Saturday, July 30, 2011

Review: Whatever Happened to Goodbye

"After a scandal involving her mother and a famous college basketball coach rocked her family and her old hometown, McClean decided to live with her dad. His job as a restaurant consultant requires they pick up often, and at each new place she carefully selects who she’ll be—Eliza, Beth, or someone else with a new name and different interests. It’s easier this way for McClean, who is reluctant to form any true attachments. Then at their latest stop, McClean does something she’s not done in a long while—reveal her real name. But who is this McClean and is she ready to forgive her mother, fall for the boy next door, and finally stick around? Fans of author Sarah Dessen will recognize her compelling dialog and characters so intricately-drawn it’s as if they’re the reader’s friends, too. Yet the real meat of What Happened to Goodbye is in Dessen’s mastery of the emotional ups-and-downs of McClean’s supportive relationship with her father and struggles with her mother. Keenly-observed and terrifically-written, Dessen’s latest is a delightful read about self-discovery and maturity that by the end is hard to say goodbye to."


Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release date: May 10, 2011
Page count: 402
Will appeal to: Obsessed Sarah Dessen fans, people who've worked in or are interested in the restaurant business

Favorite Quote:

"In her real life, she wore rain boots, had dirt under her nails, and squelched around in the garden in the mud, picking aphids off the tomato plants one by one. Now, though, my mom looked exactly like Katherine Hamilton, high-profile coach's wife. She wore her hair long and layered, got blonde highlights every other month, and sported TV-ready outfits that were selected by a personal shopper at Esther Prine, the upscale department store."

I bought this on my Kindle and planned to read it on our NC beach vacation. I finished it on the plane home.

Not one of my favorite Sarah Dessen books, and I'm a huge fan. I bought it pretty much as soon as it came out. I didn't find a whole lot of imagery that I liked enough to mark.

First of all, throughout the entire book I read McClean's name literally, but in a Sarah Dessen interview, she pronounces it Mc-Clane. I like that much better. She's a fan of basketball (in denial because she might hurt her dad by talking about it after her parents' divorce-- her mother did marry his favorite college coach). I liked that it touched on her different personalities. As a military brat, we have the freedom to do that to, so I related.

I also used to work in a Pizza Hut and liked some of the descriptions of the restaurant. I could relate to the lazy and various personalitied staff.

McClean's love interest Dave is an okay character. He didn't stand out for me like Will in The Truth About Forever. I imagine it gets hard to keep recreating new boys as love interests, and she's written so many books. I liked their conversations during the building of the town model.

It makes the reader question: do parents get a shot at happiness, and should they be punished for it by their children? When a parent has an affair to become more happy, do they stop to consider how it would affect the rest of their family, or are they allowed to be selfish for once?

As I was reading, I kept hoping it would get better. It doesn't measure up to Dessen's previous books for me.

Friday, July 29, 2011

New to blogging

Hi everyone, my name is Ashley Wright and I currently live in Minot, ND.  Like Jenna, I was a military brat my whole life (Go Army!) and have continued the tradition of moving every few years by marrying a man who is in the Air Force.  I am a special education teacher at a middle school and will have my Master's degree in less than a month,

I have been friends with Jenna for over ten years and am excited that she invited me to review books alongside her.  Also like Jenna, I really enjoy reading YA fiction.  We have spent a lot of time recommending books back and forth and discussing them.  I have never blogged before but am looking forward to trying it out!

Review: The Chosen One

"Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much---if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her.
But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle---who already has six wives---Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever."
-Good Reads

  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • Release date: May 12, 2009
  • Page count: 213
  • Unique elements: suspense, convincing narrative
  • Would appeal to: fans of The Other Side of the Island, religious wonderers
Favorite Quotes:

"On the temple, right over the tall double doors is one large stone eye. It's hand-carved and big as a car...That eye sees us all the time."

"He's so warm that the front of me feels sort of calmed down, pressed like I am to Joshua. At last the words have thawed."

