Thursday, January 29, 2009

Laurie Halse Anderson coming our way

Good News Flash
Just confirmed that Laurie Halse Anderson will be here for her Wintergirls tour so if you are within reach of the Bay Area, mark your calendar--Sunday March 22, 2009 6:00 p.m. Keplers Books.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Review of The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Sutter loves all his women. And they love him, even long after their relationships break down. Everyone’s favorite ex-boyfriend, Sutter just finds the beautiful “spanktacular” quality about his girls.

I make my case:
“what sets Casiddy apart is that she is so damn beautifully fat . . ..The fashion magazine girls are dried up skeletons next to her. She has immaculate proportions.”

“. . .one of these girls you might not think is that great-looking at first—big nose and all—but once you start talking to her, its like this humongous, sparkly, fun spirit bursts out of her eyes and you go, Wow, this girl is beautiful!”

The Sutterman lives in the here and now, in the moment ,you know. He’s the life of the party—any party—“embarrassment is a waste of time”. But more and more this requires the assistance of Seagram’s and 7UP. Nothing lasts very long not even the loves he LOVES.

His heart is huge and expansive. He takes lost boys home, gives up girls he loves for better men. And now he wants to save sweet, dorky Aimee from social anonymity and a bullying family. He means well and has no romantic intentions, but she does. And so it goes that they become an accidental couple. He is as appreciative of her beauty as he was of any of his hip, hot girlfriends.

“Without her goofy horse-face T-shirts and the off-brand baggy-butt jeans, her body is absolutely fabulous. . . . . It’s more that her skin is so pristine. Alabaster in the glow of the digital clock.”

But as Aimee’s confidence and social capital grows, so does her ability to take in the alcohol Sutter-style and the situations the couple get into get increasingly and deadly perilous. Turns out he loves her, of course. So what's our toxic hero to do? Sutter manages to save Aimee, but can he save himself?

Tim Tharp accomplishes something quite marvelous with language and characterization in The Spectacular Now. As I skipped along to Sutter’s beat and wit, my heart was breaking from witnessing the coolest, nicest guy heading consciously into the gutter.

Reviewed by Vivian

Monday, January 19, 2009

On vacation

Just wanted to let you know that I'll be in London until early February and although reading (you should see the amount of books I've stuffed into my suitcase) I won't be reviewing or posting until I'm back. So do please check back early February.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

When I signed up for the Scott Westerfeld challenge I just knew Peeps would be the first book I read for it. After all, it is no secret that I enjoy reading books with vampires in them. And people have been recommending it for ages. What IS surprising is that it took me so long to get to Peeps, which is unlike any other vampire book I have ever read. Really.

The Night Watch call these vampires parasite positive (hence, peeps). They have a disease – so they are not magical, they don’t fly, they don’t become bats, and are not dark, brooding, and romantic. They are, however, hungry all the time, and can become crazed zombies, dangerous to all around them. And Westerfeld even gives us reasons why these vampires shy away from a cross or hide from the light making it all seem so very believable. And then there is Cal, a carrier (so he doesn’t have many symptoms), who has the unfortunate task of tracking his ex-girlfriends, who he turned into peeps, for the Night Watch.

Every other chapter is about parasites — tapeworms, guinea worms, mealworms, parasitic wasps, wolbachia — and you leave the book knowing far more than you ever wanted to know about them. And why you shouldn’t ever pee in tropical rivers — ever. Haunting.

This totally disturbing book should not be missed as Cal tracks down his ex-girlfriends, finds out about the unusual cats in the area, meets a girl called Lace, and realizes how much he has been kept in the dark about the changes to himself.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Win a Copy of Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Reviewer X is hosting this competition to win a copy of Wintergirls, the new novel due out in March by Laurie Halse Anderson

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

I loved Speak and Twisted and oh, this sounds good. If you are interested in this competition leave a comment for Reviewer X here for one entry. +1 if you get the secret word from Kristi's blog here . And it ends next saturday.

