Friday, March 30, 2012

New Releases -- Grave Mercy; I Hunt Killers; Radiate

Grave Mercy
by Robin LaFevers
First book in His Fair Assassin trilogy
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

I Hunt Killers
by Barry Lyga
What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?
Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.
But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could--from the criminal's point of view.
And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.
In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret--could he be more like his father than anyone knows?
by Marley Gibson
Hayley Matthews is determined to be the best cheerleader she can. She works hard and pushes herself 110% all the time.

Then Hayley finds a lump on her leg. The diagnosis is cancer. The prognosis is unclear. She could lose her leg. Or maybe her life.

At first Haley is scared, terrified. In an instant, everything she’s worked for seems out of reach. But Haley is strong. She’s going to fight this disease. She will not let it take her life or her dreams.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

RTW: Best Book in March

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 was the best book you read in March?

I have a confession to make. This month, I sucked when it came to making time to read. This is partly because of school and partly because the book I'm trying to read isn't for me.

So, the best book I read in March was...

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

It was my second time reading it, but it was just as good -- if not better -- the second time around it. It called to me whenever I had free time, and even if I didn't.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hunger Games Movie Review


To give a little background, I've read the entire Hunger Games trilogy and I adore it. I tend to be very loyal to my books and harsh on their movies. This one was no different: I had extremely high expectations. Because of the internal nature of the books, I was worried about how that would translate to film.

This movie exceeded all my expectations. It was BRILLIANT.

I had a few key scenes that I was desperate to see them get right and they nailed them. The Girl on Fire chariot scene was excellent and so was the interview. I was worried when I saw her interview dress in the previews (being that it looks very little like it's supposed to) but it was actually perfect. The scene with Katniss shooting the apple during her private session with the Gamemakers was spot on.

And then, there was Rue. Her death scene shattered my heart. I actually started sobbing when District Eleven gave tribute to Katniss while watching her on the screen. That was beautiful.

I was curious how they were going to solve the problem of Katniss's and Haymitch's interactions while she was in the arena since they all went on inside her head. The notes in the gifts was a great solution.

There were a few additions added specifically for the movie that I liked. I enjoyed the scenes in the control room and the commentary, especially the method of explaining that the wasps were trackerjackers. The control room looked really cool and it added another element to the movie. An unrelated addition that I really liked was Seneca Crane walking into the room with the nightlock berries.

Now, as always, there were a few details that were left out or changed that bothered me. The biggest thing was the lack of discussion on Peeta and Katniss's relationship. They don't get into an arguments over whether it's real or an act, and that bothers me.

The second biggest thing is the fact that Peeta doesn't lose his leg at the end. This bothers me because it means they left out a major emotional scene for Katniss.

I really like Haymitch's character, but he seems different from his book counterpart. He's not quite as drunk for one thing at the beginning because he doesn't have to promise to sober up. He's not even AT the reaping. The part where Katniss almost stabs a knife into his hand was fantastic, though.

The dogs were okay, but they could have been more humanlike. They were supposed to be dog reincarnations of each of the dead tributes. It's so dark that you can't even tell that they have the tributes eyes and I don't even think they have collars, let alone district numbers on those collars. They also don't walk on their hind legs. I pictured them being more like Harry Potter's werewolves.

Overall, it's a great movie and followed the books shockingly well. The movie is somewhat less dark than the book was. You don't have to read the books to understand the movie (I don't think) but I do think that reading the books gives the movie an extra layer of meaning. I highly recommend seeing it. I already want to see it again!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

RTW: Favorite Literary Moments

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:
A long-awaited kiss, a surprise ending, a character's sudden decision… these are the moments that make us smile, gasp, and LOVE a book for the rest of our lives.
What is your favorite literary moment?

This was a tough one for me. So many moments to choose from! I was going to do top three but then I couldn't narrow it down to three, so here are my top five:

5. **PERCY JACKSON SPOILERS** The moment when Percy Jackson realizes that the Great Prophecy isn't referring to him. It's a really pivotal moment and, to this day, I still look back on that scene in awe. It's the moment when Percy realizes that the destiny he's spent so much time preparing himself for, isn't even his. He has to decide if he should trust his instincts and place the world in his biggest enemy's hands.

4. **CATCHING FIRE SPOILERS** The last line of Catching Fire still gives me chills, even now a couple years after I've read it. "Katniss, there is no District 12." I was speechless from shock for quite a long time after that. The scene before that line is powerful, but made many times more so by that one strong line.

