Thursday, December 1, 2011

On the Things that Distract Me from Writing

Hello, Blogland! Here's my effort to continue making actual posts. So today I gave away my shift at work with the intention of getting a lot of writing done for school. Because my final packet of the semester is due in exactly one week. And this month I was supposed to write 40 new pages of my novel. As of right now I have 7. I didn't slack off the whole time, though. I did read a lot of wonderful books. But I've been having trouble focusing on my writing. Mostly because I'm a little stuck for what to write. But also because, apparently, I'm easily distractable. There's just too many things out there in Internetland that have the potential to excite me.

So today I've found a nice place to sit with my laptop and my headphones where the lovely Florida sun is shining on me. And I'm making turtle-like progress. And I thought, "Hey, I should write about the things that are distracting me!" Which, in reality, is just another form of distraction/procrastination/djflksdajflsdj. But anyway, here it is.

Things That are Currently Distracting Me From Writing:

1. Blogger (obviously)
2.  Words With Friends (I just made "quoth" for 74 points!)
3. Nerdfighters on YouTube (especially Kristina Horner)
4. My new YouTube channel that my friend and I made to keep in regular contact with one another now that we're living far apart (just put up my first video and discovered that I like talking to myself and also watching myself talking to myself) ((no link because people really don't need to see that))
5. Awesome music on Pandora that's supposed to keep me in the writing zone (but really breaks me out of it every few minutes when I have to scribble down the name of a new song)
6. This crazy 20 questions computer thing that is freaky at guessing who you're thinking of. Check it out here. (He even knew Kristina Horner!)

And now I shall go back to my writing. (Maybe.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Top Ten Tuesdays with TBR List for Winter

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.This week's topic is your TBR list for this winter. I know after my "return to blogging" post, I didn't actually, um, return. And doing a meme really doesn't feel like it counts for me. But I saw this topic and what do you know? I already have a pile of 10 books that I plan on reading starting December 9th. That's the day after I turn in my last packet of the semester for grad school. Then I have exactly a month before school starts up again. So since I have to read only YA and children's books for school, I've been making a pile during the semester of adult books that I want to read during my break. And I just noticed something. My tastes in YA are almost strictly contemporary. But my tastes in adult books are much more widespread. Anyway, here's my list that I can't wait to get to!

1. Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich
2. The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
3. Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinsky
4. Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch
5. Men, Women, & Children by Chad Kultgen
6. While I'm Falling by Laura Moriarty
7. Drinking Closer to Home by Jessica Anya Blau
8. Talking to Girls about Duran Duran by Rob Sheffield
9. Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman
10. My Best Friend was a Wookie by Tony Pacitti

Thursday, November 10, 2011

She's Aliiiiive! (AKA My Return to Blogging)

Greetings Blogosphere! I took an accidental hiatus when I started grad school this July. Oops. I kind of knew this would happen because I'm a huge nerd who happily lets school take over her life. (BTW, if there is one school worth giving two years of my life to, it is definitely VCFA.) I've been busy reading and writing, which is nothing new for me, but now it's all very structured and with deadlines. I could gush about my amazing school forever, but I don't have the time, so instead I'll just say that going here was the best decision I've made in my entire life.

Now it's time to play a quick round of catch-up. I'm going to try to avoid a long babble-y post by just using a bullet list of things that are exciting in my life. And then I plan to make a better effort at updating. I certainly read enough to write regular reviews, but after doing short write-ups on everything I read for school, I don't think I'll want to review everything. (I think I may shy away from actual reviews and stick to more random drive-by this-is-awesome! type posts.)

And it's list time! (PS: I love lists!)

