Friday Fives: Tasting the Forbidden Fruit

Reading Song of the Day: “Forbidden Love” by Madonna

OMIGOD–it’s finally FRIDAY–and it’s finally the last day of September. This first month of school has dragged by soooooo slowly. But, we hit a highlight, today! Paper Hangover’s Friday Fives, baby 😀
To honor Banned Books Week, the gang wants to know:
What are you FIVE favorite “banned” books?
Like Pam mentioned yesterday in her post on the Banned Books we are adding to our TBR piles, we are always going to be those people who read/watch those books/movies that people try to get banned. We’re just strange like that. So it wasn’t surprising to find that we have read a good number of books that are on the 2010 and the classic’s banned books lists. With that being said, here are our FIVE favorite books that have been banned in no particular order.
1.) Crank by Ellen Hopkins: A novel written in poems–and me and Pam loved it. Who would have thunk it? We’re both not huge poetry fans, but Hopkins’ effortless story telling and beautiful word choices made this one of our favorite books of all time.
2.) Lord of the Flies by William Golding: This was required reading for us in high school but neither of us felt like it was. The story is so unique and believable that we both couldn’t stop turning the pages.
3.) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson: Once we decided we’d be writing YA, we didn’t stop hearing about Laurie Halse Anderson and how she is one of the “mothers” of YA. And we weren’t disappointed when we picked up Speak. It’s real, it’s raw, and it’s a book that can help many teens deal.
4.) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: This was another required school reading for us. And just like LOTF we fell in love. We loved the plot, the time period the book was written about and how REAL it all felt, and of course, we loved Scout 🙂
5.) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: We first heard about this during a conference two years ago. Once we heard the premise, we knew it was a must read. Anyone can say what they want about the trilogy, but the overall plot is pure genius.
That’s our five, what about you all? What are your favorite banned books?
OH YEAH! We were supposed to announce the winner of The Near Witch yesterday. Alas, life got in the way. So, without further adieu, the winner is….
Jamie Manning

Yay!!!! We’ll be sending you an e-mail shortly 🙂

Tempted by the Book of Another

Reading Song of the Day: “Tempted” by Squeeze

First, sorry about the lame title of this post; I lack creativity this early in the morning. Second, as some of you may already know, it’s Banned Books Week. My group blog, Paper Hangover, is having coverage on it all this week, and my lovely adopted sis, Racquel, is holding a contest.
So part of the reason why Quita and I love reading and writing YA is because we’re eternal teenagers–which is why if someone tells us we can’t read anything, we’re DEFINITELY going to read it. Tomorrow, Quita and I will join Paper Hangover and share our five favorite banned books–but today, we want to share some of the banned books we haven’t read yet, but is in our TBR pile:

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson. As much as some people disapprove of it, there are kids out there with homosexual parents. Why can’t these kids have a picture book that they can relate to? Furthermore, why can’t other kids read it to learn about acceptance and differences? Whenever I’m blessed with a child, I know this will be on our bookshelf.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. I first discovered Mr. Alexie when I read one of his short stories in a magazine. Needless to say, his voice hooked me–so I’m a little stunned I never got around to reading his YA novel. This will be mended soon.

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler. Come on, the title alone is catchy. Quita and I saw Ms. Mackler speak at a conference last year and we wanted to become her best friends. Our admiration for her only grew when we found out she wrote about a girl who thought she was fat–something that Quita and I had issues with in high school, as well. Come on–teen girls with body issues (which is pretty much all of them) should be able to read this book.

What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones. I first heard about this book from one of my former 8th grade students. She HATED school–even more than that, she HATED English class. But she couldn’t stop swooning over this book. She said she read it in two days. If a book can convert one of my struggling students into an enthusiastic reader, I’m sold.

The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. We know, we know. Where have we been? Quita actually had a chance to read the first book, but we both know that we need to eventually read the whole series. We have never met ANYONE who disliked this series. These books helped mold a new generation of readers–we were a little shocked that they are banned in some areas.
Okay, so that is just a mere sampling of “forbidden” books we’re tossing into our TBR piles. What about you all? Which naughty book are you dying to read?