"Why are we here? How did we get here? How do we get out of here? What have our father and mother done to us?"

"Sometimes I even dream in Mozart or Beethoven scores. In the dreams, people speak out black musical notes, not words."

On the heels of watching "Sister Wives" on TLC, I picked this up in the library and was instantly intrigued with the blurb (see my related post on polygamy). I cannot begin to imagine being forced to marry a man at 14, much less your uncle in his sixties who's strict and possibly abusive. Carol Lynch Williams puts the reader in the place, in the compound, and I felt so connected to protagonist Kyra's feelings and dreams. She does fall in love with a boy a little older than her named Joshua. They make the perfect couple, but the apostles of the Chosen Ones don't care about the women's wants or what is morally right. Prophet Childs always has the last say. And Kyra's three mothers aren't arguing. Her father tries to stand up for her, but people who stand up to the prophet often regret that they did.

Kyra hasn't been able to touch a book in such a long time, and one of her favorite things is secretly checking out books from a bookmobile that stops at her tree off the compound. I love this aspect of the story, since books are the ultimate escape!

The story was full of suspense and emotion all the way to the last few pages. I cried at least once. It's a great book to make you think beyond your own life and to those who have no choices. After reading, I looked up several websites that talked about kids trying to escape such compouds, some stories succesful, and others not.

Some of my favorite reviews of this book:
"Unsettling and courageous...beautiful, compassionate, and full of hope." - Sara Zarr (Story of a Girl)
"A powerful and heartfelt novel of love and hope. A poignant journey as (Kyra) struggles to find herself and, ultimately, the truth." - Meg Cabot

Fun Friday: Enhancing My Blog (now OUR blog!)

Those of you who follow me might be wondering why you see all these new posts popping up on your dashboard. I apologize. I am going full speed ahead on some new improvements, including my own book reviews tab on the home page. Unfortunately, I can't figure out any other way to link my reviews than by creating individual new posts. Believe me, I tried for two hours this morning. I also tried to get Hello Kitty faces instead of stars (drew a new canvas on MS Word and tried to save as a picture in Paint, but couldn't do it). Any tips?

I have fabulous news: my best friend Ashley (location Minot, ND) has agreed to join my blog. You will love her sense of humor. We decided to change this into a book blog (see the title?) with occasional commentary on other things.

We'll continue to have Mystery Review Monday, Write It Out Wednesday, and Fun Friday. If we can keep up with those days, of course.

If you have any suggestions as to a unique element that we can add in our YA book reviews-- something you wish you always had more info. on about a book before you read it-- please, let me know! There are a lot of blogs out there with reviews, so I want to figure out a way to set mine apart.

We'll also gladly take recommendations. We both update our "Books to Read" list on a daily basis.

Another hope is that we can interview authors (since I know a couple of fabulous Oklahoma ones to start). If you haven't yet read Sonia Gensler's The Revenant or Brandi Barnett's Glamour, you are missing out!

This is me and Ashley enjoying some soft serve yogurt when she came into OKC a few weeks ago. Don't worry, she's not picking her nose. My husband made us laugh because he was faking us out with the counting before the picture. And maybe she had to sneeze?
There is nothing in the world like a best friend, a person to laugh and cry with, a person to confide in and be yourself around.

I just can't seem to avoid those darn dangling prepositions. Oh well. English teachers aren't perfect all the time. 

By the way, Ashley is a special ed teacher. We both attend the concerts of musicians from our teenage years (like Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys), get really annoyed by bad drivers, and were fortunate enough to travel as military brats. We met in Japan in 1999 and have stayed in touch ever since.

