Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Books to look for in 2009

2008 was a great year for books. I loved so many of them. And 2009 promises to be as good, if not better. So, what are you waiting to read?

Here's my list
1. Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
I know, I've talked about this a lot. Sisterhood, zombie apocalypse, sacrifice, romance. I've read it. I'll review it closer to it's publication date (April!). It's fabulous.
2. Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr
A sequel to Wicked Lovely. From Seth's point of view!
3. Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
Killer unicorns that can only be killed by warriors descended from Alexander the Great.
4. Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison
A teen, killed on prom night, is targetted by dark reapers but she decides to take control of her fate before it takes control of her.
5. Hunger by Michael Grant
Sequel to Gone. Three months since everyone over the age of 15 disappeared. Food has run out. And each day more and more kids develop supernatural abilities. And the Darkness has awakened. And is hungry.
6. Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater
Sequel to Lament, narrated by James, and a new faerie, Nuala. The stakes are higher and even more personal, plus, there are kings of the dead and vampiric faerie muses and bonfires.
7. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
About the first love between a 16-year-old girl and a boy who spends his winters as a wolf and is fighting to stay human as the temperature drops.

Don't they sound great? Have I missed anything you're eagerly awaiting? Let me know!
And happy new year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The art of Coraline

I'm back from Yosemite (SO beautiful) and wanted to tell you about the Art of Coraline exhibition at the Cartoon Art Museum that will run from January 24 - February 15, 2009.

The Cartoon Art Museum will present original works of art from the feature film Coraline, which will be released on February 6, 2009. Coraline will be the first ever stop-motion animated film to be shot in 3D (in stop-motion animation, everything seen on screen actually exists in the real world, as opposed to computer-generated animation) and this exhibition features drawings, storyboards, puppets, sets, costumes and more. This exhibit includes almost 80 pieces from the extraordinary world of Coraline, created by a team of over 300 artists.

The Cartoon Art Museum is located at
655 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
Tel: 415-CAR-TOON
For more information, check here
Hours: Tues. - Sun. 11:00 - 5:00, Closed Monday
General Admission: $6.00 * Student/Senior: $4.00 * Children 6-12: $2.00 * Members & Children under 6: Free

By the way, they currently have an exhibition of The Totoro Forest Project (inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s film My Neighbor Totoro).

Friday, December 26, 2008

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

How much do we owe our family and those we love?

It’s 1947, the war is over, and 15-year-old Evie’s stepfather, Joe, has come home. He decides, suddenly, to take his family to Florida for a vacation and it’s there that they run into Peter, who served with Joe in the war. He asks her to dance, takes her out, kisses her, and Evie falls for Peter, ignoring the fact that he’s older, that Joe doesn’t seem to like him, and that he’s so mysterious. There’s a storm, a boating accident, and Evie’s life starts to unravel, revealing all the lies, forcing her to pick sides, to choose between her allegiances to her parents and the man she has come to love.

With a very noir feel, this coming of age story has everything—style, secrets, betrayal, theft, first love, blackmail, racism, adultery, a perfume called My Sin, and yes, murder. Very visual, you can almost see this as a film — think LA Confidential. Now I see why this won the National Book Award.

And, by the way, did you know that Blundell also writes Star Wars novelizations?

PS I'll be away for a few days so want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy new year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Best of 2008

Well, it's Christmas Eve, I'm waiting for friends and family to arrive, and naturally I wanted to wish you all a happy holiday season. Wasn't it a great year for books? So many great titles. And I have such a huge TBR pile sitting by the side of my bed.

So here are my favorites of the year.

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2. Paper Towns by John Green
3. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
4. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
5. What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
6. Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr
7. The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
8. Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception by Maggie Stiefvater

I gave SO many of these this holiday season. Did I include your favorites? Which did I miss? Let me know. And enjoy the holidays.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

King Dork by Frank Portman

I know this is an older title, but I've been wanting to read it for a while. And it was worth the wait. By the way, Portman is also a musician, is in a band called the Mr T Experience, and even wrote some songs about the book (included on the audio version!)

Tom Henderson is smart, geeky, and at the very bottom of the social ladder. He wears combat clothes to keep the bullies at bay and spends his time with his friend Sam Hellerman playing video games and making up incredible and utterly outrageous band names and writing songs (many of which are brilliant, worth reading the book for (!)— like Margaret? It's God. Please Shut Up.) Tom does not know much about the exact circumstances of his father’s death (was it suicide? Murder? An accident?) So when he finds his Dad’s copy of The Catcher in the Rye, with secret messages inside, Tom decides to decode the messages, and try to find out more about his father (and, believe me, you’ll never think of Catcher in the Rye in the same way again, or the Ramones for that matter). Oh, Hillmont High school is a harsh and scary place for Tom.

Full of literary references, sex, drugs, and rock and roll this is a very different kind of novel. It takes a while to get used to the pace of the book but I found myself immersed and shaking with laughter at times. Yes, it’s very funny (OK, immature and wise–cracking but funny!) with a cast of characters that linger—especially Little Big Tom (my favorite!) and Mr Schtuppe, who teaches the class the art of mispronunciation. It's a coming of age story to remember.

And I hear it's going to be made into a movie, produced by Will Ferrell!

Friday, December 19, 2008

William C. Morris YA Award Finalists

Yes, end of year and time for awards. The William C Morris YA Award (a new award) honors a book written by a first-time author for young adults.

The finalists have been announced and they are:

A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne

Madapple by Christina Meldrum

Me, the Missing, and the Dead by Jenny Valentine

So -- have you read any of them? And if so, which would be your pick to win? I've heard only great things about four of them, and I'm sure the fifth must be fabulous too. Decisions, decisions -- which to read first...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantasky

I’ll start by admitting that I picked this book up simply because of the title (and the cover), which are hard to resist, don’t you think? So glad I did!

