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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Know It's Over

I Know It's Over 
by C.K. Kelly Martin
Pure. Unplanned. Perfect. Those were Nick’s summer plans before Sasha stepped into the picture. With the collateral damage from his parents’ divorce still settling and Dani (his girl of the moment) up for nearly anything, complications are the last thing he needs. All that changes, though, when Nick runs into Sasha at the beach in July. Suddenly he’s neck-deep in a relationship and surprised to find he doesn’t mind in the least. But Nick’s world shifts again when Sasha breaks up with him. Then weeks later, while Nick’s still reeling from the breakup, she turns up at his doorstep and tells him she’s pregnant, and Nick finds himself struggling once more to understand the girl he can’t stop caring for, the girl who insists that it’s still over.
 
This book is beautifully written and executed. It's told from Nick's perspective and the voice is wonderfully real. I actually started reading this last year and couldn't get into it. When the Once Upon a Read-a-thon came around, I decided to give it another shot. It was a bit of a struggle to get into initially, but once it caught me, it wouldn't let go. 

The story starts after Sasha is already pregnant and uses flashbacks to show Nick and Sasha's relationship and how it started. It was all really well done.

Nick's character annoyed me quite a bit, especially with his attitudes towards sex, but it all felt real. Everything was so realistic feeling in this book. I felt like it all could have really happened. 

Overall: 9.5/10 Every teenager should read this book. Incredibly realistic with a great voice.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Questions from Another Time: Publishing

I started going through all my threads that I started on AW since I joined all the way back in 2008. I was fresh off the finish of my very first novel ever and convinced that I was going to take the publishing world by storm with my fifteen-year-old self and my 100k YA fantasy.

In the four years since then, I've learned a lot. The questions that I asked back then make me hang my head and want to smack my younger self. I thought it might be fun to take a look at my questions -- commonly asked by many other new writers -- and answer them.

Last Monday I answered the writing-related questions, so today I'm going to do the publishing ones.

Should teenagers put their age in the query? How can minors publish a book? Can minors hire agents?
No. Teenagers should let their work speak for itself without the effect of their age, positive or negative. If the agent shows interest in representation, that's when it's time for age to come into play. Minors' contracts have to be co-signed by a guardian or they're void. Otherwise, age shouldn't really matter. Teenagers can be published, just like anyone else and the process is the same for them as it is for any adult.

How do you publish a book? 
With the rise of self-publishing, there are many ways to edit and publish a book. One way is to get an agent who then shops the book to publishers in the hope that they will love it enough to buy it.

Do agents cost money? 
A reputable agent works on commission which they earn when they sell your book. Agents that charge reading or editing fees are best avoided.

How do you find a good agent? 
Do your research. Read the acknowledgements of published books that you love to see if the agent is listed. Look on Agentquery or Querytracker and then read agency websites and blogs. If you're unsure about an agent, check Preditors and Editors or just Google them and see what comes up.

How do you send a book to a possible publisher? 
Many large publishers will only accept submissions from agented authors. Smaller publishers will accept submissions straight from authors. If you want to go that route, do your research ahead of time. Check out any possible publisher thoroughly before you submit. Use multiple sources and never just the publisher's website. You might see hundreds of glowing recommendations on a publisher's website, but there might be many, many more people that are unhappy.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Week in Short

The Olympics start today! I'm pretty excited. Although, the only events I follow are the equestrian ones. Now that I'm caught up with Downton Abbey and I'm still waiting for the new season of White Collar to come to Netflix, I picked up a new addiction over the last week. Roswell. I love it so much.

In other news, this is the last Week in Short for a couple weeks as I'm going to visit some family and I've decided to spend that time (mostly) disconnected. I'm working on scheduling posts so the blog won't be dark and silent while I'm gone.


Song of the Week: "Blown Away" by Carrie Underwood

Must read:  
Adventures in Agentland: Why do I need an agent?
Pub Rants (by Roni Loren): Bloggers beware: You CAN be sued

Between Fact and Fiction: 
Don't be difficult


Blood Red Pencil:
The art of book design

Kidlit:
Writing adaptations 

Nathan Bransford:
Violence in American culture

Pub Rants:
A pitch is a pitch and a query is a query

Pub(lishing) Crawl:
On writing diversity
Too edgy for teens? Not likely

Rachelle Gardner:
How does your publisher make money?

