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A couple of weeks ago on Friday evening, friends, family, and members of the Austin writing community gathered at BookPeople here in Austin, Texas to celebrate the release of POISON by the late Bridget Zinn.The event was organized by Bridget's family, and the turnout was awesome!
Three Austin authors read selections from the book. I chose a cute passage about the perils of crossing a river in your underwear with a pig on your head.
The readers smiling for a picture
L to R: Me, Nikki Loftin, and Cory Putman Oakes Members of the Austin writing community signed the book. A stamp with Bridget's signature was also used.
Signed by Me, Nikki Loftin, Cory Putman Oakes, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Greg Leitich Smith, Lindsey Lane, and Susan Kralovansky BookPeople was such a gracious host (as always), and it was a wonderful event.
L to R: Me, Barrett Dowell (Bridget's husband), Nikki Loftin, Cory Putman Oakes, and Mary Zuniga Johnson (Bridget's cousin)POISON is perfect for kids 3rd grade through high school. It has a wonderful main character, a rich fantasy world, and charm like I haven't seen in ages! You can have one of the signed copies from the event mailed to you. Contact BookPeople for more information.
POISON by Bridget Zinn (March 12, 2013, Hyperion)
Danny Woodfill, owner of one of our local indie bookstores, The Book Spot, contacted me to let me know that Ruta Sepetys was coming to speak at a local high school and did I want to come meet her and see her talk.Let me go into this saying that...
BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys (Philomel, March 22, 2011)
1) I knew absolutely nothing about Ruta Sepetys.
2) I knew absolutely nothing about BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY aside from the fact that it had been on the bestseller list for a long time and had a name very similar to an erotica book :)
But I actually adore watching other authors speak, so I headed to Round Rock High School to check it out.Now, here are my thoughts...
First, Ruta herself is amazing. I mean, she went from talking about the xBox to talking about Lithuanians under Stalin and left everyone in the audience wondering how that had just happened. Her speech was moving and filled with emotion and incredible. Impressing high school students is not an easy thing to do, and yet she did it masterfully.In short, if you can ever go hear Ruta speak, do it immediately.
Second, Ruta was such a nice person. I mean genuinely nice. Like I have a major girl-crush on her kind of nice. She talked about how honored she was to meet me (seriously) and how she couldn't wait to read my book.In short, if you ever get a chance to meet Ruta, do it.
(L to R) Jessica Lee Anderson, Ruta, and Me
Third, let's talk about the book. I talk about every book I finish here on the blog, and if I've finished a book, then I generally have nice things to say about it. But BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY goes on my absolutely must read list. Middle school kids, high school kids, or adults. This book should not be missed. It was so real and yet so well done for a younger crowd. I am awed.
In short, if you buy one book this year, make it SOLSTICE (sorry for the shameless self-promotion!). If you buy two books this year, make them SOLSTICE and BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY.
Have I convinced you?
Source of book: Purchased
About the book:Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously-and at great risk-documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.
You know those books you buy with every intention of reading, and then, for whatever reason, you just never pick them up to read, and then, when you finally do, years later, you're like why the heck did I wait so long to read this book? Yeah, that.
LITTLE BROTHER by Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen, April 29, 2008)
Here are Five Things I have to Say About LITTLE BROTHER:
1) I am kind of awed at how intense the main character, Marcus', emotions are. No matter what his situation, he acts exactly like how I would expect a teen boy to act, from the moments when he is taken by Homeland Security to his interactions with the two girls in his life, it's all real, all teen, all the time.
2) The book is the perfect mix of scary and humorous and intriguing. It's scary, because seriously frightening things happen to Marcus. It's humorous because the main characters and their interactions were so real, they truly made me laugh. And it's intriguing because there are so many interesting things to be learned.
3) Which kind of brings up my next point. Or the same point. I learned so many different things. It was kind of like a layer of CRYPTONOMICON learning. Like after reading that book, I felt like I could get at least ten different degrees. With LITTLE BROTHER it was the same sort of thing but much more focused. Lots of smarts hidden inside.
4) So silly, but yes, this cover completely works for me. And even more importantly, this cover completely works for the book. It's just that cool and unique and awesome. Like the cover? You'll like the book.
5) The book edge a bit upward on my scale of what age it's right for, so I'll go with 7th grade and up (as opposed to my normal 6th grade for lots of YA). Boys and girls will both enjoy it, with those interested in geeky things like computers (like me) and hacking and conspiracy theory at the front of the list. Highly recommended and totally worthwhile!
Source of book: purchased
About LITTLE BROTHER
:Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.
But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.
When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.
And just for the record, I am totally excited for the sequel, HOMELAND
(Tor Teen, February 5, 2013).