Review: The Other Side of the Island

"From New York Times bestselling author Allegra Goodman comes a post apocalyptic novel about love, loss, and the power of human choice.
Honor and her parents have been reassigned to live on Island 365 in the Tranquil Sea. Life is peaceful there—. the color of the sky is regulated by Earth Mother, a corporation that controls New Weather, and it almost never rains. Everyone fits into their rightful and predictable place. . . .
Except Honor. She doesn’t fit in, but then she meets Helix, a boy with a big heart and a keen sense for the world around them. Slowly, Honor and Helix begin to uncover a terrible truth about life on the Island: Sooner or later, those who are Unpredictable disappear . . . and they don’t ever come back."
-Good Reads

  • Publisher: Razorbill
  • Release date: Sept. 4, 2008
  • Page count: 280
  • Unique elements: Divided into four parts. Each part starts over at chapter 1.
  • Would appeal to: Dystopian readers, fans of Ally Condie's Matched, fans of Lauren Oliver's Delirium, free thinkers
Favorite Quotes:

"...she also remembered how dangerous his ideas were. Her father had thought she was afraid of the sea, but that was only part of it. She had been afraid because even as he spoke, she knew that she would lose him."

"A pair of orderlies in white uniforms looked like a matched pair of socks sorted and clean straight from the wash."

"She couldn't tell if they were men or women or if the pair was one of each, but they were alive; their arms felt strong and springy through the thin cloth of their jumpsuits."

"Another cake turned into a mass of butterflies, some iced on the surface and some that seemed about to fly away on painted cookie wings."

It was hard to pick out favorite quotes from this book, since I feel most anything would be giving away a lot of the story. If you like to read books about how the world might look in the future, this is a great one.

The book starts as Honor is 10. The wording is simple, as a child would see things; however, the point of view is 3rd. Honor doesn't fit in because she's come from the wild northern islands, she's been homeschooled, and her name has a silent H. Classes are determined by the first letter of your names. Names come from approved lists. The teachers say people will be confused and hear an O in Honor, believing she's much younger than she is. In time, they tell her parents, she'll want to change her own name. Already, we have a lot of conflict. It continues as everything Honor learns about the world at home is contradicted at school.

Earth Mother, the woman who has enclosed these islands, was a simple school teacher once upon a time (love that!) who has convinced everyone that real weather is their enemy.

Helix is a great friend to Honor when no one else will be, but he's dangerous because of his ideas, just like her father.

If you want to read a book about the power of words and persuasion (reminds me of Animal Farm since we read that every year in class), read this! Goodman's world is creative, convincing, and makes you think.

Review: Over and Over You

"I've been in love with the same boy for a thousand years. That's weird, especially since I'm only seventeen, and I can barely hold a guy's interest to the end of a five-minute conversation.
Ever since a psychic told Penny that she's been in love with the same guy for a thousand years, she's had nightmares. In every lifetime — over and over again — her mysterious boyfriend is present and so is her best friend, Diana. Both die young and their deaths are always Penny's fault. Can Penny change their fate—and her own? Will true love triumph?"
-Good Reads

  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Release date: June 1, 2005
  • Page count: 187
  • Unique elements: Protagonist's dreams interspersed throughout
  • Would appeal to: history buffs (most notably, the French Revolution), fans of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Favorite quotes:

"I suddenly feel sick, like somebody told me I compulsively pick my nose in public without being aware of it."

"I step over the legs of people seated on the floor, as gracefully as a herd of elephants barreling over to a water hole."

"How do you tell your best friend that you're insane and casually fit it into everyday conversation?"

"Louis was a fat moron who couldn't even get it up."

Oddly enough, this is the first of two books in a row where I learned that you need to swim parallel to the beach and sort of diagonal (crossways) when you're caught in a riptide (the other is The Summer of Skinny Dipping). It's always good to have info. like that, in case I move to a beach or visit one more than once a year.

It was interesting that Penny just seemed to know things without ever having been exposed to them-- a nice tie to having past lives. She wrote her dreams in a dream journal, and I find dreams fascinating, often writing my own down before I forget the details.

The book was kind of like a puzzle: the same players are in each of Penny's dreams, including her best friend Di and a "millenium guy," but she has a hard time decoding the meanings, especially since Di dies in them all. I liked the things I learned about history and thought the past life concept was interesting enough to keep going. I didn't expect the ending, which I always love in books!