YAHighway: 
Writing horror: nailing the atmosphere
Trimming the fat from your manuscript

Video of the Week:
If you haven't discovered the awesomeness that is the Lizzie Bennet diaries, this week's video of the week is the very first episode.



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

Thursday, July 26, 2012

New Releases: Insignia, A World Away, The Girl with Borrowed Wings

Insignia
by S.J. Kincaid
More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?

A World Away
by Nancy Grossman
A summer of firsts
Sixteen-year-old Eliza Miller has never made a phone call, never tried on a pair of jeans, never sat in a darkened theater waiting for a movie to start. She's never even talked to someone her age who isn't Amish, like her. 

A summer of good-byes
When she leaves her close-knit family to spend the summer as a nanny in suburban Chicago, a part of her can't wait to leave behind everything she knows. She can't imagine the secrets she will uncover, the friends she will make, the surprises and temptations of a way of life so different from her own.
 
A summer of impossible choice 
Every minute Eliza spends with her new friend Josh feels as good as listening to music for the first time, and she wonders whether there might be a place for her in his world. But as summer wanes, she misses the people she has left behind, and the plain life she once took for granted. Eliza will have to decide for herself where she belongs. Whichever choice she makes, she knows she will lose someone she loves.

The Girl With Borrowed Wings
by Rinsai Rossetti
Controlled by her father and bound by desert, Frenenqer Paje’s life is tediously the same, until a small act of rebellion explodes her world and she meets a boy, but not just a boy--a Free person, a winged person, a shape-shifter. He has everything Frenenqer doesn’t. No family, no attachments, no rules. At night, he flies them to the far-flung places of their childhoods to retrace their pasts. But when the delicate balance of their friendship threatens to rupture into something more, Frenenqer must confront her isolation, her father, and her very sense of identity, breaking all the rules of her life to become free.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

RTW - Fictional Regenerations -- I mean, Reincarnations

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:
If you could be reincarnated as any fictional character, which would it be?

This was kind of tricky because even though I have characters that I absolutely adore, I wouldn't want to actually be them.


First and foremost, I would want to be Hermione. She's always been my favorite Harry Potter character and I've always related the most to her (all the way down to the bushy brown hair and the bucked teeth). She's strong and a great friend and loves books and isn't afraid to show how smart she is.


I also wouldn't mind being reincarnated as Christina from the Thoroughbreds series. She lives on a racehorse farm; rides her own racehorse, Star; and has the most amazing, horse-loving, eventing rider boyfriend, Parker. She's also kind and knows exactly what she wants.

Finally, switching to TV fictional characters this time, there's Kaylee from Firefly. I love Kaylee. She's not afraid to be who she is. As Serenity's mechanic, she's very much a tomboy but she also has a girly side. She's also very sweet and is loved by the very adorable doctor, Simon.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

White Cat Review

White Cat
by Holly Black
Curse Workers #1
Cassel comes from a family of curse workers—people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, all by the slightest touch of their hands. Since curse work is illegal, they’re all criminals. But not Cassel. He hasn’t got the magic touch, so he’s an outsider—the straight kid in a crooked family—as long as you ignore one small detail: He killed his best friend, Lila. Now he is sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat. He also notices that his brothers are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of one huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to outcon the conmen.
 
I adored this book. I had it for quite awhile before I finally got around to reading it and I wish I'd done it a lot sooner. It's morbid and awesome and clever and original and I loved it so much. The voice is amazing. The characters are excellent. The mystery gave me the creeps. The part with the animal shelter was seriously brilliant.

I do wish I hadn't read this one for the read-a-thon. I think it would've been better absorbed gradually over a few days rather than devoured in a reading frenzy. 

The ending with Cassel's mother made me want to throw the book against a wall. I haven't decided if it was in a good way (I didn't even realize there was a good way to throw a book against a wall until White Cat) or a bad way. 

Also, this seriously made me want to watch White Collar. I think Neal Caffrey and Cassel would get along quite well.

Overall: 10/10 Beautiful writing, great story. I want the next book in the series RIGHT NOW.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Questions from Another Time: Writing

I started going through all my threads that I started on AW since I joined all the way back in 2008. I was fresh off the finish of my very first novel ever and convinced that I was going to take the publishing world by storm with my fifteen-year-old self and my 100k YA fantasy.

