Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday: Best Book of February


It's time for another Road Trip Wednesday, a blog carnival hosted by the lovely ladies of YA Highway.
This week's question:

What was the best book you read in February?


Well, dedicating a post today to my favorite read of the month is going to make tomorrow's Bookanista post pretty redundant, so I'm just going to share everything I read in February.


 
 


I'm glad that I've been staying on pace to read 52 books in 2012. I've become a fan of reading on my phone...it's great when I have some free time at the dog park or while I'm waiting somewhere, and I don't have to worry about lugging a book around with me. Both Entwined and Coffeehouse Angel were books that I got super cheap for my Kindle app that I probably wouldn't have picked up otherwise, and I was surprised how much I enjoyed both of them. (Speaking of...does anyone happen to know how I can get NetGalley books on my phone? I send them to my Kindle app through the Kindle email address, and I can get them to go to my iPad, but not the Kindle cloud or my phone. Is there any way around this? I would LOVE to read my NetGalley titles on my phone.)


So, that's one re-read for school, two bargain Kindle books, one Galley Grab e-galley, and one real hardcover book. Wow. Only one "real" book...how funny. I never thought I would get so into e-books, and I don't even have a dedicated e-reader!


What did you read in February? What was your favorite?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Drafts of March

Back at the beginning of the year, I set a goal for myself to finish my draft of my new project by the end of March. I even told this deadline to my former writing instructor, who is actually keeping a calendar and following up on the deadlines of many of his former students.

So, a March deadline was all well and good when it was January 1st and the months spread out in front of me. But then I had a few weeks of indecision and I actually decided to switch projects, essentially dumping the 10k words I had on the project I decided not to pursue right now. I have been jamming on the newest thing, but not all of my writing time is spent actually writing new words...there is a lot of planning involved, you know? Lots of brainstorming and frantic emails to my writing group, my CPs, and my writing buds as I try to figure out where to take these characters.

Now it's the end of February and I'm staring down the beginning of the end. I have 15k words and a rough outline and a vague plan and a month to get it all down, or else I will face the wrath of my (not very) scary writing instructor and the judgment of everyone else on the writing facebook group he manages, as well as the rotten tomatoes that all of you are going to throw at me. (Why you guys so mean?)

I mentioned awhile ago that I was thinking about scaling back my blogging, and it looks like that is going to have to happen...at least until I finish my draft, anyway. I'm still going to participate in Road Trip Wednesday when I can, and I'll be posting Bookanista recommendations as long as I have books to pimp out, but aside from that I'm only going to blog when I actually have something to say. Crazy idea, huh? I love having a post every day, but when I don't come to this blogging page with something I know I want to say then I find I can spend HOURS trying to come up with a post, and that's time that I could be using to finish this draft.

I'm trying to avoid public humiliation, you know.

I really want you guys to hold me to this deadline. I really want to meet it. I really want to have this draft done by the end of March. Can I do it? I promise I'll check in and let you know how it ends up if you promise to publicly shame me if I don't get there.

Friday, February 24, 2012

YA Book Club: The Fault In Our Stars


It's time for February's YA Book Club, hosted by Tracey Neithercott, and today we are discussing The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, aka The Best Book I've Read In A Long Time.


I shared my review of this book here already back with my Bookanistas review. (Spoiler: I ADORED it.) But I don't want to let that stop me from participating in the Book Club fun! So I'm sharing some fun The Fault in Our Stars things I have found around the internets. 

First of all, I hope all of you who have finished the book have checked out the Tumblr John Green created to answer questions about the book. (Hint: The password is the last word of the book's acknowledgments) It's so rare to be able to have this kind of access to an author and be able to ask things like...was this a symbol? Why did you name Hazel Hazel and Agustus Agustus? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEEEEAAAAN? I love checking this site for updates and getting a glimpse into the genius of JG. 

My IRL book club met this past weekend and discussed TFIOS, and I pulled up this site and read some of his answers when these questions came up. It was awesome to have the actual answer from the author, although blind speculation can be lots of fun sometimes. And can I just say that nothing makes me happier than sitting around with a group of ten grown-ass women and discussing John Green. The book was a hit with my friends, which made me so happy because it was my choice. (Obviously.)

Oh, and we also ate all of this:

I wish THIS book club came with all of these treats!

