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Monday, February 28, 2011

Sold Review

Sold
by Patricia McCormick

Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small village in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all the family's crops, Lakshmi's stepfather says she must take a job to support her family.

He introduces her to a glamorous stranger who tells her she will find her a job as a maid in the city. glad to help, Lakshmi journeys to India only to learn the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution.

An old woman named Mumtaz rules the brothel with cruelty and cunning. She tells Lakshmi that she is trapped there until she can pay off her family's debt -- then cheats Lakshmi of her meager earnings so that she can never leave.

Gradually, Lakshmi forms friendships that enable her to survive in this terrifying new world. Then the day comes when she must make a decision -- will she risk everything for a chance to reclaim her life?

I am not exaggerating when I say that this is one of the best books I have ever read. This book is definitely not a light read, but it is definitely going to be stuck in my heart and my head for a very long time.

I started it Friday morning and didn't stop reading until I closed the final page. I could not put it down for anything. And when I was done, I just stared at the last page like I was waiting for more to magically appear. I'm aching to know what happened to everyone after that ending.

All the characters were beautifully rounded, even those that were evil beyond compare. Besides Lakshmi, I was particularly fond of Monica, Harish, and the tea boy. I loved that how even though her world was dark, there were still those tiny sparks of kindness.

The writing itself is beautiful and lyrical and fit the book perfectly.

Overall: 10/10 I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

RTW -- My Question for You...

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 do you want to know about writing and getting published?

I've been working on revisions a lot lately so I've been thinking about different methods of revisions a lot. It seems like I have a new method for each book because I haven't found the one method that works for me. In my travels, though, I have had one question that keeps popping up.

How do you work on revisions when your book is the last thing you want to see? How do you rewrite that scene one more time when all you want to do is throw your computer out the window?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Releases: Cryer's Cross, A Touch Mortal, Darkness Becomes Her

Cryer's Cross
by Lisa McMann
The small town of Cryer’s Cross is rocked by tragedy when an unassuming freshman disappears without a trace. Kendall Fletcher wasn’t that friendly with the missing girl, but the angst wreaks havoc on her OCD-addled brain.
When a second student goes missing—someone close to Kendall’s heart—the community is in an uproar. Caught in a downward spiral of fear and anxiety, Kendall’s not sure she can hold it together. When she starts hearing the voices of the missing, calling out to her and pleading for help, she fears she’s losing her grip on reality. But when she finds messages scratched in a desk at school—messages that could only be from the missing student who used to sit there—Kendall decides that crazy or not, she’d never forgive herself if she didn’t act on her suspicions.
Something’s not right in Cryer’s Cross—and Kendall’s about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.
A Touch Mortal
by Leah Clifford

Eden didn't expect Az.

Not his saunter down the beach toward her. Not his unbelievable pick up line. Not the instant, undeniable connection. And not his wings.

Yeah.

So long happily-ever-after.

Now trapped between life and death, cursed to spread chaos with her every touch, Eden could be the key in the eternal struggle between heaven and hell. All because she gave her heart to one of the Fallen, an angel cast out of heaven.

She may lose everything she ever had. She may be betrayed by those she loves most. But Eden will not be a pawn in anyone else's game. Her heart is her own.

And that's only the beginning of the end.

Darkness Becomes Her
by Kelly Keaton
Ari can’t help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can’t be changed or destroyed, Ari has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is.
Her search for answers uncovers just one message from her long dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting closer than they should. But it’s impossible to protect herself when she doesn’t know what she’s running from or why she is being pursued.
She knows only one thing: she must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very...different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of her.
Ari won’t stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Veronica Mars Season Two Review

WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.

I finished watching season two of Veronica Mars last night. This season wasn't as good as the first one, but it was still pure brilliance. I feel like they left quite a few threads untied, though. I know that's typical of the show but it seems this episode left more unnecessary things hanging than usual. Still, I was thinking about it in my sleep again so that counts for a lot.

I still can't believe it was Cassidy. I'm in denial. All the time I spent loving him and wanting him to get together with Mac. I was so hoping that finally someone on this show would have a nice, long-term relationship and then that hope had to be smashed into a million pieces. I swear every time I think this show can't possibly shock me any more than it already has, I get thrown through another loop.