A relationship I thoroughly enjoyed was the one between Penny and her younger sister, Kalli. Kalli is a brat who thinks she's too good for Penny and often makes fun of her. However, when Kalli needs help, Penny is there.

I also liked that the Penny and Ryan, who become a couple, bond over their love of Pink Floyd!

Review: Fixing Delilah

"Things in Delilah Hannaford's life have a tendency to fall apart.
She used to be a good student, but she can't seem to keep it together anymore. Her "boyfriend" isn't much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition.
Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family's painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again?
Rich with emotion, Sarah Ockler delivers a powerful story of family, love, and self-discovery."
- Good Reads

  • Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Release date: Dec. 1, 2010
  • Page count: 320
  • Unique elements: Description!
  • Would appeal to: Fans of Sarah Dessen, romantics at heart, teens with family struggles
~ Jenna's take ~
Favorite lines:

"One by one they floated and swirled and fell to my feet, and when he flashed his up-to-no-good smile with the moonlight soft and blue on his skin, I wanted to stay there forever."

"Mom keeps one hand on the wheel, the other searching for the right button, fingers poking around the dash like a bird for worms as the unsaid end of my sympathy stumbles and slips back down my throat."

"It's funny how someone can be such an integral part of your life, like you laugh at the same jokes and eat your ice cream cones the same way and share your toys and dreams and everything but your heartbeats, and then one day-- nothing."

"I'm squealing and sprinting and dodging Patrick all around the house, nothing but happy and sun and warm all over me, and I feel a release, a free fall of carefree summer days with no end in sight."

I loved this book. I picked it up because once I get attached to an author, I find everything she's ever written, and Twenty Boy Summer, Ockler's debut novel, was AMAZING. The woman is a master at imagery.

I felt like I knew Delilah's personality almost from the first three chapters alone. Delilah is the misunderstood child who isn't allowed to ask questions or discuss feelings. Mom is a workaholic. When D's grandmother dies, they must return to Vermont, where she remembers spending most every summer until her grandfather's death more than seven years ago, when she was suddenly yanked away and not allowed to return. 

Delilah is both nervous and excited about seeing Ricky, her childhood friend. Patrick becomes a yummy male lead, especially when he's helping his dad with construction around D's grandmother's house.

Most everyone can relate to exploring or discovering family secrets!

Once you start reading, the characters (including D's incense burning, eccentric aunt) get in your head, and you won't want to stop.

Review: The Summer of Skinny Dipping

Because it's not Monday, I can't title this Mystery Review Monday, but I have such mixed feelings about this book that I had to write a review, even at 2:52 in the morning.

"While spending summer vacation with her family at her cousins’ fancy beach house in the Hamptons, Mia, 16, wants to join the popular crowd. Instead, she feels like the “frumpy relative”; in fact, even her own mother is a class snob who thinks Mia isn’t slim enough to be part of the “in” set. Then she bonds with gorgeous Simon, the boy next door, and they meet secretly at night on the beach, drink vodka, and skinny-dip in the wild ocean waves. The details about what the kids wear and their conversations about what is trendy overpower the story, especially because much of the fashion will date. But many teens will appreciate this first novel for how the dialogue not only captures the dynamics of Mia’s standoffs with her peers but also reveals her surprising discoveries about adults. Mia’s first-person narrative is right on about wanting to be “cool” (“I couldn’t help wishing I was more like them”) even as she despises much of what  'they' stand for."
-Book List

  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
  • Release date: June 1, 2010
  • Page count: 295
  • Unique elements - PLOT TWIST! A major one. Not expected, not even from reading the blurb.
Favorite quotes:

"A twinge pinched at my heart because even in moments like that, there's a part of you that's already sad-- a part of you that knows the moment is already on its way to being gone, because nothing truly perfect can last."

"The surest way to hurt yourself is to give up on love, just because it didn’t
work out the first time."

