Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Discussion Post- My Reviews

After looking around the blogosphere and seeing posts about negative reviews, I read some thoughts and comments (and have heard this same sort of thing elsewhere in an unrelated discussion) that made me think about my own reviews. Yes, this is essentially a self-centered post and are my sort of stream-of-consciousness thoughts on this matter so I'm not sure how much sense it will all make.

Several people said that they find it off-putting when a blog has only positive reviews and they feel that they can't trust the blogger in question because how can every book be amazing? This made me think about my own blog because my reviews are always positive, which then led me to think about my readers. Do my readers trust my reviews? Do they even read my reviews, or am I losing my audience because of my consistently positive reviews? Because if everything's good, why read my review? Should I even continue being a blogger? Other book bloggers seem to do much better because they have such a variety of reviews- 1 star to 5 stars. You never know what's going to come up next and that makes the blog intriguing. Is my blog bland in the review aspect of it? Or, like I saw someone else say, is it becoming more like a promotion site than book blog?

One other thing that really frustrates me is when people equate "honest" with "positive and negative". I am always honest in my reviews. I am not just kissing ass or anything. These are my honest thoughts and my honest perspective, which may not always include a negative side of things. Am I somehow not being honest when my review is all positives just because someone else saw flaws within the book?

This has been bothering me for a while so it's nice to be able to finally type this out and get it posted. Any thoughts, suggestions, boosts of confidence (as I'm feeling insecure at the moment), whatever would be fantastic. And just so everyone knows, I am moderating all comments on all posts but every comment will get published. I'm mainly doing this just because of the spam I've been getting (always written in Chinese/Japanese language, which I find really odd- has anyone else been getting this?) so it is not some tactic to weed out negative comments, so feel free to say whatever you want.

ETA: So I was looking through my Amazon reviews today and in my review for Another Kind of Cowboy by Susan Juby, someone had left a comment saying that since I only post 5 star reviews (that should change when I go through my reviews and post them up on Amazon and there should be a little more variety then), I must be a shill, which is someone who praises or talks up an item to veil the hidden truth of its suckiness and to get people to buy it anyway.

This comment was posted in early March but I'm just now coming across it. I thought it was funny though that it happened to be the same week I talk about my reviews, lol.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Blog Tour- Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Going Bovine by Libba Bray
All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.

This is a very messed-up book, but in a good way, which is an odd statement to make about a book, but it's true. Bray has created a story that is hilarious, random, surreal, and thought-provoking. I really enjoyed it, but I don't think it's for everyone. It's definitely a crazy, very weird, adventure-filled book; I mean, just look at the summary. I loved the characters in this book and they were all so much fun to read about. There was one part though toward the end that gave me pause; I was happy about this revelation, but at the same time, it felt like it came out of nowhere and I was puzzled by it. From what I'd read, there had really been no clues or hints about it, so when it was revealed, it seemed out of place. The ending was really interesting and very climactic. This was a wonderful book all the way through; it is very long but it held my interest all throughout.

Interview with Libba Bray
1) Cameron has a traumatic experience during the It's A Small World attraction at Disney World when he was young. Have you ever had a traumatic experience at either Disney theme park? If not, where did you get the idea for that to happen to Cameron?

You mean other than having to hug oversized, perpetually smiling chipmunks? I never went to Disney as a kid. It wasn’t until my son came along that we went. And I loved it. I remember thinking, man, this must be like a pre-schooler’s version of an acid trip. So surreal and completely delightful. It still ranks as my favorite family vacation.

There were three things that found their way into the story. The first was the Small World ride. I did have a thought that maybe, when you’re entering into whatever comes next, you get there on the Small World ride. It seemed like a great way to go. Monotonous, but great. And that got me to thinking about the River Styx, making those associations.

The second was the Transit Authority tram. It was possibly the least populated ride while we were there, and perfect for chickens like me, so I rode it more than once. Mostly, I liked it because it made me feel like I was five and everything was wonderful and possible, especially when we hit the part where the light streams overhead. To me, it felt profound. (I’m easily thrilled.)

Third, and most importantly, I suppose, was how much I enjoyed watching my son enjoying Disney World. That idea of a contagious joy definitely became a part of Cameron’s journey.

I guess that’s the thing about Disney that I really identify with—it’s all about staying in touch with your sense of wonder.

2) You've now done both historical fiction and contemporary fiction. Do you prefer one over the other? Was one genre easier to write? What made you decide to write this contemporary piece after the trilogy of historical fiction?

I don’t prefer one to the other, but I found that writing contemporary fiction didn’t present the same challenges that writing historical fiction did for me. Although I still did research for GOING BOVINE (mad cow disease, Norse mythology, physics, Don Quixote), the world I’ve constructed is its own ecosystem. It’s almost an alternate reality, so anything can happen, really. That freed me up a bit. Certainly, having contemporary teens using contemporary language that was closer to my own speech patterns was a relief.

With the trilogy, even though Gemma’s world involved magic and so was a bit altered, I was still playing with Victorian society and the London of 1895-96. So there were details that had to be gotten right, or as right as I could get them. (I never feel like I do enough.) I actually enjoy the research aspect. I like learning new things, and when you’re dealing with history, you’re dealing with narrative, with what came before and seeing the threads that connect you to the past. I find that fascinating.

As for why I decided to write this contemporary piece after writing a supernatural, historical trilogy, um, I’m wondering if this is the same fool-proof logic that told me I should quit piano lessons to play 8th-grade basketball. (For the record, I am very short and have zero hand-eye coordination. Also, I hate having objects thrown at me and will immediately duck.) The truth is that I actually wrote GOING BOVINE between books two and three of the Gemma Doyle trilogy, and then I put it in a drawer until that project was finished. I seem to like to ping and pong between creepy, horror-type pieces and weird, dark comedy pieces. Maybe I should just write a weird, funny, creepy, horror piece. Oh wait, that would be “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Curse you, Joss Whedon!

3) What are you working on now? Thinking of tackling a new genre?