  • I made the greatest friends at my first grad school residency. I didn't expect to bond instantly with everyone and to keep in touch so frequently during the semester. I love everyone in my class, but I just have to say that my e-mail posse has kept me motivated during all the difficult writing times. (Lauren, Stacey, Courtney, Megan, Claire, Ashlee, and Brittany, I heart you!)
  • My advisor, Jane Kurtz, is brilliant. I thought she'd be an easy, cuddly advisor. But she's kicked my ass all semester! And I couldn't be more grateful. There were times when I read her responses and wanted to cry, but the huge amount of improvement I already see in my work thanks to her is incredible.I can't believe I only have a month left with her. But I'm guessing my next advisor will be just as incredible and right for me. (I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for Coe Booth.)Which leads me to...
  • "Trust the Process" (VCFA motto. You will get the advisor you need.)
  • Proof that my school kicks ass: This year's National Book Awards finalists for YA include one alum, Debby Dahl Edwardson for My Name is Not Easy, and one faculty member, Franny Billingsley for Chime.(Plus Lauren Myracle who was mistakenly announced as a finalist is also an alum.)
  • More proof: A girl that was graduating at this July's residency got an agent for the incredibly funny MG novel she wrote at VCFA just a few months later. And then.... TWO WEEKS LATER her agent got her a THREE BOOK DEAL! And the amount of the deal... Oh Em Gee. Now, I know this does not happen to everyone after graduating, but still. My school is made of awesomeness!
  • Lauren Myracle should have been a finalist for the award, IMO, because Shine was one of the best books I've read in I can't even remember how long. It blew my the F away. Seriously. Everyone, go read it. Right now.
  • In not so spectacular news, I moved from Connecticut to Florida. Eh. One thing I'll say is that I hate snow. So I am definitely loving the fact that I can still wear shorts and tank tops in November here. It's pretty spectacular. Other than that... I don't know. I left my life. Luckily, school has kept me way too busy to think about it much.
  • When I got here I found a tutoring job at Huntington Learning Center. I help teens study for the ACT and SAT and write their college app essays. And I love it! I didn't know I could love a job so much. Unfortunately it pays practically nothing. And I've hard a hard time finding a serving job. At first I was excited for the break from slinging food (because as anyone who knows me knows, I despise the idea of being a server), but then after a few months... I realized this is the longest I've gone in the last 6 years without a serving job. And huh. I kinda missed it. What is wrong with me? Haha. So anyway, I just got hired at a cool Greek Diner. And I'm actually looking forward to it. (Maybe I was really just missing the part where I come home with a wad of cash in my pocket each night.)
  • I've discovered (thanks to my friend Lauren) that John Green is the shit. After reading like 5 pages of Looking for Alaska, he soared to the top of my favorite YA authors list. Let me just tell you, he's close to knocking Sarah Dessen out of the Number 1 spot. Paper Towns was perhaps even more fabulous. And I'm now getting ready to read Will Grayson, Will Grayson. NERDY BOY MC'S RULE!
  • Since I don't think I'll go back and do any reviews on books I've read over the last few months, I'll just mention some of the others I loved. You Against Me, Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks, The Sky is Everywhere, Moonglass, If I Tell, The Half-Life of Planets, The Day Before, Small Town Sinners.
  • New TV show obsessions (as if I don't have enough already): 2 Broke Girls, Suburgatory, Hart of Dixie, The Lying Game, The Secret Circle, The New Girl. Also totally loved Switched at Birth. Not that new, but I don't think I've mentioned it here. Oh and that's three comedies, btw, which is new for me. I'm usually way more interested in drama. (PS: Getting to see Rachel Bilson of OC fame again in Hart of Dixie is fab-u-lous!)
  • I've discovered my love of pineapple salsa.
  • One more good thing about Florida... ice cream places open year round. I am not living less than ten minutes away from shaved ice. Heaven.
Finally, I'll leave you with something that makes me go squeee. Pretty Little Liars Spencer/Toby adorable fluffiness.

And that's all folks. My return to the world of blogging. Will resume normal updates now. Off to read Will Grayson, Will Grayson for the next few hours before I have to go to work. Ciao!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays with Sisterhood Everlasting

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser:

"Lena was good at convincing herself of things, and dangerously good at thinking she could be herself without these friends of hers. As the three of them yapped contentedly all the way to the gate, through the lengthy boarding process, onto the plane with its blankets and pillows that gave it the atmosphere of an international slumber party, she felt her face opening into expressions she'd forgotten how to make. Lena remembered herself in all the old familiar things they said. She existed in her friends; there she was. All the parts of herself she'd forgotten. She knew herself best when she was with them." ~Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares, p.48

I always cheat! I know that was way more than two sentences, but it was so beautiful. I had to use it all!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays with Instructions for a Broken Heart

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser: 

"The restaurant walls were too close, pressing in at Jessa at odd, fragmented angles. The tables all seemed a bit too snug, the chairs too small, and Jessa felt suddenly like Alice, fumbling her way through Wonderland." ~Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson, p78

Kim Culbertson is amazing. Her first novel, Songs for a Teenage Nomad, was beautiful. This one is too. I am so, so jealous of her writing talent. And Jennifer Echols wrote the blurb on the cover of this one comparing it too Sarah Dessen's books. Double score! And she's totally right.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My Very First ARC: Shut Out

 So I haven’t really been blogging about reading and writing lately, because I’ve been too busy, you know, actually reading and writing. But there is a lot I’d like to blog about, and I’m starting with this.

A few weeks ago I received an ARC of Shut Out by Kody Keplinger. I’ve never had the chance to read an ARC before, so I knew that I’d be blogging my review of the book. I was so excited to see the little circle on the cover that said “Advance Reading Copy. Not For Sale.” Shut Out comes out September 5th and any fan of contemporary YA should get it.