I consider myself a super lucky gal that I got a chance to read the latest book by Austinite Cynthia Leitich Smith early! There is nothing like a book delivery from the UPS guy to make my day!
FERAL NIGHTS by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, February 12, 2013)
Here are Five Things I have to Say About FERAL NIGHTS:
1) The wit and humor that Cynthia manages to pull off each and every time she writes a book amazes me. I find myself laughing out loud in the most unexpected places as a perfectly placed bit of humor slips into her story. What makes it so perfect is the fact that it is never overdone. Just the right amount at just the right time!
2) Character banter.* I've mentioned it before, but this is something I absolutely adore. The right character banter from the right characters to create the perfect tension, be it among friends or potential romantic interests, is something I would love to be able to pull off this well. Cynthia does it will a skill that is enviable.
3) FERAL NIGHTS
starts off on one course, and as I was reading, I was sure that was exactly where we were going to stay. But then, right in the middle of everything, right when I think I know what is going to happen, everything changes. We're whisked away to a whole new place to confront entirely new problems. I think the way this switch shows how different the problems are (and which are of the higher concern) is brilliant. It's like revenge switched to basic survival. What's a character to do?
4) So Cynthia manages to pull together all the mythical creatures of her past novels and then some. You're wondering what, aren't you? Like what is there besides were-creatures and vampires and the like?
Seeing as how that would be a complete spoiler, I'm not going to tell you. Suffice it to say, that my initial impression was, "OMG no way," and as I read on and on, I found it completely works. Well done!
5) Overall, FERAL NIGHTS
was a highly enjoyable read! Have no worries if you've never read any of Cynthia's books before. This book can be picked up and read at any time, no reading order required. It will appeal to fans of Cynthia's other books, and I also think those paranormal fans looking for a bit of a lighter read will enjoy it, too (due to the fun humor). It's engaging, well-crafted, and a pleasure! Highly recommended!
*Some of my all-time favorite character banter being from THE SCORPION KING 2. Yes, groan all you want to, the the banter in this movie made it great entertainment.
Source of book: From publisher by request
About FERAL NIGHTS
:Fans of the Tantalize quartet will thrill to see werepossum Clyde and other favorite secondary characters — plus all-new ones — take to the fore in book one of an all-new series.
When sexy, free-spirited werecat Yoshi tracks his sister, Ruby, to Austin, he discovers that she is not only MIA, but also the key suspect in a murder investigation. Meanwhile, werepossum Clyde and human Aimee have set out to do a little detective work of their own, sworn to avenge the brutal killing of werearmadillo pal Travis. When all three seekers are snared in an underground kidnapping ring, they end up on a remote island inhabited by an unusual (even by shifter standards) species and its cult of worshippers. Their hosts harbor a grim secret: staging high-profile safaris for wealthy patrons with evil pedigrees, which means that at least one newcomer to the island is about to be hunted. As both wereprey and werepredator fight to stay alive, it’s up to mild-mannered Clyde — a perennial sidekick — to summon the hero within. Can he surprise even himself?
Guys, I have been wanted to read this book ever since I first met Miriam! And it's so funny because a while back I had a chance to read the first ten or twenty pages, and it stuck with me until now. I was elated when Miriam announced her book deal news!Here are Five Things I have to Say About CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS:
CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS by Miriam Forster (February 5, 2013, HarperTeen)
1) I have to start off by saying that Miriam is a friend. That totally has nothing to do with my opinion of the book! I would have wanted to read this regardless. It is lovely, just lovely!
2) Can we just talk about the cover for a second? This is epic! And so unique! It draws the reader completely in, and I think teens, both fans of epic fantasy and not will agree.
3) Talking cats! Well, kind of. I mean, they talk in Nisha's mind telepathically. And the thing about these cats is that they're real characters in the story. We care about them and we love how protective they are of Nisha!
4) The world created by Forster is deep and rich and real. It's not all happy sunshine and roses. There are true hardships and realities in this world. Realities we don't want to see happen to our main character. And knowing these are dangers and possibilities makes it all the more fully developed.5) CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS is right up the alley of those interested in rich fantasy worlds. It should completely appeal to readers who loved GRAVE MERCY, SHADOW AND BONE, and GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS. Highly recommended for (mostly) girls, 6th grade and up!
Source of book: From publisher by request
*****About the book:The girl with no past, and no future, may be the only one who can save their lives.
Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a little girl. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. She makes her way as Matron's errand girl, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city's handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.
Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls' deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but also her life.
