Wednesday, May 29, 2013

RTW: Most Surprising 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.

This Week: 
What's been your most surprising read of the year so far---the book you weren't sure about going in that really swept you off your feet?

This is a tricky one because I haven't really had any books this year that I wasn't sure about sweeping me off my feet. 

The books that have surprised me the most this year are A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords because I was expecting insanity, but not that level of insanity. It's been a few months now and I'm still recovering from the events of Swords. Kings was the first book I have ever physically thrown across the room (I love my books too much for throwing) and Swords is the first book I have ever physically thrown across the room multiple times. 

Don't get me wrong, I adored both of them and A Feast for Crows is one of the next books on my to-buy list. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I got all of that and so much more. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Movies Featuring Writers and Publishing

I have a love-hate relationship with movies about writers and movies that feature the publishing industry. Mostly because I could sit there for hours and nitpick. However, I can't stop watching those movies because I love them. I love seeing writers pursing their dream. Here are some movies featuring writers and publishing that I can think of off the top of my head.

My Girlfriend's Boyfriend 
This is one of my personal favorite movies. Even though there are some things that bother me (for instance, the fact that Ethan only ever goes to the same publisher), it's still a clever movie with a beautifully realistic romance. I've seen it more times than I can count and it never gets old.

The Proposal
Another personal favorite of mine. If you haven't seen it, this one features an editor and her assistant who she blackmails into an engagement to prevent her from being deported. This one is probably one of the most realistic depictions (in my inexperienced opinion).

The next four I haven't actually seen (but are all on my list) so I can't really say much.

The Words
I've been dying to see this movie since I first saw the trailer before it came into theaters. It's about a struggling writer who stumbles upon an old manuscript and publishes it as his own.

Ruby Sparks
I'm not quite sure about this one, but it looks cute. A writer starts a book about a girl and is shocked when his character literally comes to life.

One of my friends loves this movie so I've been intending to watch it since I heard about it.

Ghost Writer
I saw the trailer for this movie on the DVD for another movie and it's been stuck in my head ever since. I really want to watch it because it looks fantastic.

What are some of your favorite movies with writers and/or publishing?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Releases: All I Need, Absent, Dare You To

All I Need
by Susane Colasanti
Skye wants to meet the boy who will change her life forever. Seth feels their instant connection the second he sees her. When Seth starts talking to Skye at the last beach party of the summer, it’s obvious to both of them that this is something real. But when Seth leaves for college before they exchange contact info, Skye wonders if he felt the same way she did—and if she will ever see him again. Even if they find their way back to each other, can they make a long-distance relationship work despite trust issues, ex drama, and some serious background differences?

by Katie Williams
Forever is a long time to be stuck in high school.

Seventeen-year-old Paige is dead, the victim of a freak fall from the roof during Physics class. Now she’s a ghost, permanently bound to the grounds of her high school. It isn’t all bad, she can find out everyone’s secrets, which can be amusing—for a while. But then Paige hears something that isn’t amusing at all: the rumor spread by the most popular girl at school that her death wasn’t an accident—that she supposedly jumped on purpose. Paige is desperate to stop the gossip, but what can a ghost do? Then Paige discovers something amazing. She can possess living people when they think of her, and she can make them do almost anything. Maybe, just maybe, she can get inside the girl who’s responsible for the stories. . . and have a little fun turning the tables while she’s at it. 

 Dare You To 
by Katie McGarry
Pushing the Limits #2 

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

RTW: Dream Author Panel

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: 
What authors would be on your dream author panel?

Conference season is here once more! I have never been to BEA or ALA (or any conference, for that matter) and, sadly, that doesn't look like it's going to change this year. Someday!

If I had to pick my dream author panel, I think it would have to include John Green (Looking for Alaska, The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns), Veronica Roth (Diverent, Insurgent), Lisa McMann (Wake, Fade, Gone, Cryer's Cross), Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity, which if you haven't read it you really should. Seriously), and David Levithan (Boy Meets Boy, Every Day).

I just think they would be a fascinating group to listen to talk about anything having to do with young adult literature. They're all fantastic writers and I would love to hear them.

Markus Zusak (The Book Thief, The Messenger) would be amazing to have on the panel as well. Especially when it comes to talking about YA historical fiction.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Bittersweet Review

by Sarah Ockler
Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life, and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances... a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.

