Showing posts from 2013

2013 Resolutions

I decided to set goals for myself this year instead of doing resolutions, since--like most people--I just throw those out the window within the first month anyway.

It was a good but crazy year for me. Unfortunately this was not true of my goals.

1. Read 100 books. 
This obviously did not happen. In fact, it was the worst reading year for me since I started keeping track of exactly how many books I've read in 2010.

2. Read 10 classics. 
I was a lot closer with this one. I read six classics over the year. Most of them were assigned for class, but it still counts. 

3. Complete 25 hours of volunteer work
This one was complicated by my lack of access to volunteer opportunities that are local enough that I can walk to them.

4. Do push-ups every morning for a month
I think I made it a week in the beginning of the month. Push-ups aren't really my thing.

5. Do five things I've never done before
This one I actually accomplished! I went to a jazz ensembles performance on campus, donated b…

Favorite Books of 2013

This year saw my worst reading record since I started keeping track in 2010. I'm not really sure what happened but I'm determined to do better next year.

Grand total: 37

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin I finished this one on February 25th. My friends can attest (as they were there for most of my reading it) that I spent a lot of time in a state of insanity. Like at the end when I screamed and pushed it off the couch. The fact that I've had the fourth book for almost as long as I've been done with this one and still haven't read it is almost a crime. Fantastic characters, as usual, and plot twists that I certainly never saw coming. 
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien I took a class on Tolkien one semester and, of course, it included the reading of the entire LOTR trilogy. This one was my favorite. I love the story and I love Aragorn and Legolas and Frodo and Sam and Merry and Pippin and Eowyn and Faramir.  Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton To be hones…

What's Up Wednesday: Halloween Week

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch.

What I'm Reading: 
I'm only two chapters away from the end of Return of the King so I'll be finishing that today. Sadly I didn't get to read Allegiant over the weekend because it was delayed in the mail and didn't arrive until Monday. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to start it tomorrow or Friday, but I will definitely be reading it this weekend.

What I'm Writing: 
Hopefully, after I finish RotK, I'll have some more free time on my hands and I'll be able to start up daily revision goals again.

What Inspires Me: 
I stayed up until one last night watching Pacific Rim for the first time and I can honestly say that I don't know what took me so long. Just everything. It was weird because I fell in love with the music first and to see it in the movie was disconcerting, but also awesome in a way.

What Else I've Been Up To: 

What's Up Wednesday: October 23

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch.

What I'm Reading: 
I finished The Two Towers last week and now I'm into Return of the King. The first few chapters were a little slow but now I'm really getting into it. I'm totally jealous of everyone who is currently reading Allegiant. My copy won't be here until Friday, which is probably for the best, but I have every intention of taking a break from everything to read it this weekend. Can't wait to get my hands on it!

What I'm Writing: 
Nothing as of right now. I spent a good bit of yesterday afternoon writing a paper comparing the One Ring to the Elder Wand. I've been doing a fair bit of brainstorming lately but nothing concrete. I've considered giving NaNoWriMo a shot, just to get myself writing again, but revisions come first.

What Inspires Me
A friend watched Pacific Rim and recommended that I listen to the theme song even though …

What's Up Wednesday: October 16

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch.
What I'm Reading
I am well into book 2 of Tolkien's The Two Towers and hoping to finish it by Friday. After that, I'll be immediately leaping into Return of the King. I thought I would have time for House of Hades by Rick Riordan this weekend but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. It arrives in the mail tomorrow and will be my reward for finishing the LOTR trilogy. I'm also making my way through B.F. Skinner's Verbal Behavior for a research paper and, I have to say, it's fairly fascinating.

What I'm Writing
Papers for class. CK revisions have been put on hold while I read LOTR and write a paper for Tolkien and another paper for Grammar. Hopefully in another day or two I can get rolling again.