It was actually my son who suggested we buy this. All the kids at school had been reading it. And who am I to argue with a bunch of sixth graders?My thoughts:A TALE DARK AND GRIMM
A TALE DARK AND GRIMM by Adam Gidwitz, illus. by Hugh D'Andrade (Dutton, October 8, 2010)
is kind of a fairy tale retelling and, then again, it's kind of not. Regardless of what it is, the book was a delight to read. It's so different than anything else on the market, and totally caters to those kids in middle school that are so hard to please. And it has great both boy and girl appeal. That said, it's a little gory, so maybe keep it at fourth grade and up. I loved it and would totally recommend it!
Source of book: Purchased by me
About the book:In this mischievous and utterly original debut, Hansel and Gretel walk out of their own story and into eight other classic Grimm-inspired tales. As readers follow the siblings through a forest brimming with menacing foes, they learn the true story behind (and beyond) the bread crumbs, edible houses, and outwitted witches.
Fairy tales have never been more irreverent or subversive as Hansel and Gretel learn to take charge of their destinies and become the clever architects of their own happily ever after.
I'll admit it. The thing that pushed me over the edge to read this book (or actually to listen to it on audio) was the movie theater poster. It looked so intriguing and dark and tasty, and so I grabbed it off of Audible.com and started listening.Here are five things I have to say about ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER:
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER by Seth Grahame-Smith (Grand Central Publishing, March 2, 2010)
1) I listened on audio, and though I LOVED the audiobook narration, after checking the Amazon page and seeing all the internal photographs and illustrations I missed, I'm kind of wanting to head to my nearest bookstore to check those out. So if you love audiobooks, this is a great one to choose, but know that you'll miss some cool extras.
2) The book, though it seems so simple in its concept, really make me step back and think about the whole time period, slavery, the struggles everywhere. I love the bizarre slant that it put on everything, and now, every time I think of Abe, I'll know the truth about him.
3) Which speaking of, the way the truth and the fantasy was woven together was seamless. I believed every bit of the story as I was reading, and I enjoyed trying to piece out what was actually real and what was complete fabrication.
4) Don't read this book if you're going to get annoyed at the idea of taking history and turning it a bit on its side. This is a book that takes itself seriously while at the same time managing to have a great time.
5) Read this book if you enjoy alternate histories. Read this book if you're looking for a quick, enjoyable, deep read. Read this book if you love vampires and are looking for something featuring their darker side. Highly recommended!The Book TrailerThe Movie Trailer
Source of book: Purchased on Audible.com
From Amazon:Indiana‚ 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his dying mother's bedside. Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire. Gifted with his legendary height‚ strength‚ and skill with an ax‚ Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.
Clear Off Your Shelves Challenge
Debut Author Challenge
** Read Alouds
- The Story of Beautiful Girl - Rachel Simon
- Agatha Christie: An Autobiography - Agatha Christie (NF)
- Scarlet - A. C. Gaughen (YA)
- One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are - Ann Voskamp (NF)
- Swindle - Gordon Korman (MG)**
- Breadcrumbs - Anne Ursu (MG)
- Wonderstruck - Brian Selznick (MG)**
- The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie - Wendy McClure (NF)
- A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke - James Horn (NF)
- Wonder - R. J. Palacio (MG)
- Circle of Secrets - Kimberley Griffiths Little (MG)
- A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar - Suzanne Joinson
- Chained - Lynne Kelly (MG)
- Starters - Lissa Price (YA)
- The Fault in Our Stars - John Green (YA)
- Toilet Paper Tigers - Gordon Korman (MG)**
- Zoobreak - Gordon Korman (MG)**
- Love in Mid-Air - Kim Wright Wiley
- The Bee-Loud Glade - Steve Himmer
- The One and Only Ivan - Katherine Applegate (MG)
- Wildflowers in Winter - Katie Ganshert
- Touch Blue - Cynthia Lord (MG)
- Under the Never Sky - Veronica Rossi (YA)
- A Voice for Kanzas - Debra MacArthur (MG)
- The Gathering Storm - Robin Bridges (YA)
- A Summer to Die - Lois Lowry (YA)
- Where the Broken Heart Still Beats - Carolyn Meyer (YA)
- The No-Brainer Wardrobe - Hayley Morgan (NF)
- All Over But the Shoutin' - Rick Bragg (NF)
- New Found Land - Alan Wolf (YA)
- If I Lie - Corrine Jackson (YA)
- Sister - Rosamund Lupton
- Emily's Dress and Other Missing Things (YA)
- Hound Dog True - Linda Urban (MG)
- Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults - Cheryl B. Klein (NF)
- Glory Be - Augusta Scattergood (MG)
- A Breath of Eyre - Eve Marie Mont (YA)
- The Mysterious Affair at Styles - Agatha Christie
- Sanctuary - Agatha Christie
- The Thank You Room - Serenity Bohon (NF)
- Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
- The Wild Wood - Julie Anne Nelson (YA)
- Selkirk's Island: The True and Strange Adventures of the Real Robinson Crusoe - Diana Souhami (NF)
- Crossed - Ally Condie (YA)
- The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains - Nicholas Carr (NF)
- The Ruins of Us - Keija Parssinen
- Where Things Come Back - John Corey Whaley (YA)
- Grave Mercy - Robin LaFevers (YA)
- Small Medium at Large - Joanne Levy (MG)
- The Mapmaker and the Ghost - Sarvenaz Tash (MG)**
- Chime - Franny Billingsley (YA)
- The Case of the Deadly Ha-Ha Game (MG)**
- Horton Halfpott: or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset - Tom Angleberger (MG)
- Cryer's Cross - Lisa McMann (YA)
- A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness (YA)
- Remarkable - Lizzie K. Foley (MG)
- Paper Covers Rock - Jenny Hubbard (YA)
- Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein (YA)
- Small Damages - Beth Kephart (YA)
- Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World - Temple Grandin, Sy Montgomery (MG/NF)
- Summer of the Gypsy Moths - Sara Pennypacker (MG)
- One for the Murphys - Lynda Mulally Hunt (MG)
- The Power of Habit - Charles Duhigg (NF)
What have you read so far this year?
