Horserider!
I love to read and write. My favorite genre is fantasy, but I'll read almost anything. Except horror. My favorite authors are J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Tamora Piece, Erin Hunter, Rick Riordan, and Anne McCaffrey. I do love Twilight and Harry Potter and I have also seen all the movies. I've written one novel so far. Once I finish this edit, it should be a little less than 350 pages. It was the first novel I ever finished and someday I hope to publish it. It's on the second edit at the moment which I hope to finish sometime this weekend.

For the record, Stephenie Meyer is no longer on that list and you will never see me use Twilight in the same sentence as Harry Potter again. As for that first novel...Andra is trunked and will never again see the light of day.

May 8, 2009: Where I find beta readers
As for where I find beta readers, most--actually all except for Andra's first reader--came from a writer's forum. Critique groups are also very helpful. I recently joined one and Andra has improved so much since then. A good beta reader is honest and helpful. They should be able to objectively read the work and offer suggestions to improve it. "It's good" is not an acceptable answer unless followed by a critique. There's always something wrong. You find typos and issues in published novels all the time. Novels that have been polished countless times by the writer and editor. We're all human and we all make mistakes.

July 15, 2009: I review Half-Blood Prince in a fit of sleep-deprived fangirling
*screams* IT WAS AWESOME! Hands down, best one yet. Unless you're my mother who didn't particularly like it and only gave it a 5/10. I gave it a 9/10. Which is weird because usually it would be the other way around, but that's beside the point.

I'm still behind that assessment 100%.

August 10, 2009: How to be a beta reader
As a beta reader, try not to overbook yourself. I personally have one project that I'm working on, one more on the shelf, one that I'm waiting for the rest on, and one that I've called dibs on (we do that a lot at AW) that the writer is almost done with. I'm probably going to have to cut back even more when I go back to school unfortunately. So even if someone approaches you with a really awesome manuscript and it kills you to say no, sometimes you just have to do it. Just politely say that you're busy and hope that you get another chance.

January 28, 2010: Strengths and weaknesses
Recognizing your weaknesses is a part of writing. Because my recognizing them, you can work on improving them and through that become an even greater writer. Give me any book in the world and someone can find something that should be fixed. No book, published or unpublished is safe.

April 7, 2010: Rejection blues
I subscribe to the revenge query system. No, it doesn't involve sending hate mail to every agent that rejects you. The revenge query system involves sending out another query for every rejection you get. I did this a lot with Destiny and, I'm telling you, it really helps.

And remember, everyone gets rejected. J.K. Rowling and Stephen King both had their fair share of rejections. Everyone who's published has experienced the disappointment that comes with being rejected. They worked through it and kept trying and eventually met that one person that said, "Yes."

August 16, 2010: Just write it
Honestly, NO ONE can tell you if something is going to work or not without reading the completed story. And that's not possible unless you write it. So the next time you want to ask someone if a novel should be written in epistolary format, skip the question and just do it. The worst that could happen is you finish the novel and find out that it's not working. And usually if something's not working, you're going to realize it in the first couple of chapters.

January 27, 2011: Multiple points of view
If you're going to go for more than one point of view, you should have a good reason for it. The book needs to be better with more than one PoV than it would be if you just stayed in one character's head. One question to ask yourself when trying to decide would be, "Would this be better off in third person, showing all the characters' thoughts?" Each character should also have a distinct voice. There's nothing more jarring then having to flip back to the beginning of the chapter to see who's point of view you're in.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Multiple Points of View

Multiple points of view are tricky things. Done well, they can be a very powerful tool. Done badly, they can break a book. Making the decision to have multiple points of view is mostly a personal one, but there are a few things to remember before making the jump.

If you're going to go for more than one point of view, you should have a good reason for it. The book needs to be better with more than one PoV than it would be if you just stayed in one character's head. One question to ask yourself when trying to decide would be, "Would this be better off in third person, showing all the characters' thoughts?" Each character should also have a distinct voice. There's nothing more jarring then having to flip back to the beginning of the chapter to see who's point of view you're in.

With multiple points of view, you can run the risk of the reader loving one point of view and hating another, and therefore wanting to skip over the chapters of a particular character. There is also less of an opportunity for the reader to really get to know one character when they're spending time inside each main character's head.

If you decide to take the jump, proceed with caution. Go with the lowest number of points of view possible. The more points of view you have, the harder it will be for the reader (and you) to keep track of them all.