Yes. Put me down for whatever Joss Whedon hasn’t gotten to yet. :)

I’m writing a satire about beauty queens stranded on a deserted island. Kind of like LORD OF THE FLIES meets LOST, but with a talent portion and lots of sequins. And I’d like to do another historical supernatural series at some point.

4) A lot of people have looked forward to this new book from you. What books are you looking forward to reading?

So much. I need a secret room where I can freeze time while I sit and read. I really want to read David Smalls’ graphic memoir, STITCHES. He and I were at the Novello Festival in Charlotte, NC, a few years back and he shared a bit of that story with us. He’s a lovely man, and I hear the book is absolutely stunning—in its art, its storytelling, and its honesty. I can’t wait to read Scott Westerfeld’s LEVIATHAN, David Levithan’s LOVE IS THE HIGHER LAW, Jo Knowles’ JUMPING OFF SWINGS. I want to read the latest incarnation of WHITE CAT, the first book of a new trilogy that Holly Black is working on, which will come out next year, and I’m doing a manuscript exchange with Sara Ryan on her latest and can’t wait for that. On the adult side, I hear John Irving has a new book coming out. He’s one of my faves.

5) Now, the burning question on everyone's mind: what is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor?


By the way, I hear a little Neosporin will take care of that burning question sensation.

Thanks to MO for supplying the book to me and Libba for answering my questions! Please check out the other blogs that are featuring Libba as part of the blog tour: Book Divas and Shaken & Stirred.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

In My Mailbox- Week of September 21

No vlog this week- sorry guys! There just wasn't enough things to talk about. I had a VERY small book week, as you'll see. Here's what I got:

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst (2 hardcover copies) When Cassie was a little girl, her grandmother told her a fairy tale about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was swept away to the ends of the earth. Now that Cassie is older, she knows the story was a nice way of saying her mother had died. Cassie lives with her father at an Arctic research station, is determined to become a scientist, and has no time for make-believe.
Then, on her eighteenth birthday, Cassie comes face-to-face with a polar bear who speaks to her. He tells her that her mother is alive, imprisoned at the ends of the earth. And he can bring her back -- if Cassie will agree to be his bride.

That is the beginning of Cassie's own real-life fairy tale, one that sends her on an unbelievable journey across the brutal Arctic, through the Canadian boreal forest, and on the back of the North Wind to the land east of the sun and west of the moon. Before it is over, the world she knows will be swept away, and everything she holds dear will be taken from her -- until she discovers the true meaning of love and family in the magical realm of Ice.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

And that was it for this week! Can't wait to see what everyone else got! :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Picture Post- Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong signing

So when I saw a long time ago that Melissa Marr was coming to Richmond, VA (just two hours from me) with Kelley Armstrong (who's Canadian, so she doesn't come down to this area much, if at all), I was absolutely ecstatic. I actually saw both at RWA from afar, but didn't want to go chat with them as I'd be at their event just a few days later; plus, as you saw from the RWA recap, I had a busy, author-filled evening that night, lol.

I've met Melissa twice before, during her tours for her first two books, so it's just become this ritual for me to go to one of her events every year (please don't move away from the DC area anytime soon, Melissa!). This was my first event without my dad (he accompanied me to the previous Melissa events and enjoyed himself both times, which was good) and instead was attending the event with a new friend of mine Benn and his friend whose name I can't remember. Both of them are huge Kelley Armstrong fans, and Benn's friend also really likes Melissa's novels and was trying to get Benn to read her stuff, which he did after the event where he bought copies of Melissa's books.

Anyway, I drove to Richmond with my roommate, who was coming along for the ride so she could visit her boyfriend. I dropped her off at his place, and went off to McDonald's for dinner then to the B&N where the event was being held. I arrived a bit early which was a good thing because by the time the event started, the place was packed. It was also a good thing I arrived early because I tried bringing in my paperback copy of Ink Exchange that Harper had sent me since I wanted it signed as well to be given away. Unfortunately, when I walked in, the things beeped and so I was worried that I was going to have to pay for a book I had brought in myself, so I took the book back out to my car and left it there. I just didn't want to be hassled. Anyway, they had set up a table and for some reason, had a line starting even though this was a reading too, not just a signing. Well, they remedied that situation and brought out chairs for everyone. And guess who helped bring out the chairs? Yes, Melissa and Kelley! I joked with Melissa when I saw her that she was working at her own event and helping to set up. They were both wired with caffeine though, so they needed to blow off some steam somehow, I guess, lol.

Once the event was set up, they came out and informally introduced themselves and then formally introduced themselves. This was the first of many hilarious moments to come. Both of them hate to read at readings, so they just did one long QnA session and threw out prizes to people who asked questions. Melissa had USB bracelets with deleted scenes, maps, and other goodies as well as court bracelets, and Kelley had Edison Group messenger bags and maybe tshirts too? I can't remember. The QnA session was really funny and interesting, and they both had such great chemistry together.

After the QnA, the signing started up and we all got into a wonky line and had our books signed. Melissa had a ton of court bracelets left over and so people were able to grab one or two when they came up to the table. She was so sweet and fished a USB bracelet out from her bag just to give to me since she thought I deserved one. We chatted for a little bit while she signed my copy of Fragile Eternity and also signed a copy of Wicked Lovely for the Ballads of Suburbia giveaway that Lauren of Shooting Stars Magazine hosted on her blog back in August. It was really fun seeing her again. Since I'd already had two previous pictures with her, I decided to hold off this time and not get one. Plus, I had to keep an eye on my friends in front of me who wanted a picture with Kelley since they're such huge fans of hers.

I took their picture with Kelley and then after that, they waited while I had my books signed. I had brought my ARC of The Awakening with me and then bought a copy of The Summoning for the giveaway I mentioned. Kelley was so sweet and thanked me for my recent (at that time) review of The Awakening and also told me that if I ever wanted to do a giveaway on my blog with her books, I should let her know and she would supply signed copies. It was just great. After she signed my books, I got a picture with her, and then said bye to her after that. I went up and purchased the books and then left. What was funny was that I had the ARCs with me of FE and Awakening and the cashier asked me if those were my own copies that I had brought. No, I just found these ARCs lying on your shelves and thought they were cool so I want to buy them, lol. But anyway, a fantastic evening and I loved every minute of it.