A new book by Libba Bray is always something to celebrate, especially when the promised tone of the book reflects A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY (which I absolutely loved). So I've been waiting for this book to come out since I first heard about the deal in Publishers Marketplace.Here are five things I have to say about THE DIVINERS:
THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray (Little, Brown, September 18, 2012)
1) I've always been a bit scared to write a novel set in a historical time period, and THE DIVINERS
kind of reminds me why. There is historical research the way most authors do it, and then there is historical research the way Libba Bray does it. Nothing can quite compare (with the possible exception of REVOLUTION
by Jennifer Donnelly (Delacorte, October 12, 2010) which also had an amazing amount of research involved). Few books make me feel like I am actually back living in a given time period, but Libba Bray once again manages to capture the time perfectly. From the parties to the lingo to the necessities like clothing and food, reading this book will make a virtual flapper girl out of just about anyone.
2) There are hints of romance throughout, and then a bit more romance toward the end, but this book is just not about the romance, which is kind of refreshing given a YA market filled with stories that have romance at the forefront. Don't get me wrong. I'm all about the romance. But I'm also all about a story that makes me forget I'm all about the romance.
3) It's a ton of fun to read a young adult book that breaks so many of the "rules" set in place in the young adult market today. Point of view. Present vs. past tense. Backstory. THE DIVINERS
takes all these "guidelines" and pretty much tosses them out the window. And it totally works. I got so caught up in the reading that I forgot to even think about the writing.
4) I have to mention the story line because it's clever and twisting and seriously scary. THE DIVINERS
had me reading late late late into the night to find out how the main character, Evie, was going to get herself out of such a mess (which, of course, she had to get into). And once I finished, I wanted to sleep with the light on all night.5) Read THE DIVINERS if you are looking for a rich comfort read that you can relax into. Read THE DIVINERS if you love Libba Bray and her writing. Read THE DIVINERS if you want to be transported to another time period while still soaking up young adult fantasy. Highly recommended!
From Amazon:Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies." When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.
Source of book: From publisher by request
I know it's not time for my favorite books of 2012 post, but I have to tell you guys that this one is definitely making the list!Here are Five Things I Have to Say About SPLINTERED:
SPLINTERED by A. G. Howard (Amulet Books, January 1, 2013)
1) Don't judge a book by its cover, right? We've all heard it. I have two things to say about that.
a) We all judge books by their covers.
Why would publishers bother with covers at all if they weren't judged?
b) I LOVE this cover.
Seriously, the cover is the first/main reason why I wanted to read the book.
And I LOVE this book.
Here is the math equation for what I'm trying to say:
2) Next, we'll move right on to the love triangle. I hear what you guys are saying. You think love triangles are so yesterday. But SPLINTERED
has one of the very best
love triangles I have yet to read in young adult fiction. I was so torn between which guy I wanted Alyssa to end up with. So torn. If I had to pick, I'd say I was mostly Team Morpheus.
3) Which moves us next to the ending. BRILLIANT!!!! I am in love with the ending of this book. From the humor to the romance to the promises of more to come.p.s. I want a sequel RIGHT NOW!
4) The visuals are exquisite. From every bit of Wonderland to the skate park to the clothes that Alyssa wears, I have vivid images in my mind of what every little detail looks like. Yet, that said, while reading, I didn't even once feel bogged down in the description. It was executed seamlessly.