Next, there was this amazing review on the NYTimes that I have not seen enough people spreading around. (YA community, can we all please make sure that these positive write-ups get as many page views as the negative ones? Read this! Share it! Talk about it! Someone smart is saying nice things about YA in public, let's please make sure everyone knows!)

Then there was the time I waited around for two and a half hours on a school night for a chance at thirty seconds of John Green face time. 
It was so worth it. 

Oh, and finally there are all of these cool things I have been finding on Tumblr...
Source



I know this wasn't the traditional book club post, but I figured I didn't need to share my thoughts on the book AGAIN...and it's always fun to see cool stuff that goes along with that book you loved, right?

So...did everyone else love this book as much as I did? Do you have any TFIOS or John Green fun things to share?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bookanistas: Time Between Us Cover Love

Back in December of 2010 I went to the Big Sur Children's Writing Workshop hosted by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. During the weekend I worked with two different critique groups, made up of five writers and one agent each. I got a lot out of both of my groups, but there was really something special about my first group. Every single one of us had something awesome, and we were all so excited about all of the pages we were sharing with each other. We bonded in those few days, and I was in awe of all of the talent gathered around our little table.

One of my favorites in that first group was a YA time travel romance. I was HOOKED after reading the first chapter in critique and I wanted more, more, more! Well, I am thrilled to say that since our Big Sur workshop, that YA time travel romance sold, it's coming out in October, and, as of yesterday, it has an absolutely gorgeous cover that I am so excited to share with you all. (You know, just in case you haven't seen it yet.)


Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett’s unique ability to travel through time and space brings him into Anna’s life, and with him, a new world of adventure and possibility. As their relationship deepens, they face the reality that time might knock Bennett back where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate—and what consequences they can bear in order to stay together.
Fresh, exciting, and deeply romantic, Time Between Us is a stunning and spellbinding debut from an extraordinary new talent in YA fiction.

Can I tell you how excited I am for this?! Even if I had no idea how awesome Tamara was, and even if I hadn't had any contact with this book at Big Sur, Time Between Us would still be super high on my list of anticipated 2012 debuts. Trust me...this one is going to be epic, you guys. (Here's Tamara's Twitter and facebook if you want to stalk her like I do. Or you can not be a stalker and just add the book on Goodreads.)
It's already up for pre-order on Amazon and B&N...you know my pre-order has already been placed. 

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to today...

Christine Fonseca  interviews author L.K. Gardner-Griffie
Corinne Jackson announces Change Write Now: Round 2 signups are open
Carolina Valdez Miller adores UNDER THE NEVER SKY - with giveaway
Jen Hayley has a passion for PARTIALS
Jessica Love shares some TIME BETWEEN US cover talk
Tracy Banghart jumps for CATCHING JORDAN
Stasia Ward Kehoe contemplates middle grade series
LiLa Roecker is enthralled with THE NIGHT CIRCUS
Shelli Johannes-Wells visits with author Elle Strauss

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Five (32)

1. YAY! It's a four day weekend for me! I have today off, and I'm off on Monday, too! Hooray! No big plans this weekend...just relaxing. Today I'm making a Panera trip to get some major words in on my draft, then, well, that's really all I have on my agenda until I go back to work on Tuesday. Writing, sleeping, snuggling with the pooch. Aaah, yes. That's the life.


2. Speaking of the pooch, remember last week I told you about the little cut my sweet dog Gunner had on his face? It turns out that underneath than matted piece of fur he had a huge, gaping open wound. Thank goodness we brought him into the vet and she found it and took care of it for us. But now poor Gunner has three staples in his adorable little face.

You can click HERE to see a pic of his sad little injury if you want. I don't want to just force a picture of a dog wound on you all. That's no way to start a Friday.

Luckily my boy is a trooper. I am way more upset about his staples than he is. In fact, he's sort of loving it because I'm giving him all kinds of guilt treats.


3. This past weekend my work bff and I chaperoned the Sadie Hawkins dance. The theme was Save Me Sadies and everyone dressed up in some sort of couple costume that related to the theme. Most people were lifeguards or police officers or something of some sort. There were three literary-related or just awesomely nerdy costumes I noticed, and I'm happy to say that all of them were my current or former students. I was so proud. There was a Doctor and Rose Tyler, a Harry and Hermione, and there were TWO Katniss Everdeens, one of whom had a gigantic bow.