From the back cover: 

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part,Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.

Now, I absolutely LOVE Kody’s first novel The Duff, but I’m actually torn on how I feel about Shut Out. Don’t get me wrong, I tore through it in about 24 hours. It was definitely entertaining, and of course I loved the boy. (Don’t we always love the boys?) But from a writing perspective, I wasn’t as impressed with this novel as I was with The Duff.

I think the biggest reason I couldn’t fall in love with this novel was because I didn’t like the main character, Lissa. Couldn’t stand her, actually. And it’s kinda hard to love a story if the narrator annoys you. Basically, Lissa’s a control freak. Now I have to admit that Kody had a good reason for making her that way (no spoilers!) and she deserves credit for that. It makes the story work. It’s just that Lissa drove me nuts. And she makes bad decisions for all the wrong reasons. I know it’s good to have a flawed character, and characters should make mistakes, and yadda yadda yadda. But the fact that she’s going about things completely wrong is so glaringly obvious that it’s kind of obnoxious to have to watch her screw up. I think dealing with someone like Lissa in real life would be ridiculously frustrating. (But once again, remember: she has legit reasons for acting the way she does.) Here ends the rant.

What I did ADORE about this story were the library scenes. Lissa and Cash end up working together in a public library. And these scenes made me feel all gooey inside. I love libraries and I love cute boys. And I especially love cute boys in libraries who actually read. (Not that I’ve ever encountered that elusive specimen of boy.) It was scenes like these that kept me flying through the book.

I also loved some of the supporting characters. Kody created a very dynamic group of girls. They were each very different and didn’t all like each other, which made for some hilarious dialogue. And what Kody did was use all of these different girls to flesh out her theme of teenage sexuality (no pun intended). Slowly the girls came to realize that everybody feels differently about sex, but at the same time, there is a lot that they have in common with one another when it comes to desires and anxieties.

Bottom line: Kudos to Kody for tackling the subject of sexuality head on! And anyone who enjoyed The Duff should be ready to grab Shut Out as soon as it’s released. It’s fun and romantic and comes with a great message for any teens who wonder if they’re “normal” with their sexuality. Do what’s right for you, don’t worry what anybody else is doing. Just be smart about it.

Side note: I won this ARC in the Help Write Now auction. It also came with a critique by Kody of the first three chapters of my manuscript. And Kody was super helpful. She recognized the problems with my story that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I’ve known for a while now that something felt off, even after a handful of revisions. Turns out it’s the pacing. I’d actually started thinking that the story moves too slowly, but Kody pointed out how it really moves too fast. And once I read her comments, I totally got it. She’s so right. She also told me that the supporting characters have more characterization than my MC. I’ve known this the whole time I was writing, but I still haven’t worked on it. The fact that my MC is kinda blah is probably why I’ve been reluctant to really get back in there and fix this manuscript. Now that Kody’s advice has shown me what I need to do to get this publish-ready, I could revise again if I wanted to. But I’m starting my MFA program soon and I don’t think this story is worth the time right now. Maybe I’ll come back to it at some point though…

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fictional Father Figures

I wasn't planning on posting today, but I just saw a list of fictional fathers by Priya at Tabula Rasa and her first one is one of my favorites so I had to do my own list. Like usual, mine will be more from TV shows than books, but what can I say? Also, I'm doing my list strictly on father figures - not biological fathers. Remember, someone doesn't have to be blood to be like a father to you!
(PS: You should check out Priya's list here!

1. Rupert Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The ultimate father figure. If anyone could use a parent to lean on when things get tough, it's Buffy. Giles loves her.

2. Luke Danes from Gilmore Girls. Does everything he can for the daughter of a single mother. He even says he cares more about her than he does himself.

3. Keith Scott from One Tree Hill. Helps his brother's ex-girlfriend raise her son after his brother abandons them.

4. Sandy Cohen from The O.C. A public defender who adopts one of his teenage clients because he comes from a crappy home.

5. Sirius Black from Harry Potter. As soon as he meets his godson, he offers him a home.

(Sidenote: I just noticed that in 3 of the 5 pictures there's coffee drinking involved!)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Top Ten Tuesdays with Aww Moments in Literature

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is Top Ten AWW Moments in Literature.

I sooo love this topic!

1. When Ron and Hermione finally kiss in The Deathly Hallows. "There was a clatter as the basilisk fangs cascaded out of Hermione's arms.Running at Ron, she flung them around his neck and kissed him full on the mouth. Ron threw away the fangs and broomstick he was holding and responded with such enthusiasm that he lifted Hermione off her feet."

2. The flashback of Snape and Lily Potter as kids when he tells her that being Muggle-born doesn't make any difference.

3. After Harry learns that Sirius is his godfather and Sirius tells him that he can come live with him.

4. Every scene in the Twilight series where Jacob says something sweet to Bella. Pretty much every Jacob scene made me say AWW.

