Thursday, August 29, 2013

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 be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?

The Boy on the Wooden Box
by Leon Leyson 
Even in the darkest of times—especially in the darkest of times—there is room for strength and bravery. A remarkable memoir from Leon Leyson, one of the youngest children to survive the Holocaust on Oskar Schindler’s list.

 Leon Leyson (born Leib Lezjon) was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto. With incredible luck, perseverance, and grit, Leyson was able to survive the sadism of the Nazis, including that of the demonic Amon Goeth, commandant of Plaszow, the concentration camp outside Krakow. Ultimately, it was the generosity and cunning of one man, a man named Oskar Schindler, who saved Leon Leyson’s life, and the lives of his mother, his father, and two of his four siblings, by adding their names to his list of workers in his factory—a list that became world renowned: Schindler’s List.

by Renee Collins
After a raging fire consumes her town and kills her parents, Maggie Davis is on her own to protect her younger sister and survive best she can in the Colorado town of Burning Mesa. In Maggie’s world, the bones of long-extinct magical creatures such as dragons and sirens are mined and traded for their residual magical elements, and harnessing these relics’ powers allows the user to wield fire, turn invisible, or heal even the worst of injuries.

Working in a local saloon, Maggie befriends the spirited showgirl Adelaide and falls for the roguish cowboy Landon. But when she proves to have a particular skill at harnessing the relics’ powers, Maggie is whisked away to the glamorous hacienda of Álvar Castilla, the wealthy young relic baron who runs Burning Mesa. Though his intentions aren’t always clear, Álvar trains Maggie in the world of relic magic. But when the mysterious fires reappear in their neighboring towns, Maggie must discover who is channeling relic magic for evil before it’s too late.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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.

Monday, August 26, 2013

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 see and hear, but you're less likely to get distracted. Plus the professor will be more likely to notice.

#5: Come to class prepared
Bring notebook, pens, pencils, and any textbooks that the class requires. It's usually fine not to have the textbooks the first day, but there have been classes where I've needed them right away.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

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 in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather's P-38 pistol.

But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school's class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.

 Texting the Underworld
by Ellen Booraem
Perpetual scaredy-cat Conor O'Neill has the fright of his life when a banshee girl named Ashling shows up in his bedroom. Ashling is--as all banshees are--a harbinger of death, but she's new at this banshee business, and first she insists on going to middle school. As Conor attempts to hide her identity from his teachers, he realizes he's going to have to pay a visit to the underworld if he wants to keep his family safe.

"Got your cell?"
"Yeah . . . . Don't see what good it'll do me."
"I'll text you if anything happens that you should know."
"Text me? Javier, we'll be in the afterlife."
"You never know. Maybe they get a signal."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

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 with something summer- and beach-oriented (Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, for instance) or something light and romantic (The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith) or something comfortable and familiar (Tamora Pierce's Immortals quartet or J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series).

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

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.

Monday, August 12, 2013

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 start of the semester, the more things start to look picked over.

Pack up everything
Try not to leave packing until the last minute. You may find out that you need more totes or boxes than you expected, and run into problems if you're packing on the last day before you leave. Try to organize things to make them easier to find when you're unpacking. If you're a freshman, be careful what you pack. If you realize you need something, someone can always send it to you or you can just wait to come home over the holidays. 

Say goodbye to friends and family
Leaving people behind is tough, so make sure to set aside a little time in the craziness to hang out with friends and family before you leave. 

Make sure you have everything
Small things are easy to leave behind. Make sure you have any important documents, your school ID if you already have one, any textbooks, your phone charger, your laptop charger, and anything else that you're going to need.

Friday, August 9, 2013

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 David on 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 difficult) but she did fine and turned out to be a very attentive mommy.

Guinea pig babies are born with their eyes and ears open, and able to eat solid food (though they do nurse).

Babies' first outing! They're not even a day old yet here...

 These later ones are from an outing the next day, only one day old.

I'm relatively certain that the one with the brown face is a female, already named Indy after Indiana Jones because she was the most adventurous on day one. The one with the black face and the one with the white spot I believe are males. I haven't named either of them yet, so suggestions are welcome. Bonus points for names that are TV show/movie/book references.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

New Releases: Gated, TMI, Out of Play

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 plan for married life in the Silo with Will. But with the end of days drawing near, she will have to pick up a gun, take a side, and let everyone know where she stands.

by Patty Blount 
Best friends don’t lie.
Best friends don’t ditch you for a guy.
Best friends don’t post your deepest, darkest secrets online.

Bailey’s falling head-over-high-heels for Ryder West, a mysterious gamer she met online. A guy she’s never met in person. Her best friend, Meg, doesn’t trust smooth-talking Ryder. He’s just a picture-less profile.

When Bailey starts blowing Meg off to spend more virtual quality time with her new crush, Meg decides it’s time to prove Ryder’s a phony.

But one stupid little secret posted online turns into a friendship-destroying feud to answer the question:

Who is Ryder West?

