Best book of June 2010

Here I am again with YA Highway’s Road Trip Wednesday Book of the Month post.

I read a lot of good books in June.  Classics, Harry Potter, etc.  I listened to 4 audiobooks too (counting the one I’m going to finish today).  When it comes to audiobooks, I have discovered that I’m into light fantasy (non-contemporary) for audiobooks.  Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl, Princess Academy, and River Secrets were right up my alley on the audiobook-front.  Sara Shephard’s Pretty Little Liars, while riveting when I read the sample on my Kindle, began to grate on me as an audiobook.  The Shannon Hale books had the advantage of being Full Cast audiobooks, which is what I’m going to look for in the future, I think.

It’s hard to choose a best book of June.  I mean, I read To Kill a Mockingbird, my favorite classic book.  It should obviously win.  I also read the first three Harry Potters.  I love the series, and PoA is my favorite (although not the one I most want to reread, interestingly enough).  It should obviously win.  And I read Zombie Tag by the wonderful Hannah Moskowitz.  You would never know by the subtle world-building in ZT that Hannah was once scandalized by the thought of writing fantasy.  And as always her characters are awesome and well-drawn.  And she had a plot twist I actually didn’t see coming.  Plus, she’s a friend.  It should obviously win.

All of these are really good contenders, let me tell you.  I’m very close to picking all of them, lol. I can tell you why TKAM and HP don’t win, though.  TKAM suffered from being the one I had just started reading when books I had been ANXIOUSLY AWAITING showed up on my doorstep, and I had to convince myself not to start reading them.  And therefore, TKAM just wasn’t as appealing anymore.  And HP will also suffer from being like the 20th time I’ve reread them (except CoS, which I’ve only read once before, but, hey, it’s because it’s my least favorite) and from my having seen the movies a billion times.  HPatGoF is one of several things I’m reading right now, and for a long time GoF was my go-to movie if I wanted to watch something and didn’t know what it was.  HBP might get an advantage over the others when I get there.  We’ll see.

So, here’s what I’m going to do.  I’m going to give you the book I most enjoyed this month.  And then I’m going to give you the books I most enjoyed this month that you can actually get your hands on.

Zombie Tag by Hannah Moskowitz:  I’m sorry.  You can’t get this book until Fall 2011.  But trust me, you’re going to love it.  Hannah’s debut in the MG world is pretty damn awesome.  The book follows Wil, who deals with his older brother’s death by creating a game called Zombie Tag–basically Mafia meets Capture the Flag.  But he’s really prepping himself for when the zombies come for real, because Wil knows exactly how to raise the dead. He brings back his brother and several other dead people, but while they’re not eating brains, they certainly aren’t the same as before their deaths either.  This book is an excellent analogy for a little brother watching as his older brother who never wanted to grow up actually does.  It also has a plot twist that I didn’t see coming, which is pretty much amazing (the other books I mention here, don’t have that).

The Goose Girl and River Secrets by Shannon Hale: I know I skipped Enna Burning, but I just didn’t feel like listening about fire all the time (then River Secrets started with fire, lol).  When I started TGG, I was a little disappointed.  It started kind of slow, and the only reason I knew where it was going was because of the description of the book (The princess (who I’m calling Isi) is shipped off to marry the prince of Bayern, but her waiting woman, who has the gift of “People speaking” convinces her guards to betray Isi.  Isi escapes and gets a job as a goose girl, using her ability to speak to birds, and tries to figure out how to convince everyone that she really is the princess). It seemed to take a very long time to get there.  But once it did, it had my attention.  I loved hearing about Isi overcoming her new situation in life, taking charge, making friends, etc.  Sure, I saw the plot twists coming miles off, but it was still fun to listen to them, and by the climax, I had to bring my iPod around with me, listening to the end while I cooked dinner and did other things just to see what happened.  RS is a sequel, though I skipped a book.  While TGG had the better story for me, I enjoyed the character of Razo so much as a main character.  In fact, with the except of Enna and Finn, who I liked better in TGG, I adored the characters of RS.  Every time the prince spoke, my face broke out into a huge grin.  Razo’s banter with Enna and Dasha was so much fun.  I truly wished Razo was my friend (I know you’re supposed to feel like characters are your friends by the time you end a book, but this rarely happens for me).  Just like TGG, I felt this took a while for me to get into, but it wasn’t as long as TGG did.  Once Razo was in Tira, I fell in love with him, and the book had me.

Okay, so there are my favorite books of June.  Next month, I’ll try not to be so indecisive, lol.

Currently on new iPod: It’s Alright by Dar Williams.

