Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday Talks about Reality

I don't know if y'all have seen or heard about Kristen Bell's "sloth" incident, but I've watched it about three times today and I can't stop laughing. The look of complete shock on her face and the fact that she reacted so powerfully to a sloth is simply amazing. I've provided y'all with the video if you want to see it for yourselves.

Now that we're all on the same page emotionally, I want to discuss the idea of--you guessed it--emotions. In particular, I'd like to talk about realistic reactions as regarding fictional characters.

Emotions are something that, as a writer, I've found it hard to convey with words. Things have to be done just right before I feel like I've done a thorough job of making known what the character is feeling or experiencing. Sometimes though I just think I'm beating that horse to death.

Not a pretty picture.

Reality is what you can get away with.However, portraying the emotions of characters in a realistic manner is something that must happen, or the reader will feel cheated. No one likes to read a book where the characters don't act the way they are supposed to or where they are like cardboard cutouts.

Readers (I'm including us in this scenario, haha) can see straight through those kinds of characterizations and do not like to waste precious reading time trying to justify the emotional pitfalls of faulty characters. We don't want fake, wilted, over-used, drawn-out, paper-sack characters. We want real, flesh and blood people inside our heads. It's what makes reading so much fun.

I'm not saying that all characters should fit into one schema, but nevertheless, it is important to remember that other people know a whole lot more about the genuine nature of mankind than we sometimes give them credit for. Most people can tell the difference between a stick figure and the Mona Lisa.

Before I go off on a tangent about the fact that we all think we're the center of the universe and live in a self-centric model of existence, let me state one last thing: if everyone felt as passionately as Kristen Bell does about sloths about something other than themselves, then this world would be a better place. And yes, that has nothing to do with what I've just been saying about characterization. Or does it?

Now that I've given us all something to think about, what do y'all think about the need for a realistic portrayal of human emotions? Is it easy for you? Hard? Is it something you notice right away when reading? 

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

RTW: YA MC Showdown

Welcome to our 114th 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.

 Write a dialogue between two of your favorite YA characters.

Two of my favorite YA characters come from completely separate novels, and I think that if they ever did meet IRL, that this sort of confrontation would transpire. Meet Dru Anderson and Sabriel Abhorsen.


Dru Anderson

Dru: So...you're a necromancer. *fidgets with gun*

Sabriel: *furrowed brow* No. Necromancers employ Free Magic. I am the Abhorsen. I abide by the laws of the Charter. I stop necromancers from playing with the dead. 

Dru: *snorts* 

Sabriel: And what exactly do you do?

Dru: *eyeroll* I try not to get killed by vampires wanting to suck my yummy Svetocha blood and basically save the day even though I don't want to be a part of it. It all started when my Dad came back from the dead as a zombie and I had to kill him. Things started going downhill into crazy town from there. 

Sabriel: *nods* Yes. Dead fathers do have a habit of complicating things. Mine sent me his sword and bells and then told me I had to save the entire Old Kingdom from the greatest Greater Undead that the world had ever seen. 

Dru: It's like they do it on purpose. 

Sabriel: Exactly. I mean, we're only teenagers, what reasonable person would tell his teenage daughter to go into the Old Kingdom without telling her everything she needed to know? I almost died, like, at least five times in the first half of the book. 

Dru: Men. I have two guys fighting over me, I love them both, but Jesus, they both just tick me off sometimes and I want to punch them. Repeatedly. I mean, come on! Stop trying to control me already! I've been practically taking care of myself my entire life and I shot my own zombified father for pete's sake! 

Sabriel: *sighs* The guy I like has memory issues. I found him on a ship, frozen as a figurehead in a spell one of my ancestors put in place because he went a little nutty during some past event he never likes to talk about. I like him and all, but sometimes I feel like he isn't being very honest with me, you know?

Dru: I say just beat the crap outta him and make him talk. Or else just run away and leave him behind. Sometimes I think we'd be better off without them. 

Sabriel: Yeah...but it's my duty to help the Old Kingdom. And he's a part of it. Besides, it's not like he's all bad. He saved me a few times!

Dru: They do have some uses. Stupid jerks. 

Sabriel: This has been nice. The sendings don't talk and Mogget can be a real pain. He never answers my questions and sometimes I feel like he wants to eat me. 

Dru: It has. I've never really had friends before, but you're alright. *eyes her sword and bell-bandolier* So...what do those do?