One awesome addition to this year's dance was a photo booth. The kids had a great time with it and, uh, so did we.


4. In case you're wondering, I'm still plugging away on my working out and my eating better. I'm down a few pounds already. Go Jess! I'm already feeling so much stronger, which is actually pretty cool. But then I go and try to pick up an 8 lb weight at the gym and I'm smacked back into reality. Oh well...at least I'm making some progress.


5. I'm going to have to start adjusting my blogging schedule. I realized the other night that I dedicate more time each day to blogging, replying to comments, and commenting on other blogs that I spend actually writing. This is way backwards, and it's not how I want to do things. I know WHY I do it. Blogging is so much easier than writing a novel. And I always lean toward the easy thing because I'm lazy. But doing the easy, lazy thing doesn't get a book written, and that's my priority. So, you may see an adjustment around here. I'm not going to stop blogging...that's just crazy talk. But I can't keep doing five days a week. We'll see how it goes.

Have a fantastic weekend, friends. I hope some of you have a long weekend like I do, but even if you don't...enjoy it!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bookanistas: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18C. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.



Let's be honest here...after reading that description is there anyone here who is surprised that I loved this book?

Yeah, I didn't think so. This book just has Jess written all over it, huh?

And I have to say that I had the best darn experience reading it, too, because I read it on an airplane! How fun! Sadly, there wasn't a hot Brit next to me on the plane, but I was in first class, so that sorta made up for it. Sorta.

Anyway, if you are looking for a quick, fun romance to get lost in for a few hours, this is your book. Hadley is a completely relatable character, and Oliver is such a dreamy love interest. The surprising thing about this book, too, is that it isn't just about the romance. Hadley's relationship with her parents and her struggle with her dad's new marriage is a huge plot element, and it's nice and complicated, just the way I like my relationships. I liked that things between Hadley and her dad weren't so black and white, and this wasn't just the dad being a jerk or Hadley being a brat. There was a lot of grey area, just like in real life.

This book takes place over the course of 24 hours, and it moves fast. It's a quick read...in fact, I finished it on the first half of my first leg of my trip home from Miami. But it was so much fun to spend the day with Hadley and Oscar, and I always love finding another awesome contemp YA to recommend. Don't miss out on this one...it's just too cute and fun to pass by.

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to today...


Christine Fonseca surrenders to THE SECRET OF SPRUCE KNOLL
Corrine Jackson delights in CHOPSTICKS
Stasia Ward Kehoe  presents a Stunning Seconds interview with A MILLION SUNS author Beth Revis
Jen Hayley gives a shout-out to the classics
Debra Driza celebrates CINDER – with giveaway!
Katy Upperman raves over JELLICOE ROAD
Hilary Wagner is all about LEXAPROS AND CONS – with giveaway
Carolina Valdez Miller talks about the tremendous cover of TEN
Jessica Love has high ratings for THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday: Words Are Fun

It's time for Road Trip Wednesday, a blog carnival hosted by the lovely ladies of YA Highway. Today's question:
 
What words do you absolutely hate? Which ones do you adore?
 
WORDS I LOVE
 
I love all words, but I especially love words that are fun to say. 
 
Juxtaposition
Conviviality
Doppleganger
 
Don't those just feel cool in your mouth? I love that.  
 
WORDS I HATE 
  
Okay, so I don't love all words. I don't like words that serve no purpose expect to make you seem like you are smarter than you are.
 
Utilize
 
OMG, I hate the word utilize SO MUCH. It's the exact same word as use. It doesn't mean anything different. JUST SAY USE. IT IS THE SAME.
 
Going along with that, I really hate those corporate buzzwords. Things like this make me so glad I no longer work in advertising, because crap like this was tossed around will-nilly. Drove me nuts. It happens in education, too, but I'm not in meetings every day, so I can handle it.
 
You know what I mean, things like...
 
best practices
value add
action items
circle back
dovetail
incentivize
 
UGH. Stop making up new, stupid words for things.
 
