Friday, December 30, 2011

Welcome to the last day of the 2011 YA superlative blogfest, hosted by Katy Upperman, Jessica Love, Tracey Neithercott, and Alison Miller. This has been so much fun, and I've added way too many books to my to-be-read list for 2012. Today we chose Best in Show:

Favorite Cover:

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. This is really saying something, because I haven’t read this book yet, but after reading all the other blogs and seeing this beautiful cover so many times, I had to pick it. Beautiful.

Cutest Couple:

Lola and Cricket

Most Likely to Make You Miss Your Bedtime AND Breakout Novel of the Year:

Divergent. This was my first e-book, and I broke down to buy it because I started with the online sample and didn’t want to go to the store to buy it. I read the entire book in 24 hours, and that includes the time it took me to download the Kindle app and the book.

Best Repeat Performance AND Sleeper Hit:

Red Glove. Most of the books I read this year were well publicized, but I heard about White Cat through word of mouth. I picked it up and when I finished, I ran to the store to get Red Glove. I couldn't believe I'd overlooked this series before. Holly Black is a genius.

Romance Most Worthy of an Ice Bath:

Juliette and Adam from Shatter Me. Steamiest scenes I’ve read in YA in a while!

Pair Most Likely to Stay Best Friends Till They’re 80:

I’m kind of cheating with another couple, but I pick Puck and Sean from The Scorpio Races.

Best Old-Timer (Your favorite read of the year, published BEFORE 2011.)

Super tough choice, but I have to go with The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. That man is a genius.

Most Creative Use of a Love Triangle:

Clockwork Prince. I had two other books tied for this one until last night, but I made it to a certain point in Clockwork Prince last night, and I have to say, Tessa really has an impossible choice between Will and Jem. Also a runner-up for the ice-bath pick!

*My own category: Best Book written by a person I’ve met in Real Life:

After by Kristin Harmel. I've met many amazing writers online, but I feel so lucky to have met Kristin at a writing conference this year.

Wow! 2011 is almost over, and what a fun way to look back. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Welcome to Day 3 of the 2011 YA superlative blogfest, hosted by Katy Upperman, Jessica Love, Tracey Neithercott, and Alison Miller. (Thanks ladies!) Today the categories are Elements of Fiction. And the awards go to:

Most Envy-Inducing Plot: Divergent by Veronica Roth.

This is a tough one, because you couldn’t have the plot in Divergent without the well-built world, but it truly was the perfect pacing and the NEED to know what would happen next that kept me from putting Divergent down.

Most Wonderful World-Building: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.

She managed to create multiple worlds in one book, and they were all amazing. This was also my second runner-up for loveliest prose, but I didn’t want DoSaB to win ALL of today’s categories.

Most Formidable World: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

This was a hard choice, and James Dashner’s The Death Cure was my second choice.

Wanderlust-Inducing AND Loveliest Prose: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.

It is a testament to how beautiful the prose is that Stiefvater pulls the reader in, so that she wants to go to a place most characters in the book are dying to get away from. I guess instead of wanderlust-inducing, I should say setting I feel like I already HAVE been to visit, and that would be the island of Thisby.

Best First Line: It is the first day of November, and so, today, someone will die.

Amazing. The Scorpio Races, of course.

Most Dynamic Main Character: Tris from Divergent. Another hard choice, but what made Tris real to me was her internal conflicts and strengths.

Most Jaw-Dropping Finale: The Death Cure by James Dashner.

It was funny, but it hit me for the first time 2/3 of the way through the last book in the trilogy that these books are about zombies. (Duh, I know.) But I expected a totally different ending, and I was truly dumbfounded when I put it down.

Best Performance in a Supporting Role: The Dads in Lola and the Boy Next Door.

I didn’t give them the award for parental figure, but they deserve some props! Lots of YA books have 'bad' or absent parental figures, but Lola's dads are doing things right.

Best Use of Theme: Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

War, peace, love, hate—and those are just the major ones. It worked so well because they shined through with all show and not a drop of tell.

It has been so much fun reading everyone else's posts! My TBR list is expanding daily, as I expected. Please stop back by tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Welcome to Day 2 of the 2011 YA superlative blogfest, hosted by Katy Upperman, Jessica Love, Tracey Neithercott, and Alison Miller. (Thanks ladies!)

Today's picks are for the Popularity Contest. Without further ado...

Class Clown: Percy Jackson from Son of Neptune --An oldy but goody, Percy still keeps me entertained seven books into the series.

Most Likely to Become a Rock Star: Simon from City of Fallen Angels

Mostly Likely to Start a Riot: Lila from Red Glove

Fashion King and/or Queen: Lola and Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door -- Was there any doubt about this one?