"'I’m a realist,” I replied stubbornly, 'not a romantic. Romantics are always disappointed.'
'Maybe they’re disappointed because they’re always surrounded by realists.' Simon countered."

I don't like the cover. It's a skinny girl (showing a body from shoulders down) running on the sand. Mia struggles with having a bigger body in the book. It's like someone heard the word beach and picked out a random picture to put with the book. Of course they didn't have time to read it first or consult with the author.

This was worth the read because it made me emotional. I couldn't put it down.

But that only happened after about 50-60 pages. This was the most disappointing thing for me about the whole book. I kept telling myself, "Just a little more, this has to get better!" I'm glad I stuck it out.

The other thing about the beginning that I noticed was a lot of repetition, as far as repeated words or descriptions (eye color and ocean was often described with the word gray in front of it - gray-blue or gray-green, three mentions of things being compared to a ship wreck). In regards to her ex-boyfriend, she went over and over the same thoughts like she didn't fully understand them the first time. The past tense narration became confusing at times because of all the hads popping up everywhere, some in places that didn't make sense.

However, the romance in this book is amazing! I felt tingles at some of the couple's special moments together. Good romantic suspense details. I wish I had a summer romance like that during my 16th year of life!

The dialogue between Mia and Simon is perfect. I love that he quotes books like The Great Gatsby. I also like that Mia is interested in science. There's a refreshing female character! I learned a lot about black holes and phosphorence in the ocean, courtesy of Mia.

As someone who has not been to the Hamptons, I loved the descriptions of the islands and longed to be at the same beaches as the characters.

I can't ruin the ending for you. If you have time on a beach or by a pool, this goes really fast after you get into it-- especially after she meets Simon, who doesn't care what anyone else thinks.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Write It Out Wednesday: Description

So I just barely made the noon CST deadline for the 2011 Norman Mailer Writing Award. It's open to teachers nationwide and includes 20 single spaced pages of your writing. I entered my YA novel (currently unpublished), Accepting Ellie.

Juding is based on "how well they (writers) achieve several qualities, including the artful treatment of subject matter, originality, quality of insight, voice, and style, and overall aesthetic, emotional, or intellectual effect."
That's a ton of pressure! But the grand prize is $10,000, a trip to New York for a November gala, and a writing fellowship during the summer of 2012! A girl can hope, right?

We're in the market for a new car, so the cash would go to great use!

Even though I'm imagining what all that money would look like floating through the air, what I really want to talk about is description. One of the tricks I use to really describe a person is to Google images of people on the web. This might be cheating, but it certainly helps me. Here is a picture of Kat, my main character's best friend:
I don't expect my readers to envision this exact girl, but I hope they come close.
If you need inspiration for characters, searching images on the web is a good place to start. You can build an entire story from a picture.

It's difficult to describe an object or event in a way that's unique. We have a million cliches, but avoiding those is key. Nobody wants to read a cliche- the lines that stick with a person long after the last page is turned are ones that make him/her see an object from a new perspective. (By the way, you'll see a couple more him/hers- getting back into the use of correct English for my classes!)

Here are some of my descriptions that one of my proofers, Kelly, really enjoyed in my first 11 chapters.
*Tip* If you're asked to edit someone's work, make sure to highlight the things you love along with the critique! It will make the author smile and give him/her hope that he/she is going in the right direction.

At the airport:

I tell him I love him as luggage whirrs around in a circle.

At a funeral home:

I’d lose myself in a place like this, dealing with the end of life every day.
 About a corpse:
I can’t read anything on her face full of freckles, not peace, not pain. Emotion has fled, leaving behind a straight line for a mouth.
This coldness, ten times worse than the new spot of bare bedroom floor in my room, tingles up my back and down my arms, forgetting to exit through my fingertips. 
On kneeling and standing in a Catholic church:
If I did this every Sunday, I’d never need to visit the gym. I also might develop early onset arthritis from using my knees in excess.

