Camp NaNoWriMo Approacheth!

The first place that I heard about NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month for those out of the loop*, was on another blog. So, I figured that there was no better place to spread the love than here!

National Novel Writing Month is a month-long (really?) event spanning November where participants write, or at least strive to, 50,000 words of an original story. No previously written content allowed, just you and your imagination for thirty days straight. At approximately 1,666 words a day, nobody said that this was easy.

For one reason or another, some people can't do it in November, and that's totally cool. So cool in fact, The Office of Letters and Light, the brains behind NaNoWriMo, put their smarty-pants heads together and came up with Camp NaNoWriMo with one session in June, another in August. You can do one, the other, both, or save your ideas for November instead. It's all the fun of NaNoWriMo with more bug bites!

I really cannot stress enough how much fun this is. Even if writing isn't your thing, that's no excuse, because I hadn't written a script before I wrote a 100 pages of one with Script Frenzy in April. Even if you don't finish you'll at least walk away with something, even if it's just a few thousand (or hundred) words that, hey!, you may even want to pick up later.

The only question left is, why not? But if that's not the only question left feel free to leave it in the comments or check out the FAQ. Hope to see you there!

*We're the best kind of exclusive club, the kind anyone can join


Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

From Goodreads:
Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps. 
Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A stunning debut, it marks John Green's arrival as an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

To say that this book is sad, insightful, touching, hilarious, inspiring, and truthful (all at the same time) is an understatement.

John Green has taken a wholly ordinary character, Miles, and turned him into one of us. He is the quintessential "ordinary" person, which is what sparks his journey to find that "great perhaps." The more that we read about said journey, the more that we realize that either a) we're already on that journey, or b) we're about to go on one. We want to jump for joy at his successes and cry along with his pain. We can all find a piece of ourselves in Miles.

The incorporation of last words, both as Miles' hobby/ love and as an element of the story, was a brilliant move on Green's part. Not once did they feel cumbersome, or like they were just there for show. Every quote mentioned does something to either enhance the story or clarify something to the reader. I walked away with a few new favorites to scrawl in assorted places.

And Alaska Young... How do you begin to describe her? Enticing and enthralling, I didn't know if I wanted her to kiss me or punch me in the face. At times I was left wondering if she was actually there in the story or some glorious figment of Miles' imagination; she seems to transcend existence itself. Contrary to Miles' relatability, Alaska is like some sort of separate entity, from all of us. She is both what we strive to be and what we never hope that we become.

Do yourself a favor and find a copy of this book. Read it. Banned in your area? Honor Alaska Young and seek it out. You'll have no regrets.

Amazon, Goodreads, John Green's website
Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: December 28th, 2006
Page #: 221
ISBN: 0142402516


Waiting on Wednesday (8): Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

From Goodreads:
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life. 
In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page. 
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication Date: July 10th, 2012
Amazon, Author's Website

I've been trying to get back into fantasy books again, and from the already-stellar ratings over at Goodreads it looks like I'll have to get this one to help me on my way. I like the idea of dragons "folding" into human shape, along with the conspiracy theme. But, what I really love is that Prince Lucian is described as "dangerously perceptive," and that his description doesn't immediately follow that up with "sexy," "seductive," or any of the like. Romance is fine in small doses, but I really can't stand it when a relationship status is used to define an entire person. I really can't wait for this one!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted over at Breaking the Spine.


Fantastic Covers Friday (6): XVI by Julia Karr

Fantastic Covers Friday is a weekly meme over here at Brave New Shelf where I highlight beautiful covers that I find, from both old books and new, from young adult books.

This week:

by: Julia Karr
Cover Design: Emilian Gregory
Cover photos copyright Christina Page


I normally hate faces on the covers of books. I'd much rather have a symbol from the story or some sort of minimalist design going on. But here, broken up with the title and that scared/ depressed/ broken look on the model's face is just too perfect for this book as a whole. Incorporating the title into the design on the cover of the book itself rather than just slapping it on was also brilliant. 


Waiting on Wednesday (7): This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

From Goodreads:
It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually wantto live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: June 19th, 2012
Amazon, Author's Website


I like this kind of new take on zombie stories. I feel like, despite all of the vampires and werewolves and fairies and what other supernatural creatures YA fic has been latching on to, authors have been keeping zombies at more than an arms length. It's uncharted territory for the most part. I also like how she, from the description, doesn't sound like a gung-ho "let's punch every zombie in the face!!!" type of girl. People break down in apocalyptic situations. This cover is also another one that probably merits a Fantastic Covers Friday post, too.

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted over at Breaking the Spine.


Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

From Goodreads:
What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?
Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.
But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could--from the criminal's point of view.
And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.
In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret--could he be more like his father than anyone knows?
I'm not a fan of crime novels normally, but I was more than willing to make an exception for one of Barry Lyga's works. This book was such a whirlwind; I finished it in only three days (reading that fast is once in a blue moon for me.) I really couldn't put it down!

The scary thing about I Hunt Killers is how into it I got. It was hard to read sometimes, but every little detail and conversation drew me deeper into the book. You not only read about killers, but you begin to think like them as well. When new characters showed up, I couldn't stop thinking: would they be a victim? If so, what made me think that? Did they act vulnerable? Was it how they looked? You begin to profile every minor character that comes up, hoping to crack the mystery yourself before the last pages (I figured out a few things, but had plenty of surprises to keep me shocked at the end.)

Jazz turned out to be such an interesting and complex character. The book wasn't written in first person, but you knew so much about him simply from his actions and relationships, including the people he kept at more than an arm's length. Despite his circumstances being so different from my own, I still felt like I really knew him.

