April 2, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop to help connect writers on this writing journey. With that aim in mind, if you'd like to join us, we encourage you to visit a few other WUW blogs each week, get to know some of the other writers taking part, and spread some writerly love! Don't forget to leave the link to your post in the widget at the end of this post.

For those of you who are new to WUW, here are the headings we are using:

WHAT I'M READING
WHAT I'M WRITING
WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW
WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO

Welcome, and thank you for joining us!


WHAT I'M READING
I finished THE GIVER by Lois Lowry this week, and I really enjoyed it. It kind of surprised me that a few YA dystopians I've read in recent years were clearly heavily influenced by this work. I'm not sure how I feel about that, especially since some of these similarities were...pretty darn obvious. I have to say, I do  kind of wonder at what point a nod to an earlier work becomes something more.

Next, I reread LEGEND by Marie Lu (it's been more than two years since the first time) so I could continue on with the rest of the trilogy. Well, look at that! Two dystopians in one week. What would the publishing industry have to say about that?! (*snort*) 

WHAT I'M WRITING
I didn't spend as much time writing this week as I would have liked. Erin and I spent Thursday afternoon and evening working on our WiPs. I think I managed to get through revising one chapter, adding a bit more to another chapter, and tweaking some character details. The latter led to making a Venn diagram for the relationship between two of my characters and then a bullet list with info about two other characters. So, all in all, I guess I was productive. I hope to get way more revisions done this week.

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW
I think because Erin and her husband have gotten into Veronica Mars recently, and also thanks to watching the movie, I felt like watching the series again. (I have them on DVD.) The show does many things well (witty banter, character development, suspense...), but perhaps one of its strongest points is its ability to maintain a season-long story arc without dropping threads or abandoning it for several episodes at a time. I guess you could say it's great research for writing, especially if there is an element of mystery in your WiP.

WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO
I'm turning into the little granny that could. I've always been into crafting--sewing, knitting, cross-stitch, a little crocheting--but haven't done a whole lot in recent years. Often times I'll start a project like knitting a sweater, get partway in, then set it aside. So, I think that's why smaller projects like the boot cuffs I made last week are appealing to me right now. And, hey, if the sky is going to continue to poop snow, I might as well do something that feels weather appropriate, right? This week's crafty project of choice: knitting socks.


Gorgeous sock wool I purchased yesterday (I spent WAY too much on yarn); the beginnings of a sock (it took AGES to knit
this much because the yarn and needles are so small); and my attempt at replicating the socks we wear in my pipe band.

Other than that, it's been a mostly uneventful week. But uneventful is just fine with me. SO, WHAT'S NEW WITH YOU?


51 comments:

  1. Two dystopians in one week? Wow, Jaime, that's so 2012 of you. Kidding. You know how I feel about the way sci-fi gets shunted aside in YA, like it's not actually a staple genre of literature (insert eye roll here).

    Anyhoo, I couldn't agree with you more about Veronica Mars. The writers did an incredible job of maintaining the over arching story line for each season while developing a plot for each individual episode at the same time. They were also masters at casting suspicion on any number of viable suspects for the main crime. Now that I'm a fan of the show, I'm stunned that this gem was cancelled so soon. Seriously? That's right up there with Firefly for TV tragedies. We're about a third of the way through season 3, and I feel bummed that we'll probably be done in the next week or so.

    Love the pretty yarn! Wish I could get it to stay on the needles. The socks look great! Very Scottish!

    Looking forward to our next writing session tomorrow! I'm feeling excited about getting lots done! :)

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    1. I've decided that I'm not sick of dystopian when it's done right. Veronica Rossi's and Marie Lu's books are recent examples of exactly that. I sort of wish agents and publishers would stop treating it as a hard sell and look at every story submitted to them on its own merits. Setting a submission aside because you catch a whiff of dystopian is just stupid. The same goes for any other supposedly dead genre. (Which is total crap, but you already know I feel that way.)

