Friday, February 17, 2012

New Releases -- Partials, The Vanishing Game, and Scarlet

by Dan Wells
Release date: February 28th
Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with partials--engineered organic beings identical to humans--has decimated the world’s population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. The threat of the partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to the disease in over a decade. Humanity’s time is running out.

When sixteen-year-old Kira learns of her best friend’s pregnancy, she’s determined to find a solution. Then one rash decision forces Kira to flee her community with the unlikeliest of allies. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that the survival of both humans and partials rests in her attempts to answer questions of the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.

The Vanishing Game
by Kate Kae Myers

Jocelyn's twin brother Jack was the only family she had growing up in a world of foster homes-and now he's dead, and she has nothing. Then she gets a cryptic letter from "Jason December"-the code name her brother used to use when they were children at Seale House, a terrifying foster home that they believed had dark powers. Only one other person knows about Jason December: Noah, Jocelyn's childhood crush and their only real friend among the troubled children at Seale House.But when Jocelyn returns to Seale House and the city where she last saw Noah, she gets more than she bargained for. Turns out the house's powers weren't just a figment of a childish imagination. And someone is following Jocelyn. Is Jack still alive? And if he is, what kind of trouble is he in?

by A.C. Vaughen
Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

RTW: Hated and Loved Words

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 words do you absolutely hate? Which ones do you adore?

Like Kody, I also hate the word "panties." I'm not a big fan of the word "moist" either. I don't even like thinking it as I'm writing this post. I also hate the word "loins." I flinch whenever someone says it in a movie or on TV.

I love the word "merge." Say it out loud; it sounds funny. When I was younger, my favorite word was "antidisestablishmentarianism" (which I just finally managed to spell correctly for the first time ever without looking). Part of it's appeal was at the time I believed it to be the longest word in the world (it's not by a long shot).

Monday, February 13, 2012

Footloose: The Old and the New

This weekend my campus did a screening of the original Footloose and the new one and I watched both of them in a row. I've seen the original before but this was my first time seeing the new version.

SPOILER WARNING: There are spoilers for both movies. Though I'm not sure why you wouldn't have seen them yet.

I expected the new version to be terrible, to say the least. The original was one of my favorite movies of all time and I didn't expect the remake to be able to hold a candle to it.

I was surprised. The new version is actually really good. Though in most cases I prefer the original songs better, I'm glad that they just remade most of the songs instead of making entirely new music.

I actually preferred some of the new scenes to the originals. For example, the fight scene before the dance. Ariel was awesome in that scene. I also love the part with the car from the original movie. That scene was great.

On the other hand, I didn't like some of the changes. I didn't like that Wren plays football in the new version. Is there some kind of law that says a guy has to dress up in tight pants and jump on other guys to be hot? I preferred Wren on the gymnast team. I also didn't like the new scene in the warehouse. The dancing part was good but I didn't like how destructive he was. Wren wouldn't go running around smashing windows and knocking stuff over because he was upset. He danced to get the anger out.

The biggest problem I had with the new movie was the removal of the censorship/book burning element because that still happens. To me, one of the best character-building parts for Wren is the scene in the original where they're talking about removing Slaughterhouse-Five from the school library and Wren says that he's read it and it's a classic. I'm also not sure how I feel about Wren's mom dying of leukemia. I loved Wren's mom.

Also, one of my favorite scenes in the original was where the preacher stops the book burning and says "The devil isn't in these books. It's in here. It's in our hearts."

That being said, I love both movies and I can't stop listening to the songs from both movies. I really need to buy the soundtracks. I've had "Footloose" stuck in my head for two days now.

Friday, February 10, 2012

New Releases -- In Too Deep; Dead to You; Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am

In Too Deep
by Amanda Grace
I never meant for anyone to get hurt. All I wanted to do that night was make a play for Carter Wellesley. His heartless rejection was mortifying, but people got the wrong idea when they saw me leaving his bedroom, crying. That's how rumors of rape started.