Outlines can be twice as helpful with multiple points of view so that you can keep track of where all the point of view characters are at all times so there are no conflicts. In revisions, it might be helpful to create a word document for each point of view character and paste their chapters into it. That way you can check for voice and character consistency easily.

Some examples of multiple points of view:

Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles. Both were dual points of view between the male and female characters. I personally felt that both of these were well done. The voices and characters are very distinct and difficult to mess up. It's also interesting seeing both characters' side of the story.

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. This one has the most points of view in any novel I've ever read: six. This is done to show every side of the issue and for the most part it is done well. Some of the transitions are a little muddled, however, and this book runs the risk of feeling too busy with all the head-hopping. There is also a risk of the reader becoming more interested in one of the side plots and characters. For example, my favorite point of view character was the lawyer. I found his personality and relationship with Julia almost overwhelmed my desire to pay attention to Anna's story, which is what this novel is supposed to be about.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. This is probably my favorite multiple point of view novel and series. There are four books in the series (all told in the same four alternating points of view), and the first one is about four friends who are about to spend their first summer apart. Each character and voice is unique and each girl is telling their own story. I can't imagine this series being told any other way (and that is the mark of an excellent multiple point of view story).

Shiver and Linger by Maggie Stiefvater. Shiver is told from the alternating points of view of Sam and Grace. Linger has the same two point of view characters, but also adds in the voices of Cole and Isabel. The unusual thing about this series is instead of changing every few chapters in a pattern, these point of views change randomly (sometimes every few paragraphs, sometimes every few pages). With Shiver, the alternating points of view added to the story in a similar way to PC and RoA.

With Linger, it was a little different. Opinions vary on the addition of the two new characters. I personally found Isabel and Cole's sections to be more interesting than Sam and Grace. A friend of mine found them to be a distraction and didn't enjoy reading their perspectives at all. The random switches can cause the changing narration to become jarring and sometimes required me to flip back a bit just to check and see who I was reading about.

In conclusion, multiple points of view are tricky, but not impossible. If you can get them right, they can make a great book even greater, but they should only be done when it adds to the book. Otherwise it's probably better to stay within one character's head.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

RTW: Alternate Universe

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 live within the universe of one book, which would you choose?

I can't decide between these two, so I'm just going to list them both.

1. HOGWARTS! I started reading the Harry Potter books after my eleventh birthday so I never experienced the long hours of waiting for my Hogwarts letter except for maybe a fleeting hope that maybe it had just gotten lost in the Muggle post. I would still love to live in that world of witches and wizards. Preferably post-Voldemort era of course.

2. TORTALL! This is the country where many of Tamora Pierce's books take place and I wouldn't hesitate to move there if I could. I could move to Corus and join the Queen's Riders. I might also consider the Copper Isles, but only after Ozorne is no longer emperor. They do have one of the largest libraries there.

Which universe would you choose?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Releases -- Timeless, The False Princess, Warped

Timeless
by Alexandra Monir
When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.

The False Princess
by Ellis O'Neal

Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.
Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.
Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever.

Warped
by Maurissa Guibord
Tessa doesn't believe in magic. Or Fate. But there's something weird about the dusty unicorn tapestry she discovers in a box of old books. She finds the creature woven within it compelling and frightening. After the tapestry comes into her possession, Tessa experiences dreams of the past and scenes from a brutal hunt that she herself participated in. When she accidentally pulls a thread from the tapestry, Tessa releases a terrible centuries old secret. She also meets William de Chaucy, an irresistible 16th-century nobleman. His fate is as inextricably tied to the tapestry as Tessa's own. Together, they must correct the wrongs of the past. But then the Fates step in, making a tangled mess of Tessa's life. Now everyone she loves will be destroyed unless Tessa does their bidding and defeats a cruel and crafty ancient enemy.

Monday, January 24, 2011

5 Common Blogger Mistakes That Make Me Hit "Exit"

I read more blog posts in a week than I care to think about. I do it because I enjoy it, but sometimes there are things that just make me hit that red X when I'm reading a blog. Based on my experience, I compiled a list of five common mistakes bloggers make.

#1 Same information I can get anywhere

Be original! I've stopped reading blogs that give the same information as every other blog out there. You can take a topic and look at it from a different angle or compare it to something completely original or talk about it in your own way. Take beta readers for example. I've read a lot of blogs about what beta readers are, how to get one, and how to become one. But that doesn't mean that you can't take the topic of beta readers and make an original post out of it.