Picture 1- During the QnA session. Notice in the background how they set up the books on the left. Head facing right (Summoning), then head facing straight ahead (Awakening), then head facing left (WL). Isn't that funny? Picture 2- This is how hyper they both were as they were always a blur, and has nothing to do with my poor camera skills when there's no flash. Picture 3- Me with Kelley Armstrong. WOO!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters by Sydney Salter

My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters by Sydney Salter
It’s the end of junior year, and summer is about to begin. The Summer of Passion, to be exact, when Jory Michaels plans to explore all the possibilities of the future--and, with any luck, score a boyfriend in the process. But Jory has a problem. A big problem. A curvy, honking, bumpy, problem in the form of her Super Schnozz, the one thing standing between Jory and happiness. And now, with the Summer of Passion stretched before her like an open road, she's determined for Super Schnozz to disappear. Jory takes a job delivering wedding cakes to save up for a nose job at the end of the summer; she even keeps a book filled with magazine cutouts of perfect noses to show the doctor. But nothing is ever easy for accident-prone Jory--and before she knows it, her Summer of Passion falls apart faster than the delivery van she crashes.

Salter's debut is really funny and touching, and has this wonderful balance between the two. I loved reading all about Jory's adventures at her work and in her personal life. It was a compelling story and hard to put down. The prose is hilarious and Jory's voice is just a pleasure to read. I really enjoyed this book and I definitely recommend it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Reading Meme from BBAW Week

So I kinda wanted to try this meme out, mainly because I have nothing else to post. I was ahead on reviews and now I'm not. *sigh* So hope you guys enjoy this!

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
Usually not. I do occasionally have a meal while I read though, but snacking is more reserved for watching TV or Youtube videos.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
People WRITE in books that are not MadLibs?! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!?! I do no such thing.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears?
Bookmarks all the way. Used to dog ear sometimes but now I have WAY too many bookmarks so there's no reason for me not to bookmark it.

Laying the book flat open?
Sometimes while I'm eating, I'll have it open like that. Or if I have to put it down very quickly, but usually I try to put the bookmark back in.

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?
Fiction with the occasional nonfiction book thrown in. As you hopefully saw, I reviewed Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin by Kathy Griffin last week.

Hard copy or audiobooks?
I usually prefer the actual book over audiobook, but it can be fun to listen to the audiobook sometimes. I used to listen to them at my previous job; I probably won't get to do that at this job sadly.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a
book down at any point?
I can stop whenever but I try to stop at chapters or breaks.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?
Not really. I'm usually too comfortable to get up and find out about it. I can figure it out from context.

What are you currently reading?
Going Bovine by Libba Bray, The Waking: Dreams of the Dead by Thomas Randall, and I'm gonna start Wicked by Sara Shepard and Duplikate by Cherry Cheva.

What is the last book you bought?
It's been a while... so I can't even remember. But I know that the next book I'll buy will be My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent.

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?
I read more than one at a time because if I only read one, I feel like I'm not getting anything done. I have a ton of review books so I read two or three at a time.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?
Not really. I'll read at any time and anywhere. I usually prefer to read in bed though- it's very comfy.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?
I don't know. I love getting to know a character over several books but it is fun to just read one complete story because then you don't have to wait to see what happens next. I love both.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?
Usually Meg Cabot, lol. She's my favorite author and the one who introduced me to the YA section and broadened my horizon.

How do you organize your books?
The only organization is for my ARCs which are organized by date. Aside from that, there is no method to my madness. Maybe once I settle down and am in one place for a while, I'll organize all my books by author.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

In My Mailbox- Week of September 14

Yes, a vlog! A really short one though since I didn't get many books and am also trying to conserve batteries. Hope you all like it!

Books Mentioned:
The Long Wait for Tomorrow by Joaquin Dorfman
Voices in the Dark by Catherine Banner
The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade
The Pricker Boy by Reade Scott Whinnem
The Book of Samuel by Erik Raschke
The Other Side of Blue by Valerie O. Patterson
Flash Burnout by L.K Madigan
Intertwined by Gena Showalter (Thanks Linda!)

Also, PS, I announced this on Twitter a couple days ago, so you may have heard about it already. Anyway, I got a job!! It starts this Wednesday and I'm way excited about it. It's data entry again but this time, I get paid lots and work regular hours (8:30am-5pm M-F) and it's a contract job which will last me until the end of this year, which is very good. And with the extra amount of money, I can save up and have enough to last me if the job ends at that time (I'm hoping they'll extend the contract though). So yay! :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin by Kathy Griffin

Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin by Kathy Griffin
"Official Book Club Selection is Kathy Griffin unplugged, uncensored, and unafraid to dish about what really happens on the road, away from the cameras, and at the star party after the show. (It’s also her big chance to score that coveted book club endorsement she’s always wanted. Are you there, Oprah? It’s me, Kathy.)

Kathy Griffin has won Emmys for her reality show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, been nominated for a Grammy, worked and walked every red carpet known to man, and rung in the New Year with Anderson Cooper. But the legions of fans who pack Kathy’s sold-out comedy shows have heard only part of her remarkable story. Writing with her trademark wit, the feisty comic settles a few old scores, celebrates the friends and mentors who helped her claw her way to the top, and shares insider gossip about celebrity behavior—the good, the bad, and the very ugly. She recounts the crazy ups and downs of her own career and introduces us to some of the supertalented people she encountered before they got famous (or, in some cases, after fame went to their heads). Word to the wise: If you’ve ever crossed Kathy Griffin at some point in your life, check the index for your name.

Along the way, Kathy reveals intimate details about her life before and after she made the big time. She opens up about everything from growing up with a dysfunctional family in suburban Illinois to bombing as a young comedian in L.A., from her well-publicized plastic surgery disasters to her highly publicized divorce, and more. Only in this book will you learn how the dinner table is the best training ground for a career in stand-up, how speaking your mind can bite you on the ass and buy you a house, and which people in Kathy’s life have taught her the most valuable lessons—both inside and outside the entertainment industry.