I wish they'd stop dragging out the "Who murdered Lilly Kane" plot line. I thought I would be able to move on with my life after the season finale last year but NOPE they've brought that whole question back again.

Maybe it's his kickass dialogue, but Logan is my favorite character after Veronica. I just love seeing the two of them together. He's been through hell and back twenty times already and I just want him to have some happiness in his life. I love that they're back together again!

Now, because I can't keep myself waiting any longer, time for season three!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Week in Short

Incredibly long but good week this week. It's finally starting to warm up and most of the snow melted. I just finished watching the last four episodes of Veronica Mars season two. It was BRILLIANT. Full review will be up sometime next week.

Must Read:

SCBWI: San Diego conference overview

News:
The big news this week arrived when Borders declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Pimp My Novel and Writer Beware both reported on the subject.

Adventures in Agentland:
Prologues and when you should and shouldn't use them

Gatekeeper:
Difficulty of finding an internship

Querytracker:
Author photos: general tips and posing tips

Rachelle Gardner:
ISBNs
When you're missing the mark

The Strangest Situation:
Do we really only use 10% of our brains?
Critique: Feeling better vs getting better

In Writing:
Taking a break from BB for awhile before I dive back into another round of revisions. I finished outlining CT (finished and outlined are two words I never thought I'd be using in a sentence) so I'm about to start the first draft. I also got some ideas on how to fix some of Shipwrecked's major problems so I tucked those aside for the future.

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

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hype vs Following

To me, hype and following are two completely different things. They both affect people's buying habits but how varies by person. I personally will specifically avoid books with a lot of hype and spring for books with a large following.

Hype
Hype typically occurs prior to a book's actual release. Companies spending millions of dollars every year hyping their products and publishers are no exception. The books that are predicted to be the most popular are typically the most hyped. My favorite example is the Twilight series.

Following
Following typically occurs after a book's been released. A book's following is the number of people who have read, enjoyed, and recommend that book. I will read a book with a large following over a book with a lot of hype any day. It is possible for a book to have both, but for me hype cancels out following. My favorite example is The Book Thief which I only read after several people told me about it. It is now one of my favorite books of all time.

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

RTW -- Picking Titles

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:
How do you pick your titles?

I don't really have a secret for picking titles. Basically my method is to wait until something pops into my head that sounds good to me. Sometimes that title might not even really fit the book or feel exactly right, but to me it's just a working title until I think of something better.

Burning Bridges
was the first thing to pop into my head when I started the first draft and needed something to name the folder. I don't know why it popped into my head because I don't really see a connection between the book and the title, but it's stuck through every one of the three drafts. Lately I've been toying with the idea of changing it to Once Bitten, Twice Shy because that saying fits both main characters rather well. The only problem is the "bitten" part keeps making me think of vampire novels.

Cardinal Three, my new WIP, is named because the three genes that are considered to be the worst to have are called the "Cardinal Three." It seemed like an appropriate name to me when I decided it needed a new working title.

The main thing to remember with working titles is they can always be changed and they more than likely will be several times. So don't stress too much over picking the "perfect" title or become too attached when you do have one. At least not until that title is embossed onto the cover of a book.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Release: Angelfire!

It's here! I need to get to a bookstore ASAP...

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
First there are nightmares.

Every night Ellie is haunted by terrifying dreams of monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her.

Then come the memories.

When Ellie meets Will, she feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries. On her seventeenth birthday, on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie's power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness. Only Will holds the key to Ellie's memories, whole lifetimes of them, and when she looks at him, she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.

Now she must hunt.

Ellie has power that no one can match, and her role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls. But in order to survive the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives and truths that may be too frightening to remember.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Favorite Kiss Scene of All Time

Because of Valentine's Day, I'm taking today off blogging and opening the floor. What is your favorite kiss scene of all time? From a book, TV show, movie, whatever.

