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frootjoos blogs about young adult and other juvenile literature... and doesn't get much sleep, it looks like.
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1. Candlewick Press - Best of YA Giveaway

TIME Magazine recently published their 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time and 100 Best Children's Books of All Time lists. Candlewick Press is offering a chance to win 6 of their titles which appeared on the YA list!


The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo

Rob, sickly and devastated by the death of his mother, moves to a hotel with his father for a new start. But after he comes across a caged tiger in the woods outside the motel, the unexpected find helps him overcome his sadness and open up to a new friend.

The Tiger Rising is a National Book Award finalist (2001).


The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. Along the way, we are shown a miracle--that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is in the Top 25 to be voted on for Best of the Best ranking by reader vote: http://time.com/100-best-young-adult-books/

Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci

An unforgettable debut novel that follows an antisocial cinephile as she meets a quick-witted artist who's savvy enough to see through her sci-fi disguise. 

Boy Proof will celebrate its 10th anniversary in February 2015.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Illustrated by Jim Kay

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor. 

Soon to be a major motion picture!

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

A dystopian thriller follows a boy and girl on the run from a town where all thoughts can be heard--and the passage to manhood embodies a horrible secret.

Feed by M. T. Anderson

Anderson takes on consumerism in this smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now. 

Feed is a National Book Award Finalist (2002).

Thanks to Candlewick, you can enter to win all 6 books using the Rafflecopter widget below! The giveaway is open to the US and Canada only, and ends Monday, January 26, 2015.

Candlewick online: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

eVolt online: Twitter | Tumblr

Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to US and Canada residents only. Ends 01/26/2015.
  2. We are not responsible for items lost, stolen, or damaged in the mail. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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2. Tuck Everlasting 40th Anniversary Blog Tour

Thanks to Macmillan for including us on the 40th Anniversary blog tour for Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.

I'm so excited that I'm offering up a copy of the 40th Anniversary Edition of the book in a quick giveaway. It's open internationally and ends Saturday, Jan 10. The book won't be out until Tuesday, Jan 20, so if you don't win my giveaway, you can preorder your copy right here! Enter using the Rafflecopter below, and look up the hashtag #Tuck40th to find the other 39 blog tour posts on the tour!


What if you could live forever?

If I could live forever, I can think of a million things I'd like to do. I'd knit and sew a lot. I'd try to help alleviate poverty and counteract global warming. I'd take a boat out to sea and try to chip away at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch--that's sure to take up a whole lot of time. I'd take classes in everything: languages, math, science, and every art form available. I'd bake millions of cookies, pies, cakes, and other desserts. I'd adopt every stray cat that crossed my path (especially the black ones).

When I was younger, I thought I'd like to just stay home and read forever. And I'm sure, if I could live forever, I would make sure I had somewhere to keep my books. But there is a whole world out there to see, lots of things to do. I'd try to do them all, especially the things that scare me the most. For example, while I love to sing, I really hate being in front of an audience. I would look for opportunities to sing and maybe speak publicly, or even act. I'm also really scared of swimming in the ocean. I mean, I can go for a little dip at the beach, but when I can't see or feel the sandy bottom anymore, I really start to freak out.

Of course, there are practical considerations to living forever. How do you pay for everything? Won't people wonder how I stayed young or managed to outlive everyone else? Would I have to go into hiding to protect myself? I really don't relish the thought of having to work for a paycheck the rest of my life, or spend my life on the run, so I'm sure some strict investment and retirement plans, legal action, and/or winning the lottery might have to come into play.

I'm not sure I'd be lonely, because I do like being alone, and I feel like I can make friends with whoever else happens to be alive at the same time. The worst case scenario I can think of is if I outlived every other earthly life form (including cats), and no benevolent aliens came along to invite me to travel through space with them for eternity. Then, I'd probably regret living for so long. I'd also avoid any kind of wrongdoing--especially things that could land me in jail! A life sentence seems way worse when it's never-ending.

I'd spend the rest of eternity making friends, traveling, making things, reading (and maybe writing) books, singing, baking, and trying to change the world. I'd knit, and sew, and raise an army of black cats. Actually, even if I can't live forever, I think I'll do those things anyway.

Except maybe the swimming in the deep ocean part.

About the book

2015 marks the 40th anniversary of Natalie Babbitt’s celebrated, ground- breaking title Tuck Everlasting (Anniversary edition on sale January 20). In celebration of the anniversary, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group will publish a special anniversary edition featuring an introduction from Wicked author Gregory Maguire.

Tuck Everlasting asks readers “What if you could live forever?” Doomed to, or blessed with, eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less of a blessing than it might seem. Then complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.

Upon the book’s publication in 1975, Natalie was greeted with concern from parents and educators who were stunned to read a book about death written for children. She is an author who challenges her readers and thinks the best questions are the ones without answers.

This 40th anniversary will introduce a whole new generation to this timeless classic. The book has sold over 3.5 million copies in the US alone, and has never been out of print since publication. 

About the author

Natalie Babbitt is the award-winning author of Tuck Everlasting, The Eyes of the Amaryllis, Knee-Knock Rise, and many other brilliantly original books for young people. She began her career in 1966 as the illustrator of The Forty-Ninth Magician, a collaboration with her husband. When her husband became a college president and no longer had time to collaborate, Babbitt tried her hand at writing. Her first novel, The Search for Delicious, established her gift for writing magical tales with profound meaning. Knee-Knock Rise earned her a Newbery Honor, and in 2002, Tuck Everlasting was adapted into a major motion picture. Natalie Babbitt lives in Connecticut, and is a grandmother of three. 

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3. Upcoming Events January 2015

Hey hey! Just a quick reminder that we post links to select local Los Angeles/Southern California book events at the beginning of every month. You can check out the calendar anytime at http://www.readnowsleeplater.org/events. We sometimes add events as soon as we find out about them, so keep up with them here, on Tumblr, and on Twitter. Whenever we can, we also attend and post photos on Facebook and Instagram!

We usually cover the following venues and events:

Once Upon a Time Bookstore, Montrose
Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena
Nucleus Gallery, Alhambra
Book Soup, Los Angeles
Skylight Books, Los Angeles
The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles
Barnes & Noble at The Americana, Glendale

Barnes & Noble at The Grove, Los Angeles
Barnes & Noble at The Promenade, Santa Monica
Barnes & Noble at Bella Terra, Huntington Beach
Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego

Burbank Public Library
Los Angeles Public Library
Pasadena Public Library
Santa Monica Public Library

Book'd in Burbank
Los Angeles Times Book Festival
Ontario Teen Book Fest
Pasadena Teen Book Fest
YALLWEST - new this year!

If you are a traditionally published author, event manager, librarian, or publicist, please email event info including author name, date, time, venue, and event description to readnowsleeplater@gmail.com. We cannot guarantee that we will include every event in our calendar, but we do try to list all events that are of interest to our readers.

If you see Alethea, Thuy, and/or Kimberly at one of the events, please come and say hi! There may be a bookmark in it for you... just sayin'...

