Thursday, September 29, 2011

Reactionary Reading: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Welcome to the another edition of Reactionary Reading, a feature where I share my reading notes with all of y'all! This week I'm publishing my notes on The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, a book that I had LARGE reactions to while reading it.

For those of you new to this feature, there are a couple THINGS you probably need to know about it. So, here's how it works:

I have gone through and redacted major spoiler information. (Yep, just like the government does.) If you've read the books, or if you don't care about being spoiled, feel free to highlight the redacted portions so you can read the text. (It's like a game! Sort of.) But there might still be minor spoilers involved. So if you're the type that hates knowing things before you read, DO NOT PROCEED. And please keep in mind that this is all in good fun and are just my thoughts and opinions. Also, bad language abounds.

So without further ado, may I present my notes (which I didn't remember to start taking until a couple hundred pages into the book) on The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tune In Tuesday: Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights

There are few things I like more than the television series Friday Night Lights.

Jump to, the other day when I was tooling around on Spotify. Someone created an FNL Season 5 playlist of all the songs featured on the show during its final season.

Naturally, I listened. (And looooooved.)

Now, I've always enjoyed the music on the show, but I've never REALLY thought about it or sought it out. This is partly because a) a lot of the music is stuff I already listen to and b) I spent most of my time swooning over Coach Taylor. So I was really digging on this playlist and then I got to a song by a band I'd never heard of. It made my heart happy. And now I share it with all of youuuuuu.

May I present, Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights, aka, my new band crush.

(Be warned: the video is a tidbit NSFW.)

Tune in Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Ginger at GReadsBooks.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: Past Perfect

Title: Past Perfect
Author: Leila Sales
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 322
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Format: eGalley via Simon & Schuster Galley Grab

All Chelsea wants to do this summer is hang out with her best friend, hone her talents as an ice cream connoisseur, and finally get over Ezra, the boy who broke her heart. But when Chelsea shows up for her summer job at Essex Historical Colonial Village (yes, really), it turns out Ezra’s working there too. Which makes moving on and forgetting Ezra a lot more complicated…even when Chelsea starts falling for someone new.
Maybe Chelsea should have known better than to think that a historical reenactment village could help her escape her past. But with Ezra all too present, and her new crush seeming all too off limits, all Chelsea knows is that she’s got a lot to figure out about love. Because those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it….—Goodreads


It honestly might be the most perfect YA contemp I've ever read. It's silly and girly and rings very true to a typical teenage girl's experiences. And it is just SO MUCH FUN to read. 

Now, I will be honest. I was apparently pre-destined to like this book because it is mostly set in a historic colonial village à la Colonial Williamsburg. I have an undergrad degree in American History and before that, DEEPLY IDENTIFIED with Felicity from the American Girl series. Now, I do realize that I am not unique in this—there are many, many girls my age who loved Felicity and hold American History degrees. And all of those girls need to read this book. Because they will love it as much as I do. 

So, ok, you probs want to know why I like this practically perfect little book so much, right? Leila Sales just does such a good job creating characters, especially the main character, Chelsea, that are just likable. Chelsea seems very, very real and very, very normal and the situations she finds herself in are also very, very real and normal. She's nursing a pouty heart, and around the time that she thinks she can FINALLY get away from her ex (aka, summer break), she realizes he's taken a job at the historical reenactment village where her parents work full-time, and where she works every summer. Because boys are awful. 

And if that weren't enough, it turns out that there is a Civil War reenactment village DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET from the colonial village (I know, hilarious, right?!), and the teens who work there wage prank wars on each other every summer. It is AWESOME and HILARIOUS. OMG, y'all, my  geeky, history-loving heart adored this part of the book so dad-gum much. I read this book on a plane and kept giggling and squealing in delight, and I'm pretty sure my seat mates thought I was bonkers. But I did not CARE because I was having so much fun with this book. Anyway, it turns out that there's a very cute guy who works at the Civil War place, and of course my girl Chelsea finds herself attracted to him. 

Now, one might think that this would breed a love triangle type situation. But it didn't!!!!!! Sure, Chelsea was still getting over her ex and started having feelings for someone else, but it never became a soul-crushing, OMG THIS IS LIFE OR DEATH kind of thing. And it definitely wasn't the only thing Chelsea thought about throughout the book. Because she isn't crazy.  

