Wednesday, December 28, 2011

RTW: Best Books of 2011

Welcome to our 111th 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. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic. 

We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments. 

This Week's Topic: 
(YA Highway combined today's RTW with Highwayer Sarah Enni's End-of-the-Year blog carnival, so if you want to see what that's about, just click on over!) 

I'm going to keep this post brief considering I've already discussed my choices at one point or another. I just can't get over how awesome these books are!

1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Yes. This one is going to stay in my favorites for many years to come. Don't be too surprised to see it crop up as my favorite read of 2012. Weirder things have happened, especially at Les Cirque des Reves. And this is the link to my review a few RTW's ago.

2. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

This was the book club pick of November over at Tracey Neithercott's blog, and I enjoyed this book so much I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant. (I've been watching 30 Rock for a couple of weeks now, so if you notice any irregularities, just nod and pretend like it makes sense.)

3. Divergent by Veronica Roth
Surprisingly, I don't think I blogged about this one. Huh. Is this what it's like to be in The Twilight Zone? Click on the title if you need to know more or haven't heard about it. I won't judge (because I can't tell if you don't know or not) but you really should read this book. It's AWESOME. The End.

4. Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
Here is my review of this delightful variant of the zombie genre! Bram...le sigh.

5. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
This was a difficult choice. I had some bitterness initially over this book, mostly because I hate waiting, but once I finally read it, I wasn't disappointed. I realize it must have been extremely difficult for Paolini to wrap up this series (and it could have gone on forever) so I give him props for doing a wonderful job. I could have sworn that I did a review of Inheritance...oh wait! I did! Only it wasn't for here. It was for The Vanguard. *searches for link* Aaaand here y'all go. A review of Inheritance, a la moi.

Alright, well, this post has taken a lot longer than I'd anticipated. Must be all the links. Those things are the devil.  

Until next time...

Monday, December 26, 2011


Normally I'm pretty certain about how I should go about reviewing a book, but in regards to Monster Blood Tattoo (Book One: Foundling), I'm on new ground. How so? Watch this to find out.

Now, if that hasn't confused you, just take a moment to think about what I've just said. Books aren't supposed to look like this unless they're written by J. R. R. Tolkien, the map and lore legend of the literary world. I'm seriously impressed. Actually, I was completely taken by surprise by MBT and I'm not afraid to admit it.

Exhibit A
The story, the world, the characters, all combined to suck me into a vortex of monsters, vinegar waves, and the plight of a boy with a girl's name (Exhibit A).

But that's not all. Oh no.

Exhibit B is a 102-page glossary of terms unique to The Half-Continent--a number not including the appendices depicting different "types" of people on The Half-Continent, various ships, the calendar system, and a highly detailed "exploded" map of The Half-Continent broken into six sections, among other things.

Exhibit B
I was very happy to have the glossary and the appendices, if only to assure myself that I guessed right about the definitions and to reassure my mind that the book actually happened. Plus, I really love visual aids.

When I bought this book on sale for waaaaay less than the amount it was meant to be sold for, I didn't know what I had in my hands. I admired the title and the cover, read the jacket and decided it would be interesting, but I had no idea just how interesting I'd find it. I have a book buying addiction, remember?

Now that I've read Book One: Foundling, I must read the others. I feel like a wit* is compelling me to do so.

I guess I know what I'm going to do with my recently acquired gift cards to bookstores.

Until next time...

*A wit is a type of lahzar whose powers are felt rather than seen, unlike the fulgars. Another name for one is a neuroticrith ("holder of a distorted mind"). Wits control the invisible bioelectrical field using the surgically introduced organs definitive of the lahzars. They are mostly monster hunters by profession.

(See what I mean? That glossary is fantastic! My definition is just a tiny summary of the one in the book.  The actual definition of a wit is nearly two pages long!)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day Updates

Alrighty, so this post really doesn't have a purpose other than to showcase this awesome The Hunger Games movie countdown ticker thing! This post is on FIRE! Seriously, turn on your sound! It's Internet magic...

Isn't this fantastic?! I'm so excited about the movie! I even have movie posters that my friend Cassie gave me hanging on my wall. They're the "May the odds be ever in your favor," burning mockingjay pin ones! So...just like that countdown thingy up there. :)

Oh wait! I do have something I can share with y'all. I've been working on the name and stuff for my contest (that I'm hoping to have within the next week) and here is the button I've made for it!

Well, what do y'all think?

I've also been a busy little GoogleDoc form-maker today and I've created the contest form for y'all to fill out. *smug look* Yep. This has been, quite possibly, the most productive I've ever been on Christmas Day. And that's counting all of the past Christmases when I didn't have the inclination to sleep late. That was back when the Energizer bunny drew inspiration from me.

