Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Zombies....naturally

Z is for Zombies

I've been putting off this post.

"Because you're so sad to see this challenge over?" you might ask.

Not exactly.

Despite the amount of time this challenge has sucked out of my life taken up, I have actually enjoyed it. Shh! Don't tell my hubby who has only heard me whine and complain about the posts I "had" to write or the blogs I "needed" to visit - two very good excuses to get out of doing dishes. ;)


I've been avoiding this post because I hate to end on a negative note. I also don't want to offend anyone with what I'm about to say. So, here's my disclaimer before my mild rant: If you write about zombies, this has nothing to do with your writing ability or the fabulous story I'm sure you've crafted. It's just...well....zombies? I don't get them.

I want to - it's the trend right now. Everyone LOVES "The Walking Dead" and swears that it has strong characterization and a great plot line. And it does, sure. But I can't get into the show because of the zombies. Their skin is rotting, and they want to eat people. They walk too slow. They aren't too bright. I just don't get what it is about them that fascinates people or scares people or attracts people. So please, tell me why they are awesome, because I think they're....err...not for me.

Keep in mind, a few years ago I probably would have told you I hated vampires and werewolves, but I jumped on that bandwagon and became transformed. I'm willing to follow the crowd, succumb to peer pressure, and all that. I just need convincing. Give me an argument and maybe, just maybe you can convince me to dig into a few books I have on my "to read" list that I can't read because I can't get past the zombies.

And that ladies and gentlemen is my 26th post. My boys are in bed. My hubby is off painting our new house. I feel like I need at least a high five for surviving this challenge.  A round of virtual high fives to all of you for completing this challenge on your own or putting up with me and my 26 most recent posts.

See you all Wednesday for IWSG.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for YA and a Yearly Tradition....

Y is for Young Adult Characters....why I love them

As a seventh grade teacher, I can always tell people I read YA because it's "my job" to know what the kids are reading. It's a convenient excuse. But the truth is, I love it. I mentioned this briefly in an earlier post. YA characters are passionate, blissfully ignorant, and have an unwavering sense of right vs. wrong. As adults, things become grayer. Politics and priorities cloud once easy decisions. In adult books, "the good guy" more frequently makes bad or unethical decisions. The bad guy is sometimes more relatable than we'd like him to be. Obviously, this isn't always the case. But I love to read and write YA because there is something lovely and nostalgic about the innocence YA characters capture....even in the most horrible dystopic societies.

Y is for a Yearly Tradition

In W's post, I mentioned a yearly walk we participate in - the March for Babies with March of Dimes. MOD funded research that saved one boy's life (Baby Boy #1 on right) and helped another boy be born full term (Baby Boy #2 on left). With Baby Boy #1's health thriving and Baby Boy #2's safe arrival, we had so much to celebrate this year. It was the first year I didn't cry while walking for MOD. I still got choked up for families celebrating the memories of babies born too soon that didn't make it - I always will. But this year, especially after closing on our home on Friday, we had much to celebrate. My two boys are MOD success stories - for that I will be forever grateful.

Read a bit of Baby Boy #1's story here.

One day Jake will look at this picture and hate me for putting him in this hat...I love it anyway ;)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for Xander

X is for Xander

When I read Matched last year, my first thought about Xander was that if I had the nerve to do the A-Z challenge next April, I would write about characters and Xander would be my easy X. (This makes the letter "X" ironically easier than finding characters that start with the letter "O" which I found to be impossible) 

Xander is the guy in the Ky-Cassia-Xander love triangle who doesn't get picked. Only here is the problem with that...unlike Edward vs. Jacob and Peeta vs Gale, in the Xander vs. Ky show down, I like Xander better. Truth be told, I can't remember why. Sure, he's is kind, intelligent, attractive, understanding, and a leader (just like every other typical YA love interest). Beyond that, I don't really remember too much about him - at least nothing that makes him stand out. Perhaps it's because I read it so long ago, or my mind is elsewhere, or it's 10:10p.m. and this is a last ditch effort just to complete this post in time for the sake of posting my X. 