For books, I'm still partial to Daine's kiss in Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce. I read that scene so many times in middle school. Favorite kiss of all time, though, is hands down all of Veronica's at the end of season one of Veronica Mars.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Week in Short

This has been an amazing, crazy week. I can't wait to see what the weekend brings. :)

Must Read:

Handling revisions from an agent
Thrashing

News:
WriteOnCon's February Live Event

BookEnds:
It's all subjective to a point

Pub Rants:
Answers some quick questions
Truth about film rights

Querytracker:
Creating business cards

Rachelle Gardner:
Sell-ins, sell-throughs, earning-out, and returns
Explains remainders

The Strangest Situation:
Can a loved one trigger a flashback?
Agoraphobia vs PTSD

Waxman Literary Agency:
Embracing scary

In Movies:

  • Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist -- I had trouble suspending disbelief through parts of the first half, but I did like the second half. I want to read the book so I can compare...
  • Cashback -- Strange and original movie. Kind of a fluffy romance that makes you think
  • About Last Night... -- Great movie. This one kind of surprised me.
Have a great weekend and I'll see you on Monday!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Speak Review

Speak
by Laurie Halse Anderson
Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't know hate her from a distance. It's no use explaining to her parents; they've never known what her life is really like. The safest place for Melinda is to be alone inside her own head. But even that's not safe. Because there's something she's trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she admitted it and let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have no choice. Melinda would have to speak the truth.

When Speak was challenged and the #SpeakLoudly campaign began, I added this book to the top of my list and finally got the chance to read it this week. It was everything I hoped for and so much more.

The prose was so raw and beautiful. I was hurting inside for Melinda from the very first page to the last. I've heard the word "poignant" used to describe a few books, but this is the first time that I ever felt like it actually fits. This book is definitely going to be stuck inside my head for awhile.

It's can incredible, powerful, amazing book and I think everyone should read it. This book rings so true with me. I know rape is scary to think about, but the reality is it happens far more often than it should. I know a lot of relationships like Rachel and Andy's in my own school. That's not going away just because we don't let teens read about it.

Overall: 10/10. I can't recommend this book enough.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

RTW -- Favorite Pairings

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:
Who are your favorite literary couples?

It was hard for me to narrow them down, but here are some of my favorite literary couples...

Eric + Britney
This was one of my favorite couples from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. I rooted for them through every book and I loved that no matter what happened, they always seemed to end up together again.

Cabel + Jamie
From the Wake series. I cheered for them through all three books. They were perfect for each other and even though their relationship had problems, they worked through them.

Lupin + Tonks
There two are and will always be my favorite Harry Potter pairing. Well...my favorite canon HP pairing anyway... I was always a huge Lupin and Tonks fan and I loved them both even more when they were finally together.

Alanna + George
From Tamora Pierce's Lioness quartet. I loved Jonathan and Liam, but George was always my favorite of Alanna's possible love interests.

Aly + Nawat
From Tamora Pierce's Daughter of the Lioness series. I fell in love with these two from the beginning and never stopped rooting for them.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Guyaholic Review

Guyaholic
by Carolyn Mackler

V Valentine is the queen of meaningless hookups. Ever since her mom dumped her with her grandparents, she has bounced from guy to guy. Until the fateful day she gets hit in the head with a hockey puck -- and ends up in the lap of Sam Almond. From the start, Sam is different, and V is terrified. When her mom invites her to Taxes for a visit, V takes the opportunity to run away. But hitting the road isn't the escape V thought it would be. Can a guyaholic kick the habit?

This book is fantastic, even better than the jacket makes it sound. The voice was spot on and she really nailed what it's like to be a teenager. This book doesn't hold anything back and that's one of the things that makes it great.

The characters were excellent and well-rounded including the minor ones. I really enjoyed the role reversal in the girl that's running from commitment and the guy that's looking for something more.

This book sucked me in and wouldn't let go. I read it in two afternoons and completely lost track of time both times I started reading it.