Overall, the beauty in this book is that it is honest and realistic in its depiction of being a teenage girl who has been hurt and is trying to move on. No matter who you are or what your age is or whether or not you even like history, you should pick this book up. It will make you laugh and cheer and smile and want to hug your best friend and maybe want to ask Miss Leila Sales to be your best friend. Or maybe that's just me. Regardless, Past Perfect is a book I definitely have a crush on. And NOT because of the boys. 

But don't take just my word for it! Check out these other reviews from awesome bloggers:
Anna at Anna Reads
Ginger at GReadsBooks

Sunday, September 25, 2011

What I'm Writing {3}: The Best Friend Origin Story

Hey loves!

So, this week I'm gonna talk a little more about my currently-untitled-YA-book-in-progress that I am not so creatively calling "Airport Book." [BOOK TITLE SUGGESTIONS ARE WELCOME]

I introduced the premise of this book a little bit last week. And this week I've been focusing on a chapter from Willa's perspective. So let me introduce her PROPERLY to y'all.

Willa Thompson is 17 and she lives in NYC. My goal is for her to be smart and serious about her future and responsible, but sort of eccentric and goofy at the same time. We'll see if I ever succeed on that front. And Willa's best friend is named Ana Cabral. In this particular area of the book, Ana is traveling with Willa to visit her dad.

So, I wrote this whole Willa-Ana friendship origin story and now that I've written the damn thing, I don't think it REALLY matters. I mean, what's more important is that they're friends, right? I don't want to bore my hopefully-somewhere-in-the-future readers with this whole expositional story if in the end is has absolutely no bearing on the rest of the story.

Buuuuut . . . I kind of really like their little origin story. It's not all that shocking or weird or different, but I think it does a good job of explaining the dynamic between the two girls. So! After the jump, feel free to check out the very very rough edit of the BFF Origin Story.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Let's Celebrate Banned Books Week! With a Hop!

Hello everyone, and welcome to my giveaway for Banned Books Week Hop, hosted by the awesome bloggers at I Read Banned Books and I Am a Reader Not a Writer.

As someone who has loved reading since I can remember, the fact that books are contested/censored/banned makes me feel like I'm going to turn into the Hulk. And I think that particularly now with the weird backlash to YA and the subsequent YA Saves movement, there is more and more focus on book censorship.

And lately, the books being challenged are RIDICULOUS. Like, Sherlock Holmes books. Really. SHERLOCK HOLMES. People are uptight and touchy and really need to stop looking at books as purveyors of immorality and sin. Because they aren't.

So, with that. Here are the two books I'm giving away for this very awesome week and hop.

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This is a book that means a whole hell of a lot to me and no one should be denied access to it. Ever. For any reason. It's important and has important things to say about, you know, humanity and compassion and decency and life in general. Which obviously means it should be banned? I SAY GOOD DAY TO THOSE PEOPLE and show them the door. I hope it hits them on the way out.

2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
I just really like this book. :)

Please note that winners will be chosen by and that your email address will not be shared or distributed.

Be sure to check out the rest of the AMAZING bloggers hosting giveaways this week! Much love to you all and Happy Reading of Banned Books!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer Book Trailer!


SO GOOD. Seriously, this is the best book trailer I've ever seen. *fangirls about office* *calms self down with coffee*

via MTV Hollywood Crush

TGIF: Reading Challenges


This week, Ginger at GReadsBooks has asked:

Reading Challenges: Did you sign up for any this year? How has your progression been?

I actually started this blog back in February and had ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE about the (freaking fantastic, supportive, amazing) YA book blogging community. So I started clicking around and reading blogs and I would see these reading challenges, but because it was already February I thought it was probably too late to join any of them. (I'm sort of a rule follower. So. That.) 

But, I got on Goodreads and had set a reading goal of one hundred books for this year and I believe I'm "doing" the YA Historical Fiction Challenge hosted by YABliss—meaning, I have the button on my blog. ;) 

As far as my progress, I'm doing ok with the Goodreads one. I've read seventy books thus far this year, which puts me a book or two behind, but that's easily caught up on.