Sabriel: *pats bells gently* They send the dead back to the realm of death. 

Dru: I need me some of those. 

Sabriel: Umm, perhaps not. 

Dru: ...

Sabriel: *stern look*

Dru: You're probably right. My powers are way cooler anyway. 

Sabriel: I'm sure they are.  

Well, there you have it folks! I modernized Sabriel's speech for the sake of expediency, but just imagine her with an Australian accent. That should help. 

Until next time...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Spring Semester Notes

Since it's been a while since my last post, I'm going to have to make a list of all the things that have happened in the span of time I've been blog dormant.

1. I'm on level 30 of Skyrim. Yes, I'm proud of that fact.

I've been making quote posters in my minute spare time. 
2. Classes have resumed and I curse my folly at signing up for classes before noon. It's a sad state I'm in right now. Sleep deprivation is not pretty my friends.

3. One of my classes is probably going to drive me that last bit down the road of insanity. So. Much. Work.

4. My Dad finally finished that bookshelf I need to house my overflowing books. I'm going to stain it a nice golden oak color next weekend. And then organize my book collection according to type and author.

5. I'll be 21 in about two weeks, so there's that to look forward to. My sister says she and my other sister (the one not related to us but she may as well be) are planning something surprise-like for me. I told her I didn't like surprises, but she wasn't listening. Oh well. No news there.

6. Because of my class load, I'm reading an average of about a book every two days. I came to this conclusion by averaging the pages of all the novels and textbooks I have read thus far and will read in the future. The results support my thesis.

7. On a positive note, I'm actually getting some reading done! Right now it's Emma and My Ántonia. I'd forgotten how much Emma Woodhouse really annoys me. 

8. I finally finished watching all past seasons of 30 Rock! Yay! Now I just have to keep up with the newest season, and I have to say, I've done well so far. "Liz Lemon is a crack whore!"

9. I'm about a week in to my "coffee restriction" (which basically just means I drink a lot of decaf and only one cup of regular) and so far, so almost good. This isn't the first time I've tried to give coffee up, but at least this time I'm not doing it cold turkey. *thinks about last attempt* *shudders* I never want to do that again. 

10. That's pretty much it. I meant to write a blog book review for "all these things i've done" by Gabrielle Zevin, but I had to fill a little space in the paper for this week, so I wrote one for that. Here's the link if you really want to read it. No spoilers, I promise. :) 

I hope to be back for RTW this week! It's been two weeks since I last participated (although last week it was for a very good reason) and I'm excited to see what the prompt will be!

Until next time...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Censorship and My One Year Blogiversary

Tomorrow is the Internetwide blackout strike to oppose the PIPA Bill that, if passed, will effectively allow the government to censor the Internet.

Anyway, as y'all can see, there have been a few small additions to the blog due to the whole "censorship" thing. Don't worry, they won't be there forever. If they were, I'd run the risk of forgetting what my blog is called. We can't have that.

Also, next month, February 25 to be exact, is my One Year Blogiversary! I never even dreamed of making it that long and of meeting so many awesome people along the way. This has really been a great year and and I want to thank all of y'all for that.

Believe it or not, I really do look like a chipmunk when I'm super happy. That was actually my nickname when I played basketball as a kid. "Watch out other team! Chipmunk is coming onto the court!"

I was FIERCE. 

Anywho, I just thought I should let y'all know about those few things, since it means I won't be participating in the RTW (again) this week. :( Time for a sad GIF. 

Regardless, I will be back! Soon. Ish. With a book review! 

Until next time...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Big Wheel Keeps on Rollin'

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Time doesn't just stop once the holidays come around, although sometimes it feels like it does. Classes for the Spring semester start on Tuesday and I still haven't packed to head back to campus.

I know, it's only Friday night, almost Saturday, but I like to have things done beforehand. I don't know how I let things slide this far. Oh wait, yes I do. It's Skyrim again.

That game has taken over my life and in recent days has taken over my brother's life as well. He says he just likes to shoot things with the bow, but I've seen the gleam in his eye. He's at the mercy of the game.

There's just something about Han...I think I love him.

Soon, though, I will have to let go of Skyrim in order to resume being my studious and busy self. I think it's best that I don't say goodbye. The parting may by too much to handle directly.