      I'm so happy you guys like VMars. I was sort of thinking about Almost Human and how we both agree that they've abandoned some pretty important/interesting storylines. VMars could teach them a thing or two about that. In Season 1, I don't think there was a single episode that didn't somehow have something about Lily Kane's murder--a clue, something relating to it, whatever. While I like the episode-contained stories as well, I want something bigger or it just feels like watching an episode of Law & Order. I agree: I don't know how this show got cancelled so soon. It would be WONDERFUL if the success of the Kickstarter campaign and the movie itself 'kickstarted' this series again. I think it would be doable.

      I have to say, knitting with this yarn and four double-pointed needles is really tough! I've had the yarn slip off the needles numerous times, which doesn't happen to me when I'm using two long single-pointed needles. Definitely a challenge, but I'm enjoying it. I'm going to make black band socks for Curtis from our band, so that's why I was practising the sock on the far right. Should be challenging!

      Can't wait to chat and work tomorrow! :-)

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  2. Sounds like you had a very productive week...with all the things! And I hear ya on WiP productivity. But it sounds like you've been doing quite a bit with it. Go you!

    Also that yarn is so PURTY. :)

    Have a great week!

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    1. Yep, I'm kind of doing a bunch of different things. I do wish that there was a bit more writing mixed in there, though. I think right now I'm just trying to get back into the habit of writing regularly, so I shouldn't complain too much. As for the yarn, it was just too pretty to pass up. Had to buy it! Hopefully the socks turn out. Have a great week, Alison!

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  3. I haven't read The Giver but I'd really like to - I've heard practically nothing bad about it, though I have heard a lot of fans are disappointed with the trailer for the film adaptation.

    That wool's so pretty! It's always nice to do something crafty. My grandma tried teaching me how to knit once, but it didn't end well...

    Have a lovely week!

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    1. THE GIVER is a nice quick little read. It was good and said what it needed to say in few words. I kind of like that. (I'm way too wordy, so I could take a few lessons from it.) Before reading the book I had no idea what everyone disliked so much about the trailer. I need to watch it again, but I can sort of see now why they aren't thrilled.

      I couldn't resist buying this wool because it was so pretty. It's really nice to work with even if it is a bit thin and keeps wanting to slide off the needles. I've been knitting for years and it's something I always enjoy picking up again. You should give it a try again sometime! Have a great week, Jess!

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  4. Oh I LOVE The Giver. I have a long history with it but mainly -- I read in grade 2 on my own for fun, didn't quite understand it but loved it anyway, then read it for grade 4, 6, 7, 10, 12 and a college/university course. I also chose my university because Lois Lowry works (worked?) at the graduate level… LOL. Which made no sense for going since I was getting my bachelor's and not my master's but I had dreams of spotting her. (…That did not happen.) I would like to reread for the 100000th time before the film.

    I love that color wool, and you are so cool to know how to knit. I am not a handy person at all!

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    1. Wow! I can't believe you've read it that many times. I had a sort of similar experience with THE LORD OF THE FLIES, but I wouldn't say I liked it lol. I've been wanting to read THE GIVER for a while now, so I figured I really should before the movie comes out. People are complaining about the trailer, so I'll have to watch it again and figure out what the problems are with it.

      I loved the wool so much I had to buy it. I've been knitting for years, and it's something I'll always love doing. :-)

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  5. Sounds like the month I read DIVERGENT--I ended up reading six novels that month, and all of them were dystopian! THE GIVER is an excellent book. Do you feel the need to read the rest of the series? I've been told the other books are just as good, but I thought THE GIVER ended satisfactorily enough for me that I didn't feel the need to read any of the others. It's as if making a series was an afterthought. That's probably the only really negative thing I could say about it.

    Wow--I'm impressed with your needlecraft, Jaime! I can knit a single stitch, and managed to make my own Doctor Who scarf, but that's about the extent of my knitting prowess (which I suppose is doing well considering gender stereotypes).