5. Every sweet boy moment in all of Sarah Dessen's books. It's hard to think of specifics right now, but she writes the most amazing teen romances with the coolest boys. Owen from Just Listen and Dexter from This Lullaby are my favorites.

And once again, I'm an epic book nerd fail. I read so many books that it's impossible to remember every character and scene. So... I'm finishing the list with the stuff that first popped into my head when I tried to think of AWW moments... Buffy the Vampire Slayer scenes! Buffy is such a well-written show that I think I could devote an entire blog to talking about it. If only I had the time!

6. Buffy says to Xander, "You're my strength, Xander. You're the reason I made it this far." AWW for friendship love!

7. Xander: They'll never know how tough it is, Dawnie, to be the one who isn't Chosen, to live so near the spotlight and never step in it. But I know. I see more than anybody realizes because nobody's watching me. I saw you last night. I see you working here today. You're not special. You're extraordinary.
    Dawn: Maybe that's your power.
    Xander: What?
    Dawn: Seeing.

8. Spike says to Buffy, "All I did was hold you and watch you sleep. And it was the best night of my life."

9. Spike explains to Buffy that he dreams of the same thing every night and in his dreams he does what he couldn't do in real life. "Every night I save you."

10. Spike sings "Let Me Rest in Peace" to Buffy. Although, this one is definitely a combo of AWW and omg/sexy/hot/dirty/Spike! ""If my heart could beat, it would break my chest. But I can see you're unimpressed. So leave me be."

Leave a link to your Top Ten!

Teaser Tuesdays with My Name is Memory

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser: 
He reached out and put his hand on the back of her neck and pulled her forward. She drew in her breath, astonished that he would put his mouth on hers. He kissed her. She lost herself in his breath and his warmth and his smell. She leaned so far forward that she felt the edge of the desk cutting into her rib cage under her breasts and her heart slamming against it." ~My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares, p18

I just started this one this morning, but already I can tell it's going to be an amazing read. Just reading the jacket flap gave me chills. I can't wait to continue it!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays with The Lighter Side of Life and Death

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser: 
"She fishes a tissue out of her purse and wipes her nose. Even the way she wipes her nose is sexy. If she does have a cold I think I want to catch it. I look at her knees pressed up against the table and imagine wrapping my hand around one and stroking the back of her thigh. Would she like that or would she ask me to stop? The thought alone has me paralyzed midbreath." ~The Lighter Side of Life and Death by C.K. Kelly Martin, p116
I've finally accepted that I'm incapable of actually keeping my teasers down to two sentences. Oh well. I absolutely love this author. She writes awesome YA contemporary with male POV's. And I adore male POV's. Especially Mason, the MC in this novel. His voice is just so blunt and honest, but also sweet at the same time. Love it!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays with Beauty Queens

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser:
"'Ohmigosh. No food at all.' Tiara sank down on the sand as if the full weight of their predicament had finally hit her. She blinked back tears. And then that megawatt smile that belonged on cereal boxes across the nation reappeared. 'I am going to be so superskinny by pageant time!'" ~Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, p11

Beauty Queens is about teen beauty pageant contestants who crash land on a dessert island and have to survive on their own. I had to read it because I miss Lost! (And I'm only like 10 pages in, but there was already a Lost reference.) I just started this book, but it's hilarious. It's not just the silly pageant queens that are funny. There's also a lot of satire of pop culture, especially reality TV. That's just what I've gotten from it so far. But I have a feeling there will end up being some more depth to the book and the characters too. Anyway, I'm obviously loving it!

What's your teaser?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Manuscript Critique Giveaway

Author Cynthia Leitich Smith just did an interview on her blog with publisher Elizabeth Law and author Allen Zadoff. Allen's new YA novel, My Life, The Theater, and Other Tragedies, sounds awesomely funny. And Elizabeth Law is giving away a 30-page manuscript critique. All you have to do is leave a comment here on Cynthia's blog!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays with The Raising

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser: 

"He took off his jean jacket and handed it to her. He would have preferred to step around and drape it over her shoulders (a gesture he felt certain he must have seen made by men in movies, since it wasn't the kind of thing his father would have done for his mother), but he found himself unable to step into the circle of light in which Nicole Werner stood." ~The Raising by Laura Kasischke, p96

This is the second novel I've read by Laura Kasischke. She's written a lot, as well as books of poetry. And she writes in that amazingly descriptive, lyrical, metaphorical way I've always been jealous of. But the writing never feels slow. She also swears a lot and uses blunt descriptions of sexuality. Her stories just feel so real. I would recommend her to anyone.

