Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I had planned to post for YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday, but I could spend hours with today's task: Write a dialogue between two of your favorite YA characters. As I considered it, I couldn't get Eldric from Chime out of my mind. (I envisioned a lively conversation between Eldric and Will from The Infernal Devices that ended in a boxing match and tears.)

But instead of trying to write these characters' voices, which their creators have already perfected, I decided to just review Chime instead.

The summary, adapted from Goodreads:

Before Briony's stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family's hardships. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out. Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes, and everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn't know.

I have a confusing relationship with this book. Around 100 pages in, I decided that this was one of those books that I respect, because I recognize how well-written and unique it is. It is a wonderful book, and I would recommend it. But I wasn't in love with it. (I'm a love-at-first-sight kind of girl; I usually know in the first thirty pages.)

Chime took me almost a week to finish. And then suddenly, at the end, it tugged on my heartstrings. The reason? Eldric. Eldric is complex but consistent. He's one of the most well-crafted characters I can think of whose story comes through a first person narration by the main character. So, as it turns out, Chime is like an acquaintance I didn't think I'd ever be close to, and we ended up the best of friends.

If you'd like to find out more about Chime, by Franny Billingsley, click here.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Just a quick Sunday night post... I took a few days off from the web to spend a fun weekend with my family. (I can't say technology, because of course I had my phone, my camera, and my nook.) The weather was beautiful, and we had a lovely time together. I'm glad we were all able to focus on each other.

Just in the past hour, though, I found some things I missed by stepping away from the social network. My sweet little niece took her first steps. My friend's son made a Tardis inspired derby car. Writing contests and giveaways have been going on all weekend and are ending at midnight. I can't help but wonder, what did I miss during the other 72 hours? Several of my blogging buddies talked about the goal of achieving balance in 2012, and I hope to do the same. I hope to find the perfect balance of devoted family time, writing time, and time to connect with friends, both online and in real life.

One of the things I found on my weekend twitter update was a link to several reasonably priced ebook titles. If you like romance, check out Deborah Camp and Lorena Dureau.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Welcome to my first book review of 2012!

Back in December I was lucky enough to win an advanced copy of the YA contemporary Awkward by Marni Bates. (Many thanks to Kate Scott over at Kate Scott Writes for hosting the giveaway. Click on the link to check out her blog!)

Mackenzie Wellesley is happy to bide her time at Smith High School by studying and blending in to the background. But when a classmate posts one of her awkward moments on Youtube, she becomes an overnight Internet sensation. Chased by paparazzi , befriended by rock stars, and confused by an unexpected romance, Mackenzie struggles to survive the spotlight while staying true to herself.

Obviously, I love the title Awkward. (Glance up at the name of my blog.) But what I loved most about this book was the authentic teenage voice. Within the first few pages, the narrative whisked me back to high school. I connected with Mackenzie immediately, and the reader learns about her through her relationships with her friends, her family, and of course, her love interest Logan. The romance develops naturally, and the author does a wonderful job of keeping the story realistic, while also letting the reader live the fantasy of fifteen minutes of fame.

One of my favorite supporting characters was Kenzie’s best friend Jane. I would have loved to see more of her, so of course I was thrilled when I read that the follow up Invisible will be Jane’s story.

I really enjoyed Awkward, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes contemporary YA. I feel so lucky to have read this book before it was released and to have connected with the delightful Marni Bates on her blog and on twitter. Click on the link here or on the book cover to check out Marni’s site, where she has a trailer for the book and plenty of other neat stories.

Music for today: My pick today reminds me of the band ReadySet from the book – Helena Beat by Foster the People

Thursday, January 5, 2012

How is it possible that this is my first post of 2012? Is it just me, or is this year already flying by? I don't want to talk about reflection on the past year (been there, done that) or resolutions for the new one (already broken). Instead my first post of the year is about watching the world change before your eyes.

I think quite a bit about how the world will be different when my children are adults. I just finished reading Ally Condie's Matched, which I highly recommend, and I hope that my boys don't live to see those changes in our society. We have many close friends who have moved away or will be moving away soon. When I was young, these kinds of goodbyes were final; it would take some kind of serendipity to meet up at thirty years old with someone you knew for a year in first grade. Of course now, if you remember that friend's last name, you can look her up and try to reconnect.

Though my boys are young, before I know it they will have mobile phones and facebook and twitter accounts. They won't have to reconnect with old friends. They will always have these connections, if they want them, at their fingertips. I've enjoyed getting to know the kids in my younger son's kindergarten class. (If you want to see what a day with them is like, watch the 1990 classic Kindergarten Cop.) And just think, in a few years when I say, remember that cute little girl in your class who loved to do cartwheels? He'll say, sure, she lives in Orlando and she's an Olympic gymnast. I chatted with her yesterday.

Isn't it amazing how the world is growing larger and smaller all at the same time? Instead of a resolution, I'll end this post with a hope for 2012. I hope that this year, I will take advantage of opportunities to meet and learn from like-minded people, and that I will nourish relationships with all the people whose paths have thankfully crossed with mine.

Music for the day: Favorite cover of 2011, Mr. Little Jeans cover of The Suburbs