    Have a wonderful and productive writing week! :)

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    1. I also felt The Giver ended well and am hesitant to read the rest of the series.

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    2. Whats interesting about the GIVER series is that they are all companions. Gathering Blue takes place BEFORE The Giver. Messenger takes place after. and I'm not sure about SON…I haven't read it yet

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    3. Like I said to Erin (above), I love dystopian when it's done right. Veronica Rossi's and Marie Lu's trilogies are both prime examples of good dystopian. I think sometimes these supposedly 'dead' genres get a bum wrap because of the glut of mediocre books in that same bunch. As for THE GIVER series, I don't know if I'll read the others. I kind of feel like I got all that I needed from this one. I suppose if I change my mind it won't take long to read the other three!

      As for knitting, I don't think it's nearly as tough as everyone seems to think it is. Like take cables on a sweater, for instance. They're so, so easy to do but they look *really* difficult. If you can do a knit stitch, you can knit a cable. Easy peasy. Trust me on this! I'm thoroughly enjoying getting my granny on with all of this knitting lol. I've been knitting for years and it's something I will always enjoy doing. Have a great week, Colin! :-)

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  6. I've only read part of The Giver and I thought that it seemed very similar to a lot of recent novels. I want to finish it soon and maybe read it with my oldest son. The sock yarn is gorgeous!!! Want to come to Florida and teach me how to knit ??? I crochet but my knitting is horrible still.

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    1. Without saying which recent novels, there are a handful that borrow heavily from THE GIVER. So much so, that I'm a bit bothered by it. I get that there are no new ideas, but as a writer I strive to differentiate my stories in whatever ways possible just to avoid any suggestion that I ripped off the books that influenced me. Sometimes we don't even realize just how much the books we read worm their way into our brains. I think that's how this stuff happens.

      I couldn't resist buying the sock yarn. It was just so pretty! It's funny, but I'm way more comfortable with knitting than I am with crocheting. I mean, I've been knitting for years, so that's probably why.

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  7. I should reread THE GIVER! That was one of my favorite books when I was young, and I'd love to reread the recent follow-up, but I have fuzzy memories of the story.

    I love the yarn you chose, and I'm impressed by your knitting skill!

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    1. I still can't believe that this is my first time reading THE GIVER. I felt like Lois Lowry did a great job creating this dystopian world in such a small number of pages. For someone as wordy as I am, this was a great lesson in fewer details with more impact.

      I couldn't resist the yarn. It was just too pretty! I've really been enjoying knitting again lately. :-)

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  8. I love Venn diagrams :)

    Completely agree about Veronica Mars and the season-long story arc. I was impressed when I binge-watched the series. I am also impressed by your craftiness!

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    1. You know, I don't remember loving Venn diagrams in school, but they sure come in handy sometimes. In this case, it was two characters with completely differing standpoints on something major, the middle portion being what they agree on eventually. Super helpful in visualizing this! But then, as a major table and chart lover, it comes as no surprise that I would feel this way.

      I don't remember noticing how good VMars was at maintaining the season-long story arc through each and every episode the first few times around, but I'm really noticing it now. Maybe because the last time I watched it I wasn't really a writer yet? Could be. Lots to learn there, that's for sure.

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  9. I felt similarly about The Giver, that it seems so many dystopians borrow from that book, but then I wonder (because I always argue the other side, even with myself) that maybe The Giver did that concept so well, that it's more of a standard, and books that follow are using a similar formula that works. Most YA dystopians I give up on, though I liked HG, Legend, and Divergent. Some of the premises are just too ridiculous with weak worldbuiling, and some of those were really hyped books. Somehow The Giver bypasses that and I'm not sure why.