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4. Blue Lily, Lily Blue Giveaway

Hello, dear readers! We're starting a great run of giveaways for 2015. Today we're giving away a hardcover copy of Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. The winner also gets a signed Dream Thieves bookplate (right) as well as a Sinner bookplate (left). Keep in mind that this is the 3rd book in the series, so you'll have to get your hands on the first two some other way if you win!


Just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Make sure you're following us so you don't miss any of the fantastic giveaways coming up!

Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to US residents only. Ends 01/19/2015.
  2. We are not responsible for items lost, stolen, or damaged in the mail. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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5. Alex as Well


Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman

Publication date: 20 January 2015 by Henry Holt & Co.

Category: Young Adult Realistic, Contemporary

Keywords: Intersex, Sexuality, Family

Format: Hardcover, ebook


Boy or girl. Pink or blue. Normal or...? What is it that makes gender such a divisive line? First, consider that the assignment of pink for girls and blue for boys is a social convention based on a 1980's marketing strategy brought on by the advent of pre-natal testing, that President Obama recently subverted gender stereotypes by sorting balls and tool kits into the "girls" box at Toys for Tots, that even now in our modern age there are people who believe certain jobs "belong" to one gender or the other. Then consider that whether a person is male or female is actually determined by genes and hormones at birth... except when it kind of isn't.

Alex, the title character in Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman, is intersex--a label applied to people whose anatomy doesn't assign them to one gender or the other. Think of gender as a continuum rather than a binary, either-or situation. Raised by her parents as a boy, but identifying as a girl, Alex decides to leave the all-boys school in which she's enrolled after a traumatic experience, and enrolls herself in a co-ed school, instead. Her parents are at the end of their tether--her mom blogs about the trials and tribulations of raising not just any teenager, but one who's gender-confused (and insists on referring to Alex as male); her dad just flat-out leaves when she tells them she's a girl.

Alex herself feels torn in several directions--she struggles internally with boy-Alex, who sometimes whips out their "noodle"--the euphemism their mother came up with for their ambiguous genitalia--for a quick wank. There's a cute boy at her new school who seems to have a crush on her, but Alex has got a crush on another girl instead. Meanwhile, as much as she loves her parents and yearns for their understanding, at just fourteen years old, Alex feels like she can't go on living with them anymore. To top it off, how long can she withstand the strain of keeping up appearances at school? Someone is bound to find out her secret, and what happens next could turn her world upside down.

This story is sensitive and timely, told accessibly with heart and dry humor by Australian author Alyssa Brugman. While the ending may feel too abrupt for some readers, I hope the novel arouses some needed awareness and discussion of intersex, transgender, and other gender-related issues, and shifts our world's view closer to understanding and support rather than derision and disgust. 

- Alethea -

Further reading:

* I know Emily. She's magnificent and you should read her Reddit AMA. We would also both be super thrilled if you would get hooked on the YA series Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer, particularly on audiobook. Please and thank you!

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6. Evil Librarian


Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

Publication date: 09 September 2014 by Candlewick Press

Category: Young Adult Horror, Paranormal

Keywords: Humor, High School, Demons, Romance

Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook

4 Stars - Stay up late

Cynthia Rothschild is creeped out when her best friend Annie falls for the young and handsome new librarian, Mr. Gabriel. But it's more than just an age ick factor. There's something wrong with Mr. Grabriel, something Cyn can't put her finger on...

Fans of Buffy rejoice because a fun and well written paranormal YA adventure has hit the shelves. Cyn is a typical teenage girl. She loves musical theater and is head stage manager. She's secretly in love with the lead singer Ryan, who is playing Sweeney Todd. She is a loyal and loving best friend to her friend Annie. Even when Annie starts acting very strange.

There's a lot to like about Evil Librarian. The writing is good. Every sentence is fun and I read the book at a medium pace, savoring the funny Cyn-isms and high school situations. Yes, high school is hell and sometimes a demon invades your school and tries to... never mind.

My heart is warmed towards Ryan who is the lead in the high school musical. I love musicals. I went to college for a year for a musical theater degree. Seriously. Their story is like my high school life. You know, without the demon. So it's very refreshing to see Ryan, the romantic lead, be playing Sweeney. And to have Cyn involved in musical theater.

Also, the story really takes you on a ride. A few times, you think you have it figured out--"oh, this is bound to work" and then it slaps you upside the head. I really liked these moments. 

There's a few things that brought the book down for me though. One is that Ryan is Cyn's only side kick. She's trying to save Annie and he is her main partner in crime. This wouldn't be that bad but he's also her HUGE crush so a lot of the book is spent on her swooning over him, talking about his hair or his eyes or if he touches her, etc. Now I'm all about YA romance, but this was a little excessive especially when she is trying to save her best friend from becoming something very evil. I think a second sidekick would have helped, a non-romantic best friend, to help them solve everything. It was just really focused on Ryan and Cyn's crush on Ryan and OMG he touched my hand... A little too much for this reader.

The other thing is that while the plots twists were fun, for some reason, the book felt too long. It's only coming in under 350 pages but the pacing was off in some places. I didn't want to stop reading, but I had no problem putting the book down for a few days and maybe reading something else for a while. That didn't stop me from enjoying it but it wasn't a feverish, frantic I-gotta-know-what-happens type of read either.

Overall I think Evil Librarian is a very fun, well written YA book. There's humor and romance and evil and good.

- Kimberly -

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7. Alexandra Monir Suspicion Launch Party

*I am not going to go into a full rant but I just wrote this entire post and it did not save. *sob* So please excuse me if this seems a bit brief. My original post was brilliant. :)*

Hi, everyone! It's been a while since our last book event, but Kimberly and I were lucky enough to be able to make it to the Suspicion launch party last night at Barnes & Noble in Santa Monica. We arrived about 20 minutes before the signing to purchase our books. Then we went upstairs to the event space and were greeted with this:

This was only part of the spread, too. There was a whole table filled with delicious finger sandwiches and treats and a bartender pouring sparking cider and other liquid refreshments. Monir told us later that her mom had planned the whole thing so yay mom! We've been to a lot of book signings and they don't usually have snacks. I really think we need to change this and make it a more regular occurrence. There was a large crowd of people at the events including friends, family and fans.

The signing started off with us listening to Monir's "Autumn Leaves," a song that she recorded for Suspicion. Monir has been a performer and recording artist for most of her life and has recorded a song for each of her books. 


Monir says that her start in writing was a "happy accident." She had been pursuing a career in music when, one day, the idea for a time travel romance (what would later become Timeless) came to her. She didn't know what to do with the idea really but decided to start writing it to see where it went. It turned into a full length novel. Monir passed the novel on to her music agent who, in turn, gave it to an editor at Random House for comments. What resulted was a two book deal for Monir. Monir counts herself lucky though and says that her story is an unusual one. 

Monir said that Suspicion was very much inspired by one of her favorite books, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Monir said that she originally wanted to re-imagine the story for a younger audience and in a more contemporary setting. She added her own twist though with elements of the supernatural and themes of childhood friendship. The setting for Suspicion was inspired by Downton Abbey. The class differences of that time really interested Monir and she says that she discovered that the peerage is still going strong in Britain. She says that the Brits treat the royals like celebrities similar to how reality and film stars are treated in the U.S.