3. The moment where Harry goes to face Voldemort for the final time. I doubt there will ever be a time I'll be able to read that scene with shedding tears over it. The past seven years of trying to evade death converge in one heart-wrenching scene.

2. Numair and Daine's kiss in Realms of the Gods. I've read the book more times than I can ever dare to remember, but this particular scene I've read about five times more. It's a moment of such desperation and passion that I can't help but smile while I'm thinking about it writing this. It was certainly a long-awaited kiss.

1. And, finally, one of the most quoted scenes from Harry Potter: "Still? After all this time?" "Always." It was one of those scenes that I cried over just thinking about seeing it in the movie. In one word, Snape successfully made me go from pure hatred towards him to crying and proclaiming my love for him. If that isn't a successful scene, I don't know what is.

What is your favorite literary moment?

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Joys of Writing Prompts

I've been having a lot of trouble writing lately. This is partly due to school and partly due to the fact that I've been watching a ridiculous amount of Castle and therefore can only come up with ideas that involve a murder.

One night, I really wanted to write so a friend showed me a bunch of sites with writing prompts. I scanned through them until I found one that caught my attention and wrote a short story from it. I love the characters so much that I'm considering writing a whole novel with them.

Here are a couple links to the writing prompts that helped me:

The next time you want to write but can't think of an idea, try looking through the prompts for something that interests you, opening a word document, and just writing for awhile. You never know what might come out of it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

RTW: A Wandering Heart

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:
In honor of the release of Kirsten's WANDERLOVE yesterday-- If you could wander anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?

England, Ireland, and Scotland for starters. I've always wanted to go there (to the point where I'm planning to spend some time studying abroad in one of the three). England, in particular, has always fascinated me. Two of my favorite things in the world (Doctor Who and Harry Potter) have come there. Not to mention it's a truly beautiful country.

I also really want to go to Austria and just explore the country. I've always wanted to see the Spanish Riding School.

Monday, March 12, 2012

New Releases -- Wanderlove; Rock On; and Where it Began

by Kristin Hubbard
It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

Rock On:
A story of guitars, gigs, girls, and a brother (not necessarily in that order)
by Denise Vega

Ori Taylor is the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of the Band To Be Named Later, a garage band he started with his friends. After years of being known only as the kid brother of sports star Del, Ori is looking forward to stepping out of his older brother's shadow, learning to perform in public, and rocking the Battle of the Bands contest. Oh, and maybe finally working up the nerve to talk to a girl in person instead of just over e-mail. But when Del suddenly returns from college, he expects Ori to step back into his role of little brother, just when Ori is starting to come into his own.

With his confidence wavering, will Ori be able to overcome his stage fright and lead the band to rock glory? Will the Band To Be Named Later ever get a real name? Will their best performances remain in the garage?

Where it Began
by Ann Redisch Stampler
Gabby lived under the radar until her makeover. Way under. But when she started her senior year as a blonder, better-dressed version of herself, she struck gold: Billy Nash believed she was a the flawless girl she was pretending to be. The next eight months with Billy were bliss...Until the night Gabby woke up on the ground next to the remains of his BMW without a single memory of how she got there.

And Billy's nowhere to be found.

All Gabby wants is to make everything perfect again. But getting her life back isn't difficult, it's impossible. Because nothing is the same, and Gabby's beginning to realize she's missed more than a few danger signs along the way.

It's time for Gabby to face the truth, even if it means everything changes.

Especially if it means everything changes.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Twenty Boy Summer Review

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
According to Anna's best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer ling, and if they meet one boy every day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie -- she's already had her romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

I loved this book so much it hurt. It's a beautiful and amazing book. I haven't been sucked in by a book in quite awhile but this one did it.

The characters are fantastic. I'm particularly fond of Frankie's mother, though I kind of wish they'd played a larger part towards the end. I feel kind of bad that Frankie thinks her parents don't care when they really do and she doesn't really find out otherwise.

Speaking of Frankie, I think her abrasive personality is one of the reasons this book took me so long to read. What kind of friend calls over someone by yelling "Virgin" especially when they're calling to introduce them to two hot guys?

Overall: 9.5/10 I loved this book but there's still something that's bothering me about it that I can't quite put my finger on. Definitely intend to get my hands on Bittersweet as soon as possible.