Refreshingly candid, unflinchingly honest, and full of hilarious “Did she really say that?” moments, Official Book Club Selection will make you laugh until you cry, or just puke up a little bit."- Summary from Amazon

Just a quick warning before we get started. This book is definitely for older teens and above. Kathy swears quite a lot in it (just like she does in real life) and there are some pretty heavy and graphic subject matters talked about in the book. So don't expect this to be a kid-friendly biography (which I would be surprised if anyone did think or expect this from Kathy).

Kathy Griffin's memoir is everything you'd expect it to be- irreverent, brash, hilarious, lots of gossip- and more. Aside from all the hilarious moments of her life, there have been some big down spots and Kathy goes there, telling us all about her abusive pedophile brother, her botched plastic surgeries, and her failed marriage. She's had a roller coaster ride of a life, which makes the book extremely hard to put down. I read it in a matter of days and had problems moving on from reading it and doing other things, one of which was reading other review books! Her conversational tone is prevalent throughout the book, which keeps the reader turning the pages; it really is just like sitting down and chatting with a friend. It doesn't read like other autobiographies and is probably the most fun and dishy bios I've ever read, and I've read quite a few other comedians' biographies.

One complaint I have is that, in some places, there isn't a lot of detail, particularly toward the beginning of the book. Not much time is spent on her early life and it feels like over half of the book mainly deals with the past two decades, like her time on Suddenly Susan and the D-List reality show. I did definitely find out a lot of things about Kathy that I did not know, and this offers a first-hand look into her life, but it just felt like her childhood was not focused on as much, and like it didn't even matter. She may have had her own reasons for not wanting to spend as much time on her childhood as her later years, but I would've liked to see more stories from that time. Another place where there was some parts lacking was near the end- she didn't talk at all about being on Celebrity Mole or Dilbert, not even a brief mention, because I really would've liked to hear her thoughts on both, especially the work she did on Dilbert and what it was like working there.

Overall, it is a very enjoyable book, though I would definitely recommend getting it from the library first and seeing how you like it before buying it (unless of course you really love Kathy and buy everything she puts out, much like me, at least when I have money, lol). I really wish I had the audio version, just because I want to hear Kathy reading it. But be forewarned, if you do decide to get it, you're getting an abridged version of the memoir. Kathy doesn't read the entire thing unfortunately. Also, as this is supposed to emulate an Official Book Club Selection, included at the end is a lengthy interview with Kathy as well as a reading group discussion guide, so you can discuss the book with your friends or book club members. Both of course are absolutely hilarious.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fashionista by Micol Ostow

Fashionista: A Bradford Novel by Micol Ostow
Madison, Spencer, and Reagan have it all: the looks, the connections, the money, the boys. As the daughters of three of the most prestigious families on Philadelphia's Main Line (read: old money, and lots of it) and the ruling juniors at Bradford, nothing can stand in their way...except, perhaps, their own dark secrets. Madison feels plenty guilty for sneaking around behind Spencer's back with Spencer's long-time boyfriend, Tyler. But what Spencer doesn't know can't hurt her, right? Too bad nothing at Bradford stays secret for long...

These books are such guilty pleasures! I love reading the blog, Twitter, and IM format that Ostow uses in writing the books- it's an interesting way of telling a story. What I also like is that they're very Gossip Girl-esque, but are WAY better than GG. They share similarities and one of them involves the whole drinking/drugs/sex aspect, which turned me off from the GG series (as you all know, I have no problem with seeing it in teen books, but that's like ALL that happens in those books and that's way too much), works well here because while it does happen, there's other actual plotlines happening and I feel more of a connection to these characters. It's a quick read, very funny, and scandalicious (which I found out yesterday is actually the title for the third book- isn't it awesome?). And who doesn't love a good scandal? So go out and get this book, along with its prequel, Golden Girl, and have a fun, scandalous read!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Picture Post- RWA Literacy Signing Part 2

First off, one quick link. I interviewed Alexa from Not Enough Bookshelves (who I met briefly at the Diana Peterfreund event I went to last Saturday) for BBAW. Go here to read the interview!

So when I left off in Part 1, we had just been let in to the signing area. It was a madhouse. I had no idea where I wanted to go first and how I would go about doing all this. I decided to just start with the books I'd brought with me, go through all of them, and then go through my list of books to buy. So I looked at my books after seeing that all the authors were in alphabetical order and found the first alphabetical book, which was my ARC of Ally Carter's third book in the Gallagher Girls series Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover. I actually found Ally pretty quickly, which unfortunately did not set the tone for the evening as it took me a while to find a bunch of other authors lol, and introduced myself. She remembered who I was, which was fantastic since it had been like forever since we chatted. That was back in October or November 2007 when I interviewed her and my friend Lauren reviewed Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy. We talked for a couple minutes and she was so sweet but then I moved on because I believe someone new was coming up to get something signed by her. Before heading to the next author whose book I brought, I stopped by and talked with Tera Lynn Childs a bit before someone else swooped in and asked her to sign something. After that, I moved on to Rosemary Clement-Moore, and she signed my copy of Prom Dates from Hell and we chatted for a bit since she knew who I was. If I remember correctly, she may have even given me a hug as soon as I introduced myself (or maybe that was Ally Carter...), lol. It was very fun talking with her- she is so funny and awesome.

Next up was Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle and I went up and introduced myself and all that but like I said in the vlog, I don't think she heard me (and had this confirmed by Marissa in a comment- she was sad that she didn't realize it was me) so we didn't spend much time talking. After that, I moved on toward Julie Linker, but her table was empty save for copies of her book Crowned. I had to come back twice before she had arrived- her plane was way delayed and so she ended up being late.
Since Julie wasn't there, I decided to check Sarah MacLean, the final author in the stack of books I'd brought. I introduced myself and she came around to give me a hug, which made me happy. She signed my copy of The Season and we talked a bit, which was really fun. I visited Sarah a couple more times throughout the course of the night since I ended up getting through my list way earlier than planned, lol.