When asked if she listened to music while writing, Monir said that she likes to listen to film scores of world music so that she doesn't get caught up in the lyrics. Two of her favorite composers are Alexandre Desplat and John Williams. When asked if she would ever stop writing YA, Monir said that she did not think that she would ever tire of writing YA. The intense feelings and the discovery of first experiences are themes that loves. She also says that YA readers are the best reader.

After a few more questions it was time to sign books. Monir was very sweet and gracious when we chatted with her and we discussed how awesome Rebecca is and her upcoming trip to France (jealous!).

We had a really great time and can't wait to read Suspicion. You can see all of our pics from the event in our Flickr album. Also, mini eclairs! Many thanks to B&N, Alexandra Monir, and her mom for bringing treats. :)

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8. The Wolf Chronicles: Guest Post by Dorothy Hearst

Thanks to Dorothy Hearst for answering some questions about her Wolf Chronicles series today! Stick around and check out the giveaway as well as the other stops on the blog tour. 

Five most common questions about The Wolf Chronicles

I often get questions from young people who have read The Wolf Chronicles. Here are answers to the questions I hear most:

Talking wolves? How did you get that idea? 

One day, I was thinking about dogs, and how remarkable it is that we’re so drawn to them and they’re so drawn to us. I wondered how that came to be. And I thought about wolves—about how so many people hate and fear them. Then, a voice in my head said “I should write about how the wolf became the dog from the wolf’s point of view.” No one else was in the apartment, so I took the idea for my own. I didn’t have much choice. The wolves really wanted their story told, and they can’t type, so it was up to me.

Was it hard to write a wolf narrator?

It was easy in some ways and challenging in others. I’d been trying to write for about ten years when I got the idea for TWC.  As soon as I started writing, Kaala’s voice was there. I realized that I had written about three pages in her voice ten years earlier. So I had a dog-like narrator in my head already. Then the work began.

I did my research on how wolves perceive the world, then experimented with different ways to make Kaala seem wolflike, but not so unfamiliar that she would be hard for readers to relate to. I played with it until I got it just how I wanted it.  

Which character is most like you?

I think that Kaala and Tlitoo are two sides of me. Kaala takes things seriously and is a bit of an outsider. Tlitoo is a jokester and impulsive, and can’t resist chaos. I found it interesting that these two parts of my personality came out in two very different characters.

How did you come up with the names?

Some characters just came with names, like Tlitoo (ravens deliberately chose difficult-to-pronounce names). I had to work at others. I would start with a name and write about that character for a while. Then, often, something about the name wouldn’t match the character, so I’d try another. Eventually I would find the right name.

Then, I needed to make sure that readers would know right away whether a wolf, raven, human or Greatwolf was talking. So I developed naming conventions for each one, an idea I got from Anne McCaffrey. All the wolves have double letters in their names, the Greatwolves’ names end in “dra” and “dru” (in honor of their ancestor, Indru), and the humans have their villages at the ends of their names.

How do you write a whole book?

Keep on going. Most people think that if their first drafts aren’t good it means they can’t write. People also think that if it’s hard, they’re doing it wrong. Both are untrue. You have to get through the bad stuff to get to the good stuff, and writing seems hard because it’s hard. Just keep working at it.  It’s the only way to get to the end.

About Promise of the Wolves


At least that's what the wolves of the Wide Valley believe. Until a young wolf dares to break the rules--and forever alters the relationship between wolves and the humans who share their world.

This is the story of such a wolf. Born of a forbidden mixed-blood litter and an outcast after her mother is banished, Kaala is determined to earn a place in the Swift River pack. But her world is turned upside down when she saves a human girl from drowning. Risking expulsion from their pack and exile from the Wide Valley, Kaala and her young packmates begin to hunt with the humans and thus discover the long-hidden bond between the two clans. But when war between wolves and humans threatens, Kaala learns the lies behind the wolf's promise. Lies that force her to choose between safety for herself and her friends and the survival of her pack--and perhaps of all wolf- and human-kind.

Set 14,000 years ago, Promise of the Wolves takes us to a land where time is counted in phases of the moon, distance is measured in wolflengths, and direction by the scent of the nearest trail. Years of research into the world of wolves combines with mythical tale-telling to present a fantastical adventure set in a world filled with lore.

About the author

Before the wolves barged in the door, demanding that their story be told, Dorothy Hearst was an acquisitions editor at Jossey-Bass, where she published books for nonprofit, public, and social change leaders. She loves dogs but doesn’t have one, and borrows other people’s whenever she gets the chance. After seven years in New York City and nine years as a San Franciscan, Dorothy now lives in Berkeley, California.

Spirit of the Wolves, the third and final title in The Wolf Chronicles, will be released December 2. For more information, and to download free CCSS-aligned discussion questions for all three novels, visit her website www.dorothyhearst.com.


Simon & Schuster is pleased to offer a complete set of The Wolf Chronicles--PROMISE OF THE WOLVES, SECRETS OF THE WOLVES, AND SPIRIT OF THE WOLVES--to one lucky winner! (U.S. addresses only.) Giveaway ends December 20, 2014.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Check out all the stops on The Wolf Chronicles blog tour!

Mon, Dec 1 - Novel Novice

Tues, Dec 2 - The Book Monsters

Wed, Dec 3 - SLJ Teen

Thurs, Dec 4 - I Am a Reader, Not a Writer

Fri, Dec 5 - I Read Banned Books

Mon, Dec 8 - Library Fanatic

Tues, Dec 9 - YA Book Nerd

Wed, Dec 10 - Read Now, Sleep Later

Thurs, Dec 11 - The Brain Lair

Fri, Dec 12 - Unleashing Readers

Sat, Dec 13 - The Children's Book Review


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9. Getting the Words Out (8)


Hello everyone!

You know, I actually kind of hate it when bloggers make a big announcement about going on hiatus (or coming back from one, or whatever). It's like the "man behind the curtain" moment--I'd rather not see. So this is not going to turn into that. I'm just going to tell you what fun stuff I've been doing instead of blogging (which is also fun, but in a much more time-consuming way than you might imagine).

  • I have really revived my passion for knitting and sewing. I have my pals at Twisted Stitches to thank for that. I just finished a scarf and I'm starting a pair of gloves for a Christmas gift. I plan to make myself some dresses as soon as I finish all of my Christmas crafting!
  • I have been exercising on and off just to maintain my weight so I could pig out like I wanted to on Thanksgiving (mission accomplished) but I sprained my ankle the other night, so no running for a bit :(
  • My husband got me hooked on Serial, a nonfiction podcast that unfolds a single story week by week.
  • I am binge-watching Criminal Minds. Great tv fare for both ankle-elevating and knitting (and very occasional blogging).
  • I'm trying to toilet-train my cats (to use the actual toilet!). Week one is almost over and so far, zilch. But apparently it's to be expected with a two-cat household.
  • I got a new bookshelf. Hallelujah! I am trying NOT to double-stack this one, but it does reach floor-to-ceiling.
  • I made pumpkin cream cheese bars, which smelled so bad during the making (due to gelatin and egg white components) that I swore I'd never make it again, but tasted so good afterwards, I had to give most of it away so I wouldn't eat it all myself.
  • I was in the same room (well, theatre) as John Cleese and Eric Idle. Watch here.