In the four years since then, I've learned a lot. The questions that I asked back then make me hang my head and want to smack my younger self. I thought it might be fun to take a look at my questions -- commonly asked by many other new writers -- and answer them.

Today I'm going to do a post with all the writing-related questions and next week I'm going to answer the publishing ones. 

Are sex, violence, etc okay in YA? 
Everything goes, especially if it's realistic. Fiction should represent real life and young adult is no exception. Sex, violence, or drugs are extremely relevant to today's teens. It's okay to explore that from a realistic perspective. That being said, nothing should be included because of the "shock factor." Stay true to the personality of your characters. Or...if your normally straight-laced character is doing drugs, turn that into conflict. Why did they do drugs? How do they feel about it? How does it affect them?

What is the optimum length for chapters? 
There isn't one. The only rule here is do what works. There are 250-page books with only ten chapters and there are books where each chapter is two or three pages long. Though, if you're going for the shorter route, be careful. Short chapters can make a book feel choppy.


Can you split a novel in half and sell it as a two-book series if it gets too long? 
No. Series don't really work like that. In a good series, there needs to be one large arc uniting all the books in the series and then each book has to have its own individual, smaller arc that advances the larger one.  For example, in Harry Potter the overlapping arc is Harry's battle against Voldemort, but each book has its own smaller arc. Sorcerer's Stone being Harry discovering that he's a wizard and that he needs to stop Voldemort once more. Chamber of Secrets being the mystery of the students that are being attacked. Prisoner of Azkaban being Sirius Black. And so on.

What are some dialogue tags that can be used in place of the normal ones (said, answered, replied, asked)? 
When it comes to dialogue tags, less is more. Make sure that it's clear who's speaking, but go more for action rather than tags. Don't get exotic with the ones you choose either. Strange tags can throw a reader off. Use a decent variety, but keep it simple.

Are prologues okay? 
On very rare occasions prologues are acceptable. They're not acceptable if they're simply gigantic world building info dumps or contain information or events that could be worked into the story. If you can avoid using a prologue, then don't use one.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Week in Short

I've developed a new addiction: Downton Abbey. I watched it for eight hours straight on Saturday and was completely caught up on Wednesday. I'm ready for the new season to start!

Song of the Week: "Demons" by Imagine Dragons

Must read:  
Beth Revis: The definition of badass

News: 
WriteOnCon is less than a month away! 
Miss Snark's First Victim July Secret Agent begins on Monday 
Magnus Bane has been cast for the City of Bones movie! [Not what I pictured but I think I love him.]
And so has Jocelyn Fray! [She's PERFECT.]
And Hodge.
In other YA movie casting news: Beetee and Finnick for Catching Fire! [I think Sam is going to do a fantastic job with Finnick. I'm very excited for this movie!]

A Fool's Golden Paradise: 
Queries: the blah

Author's Echo: 
What I learned from 52 rejections 

Character Therapist:
Suicide by Facebook


Kidlit: 
Establishing ramifications

Publishing Crawl:
Facing the blank page 

Querytracker: 
Forensics Q&A: Fingerprinting

Rachelle Gardner: 
Interval training for writers and professionals
Back to the drawing board 
What's happening with my publisher contract? 


YAHighway: 
Writers are born, not made

Video of the Week:
This week's video is the preview trailer for Once Upon a Time season two! If you've never watched the show, you should go back to season one and check it out. It's a great show, especially if you love fairy tale retellings.



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

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Fox Inheritance Review

The Fox Inheritance
by Mary E. Pearson
Jenna Fox Chronicles #2
Once there were three. Three friends who loved each other—Jenna, Locke, and Kara. And after a terrible accident destroyed their bodies, their three minds were kept alive, spinning in a digital netherworld. Even in that disembodied nightmare, they were still together. At least at first. When Jenna disappeared, Locke and Kara had to go on without her. Decades passed, and then centuries. 

Two-hundred-and-sixty years later, they have been released at last. Given new, perfect bodies, Locke and Kara awaken to a world they know nothing about, where everyone they once knew and loved is long dead. 

Everyone except Jenna Fox.
 