 Out of Play
by Nyrae Dawn and Jolene Perry

Rock star drummer Bishop Riley doesn't have a drug problem. Celebrities—especially ones suffering from anxiety—just need a little help taking the edge off sometimes. After downing a few too many pills, Bishop wakes up in the hospital facing an intervention. If he wants to stay in the band, he’ll have to detox while under house arrest in Seldon, Alaska. 

Hockey player Penny Jones can't imagine a life outside of Seldon. Though she has tons of scholarship offers to all the best schools, the last thing she wants is to leave. Who'll take care of her absentminded gramps? Not her mother, who can’t even be bothered to come home from work, let alone deal with their new tenants next door.

Penny’s not interested in dealing with Bishop’s crappy attitude, and Bishop’s too busy sneaking pills to care. Until he starts hanging out with Gramps and begins to see what he’s been missing. If Bishop wants a chance with the fiery girl next door, he’ll have to admit he has a problem and kick it. Too bad addiction is hard to kick…and Bishop’s about to run out of time.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

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, prior to that I was terrified of horses.

After that, though, I was hooked. I'd set up jump courses in the backyard and gallop over them, pretending to be a champion show jumper. In 2004, I fell in love with Smarty Jones and horse racing and decided, if I couldn't be a racehorse, then I'd become a jockey. 

I'd become a wild horse, not a Mustang because they aren't as free as they used to be, but something where I could gallop over miles of open land.

If I read the question as what animal would I choose to be, then the answer is a bird. Probably some kind of bird of prey, like an osprey, eagle, or hawk. I'd love to be able to fly, really fly.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Book Buying Tally: 2013

A few years ago, I decided to keep a tally of all the books I 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 expected series books to be high, because they make up the majority of my pre-orders. I'm a little disappointed that premise, which was a major factor last year, has completely disappeared from the tally. It's not really a surprise, though, because when I'm at school the vast majority of books that I buy are ordered and I tend to stick to series and authors that I know unless I'm physically inside of a bookstore.

Genre Research
  1. Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen - My love of historical novels was a recent one and this book was a product of that sudden interest. I also had an idea for my own historical so I was looking to learn more about the genre. 
Book in Series
  1. A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin - Second book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. 
  2. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan - Third book in the Heroes of Olympus series. 
  3. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin - Third book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.
  4. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare - Final book in the Infernal Devices trilogy.
  5. A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin - Fourth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.
  1. Every Day by David Levithan - It was David Levithan. Also the premise sounded incredible and I couldn't wait to get my hands on it.  
  2. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling - It didn't really sound like my thing but it was her first book since Harry Potter so... 
  3. Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler - I loved Twenty Boy Summer and this one sounded like a great read.
  4. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith - I just have a feeling Rowling could write amazing crime novels.
  5. Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor - She's a friend.
  1. Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - I was a little torn on how to classify this one because it was on my mental "to read" list for years because it was a classic, but I bought it because I wanted to read it before seeing the movie.
Word of Mouth
  1. Slam by Nick Hornby - This book was recommended to me years ago and when I found it in a store for less than a dollar, I knew I had to get it. 
  2. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry - I've heard so many amazing things about this book and I'm tired of not having read it.
  3. Cinder by Marissa Meyer - I haven't heard a word against this book yet.
Add to Collection
  1. Wolf-Speaker by Tamora Pierce - Read a hundred times but didn't own 
  2. Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce - Read even more than above but also didn't own 

Monday, August 5, 2013

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 and coming up with an estimate, don't forget to take tax and shipping into consideration. I like to know about how much my textbooks are going to cost, and there was one semester where my estimate was a lot lower than the actual cost because I forgot tax and shipping. 

3. Buy from classmates
Another, generally lower cost option, is to buy used books from classmates who have already taken the class.

4. Know if there are required online codes or software 
Some classes require textbooks that come with an online code, CD, or other software. If you have a class like that, be careful that any textbook you order comes with it. Some of these codes can only be used once and, therefore, require that you buy a new book.

5. Consider e-reader editions 
E-textbooks are sometimes cheaper if you have the device. Be aware, though, of whether or not the professor allows e-textbooks to be used in class. I've had professors who didn't allow us to even have our laptops out during class and may have frowned upon e-readers as well.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

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, Laura immerses herself in the real Russia--a crazy world of wild parties, black-market books and music, and smuggled letters to dissidents. She must keep the relationship secret; associating with Americans is dangerous for Alexei, and if caught, Laura could be sent home and Alexei put under surveillance or worse. At the same time, she's been warned that Soviets often latch onto Americans in hopes of marrying them and thus escaping to the United States. But she knows Alexei loves her. Right?

As June approaches--when Laura must return to the United States--Alexei asks Laura to marry him. She's only nineteen and doesn't think she's ready to settle down. But what if Alexei is the love of her life? How can she leave him behind? If she has a chance to change his life, to rescue him from misery, shouldn't she take it?