 
What about you guys...any words you love and hate?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Valentine To Jason Segel

Dear Jason Segel,

It's weird. I'm a writer, you know? Writing is what I do. It's my thing. But when it comes to sitting down and trying to tell you all of my feelings through this blog, I'm really struggling. It's like when you really, really love a book, so much that when you finished it you actually hold it in your arms and hug it, and you all at once want to tell everyone you know about it and keep it tightly to yourself, well, when you finish that book and try to write a review and all that comes out is OMG!!!!OMG!!! <3!!!

Yeah, that's what this is like. I'm feeling a little inarticulate all of a sudden. (Does being articulate only apply to speech? I don't even know. SEE WHAT YOU DO TO ME, JASON SEGEL?)

But, even though I'm having a difficult time with this, I must power on. Because I am writing you this Valentine as part of YA Highway's Valentine's Lovefest, Jason Segel, and there is something very important that I need to let you know.

I think you are my muse.

This is how it goes. When I'm stuck on a relationship-y scene, or a pine-y scene, or a making out-y scene, and the words aren't flowing, when I'm just stuck, I will sometimes stop what I'm doing and clear my mind. And do you know what happens to be the first thing I see when I close my eyes and try to solve my writing problem? It's you, Jason Segel.

It's you.

However, after just a few short minutes of daydreaming about going out in LA, taking a seat at a barstool next to you by mere chance, striking up a conversation, and, within minutes, falling madly in love*, I'm suddenly feeling ALL OF THE FEELINGS, and I'm able to finish that troublesome scene. The scene doesn't always work...I mean, let's be real here, 9 times out of 10 it is total crap. But it gets finished, and I wouldn't be able to finish it without you.

Yup, just that few minutes of inappropriate daydreaming and I am right back on track writing that teen romance story I had been struggling with. Because that's how you make me feel, Jason Segel. Like a giddy teenager, in love for the first time. Just a brief visit to F- Yeah Jason Segel and I am able to recapture everything swoony and awkward about first love.

So, thank you.

Thank you for walking around looking like this:
Even though it is SO NOT FAIR. (I mean, MY GOD. SERIOUSLY?)

Thank you for doing things like this, and proving that you have the best sense of humor of anyone, ever:


Thank you for making obscene hand gestures in Bad Teacher and then turning around and making the Muppet movie, thereby proving you are, in fact, the most perfect man to walk the earth.

Thank you for inspiring pretty much every YA love interest I want to write, because I think every dreamy teenage boy in a YA novel (or in real life) should be just like you.

Thank you for being so rad, Jason Segel, and thank you for being my muse. If I ever do run into you in a bar in LA, first round is on me.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Yours very truly,

Jessica Love


*Am I completely delusional for thinking that this scenario is 100% plausible? I don't think I am. I think you would quite enjoy me if we were ever to meet. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Five (31)

1. Hey! I got into an MFA program! That's some exciting news! I'll share more info on here once everything is all finalized, but...yay!


2. I came home yesterday to find that my sweet dog Gunner had a bloody face. I was SO sad. It seems like he got some tree sap or something sticky stuck in the fur right under his eye and it made the fur all matted. Then he was scratching it at and the scratching ripped the matted fur from his face, causing it to bleed. Then the blood mixed in with the matted fur mess and made a bloody matted fur mess, which made for one sad looking doggie.

Isn't this the saddest face you've ever seen? Luckily you can't see the bloody matted fur mess in this pic...it's under his left eye

My poor boy. It didn't even seem like it was hurting him all that much, he just seemed embarrassed about it. He got a little bit of blood on the (white) couch, and he damn near killed himself trying to lick it away so I wouldn't see. (Out, damned spot!) It took some effort, and some coaxing with treats to get him to come out from where he was hiding under the table, but I finally got him all fixed up and as good as new. Or new-ish. We won't talk about what had to happen to his adorable face and haircut to get that matted fur mess figured out. I have a feeling poor Gunner is going to be embarrassed for a little bit longer.


3. Did you guys know they are making another movie version of Romeo and Juliet? I know, I totally agree that they pretty much achieved perfection with that Leo and Claire Danes version, and I was ready to write it off, too. But then I took a look at the cast list and saw this little gem.