I've been working on articles (one about Skyrim, haha) for The Vanguard (ahh, the stress of Sunday deadlines) and I even purchased my textbooks early. They're sitting nice and orderly on my bookshelf in my dorm. At least that's out of the way.

There will be much reading going on in that room this semester. I read a lot normally, but my classes are all novel based so I anticipate TONS of reading. I'm so excited!

Well, I'm going to totter on off to bed now. Perhaps I'll wake up early tomorrow and get a jump on the packing. That would save me a lot of trouble. Here's to hoping!

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Since this is my first giveaway, I was super nervous about the "picking a winner" part, but with random.org as my cohort, a winner has been chosen!

Drum roll please...

Jaime Morrow!!!! 

Congratulations, Jaime! You came in first in the drawing so you get the ARC of Bitterblue! :D And that Lolcat, haha!

I'll be in touch with you soon for your mailing details. Now, I don't want anyone else feeling left out so I feel like I need to remind y'all that there will be a BIGGER contest/blogfest once Over Yonder reaches 100 Neighbors.

I'm even more excited about that than I am about giving this ARC away, and guys, I'm pumped right now, so that's saying something.

Right now we're only 7 Neighbors away from the fun, and the anticipation is killing me. Thanks again to all who commented and shared about the giveaway! I wish I had an ARC to give to each one of you!

Until next time...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

ARC Review of BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore

Just yesterday I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of Bitterblue, which is due out in May, and I stayed up until 3 a.m. reading half of it and then finished it when I woke up...a few hours ago. :-) I'm sorry for not doing a video review, but at the moment, my hair is wet and I'm trying to function without coffee.

Y'all are lucky I'm capable of typing coherently... On to the review!

Bitterblue is the sequel to Graceling and a companion to Fire, both wonderful novels by Kristin Cashore.

Here is the Goodreads summary:

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea.  
But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened.  
But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.  
Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.
As a fan of Cashore's work and her previous novels, I salivated at the thought that I was getting to read her next novel early. Sometimes I wonder at my priorities. Anyway, despite missing a few key parts as ARC's are wont to do (no maps, booooooo), I came away from my contact with the kingdom of Monsea with a new appreciation for the depth of the Graced world.

I'm not sure if Bitterblue is my favorite The Seven Kingdoms novel--I have a soft spot for Fire--but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Cashore is a wizard with description and creates a world rife with interesting characters and intriguing mysteries.

One of the most important aspects of all of Cashore's books, in my opinion, is the unflinching approach she takes to difficult subjects. The entire kingdom of Monsea has undergone 35 years of hardship and torture at the hands of King Leck (one of the worst villains I've ever hated), and Bitterblue has to come into her own as a queen of a confused and healing people. It isn't easy and, as a reader, I felt like I was suffering from the same type of post traumatic Leck disorder as everyone within the pages.

There is intrigue, murder, puzzles, love, but most of all, there is hope. Cashore doesn't believe in overly sappy endings, and I'm glad. Bitterblue's story is better without that. Watching the characters grow and explore what it means to heal is a great gift. It's a bonus that the fantasy world is amazing as well.

I give Bitterblue 4 out of 5 stars. So, when May comes around, I hope y'all pop on over to your local bookstore and snag a copy. I guarantee you'll find something worthwhile between the pages.

As a token of my gratitude for y'all being amazing blog friends, I'm going to give away my ARC of Bitterblue in true blog fashion.

Simply comment on this post for one entry.

And spread the news about the giveaway any way you feel necessary! Tweet, blog, Facebook, etc. Leave the direct link in your comment and I'll give you an extra entry!

I'm going to give y'all approximately 24 hours to enter and then I'll put your names in random.org and draw a winner!

Now, if you're not in the United States, I'm sorry, but I will not be able to send it to you. :( I'm only a poor college student so I hope you'll understand. Anyone in the U.S. and Canada is welcome to try their hand at the game. I think my pocketbook can stretch that far.

Also, please be sure to leave me some way of getting in touch with you in case you do win. An email address would be perfect.

Until next time...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Skyrim, Or How I Lost Track of Time

Yep. I broke down two days ago and purchased Skyrim. I knew it would be a bad idea for me time-wise, but I did it anyway. I was right.

Skyrim is, to put it simply, awesome. I can get lost in that world of dragons, elves, orcs, trolls, and bandits and resurface seemingly minutes later to the sound of my parents getting home from work--and I started playing that morning.