Lots of love,
Sage

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Teaser Tuesday – Panther vs. Chameleon

So this week I discovered the most useful blog post I’ve written is the one where I teased with Evie’s list of heroes and villains.  When I got to this scene and said, “Is the Cheetah’s nemesis ‘The Panther’ or ‘The Jaguar’?” I could go to the blog and look it up way more easily than searching through my novel for the answer.

And here’s why I needed to know that.  Evie’s just seen the Cheetah.

I dive into the bushes by the front door before the Cheetah gets close enough to see me.  Danny stares at the bush where I disappeared, probably thinking that I’m hiding, although I don’t think he’s seen the Cheetah yet, but instead I transform into the Panther away from prying eyes.  As soon as I’m done, I’m out of the bushes like a shot.  Or at least like a high-speed supercat.

Both the Cheetah and the Panther run on two legs.  Since the Panther’s speed is a physical ability, I do pretty well at keeping up with the Cheetah, but my lack of training at this speed wears on me pretty quickly.  My legs are burning, as are my lungs.  I can’t keep this up long.  Thanks to the time it took me to hide and transform, he got ahead of me, but not by much.  I’m a mere ten feet away from his back.  I just need something to close the distance between us.

If I was a real cat, I’d pounce on him.

Oh, what the hell.

I dig in my legs and spring forward, hitting his back and propelling us into the ground together.  He twists around midair and knocks both arms into my face.  Owwww.

And here’s where my plan really fails.  Being the Panther was a great way to catch up to the Cheetah, but now he only sees his arch-nemesis.  Not good.

He springs to his feet as soon as we hit the ground.  Very nice.  I fumble my would-be cat-like grace.  He comes at me, fist cocked to take me out.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa.”  I transform into the Chameleon, and he drops his arm.  “It’s me, sorry.”

“How do I know it’s you?”  He raises his fist again.

“Process of elimination, genius.  Which is more likely?  The shapeshifter looked like your nemesis, or your nemesis looks like the shapeshifter?”

My current old iPod song is the same as the last one (been listening to my new music playlist a lot, plus audiobooks), but on the other iPod, I’m listening to: Smoke and Mirrors by Lifehouse

Lots of love,

Sage

New Music Playlist

So ever since I got my new netbook in October, I’ve been deprived of some of my favorite playlists.  This is entirely my own fault.  iTunes didn’t carry over my playlists, so I had to remake them from scratch.  Easy enough with old iPod in hand, but I leave it in the car most of the time (‘cuz the battery’s shot and I don’t want to play it when it’s not plugged in, like it must be for the car).

One playlist that benefits from the move, though, is my “new music” playlist.  This playlist is constantly changing based on new music I’ve downloaded that I want to find more easily than going to the artist or cycling through my entire “purchased” playlist.  All the music on it right now is music I’ve downloaded since getting the netbook (but, Sage, you’ve had the netbook for mooooooonths.  Yeah, when I say “new,” I don’t mean downloaded last week, lol).  I’ve been steadily adding songs to it as I download them, but had yet to organize them.  Until last night.  I downloaded four new songs last night, and set to work organizing the New Music playlist so that artists’ songs were separated and so that it flowed the way I wanted.  Yes, it was hard to get all those Glee songs spread out over the playlist.  Here’s the list:

  1. Maroon 5 – Misery
  2. La Roux – Bulletproof
  3. Glee – Like a Virgin
  4. OneRepublic – All the Right Moves
  5. Scissor Sisters – Invisible Light
  6. Straight No Chaser – Fix You
  7. Owl City – Meteor Shower
  8. Shiny Toy Guns – Major Tom
  9. Adam Lambert – If I Had You
  10. Britney Spears – Womanizer
  11. Glee – Dream On
  12. Train – Words
  13. Motion City Soundtrack – Disappear
  14. Glee – Give Up the Funk
  15. Shakira – Waka Waka (this time for Africa)
  16. Lady Gaga and Beyonce – Telephone
  17. Straight No Chaser – Under the Bridge
  18. Kristin Chenowith – Hopelessly Devoted to You
  19. Glee Cast – Vogue
  20. Adam Lambert – Music Again
  21. Motion City Soundtrack – A Lifeless Ordinary (Need a Little Help)
  22. Kris Allen – Live Like We’re Dying
  23. Lifehouse – Halfway Gone
  24. Glee – To Sir, With Love
  25. Owl City – On the Wing
  26. Two Door Cinema Club – Something Good Can Work
  27. Timbaland and Katy Perry – If We Ever Meet Again
  28. Glee – Jump
  29. Motion City Soundtrack – History Lesson
  30. Train – If It’s Love
  31. The Script – Breakeven (Falling to Pieces)
  32. Pushing Daisies – Main Titles
  33. Glee – Defying Gravity
  34. Owl City – The Bird and the Worm
  35. Michael Buble – Haven’t Met You Yet
  36. Glee – Lady is a Tramp
  37. Straight No Chaser – You and Me and the Bottle Makes Three/Single Ladies
  38. Train – Save Me, San Francisco
  39. Motion City Soundtrack – Pulp Fiction
  40. Glee – Don’t Rain on My Parade