DAMIAN LEWIS as Lord Capulet

I love Damian Lewis. He's ridiculously hot. I mean, come ON. British ginger? Hot ginger with an accent? Red hair and from England?! There aren't enough noms in the world. And it looks like a British cast, which means DAMIAN LEWIS SPEAKING IN HIS HOT BRITISH ACCENT.

So, needless to say, I am now TOTALLY ON BOARD with this new version of Romeo and Juliet. And I am drooling over how badass the scene when Lord Capulet rages on Juliet is going to be with Hot Damian Lewis's mad acting skillz.

"Thursday is near; lay hand on heart, advise. 
An you be mine, I'll give you to my friend; 
And you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets, 
For, by my soul, I'll ne'er acknowledge thee, 
Nor what is mine shall never do thee good: 
Trust to't, bethink you; I'll not be forsworn."


I know not everyone shares my love for all things ginger, but come ON

(Is anyone else LOL-ing over the fact that Claire Danes was Juliet in the Leo version and now Damian Lewis is playing Lord Capulet, Juliet's dad, in this version and they are both in Homeland together? Or is that just me?)

(And does anyone else feel old swooning over the DAD and not the love interest? The senior citizen discount is right around the corner for me.)


4. I fully realize that I haven't yet blogged The John Green Experience. Don't worry. It's still coming. I could never forget about my face time with John Green. I'm just trying to decide if I should blog the PG version or the PG-13 version. (Yes, there is a PG-13 version. Ha.)


5. Do you guys have a good feeling about February? Because I totally have a good feeling about February. I know it's only been a little over a week, but things have just been so positive so far. Good things have been happening, I've been feeling good and happy. I hope I don't look back at this post at the end of the month and wonder what the heck I was thinking, but, seriously...I've been in a good writing groove, work has been pretty mellow, I have an awesome student teacher, I got that MFA news...I just feel good things brewing. Let's keep it up, February!

Happy weekend, all! xoxo

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bookanistas: Beauty Queens

Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to emall. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.

It's been awhile since I have literally laughed out loud at a book. That's why I love Libba Bray so much...she is freaking hilarious, and it shows so much in her writing. I had the pleasure of stalking meeting Libba this past summer at the SCBWI LA conference, where she made me laugh until my stomach hurt at both her keynote talk (which inspired the post-it that lives on my computer keyboard, pictured over there -->) and her breakout session. I hadn't read this book at the time, but I did get it signed, and I had been waiting for just the right time to crack it open.

I knew it was a satire, but I had no idea how much of our world and popular culture it was satirizing. Nothing is sacred in this book, and that's what makes it so much fun.

I thought I would be confused with all of the different beauty pageant contestants, but they all have such distinct and sparkling personalities, they are very easy to keep track of. I also loved how diverse the cast was. It's always a relief for me to read a book that isn't made up entirely of straight white people. Libba always does a great job of keeping things diverse (hell-o Kartik), and the diversity was actually one of the issues that was touched upon in this novel. (In a funny way, of course.)

This is a book that challenges our society's view of beauty and culture, but does it in a way that will have you laughing out loud throughout. If you haven't been exposed yet to the crazy, twisted mind of the hilarious Libba Bray, grab this book and get to know her. She's awesome.

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to today...

Christine Fonseca  takes a shine to A MILLION SUNS
Carolina Valdez Miller falls for FRACTURE
Jen Hayley surrenders to THE NIGHT SHE DISAPPEARED
Stasia Ward Kehoe is dazzled by DARK COMPANION
Nikki Katz wonders at THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
Debra Driza is overwhelmed by UNDER THE NEVER SKY
Jessica Love gives a trophy to BEAUTY QUEENS
Shelli Johannes-Wells takes you on a tour of The Reading Room
Tracy Banghart has double-love for THE SILVER PHOENIX and FURY OF THE PHOENIX
Hilary Wagner is in the grips of THE GATHERING STORM

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday: Jinx


It's time for another Road Trip Wednesday, a blog carnival hosted by the lovely ladies of YA Highway.
This week's question:


Jinx! What story ideas have you trunked because they were too similar to published/well-known stories?


Ack...this happened to me recently, actually. 


Just a month or two ago I was getting a massage, and in the middle of the massage a story idea struck me. And it had such potential! I struggled to remember it, then I drove home from the massage and immediately sent a frantic email to my writing bestie Heather, so she could help me develop it out. After emails and emails and emails, and abandoning a plot thread that I realized sounded like a good idea because it was a lot like a book that is coming out soon, I had a basic plot sketched out. I even had a few thousand words written. I was good to go!