Jessica is a Pennsylvania teen who is good at math and is sighing wistfully over high school wrestler, Jake. But things change (oh, do they change) when Lucius Vladescu arrives on her doorstep from Romania claiming he is a vampire prince, destined to marry her, a union that will bring peace between two warring vampire clans. In fact, the promise of this marriage is the only thing that has kept a tentative peace for all these years. Did I mention that he claims she is really a vampire princess who was smuggled out of the country when her parents were being chased by an angry mob to keep her safe? And that her parents signed a pact declaring she would marry Lucius, the enemy clan prince, when she turned 18 to bring peace between thee clans. Of course Lucius is everything he should be, dark, brooding and gorgeous — but also arrogant, overbearing, and Jessica finds him incredibly annoying. And, equally naturally, Jessica doesn’t believe a word Lucius tells her. Who would? (OK, she knew she was adopted but vampires? Please!).

Lucius brings Jessica a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions to help in her transition (full of tips lke, “just remember, girls: The young vampire is a predator by nature. Some boys may look at you not only as a romantic interest, but as prey!”). But just at the point when she thinks life with Lucius is what she really wants, not the nice, safe, relationship Jake could offer, Lucius changes his mind and starts dating Faith, the blonde, star cheerleader. How confusing is that? So now Jessica has to choose to fight for Lucius (if she really wants him), try to stop a vampire war (which apparently would decimate her clan), and try to save Lucius from himself.

There are many twists along the way, and the author (can she really be called Fantaskey?) manages to keep you guessing right to the end. A great addition to the ever-growing teen paranormal genre.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Maggie Stiefvater News!

As many of you know, I really, really liked Lament by Maggie Stiefvater. So you can imagine how excited I was when she agreed to an interview with me. Keep checking --I should have the interview posted by the end of the week. Find out about what inspired her to write Lament, how important music is to her, what writers she admires most, and all about the sequels that I'm waiting so desperately for.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Story Siren is Hosting a Holiday Contest

Wow! The Story Siren is giving away TONS of free books in her holiday thank you contest. You can win one of THESE titles:

Braless in Wonderland by Debbie Reed Fischer (Hardcover)
Vidilia in Paris by Sasha Watson (ARC)
Fringe Benefits by Valerie Frankel (Paperback)
Nick of Time by Ted Bell (Hardcover)
THe Humming of Numbers by Joni Sensel (Hardcover)
The Legend of Mickey Tussler by Frank Nappi (Hardcover)
Gone by Michael Grant (ARC)
War of the Witches by Maite Carranza (Hardcover)
The Day I Killed James by Catherine Ryan Hyde (ARC)
Witch Season by Jeff Mariotte (Paperback)
Witch Season 2 by Jeff Mariotte (Paperback)
Jack: Secret Histories by F. Paul Wilson (Hardcover)
Chasing Windmills by Catherine Ryan Hyde (Hardcover)
No Choirboy by Susan Kuklin (ARC)
Courage in Patience by Beth Fehlbaum (Paperback)
Fabulous Terrible: Adventures of You by Sophie Talbot (Paperback)
Savvy Girl by Lynn Messina (ARC)
Secrets of My Hollywood Life: Family Affairs by Jen Calonita (Hardcover)
Secrets of My Hollywood Life: On Location by Jen Calonita (Hardcover)
For adults:
Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian
Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian
The Dream Hunter by Sherrilyn Kenton
Simmer Down by Jessica Conant-Parl and Susan Conant

If any of those titles interest you (and of course they will) here's how you enter: Leave a comment on her post (click here to get there). List your top four picks of the books you want from her pile with two alternates. Easy. And when you enter, make sure you let her know that you found out here (she’ll give you two (2) extra entries!).

Remember, all entries must be received by Friday Jan. 16, 2009. Good luck.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Coraline Book Trailer

Just heard from Evelyn, one of the winners of our Neil Gaiman gravestone giveaway. She sent me a link to her book trailer of Coraline, which I'm posting here so you can all see her work. Isn't it wonderful?

If anyone else has made book trailers, let me know and I'll post them for all to see.

Thanks Evelyn!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Neil Gaiman Gravestone Winners

Finally, here are the lucky winners of the gravestones signed by Neil Gaiman.

Drum roll

Out of the hat (beret) came these names:

1. Evelyn (disillusionedcupotea)
2. Lauren (Shooting stars mag)
3. Jeff (see photo)

And I gave one to Rina Weisman to auction for the Variety Children's Charity.

Congratulations all. I shall write and let you all know and place them at will call for you by Friday.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tattoo by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Can a shopping trip change your life? Annabel, Delia, Zo and Bailey are in the mall looking for something to wear for the school dance. They stop at an accessory booth where they pick out respectively a barrette, a necklace, a crystal, and a set of temporary tattoos that Bailey is inexorably drawn to. Each girl chooses a tattoo, which will totally change their lives.

The girls soon realize these tattoos have given them powers, special powers. One can read minds, one can create fire, one gets visions of the future, and one can change things (transmogrification). They are impressed, especially Delia who just thinks of all the great clothes she can now create. On the other hand Bailey hears voices and has dreams that tell her something evil is coming, an ancient prophecy that could destroy the world. So--can these girls save the world from this coming evil, solve the mystery, make sure the high school dance remains safe, and maybe help Bailey get a date with Kane before the tattoos wear off and their powers disappear?

This light-hearted, witty story of friendship, mythology, adventure, and fashion, is simply a lot of fun. The way the girls relate to each other reminds me of The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, with a supernatural subplot. I do hope there will be a sequel.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Moon

You knew it, I knew it, but they've just announced it. Summit Entertainment announced that the studio is officially moving forward with the production of NEW MOON, the second installment in the Twilight series. TWILIGHT, of course, arrived in theaters to sold-out showings.