5) Yes, I know I tell you guys that I love everything! And truly, if I've taken the time to finish a book, then that means I've enjoyed it (for the most part). In the case of SPLINTERED
, though, like I've mentioned, it's really high at the top. It's fun and scary and deep and has beautiful character development. Teens will eat this book up and want more. And be prepared for them to want to go back and read the original ALICE IN WONDERLAND stories once they finish. Highly recommended for girls and boys, fans of ALICE, fans of fantasy, those who have loved ones suffering from mental illness, middle school and up.
From Amazon:This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.
Source of book: From publisher by request
There is nothing quite like getting a sneak peak at a book I'm super-excited to read, and now, not only do I get to tell you guys all about the book, I get to help with the cover reveal, too!Here are Five Things I Have to Say About PIECES:
PIECES (THE BREAKAWAY #2) by Michelle Davidson Argyle (Rhemalda Publishing, February 14, 2013)
1) First off, yes, this book is a sequel. But that said, it will also completely satisfy people looking for a standalone read. THE BREAKAWAY ended in a conclusive manner with just enough open to leave us wanting more, and PIECES
picks up with us getting a glimpse into the past but jumping full speed into the future.
2) PIECES kind of fits into this whole new genre people are hyping, "New Adult."
Our main character, Naomi, is a few years older than in THE BREAKAWAY. She's in college, yet she's not far her teenaged years at all and has the same emotions seen in young adult novels. With this in mind, PIECES should appeal to those who read young adult and those who like novels aimed at more the adult crowd, too.
3) Talk about a page turner! Once I started reading PIECES, I couldn't stop. I had to find out what was going to happen, who Naomi was going to chose, and what choices she was going to make.
4) And when it comes to choices, Naomi gets in way over her head and has some big choices to make—choices that will impact the rest of her life. Michelle does a great job letting us see into Naomi's head and live her struggles along with her.5) PIECES is highly recommended for fans of realistic fiction, young adult or adult, those who have read THE BREAKAWAY or not. I dare you not to love it!
Source of book: From author
About PIECES:Two years after watching her kidnappers go to prison, Naomi Jensen is still in love with one of them. Jesse will be released in a few years, and Naomi knows college is the perfect distraction while she waits. But when her new friend Finn makes her question what is right and what is wrong, she begins to wonder if Jesse is the one for her … until she discovers he's out on parole. Naomi must sort through her confusion to figure out where love and freedom truly lie—in Finn, who has no connections to her past, or Jesse, who has just asked her to run away with him.
Pieces is a companion to The Breakaway and can be read independently, if desired.
Not only am I so excited about the release of a new book by Laini Taylor, I'm even more excited that she will be here in Austin, Texas, this Thursday night, November 8th, at BookPeople!
In celebration of Laini visiting our awesome town, she has stopped by the blog and answered a few questions for us about herself, her book, and her writing!
And before you forget, run out TODAY and buy her new book, the hugely-anticipated sequel to DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE!
DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, November 6, 2012)
THE EVENT DETAILS!
Thursday, November 8th
BookPeople (7:00 PM)
603 N. Lamar, Austin, TX 78703
(NOTE: There will be prizes.)
And now, here's Laini!
PJHOOVER: I love the blend of real world and myth in your worlds. The two worlds are layered so well throughout. What first sparked the idea for the worlds in the series?LAINI:
Thank you! The seed of the book was a scene that came out of freewriting, in which a blue-haired girl was arguing with her monster father. There wasn’t a big picture or idea, I didn’t have any premise or concept in mind, I just fell in madly love with these characters and wanted to know who they were. I have found my optimal process to be a systematic alternation of freewriting and brainstorming. Starting out, I love to just let go and see what happens, what seeds of ideas my mind flings wildly out, and which of them end up intriguing me the most. In this case, Daughter of Smoke & Bone pretty much arose from the fact that Brimstone was wearing a wishbone around his neck and was a peddler of teeth, both things that appeared by chance in that first freewrite. It took thousands of words (and several months) of what-ifs to get a complex plot to “snick” into place. So, what is initially born out of a state of forced creative abandon (freewriting) is pretty quickly subjected to a much more rigorous and analytical state of mind (brainstorming). This wasn’t really your question, but I guess the answer to your actual question is that the worlds weren’t pre-planned. I didn’t know starting out that there would be another world. I believe that my freewriting brain supplied “the other door” in the back of Brimstone’s shop—freewriting brain is always throwing me mysteries to solve!—and … it had to lead somewhere … and somewhere became Elsewhere.PJHOOVER: When it comes to marketing, what do you think makes the biggest difference in whether a book is successful?LAINI:
This is a great mystery to me, and probably always will be. My thought is that the greatest factor—and probably the only quantifiable one—is publisher marketing dollars. Authors feel a lot of pressure to generate heat and buzz, but it is just so hard. Unless you’re already famous, then your voice just won’t reach very far no matter what you do, and every moment you spend on marketing efforts is stolen from writing. It’s not that it wouldn’t be worth it if it worked, I’m just not sure it does. Depressing answer? Sorry. I might be totally wrong!PJHOOVER: Finish this sentence, and tell us why. Writing is a lot like…LAINI:
Writing is a lot like … um … dieting. No, really! It takes a lot of will and discipline and stubbornness, and it really affects your emotional well-being. A good writing day and I’m on top of the world, filled with confidence, pride, calm, happiness. A bad writing day and I’m anxious, grumpy, self-scathing, good-for-nothing. It’s the same with dieting. In both cases, at the end of the day, my self-worth is up or down depending on how I did!PJHOOVER: What has been your favorite experience as an author thus far?LAINI:
It’s very hard to say! My earliest awesome moment was at a writing festival, when an 11-year-old boy swooned at my feet! He was a fan of my Dreamdark books, and literally fell into a swoon, on the ground, upon meeting me. That was pretty great. After that, I’d have to say that the parties that my publishers themed on Daughter of Smoke & Bone were pretty much beyond my wildest dreams. Little Brown’s was in New Orleans, and included “smoke” and “bone” cocktails, props like skulls, a fortune teller. My UK publisher hired this amazing costume firm, Prangsta, to kit out a historic nightclub in Piccadilly—and I got to dress up like a chimaera!PJHOOVER: Please share your favorite inspirational thought!LAINI:
For writers: "Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity."
- Louis Pasteur
I have a lot more on writing, and a whole column of favorite writing-related quotes here: http://notforrobots.blogspot.com/PJHOOVER: Thank you so much for being here!
***About DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT:
How I love finding a series I truly love! I've been dying to read this book since finished CINDER!
SCARLET (Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer (Feiwel & Friends, February 5, 2013)
Here are Five Things I have to say about SCARLET:
1) It's so great to just be able to settle into a book and enjoy it, especially when it's a sequel. I have this very bizarre feeling while reading these books that I know I can just trust the author to write me an enjoyable story, and Marissa Meyer does not disappoint.
2) Marissa does a fantastic job sealing a wonderful story inside a single book while still keeping the overall series story arc going. I am going to read book three as soon as I possible can, and I know I won't be disappointed. Bring it on!
3) I just have to say again what a fun twist it is on these fairy tales to see them brought to the sci-fi setting. It's great to see what connections I can make from the original stories to the recreation. Brilliant!
4) How I love the settings of these stories. We are on Earth, but it's Earth in the way future. Another brilliant stroke because it helps the reader connect with the story on one more level.
5) Sure, there is romance. But it is not all about the romance at all. And yet, what romance there is works so well. It's the perfect touch of romance mixed in with a kick-butt plot and characters to die for!In short, totally, highly recommended, boys and girls, 6th grade and up! Start with CINDER and move on from there.
:Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.
Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.
Source of book: From publisher by request
By: Caroline Starr Rose,
Blog: Caroline by line
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On Friday I posted about the books I've read in 2012 and mentioned I have only two reading goals for this upcoming year. Both are a result of some soul searching and a longing to nurture my reading life. Curious now? Here they are:
The Lucy Maude Montgomery Journals Read Along:
I first read these journals a decade ago and firmly believe they will be books I re-visit throughout my life. Already a number of you have told me via blog comments, email, or even Christmas card that you plan on reading along. Watch for details in the weeks ahead.
Forgo Goodreads and a public "Currently Reading" list for the year:
I love the opportunity to talk about books. Goodreads
has been a wonderful place to both get recommendations and comment on friends' selections, but this, along with my easily accessible currently reading page, has left me exhausted, friends. I know few of you are so interested in my reading that you check in regularly to see what's going on, but just the thought that I've made this very special aspect of my life so public has drained me considerably. I've talked a bit about this here
Part of being an author in the age of social media means maintaining a public persona. I'm finding that while I enjoy this, right now, I'd like to reclaim my reading as something private, something for me only. I will be beholden to no one this upcoming year and am already relishing what this will mean for me as a reader. I'm an introvert, remember?
I crave privacy and am trying to intentionally build it in where I can.
This doesn't mean I won't blog about reading! I can't imagine never talking about books. There will be On My Nightstand posts
, posts that highlight books in various ways, currently reading discussions on my May B. Facebook page
. What you won't get is a blow-by-blow of everything I'm reading. That I'll keep in a journal I started and have faithfully kept since 2005
. I'll continue to read your recommendations over at Goodreads. And I know I'll click over just to see the pretty covers in my own collection. But there will be no new postings there.
What are your reading goals for 2013?