I got a new MacBook Air. OMG. OMG. Ok, I'll be honest, the feel of the keys under my fingers is totally why I'm blogging again.

:) More soon!

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10. Gratitude Giveaway Hop

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11. Hello Kitty Con 2014 Recap


On Nov. 1, 2014, I headed down to Los Angeles's Little Tokyo with my pals Celina and Kate to see the crazy Sanrio extravaganza known as Hello Kitty Con. Celebrating her 40th Anniversary, HKCon2014 was a massive cutesplosion of displays, activities, and of course, shopping. My only regret is not getting a second day pass so I could see panels as well as shop. Oh, ok, and that the SPAM booth ran out of Hello Kitty Musubi kits. And that I didn't have time or energy left to go make sand art.


Ok, so I have a lot of regrets. But I had a ton of fun, too! It was weird to look through the Vintage Village displays and see things I most certainly had as a kid. To see all the people dressed in head-to-toe Sanrio gear made me grin. I picked up some collectibles (Socks! Notebooks! Baggu!) for myself, plus a couple more things to give away! Enter below using the Rafflecopter.

The prize is a set of 40th Anniversary notebooks and pins from Hello Kitty Con, plus a bag of Strawberry Pocky because they're pink and delicious. If the post gets 100 comments (minus any by Alethea, Thuy, or Kimberly) we'll throw in a gray Hello Kitty Baggu bag from Poketo, and the Hello Kitty graphic novel, Delicious!

Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to US residents only. Ends 11/20/2014.
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!
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12. 100 Sideways Miles Blog Tour

I'm so thrilled to be on the 100 Sideways Miles blog tour for Andrew Smith! Read on for more about the book, my review, and a giveaway. Check out the tour schedule for more reviews.

  100-Sideways-Miles-BANNER - sidebar.jpg  

About the book

100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 277
Published: 2 Sept, 2014

Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved.
Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken. Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned—and learn how to write their own destiny.

Where to find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads | Free Preview

About the author

Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Winger (Starred reviews in Publishers WeeklyKirkus, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness—an Amazon “Best of the Year”) and The Marbury Lens (A YALSA BFYA, and Starred reviews and Best of the Year in both Publishers Weekly and Booklist).

Smith is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. Stand Off, the sequel to Winger, coming in January 2015, is his ninth novel. He lives in Southern California.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Events | Goodreads

Alethea's Review

To begin, I should tell you I know Andrew Smith. I met him in 2011, right after a Wall Street Journal article on YA books basically shat all over him and a few other terrific authors for writing children's literature that was "too dark". He's a great guy and an amazing writer. While the content of his novels are usually brutal, violent, darkly and scatologically humorous, which might make you think the author is some rough, tough ne'er-do-well, he's actually quite sensitive. Anyone who understands his writing understands that, just as he understands us and our feelings. (All the feels!)

While it would probably behoove me to tell you that I am giving the book an honest review regardless of how I think of Andrew, that wouldn't be quite true. I would be even less truthful to say I'm giving it a good review because I like him a lot, and want to spare his feelings. I want you to know I'm giving 100 Sideways Miles the most honest review that I can, given that I already presupposed it to be brilliant because it's written by Andrew Smith. I'm not sugar-coating it, because I don't have to.

It's brilliant.

Finn Easton's view of life, from his stance as an epileptic, uncertain, eventually heart-broken teenaged boy tilts the reader's perspective in unexpected ways. Whenever Finn has a seizure, all is beauty, and words cease to have meaning as the connections between them unravel in his brain. He marks time in miles instead of minutes, thinks of people in terms of their molecules, and how much or how little the microscopic bits of matter want to stay together or rejoin the universe. His best friend Cade, crass and a little insane, makes a great foil. Finn's crush, Julia Bishop, is a girl I'd fall in love with, myself. She's forthright and real. Their story unfolds like history rather than fiction.

Strange plot and lovable characters aside--I won't spoil anything for you--the real star of the show is Smith's prose. He has a penchant for taking normal, everyday words and stringing them together in unforgettable ways, like "the planet of humans and dogs", or "the knackery never shuts down", simple but lyrical to the point where I find myself thinking them throughout the day, when I think about politics and people, when I am planting seeds in the garden, when I'm shampooing my hair. "Twenty miles. Twenty miles." It's how many miles the earth travels per second. When he's not busy blowing your mind, Smith sneaks in relevant tidbits of history, like carrots in the meatloaf. I probably knew, but didn't remember, anything about the St. Francis dam disaster of 1928, and now I feel like I'll never forget it.

People who don't like Andrew Smith point and pick at his use of profanity as weakness. To me, they're the weak ones. His frank voice helps me feel understood; it echoes the way I think, speak, and feel. It makes us, his readers, feel like we're not alone. Not just that, but Smith's detractors are missing the point; they're missing the words and ideas that matter. "Twenty miles. Twenty miles." Every moment we stand still, we're moving. 

100 Sideways Miles is darkly funny, deeply thoughtful, and a worthy addition to Andrew Smith's bildungsroman novels.


Tour Schedule

November 3rd ~ The Pirate Tree – Review
November 3rd ~ Roof Beam Reader – Review
November 3rd ~ Cabin Goddess – Mom & Son Review with a Recipe
November 3rd ~ Bookish – Review
November 3rd ~ Lookandseebeanazed – Review
November 4th ~ The Reader and the Chef – Review
November 4th ~ The Bookish Confections – Review
November 4th ~ Fangirlish – Review
November 4th ~ Reads All The Books – Review
November 5th ~ Word Spelunking – Review
November 5th ~ Debbie Bookish – Review
November 5th ~ Books and Bling – Review
November 5th ~ Falling For YA – Review
November 5th ~ I Read Banned Books  – Review
November 5th ~ Ringo The Cat – Review
November 5th ~ A Leisure Moment – Review
November 6th ~ Reading on the Farm – Review
November 6th ~ Blogging Between the Lines – Review
November 6th ~ Bookhounds YA – Review
November 6th ~ What A Nerd Girl Says – Review
November 6th ~ Movies, Shows & Books – Review
November 6th ~ Deal Sharing Aunt  – Review
November 7th ~ Pixie Vixen Book Reviews – Review
November 7th ~ roro is Reading – Review
November 7th ~ The Reader and the Chef – Review
November 7th ~ Cabin Goddess – Review
November 7th ~ Reads All The Books – Review
November 7th ~ Laura Kreitzer, Bestselling Author  – Review
November 7th ~ LRB - Karin Baker  – Review
November 7th ~ Read Now Sleep Later – Review


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13. I'm My Own Dog Blog Tour

Thanks so much to Candlewick Press for asking us to join the I'm My Own Dog blog tour. They're giving away a copy of the book, and David Ezra Stein answered some questions for us! Read on and enter to win using the Rafflecopter widget (US, ends 11/14).


About the book

Many dogs have human owners. Not this dog. He fetches his own slippers, curls up at his own feet, and gives himself a good scratch. But there is one spot, in the middle of his back, that he just can’t reach. So one day, he lets a human scratch it. And the poor little fella follows him home. What can the dog do but get a leash to lead the guy around with? Dog lovers of all ages will revel in the humorous role-reversal as this dog teaches his human all the skills he needs to be a faithful companion.