Stephenie Meyer said, "I don't think any other author has had a more positive experience with the makers of her movie adaptation than I have had with Summit Entertainment. I'm thrilled to have the chance to work with them again on NEW MOON."

So, who do you think should play the Volturi? Do you agree with -- Pushing Daisies' Kristin Chenoweth as Jane, Crispin Glover as Aro, and Christopher Lee as Caius (well, he has played Dracula several times...)? I was thinking maybe Alan Rickman as Aro (he's so good as Snape). And shouldn't Jane be much younger?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Need by Carrie Jones

I try not to post reviews of books until they are published (it's SO frustrating to wait for a book once you've read a review that talks to you) but I read this last week and just can't wait any longer to tell you about it. And it IS out just before the holidays so you won't have THAT long to wait!

Need asks the question: How do you come to terms with the death of a beloved step dad? Zara is numb. She can’t function. Her phobias list is not helping. So her mother sends Zara to her grandmother in oh-so-cold Maine to see if this helps. She starts a new school, makes some new friends, meets a boy, Nick, and all this helps her to forget her sadness and the startling fact that someone is following her. The strange man she kept seeing in Charleston and thought was a figment of her imagination is now everywhere she goes in Maine. And he leaves a trail of gold dust behind him in this hauntingly bleak, snowy landscape.

I won’t give anything away if I say that yes, this man is a pixie, and not the cute kind you imagine with wings happily playing with flowers in the garden. These pixies are dangerous. They have uncontrollable needs. And one of them is following Zara, calling to her, pointing at her. What can he want? And why her?

I can’t tell you much more without giving the book away but it’s a compulsive read, romantic, and perfect for anyone who is looking for a book to follow the Twilight series, or who loved Melissa Marr's work. I couldn't put it down. Add it to your holiday list!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Competitions, competitions, competitions

Just heard about some great competitions. Presenting Lenore is giving away a signed set of the Gemma Doyle books by Libba Bray. (I really, really like this series. Have you read any of them?). She's also giving away a "publicist's choice" pack of books.

For the Gemma Doyle competition, click here. You have to write and tell her about a recent book you really loved. For the Penguin publicist's choice competition, click here. For this, all you have to do to win a box of books is leave a comment saying which Penguin title you most want to read (and there's a list posted of some of the Penguin 2008 titles). Both of these competitions are open until December 5th.

Finally, Juiciliousss is giving away a copy of Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos. To win, you have to leave a comment answering the question: What is your favorite winter holiday and why? If interested, please click here. This contest ends December 16.

Good luck!

Free Writing Workshop

Are you over 12 years old? Do you love to write? If so, there's a free writing workshop at the Menlo Park Library on December 12. Yes, really.

Lynn E. Hazen, author of the novel, SHIFTY (and several others) will be teaching this workshop. If you are interested you can sign up by sending an email to It's on a Friday evening from 7:00-9:00 p.m. and sounds great.

For more info, see

Friday, November 28, 2008

Coraline, the movie

The official trailer for Coraline, the upcoming movie, is now out and looks fabulous. It's made in stop motion and is in 3D. The result is an animated movie that really seems to conveys the original spirit of Gaiman's novel.

I've always loved the book and am creeped out by those button eyes. Comes out in February and I just can't wait!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

YALSA Teens' Top Ten List

The teens have voted! More than 8,000 teens voted on this year's winners. And the 2008 Teens' Top Ten is:

1. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
4. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
5. Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson
6. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
7. The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray
8. Extras by Scott Westerfeld
9. Before I Die by Jenny Downham
10. Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

So, did you vote? Did your choices make the top ten? Was Eclipse your favorite? And will you read these titles now you know so many people love them?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

I loved Life As We Knew It, a book that seemed to haunt me for weeks. So I had high, high expectations for The Dead and the Gone, a companion book about the same catastrophic events. And it is every bit as good as the first.

If Life As We Knew It was set in rural America, The Dead and the Gone is set in New York and centers on the Morales family. 17-year-old Alex is left to look after his two sisters as his father was in Puerto Rico and his mother was on her way to work when an asteroid hits the moon and knocks it out of orbit. They deal with people disappearing, food shortages, early, bitter winter, illness, volcanic ash in the sky, rats, but unlike Like As We Knew It, this is about faith and how one family can retain hope in such horrifying circumstances.

If anything, this moving story is even more brutal and even darker, despite knowing where the story must inevitably go. It is never obvious, and is as captivating as it is devastating. And it made me cry.

Did this haunt you as much as Life As We Knew It? Was it as powerful, knowing what was going to happen? Let me know. Oh, and this was reviewed in The New York Times by John Green this month. To read his review click here . He also reviewed The Hunger Games, another of my favorites this year, in the same article.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Finally, the movie is out. The wait is over. So have you seen it yet? (I went today.) What did you think? Was it every bit as good as you wanted it to be? Which actor/actress did you think was best for the role? (OK apart from, duh, Robert Pattison.) Which was your favorite scene? Did you squeal/melt/want to faint? And did you catch the glimpse of Stephenie Meyer in her cameo appearance?

Actually I thought it was quite faithful to the book, although a few things do happen out of sequence. I liked the scene where they first meet, in the science lab, and Edward looked like he was about to gag. Oh, and on the baseball field. What about you?

And how soon do you want Catherine H. to start shooting New Moon?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

National Book Award Winner

They've just announced the winners of the National Book Awards and for young people's literature the winner is
What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

Now I do admit that I was rooting for The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, because I loved it, but have now bumped What I Saw and How I Lied to the top of my to-be-read pile.

