Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Little Brother on stage

Cory Doctorow's wonderful Little Brother has been adapted by Bill Massiola for the stage and is currently being performed by the Griffin Theatre Company in Chicago at the Athenaeum Theatre. Oh, I hope it comes to the Bay Area some time soon.

I found video clips from the play on BoingBoing here.

Doesn't it look great?

Monday, June 29, 2009

In My Mailbox

I'm a bit late again this week but it's that time again when I get to talk about the books I acquired this week and how excited I am to read them. And I'm always excited about the new books I get. This week being exceptional, as you will see. Again thanks to the very creative Story Siren and Alea of Pop Culture Junkie, the blogs where this meme started. And now to the books.

The book fairy was very good to me this week. Very good. She brought me the one book I really really wanted. And apparently they are not printing arcs for this title, so I've got a bound manuscript. And it's been hard to stop jumping around with glee.
1. Blood Promise by Richelle Mead.
Yes - now you can see why I am so very very excited.

How far will Rose go to keep her promise? The recent Strigoi attack at St. Vladimir’s Academy was the deadliest ever in the school’s history, claiming the lives of Moroi students, teachers, and guardians alike. Even worse, the Strigoi took some of their victims with them. . . including Dimitri.

He’d rather die than be one of them, and now Rose must abandon her best friend, Lissa—the one she has sworn to protect no matter what—and keep the promise Dimitri begged her to make long ago. But with everything at stake, how can she possibly destroy the person she loves most?

2. Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough
How far will Rose go to keep her promise?

Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin's magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The search—and the stranger—will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all. This is a spellbinding display of storytelling that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant.

3. Ghosthuntress: The Guidance by Marley Gibson
Kendall and her ghost hunting team is the talk of Radisson, Georgia, but one person isn’t so pleased. Courtney Langdon doesn’t appreciate Kendall’s new popularity or her relationship with Jason, Courtney’s ex.

So Courtney begins dabbling in the paranormal world. At first it’s all a game to draw attention away from Kendall. But Courtney doesn’t know what she’s getting into—or what wants in her. This is one game that’s about to turn deadly serious.

What a wonderful pile of books. Now I have to get back to Rose and Dimitri and Blood Promise. Do you know how hard it is to have this title and be so so busy? What is she going to do? How can I work out a way to abandon eveyerthing else to finish this book?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong - Review

We met Chloe Saunders in The Summoning, a girl 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. But can you imagine a life where even in sleep you can’t escape your abilities, can’t control your powers?

The Awakening
starts where The Summoning left off. Chloe find out that she’s a “living science experiment,” genetically altered by an organization called the Edison Group when she was young. Recaptured after attempting to run away, Chloe is now held under lockdown. And, of course, the doctors want her to tell them where Simon and Derek can be found. She gets a chance to run again - this time with an unexpected ally - hoping to find their way to Simon and Derek’s father, the one man who may have some answers. But life on the run is difficult, the world is dangerous, and there is much to fear.

This is a nail-biter of an adventure, action-packed, with twists and turns at every path, unexpected pairings, a hint of romance, and big, big problems for the characters. And it has everything a good paranormal adventure should have: ghosts, zombies, half-demons, magic, and superpowers. Oh my! This is certainly a middle book – it takes us so much further into Chloe’s life, develops – and complicates – their relationships, but leaves much unanswered. Now how long do I have to wait for Book 3 (The Reckoning)? Really?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bog Child Wins Carnegie Medal for Children's Literature

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd, which was "finished three months before her death from cancer," won the Carnegie medal for children's literature, making the author the first posthumous winner of the award, the Guardian reported (click here for more details).

Bog Child, the story of a teenage boy who finds the body of a child in an Irish bog, was finished by Dowd in May 2007. She died of cancer that August at the age of 47, having only turned to writing in 2003. In just four short years, she penned four children's books: her first, A Swift Pure Cry, was also shortlisted for the Carnegie. Her second novel, The London Eye Mystery, planned as the first in a series, won her the major Irish children's fiction prize, the Bisto award, which she also picked up last month, for the second year running, for Bog Child.