 And then the YA Historical Fiction challenge is a little trickier simply because there really isn't a ton of YA novels that are straight up historical fiction. But in that category I think I set a personal goal of ten historical fiction books, and I've probably read . . . four? And that's only if you have a REALLY LOOSE DEFINITION of "historical fiction." So, far the rest of this year, obviously I need to focus on the historical fiction side of things.  . . . if you have any SUGGESTIONS of great books in that category, leave 'em in comments! *smiles sweetly*

TGIF is a weekly meme hosted by Ginger at GReadsBooks

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Video Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Pages: 420
Release Date: September 27, 2011 (aka, the day EVERYTHING AWESOME comes out.)

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. 

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low. 

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war. 

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out. 

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?—Goodreads

Behold! My first video blog!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tune In Tuesday: Ryan Adams

Hi friends.

Let's chat about Ryan Adams.


I think he's such a crazy-brilliant writer and he is crazy talented and he's married to Mandy Moore and I like all of those things about him.

And he has a new album coming out soon.

And he has released a new single and it is INCREDIBLE.

Here! Listen!

Mmmmm Ryan Adams. :)

Tune In Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Ginger at GReadsBooks.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What I'm Writing {2.5}: Sexy Times

Earlier today I polled some of y'all about a sexy times scene I've been writing for one of my book projects. EVERYONE said I should spice it up.

So I did.

And here is the (much) spicier, smuttier version of the scene, plus a little of what comes before it, for reference. :) Check it out and let me know what you think!

“Ok, so tell me about Willa so I don’t Internet stalk every girl named Willa I can find while you’re gone all week,” she said.  
 That caught me off guard. I really didn’t want to tell Sophie anything about Willa, and definitely didn’t understand the compulsion to Internet stalk. “Well, what do you want to know?”  
“Where she’s from, her age, what she’s like, whether or not you want to sleep with her. You know. Those sorts of things,” Sophie said in her machine gun style, but with a mischievous smile. It didn’t quite hide her insecurity.  
“She lives in New York City. She’s our age. She’s, um . . .” The ‘what she’s like’ threw me off. I wanted to be honest, but I didn’t want to make Sophie feel any weirder about the situation. I realized I’d been quiet for about thirty seconds and Sophie was looking at me expectantly. Grasping for words that were diplomatic I said, “She’s loud. Opinionated. Very New York.”  
That should do it.  
“You didn’t answer the last part,” Sophie said, not letting me off the hook.  
This one was going to be trickier to get out of. But in a stroke of genius that I can only attribute to my viewing of shows on The CW I automatically said, “Now why would I want to sleep with Willa when I have you?”  
Sophie’s eyes lit up then and then she, quite literally, jumped on me. Her kisses were  fierce and feverish. Her hands were under my shirt,  moving down toward the band of my jeans. But instead of unbuttoning them, she slipped her hands underneath my jeans and boxers and ran her cool fingers across the sensitive skin near my hip bones.  
I had to have her. 
As if she could sense my impatience, she finally unbuttoned my jeans and shimmied them down my legs while I pulled my shirt off over my head. Sophie’s eyes met mine.   
“Come here,” I said softly. Without a word, she obliged, straddling my hips and clasping her hands behind my neck.   
“You’re still fully dressed,” I observed.   
“Mhmm,” she purred.   
“I don’t think that’s fair,” I countered before gently kissing her neck, just below her ear, and then working my lips down to her collarbone. She gave a little moan that only added fuel to my already blazing fire. I gruffly pulled her shirt off and ran my hands down the curvy sides of her body, undoing the button of her shorts. She responded by kissing me deeply and leaning forward, guiding my body back toward the bed. 
Just as I was reaching into the drawer of my nightstand, I heard “Paper Planes.” I knew I shouldn’t answer the phone, but I really wanted to. I hesitated long enough that Sophie said, “Everything ok?” 
“Yeah, everything’s fine,” I said, grabbing a condom and then rolling back toward her on my bed. "More than fine actually." We started making out again, ignoring the fact that I was fumbling with the wrapper. When I finally got the damn thing open, “Paper Planes” emanated from my phone again. 
I couldn’t help but grin—Willa was unknowingly cock-blocking me. At least, I hoped it was unknowingly. She couldn’t know I was about to have sex, right? It’s not like she was some sort of X-Man whose superpower was sensing lust. I mean, the only way that would come in handy is if Sophie were a succubus. But I think if she were, I’d know that by now. 
©Bethany Larson, 2011 

What I'm Writing {2}: Sexy Times

So, this week I am struggling with a certain not-so-taboo-but-still-kind-of-taboo subject: teenage sex.