Click here if you want to read more about Blundell and the prize. Apparently on learning about her nomination, Blundell said, “I discovered that it's possible to not breathe and yet say 'oh my god' 14 times in a row.”

If you've read it, post and let me know what you thought of it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Paperback Dreams

Just thought I'd mention the PBS documentary, Paperback Dreams, that is airing this week. About the Bay Area's two landmark independent booksellers (yes, Kepler's is one of them) and their struggle to survive. Cody's and Kepler's helped launch a counterculture, and for 50 years have protected free speech and celebrated intellectual inquiry. At one time or another, the owners of these stores were harassed, vandalized, and threatened, for simply selling books. Watch for appearances by Joan Baez, the Grateful Dead, and Salman Rushdie. It is such a wonderful insight into recent history --and very moving, especially since Cody's has closed since making this documentary. It airs on KQED Channel 9

Wednesday, Nov. 19 -- 11:00 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 20 -- 5:00 a.m.

Let me know what you thought of it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Identical Winner

The winner of this month's competition for Identical by Ellen Hopkins is


I have no way of getting in touch with you other than posting here so please, please either contact me with an email address here on the blog or write to me at

And congratulations!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link Giveaway

Just found out about another book giveaway and had to post about it.

Book Chatter is giving away a copy of Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link on her blog

I've heard great things about this book! Here's Megan's review that sent it high on my to be read pile:

"What sort of book is Kelly Link's Pretty Monsters? It's a book full of stories that creep through the back door of your imagination and surprise you in the best way possible. It's a book with ghosts, aliens, monsters, a Las Vegas phone booth, and a handbag with an entire world hidden inside. The people in the stories are very much like you and me, except that the strange things we imagine in shadowy corners of our heads actually happen to them. These stories are weird and wonderful, and once you fall in, you'll have a hard time climbing back out. "

Friday, November 14, 2008

Interview with Twilight Director

Twilight opens so soon now. Can you stand the wait? I just found this interview with the director, Catherine Hardwicke, and had to post it here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater

Dierdre is a gifted harpist. Her best friend, James, plays the bagpipes beautifully. When a very nervous Dierdre, is comforted by a handsome flautist, Luke, and joins him on stage to win the competition, she has no idea who he is. And she is smitten.

It turns out that Dee is a cloverhand--someone who can see faeries--and nothing good comes to cloverhands who cannot control the fey. An assassin is sent to kill her, she realizes she can move things with her mind, and life has got a lot less ordinary. And of course her feelings for the unusual and compelling Luke grow stronger despite all misgivings. What has she got involved in? Who will she hurt in the process? Is she living The Faerie Girl’s Lament? And don’t most tragic heroes die in the end of most Irish ballads?

This is such a fabulous book. I fell into it gladly after an underwhelming and disappointing book group pick and stayed up late into the night to finish it. Brimming with doomed love, oh-so dangerous faeries, and music oozing out of every pore, it is simply wonderful. And you really are kept at the edge of your seat until the very end.

And fortunately there is going to be a sequel -- Ballad. The question is: Can I wait that long?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Neil Gaiman Interview and Gravestone Giveaway

Just wanted to let you know that my interview with Neil Gaiman is now posted here. Find out what inspired him to write The Graveyard Book, whether it was based on any graveyard in particular, will there be a more written about Nobody Owens, which of the graveyard skills he'd like himself, who are his favorite authors--things like that. He was charming, agreed to an interview while signing books, and I'd just like to say thank you publicly.

So--what did you think of the set for his event? Wasn't it fantastic? You know, all those gravestones were taken from the book. AND he signed a few at the end of the evening. Yes, you guessed it, I have one to give away. Really. So who wants it? Write and let me know and I'll pull names out of a hat. It's that easy!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Accio Deathly Hallows

For those of you who didn't make it to the John Green event (yes, I'm still talking about it) here's a video of Abby Simons singing her version of Accio Deathly Hallows. And I'm so sorry --my wonderful little flip video camera ran out of batteries in the middle of My Scientist, hence the abrupt ending. My apologies. But wasn't she awesome? You can see a full version of the song, however, at

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

John Green!

I hope you managed to join us to see John Green. He was fantastic (and yes, that is a yeti on his shirt!). And we had a packed house that night. People came from as far as Santa Cruz, Sacramento, Reno, and Oakland (thank you--we appreciate you driving so far).

He took questions from his online audience before the event, And lucky, lucky me --I got to interview him. Find out which characters he identifies most with, how working as a hospital chaplain affected his writing, what he's reading now, and advice for aspiring writers (and lots more). I'll post it in about a week so keep checking.

Today I'm posting a video of John reading in case you missed it (I know some of you came in late). I'll have video of Abby Simons, who played during the event, posted tomorrow.

Final thoughts: Which of his books (all great, I know) is your favorite? For me it's close, but I'll vote for Paper Towns. You?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Melissa De La Cruz Sweepstakes

Win lunch and $1,000 shopping spree with Melissa De la Cruz in her Blue Bloods Sweepstakes! All you have to do is click here and fill out the entry form you find there. Then send the filled -out entry form to: BLUE BLOODS SWEEPSTAKES, Disney Hyperion Books, 44 S. Broadway, 10th Floor, White Plains, NY 10601. Awesome! What did you think of this series?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I Love Your Blog!

Just found out that I've been awarded the I Love Your Blog Award by my friend Nancy. I love to visit her blog for book reviews, movie reviews, and generally because I like to read what makes her happy. Her blog site is and I encourage everyone to check it out. Apart from her sunny optimism and charming nature Nancy loves to read and discuss teen literature and I'm very glad to have met her. Thanks Nancy -- I love your blog too!

