Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Book of the Month: Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard!

For the month of June I was a good little reader, because not only did I finally manage to read one book, I ended up reading three! And these books are part of the fabulous PRETTY LITTLE LIARS series by Sara Shepard! Today, for those of you who haven't read the series, I'll just review the first one, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS. Here's the summery from Goodreads:

Three years ago, Alison disappeared after a slumber party, not to be seen since. Her friends at the elite Pennsylvania school mourned her, but they also breathed secret sighs of relief. Each of them guarded a secret that only Alison had known. Now they have other dirty little secrets, secrets that could sink them in their gossip-hungry world. When each of them begins receiving anonymous emails and text messages, panic sets in. Are they being betrayed by some one in their circle? Worse yet: Is Alison back? A strong launch for a suspenseful series.

Sounds awesome, no? The first thing you should know about this series is to not let the Barbie-like cover fool you. It may look like a harmless MG novel on the outside, but on the inside...it's YA all the way, baby! This book is amazing, it's dark, suspenseful, creepy and full of secrets and lies and twists and turns that'll leave you guessing all the way to the very end!

I also love how the book is told from four POVs! I can hardly handle writing from one, let alone four! But Sara's got it in the bag! I also love how she "goes there" throughout the story, exploring tough subjects such as a student-teacher romance, an eating disorder, infidelity, and figuring out your true sexuality.

Sara explores these subjects with honesty and really makes you experience the feelings that accompany these subjects as if your the one experiencing them, while all the while mixing in a creepy murder mystery, a relentless stalker and of course swoon-worthy boys and kissing!

I devoured this book in just three days and quickly began eating up the rest! In fact, I'm ready to start reading book four! So, take it from me: don't judge a book by it's cover, you might just be surprised at (and love!) what lies between its pages!

Now, go forth my friends and READ THIS BOOK! You won't be sorry! :)


Thursday, June 30, 2011

June Confessional....

Uh I'm not so sure what I'm going to do. That's confession one.

I have college coming up and I have NO idea what I'm doing. I pride myself on having a sense of direction and you know purpose...but college is scary and big (alright well mine isn't that big but not the point...) and I'm going in blind. Big life transitions aren't my strong suit. I fight change. I understand its purpose, and that nothing can stay the same or the world would cease to be but that doesn't mean I have to like change.

Confession two...I a terrified of snakes. I bring this up because the other night my dad was watching some show and there were snakes. Like these people were catching them, for fun. And it freaked me out. So badly, it made me make him change the channel.

Confession three... Parker and Hardison! I don't even know what their relationship is yet, because I'm pretty sure they don't know but the point is they are together and it made me really happy. Like flail around jump up and down with the clicker in my hand happy. That is sad. I know but it is what it is.

Four, I maybe haven't woken up before noon for two weeks in a row now...don't judge but I've been working and then get home and have stuff to do so I'm up late. And then I sleep.

I think that is it. June was kind of uneventful. Uh how did I do?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Oh the Search...

In life we search for a lot of things. Some things we are not ashamed to share others...not so much. Following Bethany R's lead I've decided to open up my history and take a gander at what I've been searching via Google and other lovely search engines. If the FBI is following up on me they may be a slight bit concerned.

First and foremost I had Fred Weasley Fanfic, okay don't judge me but with the final coming up I've been focusing in on my favorite character and his inevitable tragedy. This is a SPOILER. If you haven't read the books by now well then, you missed the train by four years. Fred is killed by a WALL. Not okay. And so I have been conducting what I am calling the "Epic Reread" in which I reread every single Harry Potter book. Including all the little companions JKR came out with, such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Though the Ages, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard. So I have been dabbling into the imaginations of others--Just for the record I do not read HP fanfic that is AU (it just annoys me because more likely than not the writing is not too mind blowing, occasionally I will find one that is beautifully written and therefore I do indulge), or where it is Character X and OC, I don't know I just prefer things to be a little closer to the original -- with a special focus on Fred, George, Draco, Snape etc. all my favorites. But especially Fred.

Then there is POTTERMORE. I tried to make this page my homepage but it wouldn't take, so I've left the window open for the past week, along with the countdown clock that was available on youtube, waiting for it to come online. I got my butt up super early this morning to watch the countdown tick to zero and enjoy the launch of the site. I love JKR have I mentioned that yet because that woman is my hero, and I'm pretty sure I'd spontaneously combust if I ever met her.

