Wednesday, February 29, 2012

RTW: Best February Book

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where the contributors over at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question. Then readers answer it on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's question: What was the best book you read in February?

I wasn't able to read as many books this month as I'd hoped, but I'll just blame it on the shortness of the month rather than my own business/laziness. With that in mind, I'm going to have to go with THE DUFF for this. Check out my review here.

I have a number of books on my list to read next month: TORN by Erica O'Rourke, DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth (a re-read), INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows, and CINDER by Marissa Meyer. We'll see which ones I actually get around to. I think TORN will be first.

Check out Erica's other books here.

What about you? What was your favorite book? What are you planning to read next month?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I've been tagged!

Lora Palmer has tagged me for a blog hop! So I'm supposed to answer these seven questions and then pass them along.
1. What is your dream vacation?
I'd like to spend a month up in the mountains somewhere really beautiful in the summertime, probably Montana. I'd take my husband along and my laptop--so we could spend time together, and I could have a sort of writer's retreat. Have you ever been to Montana in the summer? It's beautiful. The mountains, the sky, the stars, it's like nothing else in the world. When I was there in 2006, I saw my first and only moon bow. If that's not magical, I don't know what is.

2. Are you spontaneous or do you like to plan ahead?
I am a planner to the core. I can be spontaneous, but only if someone forces me to. Even then, I get incredibly anxious until we're actually doing whatever we decided to do.

3. Tell us one thing you want to do but don’t dare to do.
I'd like to paint our duplex. We never painted it when we first moved in because we didn't know how long we would be here. I've applied to graduate school, and if I get in locally I think I may finally do this.

4.  Your biggest phobia?
I really dislike knives. I watched the Scream movies when I was much too young to be watching them. I can't handle being near anyone with a knife or have anyone watching me when I use one.

5. If you were stranded on a desert island – what 3 things would you want with you (not including laptop, or family).
No laptop? That's fine, I'll bring my Kindle, but first I'll have to load it to capacity and buy a battery that will never run out. After that I'll take my Jojoba oil. Then finally I'll bring a notebook and pen. Does that count as one? 

6. Name three blessings in your life.
My husband, his parents, and cake.

7. What was your nickname in High School?
I really wish I had something interesting to put here, but I've never had a nickname.

8. If you could meet the President of the United States, what would you say to him?
I'm really not sure. It would be an honor to meet him, but what do you say to a political figure of that standing?

9. If you could be any literary character for a day, who would you be?
Hermione Granger. Hands down.

10. What is your favorite quote?
"Our truest responsibility to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find the truth."
-Madeleine L'Engle

I'm really not sure who to tag with this. So if you'd like to keep the blog hop going, let me know in the comments!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Badass Books: The Duff

As an English Badass, it only seems appropriate that I review the books I read. That way we can have a sort of badass book club going on (seriously, what could be better?). For my first badass book review, I've selected THE DUFF by Kody Keplinger.

From Kody's Website. Click the picture to check it out!

Why I read it: Kody had a post this weekend on YAHighway. While I normally don't read books in this genre, I loved her blogpost.  So I went to Amazon and plugged her name in to see if I wanted to read anything she'd written. I came across THE DUFF and read the first six pages (since you can preview genius!). The preview skipped page seven and eight and went straight to nine. I screamed. Out loud. Then I bought the book and had it delivered to my Kindle immediately. I finished it that same afternoon.

ZOMG Yes: The voice in this book is amazing. Bianca is cynical and funny. She reminded me a little of myself in high school, making her really relateable. I also loved Bianca's maturity level. Kody isn't afraid of letting her teenagers think and reason--something I think a lot of adults don't give teens credits for. Bianca reasons through her parents relationship, her own escape, and ultimately her hypocrisy. And she does it beautifully. Also, any book that ties in WUTHERING HEIGHTS is a win.

Meh: There were a few uses of "text-speak" throughout the book: omigosh, OMG, etc. While I didn't really care for this, it was probably the best use of this language I've seen. Kody used it pretty much exclusively for one character (Jessica), and it worked for that character.

Warnings: Sex. This book has a lot of sex in it. In fact, it's pretty much integral to the plot. So if you don't want to read about sex, skip this book. However, I think Kody did an excellent job with her descriptions. They really put you in the mind of a teenage girl.

Badass? Definitely.

3 out of 5

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A love letter

In celebration of Valentine's day, I've composed a love letter of a number of the songs that have come up on my Bon Jovi Pandora station today (yes I have a Bon Jovi station--yet another reason to love me).

Hey you,

When I see you smile, Jessie’s Girl, it’s amazing, and it makes me think we’re all right now. I'm free falling into you. For what it’s worth, you turn this manic Monday into Paradise City.  Oh Sister Christian, with you every day is a Holiday. I cherish every moment even the fire and ice. With you heaven is a place on earth. We belong together. Oh sweet emotion!

Even when love is a battlefield, I want to lay you down on a bed of roses and rock you like a hurricane. You always treat me right.