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

I'm sure by now many of you have heard about the movie for this book, but let me say that even if you've seen it already, the book is definately worth reading. It's sarcastic, witty, and just fun in general. Taking these qualities and putting them together with the mix of an unusual plot and two hysterical yet lovable characters, a she/he stripper with personality, and odd references that make you think makes for a thoughtful and delightful bit of fun.

Nick is the only straight member of a gay band playing in a club who is at a loss when his ex, who he's still in love with, walks into a club with a new guy. In desperation, he asks the girl next to him to be his girlfriend for 5 minutes. As you can probably guess, this is Norah, a sarcastic exec's daughter. They proceed to have adventures they could never have predicted over the course of a night/morning, leading them all over, from bar to bar to a Mariott in Manhattan.

I loved this book, and I recommend it for anyone looking for a funny and enjoyable read.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Competition

Yes, you read that correctly. Another competition!

This month I'm giving away a copy of Identical by Ellen Hopkins. It's about two sisters, Kaeleigh and Raeanne, who are identical down to the dimple. As daughters of a district-court judge father and a politician mother, they are an all-American family -- on the surface. Behind the facade each sister has her own dark secret, and that's where their differences begin. For Kaeleigh, she's the misplaced focus of Daddy's love, intended for a mother whose presence on the campaign trail means absence at home. All that Raeanne sees is Daddy playing a game of favorites -- and she is losing. If she has to lose, she will do it on her own terms, so she chooses drugs, alcohol, and sex. Secrets like the ones the twins are harboring are not meant to be kept -- from each other or anyone else. Pretty soon it's obvious that neither sister can handle it alone, and one sister must step up to save the other, but the question is -- who?

Here's all you have to do.
I'm going to give it to the person who posts the most on the blog. That's it. Post a comment on our book reviews or events--new or old, tell us what you are reading, what you have just read, what you can't wait to read, which event you want to attend, which movie you want to see, whether you preferred the movie to the book, or who you would like us to interview. Easy.

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sneak Peak at Our Christopher Paolini Interview

Antonia got to interview Christopher Paolini when he was in the Bay Area. Yes, she did ask him how old he is (24, and, this November, 25). Here's a sneak peak of Christopher talking about the problems young writers encounter:

"Well one of the biggest problems for me when I started, the biggest psychological barrier I had, was that I just didn’t know of anyone my own age who had done what I was trying to do. So in some ways I was thinking well, maybe it’s impossible, maybe there’s a reason no other young person has done what I was trying to do. After the fact, of course, I learned that there have been plenty of other young authors, I just didn’t know about them. For example, the author of The Red Badge of Courage was 18 or 19 when he wrote that book. Steven King started The Dark Tower series when he was 19, I think, so there were a lot of talented young writers in that age range. I do think the biggest difficulty young writers have is not having someone who can mentor them, or who can edit their work and help them really develop as a writer. That’s something they end up having to do on their own, which takes another 10, 15 years. Also, they don’t know anyone who would allow them to get the attention their work deserves, someone in marketing or publishing or someone to tell them something as simple as how to format the manuscript properly or how to send it out properly, or even how to write submission letters to the publishers and the agents. That can be difficult stuff to do when you’re 15 or 16 or 17. You maybe don’t know how to navigate the adult world yet, and that’s where family can be very important."

What would you most like to ask him?

Monday, October 27, 2008

John Green update

Just found out that John is bringing a musical guest, Abby Simons, for an exclusive performance. Here's a sample of Abby's work:

If you want to see more of Abby's work go to

Saturday, October 25, 2008

James Owen

We were fortunate to host James Owen as he kicked off his tour of the third volume in his series, The Chronicles of The Imaginarium Geographica, The Indigo King. If you haven't yet read them, the stories are fabulous--well crafted and multi-layered--and the illustrations incredible. But to meet and listen to James Owen is to be inspired. He stood before his audience talking about a car accident that damaged his hand and left doctors telling him to think about alternate careers. Then he told us that drawing is just a set of small lines, turned around, and in small steps drew an incredible dragon. This is a man who believes in taking charge of his destiny. Everyone should have the pleasure of meeting people like James who show us all what is possible.

If you are reading this, James--thank you.

Below I have posted two videos. In the first, James describes The Indigo King. Try it. In the second he shows how to draw a dragon.

I'll post my interview with James sometime next week so keep checking. Find out what inspired him to write this series, whether he identifies with any of his characters, which writers he admires most, and what book he's like to read again for the first time. Lots more of course. And if you want to read about the event from his perspective click here to get to his own journal (dated Oct 26).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

John Green Reads Paper Towns Prologue

I couldn't resist. I had to post this clip of John Green reading the prologue from Paper Towns. Hope he's this funny when he visits next week. Do you have a favorite chapter you hope he reads on his visit?

New Twilight Trailer

I had to post this. I just had to. Who plans to go opening night?


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E Lockhart

I can't wait to tell you about this book. I've just finished it and absolutely loved it. Frankie is a sophomore at a private east coast boarding school. She’s blossomed over the summer and catches the eye of the most popular boy in the school. She’s thrilled — of course she’s thrilled — but it seems this is not enough. She wants to be seen as pretty and desirable, the girl Matthew wants her to be, but also as a force to be reckoned with, an equal. She’s always been “bunny rabbit” to her family -- sweet, adorable, harmless -- and she is tired of this.

Frankie knows about the school’s secret society because her father was a member. She knows it is for males only, she knows her boyfriend is in the society, she knows he’s lying to her about it, and this just drives her crazy. Just because it’s always been done a certain way does not make it right. The question is, what is she willing to do about it?

She takes on a secret email address and leads the society to pranks far beyond their imaginations. They are wonderful, hilarious, devious, unpredictable, and thought-provoking. And along the way we learn about the panopticon, P.G. Wodehouse, neglected positives, and girl power.