#2 Double sides both packed with widgets
This one is mostly a personal thing. When someone has two sidebars on their blog and both of them are packed to the brim with widgets, it really slows down my computer. And if my computer is hesitating when I ask it to scroll, I'm probably not going to stick around and force the issue with my dying laptop. And chances are, if you feel like you need a second sidebar just to fit in all your widgets, you might be running the risk of #3.

#3 Too much distracting clutter
Don't get me wrong, I love widgets, but in this case it's definitely possible to have too much of a good thing. Try to keep the gadgets and widgets in your blog sidebars to the bare minimum. The more you have, the longer it will take your blog to load and the more likely I am to click exit. These can also be extremely distracting when I'm scrolling down through your blog post. If you just have to have that extra countdown widget for the sequel that you're dying to get your hands on, maybe wait until it's closer to the release date or even after one of your other countdown widgets runs out.

#4 Only blogging about self/WIPs
This one is kind of self-explanatory. It's fine to talk about what's going on with your books and maybe post teasers once in awhile, but constantly talking about yourself gets a little wearing for readers sometimes. Most published authors don't only talk about themselves and their work. They talk about books they've read and offer advice in addition to what's going on with their work.

#5 Distracting/painful backgrounds
Choose your blog background and colors wisely. Avoid bright, fluorescent colors as much as possible. Lime green backgrounds with pink text are not acceptable under any circumstances. Whatever colors you choose, make sure they allow for easy reading. Same goes for backgrounds. If your background is psychedelic or distracting or busy, I'm probably going to stop reading. There was a blog awhile back whose background was abstract and colorful and trying to read the text gave me a headache.

Another thing to keep it mind when choosing a background is staying true to yourself and giving the right impression. For example, if you're a romance writer, you probably don't want a dark, plain background. If you're a contemporary writer, you probably don't want something with a dragon in it.

The main thing to remember about blogging is it's supposed to be fun! Just stay true to yourself and talk about things you want to talk about.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Week in Short

This has been a strange week. [I typed 'Today has been a strange week' first. I think it's time for bed...] Still trying to get my head on straight. Will hopefully be back to normal by Monday...

Song of the week:
Total Eclipse of the Heart -- Glee Cast

Must Read:
Hannah Moskowitz calls for more characters like you

BookEnds:
Pop culture in fiction

Janet Reid:
The difference between a pitch and a query

Johnson Literary:
November and December query stats

Kirsten Hubbard:
Cursing in YA

Nathan Bransford:
How to use Twitter

In Movies:

  • The Sorcerer's Apprentice -- Not quite as good as I expected, but it was cute and funny.
  • Inception -- There are no words to describe that level of awesome. I'm going to be thinking about this one for a very, very long time. Also, ending scene = cruelest ending in any movie I have ever seen.
In Writing:
Did some revisions at the beginning of the week, but haven't had much time lately. I blame homework.

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

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fallen Review

Fallen by Lauren Kate
First book in the Fallen series
Published by Delacorte Press


There's something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price's attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at Sword & Cross boarding school in Savannah. He's the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are screwups, and security cameras watch every move.

Except Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce -- he goes out of his way to make that very clear. But she can't let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, Luce has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret...even if it kills her.

I'm going to be one hundred percent honest about this one. I raved about it when I first finished it, but once I let the story soak in, I didn't feel so hot towards it. It has a similar vibe of other novels where the main character falls in love with a "mysterious" boy with supernatural powers who doesn't seem to be interested in them until eventually he just "can't stay away from her anymore."

Luce was extremely passive. She just pretty much let everything happen to her. Even when Cam and Daniel weren't around, it was Arianna or Penn who were controlling her actions.

Daniel intrigued me when they first met, but after awhile his hot/cold behavior started to get a little old and overly familiar. Though, I will admit that he does have a good reason for being the way that he is. Cam is probably the best of the characters and the most intriguing for me. I'm very firmly Team Daniel, but Cam has the most layers and after that epilogue I'm still not sure if I truly know who he is.

Overall: 7.5/10. I loved the voice and the writing and I'd be glad to pick up Torment in the future.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

I'm still extremely confused by the fire. I mean, what was the point of Todd dying? And why did the shadows want to burn all of Sophia's research?

Now let's talk about Luce again. I still can't believe she got into a car with a strange driver just because Cam told her to. Especially after Daniel told her to stay away from him. She should've just stood him up instead of constantly trying to "let him down easy" because that wasn't working out too well. I also can't believe that she let him kiss her when she was supposed to be so in love with Daniel.