A brother reading a eulogy:
Steve’s a balloon that someone put a hole in, the air slowly deflating his shape.
On blood:
The mixture zigzags down the drain like a racing raindrop on a windshield.
What Grandma Jean says:
“It’ll do you some good to refamiliarize yourself with your maker."
    “Sadie Louise! We’re in a church parking lot. That’s pretty close to God. Choose your next words carefully.”
You can see my novel doesn't have a happy beginning...
Anyone else have tips on description?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon Final Update

Total books: (read below)
All I can picture in my head is a crowd, booing and throwing apples at me. Not really, but I wish this competition had come at a better time. Overall I finished one book:( But I love spending time with my mom and since she arrived today, I dedicated all my time to her, and she dedicated all her time to helping me get my classroom in order. So it really was a win-win, even though I should have been able to crank out all four books. If I had any energy to stay up for the next half hour, I would crank out a few more pages, but I wouldn't finish a book.

1. Read Heaven Has a Blue Carpet
2. Read 100 pages of The Shack (on chpt. 7)

Maybe next year I'll have more time!

Here are the mini-challenges for today:
Wicked Awesome Books wants us to play matchmaker with characters from different books.
My perfect couple (I'm crossing genres here):

Gale from The Hunger Games triology by Suzanne Collins
Ellie from Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten

Gale is an all-around nice guy and I wish so badly he could be with the girl he loved, but she chooses another. Ellie is looking for her missing sister with Sean, who's nothing but bad news. Both long for a person they can't be with (Ellie can't be with Sean because he's crazy and actually her sister's stalker). Ellie's stubborn, dedicated to family, and believes in fate, so she would work well with quiet and serious Gale, who is dedicatd to those he loves and deserves to be happy.
Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing asked us to recommend two books. The first is one to any book- convince her to read it. Second is a book from our read-a-thon pile.

1. I absolutely loved The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Set during WWII, the book is told from Death's point of view in a way that makes the reader feel sympathatic for him. Any author who can make me feel emotion for a personified abstract noun writes extremely well. Not only that, but the reader sees a picture of everyday life for a non-Jewish child whose family is hiding a Jew. All of these unique perspectives, combined with stunning imagery and a bittersweet love story made me laugh out loud, cry more than once, and rave about it to anyone who would listen.

2. Heaven Has a Blue Carpet by Sharon Niedzinski (from my reading pile) was laugh out loud funny, about a suburban housewive turned shepherd. With a family of seven and two dogs, she relocated out to the country on a whim. I've never learned so much about sheep in all my life, and each tickling tale was somehow linked to a Bible passage. God shows us so many lessons through sheep and shepherds; the trouble is not too many people pay attention.

Thanks for all the mini-challenges! I've got to go to bed now. Waking up early to create three outstanding bulletin boards and make a trip to the Dollar Tree!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Once Upon a Time Read-a-Thon: Mini-Challenge, Synopsis

Whew! Lots of posts today! Sorry if I'm overwhelming anyone.
The Bookish Type's creative mini-challenge requires bloggers to pick a book from their read-a-thon pile and write a fake synopsis based on the cover alone. This could be fun! Here's mine.

When Sayre wakes to find giants and chaos in downtown Chicago, she can't believe her eyes. Her family is missing and no one can answer her questions. A stranger named Kenny heroically saves her from an oncoming bus, and the two decide to figure things out together. They discover someone has shrunk their city and its people. The answer to everything lies in the giant gray cloud that's building in size above them. Can they save their city before it's too late? 

Anyone else want to try? Post the book cover of something you're reading or have read recently and create a fake synopsis for it. Let your mind run wild...

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon Update: Day 2

This is actually my first day of the challenge (I discovered it late!), but it's Day 2 for everyone else. I'm a little behind, but I gave myself a break with my first book by reading one I had already started. Just finished it:
Thank you, Mom, for lending me this book by Sharon Niedzinski. I don't typically read adult literature, but every so often I pick up a religious book that I fall in love with. This was so thought provoking and reflective that I smiled, laughed out loud, and nearly cried at the depictions of God's grace and the ways that sheep can show us Biblical lessons.