RTW: The Best Book of September

Reading Song of the Day: “Forever” by Chris Brown
It’s WEDNESDAY! Another horrible week is almost over…atleast we got a one day break from our “baby” the puppy from hell early this week. Alas, the ladies of YA Highway are helping us think of happy things with Road Trip Wednesday! This week’s topic is:
What was the best book you read in September?
We’ve done minimal reading with it being the start of the school year, but Pam did manage to beta read a WIP. I FINALLY read and finished the book that I would’ve chosen even if I read a hundred books this month:
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
Okay, so I read Shiver on a whim. The cover was pretty, people were buzzing about it, and I had to see how exactly this author pulled off having a human girl fall in love with a wolf. But, Oh. My. God. When Linger came out, I was hooked. Especially by the introduction of Cole (I LOVE Cole!) and the way that Stiefvater shifted between four POVs with ease. And the third and final book of the trilogy, Forever didn’t dissapoint. The story wraps up in a way that the reader is satisfied but is still itching for more. The characters are each given a purpose and the climax is breath stopping. Also, Stiefvater’s writing is pure genius!
What was the best book you read this month??

How Fall Premiere TV Is A lot Like First Pages

Writing Song of the Day: “Idiot Box” by Incubus

Okay, so if you follow our blog you know how much we loves us some TV. Perhaps, too much. And that’s why we realized we had to cut down on it in order to spend more time with our first love, writing. We talked a lot about that here, so we won’t bore you with the deets again. Although we’re limiting the shows we watch, there are still quite a few that are listed on a white piece of paper hanging on the fridge titled: “TV Watching Schedule”. We’ve seen a few of the Fall premiers thus far and have gained some insight on how much premiere TV is like a novel’s first few pages:

Make sure you have believable stakes. If your first pages don’t set up a scenario where the stakes are high, than the reader is most likely going to ask a million questions. Like: why does she have to take on her sister’s persona? Or: Why didn’t she just stay in protective custody?

*From watching Ringer on The CW, Tuesdays at 9:00 PM

Introduce your characters with a bang. Each and every important character to your novel should have something about them that will make the reader want to learn more from the very beginning. If you do this, even with a supporting character who doesn’t show up until say page 5, then it’s quite possible you might hook that reader who was beginning to lose interest in the story.

*From watching Two and Half Men (for the FIRST TIME) on CBS, Mondays at 9:00 PM

Make sure your plot lines don’t get tangled. You can start off with an awesome first chapter. Each character is fresh and unique, your story hooks the reader right from the first scene, and the new kid is pushed into a world that is so utterly different from his/her own that the reader feels empathy and can’t wait to see what happens next…but if you forget about said new kid’s drama and focus more on the overall theme in the next chapter, then the reader’s gonna get a little confused. Set up the story a little bit more before throwing every single lead for a new plot in chapter two.

*From watching The Secret Circle on The CW, Thursdays at 9:00 PM

If you have a series keep the story lines fresh, dig deep for new ideas, and turn one of your characters into someone completely different. It’s hard to continuously pull in a reader when you’re regurgitating the same old plot line. So, if you have a series and it’s based on witches, vampires, werewolves, selkies–whatever, look up some old myths and look up other creatures that might have something to do with your supe of choice. Oh, and it never hurts to make a character who was once a goody two shoes a bada** mo fo. That will definitely keep things fresh.

*From watching Supernatural on The CW, Fridays at 9:00 PM, and The Vampire Diaries on The CW, Thursdays at 8:00 PM.

What do you all think? Does watching premiere shows help you with writing your own beginnings?

Friday Fives: Our Writing Nooks

Writing Song of the Day: “In My Place” by Coldplay

Friday is here, and Quita and I could not be more excited! Our week has been…hectic. But we’re still taking the time to join Paper Hangover for the Friday Fives. This week they want to know:

And our choices are:
1. Our home office. It is a requirement now for both of us to have some kind of space at home to complete our writing. Of course, some times we’re too lazy to make it there so we use our…
2. Living room. Yes, we have imprints of our butts on the couch. We each have our own side, and we sit like zombies in front of laptops–completely quiet, completely focused (well, sometimes…hence why I used the term “zombies”).
3. Starbucks. We recently had to go there due to a power outage. I didn’t think I would get much work done since I’m EASILY distracted (oh look…an airplane), but I loved the environment. Everyone there was so productive, which really rubbed off on me.