After that, I wandered off in search of my next author to stalk. Since I can't remember the exact order, I'm just gonna write down each name and say what happened with each author:

K.A. Mitchell- I was waiting in line for Trish Milburn and happened to be standing in front of K.A. Now it's an awkward situation standing in front of another author while waiting in line for someone else. So I was looking around and at one point, in my peripheral vision, I noticed that there appeared to be a shirtless man on the cover of one of K.A.'s books. On closer inspection, there appeared to be TWO shirtless men on the same book cover. As a gay man, I was intrigued by this. K.A seemed happy that she had reeled someone in with her risque covers. Anyway, she told me the merits of both novels and I chose the more mature content merit (Diving In Deep). She signed the book for me and we talked about gay romance authors being at RWA, and she pointed me toward another author who did gay romance with the same publisher as her. That author was...

Ally Blue- It took me a while to find Ally and then even more time to find an opening. She seemed to have a lot of fans! At least around the time I happened to be looking for her, lol. I finally got to her and explained that K.A. had pointed me in her direction and I looked at the back of both books that she had available and picked the one I wanted to buy (The Happy Onion). She signed it and we talked for a bit; I again brought up the fact that I had thought there wouldn't be gay romance at RWA. Turns out I was way wrong, lol. I'm happy about being wrong. :)

Jennifer Echols- Jennifer saw me as I entered her aisle and waved me down, screaming my name. It was the first time any author had done that, lol. She hugged me right away when I got to her place and we chatted away for a little while. I got a copy of Going Too Far with the awesome cover (I originally had an ARC that had no cover, which made me sad, but I gave it away so I needed a new copy) signed and grabbed a little swag that she had on the table. It was great fun to meet an author that I've been reading and emailing since I started my blog.

Tina Ferraro- I stopped by Tina's table to pick up one of her earlier books. I had ABC's already, and the other book she had with her was How to Hook a Hottie, so I got that. We talked for a couple minutes and she showed off her RITA flag (seen in the picture with her last post) to me that Jennifer Echols had made her.

Rachel Vincent- Nancy and I caught up with each other at Rachel's table and we talked while another fan finished up with her, then Nancy went first. Unfortunately, they had no copies of My Soul to Save, which I was really hoping for, so I ended up getting Prey, the fourth book in her Werecats series, despite having not read the first three books. So I need to get on that. I introduced myself to Rachel cuz we had emailed a bit before and she probably just didn't hear me cuz it was way loud, so not much talking happened. I got some AWESOME swag though- yay for Soul Screamers bookmarks! :)

Tricia Mills- After grabbing the K.A. Mitchell book, I got to Tricia's spot and acted like a complete loon while I was there in front of her. I asked if she would mind signing her book Heartbreak River for me, and she agreed and promptly signed a copy. I thanked her and wandered off. That's right, no chatting, no talking, no conversation. I. Was. A. Loon. I feel really bad about it, but we made up later while I was hanging out with Julie Linker, who introduced us. Not sure if Trish knew who I was even after that intro, but whatever, lol. She knows who I am now since I emailed her when the RWA vlogs went up.

Julie Linker- Like I said earlier, I stopped by her table twice and she was a no-show. Third time's the charm though cuz when I came by that time, she was there with her daughter and her sister Carolyn and all of them were dolled up for the occasion, especially Carolyn, who acted as pageant princess (to fit the theme of Julie's book Crowned). Julie hugged me when I came up and introduced me to her peeps and we talked for a bit, during which she made me take a plastic ring (she had brought lots) to wear. It turns out I can only wear it on my pinky, I believe, because my fingers are too fat, lol. I do still have it and love it, though my roomie saw it and thought that her niece had left a ring here while she was visiting. I had to tell her it was mine. I caught up with Julie a couple more times throughout the evening and ended up walking out with her toward the long purchasing line at the end of the night.

Lucienne Diver- OK, so here's where I REALLY acted like a crazed lunatic. Every time I passed Lucienne's row to try to get her to sign her book Vamped, someone was always there. Well, finally, there was an opening and I literally SWOOPED in and said really fast "Hi! I've been trying so hard to get to you. It seems like you always have someone here whenever I've tried to stop by! Would you mind signing this?" and thrust the book at her. To her credit, she remained calm (which is probably what you should do anyway, when faced with a crazy person) and signed the book. She handed it back to me and I believe was going to strike up a conversation and you know what I do? I say "Thank you so much!" and SWOOP. OUT. I mean, really, WHO DOES THAT?! So I apologized in the vlog, Lucienne, and I'm apologizing here. I am sorry for acting like a crazy person in front of you. I hope I didn't scar you for life.

So there you have it. My experience at RWA this year and it only took me TWO MONTHS to get it written and posted. I hope to try and do recaps much quicker and want to get the next three done by the time of Maggie Stiefvater's Ballad launch, which I am doing my best to go to. I still have to do Melissa Marr/Kelley Armstrong, Diana Peterfreund, and Kathryn Williams (I just went to this signing last night- it was a spontaneous decision). Maybe I'll have to do one a week, so look for one next week!

Pictures: 1) Me with Rosemary Clement-Moore at the signing. 2) Me with Sarah MacLean at the signing. Note my awesome pose while holding her book. 3) Me with Jennifer Echols. 4) Me with Julie Linker- I realize this is not the best photo of me, but hey, it's ok. I'm fine with it. There's bound to be a bad photo every once in a while.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Discordia: The Eleventh Dimension by Dena K. Salmon

Discordia: The Eleventh Dimension by Dena K. Salmon
For Lance (level 19 zombie sorcerer), and his friend, MrsKeller (level 23 hobgoblin brigand), life's a battle, and then you die. And then you rez. And then you battle again. At least that's how it is in Discordia, the addictive online game that makes real life seem dreary in comparison. At his new school, Lance feels weird and out of place, but in beautiful and complex Discordia, his zombie sorcerer is doing great: leveling fast, learning new skills, and making friends. He's even met a level 60 toon, TheGreatOne, who has recruited him and MrsKeller into his guild: Awoken Myths. Lance wishes he could spend all his time in the game - until TheGreatOne transports Lance and MrsKeller to the real Discordia, the perilous world in the eleventh dimension which inspired the game. Before they're allowed to leave, they must complete a high-level quest that may determine Discordia's survival - and Lance's, too. If they don't get out soon, Lance could permanently mutate into the character he plays in the game: a zombie. The friends accept TheGreatOne's quest and meet Rayva, a runaway who may have been lured into Discordia against her will. The three make their way through a country on the brink of war, fighting monsters, traitors and spies - yet their greatest danger may be Lance himself.