Librarian and chair of the judging panel Joy Court called the book "an absolutely astonishing piece of writing. To be able to write like that when she was going through what she was going through is just astonishing--the sheer beauty of the language, the descriptions of the environment; she has such an amazing sense of place."

Friday, June 26, 2009

Me, The Missing, and the Dead by Jenny Valentine - Review

What would you think if you went into a cab office one morning because you found money in your coat pocket (well, your sister's coat) so didn't have to walk home, and found yourself inexplicably drawn to an urn on one of their shelves? And if you then heard a voice talking to you - the voice of the woman (Violet) whose ashes now live in that urn - would you be able to walk away or would you have to find out who she was and why she's decided to talk to you?

Lucas is an ordinary sixteen year old, well as ordinary as any teenager whose father simply disappeared five years ago with no explanation, no note, nothing. They don't know is he's dead or alive. His grandfather has dementia, his sister is never home, and his grandmother is the only one who will talk about his missing dad

It's a very unusual story, not anything like I expected it to be. Violet helps Lucas find out more about his father and ultimately come to terms with the fact that he was far from the ideal he's assumed he was (wanted him to be). Finally he feels able to let go. But it's Lucas's voice that stands out - real, sympathetic, and funny - in this rather charming coming of age story.

Me, the Missing, and the Dead, won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in the UK under the title Finding Violet Park. Interesting that they changed the name for the US market - no?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Moon poster/Buffy vs Edward video

Of course I had to post them. How could I not?

First up, Entertainment Weekly posted the New Moon movie tie-in book cover. And all I can say is wow, Taylor Lautner certainly looks different. Team Jacob should be very happy with this cover.

And then there is the Buffy vs Edward video - which is very very funny. Such clever editing.

Let me know what you think about the poster/the video/or both.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

This meme is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and lets you know which books we can't wait to be published. And this week I want to talk about Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick.

Yesterday, I was given an arc of this book, and was told, "doesn't matter what you're reading, or how good it is, read this because it's that good. I stayed up all night to finish it." And, I admit, I was dubious because I like the book I'm reading at the moment. And the arc had no copy on the back, gave nothing away. But a good recommendation is a good recommendation so I started it. And OMG, she was right! It is amazing, compulsive, addicting, almost impossible to put down. This is one to pine for!

I'll review it later this week but here's the back cover copy to whet your appetite.

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along.

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

Add this to your list. Move it to the top of your TBR pile if you have a copy. Take my word for it. It's that good.

Monday, June 22, 2009

In My Mailbox

I'm a bit late this week but it's that time again when I get to talk about the books I acquired this week and how excited I am to read them. And I'm always excited about the new books I get. Again thanks to the very creative Story Siren and Alea of Pop Culture Junkie, the blogs where this meme started. And now to the books.

1. Liar by Justine Larbalestier
Micah freely admits that she’s a compulsive liar. And that may be the one honest thing she’ll ever tell you. Over the years she’s duped her classmates, her teachers, and even her parents. But when her boyfriend, Zach, dies under brutal circumstances, the shock might be enough to set her straight. Or maybe not. Especially when lying comes as naturally to her as breathing. Was Micah dating Zach? Or was Sarah his real girlfriend? And are the stories Micah tells about inheriting a “family gene” real or are they something that only exists in her mind?

I was a huge fan of Justine's Magic or Madness series but didn't like How To Ditch Your Fairy much at all. So I'm very interested in this one (even though I usually have a one strike and you're out rule!)

2. So Punk Rock or other ways to disappoint your mother by Micol Ostow
Despite his dreams of hipster rock glory, Ari Abramson's band, the Tribe, is more white bread than indie-cred. Made up of four suburban teens from a wealthy Jewish school, their Mötley Crüe is about as hardcore as SAT prep and scripture studies.

But after a one-song gig at a friend's Bar Mitzvah — a ska cover of "Hava Nagilah"—the Tribe's popularity erupts overnight. Now, Ari is forced to navigate a minefield of inflated egos, misplaced romance, and the shallowness of indie-rock elitism. It's a hard lesson in the complex art of playing it cool.

This one looks very funny...

3. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Graham Smith
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Can she vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read.