Poor neglected Xander.

Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Warner and Wonderful Life Moments

W is for Warner, a Walk, and a Wonderful Life Moment

Warner is the antagonist of Shatter Me. (I haven't read the second in the trilogy where I've heard he's even more developed.) Warner is a power-hungry sociopath who's so in love with protagonist Juliette that he protects her even when she tries to escape from him and kill him. Juliette has powers that she herself doesn't even fully understand, which Warner wants her to use inhumanely. His obsession and love for both power and Juliette are sick, twisted, and awesome to read. I wish I could spend more time talking about him, but my head's just not into characterization today...

A Walk....

On Sunday, my husband, my two sisters, my two boys, and I will be walking for March of Dimes, a charity that funds preemie research. Thanks to MOD research, my three year old is alive and thriving, my 8mo old was born full term, and I have a beautiful family that I feel blessed to have. I'm a lucky, lucky girl. 

A Wonderful Moment.....

Later today....if all goes as expected *fingers crossed, knock on wood*....we close on our first family home. I owned a townhouse in Ohio in my twenties. When my husband and I got married, we bought a fabulous condo in the city. But this feels like my first real home. And while I never thought this would be that big of a deal (after all, I've done this before, right?), I find myself all weepy and nervous and excited that this will be our place - not my place, not a condo for my husband and me, but a home for our family to grow into. This one feels permanent, and I like that.   

May you all have a few wonderful moments of your own this weekend.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Voldemort...and the Very Annoying Mr. Anonymous

A short, short list of contests and blog hops at the bottom!

V is for Voldemort and the Very Annoying Mr. Anonymous

Voldemort is brilliant, beyond evil, a complete sociopath. He doesn't have an ounce of beauty or compassion or understanding in him making him a fabulous and unstable villain. We never know who he'll go after next because he's willing to sacrifice anything and anyone. 

My favorite part about Voldemort, however, is that a boy is the one who destroys him. I love YA lit in part because kids and YA characters are often naive and unjaded. They believe in right vs wrong. They are passionate enough and foolish enough to fight unswervingly for what's right and just. I love that Voldemort can't understand love and friendship and virtue - everything that makes up HP.

And now the Very Annoying Mr. Anonymous

A few weeks back, I changed my preferences and allowed people without a Google Account to comment Anonymously on my blogs. After doing so, I had some lovely conversations with people I might not have heard from otherwise - and I really enjoyed them. However, I also starting getting attacked - yes attacked! - by the Very Annoying Mr. Anonymous. 

Mr. Anonymous doesn't spell very well. His grammar and capitalization skills are poor. Even as a grammar teacher, I understand we all make mistakes (myself included). But it makes me angry when the Very Annoying Mr. Anonymous does it - partly because I know he's not reading my posts (which makes me feel better about bad-mouthing him here...I don't like to make people - even annoying people - feel bad about themselves). 

When Mr. Anonymous comments, he tells me he likes what I'm saying in my posts or that I have a very fresh perspective or that I'm really smart and he wants to talk with me more about how I can help him improve his blog but HE'S LYING! He just wants me to visit his blog and buy something stupid like magnetic paperclips or the world's shiniest (self-proclaimed) shoe polish. Well, Mr. Anonymous, you're not fooling me - no matter how many posts you visit (or how outdated those posts may be), I will win this fight! *shakes fist dramatically in air* 

Unfortunately the only (reasonable) way to win is to either turn on CAPTCHA - which I just can't do - or turn off the ability to comment anonymously. I wish there was some other way, but there isn't. So, I'm sorry. I really am. Mr. Anonymous ruined our fun like that seventh grade student who sticks his chewed up wad of gum under my desks so many times that no one is allowed to chew gum in class anymore. Very annoying, isn't it?

Contests and Blog Hops
The Writer's Voice competition begins May 1st. 

Operation Awesome is hosting another Secret Agent Contest on May 1st.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Umbridge and....Undeniable Book Depression

A short, short list of contests and blog hops at the bottom!