What's your teaser?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Follow Friday with Five Things About Me!

Follow My Book Blog Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee.  Each week she asks a question and everyone leaves their link on her blog. Here's todays:

Q. It's circle time. Time for us to open up and share. Can you tell us FIVE quirky habits or things about you? We all have them...

Yay I love talking about me! Haha. Let's see, I don't know about quirky habits, but I can definitely share five things...

1. I'm addicted to tattoos. And I'm downright terrified of needles except when they're in the tattoo gun. If someone was holding a sewing needle around me, I'd get jumpy. But tattoos are no problem. Everyone keeps telling me to stop getting them because they're going to look bad when I'm older. But I don't think that far ahead! It always surprises people who only see me in a work uniform, or something like that, when they find out I have 7 tattoos. And counting...

Here's a pic of my latest one.
What matters most is
how well you
walk through the
It's a bad picture, but that's my calf. And the quote is from a poem by Charles Bukowski. I'm not really into poetry, but I sort of worship him.

2. I never thought I liked kids or that I would even be good with kids, until my brother adopted two boys. One of them was already a teenager, so I knew I'd be fine with him. But the younger one was only 4 years old. I thought it would be weird having a kid in the house... but then I fell in love with him. He's so smart and funny and sweet. I love hanging out with him and I'd do anything for him. So the idea of babies still freaks me out, but I'm thinking when the time comes, I may want to adopt too.

Here's AJ. Coolest kid ever.

3. I'm a tea-addict. If I took a picture of my kitchen cabinet right now, you'd see that the door won't even shut because the cabinet is overflowing with boxes of tea. I like variety. I have black, green, chai, blackberry, cherry, pumpkin, apple cider, vanilla caramel, etc. And I'm also an insane mug collector. My entire counter is pretty much taken up by mugs, as well as an entire shelf. If anyone goes on vacation, they can always bring me back a mug! I buy them constantly. I especially like the over-sized ones. And anything by Our Name is Mudd will make me smile! My current favorite is by them. It's painted this awesome black and white design, and it says "Single is the new married."

4. This one may count as quirky... I love airports. I love flying too, of course. But I especially love airports. Most people hate the lines and the waiting around. I could do without the lines, sure, but I'm happy any time I'm in an airport. I feel like they're magical. Like they can take you anywhere you want to go. Plus you can shop and eat while you're waiting. And I could entertain myself for any amount of time with a book. Plus I'm a shameless people watcher. It must be the writer in me. I often catch myself staring and eavesdropping. And airports are just filled with so many different people. I love it!

5. I'm obsessed with mix CD's. I make them for every occasion. For each book I'm writing, for exercising, for road trips, for late night walks, for when I'm upset, for when I'm thinking about someone... I make playlists constantly in my iTunes, but then I burn them onto CD's so I can listen to them in my car. I love making them for other people too. On my friends' birthdays, a CD is pretty much guaranteed. I know lots of people probably don't even use CD's anymore, but I'm tech-challenged. And it may be old school, but the key to my heart will always be a mix CD! :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Win! I Win! I Win!

Well, I meant to write this post at least a week ago, but I've been sick. I just had a cold, but it was the kind of cold where you sleep for 20 hours straight. It was bad. I'm still not over it, actually. And I cannot wait to feel normal again. Anyway...

I have exciting news! First, I won a giveaway at Actin' Up with Books. She sent me Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway and I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert. Both of these are books that I've thought about getting a bunch of times but just never have. So this is cool. Of course, I think my TBR pile is nearing triple digits, so who knows when I'll ever read them. The really cool part, though, is that I won the giveaway! This is my first time winning something through a blog! And I really can't wait until I have enough followers that I can start doing my own giveaways. That'll be exciting.

And since this giveaway rocked, I just wanted to mention what it was. You had to pick a book character and describe what song they would sing for karaoke. I said that Hermione from Harry Potter would be thinking of Ron and she'd sing "I'd Lie" by Taylor Swift. Because I heart Taylor and that's one of the cutest songs ever!

"And I could tell you, his favorite color's green. He loves to argue, born on the seventeenth. His sister's beautiful, he has his father's eyes. And if you ask me if I love him, I'd lie."

And now for the way more exciting news... I bid on one of the Help Write Now auctions and I won. The money goes to helping disaster victims in the south, so I can feel good about dropping $200. And what I bid on rocks! I got a signed copy of The DUFF by the fabulous Kody Keplinger, and an arc of her next book, Shut Out, which is being released this year. I loved loved loved her first book, and I am jumping up and down at the idea of getting to read her next one early. But that's not the best part. Kody is also going to read and critique the first three chapters of my manuscript and my query letter. And the auction also included a 30-minute Skype chat. (Of course, I'm tech-challenged, so we'll see how that works out.) 