I can't believe when Daniel finally spilled his guts out to her, she didn't believe him until she saw the photograph. She sees the shadows, she's seen Daniel's wings, and she's the one that always felt like they had some connection and yet when the truth is staring her in the face, she tries to run away from it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

RTW -- Blurb It

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 prompt:
Give a blurb for your favorite book or one of your own!

Hunger Games:
"An intriguing and original mix of suspense, love, and mystery. I couldn't put it down!"

Catching Fire:
"Even better than the first! The last line still gives me chills."

Mockingjay:
"The stunning conclusion to a fabulous series. It won't disappoint."

Adoration of Jenna Fox:
"The captivating story of a girl that shouldn't be alive struggling to discover who she is. This story will stick with you long after you've turned the final page."

The Book Thief:
"A heartbreaking story of family, love, and loss in Nazi Germany. I will never look at World War 2 the same way again."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

5 Things I've Learned from Dating in the Dark

Lately I've become re-addicted to Dating in the Dark. If you've never seen the show, they take three guys and three girls and put them in the same house, but they're only allowed to meet in the dark room where it's impossible to see your hand in front of your face. At the end of the dates, they are each allowed to pick someone they want to see in the light. Then they can meet on the balcony if they want to keep dating, or walk away. It's actually a pretty fascinating show.

#1 Looks really do matter
They're definitely not the only thing that matters by no means, but physical attraction is important. It surprises how many people say "I'm going to meet this person on the balcony regardless of what they look like" who end up walking out the front door. The biggest things seem to be how old/young a person looks, how heavy/skinny they are, or how they'd fit in with that person's friends.
#2 Chemistry counts
Chemistry really counts between the couples and there are varying degrees of it. Some couples hit it right off, but eventually realize they won't work. Or one person feels an instant connection and the other one doesn't. Some couples just awkwardly sit there in the dark for one of their dates. Some couples take time to get to know each other. Very few of them meet on the first group date and say "this is the one I want to see in the light." Just like there are very few real "love at first sight" connections in the real world. There was even one couple that hit it off right away, but when the guy revealed on their second date that he couldn't handle dating a girl that he thought was "fat," the girl dumped him right away.

#3 Consider voice
The house's first date is a group date where all three guys and all three women sit at a table and just talk for awhile. Because there's very little one-on-one, no chance of reading body language, and very little touching, the first impression everyone has of each other comes through in their voice.

#4 Who you're compatible with isn't always the person you have a connection with
For the second or third date, couples take a compatibility test and are matched up with the person that the test feels they should be the most compatible with. Sometimes the test matches couples up with the person they also felt the most chemistry with. Sometimes the matched couples don't hit it off at all.

#5 You can tell a lot about somebody by their things
During the show, things are brought in from each of the contestant's. The guys are allowed to go through the girl's things and vice versa. One episode they brought in each person's car. One episode the guy's went through the girls' purses and the girls went through the guys' wallets. The clothes they slept in the night before. The clothes they were wearing the day they arrived at the house. Video tapes of their best friends' opinions on each person. And it's true that you really can tell a lot about a person by looking at their things or their friends.

Just some things I've been thinking about and trying to incorporate into my characters to make them feel even more real.

Monday, January 17, 2011

10 of my Favorite Quotes

Decided to do a fun post today. I have this weird habit of when I'm watching a movie or doing something and I hear this really awesome quote, I have to write it down. I have a word document dedicated entirely to random quotes and things I need to remember called my "Scratch Sheet." Today I wanted to go through that and share some of my favorite quotes with you.

"Nothing is more tragic than a love never loved, a stand never taken, a performance never held, and a life never lived." ~ Zoombie from AW

Kazran: "Why are you climbing in the window?"
Doctor: "Because if I was climbing out the window I'd be going in the wrong direction." ~ Doctor Who (A Christmas Carol)

Kazran: "When girls are crying are you supposed to talk to them?"
Doctor: "I have absolutely no idea." ~ Doctor Who (A Christmas Carol)

"I have a life left to be lived. And you're not going to be in it!" ~ The Holiday

"Sometimes you read a book so special that you want to carry it around with you for months after you've finished just to stay near it." ~ Markus Zusak

"That was pure genius!"
"Yes, I shall go down in history as the man who opened a door!" ~ Ever After

"If I found the love of my life, I wouldn't stand there like an idiot, whispering in a garden. I would just grab her from that blasted balcony and be done with it." ~ Letters to Juliet

They say if you love someone you should let them go, but how do you do that when they were never yours in the first place?