So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life... and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last...
I really liked this book. It's sweet and funny with a heavy dollop of romance. The voice is beautiful. It captured me in a way where I didn't even realize I was sliding into the story until I tried to leave. Each chapter begins with a cupcake name and description, and that was a nice touch that I loved. I also loved the use of ice skating and hockey.

The first meeting between Josh and Hudson was refreshingly perfect. It's perfectly sweet and awkward in a realistic way. They don't just it together naturally like they've been best friends forever.
It all wraps up very nicely. I was a little worried about where the story was going toward the end, but everything turned out all right and it was beautiful. 

Overall: 9/10

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Updates: May 20

It's been a rather busy week with lots of great TV news and season finales. All of my shows season finales aired this week. All of them.

Once Upon a Time season finale was lovely. I was wavering on whether or not I was actually going to continue with the show for season three, but the finale clinched it. Castle finale is killing me with its unfair extreme cliffhangers. NCIS finale was worse than Once and Castle put together.

DOCTOR WHO. I don't even know how I feel about this one. I'm all lost and confused and it was brilliant but I raged for five minutes after the end and I don't even know.

And if I thought Once and Doctor Who and Castle and NCIS were bad...I watched the Arrow finale. If you aren't watching Arrow, you might want to think about checking it out because it's a great show.

The Agents of SHIELD trailer is here and IT IS FANTASTIC. I'm so excited for the show to start in the fall. It's going to be brilliant. The Once Upon a Time in Wonderland trailer was also revealed. As if I didn't have enough shows to look forward to already.

And Oxbow won the Preakness yesterday, breaking any chance of a Triple Crown winner in 2013. The Red Wings are playing round 2 of the playoffs against the Blackhawks. They lost game 1 and retaliated with a fantastic game 2 victory on Saturday...and I'll shut up about sports now, I'm sorry. 

Books read: 2
I finished reading Bittersweet last week and a review is forthcoming.

Words written: 1,851
It's been a week of ups and downs writing-wise. The good news is I have started writing again and I know where I'm going with my WIP. I've just been really busy and my laptop started having technical difficulties.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

RTW - One That Got Away

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: 
What book is your 'one that got away?' (What book have you always been dying to read but still haven't yet?)

Considering that my to-read shelf on GR is rapidly approaching 500 (488 right now), this could be a long list. 

The first books to pop into my head are the entire trilogy of Demon's Lexicon, Demon's Covenant and Demon's Surrender.  I own Lexicon and Covenant and I've read the former, but ever since I decided to just read the entire trilogy together, I haven't been able to find Surrender in a bookstore.

There's Eona by Alison Goodman, which I've been wanting to read ever since I devoured Eon years ago in high school. There's Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys, which I see glowing reviews for every time I turn around but have yet to get my hands on.

Other books that have been on my list for too long: Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard, Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers, The Iron King by Julie Kagawa, Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton, Huntress by Malindo Lo, and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Why Iron Man is my Favorite Avenger from a Writer's Standpoint

***WARNING: This post will contain spoilers for all three Iron Man movies and Avengers. That includes Iron Man 3 that just came out.***

If you know me, you know that Avengers is one of my favorite movies. It's my default when I want to watch something and I don't know what. I've seen it more times than I can count and I love all of the Avengers.

But from a writing standpoint, Tony Stark is my favorite. Out of all of them, he has the biggest character arc. I love going back to the first Iron Man and thinking about how much he's changed. Even his way of thinking from the beginning of Avengers to the end changes so much. He evolves. He learns. He realizes the world is bigger than just him. He makes mistakes and he fixes them and he acts like Tony Stark, but you know that he cares.

He doesn't just walk away from huge traumatic events like they didn't happen. He almost died in Avengers and that affects him. He has panic attacks. He can't think about New York without having one. He struggles to deal with that, struggles with the panic attacks and the nightmares, because he's Tony Stark and he wants to be strong.

And even though he's never really had a great track record with women, he tries for Pepper. He loves her and he tells her that. In his last moments in Avengers, he tries to call her because talking to her is the last thing he wants to do.

And he's willing to wipe his slate clean and start over, literally and figuratively. After all that he's ready to move on with his life.

I really hope that Robert Downey Jr. and Marvel are able to come to an agreement and he comes back for Avengers 2. The movie without be the same without him and I'd love to see where he comes out of Iron Man 3.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Reading and Writing Updates: May 13

RED WINGS TAKE GAME SEVEN TO WIN THE SERIES. If you hear blasting of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" that's me. I'll stop. Eventually. 