I read The Adoration of Jenna Fox quite some time ago and loved it. When I found out about this one, I had to get my hands on it.

This one is from a male perspective, Locke's, and I love it. The voice was raw and haunting and made my heart ache. The contrast between the way Locke and Kara dealt with being locked up together for so long is great. They've both lost a piece of themselves and are struggling to find their place in the new world. Meisha and Dot were definitely my two favorite characters. I loved Dot's personality and Meisha's drive.
 
This book is a great example of immersive world-building. I absolutely adored the Bots. The way many of them had personalities and secret dreams and secret names and they called humans "Eaters and Breathers." The idea of the Civil War of 2112 was great, though I am a little confused on the logistics of having everyone living under two sets of laws but not dividing the actual country like in the first Civil War. The concept of it is kind of amazing, though.

The only thing that disappointed me a little with this book in comparison to Adoration is that I saw all the twists coming. Which made it kind of aggravating when Locke didn't see it until they were right in front of his face. There are some loose threads left hanging at the end, but it's still a very satisfying ending.

Overall: 9/10 Great sequel with wonderfully real characters but I was hoping for a little more surprise like I felt with Adoration. The mention of a "third book" in the acknowledgements made me squeal out loud. I hope there's truth to them!

***SPOILER WARNING***

My favorite bit of the contrast between Locke/Kara is the way that Locke has -- mostly -- manage to remain in control of his sanity and Kara has completely lost hers. It did kind of annoy me how long it took Locke to recognize that Kara was completely insane. Actually, it annoyed me that Locke took so long to figure out everything.



I was actually kind of disappointed when they find out that Gatsbro is tracking them through Meisha's transactions on her card. I figured he just deduced where they were going. I mean, two people who haven't been outside that particular estate in 260 years suddenly run away. It wouldn't be that difficult to assume they would head somewhere familiar (Boston, their old home) and then to the only person alive that they knew (Jenna). If all trains led to Topeka, that would be a logical place to try to find them because even if they weren't headed to Jenna in California, they'd have to stop over in Topeka on the way to wherever they were going.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

RTW -- Chasing Inspiration

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:
When you need creative inspiration, where do you go?

I've always found that the best inspiration comes when I'm not looking for it. In the last week, I've had three shiny new ideas. One of them resulted from my fascination with psychology, the second from Downton Abbey, and the third just came out of nowhere.

Photographs and writing prompts can be helpful if I'm looking for creative inspiration. I usually use those for short stories, but sometimes those shorts turn into potential novels. Talking to writer friends can be great for inspiration, too.

When I need creative inspiration, I turn to the rest of my life because I know that an idea is likely to hit me at any time. If I need inspiration for a WIP, I brainstorm, I think about my characters and what they would do, I look back to see if there's a thread that I can advance, or I just give it some time to simmer in the back of my mind.

To me, creative inspiration is a lot like love. You'll find it when you least expect it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New releases: Seraphina, The Thing About the Truth, and Don't You Wish


Seraphina
by Rachel Hartman
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

The Thing About the Truth
by Lauren Barnholdt
Kelsey’s not going to let one mistake ruin her life. Sure, she got kicked out of prep school and all her old friends are shutting her out. But Kelsey’s focused on her future, and she’s determined to get back on track at Concordia High.

Isaac’s been kicked out of more schools than he can count. Since his father’s a state senator, Isaac’s life is under constant scrutiny—but Concordia High’s his last stop before boarding school, so Isaac’s hoping to fly under the radar and try to stay put for a change.

When Kelsey and Isaac meet, it’s anything but love at first sight. She thinks he’s an entitled brat, and he thinks she’s a stuck-up snob. So it surprises them both when they start to fall for each other. Kelsey’s happy for the first time in months, and Isaac’s never felt this way about anyone before...But nothing’s ever completely perfect. Everyone has secrets, and Isaac and Kelsey are no exceptions. These two may have fallen hard, but there’s one thing that can ruin it all: the truth.

 Don't You Wish
by Roxanne St. Clair
When plain and unpopular Annie Nutter gets zapped by one of her dad's whacked-out inventions, she lands in a parallel universe where her life becomes picture-perfect. Now she's Ayla Monroe, daughter of the same mother but a different father—and she's the gorgeous, rich queen bee of her high school. 