Like I told y'all last week, I'm sort of in the middle of a bunch of different book projects. The one I'm obsessed with writing right now is a contemp romance about two teens—Dan and Willa—who have met up once a month during their planned layovers in an airport for the past three years. Now they're in the summer before senior year and suddenly find themselves with feelings for each other. So they have to figure out what to do (or not to do)  about a long distance relationship, all while on the precipice of starting their senior year of high school and planning for college and so on and so forth. (I know, it's a bit involved, but I think [read: hope] it works.)

Anyway, Dan is, um, quite sexually active and I'm writing a chapter from his perspective (writing a sex scene as a guy? HARD. No pun intended. Ok, maybe a little intended.)  . . . and I'm kind of happy with it. I think it's rather tame and JUST FINE as is. [Well, this is still a pretty rough draft, so obvs there will be some editing/re-writing. But in theory, it's just fine.]

But then again, it's my writing. So, OF COURSE I think it's fine.

I sent it to my mom (who is my first reader on basically everything) and she straight up hates the scene for her own reasons. But she is not an obsessive YA reader. So! I'm going to share the scene with y'all, and then you can take a happy little poll and tell me whether it's too much, too weird, not enough, or if I should just delete and re-write.

Here's the scene:
Sophie’s eyes lit up then and then she, quite literally, jumped on me. We immediately started moving back toward the pillows, making out and shedding clothes as we went. What I like about hooking up with Sophie is that it just feels comfortable. Even the first time, there was a measure of comfort in how awkward we both were. But now that we’d had more time to really become accustomed to each other’s bodies, things were much more smooth. There was no stopping to nervously ask the other person if they were ok or if we should stop. Now that we knew what we were doing, things had become, well, more exciting.  
Just as I was reaching into the drawer of my nightstand I heard “Paper Planes.” [NOTE: It's previously established that this is Willa's ringtone.] I knew I shouldn’t answer the phone, but I really wanted to. I hesitated long enough that Sophie said, “Everything ok?”   
“Yeah, everything’s fine,” I said, grabbing a condom and then rolling back toward her on my bed. We started making out again, ignoring the fact that I was fumbling with the wrapper. When I finally got the damn thing open, “Paper Planes” emanated from my phone again.
I couldn’t help but grin—Willa was unknowingly cock-blocking me. At least, I hoped it was unknowingly. She couldn’t know I was about to have sex, right? It’s not like she's some sort of X-Man whose superpower is sensing lust. I mean, the only way that would come in handy is if Sophie were a succubus. But I think if she were, I’d know that by now. 
©Bethany Larson, 2011 
And here's the poll!

  • Try again.
  • Spice it up!!
  • This is weird. Stop being weird.
  • Woah! Way too much.
More polls: Hotel Las Vegas

Friday, September 16, 2011

TGIF: Book Disappointments

Y'all! It is currently 53 degrees in New York!


*happy dances* *prepares to bake many pumpkin-flavored things this weekend*

 Anyway, for this very cool Friday, Ginger at GReadsBooks has asked:

 Have you ever come across a book you were so stoked to read, but it failed miserably in your eyes?

Oh boy.

Well, the answer is very much yes. But, just because I didn't like it doesn't mean that it isn't someone else's favorite book in the whole entire universe and they think it's brilliant and awesome and perfect. So, keep that part in mind. And if I mention a book that you ADORE, feel free to berate me and/or defend the book in comments. :)

Die for Me by Amy Plum 
This book was very meh for me. I didn't love the main character OR her love interest and was far more interested in the supporting characters. However, if you are a Francophile, read this book for Plum's scene setting skills.But only do it if you have enough money to buy a spur-of-the-moment flight to Paris.

Wings by Aprilynne Pike
This is the book that taught me faeries are NOT my thing.

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
If you ever want to hear/see me lose my ever-loving mind, ask me about James Frey. That being said, I read this book ANYWAY because my curiosity got the best of me. And while the story is compelling, I felt that there was far too much filler and that the story could have been cut down about a hundred pages or so.