About the author

David Ezra Stein is the creator of many award-winning picture books, including Interrupting Chicken, which was awarded a Caldecott Honor, Because Amelia Smiled, and Dinosaur Kisses. He lives with his family in Kew Gardens, New York.

Find out more about him at www.davidezra.com.


Q & A with David Ezra Stein

Alethea at RNSL: I loved I'm My Own Dog. Do you have (or have you previously had) a pet like this? How did you develop the alternative view he takes on ownership?

David Ezra Stein: Hi Alethea! Thanks; I have had quite a few pets in my life. When I was a kid I was allergic, so I had mainly guinea pigs, fish, and a snake. I think all my books, and especially the characters, come from my own emotions and my relationship to the demands that life makes on me. When I wrote this book, I was feeling a desire to be true to myself, and suddenly I became aware of the voice of this dog character. He began telling me about himself. I wrote it down. Then I followed through by figuring out what the rest of his life would be like. I realized he would eventually need someone else, and that’s where the man came in.

RNSL: This book is quite hilarious. What do you think developed your particular sense of humor?

DES: Oh, thank you so much. I guess I had funny parents and also, I think I had a rough time in childhood in some ways, and humor is always what got me through, and gave me a sense of power. If you can laugh, you can survive. I was attracted to humor and gobbled it up wherever I could. Sesame Street was a big influence. In the ‘80s we had so many really funny movies. For example, Spaceballs absolutely blew my mind as a kid. I was rolling in the aisle of the movie theater, getting popcorn stuck to my clothes. Commercials were also little haikus of humor. Calvin & Hobbes comic books were a huge inspiration.

RNSL: You have a great, loose, flowy style of illustration. Can you tell us a bit about how you started drawing and creating art?

DES: I tried almost every medium as a kid. My parents were both artists. I scribbled right onto the pages of books I liked. To be part of the art. I was always attracted to ink: the blackness against the white paper, and the way it flows. Even though I am a city guy, I have had an affinity for the natural world all my life. I used to go out painting with my mother at about age 10 and try to capture the beauty of old houses and gardens. It’s always been a value of mine to be a fine artist, like Van Gogh or Matisse. In college I got into drawing out on the spot again, which is wonderful to do in New York City. I could do that every day. I still do it whenever I can. Now I bring watercolor, too, another flowy medium, as you say.

RNSL: You both write and illustrate your stories. Do you prefer one mode over the other, and why or why not?

DES: They are both ways of getting an idea down. Especially in the early stages of a book. I can’t do just one. I love going to the painting stage, though. There is a delightful wordlessness about it, like music. It says things that can’t be said in words.

RNSL: I have two cats, who aren't so much independent (they still need me to open the food cans) but who sometimes behave as if I am quite an inferior, hairless, clumsy feline. My husband is often considered the better cat in the household (he is warm and a bit furry, and excels at paper ball games). Do you think you will do a story for cat lovers sometime in the future? (In a very roundabout way, I'm asking what you're working on next.)

DES: Ha, ha! Sounds like you might have a book in there, yourself! Yes, I am open to doing a cat book. I love cats, actually, and have rescued a couple. They are so interesting and weird, as well. Uncanny would be the word. For now, I have a frog book coming next summer, called Tad and Dad. It’s about a little tadpole who jumps into Dad’s lily pad every night. Think co-sleeping with frogs.

RNSL: Thanks for answering my questions, David! I'm off to draft that picture book...


Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to US residents only. Ends 11/14/2014.

  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 

  3. One set of entries per household please. 

  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 

  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 

  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 

  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here

  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!

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14. Forbidden Pre-order Giveaway

Look, I know it seems like all giveaways all the time on the blog, but I've been really slammed at work and haven't had time to read or review. Anyway... who can resist this crazy giveaway?! Thanks to Kimberley Griffiths Little and HarperCollins for sponsoring this great pre-order contest.

On November 4th, HarperCollins unveils Forbidden, a seductive YA debut from award-winning middle grade author Kimberley Griffiths Little. Forbidden transports readers back in time to the deadly deserts and sweltering heat of Ancient Mesopotamia for a tale of danger, duty, and forbidden love. Jayden is on the brink of womanhood and betrothed to her tribe’s prince, cold-hearted Horeb. But when tragedy strikes, Jayden meets Kadesh, a mysterious visitor from the south who makes Jayden doubt everything she knows. Torn between loyalty to her tribe and the chance to escape her fate, Jayden must make a choice that will change her life forever.

Kimberley is also offering a HUGE preorder giveaway from October 6th to November 4th (release day!) to celebrate. See below for full details on how to enter. TO ENTER:
  • You must preorder Forbidden through an online retailer or your local bookstore, then email a photo of your receipt to forbiddengiveaway@gmail.com.
  • Fill out the rafflecopter below
  • US/Canada Only
  • Ends at midnight EST on November 3, 2014
  • Optional entries: share the trailer on your own site or social media, follow Kimberley on twitter, and tweet about the giveaway (can be repeated daily for extra entries!)
  • Winners will be announced and contacted November 4th (release day!)
  • If the winner does not respond with their mailing address within one week, a new winner will be chosen.
PRIZES: (1) GRAND PRIZE WINNER: 1. NEWLY RELEASED Kindle Fire HD6 Tablet with 6" HD Display, Wi-Fi, Front and Rear Cameras, 8 GB -- choose your color! (Black, Magenta, White, Citron, or Cobalt) 2. GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson 3. CHAOS OF STARS by Kiersten White 4. Satin Belly Dance Skirt 5. Belly Dance 150-Coin Hip Scarf 6. Red Silk Veil (not pictured) 7. Red Middle Eastern Earrings 8. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances) 9. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured) 10. Set of 10 Book Club Cards 11. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured) (1) SECOND PLACE WINNER: 1. GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson 2. Red Middle Eastern Earrings 3. Red Silk Veil (not pictured) 4. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances) 5. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured) 6. Set of 10 Book Club Cards 7. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured) (13) RUNNERS-UP WINNERS: 1. Red Middle Eastern Earrings 2. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured) 3. Set of 10 Book Club Cards 4. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured) Good luck!
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Preorder: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound About Forbidden: In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart. Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying. With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.
Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.
Follow Kimberley: Website | BlogTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads
About Kimberley: Award-winning author Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico on the banks of the Rio Grande with her husband and their three sons. Her middle-grade novels, When the Butterflies Came, The Last Snake Runner, The Healing Spell, and Circle of Secrets, have been praised as “fast-paced and dramatic,” with “beautifully realized settings.” Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell. She’s stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; sailed the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria. You can visit her online at www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com. Share your thoughts on the trailer in the comments!

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15. Spooktacular Giveaway Hop


It's time again for the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop! This runs Oct 15th-31st and is hosted by I am a Reader, Not a Writer. The links below will be going live sometime on 10/14-10/15; check out all the blogs on the hop for more chances to win!

For this hop we are giving away 1 of our favorite spooky YA books. (1 young adult book worth up to $20 USD.) The winner can choose from a list of titles below. We will take suggestions, so comment with the name and author of the spooky book you'd like to get if you're the winner!