Next up are the things that may have placed me onto the FBI watch list...I've been looking up how to hot wire cars, pick locks, make a potato gun, forge Ids, etc...all for a new story about criminal life and things, I'm still just in the beginning stages so I'm not sharing anymore details than that with anyone but my critique group, (I love you girls!) and my besties whom I see every day--we write during school together so yeah they are my trampoline I bounce ideas off of them, and sentences sometimes I just can't form sentences without them.

Then there was the Amazon pages. I've been living on Amazon forever, and recently it seems like I spend even more time browsing pages looking up new books I've heard of and searching for books that might catch my eye or help me to improve my writing (you can always find room for improvement!). So there is like at least two hundred items on my Amazon recently searched/viewed list, and I'm pretty sure that was just from like the last few days.

That is my search engine confession...what's yours?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Wrestling With Dialogue

I don’t know who said this, but I dislike them anyway. They make it sound like if you aren’t a dialoguing natural then you’re doomed, but it isn’t that way at all.

I’m not exactly a world class conversationalist, so it isn’t surprising that I suck at dialog. Then again apparently, I’m not a lone. I was surprised to learn that a lot of people struggle with dialogue. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

One of the problems for me is that there is a lot of advise floating around out there about writing good dialogue. I’m in desperate need of that advise, but sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s just blowing steam and who can actually help. Take this quote for example…

"The best way to send information is to wrap it up in a person."
- Robert Oppenheimer

It sounds like solid writing advise, and the name sounds somewhat familiar, so my first instinct was that his opinions must be relevant. Wrong. It turns out Robert Oppenheimer was the director of the Manhattan Project during World War II. He helped create the atomic bomb not the great American novel. So chances are he isn’t going to be able to help me.

Then there are the articles that are helpful just not in the right way. They’re written by published authors. They have bullet points. Everything points at them offering you good information, so you start reading. It isn’t until you get half way through the incredibly long article that you realize that while the tips are helpful in making the dialogue count they just don’t actually help you write the dialog in the first place.

Finally there are the article that look helpful but really aren’t. They have bullet points too. They’re at the top of the Google list, and they’re peer based. What could be better? A lot depending on the peers. Just because someone claims to know how to write good doesn’t mean that they can actually help you write good dialog. It’s one of those cases where the phrase “those who can do and those who can’t teach” really comes back to bite the reader. Someone who’s clueless isn’t always the best teacher.

“You can't worry about what your mother will think of your fiction.”

-Terence M. Green's

Some of the best advise I’ve found on writing dialog hasn’t come from Googling “how to write good dialogue in a story.” It’s come from Googling authors who’ve written Newberry Medal Winners, Caldicot Award Winners, and Hugo Award Winners. Now those guys know how to write amazing dialogue, and in a lot of cases they’re willing to give some helpful hints those of us who struggle with dialogue (or any number of other writing corner stones).

The most helpful article by far I’ve found was written by Robert J. Sawyer. He didn’t just talk about what should come before and after dialogue or the importance of making it short. He went into detail about how people talk and how to take the canned stuff our minds create and turn it into something a real person would say. He ever covered using swear words in, which gives him major brownie points in my book.

Anyway, happy hunting, and if you find any good tips out there please pass them back my way.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wake Up to a Darn Good Book

Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math—and blind. Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind. But Caitlin’s brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online. So when she receives an implant to restore her sight, instead of seeing reality, the landscape of the World Wide Web explodes into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colors and shapes. While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something—some other —lurking in the background. And it’s getting more and more intelligent with each passing day…

It’s been a long time since I read a book that pulled me in so absolutely. From the cover to the story line to the character to the pacing Wake truly is a work of art.

Robert Sawyer took the phrase “all good things comes to those who wait” to heart when setting out the pacing for his story. Caitlin doesn’t immediately get her sight back as soon as she gets the implant, and Webmind doesn’t pop into existence as a fully formed sentient genius. They both have to go through a lot of trial and error to progress to the next step in their journeys, and sometimes it’s only by blind luck that they make it to the next step at all. If it weren’t for these realistic bouts of trial and error the two of them would never have discovered each other, and their struggles go to show that sometimes the journey is more important than the destination although the destination was pretty darn important too.