But…

Currently on my old iPod (where none of those songs appear): The Heart of Life by John Mayer

Lots of love,

Sage

Teaser Tuesday – Cullen-esque

Yeah, so I was bad this week and didn’t post anything between teasers.  Booo, Sage.  But I did get a lot of writing done on the weekend.  Here’s a scene I wrote this week.  Evie’s in trouble for being out the night before, but she’s also figured out that her room was broken in to and is worried about her friend Danny.

Mom is taking forever.  I lie back on my bed, staring at the ceiling.  It’s times like these that I wonder why I don’t tell her about the superhero thing.  Then I remember the danger it would put her in.  Yeah.  Still… it’d make it easier to be all, “Danger, Will Robinson,” and be allowed to deal with it.

My ceiling fan is hypnotic and it’s easier to think about nothing instead of thinking about where Danny might be or what’s taking my mom so long.  Will she call Danny’s mom?  Good luck with that.  How about the police?  But tell them what? “I don’t even believe my own daughter, but she thinks her friend is in trouble because someone broke in and stole stuff and walked right out magically.  Invisibly”?

Whoa, invisibly.  What if he was invisible?   I grab my list of heroes and villains and search for the name I know goes with invisibility.  Black Cat.  “Not much is known about him.”   Well, that’s not particularly useful, Evie.

What would Black Cat want with Apollo Easton’s ring?  The possibilities I considered before went through my head again.  Would Black Cat know about anything special the ring might hold?  I suppose he might if he had been invisible and nearby at some point when Dr. Easton was talking about it–maybe to Apollo?–or hiding something in it.  And if he was near me when I transformed from Chameleon to Evie or vice versa, or even just saw me transform from, say, a bird to Evie, he’d be able to put two and two together.  Everyone knew the Chameleon caught those goons that it’s pretty safe to assume Black Cat hired.  That’s his MO.  That much we know about him.

Ugh, an invisible guy has been waiting for his chance to break into my room?  Creeeeeepy.  I imagine him stalking the house all invisible.  Shit, what if he’s been hanging out in the tree, watching through my window, all Edward Cullen-esque.  I shiver and glance at my window.

Something hits it just as my eyes flicker to it.  It takes every ounce of control not to scream.

Hope you enjoyed.  Let’s see how many views I get from people searching for “Edward Cullen” 😉

Currently on iPod: Have a Little Faith in Me by Jewel

Lots of love,

Sage

Teaser Tuesday – Creepy, creepy Ace

Here’s Ace being a creepster.  He sent Evie out to capture another supervillain so that he could sneak into her room and look for the ring she took (from goons he hired to steal it from Apollo’s grave) in scene 1.

It’s my first time in a girl’s bedroom.  It’s messier than I expected.  Her bed isn’t made and has books littered all over it.  She’s thrown a school uniform on the back of the desk chair.  Her desk and dresser are cluttered with stuff.  Her bookcase has a layer of dust you could make a “snow angel” in if you had the ability to shrink.  Which she does….

Are all girls messy like this?  Weird.  I thought them neater.

Keeping an ear towards the door to hear if her parents come near, I drop my invisibility.  It makes me feel powerful.  Here, in not just any superhero’s room, but the Chameleon’s.  Evie’s.  I could do anything.  Sabotage her superhero stuff.  Look for a diary.  Steal a t-shirt that smells like her.  Anything.

But, eye on the prize, Ace.  I have a ring to find.

I start at her dresser.  She has all sorts of jewelry on top of it, mostly earrings, but she doesn’t have my ring.

Next stop, the desk.  I resist the urge to search her computer for any mention of me.  Maybe she e-mailed a friend about how cute I am.  Sure, she’s not tweeting about me, but I could be e-mail-worthy.  But, no, this is not the time.  I shift things around, looking for a ring hidden under papers or behind the pencil holder.  Nothing.

Well, not nothing.  My hand hits a bright blue water bottle as I shuffle some books from one side to another.  Water bottle.  This is how she’s escaping my drug.  She’s not drinking Pure East.  She’s bottling it herself.  Dammit.  Doesn’t she know I’m doing this for her?

I definitely have the perfect song for this scene.  It’s Darren Hayes’ “Creepin’ Up on You.”  Darren used to be part of Savage Garden, but when he went solo, his songs kinda started getting creepy.  This one beats out “Every Breath You Take” as the most stalkerish song ever.