In this universe, Ayla lives in glitzy Miami instead of dreary Pittsburgh and has beaucoup bucks, courtesy of her billionaire—if usually absent—father. Her friends hit the clubs, party backstage at concerts, and take risks that are exhilirating . . . and illegal. Here she's got a date to lose her V-card with the hottest guy she's ever seen.

But on the inside, Ayla is still Annie.

So when she's offered the chance to leave the dream life and head home to Pittsburgh, will she take it?

The choice isn't as simple as you think.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Writing Advice Summed Up in Two Points

There's a lot of advice out there for writers, but it all basically boils down to two concepts.


1. Everything in moderation. 
New writers will often ask about the common pieces of advice "Never use adverbs/adjectives" or "Always show instead of tell" or "Never to use passive voice." The truth is none of this advice is true. At least not completely. Adverbs, adjectives, telling, and passive voice are all fine...in moderation. The first lesson in writing is learning the rules. The second lesson is learning when to break them.


2. Do what works for you. 
Another thing new writers commonly ask is "Would this work?" They ask about characters, relationships, pacing, writing styles, point of view, multiple perspective, tenses, plots, structure, outlining methods, writing methods, planning methods and just about anything else that has to do with writing that you can think of. The worst part about these questions is there is no one right answer.

Execution is everything in writing. It doesn't matter what you do as long as it works. If covering every inch of the walls of your bedroom with Post-It notes works for you, do it. If writing the story backwards works for you, do it. If you can pull off a story from three perspectives in first person point of view using present tense, do it. Don't ask if others think that you should do it. Ask yourself "Does this work?"

Friday, July 13, 2012

Week in Short

It's Friday the Thirteenth! To everyone attending ComicCon: I am intensely jealous right now. It's the only time of year I hate living on the East Coast. In TV news, White Collar season four premiered this week. I'm still at the beginning of season three so I'm thinking a marathon is in order this weekend. Covert Affairs season three also premiered and I'm not really sure how I feel about the direction the show is going. 

Song of the Week: Circle of Life by Elton John (Not sure why, but I've been on kind of a Disney song kick lately.)

Must read:  
Wall Street Journal: Tweets from Pixar's School of Plotting A storyboard artist for the movie, Brave, on the basics of storytelling

News: 
Clockwork Princess cover reveal! LOVE! Tessa, the angel, the dress, the book! SO AWESOME!

Firefly is getting a TENTH ANNIVERSARY TV SPECIAL!

It's been announced that the Mockingjay movie is going to be split into two parts. I'm getting really sick of this belief that every YA series can do the same as Harry Potter and pull that off in the name of money.

BookExpo America announced new dates for 2013

Between Fact and Fiction: 
Published writers don't forget

Janice Hardy:
You'll have to go through me: Eliminating filter words
What to do when you need to cut a major part of your novel 


Kidlit:
The law of diminishing returns

Publishing Crawl:
Staying inspired

Queryshark:
#225: Contemporary middle grade 

Querytracker:
Anatomy of a website

Rachelle Gardner: 
Publishing is not a three-legged race 

Steph Su Reads:
Defining "normal" and "adult"

Taryn Albright: 
Queries: the Ugly
Queries: the Good

YAHighway: 
The importance of back-ups
Making maps

Video of the Week: 
This is a skit that David Tennant and Catherine Tate performed. If you don't know who either of those people are, they're both brilliant actors. In Doctor Who, David was the Tenth Doctor and Catherine was his series four companion, Donna.



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

Thursday, July 12, 2012

OUReadathon Final Tally

Thanks to Lori at Pure Imagination, Angela at Reading Angel, and Candace at Candace's Book Blog for hosting this awesome read-a-thon!


Books Read: 3
Books Started but not Finished: 1 (I'm at about 30%)
The Books: Guyaholic by Carolyn Mackler, The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson, White Cat by Holly Black, and I Know It's Over by C.K. Kelly Martin
Pages Read: 878

Not quite my goal of six, but still more than I would normally read over three days! I got to meet a lot of new people, read some great books, and had plenty of fun. This was my first read-a-thon so it was a really big learning experience. Next time I'll have to make sure I stay focused and don't make my book stack bigger than I can handle.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

RTW: Movies over Books

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 movie have you seen that actually (gasp!) improved on the book?