While I am not an MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) player, I still really enjoyed this novel. It can be a bit difficult to get into since it starts off with Lance playing the game and if it's not something you're used to, the plot can drag a bit, which it did for me. But once Lance has been pulled in, it becomes like a regular fantasy novel dealing with adventures and quests. The concept is really intriguing, especially in this age of WoW and other MMORPGs, and I loved how Salmon built the game world and the world that Lance gets pulled into (there are differences between the two).

The story is told in third person and it really feels that way- there's a distance between the reader and the characters and so I didn't feel like there was much depth in the characters; it's definitely more of a plot-driven novel than character-driven, which can be very good for reluctant readers, but not necessarily for avid readers (unless of course it's your preference).

I thought the ending was pretty rushed and everything came to an abrupt end in the last 15-20 pages. The story ends on a big cliffhanger, which definitely leaves me wanting more. Overall, I'd say it's an above average novel but nothing to write home about. If you're into fantasy and/or MMOs, this is the book for you. For people new to MMOs though, there is an introduction and user manual plus glossary in the front and back of the book, respectively.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

In My Mailbox- Week of September 7

I didn't get much this week, just a couple books. Here's the small list:

The Waking: Dreams of the Dead by Thomas Randall (for a blog tour sponsored by Little Willow)
Rampant by Diana Peterfreund (back from Karin and, at the time of this posting, is signed by the awesome Diana cuz I went to her VA launch- yay!)
The Amanda Project Book 1: Invisible I by Stella Lennon (I am so confused by this book. Is it a co-authored book or not? Because on the inside jacket flap and press release, there's just a bio for Melissa Kantor, but on the front of the book and spine, it says Stella Lennon. WHICH ONE IS IT?!?!!? Pick one and stick with it. Or pick two and give bios and credit to both.)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fresh New Voice of YA- Interview with Malinda Lo

1) How did you get the idea for Ash?

Well, this is kind of a convoluted story. I'll start out by saying that one of my favorite books when I was a teen was Robin McKinley's Beauty, a retelling of "Beauty and the Beast." She's gone on to retell other fairy tales, but never "Cinderella," which I must admit was my all-time favorite fairy tale. I even loved the Disney version, cheesy though it was (hey, I was only 6 years old!). I guess I've always been a romantic!

I wrote three fantasy novels when I was a teen, but after college I went through a long dry spell in terms of writing. I did write a couple of short stories and essays, but no novels. I worked in publishing for a couple of years, went to graduate school, and puttered around trying to convince myself that I could be happy without being a writer. Eventually I realized this was never going to work, so I left graduate school and decided to be a freelance writer. I had no idea what I was getting into!

At the same time, I wanted to write another novel. It was a daunting idea because I hadn't written fiction in years. I decided to write a retelling of "Cinderella" because it was the novel I'd always wanted to read, and also it had the added benefit of being a fairy tale -- I already knew what was supposed to happen! So I thought, at the time, that I wouldn't have to worry too much about the plot. Ha!

I wrote an entire first draft of Ash in which the main character, Ash, falls in love with Prince Charming -- yes, an actual (male) prince. I sent this version off to a good friend to read, and when she had finished reading it, she told me that the Prince Charming character was kind of boring. I realized, then, that Ash was actually gay. Looking through that first draft, even, I could tell that she was trying to come out, and the woman she winds up falling in love with was already in the book. When I figured this out, I was a little shocked: I wondered if I really dared to write a lesbian Cinderella? I knew that the idea of a "lesbian Cinderella" was either going to be a fantastic hook or it would totally fail. I had to think about it for awhile, but ultimately I decided to go for it.

And that is the origin of Ash.

2) What brought you to the YA genre? Have you always been a fan or are you still pretty new to it all?

I didn't write ASH specifically for YA, actually. It wasn't until I'd finished writing it and was considering which agents to submit to that I realized that's the genre it fit best in. I have to say that my favorite books have always been YA novels, though. But I didn't read much of it (except when I *was* a teen) until I'd sold ASH. Then I started catching up and getting reacquainted with YA.

3) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor?

Honestly? I'm not a fan of jelly beans. They're, you know, JELLY. In BEAN form. But if they had one flavored as a watermelon Jolly Rancher, I'd go for that!

4) What book(s) are you reading now, or about to start?

I am currently reading THE DEAD AND THE GONE by Susan Beth Pfeffer, about what happens after the moon is hit by an asteroid and falls closer to the earth. Short version: Disaster! I love disaster scenarios. After that, the next book on my list is Sarah Rees Brennan's THE DEMON'S LEXICON.

5) You write for AfterEllen.com. How did you get involved with that, and what sort of things have you written about while working there?

I went to college with Sarah Warn, the founder of AfterEllen.com, so we're friends. When I was making the decision to leave grad school and be a freelance writer, she asked me to write for AfterEllen.com, this brand new, tiny website that she had just started. This was back in 2003, I think. At the time she basically told me, "You have nothing better to do, so why don't you write an article for my site?" I agreed, and I wrote the site's first article on Ellen! (It's here: http://www.afterellen.com/TV/ellen-talkshow2.html)

After that, I went on a crash course in entertainment reporting. I've done everything from book and movie reviews to interviews with celebrities such as Melissa Etheridge and Laura Innes (I've also interviewed "celebrities" such as the lesbian/bisexual contestants on America's Next Top Model). I've written a lot of analytical articles, using my grad school experience, on representations of lesbians and bisexual women in television and film. Most importantly —— and the high point of my career at AfterEllen —— I got to go on the set of Dollhouse last summer and meet both Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku. I am a huge Whedon fan, so I loved that.

6) What are you working on now, bookwise? Can you tell us anything about it?