What Inspires Me
There's a song, Light 'Em Up by Fall Out Boy, and I'm completely obsessed with it right now. It took me about f…

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch.
What I'm Reading
I finished Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien last week and I was kind of surprised how much I enjoyed it. I was told as a kid that Tolkien's novels are slow and full of too much description, so I never gave them a shot. Now I'm glad I haven't continued to let that deter me, because I'm really getting into the series. I'm into The Two Towers now and would probably enjoy it more if my Tolkien professor hadn't told us that we have a quiz over Fellowship and Book 1 of Towers on Monday. In addition to that, there's also a stack of books on neurolinguistics sitting on my desk for a research paper.

What I'm Writing
Not really much of anything the past couple of weeks. I'm still making steady progress on CK's revisions, but classwork is consuming my life.

What Inspires Me
This might sound kind of strange, but the s…

New Releases: Where the Stars Still Shine; All the Truth That's In Me; Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.
 All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored b…

What's Up Wednesday

I thought I might try something new on Wednesdays. What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch.

What I'm Reading
It's a complicated mixture right now. My main focus is on The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien for a class (on Tolkien). I have about two weeks to read it so that's taking a good amount of my time. Also on my shelf with bookmarks in them are Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (a reread I started before the movie came out, to give you an idea of how long I've been at it) and Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

What I'm Writing
The occasional short story that strikes my fancy mostly. I'm neck-deep in revisions for Cursed Kind. Some of the changes are relatively major so I need to be sure that they're making sense and fit with what's already there. Mostly clarifying motivations and upping the stakes. 

What Inspires Me
My friends, in more ways than one. I have the three be…

Heroes and Why I Can't Stop Watching It

I know I'm late to the Heroes party (given that it was cancelled four years ago) but I'm addicted. Like genuinely "can't stop watching, thinking about it all the time, curled up in bed for hours watching episode after episode, seriously considering staying up all night" addicted. It's one of those shows that I probably should have saved for Christmas or summer break because I would easily finish it in less than two weeks.

If you've never seen it, Heroes is about a group of people with special powers trying to save the world. It reminds me of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (which starts today and I'm SO EXCITED) and X-Men, but it's also it's own show.

I started watching it on Tuesday and I finished up the first season on Sunday, despite the fact that I have Actual Things to do (like go to class. Once I get started, it's really hard to stop. I expect to finish the second season tomorrow, if not today. 

My favorite thing about the show is th…

College: 5 Tips for Reducing Procrastionation and Getting Stuff Done

In an attempt to organize my life and make sure I'm staying on top of things for once, I've started a new routine. It seems to be working so far, though we'll see if I can stick with it as the year goes on.

1. Move to a different area 
I'm used to doing my homework sitting in bed or on the couch, but I find doing work in a place where I would normally relax makes it difficult for me to concentrate. So I cleaned off and organized my desk and set up shop there. It helps to put me into a focusing mindset and cut down on distractions. For especially long study sessions, a trip to the library can be big for motivation.

2. Turn off the Internet 
Shut down any open tabs that aren't related to your homework. It'll keep you from being tempted to click over to Facebook or Tumblr "just for a few minutes." If you give yourself short breaks, don't use websites that are known time sucks. I tried to use Tumblr for homework breaks, but I would give myself five m…

Flash Fiction: Kiss in the Rain

This is a bit of a sequel to last week's piece “The Umbrella.” I thought of it while I was sitting in stats class for some reason. I just really love "kiss in the rain" stories.

It’s sunny when Jake texts me. We’ve talked every day since the time we shared the umbrella. Turns out we went to rival high schools and are both obsessed with old cartoons. It gives us a lot to talk about.

Walk with me to the lake? 

Meet me in ten. 

It’s a nice day, probably one of the last few for a long time, so I pull on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. Jake’s waiting for me outside the building, dressed in a muscle shirt and cargo shorts. He pulls it off strangely well.

It’s only a fifteen minute walk down to the beach from campus. My hand brushes against Jake’s several times before he finally catches it and twines his fingers with mine.

When we get to the beach, there are clouds rolling in from across the water. “You don’t think it’s going to rain, do you?” I ask.