The last four Pretty Little Liars books by Sara Shepard
WHYYYYY did they contract for eight books?! WHY?! They should have done it in six. Because there were definitely two whole books where all I could think was "I really don't care about any of this, just tell me WHO THE EFF A IS!!!!!" And now Shepard's writing four more. I really have no idea what they will be about. But TWELVE books is about six too many for a series. SRSLY.

The Carrie Diaries by Candance Bushnell
Like every other woman on the planet, I adored Sex and the City the TV series. And I really like Candace Bushnell's writing. So when I heard about the YA prequels Bushnell was writing, I FREAKED OUT. Because that was the part of the story I'd always wanted—how did these four very different women meet and become friends? But the first book was all about Carrie in high school and for the most part is was really really really REALLY boring. But it ended well. So I'm kind of curious to pick up the second book.

All right, those are the books I'm going to rag on. I hope everyone has plans to have a lovely lovely weekend! And if you're going to be at Brooklyn Book Festival on Sunday, let me know on the Twitters! @bethanyelarson

TGIF is a weekly meme hosted by Ginger at GReadsBooks.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reactionary Reading: Fury

Welcome to the second edition of Reactionary Reading, a feature where I share my reading notes with all of y'all! This week I'm publishing my notes on Fury by Elizabeth Miles, a book that I had LARGE reactions to while reading it.

For those of you new to this feature, there are a couple THINGS you probably need to know about it. So, here's how it works:

I have gone through and redacted major spoiler information. (Yep, just like the government does.) If you've read the books, or if you don't care about being spoiled, feel free to highlight the redacted portions so you can read the text. (It's like a game! Sort of.) But there might still be minor spoilers involved. So if you're the type that hates knowing things before you read, DO NOT PROCEED. And please keep in mind that this is all in good fun and are just my thoughts and opinions. Also, bad language abounds.

So without further ado, may I present my notes on Fury.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Darker Still

Title: Darker Still
Author: Leanna Renee Heiber
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 320
Release Date: November 1, 2011

The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart's latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing...
Jonathan Denbury's soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.—Goodreads

Um, did you read that first line of the Goodreads summary?


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tune In Tuesday: Ben Rector

So, there's this guy I went to college with.

His name is Ben Rector.

Ben is an incredibly talented singer/songwriter.

Now, I'm not saying this because we went to college together. I'm saying it because it's THE TRUTH.

His stuff has been featured all over the place, including on an episode of Pretty Little Liars. (Yeah. What up now.)

Sooo, check him out.

So, now it's time for me to shamelessly promote Mr. Rector.

His new album, Something Like This, is out TODAY.  You can preview it here. You can BUY it on iTunes or Amazon. (And you should.)  He is going on tour. You should GO if he is coming to your town, or somewhere near your town. He is also on the Twitters. You should FOLLOW him.

Ok! I think that is all for today. You may return to your other Tuesday things. *grins*

Tune In Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Ginger at GReadsBooks.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Review: A Long, Long Sleep

Title: A Long, Long Sleep
Author: Anna Sheehan
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 352
Release Date: August 9, 2011
Format: ARC from publisher for review

Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss.
Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten sub-basement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now her parents and her first love are long dead, and Rose— hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire—is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat.
Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes -- or be left without any future at all.—Goodreads

A futuristic take on the tale of Sleeping Beauty, A Long, Long Sleep imagines what would happen if a girl named Rose woke up in a world she no longer recognized, but one that recognized her.

While at the outset it seems like a "That'd be neat!" idea, Sheehan spins the story in the other direction. Instead of being excited she is in the future, Rose, who is the long-lost-and-assumed-dead daughter of the president of a ginormous corporation and will thus inherent the company and be a kajillionaire, is completely shell-shocked. She mourns for her parents and her boyfriend, Xavier, whom she lost when she woke up sixty-two years too late.

The results are devastating. Not only does Rose have to deal with the knowledge that she's in a time that she was never supposed to see, she also has to learn about The Dark Times, when a plague ravaged the human population and killed almost everyone. And Rose is a delicate sort, so this REALLY rocks her. And if that weren't enough, there is a robot trying to kill her.