It's an even ten this week!NMD read to me:Humpty Dumpty Climbs Again by Dave HorowitzNo Bows! by Shirley Smith Duke, illus. by Jenny MatthsonWorst Best Friend by Alexis O'Neill, illus. by Laura Huliska-BeithI read to NMD:A Book by Mordeicai GersteinBusy Bea by Nancy PoyderLibrary Mouse: a Friend's Tale by Daniel KirkMaybelle, Bunny of the North by Keith PattersonSpoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal,
I Read to NMD:Egg Drop by Mini GreyStay Away From Rat Boy! by Laurie Lears, illus. by Red HansenTrudy by Henry ColeNMD Read to Me:People Magazine: Special Selena Gomez & Demi Lovato Collector's IssueWe Read Together:Grandfather Buffalo by Jim ArnoskyHmmm....what to make of this week's selection. A mixed bag, to say the least. I had such high hopes for Egg Drop--Traction Man is a favorite here.
This week NMD and I have combined older titles with newer. While she makes her way through Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater, I have been on picture book duty. Here's the current list, some of which I have already commented on.I read to NMD:1000 Times No, as told by Mr. WarburtonBlueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskeyFunny Farm by Mark TeagueGrumpy Grandpa by Heather Henson, illus. by
If you're like me, you have dozens of books on your shelves you've never read. Join me in the Clear-Off-Your-Shelves Challenge and read your way through them!
The OFFICIAL challenge runs from October 1, 2009 until November 30, 2009. Instead of listing specific titles you plan on reading, you commit to a percentage. For example, if you want to read a few things from the library and something you've just bought during the same time period, pick a percentage (maybe 70% ?) to reflect the majority of your books will come from your own shelves. Once the challenge ends, you'll create a list of titles read.
The UNOFFICIAL challenge (that I'm issuing!) will continue until October 1, 2010, with no percentages to worry about. Just read those things on your shelves you've always meant to get to and make a list. A year from now we can share.
If you'd like to participate, you can sign up officially at S. Krishna's Books. Unofficially, let me know here. I'd love to know at anytime what you're reading and am sure I'll post about my titles along the way. Happy reading!
So I signed up for the Clear-Off-Your-Shelves Challenge and I have books I need to finish for my after-school book clubs. I really was going to check out Catching Fire on CD, just to listen to as I ran errands. It wasn't available at my library in CD, but I did find the book there, just waiting for me. All other reading material has had to wait.
Let's talk about Gale, Katniss, Peeta, and all other things connected with The Hunger Games and Catching Fire (I'm not done yet --maybe 75 pages to go--so please don't give anything away!).
Things I'm loving:
1. The world building is not overdone or over-explained. Collins has created a really intriguing and disturbing place that isn't bogged down with extras.
2. The pacing of the two novels is so different, and it works. The hyper-speed pacing of Catching Fire assumes our understanding of the first book (with some introductory material for those new readers) but also mirrors the urgency in the possible rebellion.
3. The romance is too fun. I really like Gale and would have picked him for Katniss if there weren't this Peeta guy.
4. The development as Haymitch's character (through backstory) is interesting, as is the relationship between Katniss and Haymitch. He's a multi-layered character I'd love to learn more about. Book three?
5. The commentary on modern society is scathing. Though we are not these people, we treat violence at entertainment without a second thought. I so wish I had known of The Hunger Games while teaching about ancient Rome.
6. I love the way Katniss out-smarted the Capitol. Only in taking her death into her own hands did she have any control.
7. While reading The Hunger Games I kept thinking there was no way both Peeta and Katniss would be killed. The change in rules (to keep two from a District alive) and the sudden switch back (to only have one Victor) were excellent plot devices.
Things I would have done differently:
1. I found the Tribute muttations at the end of The Hunger Games a little much. I understand the idea: even in death these people are not in control of their destiny. Still, a little goofy.
Actually, I think that's it! The rest I've found really compelling. How about you? What are your thoughts on this series?
Not since 1984 have I been so provoked by a dystopian novel. In MATCHED, lives are perfectly arranged: nutritious meals are doled out to meet individual needs; information is accessible only to those with specific jobs; paintings, music, and poetry have been reduced to lists of 100 (only the government-sanctioned pieces survive); couples are paired off at seventeen; and death is scheduled to avoid surprise.
THE HUNGER GAMES pointed to our culture’s obsession with violence as entertainment. FARHENHEIT 451 revealed lack of intellectual curiosity is just as destructive as oppression. 1984 exposed the way language informs thoughts, that fewer words mean fewer ideas. MATCHED shows a convenient, scheduled, safe, controlled life is no life at all.
MATCHED is chilling. Thought provoking. Beautifully written. It deserves to be ranked with the best in dystopian fiction.