Here are some of Alethea's favorites:

Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open Internationally. Ends 10/31/2014.
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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16. Afterparty Blog Tour Schedule and Giveaway

I'm so pleased to kick off the Afterparty Blog Tour! We've got a ton of great blogs featuring this edgy YA novel by Ann Redisch Stampler. There will be guest posts, deleted scenes, interviews, reviews, and a huge giveaway! Make sure you hit all the stops along the way for more chances to win.

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17. Books to Movies Giveaway Hop

Thanks to BookHounds and I am a Reader for hosting the Books to Movies Giveaway Hop! This hop features books that have been made into movies or TV shows.

Some blogs will be giving away the book, some the movie & others both! I'm posting a little early, so if you're reading this before October 2 you may have to wait a while for all the blogs to post their contests.

We are giving away $25 worth of The Maze Runner goodness! The winner can pick book(s) and/or a movie gift certificate, as long as the total doesn't go over $25. For example, the winner can pick the paperback boxed set ($24.11 on Amazon) or The Maze Runner eBook for $5.99 + $19 on a Fandango or Arclight gift card (or whatever his or her local movie place is) to go watch the movie.

I actually didn't particularly like the book (only read the first one) BUT I did think it would make a great, fun movie, and I was right! Now that I've seen the film, I definitely want to take the time to read or listen to the rest of the series. I hope you enjoy the movie as much as I did.

Check out the cast Q&A with awesome photos by our friend Katie Ferguson.

Use the Rafflecopter widget to enter and then head on to the other blogs on the hop for more chances to win.

Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to US residents only. Ends 10/10/2014.
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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18. The Book of Three 50th Anniversary Blog Tour

Thanks to Macmillan for asking us to participate in the blog tour for the 50th Anniversary Edition of The Book of Three. Read on for Alethea's post about reading the book again, a list of other blog tour stops, and a giveaway!

About the book:

Henry Holt Books for Young Readers is proud to publish this 50th Anniversary Edition of Lloyd Alexander's classic The Book of Three, the first book in the Chronicles of Prydain, with a new introduction by Newbery Honor–winner Shannon Hale. This anniversary edition is filled with bonus materials, including an interview with Lloyd Alexander, a Prydain short story, the first chapter of the next Prydain book (The Black Cauldron, a Newbery Honor book), an author's note, and a pronunciation guide.


Begin at the Beginning

When I was twelve, I got my first public library card, and took my second trip to Prydain. I didn't know it at first, but I'd already been there. My grandfather took me to see The Black Cauldron a few years before I read the books, and I remember being riveted and a little scared, but mostly excited by the adventure.

We moved to New Jersey from the Philippines that year, and I swore I'd read every book in the Old Bridge Public Library from A to Z. (I moved to California two years later, having made hardly a dent in the alphabet.) Naturally, the first book that I found when I walked into the children's section was The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander. I picked it up and couldn't put it down. I read the rest of the series in quick succession.

The Book of Three isn't just the story of Taran, erstwhile and brave Assistant Pig-Keeper, funny and faithful Gurgi, the enchanting and spunky Eilonwy. It's not just the adventures of shaggy-haired hero Gwydion, of Flewddur Fflam Son of Godo--bard of the harp. It's not, the author Lloyd Alexander warns in his note, to be taken as a guide for tourists [to Wales]. Prydain was the door that opened onto other worlds: Lewis's Narnia, McCaffrey's Pern, Tolkien's Middle-Earth. It opened in me an unstoppable craving for new adventures in strange lands.

Reading this book again for the umpteenth time in the twenty-four years since I first read it, I'm not just taken back to Prydain, I'm taken back to my childhood, to a musty-smelling public library. I'm walking into the building, past the periodicals, straight to the children's wall, to A for Alexander. And in my imagination, my fingertips sizzle like Taran's did when he first tried to touch The Book of Three.


Blog Tour Schedule:

Monday, September 22 - YA Bibliophile
Tuesday, September 23 - Maria’s Melange
Wednesday, September 24 - The Book Wars
Thursday, September 25 - Bunbury in the Stacks
Friday, September 26 - Manga Maniac Café
Monday, September 29 - Read Now Sleep Later
Tuesday, September 30
 - The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Wednesday, October 1
 - Word Spelunking
Thursday, October 2 - Proud Book Nerd
Friday, October 3 - Book Haven Extraordinaire

Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to US and Canada residents only. Ends 10/06/2014. The prize is a hardcover 50th anniversary edition of The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander.
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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19. The Sound

US and UK covers

US and UK covers

The Sound by Sarah Alderson

ISBN-10: 1442499338

ISBN-13: 978-1442499331

Publication date: 1 August 2014 by Simon Pulse

Category: Young Adult Contemporary Thriller

Keywords: Summer vacation, Realistic Fiction, Murder

Format: Hardcover, ebook

Source: Review copy provided by Author

17-year-old Londoner Ren Kingston flees a bad breakup for the summer by taking a job as a nanny for a young family vacationing on Nantucket Sound. At first, it seems like paradise: easy work, beautiful scenery, and unsupervised teenage parties. She even manages to attract the attention of handsome, wealthy Jeremy Thorne, which helps to soften the pain of her recent heartbreak. Affairs start to get complicated when she also starts befriending (and maybe falling for) local bad-boy Jesse Miller, but it's no big deal--she gets to go home at the end of the summer.

When bodies (of attractive young foreign au pairs) start turning up in the Sound (just like the summer before), Ren's mom threatens to pull the plug on her plans. Animosity flares up between Jeremy and Jesse--and Ren suspects it has nothing to do with her, and has rather more to do with the fact that Jesse nearly killed one of Jeremy's preppy buddies the previous year.

I really enjoyed this whodunit, though mostly because I found a lot to relate to among the characters. Ren and I have something in common--she's a blogger, though for music rather than books--which made me like her even more. She's funny and easy to care for, even if she seems to get dropped into too-good-to-be-true circumstances. I also really enjoyed the music she listens to (c'mon, Dry the River? I wanted to high-five my Kindle). That, and she gets a crush on a boy named Jesse Miller who just happens to play guitar in a band--dude, that was totally me when I was her age!

I'd really love to see Olivia Cooke play Ren in a film- or tv-movie-version, though I'm not sure who'd make a good Jeremy (and his twin brother, though i swear that doesn't play into the mystery portion of the story) or Jesse for that matter. I confess, in my mind Jesse was a slightly more serious Jake Wyler (as played by Chris Evans 13 years ago in Not Another Teen Movie), but maybe Sam Clafin (who starred with Cooke in The Quiet Ones) would work.

Ahem. Back to the topic at hand.

While I don't expect all other readers in the world to like Ren for those same reasons (I mean, what are the chances you are a funny blogger with a huge crush on Jesse Miller who plays guitar?) I think many readers will enjoy the summer romance, haves-versus-have-nots, slightly-predictable-but-creepy-nonetheless mystery. I thought that despite the Gossip-Girl-iness of it all (something the main character occasionally points out, so meta is she), the relationships felt believable, and Ren finds as many friends as she does foes. My only peeve: why did the US not get the cool UK cover art?