Why did I wait so long to read this book? I read it in a gulp, cheered for Frankie, and want to thank E Lockhart for giving us such a strong, gutsy, endearing feminist as a heroine. Oh, this has my vote for the National Book Award. It is wonderful.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Competition winner

Thanks to all of you who entered our competition to win a Gallagher Girl t-shirt. We had two outstanding contestants and really I want to reward both of you. So I will.

Aribobari--congratultions, the t-shirt is yours. Email me at for a time to come in to collect your prize.

DarlingDiva--congratulations, I've decided to give you something I think you'll love--my arc of The Forest of Hands and Teeth (I know you'll enjoy it and otherwise you have to wait until March!) Also email me at to arrange a time for you to come and collect the book.

Congratulations to both of you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

National Book Award Finalists

The National Book Foundation just announced the finalists for the 2008 National Book award. The nominees are:

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Have you read any of them? I'm reading The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks at the moment and love it so far. Which would you choose?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Skinned by Robin Wasserman

If you were as rich, popular, and gorgeous as Lia Kahn, you too would believe you set fashion not followed it, that it’s all about you, that you could have any boy you wanted, and you would succeed no matter what. Then the unthinkable happens, a car accident almost kills her, and life will never be the same again. Lia’s parents turn to the best doctors and technology there is and download her brain into a new body. She awakens to find herself still alive, with her own memories and thoughts, but in another body--a man-made body. So is she still Lia Kahn? Was the process unethical like the faithers believe? Can she go back to her old life? Will her friends accept her? Will she ever accept herself?

This is an extraordinary story that underneath it all asks what makes us human. It kept me reading late into the night. I loved it.

Let me know what you think.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cybils Nominations

Ever wondered about literary awards and why the books you love don't always get nominated? Well, the nominations for the third annual Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards (the Cybils) opened Wednesday, October 1st and run through Wednesday, October 15th. The goal of the Cybils team (some 100 bloggers) is to highlight books that are high in both literary quality and youth appeal.

Anyone can nominate books in nine categories (one nomination per person per category). Nominated titles must be published between January 1st and October 15th of this year, and the books must be in English (or bilingual, where one of the languages is English). To nominate titles, visit the Cybils blog ( between October 1st and 15th. Vote for your favorites--I have!

Then between October 16th and January 1st, Cybils panelists will winnow the nominations down to a 5-7 book short list for each category. A second set of panelists will then select the winning titles for the different categories. The winners will be announced on February 14th, 2009.

Who did you vote for?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Neil Gaiman

On Saturday, Neil Gaiman read chapter 5 from The Graveyard Book to about 600 people. He's reading a chapter on every stop of his tour. If you missed it--and it was fabulous--he's had every reading videotaped and posted on He sat on a leather chair, surrounded by headstones, with a crow perched next to him. It was amazing. You should have seen the huge white spider that dropped from the rafters! Oh, and you can see what Neil thought of the reading in his own journal.

Gaiman says that The Graveyard Book is a reworking of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book about a young boy who escapes into a graveyard and is raised by ghosts (rather than into a jungle and is raised by animals). Here's the rather scary first lines:

"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.

The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately."

So, have you read it? What did you like best about it? Can you believe how many books he signed for us despite his broken finger? And if you're interested in things like what graveyard skill Neil would choose if he could have one, or whether he'll write more about Nobody Owens, please check the web site later this week when I'll post my interview with him.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Jeanne DuPrau

Having read the Ember books, I can't wait to see the movie, which I believe comes out this Friday. I heard Jeanne talk on Friday at the Keplers/Menlo Park Library event and wanted to post this video clip where she talks about her next project. Sounds great.

So, have you read the series? And do you plan to see the movie? It stars Soairse Ronan (Atonement), Harry Treadaway, Tim Robbins, and Bill Murray (as the mayor).

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Teen Read Week, October 12-18

Did you know that it's Teen Read Week from October 12-18?

The American Library Association's Young Adults Library Services Association (YALSA) celebrates teen readers and the books published for young adults every year. Books were nominated by members of teen book groups in fifteen school and public libraries around the country. And you can vote for your favorites from October 12 to 18, 2008. Readers aged twelve to eighteen can vote right here, online, anytime during October 12-18.

These are the nominated titles:

Before I Die. Jenny Downham.
Betrayed. P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast.
City of Bones. Cassandra Clare.
Daemon Hall. Andrew Nance and Colin Polhemus, illus.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Jeff Kinney.
Eclipse. Stephenie Meyer.
Extras. Scott Westerfeld.
Evil Genius. Catherine Jinks.
Genesis Alpha. Runes Michaels.
Glass. Ellen Hopkins.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. J.K. Rowling.
Ironside: A Modern Faery’s Tale. Holly Black.
Jango. William Nicholson.
Jinx. Meg Cabot.
The Luxe. Anna Godberson.
Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports. James Patterson.
Penelope. Marilyn Kaye.
Saving Zoë. Alyson Noël.
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. Jessica Day George.
The Sweet Far Thing. Libba Bray
Tamar. Mal Peet.
Twisted. Laurie Halse Anderson.
Unwind. Neal Shusterman.
Vampire Academy. Richelle Mead.
Wicked Lovely. Melissa Marr.
Wildwood Dancing. Juliet Marillier.

So, which is your favorite?

By the way, last year's winner was New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Things That Are

I always thought that it would be really awesome to be invisible. No rules, no restricitons. I could do anything I wanted. Until I read Things Not Seen.