“Yes, I think. Let’s put me back together, back to how I was. Then, there will be time for everything else.”
What I’m reading…THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME by Allison Winn Scotch
One of only two survivors of a plane crash, Nell Slattery wakes in the hospital with no memory of the horrific experience-or who she is, or was. Now she must piece together both body and mind, with the help of family and friends, who have their own agendas. She filters through photos, art, music, and stories, hoping something will jog her memory, and soon, in tiny bits and pieces, Nell starts remembering. . . .
It isn’t long before she learns to question the stories presented by her mother, her sister and business partner, and her husband. In the end, she will discover that forgiving betrayals small and large will be the only true path to healing herself-and to finding happiness.
Lena Dunham, the creator and star of the hyped and critical darling HBO show Girls, spoke to the New York Times about what she likes to read and where she does it. Currently she is reading “Bad Behavior” by Mary Gaitskill (a collection of stories, one of which became the inspiration for the movie Secretary,) Diane Keaton’s memoir and “Having it All” by Helen Gurley Brown, among other things. It’s not surprising how well read Dunham is since it is evident in her writing.
What are your thoughts on Lena’s reading list? Have you watched GIRLS?
Concept alone should be enough to make you pick up this book! Add that to the fact that Gretchen McNeil is just pretty much awesome, and this book should move to the top of your TBR stack!TEN
by Gretchen McNeil (Balzer & Bray, September 18, 2012)
FIVE THINGS ABOUT TEN:
1) There is nothing better than when a book keeps you up late, late, late into the night reading. Such is the case with TEN. Seriously, as I got closer to the end, I honestly could not stop reading. I had to know what was going to happen. I had to know who the killer was!
2) No, I didn't guess the killer ahead of time. At all. And do you realize how cool that is? Sure, looking back, the clues were dribbled in beautifully, but I completely fell for the red herring. Really well done, Gretchen!
3) Concept is boss! Ten Teens. Three Days. One Killer. Yes, I know, this book will sell on concept alone. But then the book completely delivers a bundle of awesomeness.
4) I love the fact that Gretchen was not afraid to take risks with her characters. These people have some serious hardships and flaws, and they play into the story beautifully. 5) In short, TEN is Agatha Cristie's AND THEN THERE WERE NONE meets 13 REASONS WHY. It's perfect for boys and girls and a great fit for almost any genre of interest. It's mystery. It's realistic. It's drama. It's romance. TEN has something for everyone. Highly recommended!
Source of Book: From author by request
:And their doom comes swiftly.
It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives – three days on Henry Island at an exclusive house party. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their own reasons for wanting to be there, both of which involve Kamiak High’s most eligible bachelor, T.J. Fletcher. But what starts out as a fun-filled weekend turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.
Suddenly, people are dying and the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?
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From the second I saw this in the Tor Teen Book Buzz at ALA Midwinter, I wanted to read it. Not only did it sound fantastic, it looked fantastic (see (1) below). So color me excited when I got my hands on a sweet ARC to read!Here are five things I have to say about RENEGADE:
RENEGADE by J. A. Souders (Tor Teen, November 13, 2012)
1) I adore this cover! It's seriously one of the most intriguing (and beautiful) covers I've seen in ages. From the colors to the hair, dress, and body language of the girl, it completely drew me in and made me want to read it.
2) There is repetition in the novel done for effect, and I loved it. Seriously, it brought a smile to my face as I turned the page and started the new chapter. I enjoyed looking for the small changes and seeing where the story diverged. And it totally helped me understand and sympathize with the main character, Evelyn.
3) So I'm guessing this is the start of a trilogy, and lots of times, in the first book of a trilogy, we're left wondering at the end, "how did things ever get like this?"
It made me so happy that RENEGADE
explained the world and how it had come to be in its current dystopic state. Sure, that may change or we may not have the whole truth, but for now, I have my explanation and am happy.
4) I have to mention the romance, because I really loved seeing how the main characters were pushed/pulled together. I enjoyed watching their trust of each other grow alongside their feelings. Neither character is perfect. Both have some serious issues. But together, they are fabulous!
5) It's like MATCHED meets SERENITY, under the ocean. RENEGADE is packed with adventure, betrayal, deception, and romance. Highly recommended for girls (and boys who enjoy this type of book), seventh grade and up, fans of dystopian fiction!
Source of book: From publisher by request
From Amazon:Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she's believed that everything is perfect. Her world. Her people. The Law. But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into Elysium's secluded little world, Evelyn comes to a startling realization: Everything she knows is a lie. Her memories have been altered. Her mind and body aren't under her own control. And the person she knows as Mother is a monster. Together with Gavin she plans her escape, only to learn that her own mind is a ticking time bomb...and Mother has one last secret that will destroy them all.