I sent out my stuff last Friday and now I'm just anxiously waiting to hear back from her. Kody seems absolutely great. She's about six years younger than me and she's already been signed for three books. She wrote The Duff while she was still in high school. She obviously knows what she's doing, so I can't wait to get her opinion on my own writing. And naturally, I'm also nervous as hell. So I'm sure I'll be writing about her feedback when I get it. Unless she tears me apart. LoL.

This post is already too long, but one more thing. I have to send in my workshop submission for my MFA program by June 1st. Wow. So now it feels like I'm really doing this. It's exciting. And kind of terrifying. But I know it's going to be fun!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Top Ten Tuesdays with Minor Characters

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is Top Ten Minor Characters in Literature.

1. Neville Longbottom from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I mean come on, anyone who's read the entire series won't need an explanation here. Neville turns out to be totally badass! Go Neville!

2. Lula from the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. One of the funniest characters ever. Overweight hooker turned incompetent assistant bounty hunter. Seriously. Awesomeness.

3. Charlie Swan from the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. I totally heart Bella's dad. He loves her, but he doesn't know how to live with a teenage girl. He's adorable. But I might have been influenced by the movies here, because the guy who plays him steals every scene he's in.

4. Deb from What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen. I'm reading this right now and Deb is awesome! She seems like the typical geeky character when we first meet her, but then in each subsequent scene we learn something crazy about her. She is so not what you expect her to be, which is cool.

5. Hagrid from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. He's big and cuddly and he loves Harry. And he loves animals like to a fault. I love that about him!

6. The Weasley twins from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Totally hilarious. Although, I might have started loving them more after the movies came out, because seeing them in action really makes the comedy stand out.

7. Gramma Mazur from the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Totally crazy little old Italian lady. Steals every scene she's in because she's hilarious. I mean, the whole series is hilarious, but every thing she does and says is insane!

8. Mike Montgomery from the Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard. Aria's little brother has a better part in the books than the TV show. He starts off as a cliche wannabe popular sports guy. But then he turns out to be really sweet when he likes Hanna.

9. Walter "Moon Man" Dunphy from the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. He was one of Stephanie's skips and then he showed up in future novels. Because he's hilarious. Super stoner who doesn't worry about anything. Even when he's helping out and it puts him in danger, he doesn't seem to realize it.

10. Mr. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I loved Elizabeth's father from the very first chapter when he's teasing his wife. He's sarcastic and he favors Elizabeth over his other silly daughters. I know he has his faults too, but every scene he's in, he makes me laugh.

Leave a link to your Top Ten list or leave it in the comments!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Top Ten Tuesdays with Jerks in Literature

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is Top Ten Jerks in Literature. Jamie at The Broke and the Bookish described these jerks as "those who truly WERE asshats and those who just acted like one but could be quite loveable!" I'm thinking all of mine will fit into the latter category. Since I'm in a rush today, and since most of the YA books I read are filled with amazingly sweet boys, I'm cheating and filling in my list with TV show jerks. Because TV dramas are my other love, and I get waaaaay too attached to the characters. It makes sense, though, because you spend more time with them than you do with a book of movie character. Right? So please don't hate me book-lovers!

1. Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I think Austen invented the whole witty-banter-as-flirting thing that we see everywhere now.

2. Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I think Draco is adorable! Even though we only get to see his vulnerable side maybe three times in the entire series, I know it's there! (But I have to admit that my Draco-love may have stemmed from reading too much HP fanfiction over the years.)

3. Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. While Snape truly enjoyed making Harry's life miserable at Hogwarts, by the end of the series, who wouldn't be a Snape fan?

4. Wesley Rush from The DUFF by Kody Keplinger. I think this book is so popular because Wesley is more of a realistic teenage boy than most of the other love interests we find in YA. He was definitely a jerk to Bianca at first, but then we find out that his full-of-himself attitude is just something he hides behind.

5. Tucker Max, author of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell and Assholes Finish First. This isn't fiction. Tucker Max is a real life womanizing jerk. But he's also incredibly smart, and way beyond hilarious. And he's honest about who he is.

6. Sawyer from Lost. In the first season Sawyer loved to cause trouble.He started fist fights and messed with people all the time. And he was a con man. But who wouldn't sympathize with Sawyer's life story? And he really loved Kate. AND for the majority of the show, more often than not, we'd find him risking his life to save someone else. And he's gorgeous. 

7. Logan Echolls from Veronica Mars. Typical bad boy with a difficult home life. Except he's fiercely protective of Veronica. He risks his life to save her.

8. Alex Karev from Grey's Anatomy. He's such a smartass that everyone wants to smack him half the time. He makes insensitive comments about patients. But he also has a screwed up life, and he truly, deeply cares about people.