"There is no platform nine and three-quarters. You are the 700th kid to ask me that, and I still refuse to believe it exists." ~ A Very Potter Sequel

"One may tolerate a world of demons for the sake of an angel." ~ Doctor Who (Girl in the Fireplace)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Week in Short

O.O Is the second week of 2011 really over already? I hope everyone's weathering the Snowpocalyse and that your year is off to an incredible start.

Song of the week:
There's a Place for Us by Carrie Underwood. Theme song for Dawn Treader. AMAZING song.

Must Read:
Why the N-word matters -- No one could have said it better than Sean Ferrel.
"Free" books aren't free, the implications of illegal downloading
How movies based on books happen

News:
TWFT is BACK and it's better than ever! Check it out and make sure you watch for the excitement coming soon!
Natalie Fischer has huge news
Lisa McMann's WAKE was challenged
The future looks bleak for Borders [I am not exaggerating when I say I will literally cry if they close.]
WriteOnCon announces their January Live Event
The title and cover for the second book in Riordan's Kane Chronicles series has been announced!

Adventures in Agentland:
Top ten query pet peeves

BookEnds:

Unlikeable characters

GLA:
Successful query: Liar Society

Kara Mustafa:
Things that get easier and things that don't

Queryshark:
#194

Querytracker:
Deepening your characters' needs

Rachelle Gardner:
When publishing dreams become nightmares

Strangest Situation:
Joy of human interaction

YAHighway:
Outlining and series

In Movies:

  • Going the Distance -- Not as good as I thought it would be, but still a pretty good one. 8/10
  • Prince of Persia: Sands of Time -- Very good movie. I'm particularly fond of Jake Gyllenhaal. 9/10
  • The Time Traveler's Wife -- wasn't as good as I expected 6.5/10
  • What Happens in Vegas -- Cute. :) Made me think that you should be required to pass a BAC test to get marred in Vegas. 8/10
In Writing:
Burning Bridges revisions are in full swing. I've also started casually playing with a new dystopian idea with the working title Cardinal Three. It's probably going to be my next WiP.

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

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Angel Experiment

The Angel Experiment
by James Patterson
Maximum Ride #1
Published by Time Warner Book Group

Six unforgettable kids -- with no families, no homes -- are running for their lives. Max Ride and her best friends are products of an experiment: they were engineered to fly. And that's just the beginning of their amazing powers. Now they've escaped, and they need to know who made them, who's hunting them, and why they were designed to be superior to all other humans.

After a couple years of avoiding the craze that is James Patterson, I finally decided to pick up one of his books. I expected an action-packed book that I would rave about for days. I was disappointed.

The beginning was everything I hoped for, but after that it started to trail off and slowed down. Twists that were meant to create tension barely caught my interest. Even when the characters were on a dangerous mission, it felt like they kept taking random side trips. It picked up a little more towards the ending, but it still wasn't anything to talk about.

Out of the flock, Fang was by far my favorite character. Strangely enough, he felt the most round even though there isn't that much known about him due to his silent nature. I still felt like I knew him the best. Angel actually got under my skin from time to time. I know she's young, but she should be growing up fast being on the run so much and yet it's like she doesn't really care sometimes.

Another thing I don't understand is why it seems like Max and Angel have all the special abilities. Nudge has one that comes in handy, but what about Fang and Gasman and Iggy?

I expected the ending to have me on the edge of my seat and closing with a big cliffhanger that had me running out of the house first thing in the morning for the next one. Instead it ended with kind of a soft cliffhanger. I'll gladly read the next book, but it's definitely not top of the list.

Overall: 7.5/10

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

The biggest issue I had with this book was all the side trips that everyone took on the way to save Angel. I don't blame Max for wanting to help Ella, but I still can't believe she spent a day baking chocolate chip cookies while Angel was in danger. I can understand Nudge's desire to find her parents, but I don't understand why that couldn't wait until Max and Angel were safe again.

I also couldn't believe the complete lack of concern over Max's chip. If it was indeed an activated and working tracker, it would be like a homing beacon when they stormed the school to save Angel.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Veronica Mars Season One Review

You might know that for the last two weeks, I've been watching Veronica Mars. I watched the last five episodes on Saturday night and I can't stop thinking about the show so I figured I'd write up a quick review of season one.