All in all, The Sound is a great summer read for when it's just too bloody hot to think (so basically all of Los Angeles needs to read this book right now).

I received this book for free from Sarah Alderson for review purposes.




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20. Melissa Marr at BN The Grove Recap

See how excited Kimberly is to see Melissa Marr?

See how excited Kimberly is to see Melissa Marr?

Hi, everyone. Last night I went to the Melissa Marr event at Barnes & Noble at The Grove. This was sort of a last minute event. I wasn't planning to go but Kimberly convinced me that it would be the fun thing to do - and she was right. Melissa was there to promote her newest novel, Made For You, a creepy contemporary about a young woman and the serial killer who is obsessed with her.

While I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of authors in the last few years, this was my first time meeting Melissa. I was immediately struck by how energetic and gregarious she was. As she said, she is "very animated" and "extremely caffeinated." It was a small, intimate crowd, which meant that the event wasn't very formal. Melissa talked a bit about herself and about how the new book was inspired by real life events that happened to her when she was in her 20's. Melissa had a stalker, a man who appeared one day claiming to be a police officer. Melissa wisely deflected his attentions but he showed up later that weekend trying to climb into her window for their "date." Unlike the stalker in her novel, Melissa's stalker never tried to kill her or her friends and she eventually moved away where he could not find her. 

She said that the book left her feeling emotionally raw because, in order to make the reader feel what the characters are feeling, she had to pull up those own feelings in herself. She had to bring back the memories and feelings of what it was like to have her own stalker.

Melissa also said that she writes a good serial killer because both her editor and son thought that the sections of the book from the serial killer's point of view where a little too spot on. Her son even proceeded to give her a serial killer quiz while they were grocery shopping. Good news - she passed.

She also let drop the news that there is another Wicked Lovely book in the works. Her daughter was unhappy with the original ending to the series and recently handed her a 60,000 word draft of an alternate book/ending. She plans to edit it and add to it and hopefully publish. The working title for the book is Brightest Vengeance

Melissa also had a bit of movie news for us. The movie is definitely happening and two actors have been cast. Unfortunately she could not divulge their names just yet, but everyone was excited to hear that the movie was moving along.

After more questions, it was time to sign books. Melissa was super gracious and spent a lot of time making conversation with everyone and signing big stacks of books.

We also got to see a mock up of Melissa's new picture book which comes out next spring. The book is entitled Bunny Roo, I Love You and will be released by Penguin. The book was written while she was in the hospital with her adopted infant son, who was working through the symptoms of being exposed to drugs in the womb. The book is illustrated by Teagan White and it's gorgeous.  I can't wait to see this one in person. 

Melissa also told me and Kimberly her pseudonym for a couple of upcoming romance novels she's written. I love a good smutty book and was super excited to hear that Melissa was delving into the romance genre. She said that the books are biker romances, inspired by her days running a biker bar in her youth.

As you can see, Melissa has led a pretty awesome and interesting life. It was a great pleasure to meet her and I am really excited to read Made For You and to see what other goodies she comes out with in the coming year.  Thanks to BN The Grove and Melissa for a fantastic event!

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21. Knockout Knits


Knockout Knits by Laura Nelkin

ISBN 10: 038534578X
ISBN 13: 978-0385345781

Publication date: 2 September 2014 by Potter Craft

Category: Adult nonfiction

Keywords: Knitting, crafts

Format: Paperback, ebook

Source: Finished paperback copy from publisher

 You guys! This book! I can't contain myself. I can't even right now. It's SO good. 

You have to understand, I love cables. I love lace. I love dropped and elongated stitches. I love twists and wraps... and they're all in here. 

It has not one, but two--TWO!--tams. My favorite kind of hat to knit. 

I even learned something new after 13 years of knitting. I'd never heard of a life line before, but now it makes total sense to string a piece of thread through your work at intervals so that if you have to rip out a few rows, you won't lose too much ground.

There is also a great but somewhat scary section on beading. But don't worry, the book reassures me, "All these designs will be beautiful without beads!" So I can maybe attempt the Laden Cowl without before trying my hand at beading.


Laura Nelkin's book of accessories has everything I look for in a knitting book. Gorgeous photography shows off the designs, almost all of which are something I would not only make for myself (no gifts! all mine!) but also look fun and interesting to knit. it's well-organized and easy to read. It offers helpful information about choosing yarn fibers and colors for each project, and the looks are very modern and wearable. I think the techniques in this book will definitely flex my lace and cable muscles. I can barely believe this is her debut book, though I do recognize her style (my friend Stephanie teaches the Mudra Cuff in one of her Knitting University classes).

I'm not a huge fan of knitted jewelry, but I can definitely see myself knocking out a few of the cuffs and bracelets for holiday gifts. Ditto the tams and the great Folly Cloche (which reminds me of something the fabulous Miss Fisher would wear).

The fabulous Miss Phryne Fisher

The fabulous Miss Phryne Fisher

For more photos from the book, go to nelkindesigns.com

For more photos from the book, go to nelkindesigns.com

For myself, the Laden Cowl and Las Cruces Shawl are high up on my list to cast on. Really, the only project I don't ever see myself making are the Bootsy Boot Toppers (only because I am not a boot-wearer, and not anything to do with the pattern itself).

I would definitely recommend Knockout Knits to an intermediate knitter who knows how to read a pattern and has the basics down pat, maybe someone who is a little bored with the same-old same-old drill. You have to be willing to drop and pick up stitches, a scary trick for a beginning knitter who isn't yet comfortable with tensioning and pattern repeats. 

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for review purposes.

For photos of the projects, visit nelkindesigns.com.

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22. A Bed for Kitty


A Bed for Kitty by Yasmine Surovec

ISBN 10: 1596438630
ISBN 13: 978-1596438637

Publication date: 23 September 2014 by Roaring Brook Press

Category: Children's Picture Book

Keywords: Cats

Format: Hardcover, ebook

Source: Finished paperback copy from publisher

I dare you not to squee while reading A Bed for Kitty! I adore Yasmine Surovec's Cat vs. Human blog. She doesn't update as often as she used to, but that may be because she is busy making picture books now, and I can't fault her for that! 

Surovec draws upon her extensive cat-mom experience to come up with this adorable picture book. The story is very simple. You can find Kitty sleeping everywhere--in boxes, on books, on random pieces of furniture and clothing--everywhere except her actual bed. Eventually Chloe figures out a solution to get Kitty to sleep in the bed like she's supposed to.

I especially relate to this since it took months before our cat would sleep in the comfy bed we bought for her. This story is true to life! I love this book's design, particularly the endpapers which I think would make brilliant desktop wallpaper. The colors are cheerfully bright, and the humor gently understated. 

For more cat humor, check out Yasmine's blog at www.catversushuman.com.

I received this book for free from Macmillan for review purposes.


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23. Banned Books Week


This week is Banned Books Week!

I almost forgot to post about it, but I saw my friend Yukari had changed her profile pic to the CBLDF logo with Bone, and that was a great reminder. 

Banned Books Week is an annual event to celebrate the freedom to read. I am eternally grateful to my parents for trusting me to be able to make my own reading choices and not policing my reading. I understand if parents want to be involved with their kids' reading choices, but to then try to impose those restrictions on other people's children? Whoa, nellie. I'm so glad that there are people out there creating awareness to combat those who would seek to censor ideas just because they don't agree with them.