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    1. That's where I start to argue with myself as well: When is it using a similar formula and when is it borrowing too heavily from an earlier work? In some cases, I felt like recent works borrowed far too heavily and it really kind of bothered me. It's so hard--some would argue impossible--to come up with something 100% original, but unless it's a retelling, we should be trying our darnedest (nice word lol) to create original stories. That might just be my opinion as someone who is trying her darnedest to veer away from books that are too similar to mine. I have to agree with you that some of the dystopian premises out there are just beyond ridiculous. I've read some of them and they're asking you to suspend your disbelief WAY too much. Weak world-building only adds to that problem.

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  10. I haven't read the Giver. Maybe when the movie comes out. ;)
    Any writing or revising is something! Keep it up!

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    1. It will take you probably half of an afternoon to read it lol. It's just that quick of a read. I'd been wanting to read it for a while, so the movie approaching just gave me that push to make it happen. I'm happy I did. It feels like one of those books that has really influenced today's dystopian...some more than others.

      As for revising, I have to agree: Some is better than none. ;-)

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  11. I don't think we can ever get away from the writer inside. I haven't watched Veronica Mars since the very beginning, but I love learning about effective writing from shows and films. All in the name of research! :)

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    1. I'm one of those people who normally gets so sucked into stories--movies, books, whatever--that I often miss gaping plot holes and whatnot. I have been a little bit more aware lately (must be that writer brain kicking in), so that's good. It's always nice to pick up on things that will help my own writing. I've watched VMars a few times through, but I enjoy it every single time. Nice that I'm learning from it this time around. :-)

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  12. Your mention of creating a Venn Diagram for your characters JUST inspired me to make one for one of mine! I have a character who changed a bit after an event and I've been brainstorming those changes. A Venn Diagram would be the perfect way to visualize it. Thanks!

    I read The Giver a while back and enjoyed it. I still haven't seen all of Veronica Mars but I want to. I really liked the episodes I saw.

    I love the socks that you're knitting - that yarn is so pretty. I learned to knit as a Thirty Before 30 goal a while back, but I haven't been keeping up with it! I have some yarn and tentative plans to of what I want to make, so I just need to get started. I hope Spring arrives in your area soon!

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    1. Oh, good! I'm glad the Venn diagram thing helped you. I really wanted to visualize how my MC and the love interest differ on a pretty major issue and where they see eye to eye. Enter the Venn. It really helped me, so hopefully it does the same for you.

      You should definitely watch VMars again. I love the witty banter and the mysteries themselves (overarching and series-contained). I really wish it hadn't been cancelled.

      The thing I've discovered about knitting is that it's not actually all that tough. If you can do a knit stitch and a purl stitch you can pretty much knit anything. Cables on a sweater (or on the sock on the right above) are actually one of the easiest thing ever when it comes to knitting, and yet they look difficult because they look fancy. You should definitely keep at it! I like to be able to create other things besides stories, and knitting really kind of meets that need. :-)

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  13. Hooray for finishing THE GIVER! What a stellar book. I haven't read LEGEND yet, though I really want to, especially since Marie Lu is a contributor to another blog I read, Pub(lishing) Crawl. Since you reread it, I'm assume you recommend it? :)

    I love Veronica Mars. I'm on the fence about reading the book that the writers/creator put out, though I've seen good things about it. I guess I just have qualms about the different medium--not to mention all the books I already have sitting in my "To Read" pile. Guh.

    That yarn is so, so gorgeous. Sometimes it's so hard to sit still for as long as it takes to knit with those tiny stitches (and with navigating DPNs. Yeesh!) but you've done a great job so far! They look beautiful.

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    1. I was very impressed with the world-building in such a tiny book. Lots to learn there for someone as wordy as I am lol. I'm really enjoying the LEGEND series and would definitely recommend it. :-) As for the VMars book, I kind of feel the same way you do. It interests me, but I'm not sure how I would handle the different medium.