In Things Not Seen, Bobby, an ordinary high school boy, wakes up one morning invisible. At first it seems great - he can do anything he wants. But as he starts to realize that his invisibility makes it impossible to have friends or do anything normal, because telling anyone puts him at the mercy of the government as a lab rat, he begins to feel completely alone. That is, until he meets Alicia, a blind girl who feels invisible herself.

In the second book, Things Hoped For, Bobby meets a girl named Gwen who is searching for her missing grandfather.

And after the oh so long wait (I'm so excited), Things That Are is finally out. Bobby's back from his trip, and he and Alicia now have to deal with an increasing government threat and a mysterious and pretty creepy man named William, not to mention their parents and their almost-relationship.

This series is by Andrew Clements (the author of Frindle, The Report Card, A Week in the Woods, and oh so many more), so of course it has that sweetly sarcastic sense of humor that so many of us have fallen in love with. I want to be Alicia. Her comebacks are BRILLIANT. The books also make you think about what it means to be invisible, and about what real friendship is.

Funny, interesting, exciting, and different. Things That Are is so worth the wait.

P.S. If you've read all three, let me know which one you liked best. We have a bit of a debate going, and I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thoughts on other Andrew Clements books are welcome too!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Win a T Shirt!

Our first competition!

Yes, we have a fabulous Gallagher Girls t shirt to give away.

If you were at our Ally Carter event you will remember that she gave away one of her t shirts. And I have another one to give away (and oh, I so wanted to keep it!).

Here's all you have to do. I'm going to give it to the person who posts the most on the blog. That's it. Post a comment on our book reviews or events, tell us what you are reading, what you want to read, which event you can't wait to attend, or who you would like us to interview. Easy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Paper Towns by John Green

I am such a fan of John Green's work so I started Paper Towns with very high expectations. And it lived up to every one of them (sigh).

Take two high school seniors--Quentin Jacobsen, who hangs out with the school band, and plays video games with his friends, and Margo Roth Spiegelman, the beautiful, popular girl next door, whose crazy antics are legendary. They used to be friends but now inhabit different worlds--until Margo climbs into Quentin’s window one night dressed in black and asks him to join her on an adventure. And what an adventure it is, involving dead fish, paint, and breaking into Sea World! But when he gets to school the next day Margo has disappeared. And Quentin becomes obsessed with finding her.

With his friends, Quentin follows the meandering complicated trail of clues Margo left behind her--through Walt Whitman’s poetry, Woody Guthrie’s music, and maps of paper towns, all the while thinking about friendship and how little we really know the people around us. The closer he seems to get, the more elusive Margo seems, but Quentin really doesn’t care about prom, about finals, he just wants to find out what has happened to Margo. And, of course, so did I. I was spellbound until the end.

Paper Towns is out October 16th—-you’ll have time to read it before John Green comes to Kepler’s on the 29th to talk about it. I can’t wait.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Justine Larbalestier

On Wednesday we were so very fortunate to host Justine Larbalestier on her school visits. If you haven't read her wonderful Magic or Madness trilogy you should try them. In Magic or Madness 15-year-old Reason's life has just been turned upside down. She's been on the run with her mother all her life, running from her grandmother who believes in and practices magic. Her mother tells tales of animal sacrifices, dark rites, where no one is safe. But when her mother ends up in a mental hospital Reason is sent to live with that very same grandmother in Sydney. What is she to do? She tries not to eat there, not to talk to her grandmother, and then one day she walks through the back door and finds herself in New York City! So, can she continue to believe there is no such thing as magic? And if not, then why did her mother lie to her? Is she magic herself and, if so, what is her magic? And does she really have no choice between magic and madness? This is a beautifully written book, compulsive, and multi-layered. Written in several voices, it's very believable, with strong characters, tough choices, and a glossary of Australian terms for those of us who need it!

Justine is on tour to promote her new book, How to Ditch Your Fairy--about fairies, friendship, and how to make your own magic. Read our interview with her here to find out about her newest projects, what she's reading and recommending to read, what fairy she would choose for herself, and whether she would consider collaborating on a book with Scott.

Tell me, if you had the choice, which fairy would you choose for yourself?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Play Me by Laura Ruby

A great book, but be advised: sexual content and mature themes

This book surprised me. I thought I would not very much like a book about a self-absorbed guy, who although so very talented, treated girls as casual entertainment. I did not think I would enjoy spending time inside his head, but I really did like Play Me by Laura Ruby.

Charming Ed Rochester, 18, is a player. A high school senior about to graduate, Ed is handsome & renowned as a talented young filmmaker. His newest film, "Riot Grrl 16" is in the top ten of the MTV video contest. He honestly does not understand why girls, including his latest leading lady, are so upset when he doesn’t call--afterwards. His own Mom has left to be a star on a TV police drama and only calls him on Saturdays. That, he doesn’t get.

Enter Lucinda. She’s a powerful tennis player, a sumptuous dancer, and actually a girl he two-timed when he was twelve. She is also the first girl who does not care what he thinks. When they get together to play—tennis or other things--she annihilates him. At that moment Ed knows he “would do anything for her, jump out of plane, fight a band of ninjas, wrestle an alligator, swim with sharks, sign away every dollar I will ever make; I don’t care “. But can he stick with one girl?

Careful Ed, you may have met your match. And both these players are fascinating to watch as they duke out what it is they really want.

Read it. Post back and tell me what you think.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Good Neighbors by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh

Do you like graphic novels? I was drawn to The Good Neighbors primarily because I so enjoyed the Tithe series. And I'm happy to say it's a great start to a new series

The story centers on Rue, a troubled teen, who breaks into buildings with her friends on weekends to take photographs. Her mother has recently disappeared and her father has been acting strangely ever since. He doesn’t go to work, barely talks to Rue, and seems to have shut down. As if this isn’t enough, Rue starts to see weird beings, with horns and wings and animal heads — the faerie world. They are all around her but nobody else can see them.

