“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Top 5, or 6, or 7 Young Adult Books of 2011

Sorry, I tried to pick 5, but couldn't do it.

Through the Goodreads.com website, I challenged myself to read seventy-five books this year – January through December.  I finished, with a few weeks to spare.  If you scroll down on the left hand side of the screen you can see some of the ones I read.

  First - I’d like to say that although some of these books may have been released in 2011, some were not.  This is not a “released in 2011” list.  It’s MY 2011 list. 
  Second - I am not a professional book reviewer or blogger. This is a list I compiled to share with my readers and linked them to websites for easy access. 
Favorite Young Adult Book of 2011:  Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater – Magical Realism/Historical Fantasy, Young Adult

I absolutely LOVED this book.  Best writing, hands down.  I’m sitting here trying to think of words to describe it, but can’t get past, Wow!  Maggie Stiefvater’s writing drops you right in the middle of Puck and Sean Kendrick’s world - a small island, home to the Scorpio Races - and takes you on an adventure like no other.  It's like you are right there on top of the white faced cliffs looking down at the beaches of Skarmouth.  You are riding Dove down the dirt lane and racing her brother Finn in the family car they named Morris.  You feel Sean Kendrick’s love for his horses, especially Corr, you hate Benjamin Malvern and his son Matthew, and you laugh and shake your head at the silly Maud sisters.  I can’t say enough good things about this book and I hope hope hope it makes it to the big screen one day. 
Author's WebsiteWhere to Buy  /  You Tube Audio Sample & Pics

I also recommend Maggie's Wolves of Mercy Falls Series
(Shiver, Linger, and Forever )

Sweetest Story:  The Sky is Everywhere, by Nelson Jandy - Contemporary, Young Adult 

 This is another Wow! book for me.  Lennie Walker is probably one of the sweetest characters I’ve ever read. Beyond the struggle of dealing with an absent mother and the loss of her big sister and best friend Bailey, Lennie is funny and witty and what you’d call an adorkable hero.  You cannot help but fall in love with her.  Lennie’s story is heart-breaking but there were times when I was laughing hysterically.  I recommend this book whole-heartedly.  Check out the You Tube Trailer below for some funny snippets of Lennie's personality.

 Most Interesting Concept:  Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi –  Dystopian, Young Adult

Not only am I giving this Most Interesting Concept but I’m also giving it the Most Swoon Worthy and Most Left-Me-Slobbering-For-More award.

INSERT:  Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.  The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon. After a lifetime without freedom, she's finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she'd lost forever.

The writing in Shatter Me is nothing you’ve encountered before. So deliciously different. And I cannot wait for more. My only complaint is that I have to wait until next year to read book #2 and book #3 won’t hit shelves until 2013. Blah! I’m not used to waiting for books and it’s not fun.

 Most Touching:  Willow, by Julia Hoban.  Contemporary, Young Adult. 

INSERT:  Seven months ago, on a rainy March night, sixteen year- old Willow's parents died in a horrible car accident. Willow was driving. Now her older brother barely speaks to her, her new classmates know her as the killer orphan girl, and Willow is blocking the pain by secretly cutting herself. But when one boy - one sensitive, soulful boy - discovers Willow's secret, it sparks an intense relationship that turns the "safe" world Willow has created for herself upside down.  

Need I say more?  Great writing. Great read. 
Where To Buy / You Tube Book Trailer

Best Page Turner:  Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher. Contemporary, Young Adult

INSERT:  Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.  On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.

First of all, this book really gets its hooks into you and doesn’t let go.  It is a page-turner from page one.  It’s concept is different from anything I’ve read and I really enjoyed every page.

Second, I hope teenagers get a chance to read this book.  It is a perfect example of how your words and actions, which seem so simple at the time, can literally kill the spirit of a person.  Hannah Baker is another one of my sweet characters.  A great read and would suggest gifting it to a teen in your life. (That is, after you’ve read it first, carefully, without bending any pages.)

Author's Website / Where To Buy 

Favorite Series:  (This is tough because I have two) – The Summer Series, by Jenny Han and The Perfect Chemistry Series, by Simone Elkeles.  They are both Contemporary Young Adult books with a strong emphasis on their love stories.

The Summer Series consists of : The Summer I turned pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You, and We’ll Always Have Summer.

Belly (Isabelle), Steven (brother), Conrad (hot & moody boy) and Jeremiah (sweet and fun boy).  The four of them meet with their two families at a beach house each summer.  These are light and fun books with some serious family issues sprinkled in, and of course a love triangle to top it all off and make it more interesting.

Author's Website / Where To Buy / You Tube Book Trailer

The Perfect Chemistry Series consists of:   Perfect Chemistry, Rules of Attraction, and Chain Reaction.

Each book follows the life of a different Fuentes brother as they navigate high school, girls, and their loyalties to their gang. 

Author's Website / Where To Buy  

Other Favorite Authors of the year:  Lisa Schroeder (Website), Sarah Dessen (Website), Sara Bennett-Wealer (Website)

Books I’m excited to read in 2012:  Crescendo & Silence of the Hush Hush Series by Becca Fitzpatrick, Crossed of the Matched Series by Ally Condie, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez, Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

NOW get reading!  I know I will.

ALSO, I love book recommendations!  Pass them along!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Professional Procrastinator At Work

I’m still deep in the cavernous trenches of editing, fighting hard to win this battle of words. 