I have movies where I loved the book and hated the movie (Eragon), loved the movie but knew the book was better (Harry Potter), and adaptations that I'm able to enjoy separately (Hunger Games, The Lightning Thief).

Then, every once in awhile, a movie comes along that I like more than the book. This is more common in situations where I fall in love with the movie long before reading the book or I read the book some time before. Prince Caspian is the first movie I know of that I felt like that with. Part of it was the greatness of the movie, part of it was Ben Barnes, and part of it was the fact that I hadn't read the book in years.

Another one is Princess Diaries. I loved the movies for years before I tried the book series. I was really disappointed when I couldn't get into it at all.

Then there's Beastly. I loved the movie trailers so I wanted to read the book first. The book was okay, but I had some pretty major issues with it. Eventually I got around to watching the movie and I actually really enjoyed it. I felt a lot better about the way the plot kicks off than I did with the book.

I'm probably going to get in trouble for this last one but...Ella Enchanted. Ignoring the random moments of singing, the movie is actually great. After loving it for a couple years, I found out about the book and ended up winning it in a contest. Except for the basic premise, they're almost two different stories. The book is much more middle grade than the movie. I prefer the movie version of the breaking of the curse far over the book version.

OUReadathon: Day 3

It's the final stretch of the OUReadathon! I didn't finish any books yesterday so I'm hoping to get a ton of reading done today.

9:42am: Thought about pulling an all-nighter last night with White Cat but I decided against it and stopped around one-thirty. I should've kept going anyway. Woke up around nine from a dream that I was like a cross between Covert Affairs (Auggie was there, we were fake-married as part of my cover) and Hunger Games. I'm now 45% through WC and absolutely loving everything about it!

11:23am: I made the mistake of taking a "short" Internet break. Then I found out that the first few chapters of Chamber of Secrets are now open on Pottermore. It might be a little bit before I get back on track... *pounces on Pottermore*

12:51pm: Compromised by reading while I waited for each new chapter on Pottermore to load. LOVE! Then I participated in Road Trip Wednesday. As soon as I finish lunch, it's back to reading!

1:50pm: MINI-CHALLENGE!

The Reader Bee is hosting a mini-challenge today and wants to know: What is your most anticipated book in 2012? I'm finding it impossible to decide so I'm going to divide it into four categories...

Already came out: INSURGENT by Veronica Roth
No contest on that category. It was torture waiting for it to arrive in my mailbox and worth every minute.

August: EVERY DAY by David Levithan
Levithan's writing is beautiful and I haven't read a book of his yet that I haven't loved. The premise of this one sounds so original and great that I can't WAIT to get my hands on it.

September: THE CASUAL VACANCY by J.K. Rowling
This book doesn't sound like something I would normally read, but it's Rowling so there's absolutely no way I'm going to pass it up. 

October: SON by Lois Lowry
This was a really tough decision because there are a lot of great books coming out that month. I actually screamed when I found out there was going to be a fourth book in The Giver trilogy.

3:47pm: Third book of the readathon COMPLETE! Just finished White Cat by Holly Black. I wish I hadn't chosen it for the read-a-thon because I think it's one of those books that's better absorbed gradually over a few days rather than devoured whole. Still, it was definitely a great book and I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the series.

5:53pm: Took some time of reading to catch up on Internet things (and write a couple blog posts). I picked I Know It's Over ask my last book of the read-a-thon and now it's time to get started!

8:19pm: 30%! Going to take a break to watch the Covert Affairs premiere that I missed last night. I'm really anxious to see what happened!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

OUReadathon: Day 2

It's time for the second day of OUReadathon! I made it through two books yesterday (Guyaholic by Carolyn Mackler and The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson) and I'm hoping to make it through two more today. I'll update throughout the day with my progress and mini-challenges just like yesterday.

UPDATES: 

10:42am: Made the mistake of completely oversleeping this morning. I started reading White Cat by Holly Black around eleven last night and, of course, had dreams about cats and curses. I'm loving it so far, but it's really making me want to watch White Collar (season four premieres tonight and I'm not even halfway through season three yet!) I'm about 15% through but I have to go to the chiropractor so not much time to read this morning.