When a student is murdered, her father is implicated, and the police think he may have killed her mother as well. Rue’s (maternal) grandfather shows up to claim her. But, think about it, would you go with people you had never met before, never even heard discussed? Turns out, they are faeries, the good neighbors who have lived peacefully with humans for so long, but her grandfather is now threatening the mortal world. Then the question becomes, can Rue stop him?

Oh, and the drawings of this rather disturbing world, where things are often not what they seem, are fabulous.

Did it live up to your expectations?

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Once is a while a book comes along that is SO good that you want to talk about it to everyone. It's not out until the end of the month but I wanted to tell you to look for it. I was hooked from page 1 because it really is a remarkable book -- part gladiator-like adventure, part romance, part survival story, part political commentary. It asks the question: How far would you really go to survive?

16-year-old Katniss lives in District 12 of Panem and is chosen to represent her district in the Hunger Games, a televised reality show where two representatives from the 12 districts, ages 12-18, fight to the death. But survival at what cost? What do you have to give up? And what do you do when a contestant claims to have been in love with you since you were 5 years old? The only trouble will be waiting for the sequel!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Edward Cullen interview

If you came to our Breaking Dawn party you will know that Edward Cullen was our guest of honor (yes, really). He was fabulous (of course) and you can find out so much more about him by listening to our interview below (you can't see much, it was VERY dark by the time we interviewed him). We've also posted photos from the event in a slideshow (see right).
part 1

part 2

part 3

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Breaking Dawn party

Did you come to our Breaking Dawn party? It really was so much fun. Here's our Facebook contest winner, Stephanie, with Edward and her friends. Stephanie got to escort Edward at the party, all evening! What did you enjoy best about the event?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Thinking about it, I wanted to talk about what I think is the best book of the summer--Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Can you imagine what would happen if terrorists blew up the Bay Bridge? Then imagine being a teenager who has skipped school with some friends that day to hunt for clues for an on-line game but who ends up right where the bomb was set. Your friend gets hurt, you flag down a van to get help, but you are in the wrong place at the wrong time and men from the Department of Homeland Security put a bag over your head and take you off for questioning. For five days. When they release you they tell you to tell no one about it (even though one of your friends does not come back). But San Francisco has changed in those five days. And the question is, would you keep quiet and go back to life as usual, despite all the new security measures in place, or do you do something about it? What is freedom worth to you? How much are you willing to give up for security?

This is an amazing book, a page-turner that is almost impossible to put down. I read it in a day. This is Orwell’s 1984 for our time. This is a book for every book group because you really want to talk about the issues it brings up when you’re done. It will make you look at things from a different point of view. Really, if you only read one book this summer, this should be the book. Then let me know what you think!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Not too many books do I really get a feel for every single character, and not too many books do I finish and skip everything else on my list to read the sequel. But this book, written in diary entries by a teenager named Miranda, has done all that and more. The book shows in literature what would happen to Earth if a major disaster happened, who would be affected, and how the earth would change. I would recommend this book to anyone I know and I can't wait to read the sequel.

Melissa Marr at Kepler's

As I mentioned yesterday, Melissa Marr, one of our favorite authors, was also at the store. And she brought t-shirts for two lucky fans who just happened to be browsing in the store while she was there! If you haven't read Wicked Lovely, try it. About a girl, Aishlinn, who had followed the rules all her life: don’t stare at invisible faeries, don’t speak to invisible faeries, and don’t ever attract the faeries’ attention. And it has kept her safe although she can most certainly see the invisible faeries. But suddenly one of the faeries starts to follow her and somehow the rules don’t seem to apply anymore.

This is a dark fantasy about a feisty girl who may hold the key to a faery curse. I read it in a gulp. Ask yourself, what would you risk for your freedom, your future, for love itself? Would you be brave enough?

Ink Exchange followed. Even better. Set in the same world as Wicked Lovely, with many of the characters playing minor roles here, the story revolves around Leslie, one of Aislinn's school friends, Irael, king of the Dark Court, and Niall, part of the Summer Court.

Leslie's life is difficult -- her mother has run away, her father drinks too much, and her brother sells drugs. She is looking for something to help her feel independent and decides to get a tattoo -- one from a special book of designs. She has no idea that this tattoo will REALLY change her.

This is a darker story than Wicked Lovely and ponders a lot of questions. What is a king willing to do for his court? What are we willing to give up for love? What will we trade for the absence of fear? And are any of us strong enough to survive all that fate throws at us?

At its heart, this is a book about survival, addiction, temptation, and about the choices we make. I couldn't put it down.

Melissa made a short video book talk about her books for us.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Last week was very busy but we were lucky enough to have Kelley Armstrong stop off at the store with Melissa Marr. I've just read her new book, The Summoning, and it's fabulous. About a girl called Chloe who has seen ghosts since she was a child but was told they were imaginary friends. As she hits puberty, they visit her again, scaring her so completely that she is taken away to a home for troubled teens to get "better". But the ghosts follow her, forcing her to believe she is actually a necromancer. And the teens at Lyle House are all somewhat special themselves. Who are they? Why are they there? And what happens to the teens who leave?

This paranormal adventure starts with teen worries and speeds toward an action-packed ending, leaving you wondering how quickly Kelley Armstrong can write the second in this trilogy. You really should take a look at it.

Kelley also left a short video book talk about The Summoning for us.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ally Carter at Keplers

Ally Carter, author of I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have To Kill You and Cross My Heart And Hope To Spy was at Kepler's today. She was fabulous and we all can't wait to read the next in the series (and no, she wouldn't tell us the title!)
Here is some footage of her answering questions from the audience if you couldn't make it to the store to hear her yourself.
Part one

Part Two