Two days have slipped by (my character, Viridian, an Imperial mage, is now almost on level 13) and I can't curb the craving to keep playing.

What am I doing here? Good question.

Unfortunately, I was dumb and saved my game on my brother's Xbox and now he's in his room with three of his friends playing Skyrim. Not MY game, of course, but playing it none the same. I'm so mad. If only I'd thought to save it to the Cloud then I could take the disk from them and play on one of the other Xboxes.

For now though, I've been told I must wait. And listen to them exclaim, "Let's go kill that dragon, man!" "It's too far away." "No it's not, it's right there at that tower." "Okay, let's go kill it!"

*deep breath*

I am calm. I am following the Way of the Voice. I will not lose my cool.

That's something an Orc would do.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

RTW: Oh, the Places I'd Go

Welcome to our 112th 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

I'm a wilderness person. My creative juices are stimulated by grand scenes of nature. I also have a thing for trees. I don't know what it is about them, but they make me happy. These trees in Scotland fill me with a euphoric sense of joy and peace. If I were among them right now, I think I'd sing this song. 


Therefore, I feel like my perfect writing getaway would have to be somewhere like this. 


It's a cottage! It's so quaint and country. I can just imagine waking up to the sound of songbirds, making myself a cup of coffee, and then sitting outside as the world comes back to life. A place like that would be perfect for writing. Plus, this place reminds me of Snow White. She's my favorite princess after Belle. 

Also, there are these nifty little things called "forest book nooks" that look a little something like this. I really, really, really, really (times infinity) want one of these mini-houses. If you want to know more about them, here is the link to the article on The Limite Magazine website. 




As it is, the forest book nooks are a bit too modern architecturally for my taste, but I feel like I could easily modify one for my purposes. I have oodles of rustic, old world charm just waiting to be unleashed on an unsuspecting book nook. I think if I could somehow combine the cottage and this design, I'd have the PERFECT writing retreat. 

However, since I'm a fan of beautiful places, here are a few other places that I would LOVE to stay and write. 



And they must have a library much like this one.


With a book collection like this. 


Yep. I'd write there. Actually, just looking at pictures of those places makes me want to write. As for who or what I'd bring, I can honestly say that I would bring no one. I write best in solitude. I love my family and my friends, but they tend to get in the way. I need total isolation from people to get things done. 

But I would bring my computer and my pillow. Those are two things I can't live without, no matter where I am. 

What would y'all's perfect writing escapes be? 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Two Reviews and a Butterbeer Kind of New Year

I'm so sorry to have been away so long, my friends, but I've just been so busy with things that today is the first time I've been able to check my blog since New Year's Eve. Honestly, I'm just glad that all the holiday parts of winter break are over. Now I can just concentrate on doing what I want to do.

Here's the next video review (it's double the normal content) so I hope y'all enjoy it.

I tried to condense the reviews, but I'm not sure it worked out that well. I really need to learn to plan before I start recording. I always have to cut long ramblings out because the videos end up being too long. I still feel like they're too long even after I've finished cutting and trimming the fat.

And I also feel like I don't ever get around to actually reviewing the books. The videos feel more like reactions. Perhaps I need to start calling them that...hmmm...

Daughter of Smoke and Bone was my favorite of the two books. I think it was because there weren't any needles like in Across the Universe. However, I felt more strongly for Amy and Elder than I did for Karou and Akiva. I can come up with no rational explanation for this. Really. My brain-heart works in strange ways.

I don't usually discuss the romance or plot of a book because I feel like it's something other readers are best left to discover for themselves, but I will say this: both of these books will challenge you to re-examine your ideas and conceptual frameworks of love and you will ache in your bones because of it. That is all.

Oh and don't worry, I haven't forgotten to provide the link to the Butterbeer recipes.
Recipe of the Week: Butterbeer. 
If y'all see my friend Jake, y'all can thank him for linking me to the recipes on Mugglenet.com. I just love fellow Potter fans. They're so ingenious. And now I know how to make Butterbeer three different ways! Oh the indescribable joy!

Here are some photos of me enjoying Butterbeer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Harry Potter Land). Enjoy! (I know I sure did!)

First glass at The Three Broomsticks!
Waiting for second glass at The Hog's Head.
The hog head on the wall moves and grunts!
Second cuppa Butterbeer in the pavilion
behind The Three Broomsticks/The Hog's Head.