This woman with six kids, two dogs, and her husband "Honey" felt called to move from the suburbs to a farm, where she became a shepherd. It's crazy how many things she had to learn and do. She tells different stories that can all be related back to Christ-- her preschool son's class coming for a farm visit, the prayer group meetings in her house that a neighbor said she should have, the way ewes eat all signs of their afterbirth so wolves aren't attracted to the scent.

Loved this! If you need a spiritual uplifting, or just something to make you laugh, check it out.

I've also revised my book list over the next two days to just this and The Shack. Both my mom's books anyway, and I'd like for her to take them back to Missouri when she leaves on Saturday. I'll barely have any time to read, but who knows what's possible? I think I'll take a cleaning break so my husband doesn't have to help when he gets home. After all, it is our 3rd year anniversary!

For anyone who wants to join the challenge, free ARCs are being given away, as well as various books and swag by participating authors! Click on the button on the top left corner of my page.

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon: Mini-Challenge, Mythology

There are two questions for IB Book Blogging's mini-challenge:
1. Favorite type of mytholgy: Greek, hands-down. I wish my curriculum included The Odyssey.

2. Favorite book with some type of mythology: Things Fall Apart
I teach to sophomores. It has great myths interwoven, but I especially like the one that talks about why a tortoise's shell is cracked (he borrowed some feathers to fly to the sky. A great feast was prepared and he said his name was "All of You." Those who'd prepared the feast said, "All of You" gets to eat first. The tortoise filled himself so there was none left for the birds. They took their feathers back and he couldn't get down, so he asked the parrot to deliver a message to his wife- that she should take all the soft things in the house and put them outside so he could jump. The parrot tells her to bring all the hard things out of the house- including a cannon and machetes. The rest becomes part of Ibo culture mythology forever!

Books I've decided to read for the Read-a-Thon:

I'm definitely being overly ambitious! My mom is coming tomorrow. I have to clean my apartment, and when she comes, our main goal is to decorate my classroom. If I get finished with one of these, it will be a miracle. But if we didn't have goals, nothing would get accomplished, right?

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon: Mini-challenge, Love Triangles

If you're an avid reader and you're not on board the Read-a-Thon train, follow my link on the left! Unfortunately, I'm a little late in the starting of it myself, since I stayed up until 4:30 working on revisions for my novel.

Here's the first mini-challenge in which I'm participating:

Three love triangles in literature, and not just any love triangles, but unexpected ones. (Okay, the contest is hard, so YA Bliss gave permission for top two. Since I don't read a ton of paranormal, the books all about the love triangle, I've only given my top two.)

1. Hunger Games trilogy: Peeta/Katness/Gale-
This one saddens me extremely! (SPOILER ALERT) Peeta is so incredibly kind through the whole series, yet I find myself rooting for the best friend. Her loyal childhood companion. He has a sexier edge to me with his ability to hunt in the wild, and their mysterious, often awkward conversations created a sexual tension. I wish Katniss had wisened up and picked Gale!

2. Matched: Xander/Cassia/Ky-
It was completely opposite for me in this instance. I didn't root for the best friend since he was her original match. They had nothing but a platonic chemistry, I felt like. Ky, on the other hand, has so many secrets. When he and Cassia speak, it has to be done under the cover of the woods to avoid suspicions. Their quiet together time with nature brings them close. We always want what we can't girls, but this time it goes both ways!