He shrugs. “You know anythin…

New Releases - Frozen, The Burning Sky, Tumble & Fall

Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston Heart of Dread #1  Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she's heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and de…

RTW -- To Boldly Go...

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. We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.

  This week’s topic:  This month's Bookmobile selection, STARGLASS by Phoebe North, takes place on a generation starship. But the characters wouldn't be there if their ancestors hadn't left Earth with the hope of their descendants one day colonizing elsewhere. Would you go on a generation starship, if given the opportunity? Why or why not? At the time of writing this, I'm watching Star Trek: Into Darkness for the second time in three days. While I would prefer to be the person born on the ship so that I could have a chance of seeing new wo…

College: Tips for Cold Season Reprint

This is a partial reprint of my post from last September. It's cold season once more. I was sick two weekends ago and the cough is sticking around. At the same time, most of my roommates got sick along with half of campus. Here are some tips on how to get through it as quickly as possible.

Drink plenty of fluids
The biggest thing when you're sick is to stay hydrated. Keep a bottle of water or your favorite drink in your bag when you're running around campus. I also recommend tea, especially green tea. Peppermint is my personal favorite for when I'm sick, especially if there's a sore throat involved.

This is the best thing for getting better. If you have the chance to take a nap, do it. If not, try to relax and get as much sleep as possible. If you're sick, I don't recommend running around outside, especially if it's cold. The more running around you do, the more likely it's going to take longer for you to get better.

Skip class only if yo…

Flash Fiction: Umbrella

It's raining and gloomy outside right now (and has been off and on for the past few days). I was staring out the window when this little fic popped into my head.

Rain poured down when I stepped out of class. I reached into my backpack, but the only things in there were my books and my paper.

I took out my umbrella the day before, to give myself more room. Right.

Nothing to do for it now. I had to cross campus in order to get back to the dorms. I stuffed my hands into my hoodie pocket, scrunched up my shoulders, and stepped out.

Within a few steps, the rain was running down my face.

A few more and I could feel it soaking through my hoodie and my jeans rasped against my legs.
I pulled the hood up over my head, but it did little to protect me from the driving rain. I hunched over as a cold wind blew out of the north and blasted straight into my face.

I should have stayed in bed.

I was only about a quarter of the way across campus when a boy’s voice caught my attention. “Umbrella?” h…

New Releases: Fangirl, Antigoddess, Living with Jackie Chan

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile an…

RTW -- Quarterly Check-In

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. We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.

  This week’s topic: Quarterly check-in: we did one in March and one in July. Now that we're 3/4 of the way through the year, how are you doing on your goals? What? No. Not possible. We can't be three-quarters of the way through 2013 already, right??Wow. Goals-wise, I'm back in school, which means I'm back to settling into my usual routine.  My reading goal for this year was 100 and, once again, I won't be meeting it. I'm up to 23 right now. I'd be higher, but I'm currently reading three books at the same time (one classic, o…

Rose Under Fire is HERE

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?
HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY. IT'S HERE. I hesitantly read Code Name Verity last year after weeks of hearing glowing recommendations and praise. I'm cautious about reading books that I've only heard good things about, because my expectations can end up being far too high. 
My expectations were extremely high going in...and absolutely blown away. It was a gorgeously written book that shattered my heart and contained one of the most amazing plot twists I've read. 
I'm so excited to get my hands on this book!

College: Getting Involved on Campus

Classes are starting and students are heading back to school. College isn't all classes and homework and partying. There are lots of clubs and events that students can get involved in.

Start looking into your options early. If there's a club fair, go wander around and find out more about anything that catches your attention. Most clubs have interest meetings that you can attend without committing. Here you can find out more about the club and what they do. I recommend attending these meetings widely and then cherry-picking the ones that you're really interested in.

Consider getting involved within student government. This can be a great opportunity for leadership experience, planning events, meeting people, and getting your voice heard.