I also found the secondary characters captivating. They weren’t stock characters. Each one was unique and real. There was the research scientist who loves Abba and who traveled half way around the world, leaving his family behind, to help Caitlin. I especially loved the way Sawyer developed the characters over time. He started by introducing us to them without visual descriptions, and then as Caitlin ability to perceive the world changes so does her perception of the people in her life.

My favorite parts were Caitlin’s interactions with her dad. She spent the first part of the book wondering why he was so distant and trying to connect with, and it wasn’t until much later that it was finally reveled why it was so difficult for them to connect. I don’t want to spoil the surprise so I’m not going to say what the difficulty was, but it was a dynamic that really hit close to home for me. Major plot arc aside I’d recommend Wake based solely on that dynamic.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

During the month of May I had the huge pleasure of reading an amazing Middle Grade called A Tale Dark and Grimm by the clever and talented Adam Gidwitz. I don't read a lot of MG, but I'm so glad I decided to read this one! Here's the summary from Adam's website:

Reader, beware.

Warlocks with dark spells, hunters with deadly aim, and bakers with ovens retro-fitted for baking children lurk within these pages.

But if you dare,

Follow Hansel and Gretel as they walk out of their own story and into the wilds—where magic, terror, and a little bit of humor shine like white pebbles lighting the way.

Come on in. It may be frightening, and it’s certainly bloody, but, unlike those other fairy tales you know, this one is true.

Once upon a time, you see, fairy tales were awesome.

I loved this book. From the first page I was hooked, laughing, gasping, and crinkling my nose in disgust. This book has it all! My favorite parts were when the author himself would cut in during the story to offer his own bits of humorous wisdom or advice. This book would be great to read aloud at bedtime or in the classroom and I think it would delight both kids and adults alike! I'm 22 and in college and I loved it! What's awesome about this book is that Adam takes familiar (and not so familiar) fairytales and turns them upside down to create a story full of action, adventure, sibling loyalty, a little romance, a little blood, and finding a place to belong in the world. I highly recommend this book! :)


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Confessions? Have I EVER!

May has been nothing but a pain in the butt month. With the exception of this idea thing that happened. Other than that it has been a dud. I got into a huge fight with my sisters, have been at the throats of my best friends, and humiliated myself more than once struggling to get work done.

Here are my confessions.

-My bestie Olya and I basically did the yearbook by ourselves (Oh and this nice boy did the Sports pages) but between the two of us, out of say (and I'm ball-parking here because I do not know off the top of my head, and no longer care to) 13 sections, we did nine. NINE. Our editors did jack shit. They were supposed to organize and scan photos. We did that. THEY were supposed to set up the page designs for the other sections. We did that. They were supposed to get everything finished on time, and when they didn't Olya and I took it upon ourselves to finish the supplement. I am so pissed about this.

-My boss hasn't given me a weekend off in two months, and by weekend off I mean I've been working for at least a three hour shift EVERY Saturday and Sunday for six freaking weeks.

-I'm tired. Like could curl up where I sit tired and sleep, forever.

-My bestie, whom I will refer to as Callian is maybe getting on my nerves a little. I'm not allowed to complain about my job because it irks her, cause she doesn't have one. I'm not allowed to slack off and enjoy my senioritis because it bothers her. She gets to get all snappy and bossy with me but I don't get to do anything like that with her. I'm sick of it.

-I had to ask five people to my prom before someone said yes. It was embarassing, skin thickening and mostly frustrating. But it only gets more frustrating when you hear people takling about their prom dates. For example, while trying on dresses one girl was bemoaning the fact that she got asked out eight times. While scrambling to pull together a budget for my dress, transportation and tickets, etc., one of my sisters classmates got a prom dress for EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS!!! And just yesterday one of my classmates was complaining about how he didn't have a date, and when someone (not me) inquired if he'd asked anyone the answer was no. And it pissed me off because you don't get to complain if you didn't even try. UGH.

Was that enough confessions for today? I can't think of anymore at the moment but if I do I'll add them in later. Please forgive me for that rant, I do apologize.