But that's not all Sheehan does. Oh no. Living in the future and being hunted by a seemingly indestructible robot weren't enough for her. She deftly relates a story of abuse in a way that is subtle, haunting, and heart-wrenching all at the same time.

Though there are a lot of things happening in A Long, Long Sleep, it's not a particularly quick  read. The story unfolds slowly and quietly, but is never boring. And Sheehan does a great job of creating  a world that feels foreign from our own, but is also similar enough that it doesn't take a great deal of suspended belief to, well, believe in it.

Overall, A Long, Long Sleep is a lovely story about how one girl finds herself in the midst of a world she no longer recognizes. It's not intensely funny or happy or snappy, but the prose are sumptuous and the story is compelling. It'll definitely make you think twice before saying, "I just wish I could go to the future."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What I'm Writing {1}

So there's something y'all may or may not know about me: I'm writing a YA novel. (I know, who isn't, right?) And in truth, I'm writing about three. And there are about three more floating around in my head.

But that is not the point.

The point is that it's both easy and hard to write a book. It's easy in the sense that sitting down and getting the ideas and words out of your head and onto the page is, well, FUN. And you feel like you're accomplishing something. For me that part is easy. The hard part comes in evaluating what you've written. So I've created this new feature so that I can share my writing with y'all (because y'all are experts on YA). And because sharing is the best. (And I'm sure at some point I'll add in polls or ask for advice along the way. *grins*)

So, here's the skinny on the chapter of the book I'm going to share with you today: I've really struggled with it. It's the opening chapter of a contemporary espionage novel that I've been working on FOR MONTHS, and no matter what I do with it, I don't seem to like the first few paragraphs.

But I figure that I'll probably never be completely satisfied with my writing, so I'm just letting it go and turning it over the (hopefully constructive) people of the Internet. If you have the time, feel free to read through the first chapter and let me know what you think of it!

Friday, September 9, 2011

TGIF: Books I'd like to See as TV Shows

'ello lovelies. 

This week, the wonderful Ginger at GReadsBooks has asked: 

Which books would you love to see made in to a tv series? or movie?

Now, I'm something of a film and television aficionado. Which basically means that I watch a lot of Netflix and have taken a couple pop culture criticism courses (read: have a Master's degree in Arts Journalism.) So, I tend to think EVERYTHING should be a television show or movie. 

But, the more I read, the more I find that's not quite true. There are so many books that have been adapted to (especially) movies or (less especially) television shows that have gotten SO SCREWED UP because the screenwriters change things or the actress isn't quite what you hoped the character would be or your favorite scene in the book was cut from the movie for some stupid reason that I have sort of become anti-book to film medium. I just can't seem to trust screenwriters with my beloved books.* 

But that doesn't mean I don't think about these things. 

So, here are the carefully considered books I'd really love to see on either the big or small screen, but only if they are done with thoughtful care and with the loving permission of the author, who has preferably adapted their own screenplay and/or given their blessing. :)

1. Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz 
I'd love to see this as a TV series. Preferably on the CW and not MTV. 

2. The Magicians by Lev Grossman 
I had some issues with this book, but I think it would make an INCREDIBLE film. But, I could also see it as a really compelling and totally different-feeling TV show. 

3. The Curse Workers series by Holly Black
I'd loooooove to see this as films. But only if Jesse Eisenberg would play Cassel. Now that I've heard him narrate the audiobook, he will always and forever be my Cassel. 

4. Paper Towns by John Green (But, really, anything by John Green.)
There have been lots of movie rumors about his novels being turns into films, and I know that film rights have been sold for, I think, all of his books thus far. And while any one of them would translate to the screen well, I really, really want the visual of a house full of black Santas. 

5. Geek Fantasy Novel by E. Archer
If written by the right people (read: Jane Espenson and the rest of the Joss Whedon crew) and acted by the right actors, this could be ALL KINDS OF AWESOME.

Aaaand that's my list! Let me know which books you'd like to see in theaters in comments. TGIF!