Be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. Pick one or two clubs to begin with, keeping track of the time commitment involved. Some clubs require more time than others, especially those that put on a lot of events. Clubs typically …

Flash Fiction: Don't Stay Out After Dark

This fic was inspired by this Tumblr post containing the writing prompt "Use some or all of these in a story or poem: A vampire, a stolen debit card, and a coconut."

Everyone knows the streets aren’t safe after dark. Sometimes, if I can’t sleep, I’ll tug back the curtains and peek out the windows.

Outside, the world is dark and silent. It seems that even the stars are afraid to come out. The trees rustle. Garbage tumbles through the streets. An occasional stray cat or dog will dash down the alleyway.

If I look closely, I can catch a flash of movement in the darkest shadows, the predators of the night hunting for anyone foolish enough to get caught outside after dark.

Anyone like me.

I pull my coat up closer around my body, trying to block out the cold winter wind that is cutting through my layers. I wouldn’t be out here if it wasn’t for my stupid debit card. I’m sure it was in my pocket when I left the grocery store, but when I got home and checked, it was gone.


New Releases: The 100, Conjured, Starry Nights

The 100 by Kass Morgan In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth's toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland... before it's too late.

Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they've only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they're haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust - and even love - again.

Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she's in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic…

Tracking Productivity

When you're working on a WIP, sometimes it can be useful to keep track of how much you are progressing. This is especially true when setting word count goals. There are a number of different ways to track progress when drafting.

The easiest is to write down what the word count on your document is before starting a period of drafting and then again at the end. This can be difficult to remember to do, however, especially if you're anxious to get started on a scene.

When I used Word for writing, I would change the text color to red at the start of a writing session and then, to see what my word count for that day was, I would just select the red text. This works well if you remember to change text color before you start writing and then remember to change it back to black before you start another session.

Some programs have functions that keep track of session word count on their own. Scrivener does this and allows you to set goals that it lets you know when they are met.

Once …

New Releases - If You Could Be Mine, The Boy on the Wooden Box, Relic

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.

So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.

Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to b…

The Book Thief Movie

I am so excited for this movie! The Book Thief is one of my favorite books of all-time and the fact that it's being made into a movie is both exciting and terrifying.


This movie is going to be beautiful and heart-shattering. There'll be a box of tissues with me when I go to see it, mark my words.

College: More Tips for the First Day

Last year, I posted five tips for the first day of school. This year, now that the first day of the semester has come around once more, here are five more tips.

#1: Pay attention to the syllabus
I know it's boring and that, for the most part, they're all basically the same but it's still important. This is when you'll find out what the class entails and when major assignments are due.

#2: Know where you're going
Look up which classes you have when and what rooms they're in ahead of time. If you're like me and you're afraid you won't remember, write them down somewhere or put them into your phone.

#3: Arrive early 
Get to class early. I tend to be fifteen or twenty minutes early the first week, just so I know how long it takes me to get there and I know I won't be late. This is also a good time to meet your fellow classmates and sometimes the professor.

#4: Sit toward the front
Choose a chair toward the front of the room. Not only is it easier to se…

New Releases: Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy; Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock; Texting the Underworld

Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem Marina is born of privilege. Her mother, Sveta, is the Soviet Union's prima ballerina: an international star handpicked by the regime. But Sveta is afflicted with a mysterious second sight and becomes obsessed with exposing a horrific state secret. Then she disappears.

Fearing for their lives, Marina and her father defect to Brooklyn. Marina struggles to reestablish herself as a dancer at Juilliard. But her enigmatic partner, Sergei, makes concentration almost impossible, as does the fact that Marina shares her mother's “gift,” and has a vision of her father’s murder at the hands of the Russian crooks and con artists she thought they'd left behind. 

Now Marina must navigate the web of intrigue surrounding her mother's disappearance, her ability, and exactly whom she can—and can't—trust.

 Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Today is Leonard Peacock's birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun i…

RTW -- Favorite Beach Read

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. We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments. 