This is a book more than worth picking up, especially if you're a fan of crime novels, or are looking for a new kind of YA fiction that hasn't really been explored. Barry Lyga has written a captivating and eerily fascinating novel that won't disappoint.

(P.S. I don't normally do trigger warnings in my book reviews, but if you are sensitive to mentions of mental illness, torture, animal abuse, and/or rape/ sexual abuse, this may be a book that you want to pass up.)

Goodreads, Amazon, Barry Lyga's website, my Boy Toy review
Title: I Hunt Killers
Author: Barry Lyga
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 3rd, 2012
Page #: 359
ISBN: 0316125849
ISBN-13: 9780316125840


Fantastic Covers Friday (5): Prodigy by Marie Lu

Fantastic Covers Friday is a weekly meme over here at Brave New Shelf where I highlight beautiful covers that I find, from both old books and new, from young adult books.

This week:

by Marie Lu
(Note: I'm going to assume that the same person who designed the last cover also designed this one. I will update this post when more information becomes available.)
Cover Art and Design: Lori Thorn
Creative Direction: Linda McCarthy


I love simple, straight-forward covers so much, and I'm pleased as punch that this cover isn't a far cry from from the last one. I do like this color scheme more though, the cold black and blue to reflect the situation that June and Day find themselves in at the end of the first book. Prodigy will be released next January, but I don't think that I can wait that long! (Also, if you haven't already, the summary is already up at Goodreads--the link is in the title under the picture. Be sure to go over and take a look!)


I (finally) saw The Hunger Games!


So tonight, at seven PM, on May 7th, I saw the Hunger Games. In theaters. For the first time. Wearing my mockingjay necklace. Literally all by myself. No joke.

I thought it was a beautifully made movie (the sounds, the setting, and the off-kilter camera work were all stunning), but not my favorite adaption. I felt like people who hadn't read the books would lost (feel free to say something if you weren't, though). It was really nice to be able to recognize things from the book, and I thought some of the book was enhanced by the film.

One of my favorite things was just how beautiful the arena was. You didn't need 3D glasses to appreciate just how green and lively the forest is. I could hear crickets, and doves, and all kinds of forest life, and that made for a better experience than just sticking in some random animal noises. It helped to balance out the tension with some peace.
Hunger Games Wikia

The only two things that I would have changed were Rue's screen time and the showing of the propaganda video. Of course I though Rue's death was sad (though the real sobbing came during the riot scene), but I felt like people who hadn't been touched by their relationship through reading the books may have been confused. Luckily Lawrence's great acting backed it up a little.

Hunger Games Wikia
As for the propaganda, the movie shown during the reaping, I would have put that at the very beginning of the film rather than stuck it in the middle of a scene already established to be tense. The text at the beginning was fine, but I thought that it would have been a nice(?) throwback to when news and propaganda films would be shown in American movie theaters before the show at around the time of World War II. Then, after that, cut to Katniss talking with Prim before she heads out to the woods.

And so there goes the tale of someone who is probably the last person to see the movie in theaters for the first time, a whole 46 days after the premiere!

P.S. More Haymitch next time, please!


Fantastic Covers Friday (4): Missing by Becky Citra

Fantastic Covers Friday is a weekly meme over here at Brave New Shelf where I highlight beautiful covers that I find, from both old books and new, from young adult books.

This Week:

Missing by Becky Citra
Cover design by Teresa Bubela
Text design and typesetting by Jasmine Devonshire
Cover photography by Getty Images

Sometimes the prettiest books aren't the ones published by major companies or written by New York Times bestsellers. What draws me to this cover is the ambiguity: you can't tell if the girl is hugging the horse, and we just can't see her, or if she's hiding from the camera behind the horse. The fact that the type fades out, literally begins to disappear, fits in nicely with the title itself.


Waiting on Wednesday (6): Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

From Goodreads:
Mia Price is a lightning addict. She's survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn't who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication Date: May 8th, 2012
Amazon, Author's Website


Getting struck by lightning? Cults? Doomsday? Earthquakes? Is there anything that this book has that sounds boring? The whole doomsday cult idea sounds so interesting to me, and I love that the description puts more focus on Mia and her problems (because it sure sounds like she has them!) than how many boys are lining up to make out with her. I also haven't heard of this published before, so it will be interesting to see the kind of works that they put out from this point on.

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted weekly over at Breaking the Spine.


An Open Letter About Divergent

From Goodreads

Divergent, by Veronica Roth, is really where Brave New Shelf started. It was the first ARC that I had received, and I had know idea what to expect or even how to go about this review-writing business. All I knew is when Divergent arrived in the mail were the things I read about it from a blurb in Seventeen magazine beforehand.

But I loved it. So I wrote another review, then another, then another.

Getting Divergent into my hands and a deadline in front of me to write for got me back into reading. As embarrassing to say as it is, my reading schedule had pretty much dissolved to nothing before Divergent. And it's not like I was busy either, I was just being lazy.

That's not all of it though. I read more and more, set goals for myself, wrote more than I had before, and started buying books with every dollar I could get my hands on. Heck, I took a job at the public library September of that year! I now own so many books that I had to shift everything around in the top drawer of my dresser to fit more of them in.

But this isn't a post about buying Divergent, or Insurgent, or even reading either of them (but it would be super-cool-awesome if you did both.) This post is about finding the one book that changes everything for you, that one book that either sets something right, like it did for me, or puts you on a different, better path.

Veronica Roth, looking back, receiving Divergent as my first ARC was an honor that I'm still not sure if I deserved, but your book has not only given me the short-run joy that came with the act of reading it, but the long-run happiness that followed by inspiring me to start reading again. You should be very proud of all of the work that you've done, and I cannot help but feel that the Divergent series is only the tip of the iceberg for you.

-Emily @ Brave New Shelf