If only I'd known back then what I know now: sleep is very good.

Until next time...

Friday, December 23, 2011

OH WOW! 90 Neighbors!

Isn't it pretty?
This blog is my own version of Tara.
Thankfully, I don't have a war to worry about.
I always have this moment when I look at the Neighbors area of my blog and I think to myself, "Those people are either super awesome or lost." And then I laugh and promise that I'm going to do my best to keep y'all entertained and one day to do something SUPER DUPER FUN.

Like hold a blog contest. Ninety is such a big number. It's almost one hundred. I can't believe ninety people want to follow this little ole bloggy blog. It's mind-boggling. Or...mind-bloggling. Oh boy. I've had too many Starbursts today.

Are y'all sure y'all aren't crazy? (Asked the crazy girl.)

Here's the proposition: we get 10 more new neighbors and I'll have a contest with PRIZES!

Does that sound copacetic? I know I like the idea. I've been itching to have a contest for a while now. I have so much fun entering other people's contests that I can't help but imagine how much more fun it will be to host my own. *stares into the future*

Yep. I see fun in our futures. Fun and prizes and whatever else I can think of to add to the overall FUN. For some reason, I've been using lots of all-caps lately. I dunno why. It's an emphasis thing I guess.

Alright, now that we all have our missions (y'all's is to round up 10 more souls), I'm going to start the plotting for this event. I'll have to create a snappy name for it and everything...this is going to be great.

First ever game for USA Jaguars in 2009.
This is from the student section.
It was darn hot that day.
Once we number 100, this thing will happen and happen big. If you've never been to a football game in the South, there is no way I can describe the atmosphere in my head right now. IT'S BLOG GAME DAY! BRING IT!

Commence yaying! (That's for you, Kills.)

OH! And I want to give a huge shout-out to those readers who happen across this place from other countries. Y'all are great! Latvia, Malaysia, South Korea (Hey, Jim!), the United Kingdom, Australia, Russia, Canada, the Netherlands, Romania, Germany, and everywhere else!

It's so nice to have neighbors from other places. I'm simply astounded at the diversity of Over Yonder's viewership. And diversity makes me happy!

Until next time...

Thursday, December 22, 2011


So, someday I will finally get the hang of not babbling like a loon when I'm trying to do a review of a book on camera. I feel like I'm getting better, but perhaps that's just me.

Here is the long awaited review of Lia Habel's Dearly, Departed. I just saw that the series title is Gone with the Respiration. Nice. That just made Ms. Habel go even further up my list of favorite people/authors.

A few things that I didn't cover in the video--I knew I'd forget something--were the cover, the wonderful pop and past culture references within the book, the multiple narratives used, and the history of the world as seen in Dearly, Departed.

The cover is lovely in a dark, gothic sort of way. I love both of those adjectives, so of course I had to buy the book. Habel has a witty writing style, quips and references come easily in the flow of the narrative. In fact, her use of multiple narrators to tell the story makes all of those cultural references seem effortless.

Although it feels to me as if Nora is the main character, Habel didn't limit the novel to just one MC. The book is broken up into many chapters told through the first person account of a different character.

Nora, Bram, Pamela, Dr. Dearly, and Captain Wolfe all have chapters in which they tell the story from their differing points of view. At first, it was a little odd, but I grew to love it. Even though Captain Wolfe isn't my favorite character and he doesn't get as much "air time" as Nora, Bram, or Pamela, it was interesting to get to see things from his perspective.

Also, the backstory for New Victoria and the Punk territories is wonderfully told. I'm not going to give much more away, but I enjoyed reading about how it all came about.

That's all for this post, but just keep one sleepy eye open for my next review. I'm still undecided which book I'm going to have a showdown with so...surprise?

Until next time...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

RTW: Where My Money Goes

Welcome to our 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. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic. 

 We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments. 

Where do you buy most of your books? No one is judging!

Thanks for not judging because I have a problem. This problem is one that usually results on my checking account having a heart attack whenever I enter a bookstore. 

It doesn't even matter which store it is. Barnes & Noble, BAM!, local stores, the library book sales, Walmart, Target, gas stations, yard sales, Amazon, and the list can go on into eternity. I'm not picky about where I get my books. All that matters is that I get them. 

Take yesterday for instance, I wasn't feeling well and my Mom took me to Page & Palette, our local bookstore, and still I managed to come away with two books. 

In case you're wondering, I finally bought Across the Universe by Beth Revis and Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks. Yay! More books for me to potentially review (if I ever have time to sit down and read them like I want to)! 