12:59pm: I have gone to the chiropractor, took the dog for a walk, eaten lunch, and started reading more of yesterday's update posts...but I haven't done any reading. I feel like I'm going to fall asleep just sitting here. This is when it sucks not having coffee in the house.

1:38pm: Found some Starbucks Ready Brew. I don't drink coffee very often during the summer so I kind of feel like that squirrel in Hoodwinked. Now that I'm sufficiently caffeinated, I'm going to continue reading. 


6:17pm: Today just isn't going very well at all reading-wise. About 29% through WC and I can't concentrate on reading at the moment.

11:48pm: Only ten minutes left in Day 2 and I'm only 32% through my third book. I didn't have the best day today so I decided to just take the evening off and watch my go-to movie for cheering up: My Girlfriend's Boyfriend. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to get a lot of reading done!

Monday, July 9, 2012

OURead-a-thon: Day 1

OUReadathon has officially begun! I went through my TBR stacks yesterday and picked out ten books that I want to read. I'll never make it through them all, but my goal is to read at least six. 

THE BOOKS:
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Paper Towns by John Green
The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver
Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund
The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson
White Cat by Holly Black
Hounded by Kevin Hearne
Sea Change by Aimee Friedman
I Know It's Over by C.K. Kelly Martin
Guyaholic by Carolyn Mackler

UPDATES: 
10:57am:
Kicked off the read-a-thon with Guyaholic at midnight last night! I'm about halfway through it at the moment.

MINI-CHALLENGE!
IB Book Blogging is hosting a mini-challenge for OUReadathon and asking for the answers to two questions:

Question 1:
What is your favorite cover that has been revealed this summer and why? 

I hope it's okay that I list three because otherwise I'll spend all my time trying to decide which one's my favorite and won't get any reading done!


The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
I love all of Rick Riordan's covers but this one is definitely my new favorite! I love the detail of the eyes and the two boys fighting on pegasus-back.

Fall to Pieces by Vee Naidoo
I love everything about this cover. The placement and font of the text of both the title and the author's name. I love the girl and the way her hair is placed. 

Sanctum by Sarah Fine
I love the girl above the creepy city and the way the text is between them.

Question 2:
Do you rely on the cover to help you choose whether you want to read a book or not?
I have never bought a book specifically because of the cover. I may have noticed a book because of a really outstanding cover, but the deciding factor is still whether or not the summary makes me want to read it. I have, however, bought particular editions of a book because of the cover. For instance, a great cover might encourage me to choose a hardcover version over the paperback or vice versa.

12:16pm: Finished my first book: Guyaholic by Carolyn Mackler. I read it last year but I really wanted to read it again this summer. It was just as great the second time around. A wonderful road-trip novel about love and finding your way with characters so believable they feel like your best friends.

12:40pm: Took an Internet break before starting The Fox Inheritance. 

7:00 pm: 84% through TFI and taking a break to eat dinner and catch up on update posts.

8:33 pm: Finished my second book! The Fox Inheritance was great. It definitely did not disappoint. Now I'm probably going to take some time off reading and maybe start my third book before I go to bed.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Week in Short

Hope everyone had a great week and a wonderful Fourth of July (or Wednesday)! Once Upon a Read-a-thon starts on Monday so if you haven't joined yet, you should check it out!

Song of the Week: Independence Day by Martina McBride

Must read:  
Mother. Write. Repeat: The quarter in the toilet 

News: 
The Casual Vacancy by Queen Rowling has a COVER!  

Contests:
Writer Unboxed: 7 Sizzling Sundays of Summer Flash Fiction

kt Literary: 
Thoughts on some Comic-Con panels about publishing

Pub(lishing) Crawl:
The cliffhanger dilemma

Pub Rants:
Three reasons why prologues don't work

Querytracker:
How to polish your writing until it shines

Rachelle Gardner: 
6 things to learn from Hemingway
7 ways you give away your power

Writer Beware:
Rights vs copyright


YAHighway:
The first sale: Expectation vs reality part 2

Video of the Week: 
John and Sarah Green talk about self-consciousness while playing Wii Tennis. It's great, I promise.




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

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Every You, Every Me Review

Every You, Every Me
by David Levithan
Evan is alone. His best only friend, Ariel, is gone. Evan is feels responsible. And in her wake, evan is left with nothing a guilty conscience and never-ending insomnia.