But…

Currently on iPod: A Hard Day’s Night by the Beatles

Lots of love,

Sage

Summertime

Okay, it’s not quite summer yet, but what it is time for is for most TV seasons to go on break.  At least most of what I watch is.  Bye, Glee, bye, Chuck, bye, Castle, bye, Parenthood, even bye to American Idol (which was not as exciting this year as last year when Adam Lambert was on (did I mention I shared a stage with him when I was in high school?).  I’m left with Doctor Who (yay), Merlin (which I’m only sorta watching…), and Dance Your Ass Off, when I happen to remember it (don’t judge, I’m trying to lose weight and it’s more interesting to me than Biggest Loser).

When TV goes on break, you can start finding me in the sunroom more often at night.  I love my sunroom, but it’s hard to use it in the winter (even though I made it gorgeous with Christmas decorations).  Summer is great for it, though.  When the sun goes down, the fireflies surround the room.  At night, it cools down and feels so nice.  Right now we have a bunch of thunderstorms, which are great to watch from the sunroom, if not a little scary in there ;).

And I get a lot of writing down.  Which is how I ended up finally breaking out of my funk last year and writing (and finishing) Trouble.

I can actually write okay while watching TV.  Just yesterday I wrote a bunch during the World Cup game I had on.  But some shows I want to focus on (Glee and Doctor Who, for example), and some shows are just too distracting to write during (anything Roomie watches that I don’t like, for example–you would think I would write more during them, but, no).

So, I’m excited to be in the 2nd half of Hero/Villain, heading towards the climax and out of my writer’s block of last month, and about to hit a time when I know I’ll lock myself into the sunroom and be productive.

Of course, I still envy students and teachers who find themselves free from work during this time.  Still gotta put in that 40-hour week (this week 42 hours, but anyway), but outside of it, I predict some good writing coming up.

Currently on iPod: Hangin’ Around with You by Kristin Chenowith and Jason Alexander

Lots of love,
Sage

Teaser Tuesday – Heroes and Villains

Almost forgot it was Tuesday.  My work schedule is crazy lately.  But I remembered in time, so here’s my teaser.

Context: Evie’s been kicked out of the superheroes’ League, which automatically brands her as a villain.  She’s studying to get back in.

I decide to take a break from the rules and try to go over the heroes and villains again.  Every day I try to write up a list and give a little description, and every day I look up the current list on my phone, which has been hooked back up to the League’s system.

I write the supers down as I think of them onto two lists.  Heroes.  And villains.

Heroes

The Cheetah

Powers: Super speed and agility

The Hummingbird

Powers: Flies much like a hummingbird does, flitting from place to place with lots of speed

The Hyena

Powers: Can make people laugh at will.  Stops villains breathless with laughter, keeps sneaksters from being sneaky, and great at breaking tension at parties

The Coyote

Powers: Transforms into a canine form, giving him greater speed and natural weapons (mainly teeth)

The Tortoise

Powers: Natural body armor

The Owl

Powers: Super-high learning curve (aka know-it-all).  Does not fly.

The Phoenix

Powers: Can make fire appear at will in her hands.  Unknown if she reincarnates at death.  Does not fly.

The Eagle

Powers: Flight

Villains

The Chameleon

Best known for: Being a kickass superheroine.  Let her back in, kay?  It’s a total mistake that she’s on this list.

The Prairie Dog

Best known for: Digging his way into jewelry stores for robberies after hours.  Throws mud that will stick to you and can detain you with it.

The Panther

Best known for: Being the Cheetah’s arch-nemesis.  They say they’re two sides of the same coin.  Both run super fast and nimble.  Covered the city in cats as a distraction for a robbery last year.

The Kangaroo

Best known for: Fighting the police and heroes to prove she’s most powerful.  A nuisance, but nothing specifically villainous.  Can jump crazy high.

The Grizzly

Best known for: Being very old, very hairy, and running around naked a lot.  (Gross.)  Knives are embedded in his fingers.  Pulled off the Luther Diamond heist last year.

Black Cat

Best known for: Not much is known about him.  He’s been implicated in hiring petty thieves for minor crimes a lot, but there’s no pattern to this.  It’s rumored he can go invisible.  Rumors that he’s related to Panther seem to be unfounded.

Wolfman

Best known for: Being all out werewolf at will.  Enjoys killing children in his wolf form.

The Rattlesnake

Best known for: Ability to hypnotize his victims.  Very big in the poisoning department.  He has a scaly skin cover that protects him to some extent from attacks

The Firefly

Best known for: Teleportation abilities.  Was a superhero until recently when he went AWOL.  Whereabouts and plan unknown.

Hope you enjoyed.

Currently on iPod: Hand in my Pocket by Alanis Morissette

Lots of love,
Sage