I am working on a companion novel, of sorts, to Ash. It is set several hundreds of years before Ash, and there are no crossover characters, but it is set in the same world (although parts of it look very different). In Ash, you'll find out that hunting is the favorite sport of the King, and every hunt is led by a woman, a huntress. The book I'm working on now is the story of the first huntress in that kingdom.

7) What's your writing process like? Tell us about a typical day in your life.

There really is no typical day in terms of writing, because I'm always working toward different types of deadlines. If it's a nonfiction article or column, it requires a different kind of thought process than a novel.

Over the past year, while I've been working on fiction, I like to start the day with meditation. Then I try to stay offline all morning until noon. During that time I write. This involves staring into space a lot, and then frantically writing 1000 words between 11:30 and 12:00.

In the early stages of a novel, I usually don't write in the afternoon, and instead do other book-related things (email, business). As the deadline approaches, I will write in the afternoon too, and then toward the end I'll write morning, noon and night and largely abandon all other things in life. Except food. I have to make sure I eat three meals a day, and they have to be good ones. :)

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Don't give up! You have to believe in yourself, because nobody else is going to sit down and write for you.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fresh New Voice of YA Excerpt Vlog- Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Here's a small vlog of me reading from Hate List by Jennifer Brown. Hope you all enjoy it!:

Tomorrow, I'll be interviewing Malinda Lo, author of Ash, for the final post of Fresh New Voice of YA this month.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fresh New Voice of YA- Ash by Malinda Lo

Ash by Malinda Lo
In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted. The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

This is yet another wonderfully written debut by a great new voice in YA. Lo's prose is very atmospheric and beautifully dark, which pulls the reader right into the story, and peppered throughout with some good wit and romance. Ash is a strong, smart heroine that readers will definitely root for. I loved the twist in this fairy tale retelling- that Cinderella (in this case, Ash) falls for the Huntress rather than the Prince- and Lo did a fantastic job executing it. The conversations and flirtations between Ash and the Huntress were done very well and were realistic; the romance is not quick or anything like that. It takes its time and builds up, and it's very fun to read. The ending though felt a bit rushed, but is still very cute, so I forgive it a bit. Definitely a must-read.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fresh New Voice of YA- Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets. Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

I absolutely loved this book- it is a compelling, fascinating read that grips you from the beginning and holds you close until the very end. The book is divided into four parts, with the second part dealing with the day of the shooting though there are some small excerpts from that day during the first part. It's an extremely emotional story and really makes the reader think about their own interactions with people and how you don't always know everything that's going on in someone's head. What really fascinated me about the novel was the fact that it was about a school shooting- before, during, and after- and that kind of thing interests me, like what brings a person to that point and all that. Even though this is about a school shooting, it's not plot-driven at all; it's really more character-based and focuses on the relationships between all the characters rather than focusing on events to move the plot forward. This is simply a fantasticly written debut and would definitely go on my list of Top 5 Books of 2009 (which I may do once the year is over). So go out and buy it!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fresh New Voice of YA Excerpt Vlog- Ash by Malinda Lo

Here's the excerpt vlog of me reading from Ash by Malinda Lo. Hope you all enjoy it!

ETA: As I was reading further into the book, it turns out I lied. The Huntress that is in this particular excerpt is not Kaisa but rather the one before her known as Taryn. I got confused because near the beginning of Chapter 11, Ash mentions that she saw Kaisa at Yule once, and I assumed it was this particular occasion. Either way though, it's still a fun excerpt.

Tomorrow, I'll be posting my review of Hate List by Jennifer Brown, then Ash by Malinda Lo review on Thursday, then an excerpt vlog of Hate List on Friday, and finally on Saturday, an interview with Malinda Lo! Be sure to come back for all these other great posts and comment!! :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fresh New Voice of YA- Interview with Jennifer Brown

1) How did you get the idea for Hate List?

I don't know if I can really pinpoint one thing that gave me the idea for Hate List. I get asked this question a lot and I find that my answer differs just slightly every single time I answer it. I don't know if it's been inside me to get this message out since high school, which was a very rough time for me, or if it's my fear as a mother about the horrible and tragic things that can happen when you think your kids are in a safe place, or if it's just an expression of a hope I have about a future where people really start to "get it," or if it just... happened.

I can, however, pinpoint the day that I decided to write it. I'd been thinking about school shootings and it was right when that song "If Everyone Cared" by Nickelback was on the radio all the time. The song got stuck in my head while I was sleeping (I usually hate it when that happens), and when I woke up, I had this idea about a girl having lived through a school shooting, but being so tied up in it even she had a hard time deciding if she was hero or victim. I started working on it right away.

2) Hate List is quite the departure for you as you are mainly known for your humor writing in your local paper. Was it hard to make that transition and write a book dealing with this subject matter?

It's actually not that huge of a departure for me, in that I'm not, in person, a really funny kind of cut-up person. I'm more on the shy/broody side, so the subject wasn't something totally out of character for me. What I did find difficult, however, was telling my agent that I was working on something not funny. I was afraid that I'd "wasted time" writing out of genre when I could've been writing humor. I didn't tell her about Hate List until I was finished with it... and was, honestly, floored by how excited she was about it.

Also, I've had a lot of worry about my "fans," who know me for my humor writing, thinking they would pick up Hate List, expect humor, and be disappointed. That's one reason I love, love, love my cover art so much. There's no way you could mistake this book for a humor book!

3) What are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about it?

I'm still not big on details yet, but I am working on a new YA novel. It's going to be similar in tone to Hate List, but the subject is, of course, very different. Once again, I'm trying to look at a tough situation from a more objective angle, see if I can understand and relate to why my characters do what they do. I know that's not much to go on, but I'm kind of superstitious when it comes to my writing process... and that's all I'm givin' ya!

4) What brought you to the YA genre? Have you always been a fan or are you still pretty new to it all?

I am definitely still new to it all. I had never even considered writing YA, and even up until the point when my agent said the words "YA crossover"... I had no idea that's what I'd written. I was really kicking myself because until that point I'd only focused on learning adult fiction-writing and had never really paid any attention to the Children's/MG/YA markets because I never saw myself writing in those genres. Not that I wouldn't write in those genres... but I guess I thought I couldn't write in those genres. But right away, I knew I had a huge learning curve ahead. I'm still learning.