Here's a quick summary for those who have never heard of the show:
Veronica Mars is the daughter of private investigator Keith Mars. A year before she lost everything when her best friend Lilly Kane was murdered and her father -- the sheriff at the time -- remained convinced that Lilly's father was the murderer even after another man confessed. Veronica never quite understood her father's conviction that Lilly's father was responsible until she uncovers her own evidence that the man sentenced is innocent and reopens the case.

I can sum up the first season of this show in one word: Incredible. If you don't like soap opera-esque shows, you probably won't like VMars. Every time I finally think I've got things figured, the writers throw me through another loop.

Most of the characters are so 3-D and realistic that they truly feel like real people and Neptune feels exactly like a high school should. The most rounded characters are Veronica and Logan (Lilly's ex-boyfriend) who were both amazingly well done. Duncan (Veronica's ex-boyfriend and Lilly's brother) was also very rounded, but still feels a little flat personality-wise.

I'm officially addicted. I couldn't have stopped watching the last few episodes if I tried and I barely slept Saturday night thinking about the finale. I'm still getting over it.

And for the record, I am very firmly Team Logan.

I'm planning on watching season two this weekend so please no spoilers in the comments. :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Releases -- XVI, Unearthly, The Water Wars

XVI
by Julia Karr

Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world - even the most predatory of men - that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past - one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.

Unearthly
by Cynthia Hand

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.
Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.
As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?
The Water Wars
by Cameron Stracher

Would you risk everything for someone you just met?
What if he had a secret worth killing for?
Welcome to a future where water is more precious than oil or gold...
Hundreds of millions of people have already died, and millions more will soon fall-victims of disease, hunger, and dehydration. It is a time of drought and war. The rivers have dried up, the polar caps have melted, and drinkable water is now in the hands of the powerful few. There are fines for wasting it and prison sentences for exceeding the quotas.
But Kai didn't seem to care about any of this. He stood in the open road drinking water from a plastic cup, then spilled the remaining drops into the dirt. He didn't go to school, and he traveled with armed guards. Kai claimed he knew a secret-something the government is keeping from us...
And then he was gone. Vanished in the middle of the night. Was he kidnapped? Did he flee? Is he alive or dead? There are no clues, only questions. And no one can guess the lengths to which they will go to keep him silent. We have to find him-and the truth-before it is too late for all of us.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Lost Hero Review

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Jason has a problem. He doesn't remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently has a girlfriend named Piper, and his best friend is a guy named Leo. They're all students at the Wilderness School, a boarding school for "bad kids," as Leo puts it. What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly? Jason doesn't know anything -- except that everything seems wrong.

Piper has a secret. Her father, a famous actor, has been missing or three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare about his being in trouble. Piper doesn't understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn't recognize her. When a freak storm hits during the school trip, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she's going to find out whether she wants to or not.

Leo has a way with tools. When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there's weird stuff, too -- like the curse everyone keeps talking about, and some camper who's gone missing. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them -- including Leo -- is related to a god. Does this have anything to do with Jason's amnesia, or the fact that Leo keeps seeing ghosts?

This is one of those books where the actual book far exceeds the back summary. I'm not going to lie, this wasn't my favorite Riordan book. The first half was slow and didn't live up to my expectations at all. The second half was the complete opposite. It flew right along and I couldn't wait to see what happened next.

The number of mysteries introduced in the first few chapters almost gave me a headache trying to keep track of them all. It didn't help that there are three PoV characters and all of them had their own questions and problems.

Jason, strangely, is my favorite new character. I think it's because he has the most intrigue about him and I was constantly guessing who he was. I even went online and did some research into Greek and Roman mythology trying to look for clues to who he was. I didn't like Piper at all at first, but she's improving. She's so resigned to the fact that she's going to have to do what the dream tells her to do that she doesn't even bother trying to figure a way out. Instead she waits for Leo and Jason to figure it out for her.

I love the blend of Greek and Roman mythology in this series. It's fascinating how both sides are coming together very nicely.

The cliffhanger at the ending was brutal. I don't think a cliffhanger has affected me this badly since Catching Fire. I can't wait for the next book!

Overall: 8.5/10 The second half made buying it worth it, but still didn't live up to my expectations.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

I figured out Gaea's involvement, the Giant's rising, and the reason behind Percy's disappearance long before any of the characters. It kind of annoyed me how long it took them to figure out. I mean, the meaning of exchange implies that since Jason is at the Greek camp than obviously someone else must be at the Roman camp and since there's only one missing demigod...

I feel so sorry for Annabeth in this one. :( I really hope she gets Percy back in the end. She deserves it after all they've been through.