U is for Umbridge

God bless J.K. Rowling for creating so many fabulous characters with more importantly for the purposes of my posts so many varied names. Doloris Umbridge is a wonderfully evil character. She disguises her cruel and abusive nature with her childish, high pitch voice and affinity for kittens and pink. The angrier she gets, the sweeter her voice becomes. She lacks ethics yet preaches the importance of them. I loved reading about Umbridge because I passionately hated her. Rowling's characterization is brilliant to evoke such strong emotions from her readers.

Speaking of brilliant writers....*cough, cough, gracefully clears throat* ....I know. I should shut up. I've now professed my obsession love for Marissa Meyer and the Cinder series plenty of times. And I apologize for going there again, but I've entered a serious and undeniable book depression. I felt this way after finishing the HP series, the HG series, the Divergent series, the Twilight series,... but this one is the worst.  I finished Scarlet last night and then wanted to do nothing but put my pjs on, crawl into bed and reread my favorite scenes....which I did after putting my cutie-pah-tuties to bed. I have to return this book to the library today and after I do, I'm going to buy it because I need to have it on my shelf or nightstand or whatever...Yes...I'm that impressed  in love  (let's be honest, shall we?) obsessed with it. Yes, it's that good.

Moving on...let's talk about tomorrow....because I think it might be healthy at this point....Tomorrow I'll be talking about Voldemort (unless I change my mind) and the Very Annoying Mr. Anonymous.

Contests and Blog Hops
The Writer's Voice competition begins May 1st. 

Operation Awesome is hosting another Secret Agent Contest on May 1st.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Tris

A short, short list of contests and blog hops at the bottom!

T is for Tris

Before I fell in love with the Cinder series, I was obsessed with the Divergent series. (I've been fortunate enough to meet both of these authors, and they are lovely. I love supporting good writers - I love it even more when they are good people too). 

Tris is the protagonist of Veronica Roth's Divergent series. She's bright and strong-willed. She's a bit of an adrenaline junkie and, my favorite part about her, - she's short. I love that she's tough and little. As silly as this sounds, I have several students who struggle with being short. I love being able to give them a book with a strong, short heroine. 

Tris is also well rounded (vulnerable, scared, unsure of herself) and dynamic. I can't wait to read more about her in Roth's third book that comes out in October....which is good. I need a break from really good books for a while. I'm hoping after I finish Scarlet - before the end of the day - I can get back to more pressing concerns....like...oh, I don't know....graduate work? potty training my three year old son? closing on a house at the end of the week? A-Z blog posts?

Contests and Blog Hops
The Writer's Voice competition begins May 1st. 

Operation Awesome is hosting another Secret Agent Contest on May 1st.

And last but not least, a big congrats to Brandon Ax on his release of his book Elemental.

Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Scarlet

It's been a while, but I have a short, short list of contests and blog hops at the bottom!

S is for Scarlet

I really wanted S to be for Samantha Kingston from Before I Fall. In Lauren Oliver's book, Samantha Kingston keeps reliving the last day of her life until she gets it right and realizes that the life she must save isn't her own. Samantha Kingston is a popular, snotty, shallow, and superficial. By the end of the book and the eighth or so time she relives the same day, she's grown into a very likable (and relatable) character. Her character arc is brilliantly done. 

However, I can't talk about Samantha Kingston. I'm in the middle of reading Scarlet by Marissa Meyer and I feel compelled to write about Scarlet instead - and not just because she's a red head. I need to talk about Scarlet because I'm so in love with this book I can't put it down. I have absolutely no business reading for pleasure right now. Every minute of each day needs to be filled with something I can check off on my to do list. It's been a busy month. And yet, I find myself stealing 5 minutes here and there to read another chapter of this book. 