      Navigating DPNs is definitely a challenge. Especially when they're so tiny and so is the yarn. Eek! I've had stitches slip off the needles multiple times so far. Thankfully it's just stocking stitch, so it's crazy easy to fix the problem. I'm in love with this wool and the way it's knitting up. I might have to go on a sock-knitting rampage lol. :-)

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  14. I still haven't read THE GIVER, but based on what I know about it, I can easily see what you mean about current dystopians on the market.

    So, I've gotten into Veronica Mars too. I missed it the first time around, but am totally hooked. We just ordered Season 2 and 3 on DVD. Can't wait to watch. You're totally right, they are great inspiration and education about sustaining a story arc!

    Love that yarn color! You are so crafty!

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    1. THE GIVER is a nice quick read. I could have read it in half an afternoon, but kept getting sidetracked. I was very surprised by the number of dystopian books I've read that borrowed heavily from this work. I mean, I suppose it's possible some of them haven't even read this book, but it seems unlikely. Not sure how I feel about that.

      I'm so happy you like VMars too! I have the DVDs, so I bust them out every so often and watch them all again. I just love the banter on it. That's part of why I loved Gilmore Girls as well. Erin and I have been talking about current TV shows that drop story arcs for several episodes at a time (often to the detriment of the show) and you just keep hoping they'll get back to it soon. Not so with VMars. In Season 1, for instance, not an episode went by where something relating to the Lily Kane murder didn't come up. I also love that they resolve these arcs by the end of the season. Seriously, there are shows out there that could *really* learn from this one.

      You say I'm crafty and it makes me want to twirl a fake mustachio and let loose a barbaric "mwah haha". ;-)

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  15. I would love to learn to sew, but I don't think I have the patience. Good luck with your revisions this week :)

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    1. I sew as well as knit, but I would definitely say that the former is tougher than the latter. Though, knitting can be a challenge when it comes to how long it takes to complete a project. Which is why I'm doing smaller projects right now. I have a sweater in a box that is only partly completed. I suppose I should return to it at some point. :-)

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  16. I'm taking a learn to knit class with my Mom this weekend! Can I join your old lady knitting club? :)

    I still haven't read the Giver. I'm a slacker.

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    1. Oh, fun! Honestly, if you can do a knit stitch and a purl stitch, you can knit just about anything. It's all those two stitches in different combinations. The challenge for me is understanding a pattern sometimes. You can definitely join my granny knitting club!

      THE GIVER will probably take you a couple of hours tops to read. That said, it took me forever to actually pick the thing up and read it, so you're not the only slacker out there. ;-) Have a great week, Jennie!

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  17. Oooh, knitting! I love knitting. Those yarns are gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks! I really should knit more often. The smaller projects are appealing to me right now, so maybe I should stick to them when I get the urge to knit. I would like to finish the sweater I started, but for now socks it is! The yarn on the left was so pretty I couldn't resist buying it. :-)

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  18. I read The Giver a couple summers ago, and I actually wasn't that big a fan. I'm thinking it was because everyone had talked it up so much, there was no way for it to live up to my expectations. (That being said, I'm deeply concerned about the movie. Did it take anything from the book besides the title?)

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    1. I wouldn't say I *loved* THE GIVER, but I did enjoy it. Sometimes picking up a book with high expectations is the worst thing ever. I've had the same thing happen to me and then I totally didn't love it. I need to watch the movie trailer again now that I'm done reading the book. I do know of one beef that people had with it, but I'm not sure what else.

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  19. I remember reading The Giver when I was in middle school, and how enthralled I was with that story and the world it created. That's saying a lot because I wasn't a voracious reader in middle school, so there aren't many books that stand out to me like that one does.

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    1. I can definitely see why THE GIVER is in the curriculum of so many schools. It's certainly accessible, which I wouldn't say the same for a good number of other books forced on school kids. (Some of what I had to read was the absolute worst.) I enjoyed it and was impressed with the amount of world-building she managed to cram into so few words. I could definitely learn from that!