9. Tristan DuGray from Gilmore Girls. My favorite show ever. One of the most gorgeous boys ever. And I think probably the first time I ever read fan fiction was to see Rory and Tristan get together. Because yeah, he could be a jerk, but he obviously liked her.

10. Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Spike killed tons of people and loved it. He was definitely a bad guy. Until he fell in love with Buffy. And then he saved peoples lives. He saved the freaking world. I'd say that redeems him 200%!

Leave a link to your Top Ten list or leave it in the comments!

Teaser Tuesdays with What Happened to Goodbye

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser:
"For a moment, I just stood there, right in the middle of the hallway, alone. In the kitchen, some bouncy dance music was playing, and over it I could hear the clanging of utensils, the squeaking of shoes on the damp floor, and the grill sizzling, the soundtrack to the beginning of a rush." ~What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen, p250

What's your teaser?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Follow Friday

Follow My Book Blog Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkie where everyone answers a question and then links up on her blog so we can all check out each others' book blogs!

This week's question:
Q. Circle time! Time to share. What character in a book would you most like to be, what character in a book would you most like to date?

Such an awesome question! I'd have to go with Stephanie Plum from the Janet Evanovich series for a character I'd like to be. She's smart, funny, and resourceful, and she has a pet hamster, crazy friends, and TWO gorgeous guys chasing after her. And she's a bounty hunter. Sure, she gets put in life or death situations a lot. But that's the price of having a kick-ass job! What girl wouldn't want to be Stephanie?
And for what character I'd like to date... that's way too hard so I'm going to have to pick two. Marcus Flutie from the Sloppy Firsts series by Megan McCafferty because he's crazy unique. And Owen Armstrong from Just Listen by Sarah Dessen because he's a music freak and he's just amazing.

What are your answers?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Top Ten Tuesdays with Books That Were Recommended To Me

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is Books I Never Would Have Read if They Weren't Recommended to Me. Now since I very, very rarely read books based on direct recommendations, I'm also including books that were gifts and books I had to read for school.

1. Delirium by Lauren Oliver was recommended to me by a co-worker, Brooke. When friends tell me to read books, I usually don't because I already have so many books I want to read. But Brooke let me borrow it, and I totally trusted her book judgment because she is nothing but awesome. And I'm so glad I read this one. I read mostly contemporary YA, but this dystopian story was uh-mazing. Period.

2. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick was given to me as a birthday present by my BFF Genevieve. She knew I loved YA and she picked it out because of the gorgeous cover. Again, I'm not hugely into paranormal, but this one at least wasn't about vampires. It was about fallen angels. Now, of course, angels are the hot trend in YA, but I think this book may have started that.

3. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling was suggested by my friend Dorey waaaaay back in middle school. Of course, I'm sure I would have heard about this eventually since I wasn't living under a rock. But this was back when only the first one was out. I can still remember sitting in her room the day she handed the first book to me. When she said it was about a wizard boy, I was skeptical, but obviously I don't need to say how fabulous it turned out to be.

4. My Antonia by Willa Cather was assigned in my American Lit class during my first semester at CCSU by one of my all time favorite professors, Adam Golaski. Before I transferred to this school for my undergrad, I hardly ever actual read a book assigned to me in school. But this time I was ready to get serious about school. And it didn't hurt that I loved Adam and wanted to do good in his class. So this was the first time I can remember reading a book for school where I actually read ahead of the schedule. Willa Cather's writing was beautiful, and now I make it a habit to look for her other books whenever I'm in a used book store.

5. If I Stay by Gayle Forman was recommended by practically the entire YA blogosphere. I just did a post about why I was reluctant to read this one, but since it was getting soooo much buzz, I figured I had to give it a chance. It was amazing, and its sequel Where She Went which just came out was even more amazing.

6. The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich was recommended to me by two moms (my then-boyfriend's and my friend Nicole's). At first I didn't want to listen to the recommendation of someone so much older than me, but by the second recommendation I decided I needed to give it a try. And I've been obsessed with this series (which is now up to 16 books) ever since.

7. Emma by Jane Austen was assigned in my Jane Austen class during my last semester at CCSU by Jacqueline Gellar. This professor was intimidating because she expected such a high level of intelligence from her students. I wouldn't dare not do the reading for this class, and I read Pride and Prejudice my freshman year of high school and liked it, but knew I probably hadn't understood it as much as I would now. So I got to re-read that and read Emma, along with all of Austen's other completed novels. Now I really understand her writing and I looooove it.

8. Wicked by Gregory Maguire was a book I only heard about because my high school's drama club was taking a field trip to broadway and we were going to see the new (at the time) musical version. Since I'm a nerd and The Wizard of Oz is my favorite movie, I had to read the book first.

9. Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress was assigned in my Science Fiction as Cautionary Tales class during my last semester at CCSU by Heather Urbanski, one of the coolest professors ever. I'm not into sci-fi at all, but I took the class because Heather was also my advisor and I knew she was awesome. I didn't really like most of the stuff we had to read, but still this was my favorite and most challenging class I ever took at CCSU. And this book totally sucked me in despite my aversion to sci-fi.

10. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain was assigned in my Mark Twain class at CCSU. I took the class because I always cited The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as one of my favorite books and I'd only actually read it once. We read a ton of Twain's work, and while I wasn't a huge fan of the short stories, I loved the novels. This one really made me recognize Twain's frickin incredible talent for satire.

Leave a link to your Top Ten list or leave it in the comments!

Teaser Tuesdays with Faking 19 and So Much Closer

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teasers:

"He brakes at the next stop and the bus lurches forward and back and I grab the first available seat because I'm lousy at keeping my balance in a moving vehicle. Then I just sit there and stare out the window at a string of run-down minimalls and try to remember the exact moment when I decided to give up." -Faking 19 by Alyson Noel, p104

And because Susane Colasanti's So Much Closer came out today, I intend to start it as soon as I'm done with this entry. So I'm doing a teaser for it too.

"I didn't realize boys could be like John. I mean, maybe in books and movies, but not in real life." -So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti, p89

I totally heart Susane because her books are always light-hearted and sweet. Once I settle in to start reading this today, I'll probably keep going until I finish it.

What are your teasers?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

If I Stay/Where She Went Review

I literally just finished Where She Went by Gayle Forman. My eyes are probably still red from crying. I took a minute to let the whole thing sink in, and then I felt the need to write about it.

First off, I only read If I Stay about a week ago. I’m always late jumping on the bandwagon with books. I have a problem choosing something to read based on other people’s suggestions, because I always have so many things I’ve picked out myself to read. Also, I think it may be because I have zero desire to see 90% of the movies that everyone else I know are dying to see. I just feel like the kinds of movies that are popular now are dumb. But what I’m starting to realize is that when it comes to books, people are smarter. Duh.

The one automatic aversion I had to reading If I Stay was the supernatural element. I love contemporary fiction; however I still read some paranormal because I can accept that it’s fantasy and just enjoy the world that’s created. But with this book, it’s the real world except I’m supposed to accept that the entire thing is narrated by an unconscious girl. And even if I say it’s only a story and can go along with it, the book’s subject matter is still dealing with an out-of-body experience that I don’t believe people experience. So how can anyone relate?

Of course, once I got over this and actually read it, I loved it. Although, I didn’t think it was quite as amazing as everyone has said. I enjoyed the narration and the story, but I guess I felt like something was missing that could have made the story better. Or it was too abrupt at the end. I’m not sure. But I thought the mixing of present scenes and memories was wonderful. Mia and Adam’s relationship was incredible. The scene where they are pretending to play one another like their instruments…. I couldn’t breathe. That was hotter than any actual sex scene I’ve ever read. It’s the kind of thing that makes me insanely jealous that I didn’t think to write it.

And, this should go without saying, but the novel was so emotional. I feel like any type of entertainment that can make you cry is truly magical. Because the main purpose of books/movies/TV/music should be entertainment. Distraction. Fun. So when someone creates something fictional that people can relate to so deeply that it makes them cry either out of happiness or sadness, you know that they’ve captured a genuine piece of real life.

Now the thing about the sequel, Where She Went… I thought it was a thousand times more amazing. Once the story got going, I felt like I was holding my breath through the next 200 pages until the end. First, there’s nothing supernatural. Second, I loooove male POV’s in YA. Third, the majority of the book takes place during one night. There was still the mixing of present scenes and memories like in If I Stay. But the whole story felt more immediate. Urgent. Especially the second half.

Also, it was a thousand times sadder. You would think that there is nothing sadder than the life or death aspect of If I Stay. And I’m certainly not going to suggest that a breakup is worse than someone dying. It’s just that for the most part, we have no control over death. For Adam, in this story, just simply living was almost too hard for him to do. He was so broken. And my heart broke for him. The love of his life left him, and then years later he has to spend time with her. And it feels like the greatest gift and the worse punishment at the same time. Now that’s something that I’m sure people can relate to. I know I can. It’s raw emotion. And Gayle captures it all so honestly. There was more than one moment toward the end where I cried. Because I knew exactly what the characters were feeling before Adam narrated it. When an author writes about something that people can relate to, and does it well, it’s almost like you can leave so much unsaid. The reader gets it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I got this book. Really, it felt more like the book got me. That’s magic. How many stars are there in the sky? Because that’s what I’m rating Where She Went.