You can find more info at www.bannedbooksweek.org and banned comics at www.cbldf.org.

Here are some of my favorite banned or challenged books. Are you surprised at some of them? What are your favorites?

hungergames.jpg angelas.jpg giver.jpg thingsfall.jpg perks.jpg beloved.jpg feed.jpg

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24. Tabula Rasa Blog Tour

 Thanks to Egmont USA for asking us to host a stop on the Tabula Rasa blog tour! Check out info about this new YA thriller below, a Q&A with author Kristen Lippert-Martin, and enter for a chance to win a copy of the book. 


About the Book

The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this heart-pounding debut.

Sixteen-year-old Sarah has a rare chance at a new life. Or so the doctors tell her. She’s been undergoing a cutting-edge procedure that will render her a tabula rasa—a blank slate. Memory by memory, her troubled past is being taken away.

But when her final surgery is interrupted and a team of elite soldiers invades the isolated hospital under cover of a massive blizzard, her fresh start could be her end. 

Navigating familiar halls that have become a dangerous maze with the help of a teen computer hacker who's trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, Sarah starts to piece together who she is and why someone would want her erased. And she won’t be silenced again.

A high-stakes thriller featuring a non-stop race for survival and a smart heroine who will risk everything, Tabula Rasa is, in short, unforgettable.

Q&A with Kristen Lippert-Martin


RNSL: Did you have to do a lot of research for Tabula Rasa?

KLM: I guess I’d say I let the sci-fi stuff take precedent, but I definitely fact-checked the military-related elements. In other words, I didn’t let reality get in the way of the cool stuff at all. ;) But! One of my goals with the sci-fi elements in the story was to create a world and a scenario that felt like it could be real in the here and now.

Fortunately I have people in my life who can act as experts and give me advice. The scene in the opening where the helicopter arrives and starts shooting through the hospital windows—I had to fix that because I was told, “Oh, no way would a pilot get so close to the building. If a helicopter is going to fire a missile it’s got to back up and fire from a distance or else risk getting hit by the blowback and debris from the rockets it launches.” There were plenty of things like that I wanted to make sure were portrayed accurately.


RNSL: Tabula Rasa is your debut. How many books did you have to write before you got to this one, the one that sold? Do you write in a specific genre only, or in various genres?

KLM: I wrote two adult literary novels and two YA novels before selling Tabula Rasa. One of the YA novels was on submission for about a year and never sold.


RNSL: What were your biggest influences for coming up with this story?

KLM: A perhaps odd mix of things: an assortment of action movies and, believe it or not, Hamlet.

I loved the reboot of The Bourne Identity a few years back, and I thought that concept would be perfect for a YA novel. I thought the notion of “trying to figure out who you are while people are trying to kill you” a very apt metaphor for adolescence. ;)

As for Hamlet, I’m very much an over-thinker myself, and the idea of Hamlet as this character paralyzed by gloom and constantly mulling things over—yeah, that was something I was prone to doing as a teen. I wanted to create a character who was motivated to act, to save herself, as a way of snapping out of her apathy and indifference.


RNSL: Your bio says you like to rewrite endings to tv shows and books when you don't like the way they turn out. Can you give us an example? (I personally would have rewritten the ending of Buffy the Vampire Slayer so she ends up with Spike, though I admit that would have made for a much less compelling show.)

KLM: OMG! I would have done EXACTLY THE SAME THING. Spike was my favorite BtVS character. I was so rooting for the Buffy-Spike relationship… and uh, maybe we should get back to things!

See, this is what I’m talking about though. I think what I was doing as a kid, long before the internet, was what fans do now in writing fan fiction. You want to take this character you care about and create another dimension of reality for them. I was just a very sensitive kid, and I didn’t like seeing bad things happen, even to imaginary people, so I’d figure out ways for characters to get their happy endings. 


RNSL: Did you decide to write for teens and young people (and why), or is it one of those things where it just happened, and marketing placed your book in YA? 

KLM: For me it’s definitely case of “this is where I fit.” The kind of stories I write, the tone, the way I want my stories to end. I tell you, I’ve read enough books about bleak, middle-aged white guys unable to emotionally connect with the people in their lives to last the rest of my life. I know it’s not fair to say that’s what ALL adult literary fiction is but yikes, it sure takes in a lot of it.

I want to write action, sci-fi, humor, and romance—preferably all at once. And the place to do that, for me anyway, is YA. It just feels like home.


RNSL: When you were the age that your target audience is now, were you a reader? What were you reading?

I was an avid mystery reader—mostly Agatha Christie. But actually I think that happened when I was an older teen, say between 17-19. I’m embarrassed to say that I was not a big reader in high school. I mean, beyond what I had to read for school in English class. That might have been because the YA we know today just didn’t exist. It seemed like the whole of YA lit comprised two books: Catcher in the Rye, which I loved for the sarcasm but hated for the message (that growing up = tragedy), and A Separate Peace. I liked things about that story too, but I mean, come on. How many rich kid boarding school stories do we need?


RNSL: Cake or pie, or neither? What kind and why?

CAKE. I don’t even get pie. This is an argument that goes on in my household frequently. I find most pie to just be slimy fruit. My husband is a huge pie guy, but I’m like, “GANACHE, OK? When they make a pie with chocolate ganache, then we’ll talk!”

Cake preferences, depending on my mood: carrot, coconut, chocolate ganache, and lemon.

I spend weeks leading up to my birthday thinking about and planning for my cake. I am not screwing around with the cake, I tell you. ;)


About the Author

Kristen Lippert-Martin is a practicing geek. She holds an MFA from Columbia University. Her patronus is a platypus, and she prefers Star Trek to Star Wars. Do you really need to know more? I don't. (One of us! One of us!)

Tabula Rasa is her debut book. Her website is www.kristenlippertmartin.com and you can tweet her @KLipMart.

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25. Little Elliot, Big City


Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato

ISBN 10: 0805098259
ISBN 13: 978-0805098259

Publication date: 26 August 2014 by Henry Holt & Co. BYR

Category: Children's Picture Book

Keywords: Elephant, mouse, friendship, cooperation, desserts

Format: Hardcover

Source: F&G from publisher


Dedicated to "anyone who feels unnoticed", Little Elliot, Big City is about a pale, polka-dotted, pint-sized elephant who appreciates the little things in life. He has a box of small keepsakes, a sweet tooth, and finds inventive ways to solve everyday problems despite his small stature. One day he meets somebody even smaller and more helpless than himself, and helping out this littler creature really grows his self-esteem!

Little Elliot is a story about friendship, cupcakes, and how to not let your limitations stop you from becoming more than you are. I really love Curato's illustrations which have a very pastel mood and vintage style. His cupcake and macaron drawings make me want for run right down to the mall for some dainty sweet treats! The endpapers are achingly sweet. I love the colors and shadows, too.

The characters are very cute and the story has a great message as well. I hope this is only going to be the beginning for a long series of Elliot books filled with kind adventures and baked goods.

I received this book for free from Macmillan in exchange for an honest review.

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