Happy reading!
What I'm currently reading for the Read-a-Thon:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mystery Review Monday: The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June

"Three sisters share a magical, unshakeable bond in this witty high concept novel from the critically acclaimed author of Audrey, Wait! Around the time of their parents’ divorce, sisters April, May, and June recover special powers from childhood—powers that come in handy navigating the hell that is high school. Powers that help them cope with the hardest year of their lives. But could they have a greater purpose?
April, the oldest and a bit of a worrier, can see the future. Middle child May can literally disappear. And baby June reads minds —everyone'’s but her own. When April gets a vision of disaster, the girls come together to save the day and reconcile their strained family. They realize that no matter what happens, powers or no powers, they'’ll always have each other.
Because there’s one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood."
-Good Reads

  • Publisher: Razorbill
  • Release date: Aug. 3, 2010
  • Page count: 281
  • Unique elements: Dialogue, perspective. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different sister.  And the romance stories woven into the plot definitely enhance the story! Also, an important quote is pulled out of each chapter and put just below the chapter number in bold, so the reader has a preview of what's to come.
  • Would appeal to: Fans of superpower books, like Michael Grant's Gone series, or Patrick Carman's Thirteen Days to Midnight, anyone with sisters
Favorite quotes:

"You have no idea how crazy I am, I should be wearing yellow caution tape, I'm that bonkers."

"Some people leave, yeah, and it sucks. But some people don't leave, and they never will. And sometimes people are there, but you just can't see them. But they're still there."

"I wished I stayed at the movies, where I could have at least had some popcorn with my drama."

"If there's one thing I've learned from being a fourteen-year-old girl, it's that entire social structures can be dismantled and rebuilt in less than thirty seconds. It's kind of like playing Jenga every single day, only with people's lives instead of wooden pegs."  

The cover alone was enough to attract me to this book, but what struck me most about Robin Benway's second novel (her first was the phenomenally funny Audrey, Wait!) was her use of dialogue to build character description. As I write lately, I often go back to how fun the back and forth fighting is between three sisters because it's believable as coming from the teens of today.These days, it's hard to sell a story without a unique plot. Superpowers is a big thing right now,

Because there are three girls in this book, the reader can relate to traits of at least one and probably knows people who fit the other descriptions. There's April, responsible, studious, and organized; May, sarcastic, a loner, and occasional drinker; and June, the fashion-concious, wanna-be popular cutie. Together, their relationships paint such a realistic view of sisterhood (even though I only have two brothers, I've seen sisters interact! Oh, and I have five aunts on my dad's side.)

This brings me to the question, what superpower would you most like to have and why?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fun Friday: City Attractions

When I typed "fun" into Google, things like "Oklahoma City Water Taxi" popped up! My first reaction was to crack up. I go to Harkins all the time to watch movies, but I've never done that in Bricktown. One day maybe I'll shell out the cash to cruise around the downtown canals.

The link I clicked on, however, was fun things for couples to do in Oklahoma City. I'll give you list in short, with commentary, of course:

(12,000 hotel rooms are waiting for all of us down there, by the way)
  • National Cowboy Hall of Fame- Never been, wouldn't mind??
  • Omniplex- I know I'm missing out on this one.
  • "Some couples may seek the thrill of Frontier City..." - It's thrilling the first time you go for about 20 minutes. Ok, I lie. I had fun the entire first time I was there, but everyone I went with complained the whole time because they'd been before. And it's no Busch Gardens.
  • Stockyard City- (?) You can watch athentic cowboys at work, apparently.
  • Wormy Dog Saloon- Much better than I thought! The combo of country music and cowboys do make for a good time.
  • Ballpark- My favorite memory is last 4th of July when they cancelled the game due to rain but still had fireworks after...for three hours, we got soaked staring at an empty field.
  • Racetrack, zoo, botanical gardens- Acceptable sights, almost all kid-friendly
Since I've been traveling through the state recently to and from Missouri, I had the plasure of seeing all those signs green pop out from the road- "See Chandler!" or Jenks or any other town so exciting it must be punctuated as such.

I want to be on the city board that decides what to put on their sign.

Let's see, here's my fun sign for Edmond:

"See Edmond!
Home of Grayson Chance
  • Pelican Bay Water Park
  • Mini golf
  • 3 high schools
  • Orange Tree Frozen Yogurt Peach Wave Frozen Yogurt
  • Family friendly neighborhoods
  • Construction improvement projects
  • More than six types of weather"
What should your town's sign say?