Then a few things happened. 


1. I got struck with an even better idea that I was ridiculously in love with. 


2. I was at B&N browsing the books like I do, and I saw a book that didn't look familiar to me. I picked it up and read the back and
O
M
G
it was so similar to my dang idea. 


It wasn't identical, but it was pretty darn similar. Like, scratch your head and say hmm similar. I snapped a picture of the back of the book to email Heather, and then I whined the entire way home. NO FAIR. 


Of course, Heather, as always, was the voice of reason. She talked me off the ledge for the millionth time and made me realize that even if our plots were almost identical, it really wouldn't be that big of a deal, and that I could totally make this concept my own. Plus, let's be real...neither one of us had ever even heard of this book. 


But, that shiny new idea that I had fallen in love with was dancing around my brain. And now this one was tainted. So after running the new idea, the tainted idea, and my NaNo project past my writing group, asking them which one I should go for, they all agreed on shiny new idea. Sorry, tainted idea. You were ruined for me. 


I'm sure you want to know what it is, but...I'm not going to tell you. You never know, I may still go after it. And I can't let it get even more tainted than it already is, you know? Heh.


Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever trunked an idea because it was too similar to something else?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Melissa's Awesome News

You guys! I have fantastic news!
 
My friend and member of my online writing group, Melissa Landers, sold her YA sci-fi book in a two-book deal!
 
Check this:
 
Melissa Landers's ALIENATED, in which a high school valedictorian takes in an extraterrestrial exchange student in order to receive a college scholarship, prompting a national controversy that spins out of control, only to find herself falling for her mysterious alien friend, to Laura Schreiber at Disney-Hyperion, in a very nice deal, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, by Nicole Resciniti at The Seymour Agency (World).

How good does that sound?!

Let me tell you all...Melissa is ridiculously talented and unbelievably nice. She has been a constant cheerleader and helping hand on my writing journey, so I am absolutely thrilled to cheer her on in hers. I could not be happier for Melissa, and I am so excited to see what the YA world has in store for her. (Melissa made her first sale, a three-book contemporary adult romance deal as Macy Beckett, back in July. Look at her being a multi-genre rockstar!)

If you guys don't know Melissa, you can find her on Twitter, on her own blog, and over on Honestly YA. Go meet her, say hello, and give her some big congratulations, because I promise you she is someone you are going to want to know. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Five (30)

1. So, I've gone and given myself carpal tunnel in my right hand from my frequent computer and smart phone use. Dang, this is embarrassing. I mean, I really am one of those people with her phone in her hand at all times, and, look, I get that it's obnoxious. I know it is. But...I don't know. I like my phone. And my computer, which I am on at any and all spare moments, it seems. Between work stuff (entering grades, answering emails, creating handouts, etc), writing, blogging, and general internetting, I'm on the computer a lot. So...computer at work and at home. Phone in between. Like I said, I know it's obnoxious.

But what's even more obnoxious is this horrible pain in my right hand, wrist, and forearm that has been getting worse and worse lately. Until earlier this week when I could hardly stand it anymore. I consulted Twitter (of course) and then quickly went out and bought myself a wrist brace. The wrist brace has made a world of difference with the pain, but I still have this problem. Ugh.
What am I going to do about this? Less time on the computer is not an option. And less time on my phone? Ack!

I just need to learn to scroll with my left thumb, I guess.


2. This week was a rough one at work. It was the end of the semester and grades were due, so all of us teachers were running around to make sure everything was graded and our gradebooks were perfect. This is my very least favorite time of the school year, for many, many reasons, and I always end up frazzled and stressed and wanting to curl up in a ball and cry. Luckily the week is over, and my life can get back to normal. I'm hoping to squeeze a massage in today or this weekend to help me recover.


3. I've been pretty gung-ho about my new gym routine, and by gung-ho I mean that I haven't completely given up on it yet. In fact, I've started a new weightlifting / diet / supplement program that my buff, bodybuilder husband found for me. I'm sort of easing into the diet, but I jumped into the weights hardcore and BOY AM I SORE. It feels good, and I'm so glad to be working out again. Hopefully I see some results, because I've been feeling super flabby lately, and I hate that. Because I'm in such bad shape right now, the husband is currently the more attractive one in our relationship, and that just can't stand. I need to be the hot one. So hopefully I can get myself all buff and skinny and reclaim the more attractive spouse crown.