As it is, I can't seem to kick the habit of purchasing every book I lay my hands on. Seriously. I have to restrain myself from touching books because once they're in my hands, I'm not going to let go. It doesn't matter what they're about. 

I have multiple anthologies that I picked up at used book sales simply because I "wanted to see how heavy they are" and then couldn't pry my fingers away. I have two complete compilations of William Shakespeare's plays and poetry. 

Do I need two? Not likely. They just sit and take up valuable shelf space. Will I get rid of either of them? Probably not. I'm also a book hoarder. 

Alright, well, I know I promised y'all a book vlog about Dearly, Departed, and y'all will get it eventually. I've been distracted the past few days. I just now realized it is Wednesday. Time sure flies. 

Until next time...

Friday, December 16, 2011



SO, there's been a lot of comments lately about people wanting my Star Wars mug. I've become paranoid enough to hide it.

Good luck finding it to steal it. As you can see, I have not failed in my vlogging project yet. Day Two and I'm still allowing this to continue.

The next book on my hit list is Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel with Monster Blood Tattoo by D. M. Cornish coming in second. I'm hoping to finish them both tomorrow.

However, seeing as it's Eggnog Day tomorrow, I may not be capable of fulfilling that goal. Eggnog Day for my family means all the ladies of the family come over, as well as other lady friends we've known forever or who we may consider family ladies as well, and we make the most alcoholic eggnog ever. I'll probably have a post dedicated simply to eggnog tomorrow. There may not be a video though. I'm sure y'all understand why.

Until next time...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Vlog Intro

Vlog attempt number one, in which I ramble profusely and sip coffee out of my Star Wars cup.

 It's rough. I promise next time that I won't roll out of bed and make a video. That's a bit too raw and uncut for YouTube. It's funny though because I'm normally not that well-spoken before coffee. I think I was just really excited to get started on this new venture. Although, it's hard to tell.

 Tomorrow I will be posting my review of Blood Red Road by Moira Young. It sounds like I say the book is "bad" in the video, but I'm really saying "I was bad." The book was very good. Which you all will hear me say in the review.

 Have a great evening!

 Until next time...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Not RTW, This is a Sloth

Look at what I got today!

A baby sloth! Isn't it simply adorable? If you hurry over to enter YA Highway's Third Annual Winter Giveaway, you can get one of your very own!

This one is MINE. *pets sloth*

In other news, I have two more things to do today before I can officially say, "To heck with finals!" Both of them are presentations. I hate presentations. I don't mind standing up in front of class talking about stuff, but I don't like waiting for my turn. It makes me sick.

SO, I'm just going to go in there and be like, "Hey, I'm going first, and there's nothing anybody can do to stop me!" And then I'll proceed to take over the world.

Also, all of the responses I've had to my vlog idea have been positive, so I'm thinking that's what I'm going to do. You should all pray for YouTube. I have no idea what I'm going to unleash.

This Wednesday feels so weird without an RTW. I'm not complaining since YA Highway has that wonderful contest to fill it's place, but I guess I've become rather accustomed to being prompted into spewing my thoughts in a certain direction.

I mean, look at this post! It's a mess! I need guidance. There are so many topic threads that I have no idea which one to pursue...I really want to talk about that baby sloth but the vlog idea is pulling me in that direction...

Oh forget it. I'm going to go Tweet @aliciagregoire some more.

Until next time...may the force be with y'all! (Always.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Idea for the Break

This post is brought to you by a study break. Study breaks. The only things keeping college students sane during finals week. Take yours today!

Hey folks! So, I've been doing a lot of thinking about what I'm going to do over my break because it's one of the rewards I give myself for actually doing work. I know for a true-blue fact that I'm going to be doing a MAJOR amount of catch-up reading that I've missed since the semester took over my life, but it seems to me like I should do something to celebrate each book that I knock off the list.

But what?

There are so many options. I could go the traditional route of writing a book review for each one. Those usually turn out alright.

Or...I don't know. This next option may be a little too "out there" for even me. Heck, I'll let y'all decide! I hate decisions anyway.

What if I did vlogs once every few days to "review" the books that I've read?

Would any of you watch them? Would I want to do them? Am I making any sense?

Technically, I'm qualified to make videos of myself. I took a class on it and everything. If y'all are real stalkers, you've probably already found the videos of me on YouTube talking about education. But I'm not encouraging anyone to watch those.

As it is, this idea is still in the "what if I did make book vlogs" stage. Any feedback from y'all will be taken thoroughly into consideration, even if you think I should stick to writing. (There's a rather large part of me that thinks that as well; probably the part writing this parenthetical statement.)