Overall: 10/10. Love and Other Four-Letter Words is waiting for me on the shelf and I can't wait to dive into it.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Week in Short

Sorry this is so late, it's been a crazy busy weekend. No I didn't spend the last two hours looking up Harry/Draco fanart... It's Super Bowl weekend! GO PACKERS! [For the record: I'm cheering for the Packers, but just want my Budweiser Clydesdale commercials and the 2011 premiere of Glee.]

Must Read:

False memories at The Strangest Situation

News:
YAHighway opens The Highway Cafe

BookEnds:
The importance of a synopsis
Revisions from agent

Caroline in Space:
Referrals

Jill Corcoran:
Sending queries and fulls in the digital age

Querytracker:
Once upon a yawn: how to avoid writing a boring story

Rachelle Gardner:
Agency agreements
Answers questions on foreign queries, trilogies, websites, and more

Strangest Situation:
Amnesia in fiction
Memories of traumatic events

In Movies:

  • Guardians of Ga'Hoole: Great movie! I have to admit I was surprised with how well they did by the books.
  • Miss Congeniality: Seen this one before, but it was still good the second time.
  • Miss Congeniality 2: Not as good as the first, but still worth the watch for a snowy day.
  • Love on the Side: Not quite what I expected, but still a good and original movie
In Writing:
Finished the third draft of revisions on Wednesday. Now I have to do some research and finish tweaking some things.

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

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Demon's Lexicon Review

The Demon's Lexicon
by Sarah Rees Brennan

Nick Ryves and his brother, Alan, have spent their lives on the run from magicians who are hunting them down to take back a stolen charm. When a brother and sister appear at the Ryveses' door one night, the danger draws even closer. The boy bears a demon's mark, a sign of death that can only be erased by the blood of a magician. When Alan is also marked, Nick is desperate to save him -- desperate enough to chase the very magicians they have hidden from for so long.

Ensnared in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, Nick starts to suspect that his brother is lying to him about their past. As the magicians close in on his family, Nick uncovers a secret that could destroy them all....

I'd like to begin with a quick disclaimer: When I was about a quarter of the way through the book, I went on Twitter and accidentally read a MAJOR spoiler that completely spoiled the surprise ending for me. Because of this, I didn't enjoy the book as much as I would have. Remember: friends don't let friends spoil books on Twitter.

However...this book was fantastic. The idea was very original and well executed. The writing was excellent and I raced through the pages from the first sentence to the last. The characters were well-rounded and felt completely real. Everyone has their own wants and dreams and agendas. Alan in particular was probably the best-rounded character, though Nick was amazing too. Even though I knew the ending, it still shocked me. This is one of those books where you read it once and then you have to read it again because there's a whole different meaning on things.

Overall: 10/10. Brilliant book and I can't wait to get my hands on The Demon's Covenant very soon!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

RTW -- Books for Eternity

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:
In the movie "Groundhog Day," Bill Murray has to relive the same day over and over. What books would you pick to read over and over for the rest of your life?

  • The entire Harry Potter series. If I had to pick ones in particular, I'd choose Prisoner of Azkaban, Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows. Because even though I've read them a hundred times since they came out, I could always read them again.
  • The entire Immortals series by Tamora Pierce. My two favorites from that series are the first book Wild Magic and the last book Realms of the Gods. That series is made of brilliance and it hasn't lost its magic since I lost track of how many times I'd read the series in middle school. (That book was in my backpack more often in those three years than it was in the library.)
  • Guyaholic by Carolyn Mackler. At some point I'm going to need a contemporary with all that fantasy and this book is so true to the teen voice and life that V feels like a real teenager.
  • The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan. In my opinion, this is the best book he's ever written.
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Because it's awesome.
What books would you read over and over for the rest of your life?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Week in Short

Remember what I said last week about the weather finally starting to warm up and the snow melting? Yeah...I think I jinxed it. Spent most of this week snowbound because of the ice storm that rolled in on Sunday.

Song of the Week: All You Wanted by Michelle Branch

BookEnds:
Agent edits
Reminder of the need to follow-up

Queryshark:
#195

Querytracker:
Mentioning similar books in a query

Strangest Situation:
Cryer's Cross: A heroine with OCD

Writer Beware:
Beware pay-to-play TV talk shows

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