Now girls at school are pouring out their sympathy to me. Guys too. But not everyone's on my side. The school has become a war zone and the threats are getting scary. What began as poetic justice has morphed into something bigger--forcing me to make a terrible choice.
Dead to You
by Lisa McMann
Ethan was abducted from his front yard when he was just seven years old. Now, at sixteen, he has returned to his family. It's a miracle... at first. Then the tensions start to build. His reintroduction to his old life isn't going smoothly, and his family is tearing apart all over again. If only Ethan could remember something, anything, about his life before, he'd be able to put the pieces back together. But there's something that's keeping his memory blocked. Something unspeakable...
Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am
by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis

Ben has always had it pretty easy--with no acting experience, he landed the lead in his high school musical, and he's dating the prettiest girl in school. Haunted by memories of 9/11, he makes the decision to enlist in the army--with devastating consequences. Somehow nobody ever thought Ben would be one of the soldiers affected, but after his convoy gets caught in an explosion, Ben is in a coma for two months. When he wakes up, he doesn't know where he is, and he doesn't remember anything about his old life. His family and friends mourn what they see as a loss, but Ben perseveres. Although he will never be the person he once was, this is the story of his struggle and transformation.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

RTW: Unfortunate similarities

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:
What SNI were you psyched to work on, but discovered it was too close to something already done?

I started one novel awhile ago with the working title of Guardian. It revolved around the idea of a school where teenagers were trained to become either Guardians or Fighters. I got the idea before I got sick of the large number of YA novels dealing with paranormal and fantasy schools.

My first novel was finished two weeks before I found out about a startlingly similar movie, Push. I've rewritten the novel enough times that now only parts of the concept match, but it's still trunked for various reasons.

I also had an idea revolving around a city of thieves. It started partly as a short story from a prompt and partly as a story to cheer up a friend. I wanted to turn it into a novel but decided not to because of my love for The Thief Lord.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Asking Friends to Beta Read

I'm seriously reconsidering my policy of accepting beta projects from friends that I know in real life. The thing with beta reading for friends is they see you all the time. The excitement causes them to ask "Have you started yet? How far are you?"

Which is fine. Sometimes. If you're asking every five minutes, you're causing me to take time away from your WiP to answer your questions on how far along I am.

Five guidelines for asking friends to beta read:

  1. Don't constantly ask about progress/what they're thinking right then
  2. If they don't have time to beta read for you, accept it.
  3. Books are subjective. Remember that.
  4. If you're looking for specific feedback, tell them that.
  5. Give them adequate time.

Beta reading takes time. I've done projects in anywhere from a few hours to a month. It all depends on the depth of the critique, my personal schedule, and (frankly) how much the project sucks me in.

Do you ask friends to beta read for you? If a friend came to you with a novel, would you read it?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Love Story Review

Love Story
by Jennifer Echols
For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions -- it's her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family's racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin's college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a local coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero in her latest writing assignment?

Then, on the day she's sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He's joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin's heart with longing. Now she's not just imagining what might have been. She's writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter...except this story could come true.

This book was a quick read, but in retrospect I didn't really like it. I enjoyed some of the twists of the story, especially when Hunter's desire to be a doctor is revealed. The idea of them writing stories back and forth was a great concept and I loved that the story took place in college.

My biggest problem was the lack of resolution to the story. The conflict of Erin and her father, and Erin and her grandmother continue. On that note, I still can't believe after all Erin's father did to her and her mother, that she was ready to go running back into his arms when Hunter lied to her. Where is her motivation? Didn't she feel any doubts?

The conflict between Hunter and Erin feels unresolved as well. I mean, she writes that terrible story, finds out he's using her to get to medical school, uses him just to "get him out of her system," and then one morning she finds him in her room packing her stuff for a trip to Louisville? I don't really understand where either one of them was coming from when it came to their relationship.

Overall: 6/10 Not only does it feel unresolved but I really have no idea where it was supposed to be going.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

RTW - Best Book in January

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:
What was the best book you read in January?

Sadly, I didn't get to read very many books last month and even fewer that I really loved. But the clear-cut best book of the month was...

The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green
This book made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me think about life in a whole new way. It wasn't my favorite John Green book but it's still one of the best books I've read.

And I'm not ashamed to admit that I've been to three bookstores since this came out and every time I see a copy with the "Signed copy" sticker on it I have to open it up to that page and see if there's a Hanklerfish.