Psht!  Who am I kidding? 

This is my day: 
*  Reads email but swears not to open any social media
    -  Sticks to guns
Opens book to start editing
   -  Reads notes & last pages to get back into groove
*  Checks facts & researches internet sites, click, click, click...
    -  Somehow ends up on Twitter
    -  Checks mouse to see if it's possessed.  Damn! 
An hour later, I swear I’m not doing that again, but now I’m hungry
    -  I rationalize - nourished body = stimulated brain.
Opens book again, reads the last page I edited again
*  Argues with cat
*  Answers phone
Ooh! Email alert!  Facebook is telling me it's my turn in Scrabble.  I feel it’s my duty, as an Aunt, to kick my neices asses regularly and show them who’s the Scrabble Queen in the family.
    -  Plays Scrabble for 20 minutes – 10 mins playing & 10 mins giggling because I’m imagining their eyes when they see my 50 point word.
    -  But THAT’S IT!  I really really swear this time.  I’m getting back to work.
And that’s when the kids walk through the door from school.

Must. Stop. Procrastinating.

Must Gain Control. Buck Up. Sit Down. And Write!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Wish For You

Vincent Van Gogh, though he is undoubtedly one of the world’s most famous impressionists, never sold a single painting in his thirty-seven years of life. 

But that didn’t stop him from doing what he loved, creating more than two-thousand artworks in just over a decade.  Towards the end of his life he is quoted saying, “As a painter, I will never amount to anything.  In fact, I am sure of it.”

Can you believe someone that talented could even utter those words?  It’s unfathomable.

This is my wish for you.


Realize the greatness inside you and become who you were truly meant to be.

You may feel lost.  You may feel confused.   

It's ok.  Take your time.  

But follow your heart.  Obey your intuition.  And don’t settle. 

If you have a dream, work for it.  Despite your fears, fight for it. 

It won’t be easy.  It might take months.  It might take years.  Persevere.  And the further you go and the closer you get, it will get harder. 

Challenges.  Hoops.  Hurdles.  Juggling. 

Doors will not only be closed, but sometimes slammed in your face.  Struggle against it.  Try harder. 

Give up and you LOSE!  All your doubters.  All your haters.  All the people whispering and snickering behind your back, Win!

This is YOUR dream, Damn It! 

Slap self-doubt in the face.  Kick worry in the gut.  Believe in yourself.  Have confidence.  Look in the mirror everyday and tell yourself how amazing you are.  

Shake disappointment from your shoulders.  Arm yourself.  You can do it!  You have to!  Failure is inconceivable.  What did your mother say?  “I don’t want to hear any buts.” 

If you sincerely love something, you can never give up.  Your reward and accomplishments will overshadow everything else.  The journey will only make you stronger.

I have to go now.  I have a date with a mirror.  Oh, she is the sweetest thing.  She always has such nice things to say about me.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

What do you want from me?

I had two concerns when deciding to create this blog.

First, I had to figure out how to make one.  There were three problems with that.

              1)      My knowledge of blogs.  Besides reading them. 
                    Uh, zilch.

2)      My blogger budget.  To hire a professional.
                  I checked my account balance:  zilch + zilch = zilch squared.

3)  What about very helpful and generous computer savvy friends? 
                 I scoured through my phonebook for hours, searching from A to Z. 
                When I got to Z,  I found one.  One friend.  His name?  Mr. Zilch.

It was all up to me to figure out how this whole crazy blogger thing works.  The blog itself wasn’t hard to set up.  You plug in your information and it formats all your data into neat little boxes.  It’s when you want customized layouts and formatting that you’ll feel like this:

name brand sunglasses

So, after a whole bunch of research and a lot of trial and error, I finally got it to where I want it, I think.


Then I felt like this:

funny animated gif

I’m still learning.  But all in all, I think it turned out really cute. 
*smiles proudly*

My second concern was content. 

How do I want to present myself to the internet universe?  What do I want to say?  What will you want from me?

More research.  More trial and error.  (This is harder than it looks people)  My back is still broken from all the break dancing.

In research, I discovered some writers talk about the craft.  Some writers advertise their books or upcoming projects.  And then some talk about their children and pets, including their husbands. 

I may want to talk about all of that...or none of that.  Who knows?  Can’t this be a what-floats-my-boat kind of blog?  *checks header*  That's right.  This is my blog.

So, that’s it.  My first executive decision.  I want to float my boat. 

And in that decision, you should do the same.  We could float boats together.  It'll be fun.
Ooh, this blog is like therapy.  I always feel so much better after we talk.

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Passion vs Addiction

So...Here I am.  *Steps out from behind internet curtain*  *Taps keyboard*  Am I on?

Eyes gaze back at me from behind the glow of their screens.  Legs shuffle in discomfort.  A woman in the back throws me a sympathetic :)   

*Sweats*  Geesh!  This is awkward!  I’m glad I took Oral Communications in college.  It is so helping right now.

*Breathes*  So…Hi…*fidgets*…I’m Sarah and I’m an addict. 

“Hi Sarah,” they say in unison.

"My drug of choice is words.  I love to write."

The crowd nods in understanding, compassion dozes in their eyes. 
If the first step in the twelve step program is admitting you’re powerless over your addiction, then I surrender. 

*Sits back down*

This is just a quick hello for now.  I will be back for the next session.  I have so much more to talk about.  I promise we will be great friends. 
*Hugs screen goodbye*