  This week’s topic: Summer is winding down, but it's not over just yet! What's your favorite beach read? This is always a tricky question for me because, even though I live within walking distance of a fairly nice beach, I rarely ever go there in the summer. And when I do go to a beach, I'm not usually there to read. If I'm on vacation somewhere where I can just lay out on the beach for hours on end (read: Florida), then I usually just read whatever's in my stack.
However, if I had to pick a book to read on the beach, I'd either go w…

Write On Con Starts Today

Reminder that the fourth annual Write On Con starts today! I've attended every year and it's always a fabulous learning experience, especially as I've never been able to attend a live writers' conference. It runs all day today and tomorrow, and all posts and chats will be archived if you aren't able to check it out right away.

For me, somehow the conference always falls the week before I go back to school, so I don't know how much I'll be missing while I'm running around trying to get everything done before I can go back.

The line-up looks amazing this year, as usual! It's shaping up to be better than ever.

College: 5 Things to Do the Week Before

At the time of posting, I have four days until I go back to school. I've officially left the denial phase--(What do you mean summer is over? It's June! It can't be over)--and moved into the anxious phase--(So much to do and so little time to do it. How am I going to get all of this done? Why didn't I start earlier?). Here are some tips to help with that frantic week before.

Get with roommates about move-in arrangements, if you haven't already
If you're not commuting, then find out when you can move in and make arrangements with roommates. It's important to know who is moving in first and how things will go. If you're really organized, you can decide which side of the room each of you want or you can just do what most people do and first-come first-serve.

Pick up last minute items
If you haven't gone shopping yet (and if you're not waiting to get there so you don't have to ship all your stuff like me), then get out there. The closer to the sta…

New Members of the Family

I've grown up in an animal-loving family and so we've always had furry creatures of some kind in the house. Last winter, while I was home, my mom decided that she wanted another guinea pig. We'd kept them for years, but they all passed on before I went away to college and she hadn't gotten another one since.

I named the new guinea pig Oswin, after Clara Oswin Oswald on Doctor Who, even after he turned out to be male.

At the start of the summer, Mom decided that she wanted to breed him. So we bought a little female--Ziva, named after Ziva Davidon NCIS--and put them together. She took and I worried that she wouldn't have her babies before I left to go back to school.

Wednesday night I was sitting in bed, their cage in my room, and I heard a strange squeaking noise. I got up to check it out and, sure enough, she'd already delivered two babies and was in the process of having a third. I sat up to make sure everything was okay (guinea pig deliveries are commonly dif…

New Releases: Gated, TMI, Out of Play

Gated  by Amy Christine Parker Do the gates keep the unchosen out or the chosen in?

In Mandrodage Meadows, life seems perfect. The members of this isolated suburban community have thrived under Pioneer, the charismatic leader who saved them from their sad, damaged lives. Lyla Hamilton and her parents are original members of the flock. They moved here following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, looking to escape the evil in the world. Now seventeen, Lyla knows certain facts are not to be questioned:

Pioneer is her leader.
Will is her Intended.
The end of the world is near.

Like Noah before him, Pioneer has been told of the imminent destruction of humanity. He says his chosen must arm themselves to fight off the unchosen people, who will surely seek refuge in the compound's underground fortress--the Silo.

Lyla loves her family and friends, but given the choice, she prefers painting to target practice. And lately she'd rather think about a certain boy outside the compound than pla…

RTW -- What Animal?

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. We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments. 

  Next week’s topic: If you could be any animal, which would it be, and why? My answer to this question varies depending on how I look at it. If I read it as which animal would I be, the answer is a horse. Like a lot of young girls, I was bitten by the horse bug. Unlike a lot of young girls, I never grew out of it. I was about nine, a friend of my father's offered to let me ride his old gelding, and the moment I was up on his back, I was hooked. It completely broad-sided my mom--who was and still is a huge horse person--because, as she likes to tell me, p…

Book Buying Tally: 2013

A few years ago, I decided to keep a tally of all the booksI bought or checked out of the library to see what the trends were. Ever since then I've kept a list of books and my reasons for picking them up and posted the results each August.