Good luck. And watch the calendar -- she might be visiting the store on her book tour!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ann Brashares on her new book, 3 Willows

Here's Ann Brashares talking about her new book, 3 Willows.

And here's the book trailer for it:

Yet another one for my ever growing TBR pile.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Teen Book Video Award 2008 Winner!

As you can see, today I was checking out book trailers. This one for Parties and Potions by Sarah Mlynowski won the Teen Book Video Award for 2008.

Which are your favorites?

Book Trailer for The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

I just found this and had to share. It really gets the feel for this book.

Thank you karinlibrarian.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (2)

I've been reading these Waiting for Wednesday posts in so many blogs and think it's such a great idea. And it won't come as any surprise when I say that I'm waiting not very patiently for Melissa Marr's sequel to Wicked Lovely, Fragile Eternity (didn't you notice my new sprout countdown?)

I loved Wicked Lovely, also Ink Exchange. I interviewed Melissa when she was touring to promote Ink Exchange (you can read the interview here). And delve into every box of arcs I see arrive in the hopes of finding Fragile Eternity (but no luck so far).

So here's the description:

Seth never expected he would want to settle down with anyone — but that was before Aislinn. She is everything he'd ever dreamed of, and he wants to be with her forever. Forever takes on new meaning, though, when your girlfriend is an immortal faery queen.

Aislinn never expected to rule the very creatures who'd always terrified her — but that was before Keenan. He stole her mortality to make her a monarch, and now she faces challenges and enticements beyond any she'd ever imagined.

In this third mesmerizing tale of Faerie, Seth and Aislinn struggle to stay true to themselves and each other in a milieu of shadowy rules and shifting allegiances, where old friends become new enemies and one wrong move could plunge the Earth into chaos.

Melissa is such a great writer, and this is from Seth's point of view! Can't you see why I'm just counting down until publication (which was April last I heard)?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

2008 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize

The 2008 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize was awarded to Patrick Ness for The Knife of Never Letting Go.

Here's the back cover copy:
A dystopian thriller that follows a boy and girl on the run from a town where all thoughts can be heard — and the passage to manhood embodies a horrible secret.

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

To read more about Ness and the prize, click here.

The shortlist, by the way, included:
Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Bog Child by Siobhan Down
Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Looks great -- and includes a talking dog! Certainly adding it to my TBR pile. And yes, I'm posting news of English prizes as I'm heading to London next week...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Poison Ink by Christopher Golden

I've been meaning to read Christopher Golden for a while and yes, I'll admit it, the cover called to me on this one.

To celebrate their friendship and unite them forever, Sammi, TQ, Katsuko, Caryn, and Letty decide to all get the same tattoo, one only they will have. But because they are under age (so need their parents’ permission), they are forced to go to a rather seedy place where Letty is sure they won’t ask to see ID.

But Sammi changes her mind when it’s her turn -- her parents are having problems and she’s worried about making things worse. She has no idea how much this decision will change her life. Her friends take her decision very badly, are far angrier than Sammi imagined possible, shun her, and then start to change. Really change. They pick fights, party hard, pick on other students, and finally attack Sammi (ultimately putting her in hospital). She is miserable and alone, desperate to work out what’s happened. When she sees that one of her friend's tattoos has grown she begins to wonder whether these changes are because of the tattoos. The question then becomes, can she do anything about it?

This is a MUCH darker and creepier story than I had expected, taking the girls far, far deeper into their predicament. This disturbing book gets under your skin completely, keeps you guessing through every twist, and is simply a nail-biter--you’ll never think of tattoos in the same way again!

And perfect for a movie adaptation. If you’ve read it, who can you see play Dante?

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Scott Westerfeld Mini-Challenge

Yes, I seem to be drawn to these beginning-of-year competitions. Not only have I wanted to read Scott Westerfeld for a long time but this is a mini-competition so the goal is to read 2 of his books. Easy! So thank you Becky. I'm in. I'm going to read Peeps first.

Anyone want to join me? If so, click here to join.

Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Teen Readers

The Sydney Taylor Book Award recognizes the best in Jewish children's and teen's literature. Medals are awarded annually for outstanding books that authentically portray the Jewish experience. The Gold Medal winner for teen readers is: A Bottle in the Gaza Sea by Valerie Zenatti

From the jacket: When teen Tal Levine witnesses a bombing in Tel Aviv, she becomes despondent. Like so many people, she wants Israel and Palestine to live in peace. One day she puts her hopes into a letter, places the letter into a bottle, and gives it to her brother, asking him to toss it into the Gaza Sea. A young man in Gaza finds the bottle, and responds. He is critical, angry, annoyed at first, but eventually they both participate in a friendship that ultimately opens their eyes.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Check this out!

Couldn't wait to post this incredible drawing of Edward that was sent to me. Isn't it wonderful?

To the artist: you're very talented. Thanks for letting me share!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

News about New Moon (the movie)

From Facebook:


New Moon director Chris Weitz announced:

"I'm very happy to announce that Taylor Lautner will be playing Jacob Black in New Moon and that he's doing so with the enthusiastic support of Summit Entertainment, the producers, and Stephenie Meyer.

The characters in Stephenie's books go through extraordinary changes of circumstance and also appearance; so it is not surprising that there has been speculation about whether the same actor would portray a character who changes in so many surprising ways throughout the series. But it was my first instinct that Taylor was, is, and should be Jacob, and that the books would be best served by the actor who is emotionally right for the part. I think that fans of Twilight the book and the movie will be surprised by the Jacob Black that Taylor will bring to the screen in New Moon; and I'm looking forward to working with him and the rest of the cast in realizing the film."

Good idea, don't you think?

Waiting for Wednesday

Sometimes you come across an idea that is really good. And today I came across Reviewer X's Waiting for Wednesday post, that came originally from Breaking the Spine. Here they choose a book they are waiting to read, that is not yet published. And, of course, I have piles of books I'm waiting for so thought I'd join them. Yet it's very hard to choose just one!

Then, that eureka moment--I've been waiting for an excuse to post this review since I read the arc. So thanks for giving me an excuse. Here's this week's prepublication can't wait for it title:

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Mary lives in a world bound by fences, with rules dictated by the Sisters, surrounded by the Unconsecrated, who are an ever-present, ever-encroaching, horrifying threat. Her mother had always told her about the ocean, and Mary holds on to this dream, despite everything. When she finds out the Sisters are keeping secrets, and then the fences are breached, Mary has to decide how much she will sacrifice to follow her dream. Will she be able to choose between the brother she is betrothed to and the brother she loves? Between her village and a dream of an outside world?

This is a wonderful, compulsive, nail-biter of a book that will keep you reading late into the night (but with the lights on!) Not for the feint-hearted, this story about a zombie apocalypse asks questions that will haunt you. Still haunts me.

This is one not to miss. Oh, I hope there will be a sequel.

And you can see where I fall on the age-old question: zombies or unicorns!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mitali Perkins

Just wanted to let you know that Mitali Perkins will be in the store on Thursday, January 15, at around 3:30 PM-4:30 PM if you would like to stop by and say hi, tell her how much you like her books, or get a book personalized. She's here to promote her new book, The Secret Keeper.

What's it about? Here's the jacket blurb:
When her father loses his job and leaves India to look for work in America, Asha Gupta, her older sister, Reet, and their mother must wait with Baba’s brother and his family, as well as their grandmother, in Calcutta. Uncle is welcoming, but in a country steeped in tradition, the three women must abide by his decisions. Asha knows this is temporary—just until Baba sends for them. But with scant savings and time passing, the tension builds: Ma, prone to spells of sadness, finds it hard to submit to her mother- and sister-in-law; Reet’s beauty attracts unwanted marriage proposals; and Asha's promise to take care of Ma and Reet leads to impulsive behavior. What follows is a firestorm of rebuke—and secrets revealed! Asha’s only solace is her rooftop hideaway, where she pours her heart out in her diary, and where she begins a clandestine friendship with Jay Sen, the boy next door. Asha can hardly believe that she, and not Reet, is the object of Jay’s attention. Then news arrives about Baba . . . and Asha must make a choice that will change their lives forever.

