Wednesday, September 26, 2012

RTW: Best Book of September

Today YA Highway asks, "What was the best book you read in September?"

This gives me the perfect opportunity to review The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke, which I read through a SBB ARC tour. The Assassin's Curse debuts October 2, 2012.
The summary:
When teenage pirate Ananna refuses an arranged marriage, the intended groom's family orders her assassination. Instead of killing the hired assassin Naji when she has the chance, Ananna saves his life, activating a curse that binds them together. Forced into partnership, Ananna and Naji must work together to break the impossible curse and evade enemies coming at them from all sides.
The review:
I really loved The Assassin's Curse, enough to make it my best book of September. (And I read some great books this month -- Throne of Glass, Starters, A Need So Beautiful, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, and Cinder.)
From the opening chapter Clarke displays a powerful voice, complete with slang and dialect that teeters on the line of "over-the-top" without ever crossing it. The intrigue of magical pirates and assassins hooked me, but the characters really captured my heart. Cursing, thieving, and headstrong, Ananna felt more real because of her faults. And Naji was perfect as the brooding, dangerous leading man with a mysterious past. If you like a slow-building romance with plenty of action, The Assassin's Curse is the book for you.
5 out of 5 stars
Sometimes before I write a review, I visit Goodreads to help with the summary or to see what other readers have to say. The Assassin's Curse has many great reviews there, with an average over 4 stars, but I came across one that was truly awful. The reviewer trashed the book, and while I know readers can have vastly different reactions to a book, this one really bothered me. The reviewer felt that the romantic element was completely thrown in at the end, and I couldn't disagree more. Clarke does an excellent job of "showing" Ananna's feelings for Naji without "telling." As a writer, I couldn't help but wonder if the reviewer missed the subtlety, or if she just didn't connect with the characters like I did. Is it just me? Does it bother you when you read a terrible review of a book that you loved?
Music for today: Help I'm Alive by Metric 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

 For Road Trip Wednesday, in honor of this month's Bookmobile book, Marissa Meyer's CINDER, name a fable or story you'd like to see a retelling of. If you're feeling creative, come up with a premise of your own!

Better late than never! I had this post almost ready to go last night, then ended up spending most of the day waiting for my car to be serviced.

I haven't read Cinder yet, but I've heard only wonderful things about it, and it is on my TBR list. Cinderella was my favorite childhood story. I collected different versions, which frustrated my mother to no end. Pretty in Pink is still my second all-time favorite movie. (Fight Club is the first.)

Fairy tale retellings are huge right now, and I've seen so many that I'd love to read lately in query contests. But which story would  I love to see retold, again? Cinderella. But this version would be called Sweep.

No one remembers Sweep's real name, the one he had before his mother died. Raised by his step-father and step-brothers, who use him for free labor in their janitorial business, Sweep can't wait until he has enough money saved to run away and make a new life for himself. When a client begs him to go to charity ball in his place, and offers to pay him a month's salary to do it, Sweep thinks he's finally found a way to escape. At the party Sweep is mesmerized by a millionaire society girl who wouldn't have given him a second glance any other day. Just when Sweep thinks everything is going his way, he's mistaken for his client and kidnapped at midnight. If he can survive his captors long enough for his princess to find him, with only his glove as a clue, Sweep just might get the happy ending he was hoping for.

That's just a little off-the-cuff idea, but you get what I'm going for: A boy who is rescued by a girl in shining Armani.

Which fairy tale would you love to see re-imagined?

Music for today: Love Song by Adele

Monday, September 17, 2012

Happy Monday! Congratulations to the winners of my 100 Follower Giveaway:

$25 Amazon Gift Card - Nickie Anderson
Starters, signed by Lissa Price - Katy Upperman
Finn Flanagan and the Fledglings - Sara Biren
Thanks to all of you who follow Unavoidable Awkwardness. The best part about blogging in this YA writing community is meeting so many awesome people who love words and books and young people. Now I start the countdown for my 200 Follower Giveaway!
I'm thrilled to be a part of Deana Barnhart's Gearing Up to Get an Agent (GUTGAA) this week. Please stop by and check out the amazing entries. There are so many titles I wish I could go buy at the book store today!
Coming soon, I'll be reviewing The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke. I'm also planning a blog series on what music can teach us about great writing. Be sure to stop back by over the next month to check it out.
Music for today:  Hold On by Alabama Shakes

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It's time for Road Trip Wednesday! Boy, have I missed you guys! I hope now that summer is over I'll keep a better blogging schedule. Today's question is:

What word processing program do you use to write your manuscript, and can you share one handy trick you've learned in that program that has helped you while you write?