2010 results
2011 results and analysis
2012 results

August has come around once again so it's time for the annual tally. My list has taken a hit now that I'm at university and don't go to the library as much as I used to. The only books that count for the list are ones that I've bought to read for pleasure. I have a whole set of novels that I will read for pleasure but bought for class (it's on Tolkien).

I'll summarize the results to begin and then break them down. In brackets are last year's percentages for comparison.

Book in series: 29% -- [30%]
Author: 29% -- [20%]
Word of mouth: 18% -- [17%]
Add to collection: 12%  Genre research: 6%
Classic: 6% -- [3%]

Looks like my habits are staying relatively the same. I expec…

College: Buying Textbooks

It's almost back to school time. Back to school time comes with the semester tradition of buying textbooks. I'm weird in that I actually love the feeling of my textbooks arriving and flipping through them for the first time, but I still hate buying them. Here are some tips to get you through this textbook-buying season.

1. Shop around 
Compare prices on a variety of different websites. Find out what your classmates use and recommend. I tend to buy my books from Barnes & Noble because A) I trust them, B) the pricing tends to be relatively low in comparison to other places, and C) my shipping is free. A good way to keep costs down is to rent textbooks instead of buying them, though I prefer the option of reselling mine at the end of the year. Also, if you're looking at other sellers on a website like Amazon, watch that they don't run out of stock before you place the order.

2. Remember to take tax and shipping costs into consideration
When you're comparing prices…

New Releases: The 5th Wave, The Boy on the Bridge

The 5th Wave  by Rick Yancy The 5th Wave #1 After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

 The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford  Laura Reid goes to Leningrad for a semester abroad as Cold War paranoia is peaking in 1982. She meets a young Russian artist named Alexei and soon, with Alexei as her guide, La…

RTW: Best Book of July

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. We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments. 

  This week’s topic: What was the best book you read in July? Reading-wise, July got off to a great start and finished with a not-so-great ending. I read four books, all of them within the first two weeks. I enjoyed all four of them but none of the really stood out to me, which makes picking one for this post a little difficult.  I'm going to have to go with... 
When I bought this book, it was on sale at a Books a Million. I remembered it from a new release post the year before, when the cover caught my eye. I picked it up and when I finally chose to read…

Reading for the Movie

I'm the kind of person where, if a movie is being made out of a young adult book (I don't really do this with adult books, simply because there are so many movies made out of them that I want to see that I don't have the time or the money), then I have to read the book before I see the movie.

Ironically, because of this, there are more movies that I dislike in terms of the book than movies I like. There are some movies that I think complement the book well (Hunger Games, for instance) and some movies that I have problems with but still love (Harry Potter) and some movies that are so different from the book I just barely consider them connected (The Lightning Thief). And then there are the movies I can't stand to watch because it's like they took a wood chipper to the book and then tried to fill it with sawdust.

Why do I do this to myself? Why do I read a book before going to see the movie if I know that it could potentially ruin the movie for me?

Well, there are a…

Monday Updates: July 29

This is my last Monday Updates post. As of next Monday, I'm going to start up my college tips weekly blog on Mondays, since it's almost the school year. 

Song of the Week: Here's to Us by Halestorm

How's Life?
Well, there are only two days left in July and I'm still trying to figure out where the rest of my summer went. Seriously, it can't almost be August, can it?

How's TV? 
Watched the series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Friday. There was a point in the middle where I wanted to just stop because I didn't want the series to end. It was a fantastic finale, definitely one of my favorites. Now I'm trying to decide which on my long list should I watch next.

Silver Linings Playbook is an amazing movie. I already knew Jennifer Lawrence was a fantastic actress but she still managed to surprise me.

Taken 2 isn't nearly as good as the first one, but it's a decent movie overall. 

How's Reading?
Books read: 0
I'm not doing very well re…