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  20. I downloaded The Giver last year and it's still sitting in my TBR pile. After seeing the trailer for the movie though, I know I need to get to reading. Same deal with The Maze Runner.

    I love Veronica Mars, especially for all of the reasons you mentioned. I finished reading the first novel in the new series on Sunday. I was a bit concerned how everything I loved from the show would translate to the novel since it's usually the other way around, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was a fun read.

    Super cute knitting, too!

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    1. THE GIVER will take you a couple of hours tops to read. It's super quick. I'm glad I read it. I enjoyed it, but I don't know that I loved it to the extent that others seem to. I did love THE MAZE RUNNER, though. I really hope they do it justice in movie form.

      That's great that the VMars book was good. I have the same reservations that you did, so it's good to hear that I don't need to worry about it in print form. As for the show, I wish more shows would take cues from VMars, *especially* on the matter of season-long, but also season-contained story arcs. (I'm looking at you Pretty Little Liars. Ugh.) There's just a lot to learn in general from that show.

      Have a great week, Stephanie!

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  21. As you know, I adore your knitting. I learned how to knit several years ago, but never got to be any good. Now I'm regretting that I didn't work harder at it! And I'm with you on THE GIVER... It's pretty much the dystopian from which all current dystopians are derived. I used to use it for a reading unit when I taught 5th grade. Love that book so much! Best of luck making a big dent in your revisions this week, Jaime!

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  22. I love little projects--it's nice to see that something gets done quick. And as to the writing, it sounds like you got quite a bit done to me. Sometimes we have to pull back and do graphs or rethink things. Usually it's for the better. Have fun with your 'research'!

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  23. I couldn't stand the Giver. I've had to read it twice for school, and I liked it even less the second time I read it (October 2013, I think). It's the voice that drives me insane, everything else about the book is nice. The story, the characters, and all that -- interesting, good, yay. (I really don't like dystopians.) But, it's the voice that bothers me. It's so not even a little bit YA. I understand that "precision of language" is important in their society, but the main character's is so stiff and blah.

    But I LOVE Veronica Mars! It's so amazing on so many levels, like you said. But I haven't seen the movie yet. I'm a little scared, because I loved the show so much. But it's good?

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  24. The LEGEND series is so fun! I'm reading CHAMPION right now! I've been on such a dystopian kick lately. :) My mom bought me THE GIVER for my birthday. I read it for school in 7th grade, and most of it went over my head, so I really want to give it another try now that I'm older.

    Have a great week!

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  25. I haven't read the giver or the legend series. I'm adding them to my TBR list. I love your little projects :) Have a great week.

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  26. Love your sock yarn! And I'm very impressed you can turn a heel. (I lack patience) Small knitting projects are the best though! I can't tell you how many half-finished sweaters I've started. (Well, I could but it would be super embarrassing.) Now I live in a place that doesn't get cold enough to want anything knitted, so all my projects become gifts. :)

    And I read Legend so long ago, I'd have to reread it before moving on to the next one too.

    Also, can I say how impressed I am that you make Venn diagrams for your characters. I'm lucky if my character gets a sticky note. The rest is just swirling around in my brain like character soup. And I think you should count any and all progress as a win. *hands you a cupcake* :)

    Hope you have an amazing week!

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  27. THE GIVER and LEGEND are both on my TBR list! I'll get to them... someday. It's funny, though, that I haven't even read THE GIVER and just based on the comments from people who have read it and have seen the movie trailer, I'm already afraid that the movie will be no good. And, as far as continuing to do weather-appropriate things... you keep knitting and I'll keep eating comfort foods, okay? Okay!! :) Have a great week, Jaime!

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  28. I adore your knitting skills! That must be really relaxing. I've always wanted to learn...maybe one day.

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  29. Oooh, pretty yarn! I love pretty yarn! I am not patient enough to knit though--I feel like crochet is faster so that's what I stick with. Maybe that's just me?

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