4. I'll be hanging out at a Super Bowl party this weekend, despite the fact that I don't really like football. I can't say no to parties at my friend's house right on the bay, there will be lots of betting on ridiculous things all through the game, so that always keeps me entertained, and there will also be lots and lots of food. I'm hoping with all of these distractions I can make it through the entire party without actually watching any football.

And there is always the Puppy Bowl to look forward to!


5. I started a tumblr! I haven't quite figured it out yet, and I have no idea what I'm going to do with it, but you can go ahead and follow me if you are so inclined.

Happy weekend, everyone. Enjoy the Puppy Bowl!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bookanistas: Shine

When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice.


Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.

My writing bestie Heather had been raving about this book for months, bugging encouraging me to pick it up. I had my own copy, and I even sent it with my buddy Tameka to the Decatur Book Festival to get signed for me, but, for some reason I just kept passing over it in favor of other books.

Well, I say that like I don't know why I was passing over it. I know exactly why. It's because I knew it was about a hate crime committed against a gay teen, and I wasn't sure I could handle that. Quite a few years ago I was in a local production of The Laramie Project, a play written about the murder of gay teen Matthew Shepard. Matthew's story broke my heart prior to my involvement in that production, but living and breathing the aftermath of his killing through rehearsals and performing that show, well, it became even more personal and meaningful for me. (If you have never seen a production of The Laramie Project, I encourage you to do so. Or watch the movie. It has an amazing cast.)

Anyway, I wanted to read this book. I did. But I was afraid of it. I was afraid it was going to upset me too much.

Finally I picked it up and I'm happy to say that, while the subject of a hate crime against a gay teen is obviously disturbing, the book itself isn't disturbing. It doesn't focus so much on the hate crime itself, but more the reaction of one girl, the victim's former best friend, to the crime. It is a mystery, and Cat tracks down the clues to solve it. She's also dealing with some of her own heavy issues, the issues that caused her friendships to fizzle out. She does all this in a setting that is almost like a character itself, the rural south.

I know many people have only heard of this book because of the National Book Award drama that surrounded it. I'm glad that such a powerful and moving book got attention, though I wish it was because it actually was nominated, because this book deserves praise and recognition! Fantastic, slow-building mystery, foreboding setting, and gorgeous, gorgeous writing. I hate that I waited so long to read it.

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to today...

Christine Fonseca  interviews author Denise Grover Swank
Jessi Kirby and Jen Hayley are wowed by WANDERLOVE
Corrine Jackson is mesmerized by MAY B.
Stasia Ward Kehoe  interviews DIES IRAE author Christine Fonseca
Debra Driza is entranced by HEMLOCK
Katy Upperman delves into THE DISENCHANTMENTS
Nikki Katz  celebrates CINDER
Tracy Banghart  marvels at JULIET IMMORTAL
Jessica Love spotlights SHINE

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday: Best Book of January


It's time for another Road Trip Wednesday, a blog carnival hosted by the lovely ladies of YA Highway.
This week's question:

What was the best book you read in January?

I was lucky this past month...I read quite a few fantastic books! In fact, I'm already planning Bookanista posts about most of my January reads.


  


Awesome, right?

My favorite was definitely The Fault in Our Stars, but John Green is always my favorite and it's not really fair to the other books to compare them. That's like comparing...well, two things you can't really compare. (You can really tell I am a writer sometimes, huh? I'm such a master of figurative language.) Plus I already did my Bookanistas post about it, so I don't want to talk about it again. Sure, I can talk about John Green all day, but does anyone really want me to?

As for the rest of them, I liked them all so much! Wanderlove was a truly gorgeous book, and I can't wait to gush all about it. Statistical Probability was such a cute and fun romance. I really enjoyed all of these books.

I know that's such a cop-out answer, but seriously. I'm so happy I had such a fun reading month, and I don't feel like picking favorites. They all made me smile when I was done with them, and that's a win in my book.

What's the best book you read in January?