Also, Marvel revealed the first promo for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. last night! I'm even more excited now for it to start. 

I'm going to try to start posting weekly reading and writing updates to hold myself accountable. The semester really threw me off and now that it's summer I'm trying to get back into everything. 

Books read: 1 
I devoured Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet last week. I'm a huge fan of BBC's Sherlock so seeing the inspiration behind it was fascinating. I'd never read any of Doyle's works before and I'm looking forward to reading on. 

Words written: ?? 
I didn't think to keep track of my word count last week so I'll have to make sure to do that this week. I've been writing steadily but not on anything in particular.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday: Across the Fence

I took an intro to creative writing class last semester and one of my favorite parts of the class was the biweekly writing prompt. The professor would give us a prompt of some kind and then we would have fifteen minutes to write whatever we thought of based on that prompt. Now that class is over, I want to keep it up and I thought posting those little bits here would be a good motivator.

The prompt for this one came from this blog (it's #732): “From across the fence, a love story.”

Hart gazed across the other side of the fence, his glossy black coat hot under the midday sun. He pranced as he watched a small trailer pull into the driveway on the other side. Finally, after months of loneliness, perhaps the other pasture would be filled again.

He watched as an older male human and a little female climbed out of the truck and walked to the back of the trailer, sliding open the bolt. The door opened and the male climbed inside, backing out the new arrival.

Hart raised his muzzle, sniffing at the wind to take in the new horse’s scent as he watched them lead her in circles. It was a gray mare with delicate features and a long mane and tail to rival his own.

“Get her settled in,” the male said as he handed the mare’s lead to the female.

“Come on, girl,” the female chirped to the mare and lead her over to the pasture next to Hart’s. As soon as she was free, the mare kicked up her heels and cantered over the grass. Her mane and tail streamed in the wind like silver banners and her powerful legs covered the ground in large strides. It seemed she would never tire, but finally she slowed to a walk and snuffed at the ground.

Hart couldn’t take it any longer. He stretched out his neck and whinnied to her.

She looked in his direction, ears pricked, and walked over to the fence. He stretched his neck over the boards and sniffed at her coat.

“What’s your name?” the mare asked, swinging her hindquarters away from his inquisitive muzzle. She could hardly stand still, dancing around at the other side of the fence and glancing back every few seconds in the direction of her watching humans.

“Hart,” he answered, leaning his chest against the fence to reach her better. The boards creaked under his weight, but held.

“Sorra,” the mare replied. “How long have you lived here?”

Hart pawed at the ground. “Since I was taken away from my mother. You’ll like it here, I think. The humans are nice enough.”

Sorra shook her coat. “As far as humans go.” She stood still long enough for Hart to reach over and nuzzle her coat. The scent of peppermint wafted across the wind towards them and both horses’ nostrils flared with the familiar smell.

“See you around, Hart.” Sorra whirled around and trotted off to where the female held out her hand.

Hart sighed, glancing back to the dark house where his humans lived. It had been too long since they’d taken a second to visit and give him a peppermint. He looked back to Sorra snuffling up her treat and pranced with suppressed joy. At least now he had a friend.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

New Releases: Gorgeous, Invisibility, Perfection

by Paul Rudnick 
When eighteen-year-old Becky Randle’s mother dies, she’s summoned from her Missouri trailer park to meet Tom Kelly, the world’s top designer. He makes her an impossible offer: He’ll create three dresses to transform Becky from a nothing special girl into the most beautiful woman who ever lived.

Becky thinks Tom is a lunatic, or that he’s producing a hidden camera show called World’s Most Gullible Poor People. But she accepts, and she’s remade as Rebecca. When Becky looks in the mirror, she sees herself – an awkward mess of split ends and cankles. But when anyone else looks at Becky, they see pure five-alarm hotness.