*If some of my favorite books and top reads of this past year were to become films or TV shows, I would be ECSTATIC for the authors and would wholeheartedly support it with my dollars and viewership. But if it gets screwed up because of those pesky Hollywood types, I will be verbally ninja-kicking them on this here bloggy-blog. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Review: Legend

Title: Legend
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Pages: 336
Release Date: November 29, 2011
Format: ARC via Good Choice Reading Blog Tour

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.
From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.Goodreads

I'm not normally one for dystopian stories, but I'd heard great things about Legend and wanted to give it a try. And I am so so so glad I did because, y'all. This book is great.

June is incredibly cool—smart and sexy with observation skills that are straight up Sherlock Holmesian. And, of course, she's special. Having made the only perfect score on record of the test that all children in the Republic are required to take to determine their future, she's basically a celebrity. But she's not nearly as famous as Day, a sly criminal who is a Robin Hood figure for the plague-ridden citizens of the Republic who live in next to deplorable conditions and are denied upward mobility. When she's assigned to find and kill Day once she joins the military, the two meet each other and then things go crazy awesome. 

I love the way the story unfolds—I was never quite sure who to trust or what the next moves might be. There was one character in particular that I just couldn't get a good read on and whose motives I was constantly trying to figure out. Though that may have bothered others, I really dug it—it kept me on my toes while reading. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Legend. It's a fast paced, methodical, smart, and really entertaining murder mystery/conspiracy novel. Additionally, the descriptions of the clothing are all a little steampunky, which is always welcome. (Bring on the goggles, that's what I say!) So whether you're a die hard dystopia fan or a person looking for a good read, I highly, highly recommend picking up Legend when it comes out in November. Ooh! November! That means it could be a Christmas present! So, there ya go. A copy of Legend for everyone you know. Christmas shopping=finished. :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Out of Sight, Out of Time

Title: Out of Sight, Out of Time (Gallagher Girls #5)
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 272
Release Date: March 20, 2012

The last thing Cammie Morgan remembers is leaving the Gallagher Academy to protect her friends and family from the Circle of Cavan—an ancient terrorist organization that has been hunting her for over a year. But when Cammie wakes up in an alpine convent and discovers months have passed, she must face the fact that her memory is now a black hole. The only traces left of Cammie’s summer vacation are the bruises on her body and the dirt under her nails, and all she wants is to go home.

Once she returns to school, however, Cammie realizes that even the Gallagher Academy now holds more questions than answers. Cammie, her friends, and mysterious spy-guy Zach must face their most difficult challenge yet as they travel to the other side of the world, hoping to piece together the clues that Cammie left behind. It’s a race against time. The Circle is hot on their trail and willing stop at nothing to prevent Cammie from remembering what she did last summer.—Goodreads

So there's this series of books about awesome spy girls-in-training that I'm all kinds of obsessed with. And the newest book in the series finally has a title and a release date (the week of my 25th birthday!!) and a synopsis.

That book is Out of Sight, Out of Time.

I seriously love this series. It's so so so much fun. And I'm so ready to hang out with Cammie and Zach and the rest of the Gallagher girls again. But, alas, I have to wait until MARCH.


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tune In Tuesday: The Warblers

So, I have this weird on again, off again relationship with Glee. Sometimes I really super love the show and other times I want to head butt it.

But no matter what my swinging opinions are about the episodes or writing or guest stars, I have to admit that the musical arrangements and vocal performances are usually pretty awesome.

Lately I've fallen in LOVE with The Warblers' cover of one of my favorite Keane songs, "Somewhere Only We Know."

Like, I can put it on repeat for hours and not get sick of it.

So now I'm sharing it with y'all. And while I recommend putting it on repeat, listening to it once is also a good move.

Also: I love Darren Criss. And think he should play Magnus in the City of Bones movie. Just sayin'.

Aaaand just for funsies, here's The Warblers version of Destiny Child's "Bills, Bills, Bills."

Yay for a short work/school week! I hope everyone had a lovely Labor Day weekend!

Tune In Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Ginger at GReadsBooks.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Review: Drink, Slay, Love

Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (Simon & Schuster)
Pages: 320
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
Format: eGalley via S&S Galley Grab

Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire... fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil... until the night a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops. 

Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because, obviously, unicorns don't exist), and they're shocked she survived. They're even more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But they quickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of New England has chosen Pearl's family to host his feast. If Pearl enrolls in high school, she can make lots of human friends and lure them to the King's feast—as the entrees. 