See you there!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

First review of the year. First book of 12 read for the 2009 Young Adult Book Challenge. And what a great way to start out the year.

Kelley is an aspiring actress, an understudy in an off-off Broadway production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The leading actress breaks her ankle and Kelley has to step into the lead role of Titania, the fairy queen. That’s the only reason she’s thinking of faeries.

Sonny is a changeling, stolen by the fae when just a child and raised by Auberon, the winter king, himself. He is now a Janus guard, sworn to protect the gate between the mortal realm and the Otherworld when it opens once a year. This gate is in Central Park, where, by chance, he meets Kelley, to whom he is drawn, can’t seem to forget, but who absolutely doesn’t believe the stories he tells about who she is (she laughs at him - well, wouldn't you? OK, so I need a little reality in my fantasy!)

This year, something different is in the air, something dangerous. And Sonny and Kelley can’t help but be pulled right into its midst.

I think it’s the theater scenes that give this book an originality that separates it from many others about the fae and it’s darker than you’d expect. It’s part mystery, mythology, adventure, and romance rolled into one and, once started, was impossible to put down.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Maggie Stiefvater

Here's my interview with Maggie Stiefvater, author of the very wonderful Lament. And if you read this, Maggie, thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions at such a very busy time of year. Can't wait for Ballad and Shiver. Really!

Tell us a little about Lament.

Lament is the story of a girl, Deirdre, who falls in love with an enigmatic boy, Luke, who turns out to be a soulless faerie assassin. And she's supposed to be his next mark.

Though it has love and slight nookie in it, I don't think of Lament as a love story in the same way that Shiver, coming out next year, is. I think of it more as a coming of age story with homicidal faeries and cute boys. It’s a different animal entirely.

Did you always want to be a writer?

Yep. My first proclamation of my career intent was when I was eight.

And what drew you to YA?

An inability to grow up, I think. Plus, these were the novels that really changed my life. When I was a teen, I was reading constantly -- they're the reason why I am the way I am. I want to do that!

What inspired you to write Lament?

Lament is different from the rest of my novels in that it's a sort of mish mosh of a bunch of different novels I tried to write from age fifteen on, all featuring homicidal faeries, slight nookie, and four leaf clovers. I just really wanted to explore a world where an ordinary girl runs up against the extraordinary. Why would it happen? Would it turn out well? Would there be kissing?

This is your debut novel. Tell us a little about your journey to publication. Were there any major obstacles along the way?

Kind of, yes, if you count the first draft completely sucking. I submitted it to Andrew Karre at Flux and, amazingly, he saw a needle of inspiration in a bloated haystack of fifteen years worth of ideas. He asked me if I was willing to revise completely and switch to first person, and I was. I basically did a blind rewrite of the first three chapters and I think both of us were surprised by the results. Since then, it has been kind of a crazy ride from those first three chapters to four novels under contract and contracts in several countries.

Do you identify with any of your characters?

I sort of identify with all of them, a little bit -- I think you have to in order to write them well. Even the villains. You have to invest them all with a tiny bit of you. Everyone thinks I'm Dee, because we both play the harp, but I think James is probably the most like me, because he's sarcastic and rarely takes the world seriously.

Which of your characters would you most like to hang out with?

James is very funny and I think would make for great cocktail party conversation, but I think Brendan and Una would make for the most memorable dinner date.

Many of your characters are musicians (I loved that). How important is music to you? Do you play an instrument yourself? (Is it the harp?)