Soon Rebecca is on the cover of Vogue, the new Hollywood darling, and dating celebrities. Then Becky meets Prince Gregory, heir to the British throne, and everything starts to crumble. Because Rebecca aside, Becky loves him. But to love her back, Gregory would have to look past the blinding Rebecca to see the real girl inside. And Becky knows there’s not enough magic in the world.
by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan

Stephen has been invisible for practically his whole life — because of a curse his grandfather, a powerful cursecaster, bestowed on Stephen’s mother before Stephen was born. So when Elizabeth moves to Stephen’s NYC apartment building from Minnesota, no one is more surprised than he is that she can see him. A budding romance ensues, and when Stephen confides in Elizabeth about his predicament, the two of them decide to dive headfirst into the secret world of cursecasters and spellseekers to figure out a way to break the curse. But things don’t go as planned, especially when Stephen’s grandfather arrives in town, taking his anger out on everyone he sees. In the end, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how big of a sacrifice they’re willing to make for Stephen to become visible — because the answer could mean the difference between life and death. At least for Elizabeth.

by J.L. Spelbring
The personification of Aryan purity, Ellyssa's spent her whole life under her creator's strict training and guidance; her purpose is to eradicate inferior beings. She was genetically engineered to be the perfect soldier: strong, intelligent, unemotional, and telepathic. 

Only Ellyssa isn't perfect. 

Ellyssa feels emotions--a fact she's spent her life concealing. Until she encounters the epitome of inferiority: a dark-haired boy raised among renegades hiding since the Nazis won the war a century ago. He speaks to her telepathically, pushing thoughts into her mind, despite the impossibility of such a substandard person having psychic abilities. 

But he does. 

His unspoken words and visions of a place she's never visited make Ellyssa question her creator. Confused and afraid her secret will be discovered, Ellyssa runs away, embarking on a journey where she discovers there is more to her than perfection.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Best Book in April

I know I'm really late with this post, but I wanted to fit it in anyway. I read five books in April, but the best one was...

Clockwork Princess
by Cassandra Clare


I looked forward to this book for quite awhile before it finally arrived. I thought this might finally be the book that topped City of Glass on my list of favorite Clare novels. It didn't, but it came very, very close.

It's a great final installment to the Infernal Devices trilogy and I really enjoyed it. It was a mistake for me to read it the week before finals, but it was completely worth it. I read the final 200 pages in a single afternoon because I couldn't put the book down. Beloved characters, surprising twists, swoon-worthy romance. It might have wrapped up a little too cleanly for my taste, but the ending is a good one.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Summer Reading

Summer is here! (Though it doesn't feel like it up north. Snow. In MAY. This is not natural.) That means it's time to jump into summer reading. Here are some of my suggestions for a book-filled summer.

Invincible Summer
by Hannah Moskowitz
Not your typical beach read, but a great story for a hot summer day sitting on the patio. 

Along for the Ride
by Sarah Dessen
  I always enjoy coming back and reading this book again. It's a very sweet romance and definitely a great story to take to the beach. 

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
by Ann Brashares
 This is definitely one of those books of my childhood. There are four books in the series, plus a kind of epilogue novel (Sisterhood Everlasting) that takes place years later. All five are fantastic books about friendship and growing up. 

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
by Jennifer E. Smith
This one's definitely going to be on my summer reread list. It's a fast-paced, sweet story. 
Twenty Boy Summer
by Sarah Ockler
This one's a great summer read with a great story.  It's about love and friendship and taking chances.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Past and Present Tense

And...I'm back. Finals week was exhausting but now it's over and I'm home. The Red Wings made the play-offs for the twenty-second year in a row and Orb won the Kentucky Derby. So things are good. (I apologize for the random mentions of sports over the next few weeks, I look forward to Triple Crown and Stanley Cup season year-round.)

Past and present tense. They're both perfectly acceptable tenses to use in a novel, but sometimes one is better used than the other.

Past tense is the narrator telling a story that has already happened. It's probably the most commonly used tense and works well for most stories.

"You're the only one for me," he said just before he kissed her. 

It was used to Harry Potter, the Inheritance Cycle, the Mortal Instruments series, and many other novels. 

Present tense is the narrator telling a story as it happens. It's grown in popularity in reason years in young adult novels. It's a tricky tense to write and can be known to get very choppy and throw the reader off. It's typically used for stories where the tension is very immediate, to increase the suspense.

She throws the book aside. "Curse whoever invented the Pythagorean Theorum," she says. 

It's used in the Hunger Games trilogy, Perfect Chemistry, and Rules of Attraction.

Choosing a tense requires some definite thought. Sometime present tense flows better and sometimes past tense is more appropriate for the plot of the story. You might start out writing in one tense, and find yourself constantly switching to another. That's okay, as long as the tense is consistent in revisions.