The only problem? Pearl's starting to feel the twinges of a conscience. How can she serve up her new friends—especially the cute guy who makes her fangs ache—to be slaughtered? Then again, she's definitely dead if she lets down her family. What's a sunlight-loving vamp to do?—Goodreads

When I first started reading the unfortunately titled Drink, Slay, Love, I was very dubious—I really like the vampire genre and wasn't too crazy about throwing unicorns in with them. But, Sarah Beth Durst's unconventional take on the genre wooed me and I ended up having a really good time with this book. And by good time, I mean that I laughed out loud (on a plane) A LOT. 

To create her vampire-infused version of Connecticut, Durst takes a little vampire lore from the vast canon of vampire literature (she even names one of the characters Charlaine, surely in "honor" of Charlaine Harris. I say "honor" because Charlaine in the book isn't treated with very much care.), as well as from Buffy, adds in a unicorn, and churns out a witty romp of a novel. 

The main character, Pearl, is a lot of fun. She's vampy (in both senses of the word), intelligent, great with sardonic one-liners, and is all kinds of kick ass. And unlike other teenage vampires who have gone to high school, she relishes the opportunity and treats it like an anthropological study rather than sulking about and staring at humans until they love her. In fact, Durst does a great job in channeling Mean Girls and Heathers into the book via Pearl's "I am superior to all of you and you WILL bow to me" attitude, which is obviously problematic for the Queen Bee of the school and her adoring minions. It's not so problematic for Pearl. *grins* 

While Pearl's mission from her vampire-mafia type family is to find entrées to feed to the King of New England when he comes a'calling, she ends up making friends, especially in Evan, the teenage boy who is practically perfect AND has a hero complex (le sigh), and the overly-eager, but cunning Bethany (This is the first time I've encountered my name in a book. It was weird.) who is described as a "demented kangaroo." (I'm pretty sure people might STILL describe me that way. They definitely would have in high school. I'd like to think I've settled down a bit since then.) Rounding out the human cast are two guys, one of whom is named Zeke (which is the name of my dog. No lie.), who fancy themselves amateur vampire slayers.  Unfortunately for Pearl, she realizes that she actually likes these humans and doesn’t really want them to be snacks. But she also loves being a vampire and doesn’t want to disappoint her family. And thus the internal struggle/central crux of the plot is born.

Durst does a really great job of creating both a human and vampire world that are believable, and I really loved the idea of the vampire family that operates like a mafia. It keeps Pearl on her toes and provides a lot of drama to a novel that would have otherwise probably been so clichéd that not even Durst's incredible wit could save it. 

Overall, Drink, Slay, Love plays into every high school convention and trope you can think of—including a big climactic scene that takes place at, yes, the [junior] prom. While there are moments that feel a bit cheesy and perhaps a little too formulaic, it's never so heavy-handed that you're rolling your eyes or throwing the book across the room in protest. So if you have it in you to get past the awful title, idea of unicorns in your vampire lore, and vampires who do more than just brood and bite, you’ll probably end up charmed by Pearl, Evan, Bethany, and the rest of Durst’s hilarious cast. Take it from the girl who was skeptical at first—this book is wickedly, deliciously fun. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

TGIF: Books That Make a Difference

Well hello there new TGIF graphic. You are nice lookin'. *low whistles* 

This week the oh-so lovely Ginger at GReadsBooks has asked: 

Which book(s) would you put in the hands of today's teenagers in hopes of making a difference in their lives?

Questions like there are always really hard for me to answer. Part of it is because I tend to avoid books that tackle difficult subjects (yes, that means I haven't read Thirteen Reasons Why) and those are the types of books that I expect a lot of people would recommend. So I'm going to recommend books that I think help make people better. Or at least, books that help people have a greater sense of understanding or humanity. 

Consequently, these are the types of books that a lot of teens think of as "required reading." But whatever. These required for a reason, and that's because they're good. So! Here we go!

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Alright, I'm gonna stop there. Although, I should probably add in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart and Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street. And Voltaire. And Dickens. And more women. And The Beats. But. If I start naming EVERYTHING I think has the ability to make a difference in a person's life, then we'll be here from now 'til kingdom come. So let's call it a day shall we? *grins*

I hope that y'all have all had a wonderful week and that you're gearing up for a languorous long weekend! TGIF!