But then, while walking to school one morning, Evan finds an envelope in his path. Inside is a photograph. Of nothing. Except the spot where he is standing. 

The next day, Evan finds another envelope. In the exact same spot as before. Inside is another photograph. Of him. 

Evan's not sure what to think. Is Ariel back? Are these photographs her way of tormenting him for reminding him of what he did to her? Or worse -- has someone else found out what he did and is toying with him as punishment? Either way, he will not be able to sleep rest until he finds out who is responsible.

As the cryptic photos keep surfacing, Evan's paranoia amplifies, and the feeling that he never really knew Ariel at all starts to paralyze dominate his life thoughts. Will he uncover the truth before he loses his mind his grasp on reality?


I was a little nervous about starting this book. I'd never read anything written in a strike-through style before and I wasn't sure how the photographs would work into the story. But, it was David Levithan and the story sounded good so I finally decided to start reading it.

I had no reason to worry. The strike-through was easy once I got used to it and the photographs were weaved beautifully into the story. The writing had a way of drawing me in slowly so I didn't even realize I'd been caught until I tried to leave. I read it all in one sitting, racing through the pages and finishing ten minutes before I had to leave for a grad party because I didn't want to put it down.

The characters and their reactions and their emotions felt completely real. I loved the concept that everyone perceives the same person in a different way and that we can never know everything about someone.

Overall: 10/10 I've never read anything like this book. I had goosebumps just looking at it after I finished.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day

Happy Independence Day! (Feel more like Independence Week around here. There hasn't been a night since Friday that someone hasn't set off fireworks.) Hope everyone has a great day and stays cool!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

RTW -- In the Yearbook

I haven't gone insane, I know that today is Tuesday and this post is for Road Trip Wednesday. But tomorrow is the Fourth of July and I take holidays off blogging so I'm doing this one a day early. 

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 yearbook "most" category (also known as superlatives) would your character win?
 
When I was in school, I won "Most Shy Girl." Which was kind of funny because I wasn't actually the shyest girl in school, I was just the most well-known shy girl. Troy and Helena would probably both be voted "Most Shy." They'd also definitely be in the running for "Cutest Couple."
If there was one that said "Most likely to become a bestselling author of fantasy novels" that would be Troy. He would also probably win "Biggest Gamer." 

Helena's trickier. If there was one for "Best fluency in multiple languages" she might have that one. She's fluent in English and Spanish, and knows enough Japanese to get by. If she started playing sports, she might have a shot at "Most athletic."

Miranda would take "Most likely to move away." Warren would get "Loudest." Denise would win "Most likely to become a doctor." 

Can't wait to see everyone's responses tomorrow!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Redesigning the Classics?

A friend of mine sent me the link to this article about publishers redesigning the covers of classics in the hope that they'd appeal more to teenage readers. One such redesign involved a "Twilight-esque" cover for Wuthering Heights and a blurb that said "Bella and Edward's favorite book!" Many classics have also be redesigned with watercolor covers.

Examples:

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte 

 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
 
Classics shouldn't be redesigned to look more "modern." Kids should want to read them because their classics, not because they look like modern books on the outside. If I'm going to buy a classic, I want it to look like a classic.

I just finished Pride and Prejudice on my e-reader and I'm intending to buy a print version. When I do, I want it look classic. I want Elizabeth to be wearing something that the actual Elizabeth Bennet would wear. Not something more modern that someone decided to use in the hope of attracting younger readers. I don't want it to look like a Twilight companion novel.

The Twilight version of Wuthering Heights actually runs the risk of turning away readers who aren't fans of Twilight. If I hadn't read half of WH in high school and I saw that cover in a bookstore, I would walk the other way. Whereas if there was a more traditional cover, I might be encouraged to pick it up. Fans of Twilight who are interested in Bella's fascination with the book are going to pick it up whether it bears a resemblance to the series or not.

Teenagers are going to pick up the modernized classics thinking that the style will be the same as the modern YA that they're used to and then be turned off when they realize that they're nothing alike. Even the summaries of many of the classics are being modernized to draw in a younger audience.

Thoughts? Is the redesigning of covers necessary? Would you be/have been more likely to read a classic with a redesigned cover than with a more traditional-looking one?