4. Our patio. The sunshine. The birds. The neighbors that provide endless amounts of writing material. Need I say more?
5. A writing retreat. Quita and I were lucky enough to attend two writing retreats–one with our Weekend of Awesome buds, and another organized by SCBWI. The amount of work we got done at both was truly outstanding. There’s nothing like going away with the sole purpose of writing–we’ll deal with life’s drama when we return home.

What about you all? What are some of your fave writing locations?
P.S. Don’t forget to enter our The Near Witch book giveaway!

Debut Author Challenge # 11: The Near Witch…And Yep, A Giveaway!!!!

Reading Song of the Day: “Witchy Woman” by The Eagles

And the countdown commences…we are now TWO books away from being finished with the Debut Author Challenge 2011. It’s been so much fun, too–I think we might have to check out 2012 🙂

This time, I’ve read Victoria Schwab’s The Near Witch. Here is what Goodreads wants to tell ya:

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. And there are no strangers in the town of Near.
These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.
The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

If that’s not enough to make you wanna read it, then maybe this will help:

The Top Four Things You Need to Know About The Near Witch:

1. Lexi is strong but not too rough: She can hunt and track b/c her father taught her how, she knows if you want to get a tough boy off your back just kick him in the family jewels, and she will do anything to protect her family. But she also is soft enough to open her heart to a stranger. She embodies the perfect balance of a female protag.

2. The town of Near comes alive: Schwab is a BEAUTIFUL writer. There is not one character, one house, one branch that doesn’t pop out of the pages. When you’re reading this novel you’ll find yourself immersed in the moor, the wind, and the entire town of Near.

3. The characters are all distinct: There are no stereotypes in Near. Even witch sisters who might appear to be alike have their distinct ways of speaking and their own mannerisms. The children of Near have their own quirks, too. There is no way that you’ll get any of the townspeople confused–not even the three old men who serve on The Council.

4. The plots are twistier than a pretzel: As the Goodreads plot suggests, The Near Witch is part fairy tale. The story of witches and children goes back to Hansel and Gretel, but this book ain’t your normal fairy tale. You’ll find yourself going “wha…?” or “wait, but I thought this was happening…” Even when you think you know what’s coming–you don’t.

You wanna win this book, don’t cha? Well…keep reading and find out how!

If you like…

Books: Sweetly by Jackson Pearce, Ash by Malinda Lo, or The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare… then you’ll like The Near Witch.

Movies: The Brothers Grimm, Beastly, or Red Riding Hood …then you’ll like The Near Witch.

Okay, so you want to win a gently used copy of The Near Witch?? Well, all you have to do is leave a comment with your e-mail address, be a follower of this blog, and live in the U.S. (sorry but we’re writers/educators which equals broke!) by Tuesday September 27th, 2011 at midnight EST. We’ll announce the winner Thursday September 29th 🙂 Hope you all enter!

Oh…and we have a winner to announce, don’t we??? The winner of our last giveaway, Carrie Harris’ Bad Taste in Boys , is…
Georgia Summers!!!

YAY!!! Look out for an e-mail from us today 😀

RTW: It Starts With a Cover

Reading Song of the Day: “Let’s Get it Started” by Black Eyed Peas

It’s that time again! Half way through the work week and Road Trip Wednesday:) This week the ladies of YA Highway are asking:
What are your all-time favorite book covers?

Book covers are essential. We all know that some people buy books mainly based on the cover. Some of the covers we feature here are ones that we are guilty of buying due to the cover art alone. Without further adieu enjoy some of these fantastic BEST book covers ever!

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin: As soon as we saw this cover–we HAD to have this book. It’s mysterious and absolutely gorgeous. We can’t wait to read it 😀

hush, hush by Becca Fitzpatrick:
Who DOESN”T love this cover? It’s intense
and enticing and breathtaking 😀

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer: Unique and although it has
NOTHING to do with the story–it’s lovely!

19 Minutes by Jodi Picoult: It’s simple. Lovely, beautiful and it makes you want to know who these people are and why they’re holding hands.

Your go! Tell us what book covers are your faves of all time 🙂