Today I'm mostly looking forward to read everyone else's tricks, and to see if some of you can sway me over to Scrivener once and for all. I write in Microsoft Word. It's not very manuscript friendly, but it's what I have, and what I'm used to. I doubt it counts as a trick, but my favorite function is the search. When I realize I'm using unnecessary words too much, I can search and cut them all out pretty quickly. My main offenders are "so" and "just." I also search when my characters go overboard with their habits. Um, roll your eyes much, MC?

On a side note, I met many of my writer-blogger family members here on YA Highway, and I finally crossed the 100-follower mark last week. I'm having a giveaway to celebrate, and to say thank you to all of you! If you'd like a chance at a $25 Amazon gift card, a signed copy of Starters by Lissa Price, or a copy of Finn Flanagan and the Fledglings by Kip Taylor, please scroll down to Monday's post or click here to enter!

Music for today: Madness by Muse

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hi everyone! To celebrate breaking the 100-follower mark, I'm holding my first Giveaway! The top prize is a $25 Amazon gift card, and I'm also picking winners for a signed copy of Starters by Lissa Price (nabbed at the SCBWI conference in Los Angeles) and a copy of Kip Taylor's Finn Flanagan and the Fledglings.

You must follow the blog to enter, and you'll get extra entries for following me on Twitter and tweeting about the giveaway. The sign-ups begin today, and the winners will be picked on Monday, September 17. Thank you all so much for joining me in the Awkwardness! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hello to all of my new followers! Thank you so much for joining in the Awkwardness. I am thrilled to have finally topped the 100 mark. Please stop back by on Monday, when I'll start sign-ups for my first ever give-away to celebrate! The top prize will be a $25 Amazon gift card. I also have a signed copy of Starters by Lissa Price to give away, and my critique partner Kip Taylor's book Finn Flanagan and the Fledglings.

If you're here looking for my GUTGAA post, click here. For my general "about me" page, click here. And now for today's post, my Southern Book Bloggers ARC tour review of Ten by Gretchen McNeil, scheduled to release on September 18th.

The summary, adapted from Goodreads:

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

The review:

First, I think the cover for Ten is amazing. How could you walk by that cover and not pick it up? Once I dove in, I got exactly what I expected. I haven't read much teen horror, but this book reminded me of a classic teen scream pic, like I Know What You Did Last Summer.

I accepted the set-up to get the players on the island and cut them off from the outside, and the premise for the mystery unfolded quickly. The supporting cast started dropping like flies just as fast. I enjoyed MC Meg as the quiet, loyal friend, and I cheered for her as she survived the killings and unraveled the clues. But I would have liked to see all of the side characters more thoroughly developed; after the first murder, the shock and emotional connection wore off.

The conclusion was not realistic, but it was still satisfying. If you're looking for something with a Stephen King-for-teens quality, Ten is the book for you.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Music for today:
Time is Running Out by Muse

Monday, September 3, 2012

Today begins the meet-and-greet for Gearing Up to Get an Agent (GUTGAA), a blogfest hosted by Deana Barnhart. Thanks for organizing all of this, Deana!
If this is your first visit, welcome to Unavoidable Awkwardness! I fell hard for middle grades and young adult lit when my sixth-grade students started recommending books to me over ten years ago. I blog about books and writing.  Here are the answers to Deana's meet-and-greet questions:
-Where do you write?
I have a writing desk in my bedroom, but sometimes I take field trips to Panera or Starbucks.

-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?
I have a printed copy of chapters on top of a piece of cardboard wrapped in aluminum foil and covered in clear tape. (A trial run for my son's school book covers.)

-Favorite time to write?
When the creative juices hit me. Usually I write in the morning, though.

-Drink of choice while writing?
Coffee. Or Tea. Or anything with caffeine.

-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?
I need music! Sometimes I'll be writing, and I'll just stop without realizing why. It will take me a few minutes to realize that Pandora wants to know if I'm still listening. I'm an alt rock fan, and my Muse, Death Cab, and White Stripes stations are all sound the same these days.

-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?
It always starts with the characters for me. But this concept came from me thinking about alternative histories, and how people are basically the same, despite how different their cultural influences are.

-What's your most valuable writing tip?
Don't give up! Keep Writing!

Thank you so much for stopping by! I can't wait to meet you.

Music for today: I Can Tell That We Are Going to be Friends by The White Stripes