Girl You’d Most Want For Your BFF: Puck from The Scorpio Races – Loyal, fierce, and witty, Puck is everything I look for in a friend.

Boy You Wish You’d Dated in High School: Cassel from Red Glove – I’m a sucker for a bad boy with a heart of gold.

Quirkiest Character: Emma from Miss Perrigrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Villain You Love to Hate: Warner from Shatter Me

Favorite Parental Figure: Tris’s mom from Divergent

Coolest Nerd: Sam from Red Glove

These were super fun choices! I can't wait to read everyone else's picks!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Welcome to the 2011 YA Superlative blogfest, hosted by Katy Upperman, Jessica Love, Tracey Neithercott, and Alison Miller. (Thanks ladies!)

As I looked back over the books I read in 2011, most were not new releases. That narrowed my playing field a bit, so I’ve only chosen a few of the categories each day. If you'd like to learn more about the books, click on the covers to link back to the authors' websites. Here are my picks for Head of the Class, 2011! Drum roll, please…

Favorite Dystopian:

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent tops many of my categories for the year. I loved the world building, the family dynamics, and the romance. I can close my eyes months later and still imagine myself standing beside the rushing water with the members of Dauntless.

Favorite Fantasy:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

This book has everything: gorgeous prose, strong world building, well-chosen changes in perspective, a carefully unraveled mystery, and star-crossed lovers. What else can you ask for?

Favorite Contemporary:

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I chose this one because I loved Lola’s voice. More than any other YA book I read this year, Lola reminded me what it felt like to be a teenager.

My *extra* category, Favorite Scary Story:

Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann

Everything I love about Stephen King and everything I love about YA meld together perfectly in this book. McMann has a unique voice, and this is my favorite of her books to date.

I can’t wait to read everyone else’s picks and watch my to-be-read list grow each day. Please stop back by tomorrow for the Popularity Contest!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Welcome to YA Highway's 110th Road Trip Wednesday!

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. This Week's Topic:

Where do you buy most of your books?

I wasn't planning to chime in today, but this one is pretty short and sweet. Since I got my Nook Color, I have purchased several e-books. I read a comment the other day that e-books are much more about convenience than cost, and I agree with that. When I want a book immediately, without driving to a store, I download it. I also downloaded all my books for my Thanksgiving road trip. Convenience is key.

Still, around half of my fall/winter reads have been ink and paper books. I lucked out with a few blog giveaways, I bought more books for myself than I did for my kids at their school book fair, and I finally finished my last find from the fall Friends of the Library sale. I shop at Books-a-Million because it's the closest to my house, and I shop at Barnes and Noble when I'm at the mall. Most of the time I get overwhelmed at the used book store; the nearest independent book store is really far from where I live, but I've shopped there, too. I usually only buy non-fiction books from Amazon, but I couldn't tell you why that is.

So basically, I buy books anywhere I can find them.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope your stockings are filled with beautiful words and amazing stories.

Music for today: Let it Snow

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I've been a little absent from the Interwebs recently. It's easy to click and read with one hand, but more of a challenge to type comments or posts. I'll be back soon, with a slew of end-of-the-year book reviews, but I'm muddling through this post left handed to give a little personal update.

I am so blessed by my wonderful family and friends. This year I've met so many fun people in the reading and writing community, both in person and online, and I'm grateful to have you all in my life! I've been away from the keyboard because I had surgery on my right wrist two weeks ago, and my loved ones have really stepped up to take care of me. I'm doing fine; it was a minor thing that just happened at an inconvenient time.

A few things I've learned this December:

* I can eat, put in contacts, drive, text, and get dressed with my left hand.
* I cannot wash dishes with my left hand.
* Son #1 was amazingly non-whiny while he had a cast on his broken arm for ten weeks, when he was five years old.
* My husband does an amazing job taking care of our family.
* I'm still not used to Florida's 80 degree winters.
* The YA community is awesome, and not just because of the PHENOMENAL giveaways they've put on this month, but because they care about connecting with a network of brothers and sisters who will always remain teenagers at heart.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Music for today: My mom's favorite Christmas song, O Holy Night

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's time for Road Trip Wednesday!

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. This Week's Topic:

How far would you go to get published?

I'll be short and sweet today.

I'm willing to put in the work. I'm willing to revise and rewrite to make my story as strong as it can be. I'm willing to stay up late to get my words on the page, I'm willing to travel to conferences to hone my craft, and I'm willing to peck type this blog entry with my left hand because I had surgery on my right hand yesterday. And it's not really so much about breaking down that publishing barrier, although that will be great one day. It's about doing justice to my characters, so that other people can know them and love them like I do. It's about connecting with other readers and writers, who love a good story and beautifully chosen words and strong characters.