Music is incredibly important to me. It's always playing in the background while I write or in the car while I'm brainstorming. All through college, I was in bands: the college pipe band or Ballynoola, the Celtic band I started, or the Harvest Moon Quintet, the classical-Celtic band I had in my senior year, etc. Even when I was at Longwood University for half a semester, I tried to assemble a pipe band and ended up playing my harp with an Irish group down there. I'm sort of addicted. I also have three songs influenced by Lament available for download on my website,

I play a long and boring list of instruments: the highland bagpipes, the lever harp, the bodhran (it's a sort of Irish drum), the tin whistle, the guitar, and the piano. I really wish I could bend the fiddle to my will, but it's not having any of that.

What music did you listen to while writing Lament? And did it affect the story or your writing?

I listened to a lot of Celtic stuff while writing Lament: Lunasa, Susan McKeown, Lorenna McKennitt (although she's not truly traditional Celtic), and also the soundtrack to the Bourne Ultimatum. While I was writing Ballad, I unfortunately had to listen to Leslie's Tune by Kila on constant repeat for one of the scenes.

Music definitely affects my writing -- it sets the mood, and I try to capture that mood in my writing.

I got totally caught up with the characters in Lament and hoped fervently for a sequel. I now know you've written one so please tell us a little about Ballad and Shiver (and when to expect them).

Ballad (Flux '09) is the sequel to Lament and is scheduled for fall of 2009 (I'm not sure of the month yet). It's narrated by James and a new faerie main character, Nuala, and I think it's a sharper, tighter read than Lament. The stakes are higher and even more personal, and we get to see a new side of James and Dee. Plus, there are kings of the dead and vampiric faerie muses and bonfires. What more could you want?

Shiver (Scholastic '09) is an unrelated title about the first love between a 16-year-old girl and a mysterious boy who spends his winters as a wolf and is fighting to stay human as the temperature drops. I'm really excited about this one -- it's my first hardcover, and Scholastic's lead title for next year. (They've been amazing to work with.) And it also manages to sneak some music in there too. September is the month I've been hearing for its release.

You're also an artist. How do you balance the demands of both? Are you interested in illustrating one of your forthcoming novels? Or maybe writing a story in graphic novel format?

I would love, love, love to do a YA graphic novel one day. I loved Shaun Tan's The Arrival and would like to do something like that. It's been weird not having any time to do art after doing it full-time as my career for two years. I'm looking forward to getting past my deadlines for Ballad and Shiver and having a bit more time to play with my colored pencils again.

Which writers do you admire most and did they influence your own writing?

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger has stuck with me for years. She does a great job with the love story and the chemistry between the two main characters, something that I really wanted to do in Shiver. I make a point of putting the books that I've really, really loved on my Goodreads page -- I only put five star books on there -- so people can always find out what I've been reading and loving.

And yes, I always try to take apart what I like about any good book. Good books are the only textbooks we writers get.

What are you reading now?

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. It's pretty amazing. Tight prose, very funny, great plot arc so far . . . oh, John, don't let me down in the last third. Please!

What's your favorite book as a young adult?
No heckling: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. And before that, Dogsbody, by Dianna Wynne Jones.

What book would you like to read again for the first time?

Mmmm. The Time Traveler’s Wife, of course. Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I dunno, the best books are the ones that hold up to a nauseating number of rereads.

Can you leave us with any advice for aspiring YA writers?

Read. I always say this, and it sounds obvious, but so many people tell me that they want to write novels, and when I ask them what the last novel they read was, it's some dog-eared old creature that they read six months ago. You want to be a writer? You'd better always have a book in your hand. Read the bestsellers and classics in your chosen genre. Otherwise you'll never know if you're reinventing the wheel. And you'll take twice as long to learn how to translate that aching emotion in your head onto paper.

For more information about Maggie’s novels:
Maggie’s writing blog:
Maggie’s weekly short stories:
Maggie’s art blog:

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 Young Adult Book Challenge

To start off the year I've just signed up for J Kaye's Book Blog 2009 Young Adult Book Challenge.

It's simple --here's all you have to do:

1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.

2. Read 12 Young Adult novels. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

3. Challenge begins January through December 2009.

4. You can join anytime between now and December 31 2009.

So join me in this challenge. Click here to sign up. And let me know what you plan to read, or when you've posted a review.