Until next time...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Fives: Holiday Stories

I'm so glad it's Friday. Y'all have no idea. Granted, I did have a final today, but it wasn't one I was worried about, so it doesn't play into this post at all. Forget I even mentioned it.

Anyway, this post is going to have to tide me over until next week because Monday through Wednesday will be the Days of DEATH. This weekend is going to be my attempt at preparing for murder by final exams.

If I don't see any of you again, just remember me as I was.

Now, enough of that dramatic stuff. Let's get down to the real reason behind this post.

1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
2. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
3. The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg
4. The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Anderson
5. The story of Jesus's birth in the Bible.

It used to be a tradition for us to gather in the living room on Christmas Eve and read the story of Mary and Joseph in search of a place to stay in Bethlehem. We haven't done it lately (I don't know why), but I can remember wanting desperately to be the one to read it aloud when I was younger.

Hope everyone has a great holiday season!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

RTW: The Great Shelf Journey

Welcome to our 108th 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. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic. 

 We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link in the comments - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments. 

This Week's Topic:
How far would you go to get published?

It must be the fact that I'm scrambling to cram for finals and finish all of these dratted ten page papers, but I couldn't help but chuckle at the topic this week. I know; my mind is in a dark place. Don't judge me. (You were all thinking it, too.)

I suppose I have to provide some sort of answer. Let's just assume for a moment that I'm done with college and I'm on my own. Wow, that sounds nice.

Anyway, in this dream, I'm out there in the world, giving as good as I get and not taking 'no' for a final answer. That world is my oyster. Anyone who stands in my way to publication is going to feel the swift edge of my paper sword. And we all know how horrible paper cuts are. *shudders*

However, I'm not quite sure just exactly how "far" I'd go to get published. It's not a question I tend to ask myself or get asked by other people. I mean, technically I'm already published multiple times over since I have articles in my college paper every week, but I don't think that's the kind of published we're talking about.

So, for brevity's sake, let's just assume that I won't do anything morally or ethically compromising in order to have a larger piece of my work published and on bookshelves across the world. That's probably the best answer I can come up with.

I'm far too easy-going to do anything strenuous or complicated either. Some may say I'm lazy (and that would be true in some sense), but it all comes down to the fact that I'm too good-natured and content with my life to do anything that may jeopardize my success or rock the boat.

I'm happy to work for everything that I get, and it is the journey more than anything that I enjoy. So, there is another answer. I'm willing to put in the time and effort to get to publication the hard way. I like the idea of earning my spot on those shelves.

It appeals to me.

On a different note, I don't know if y'all have noticed, but I've been adding some new doohickeys to the blog of late. There's the new comment system that allows us to have a dialectical relationship. I did lose all of the past comments (here's my post lamenting that), but I think the end result is worth it.

Also, if you address your attention to the end of the post, you will see some links to other posts similar to this one. This is my new favorite thing! I've been lusting after the recommended posts widget that others have on their blogs for a long time, and I finally organized an attack plan and made it happen, resulting in glorious options at the end of each post. Success is the best balm for envy.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Fives: Traditionally Traditions

Welcome to the Hammond home! Where traditions don't exist unless they're really strange and can only be broken upon random consent (a thing that happens quite often considering we don't observe many traditions.)

First things first. Let's meet our traditions!

1. Thou shalt not eat less than one plate full of holiday food during the eating time. Unless thou wishes to be ridiculed for the wimpy nature* of your gut.

2. Thou shalt not be told what to buy as a gift because we all know that gift-buying is supposed to be the most difficult and hair-pulling task of the holiday season, and honestly, by this point you should just know what to get someone. We aren't mind-readers** for nothing. Happy hunting! Please don't gnash your teeth in public.

3. Going out of town to see long lost relatives is not how we roll. They come to us. After all, we are the most important members of our family tree***.

4. Plans that work well and easily are for schmucks, and we most certainly are not those kinds of people. We must have plans that require skill and cunning to execute; however, it must be done with the least amount of effort possible. We can't allow the general populace to know we actually tried to create awesomeness. That would just be ridiculous.

5. If someone isn't in a bad mood by the end of the day, then we haven't done our jobs and should be ashamed of ourselves. If you are the lucky individual to resent every other member of the human race, then you should revel in that power because you are the chosen one of the holiday. Rejoice! and spread your anti-cheer!

Happy Holidays!

*I previously held this title throughout my younger years because I abhorred casseroles, but the past three years have seen me blossom into a trash compactor. I eat all things and much of them. 
**Seriously. All you can get out of those people is, "I dunno. I don't care. Just get me something." 
***The fact that we're also the craziest often escapes us. And we wonder why no one ever comes to see us...