After Hate List sold, however, I realized that, growing up, I adored books that would have fallen in the YA genre. I also realized that I really fell in love with reading and writing when I was a teen. Now I'm at a point where I'm really identifying with the YA genre and am so excited to be a part of it! There are some real writing heroes in YA.

I'm also just amazed at how supportive the YA community is. It's really cool.

5) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor?


6) What book(s) are you reading now, or are about to start?

I read constantly, so by the time you post this, I will be on to something else, for sure, but right now I'm reading Megan Crewe's GIVE UP THE GHOST and also Wally Lamb's THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED. Oh, and I just got a copy of Deva Fagan's FORTUNE'S FOLLY, so I'll be starting that soon.

7) Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Don't listen to bitter people who say you can't do it or it's not worth it. You can, and it so is!

8) The book is peppered with flashbacks to the fateful day as well as articles about the shooting. Did you write all these in the order in which they appear, or were they done after the present day part was completed? Was it always the plan to include those things in the novel?

Yes, it was always a plan to include the articles and flashbacks in the book, as I felt they added an extra dimension to the story -- the flashbacks, because I thought it was important for readers to "see" how horrifying the shooting was for Valerie, and the newspaper articles because I felt the objective (and sometimes inaccurate) story that the rest of the world was seeing was not at all what was happening in Valerie's world.

However, the flashbacks, and even some of the articles, were not necessarily in the same place and certainly not in the same style in the final draft as they were in the first draft. In the first draft I peppered the present day with flashbacks, italicized, with no transitions at all. My editor thought that particular style would be confusing to readers (and I definitely think he was right), so we worked a lot to put them in a clearer and more organized fashion. As for the articles, they're pretty close to where they were in the first draft, with the most notable exception being Chapter One, which begins with an article that was originally the last article in the book.

So some things were definitely moved around, but I'm really pleased with how everything flowed together after we moved them!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Wanna enter to win Ugg Boots?

Hey everyone, I came across this really cool contest where you can enter to win a pair of free Ugg boots! This is the perfect time for it since winter is creeping up in just a couple months.

According to the site, they will draw 3 pairs of Ugg boots every 2 months and more as soon as winter hits. Contestants may remain entered for as long as they wish and will automatically go in the draw to win for as long as they continue to display the Whooga Badge. They ship internationally so it’s open to everyone, everywhere.

So click on this image and go enter, or you can come to my homepage and there's another linked image in the sidebar! :)

ugg boots

Saturday, September 5, 2009

In My Mailbox- Week of Aug. 31-Sept. 5

Again sorry guys no vlog this week, but I've got a friend buying me batteries tonight so I will be posting the excerpt vlogs for next week's Fresh New Voice of YA but there probably wont be any more IMM vlogs until I get a job and income and can start buying batteries or at least a battery charger. Here's what I got this week:

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate
A steamy Southern beauty makes one fatal mistake
Natalie Hargrove would kill to be her high school’s Palmetto Princess. But her boyfriend Mike King doesn’t share her dream and risks losing the honor of Palmetto Prince to Natalie’s nemesis, Justin Balmer. So she convinces Mike to help play a prank on Justin. . . one that goes terribly wrong. They tie him to the front of the church after a party—when they arrive the next morning, Justin is dead.

From blackmail to buried desire, dark secrets to darker deeds, Natalie unravels. She never should’ve messed with fate. Fate is the one thing more twisted than Natalie Hargrove.

Cruel Intentions meets Macbeth in this seductive, riveting tale of conscience and consequence.

Liar by Justine Larbalestier
Micah will freely admit that she’s a compulsive liar, but that may be the one honest thing she’ll ever tell you. Over the years she’s duped her classmates, her teachers, and even her parents, and she’s always managed to stay one step ahead of her lies. That is, until her boyfriend dies under brutal circumstances and her dishonesty begins to catch up with her. But is it possible to tell the truth when lying comes as naturally as breathing? Taking readers deep into the psyche of a young woman who will say just about anything to convince them—and herself—that she’s finally come clean, Liar is a bone-chilling thriller that will have readers see-sawing between truths and lies right up to the end. Honestly.

Rage: A Love Story by Julie Anne Peters
A National Book Award Finalist offers an intense portrait of an abusive relationship.

Johanna is steadfast, patient, reliable; the go-to girl, the one everyone can count on. But always being there for others can’t give Johanna everything she needs—it can’t give her Reeve Hartt.

Reeve is fierce, beautiful, wounded, elusive; a flame that draws Johanna’s fluttering moth. Johanna is determined to get her, against all advice, and to help her, against all reason. But love isn’t always reasonable, right?

In the precarious place where attraction and need collide, a teenager experiences the dark side of a first love, and struggles to find her way into a new light.

Struts and Frets by Jon Skovron
Told in a voice that’s honest, urgent, and hilarious, Struts & Frets will resonate not only with teenage musicians but with anyone who ever sat up all night listening to a favorite album, wondering if they’d ever find their place in the world.

Music is in Sammy’s blood. His grandfather was a jazz musician, and Sammy’s indie rock band could be huge one day—if they don’t self-destruct first. Winning the upcoming Battle of the Bands would justify all the band’s compromises and reassure Sammy that his life’s dream could become a reality. But practices are hard to schedule when Sammy’s grandfather is sick and getting worse, his mother is too busy to help either of them, and his best friend may want to be his girlfriend.

When everything in Sammy’s life seems to be headed for major catastrophe, will his music be enough to keep him together?

Swag Items, thanks to Lisa Schroeder and Becca Fitzpatrick!:

(One side of Hush Hush poster, plus all swag from Lisa Schroeder)

(Other side of Hush Hush poster, plus what Lisa wrote to me on the back of one of the postcards)

(The packaging that the Hush Hush poster came in. Not sure what to do with it now. Possible weapon? Also, Maya in background)

Other Books:
No Right Turn by Terry Trueman
Pretty Dead by Francesca Lia Block
Muchacho by LouAnne Johnson