Scarlet is Little Red Riding Hood caught up in Meyer's sci-fi world. Her grandmother has been kidnapped and she enlists the help of Wolf (her love interest/not sure what his motives are) to get her back. Scarlet is a brave, feisty, snarky, smart, beautiful red head (which I love). She thinks she's tougher than she is and makes plenty of mistakes along the way. She just made a BIG mistake in the part I just read...or rather I'm not sure if it's a mistake or not...I MUST keep reading to find out.

This series is my new favorite series. Exciting, original and brilliantly written.

Contests and Blog Hops
The Writer's Voice competition begins May 1st. 

Operation Awesome is hosting another Secret Agent Contest on May 1st.

Miss Snark's First Victim is hosting a Secret Agent Contest today (April 22).

And last but not least, a big congrats to Brandon Ax on his release of his book Elemental.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for Rudy

R is for Rudy

Rudy Steiner from The Book Thief is one of my all time favorite characters. (I've already established one too many times perhaps that Markus Zusak is one of my all time favorite authors). Rudy is protagonist Liesel's best friend. He's constantly trying to win a kiss from her, and he antagonizes her at the same time. Rudy's defining moment is the "Jesse Owens Incident." Rudy, a blonde haired, blue eyed 10ish year old, takes a piece of coal, paints himself black, and heads out to the nearest track in his Nazi Germany town to run laps. I'd love him just for the Jesse Owns incident, but he protects Liesel throughout the book like any true childhood best friend would. Rudy is gutsy, brave, stubborn, and protective - a perfect BFF.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Queen Levana

Q is for Queen Levana

9:09 p.m. Digging deep for this one....

Queen Levana is the antagonist in Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Queen of the Lunar people (people living on the moon), she makes for a fabulous antagonist. She's egotistical, wicked, and power-hungry. She can control people's minds and often does so to make people believe she's stunningly beautiful. My favorite part about her? She's a red-head. 

Antagonist or protagonist - I love my red-headed characters.

May you all have a safe and restful evening.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P is for Peeta

P is for Peeta

Just like there has been a trend with tough girl heroines, there has been a tend in their love interests as well. I feel like sometimes I'm reading the about same character over and over again with a different name in a different book. NOT that I'm complaining - I love actually "that character." Gale in Hunger Games fits that love interest mold. Peeta does not.

While Peeta is strong, bright, charming, protective, and adores Katniss, he's also sensitive and creative. I love that he is a talented cake decorator. That detail alone sets him apart. I love the contrast between Gale and Peeta in the HG series. I love that I'm Team Peeta throughout the series even though Gale feels like the better fit for Katniss.

P is for Perplexing too....
Strange weather today in the Chicago area - terrible flooding. I've driven through plenty of bad snow storms, but the rain and flooding made today's drive the scariest drive to work I've ever had. Weird, huh?

I hope you all stay dry.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for.....

O is for Oscar, Ollivander, and Oracles

When I signed up for this challenge, I underestimated how difficult it would be to come up with "O" characters. 

When I was younger, Oscar the Grouch was my favorite Sesame Street character simply because he was green. Apparently, I also loved the Incredible Hulk.

Ollivander from Harry Potter (God bless JK Rowling for creating so many characters I can use for this challenge)...not much to analyze: bright man, means well, love his name...He's what I call a plot progresser - his purpose is to move the plot along.

Oracles make any story more interesting. I love prophesies and trying to figure out whether or not those prophesies will come true (they always do.....but they always keep me guessing too).

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for Neville

N is for Neville

I love Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter. 

I love that J.K. Rowling sets up her entire series with the possibility that the prophecy foretelling the "one with the power to vanquish" Voldemort could be Harry or Neville. By doing this, she creates yet another unexpected hero among her characters.

He's shy, clumsy, and introverted. It takes him a while to become a dynamic character. But in the final scenes of this series, he displays such impulsive bravery that I couldn't help but cheer out loud at his heroics while reading the book.

Know what else I love that begins with "N"? Nighttime. Know what nighttime is good for? Sleep. A logical argument that my 8month old refused to buy into last night. 

Must challenge my inner-Neville Longbottom to brave the day today.....