So if you’re free, let’s get rocked tonight. It’s urgent, a crazy little thing called love. Come on my Sharona, walk this way.

All my love,

The Reaper

Looking for more love? Head on over to YA Highway and join the lovefest! Or compose a love letter of your own in the comments.

Monday, February 13, 2012

On critique partners

A few weeks ago I reached a point with my current work in progress--WARDENS--where I couldn't pull myself out of the story enough to see how to improve it. So, like many writers, I sent it off to my critique partner. Although she's been busy, she gave me two small critiques on Thursday based on her initial read of the first three chapters: my character believes in dragons too easily, and my setting isn't entirely believable (there's a secret society hidden in an isolated town).

While the first can be an easy fix, changing the setting would mean some heavy revisions throughout. But because I trust my partner, and because I already knew that something in my manuscript felt hollow, I thought through those revisions. I didn't dig in my feet and defend my work.

And you know what happened? I spent the weekend in front of a computer screen.

I wrote out some initial thoughts on how to revise. Then I rewrote the first chapter. My partner never told me to rewrite the first chapter, but a good critique partner doesn't have to. They point out a few flaws, and it's like some sort of veil gets lifted from your eyes. It gives you a completely new perspective to see other holes or loose ends that need tying.

So if you don't have a critique partner, find one. My partner is actually a friend/family member (which in most cases, I would say don't do), but she's also a fellow writer. Once you find a critique partner, trust them. Don't fight. It will be better for your story. And that's what we're after anyway, isn't it? Telling stories that ring true.

For other writers: how did you find your critique partners? What are your thoughts? Do you have any stories where your partner was right on, or maybe some where he/she was way off?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The first ever badass award

Everyone take a deep breath. Today I'm announcing the first-ever winner of the Badass Award and recipient of the Official Seal of General Badassery...(anticipation increasing)...(can't take the suspense)...(here it comes!!!!!)...




Taken from Allie Brosh at Hyperbole and a Half, who by extension is a Badass.
I really don't think this needs much of an explanation. If you haven't met the ALOT, then you're in for a treat. This little guy has helped me through many expletive-arousing improper grammar rants. Just what am I like when someone uses "alot" instead of "a lot"? Think Tracker Jacker venom. And a lot of it. And maybe a pitchfork.

Moving right along...

Go check out the alot for yourself--even if you've seen him before. I could read that blog post once a day every day for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Badass Books: The Maria Paradox

Here's one for you: The Maria Paradox. Although a cultural-specific self-help book, I think this could apply to men and women from all cultures. Granted, not all people deal with the specific cultural pulls Latinas face, all women have come from a history of oppression. Check it out!

Official Press Release:

THE MARIA PARADOX, written by Drs. Rosa Gil and Carmen Vazquez, is a unique self-help guide for Hispanic women and the men who love them.

The authors challenge the machismo-reinforcing idea of “marianismo,” a centuries-old belief system that in effect tells Latinas: "Don't forget a woman's subservient place; never put your own needs first; sex is for making babies.”

Filled with self-help exercises, this clearly written manual offers practical advice on how to build support networks, overcome passivity, forge career paths, change or get out of abusive relationships and increase sexual fulfillment.

Filled with real-life success stories and wise, compassionate advice, THE MARIA PARADOX details how Latinas can enjoy the best of both worlds.

Get the e-book here!

The Badass Awards

We live in a world full of really awesome things--green tea, Sailor Moon, Belgian waffles, Chiweenies. And sometimes, all of the goodness can get overwhelming. So I've decided to help you, my wonderful loving readers, find a light in the sea of awesomeness. I've created the badass awards.

That's right. I will be awarding any number of badass things with my official seal of general badassery. Because let's be honest, they can't give themselves that seal. Only a total tool would publicly call themselves a badass (unless of course they give some sort of genuinely humble public disclaimer in the top right corner of their blog).

So keep an eye out. And if you think there's something deserving of the award, email me at elizabethmaryparker(at)gmail(dot)com. Also, if you or something you love has been deemed worthy of the seal, feel free to use said seal. Because who can resist a chiweenie? I couldn't. That's why I adopted one.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Starting the New Year off on the right foot

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where the contributors over at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question. Then readers answer it on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's question: What was the best book you read in January?

Easy. I read The Hunger Games. I know, how did I manage to wait this long before reading it? I'm really not sure to be honest. But I loved it. I read it in a matter of days and then devoured the rest of the series.

I have to say, out of the three books, the first was by far my favorite. The pacing was right on, the characters were rich, and there were twists and hooks on almost every page. Even though I read the full series in about two weeks, the first remains my favorite. The others felt a little stretched to me, like either the author didn't have as much time to write them as she wanted, or a two-book series got pushed into three. Even so, I loved the series.

The other books didn't seem to capture the same feeling the first book did, but I loved Katniss all the way through, faults and all. And in the end, I think that's why this book wins as my January read. I loved Katniss. I loved Rue. I loved Haymitch. I loved Peeta. I was hooked by the characters from the first chapter.

So what about you? Have you read The Hunger Games? What did you think? What was your favorite January read?