I've been wanting to read this since I first heard about it. How much better can it get? My favorite book...with zombies!

4. Bliss by Lauren Myracle
When Bliss’s hippie parents leave the commune and dump her at the home of her aloof grandmother in a tony Atlanta neighborhood, it’s like being set down on an alien planet. The only guide naive Bliss has to her new environment is what she’s seen on The Andy Griffith Show. But Mayberry is poor preparation for Crestview Academy, an elite school where the tensions of the present and the dark secrets of the past threaten to simmer into violence. Openhearted Bliss desperately wants new friends, making her the perfect prey of a troubled girl whose obsession with a long-ago death puts Bliss, and anyone she’s kind to, in mortal danger.

That's my week - what was in your mail box this week? I'm just finishing up Strange Angels by Lili St Crow and then on to one of these. Have to say it's bound to be P&P&Zombies...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Tenth Grade Bleeds by Heather Brewer - Review

You would think that tenth grade would be a better year for the half human half vampire Vladimir, no? He survived a stake to the heart, is now officially dating Meredith, and he’s learning so much from his Uncle Otis.

But this is Vladmir Tod we are talking about so he can’t understand why Meredith likes him (pity perhaps?), Henry no longer wants to be his drudge, Otis has to leave AGAIN to find some long lost ritual, Eddie is still trailing after him, and his hunger continues to grow making it harder and harder to rely on bagged blood when he could feed on those around him. Oh yes, and let’s not forget the nightmares that haunt him by night.

So no, it doesn’t seem possible that Vladimir can have a normal year at school. There are too many questions. Is he really the Pravus? Will he really lose his best friend? Is he really a danger to those he loves? And will he always be looking over his shoulder, wondering if someone is following him?

Tenth Grade Bleeds is again funny, thrilling, and a little darker this time. Merging typical teenage high school troubles, family conflicts, and vampire lore Vladimir remains one of my favorite literary vampires “who is so goth he doesn’t even know he’s goth.” Love it!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pulse It

Just heard that Simon & Schuster hopes to attract more teens to its books through the creation of a new Pulse It social networking site (www.simonandschuster.com/pulseit). It's aimed at 14- to 18-year-olds and lets you do things you can do on sites like Facebook — like create personal profiles and befriend other members — as well as read and react to their titles. Each month you can read one of two S&S titles online for free - you'll have 60 days to finish the book. Message boards will let readers discuss the book and rank it. It will also have an author section where you can interact with your favorite writers.

The site grew out of the Pulse It advisory board of 3,000 teens who received free books in exchange for their feedback. Pulse It had a soft launch June 8 and currently has about 3,100 members.

Is this something you would join? Have you checked it out?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Waiting for Wednesday

This meme is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and lets you know which books we are just desperate to get hold of. I haven't participated in this for weeks, mainly because I have been obsessed with the books I've actually been given but this week I have a title I really want to write about.

And it's Crashed by Robin Wasserman. A sequel to the wonderful Skinned, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

If you haven't read Skinned, you can read my review here.

And this is the cover copy for Crashed:
Months have passed, and in that time, Lia has joined Jude and his roving gang of mechs, an eclectic collection of bored teenagers looking for trouble, and uniquely capable of finding it. It’s a carefree life at first, but as the download process becomes more common, the opposition to the process becomes more vocal - and more hostile.

Lia gets swept up in the idea of being a revolutionary and fighting for a cause, but as the plans escalate, she starts having second thoughts — especially when she figures out Jude’s real agenda. Yes, he’s loyal to his cause — fiercely, desperately, blindly loyal. But only to his cause. Not necessarily to his people. In the end, Lia must make a choice. How many people — mechanical and organic — is she willing to hurt to protect her freedom? How far is she willing to go to protect the people she loves? And, when she betrays Jude — as she eventually realizes she must — how will he take his revenge?

Waiting is so hard.

So that's my pick, what's yours?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can join. Here are the rules
(1) Grab your current read
(2) Open to a random page
(3) Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
(4) BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!
(5) Share the title & author, too, so that other other participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

And this week I'm reading the very awesome, much awaited and pined for Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games was one of my very favorite reads of last year and, as you can imagine, I was thrilled - really thrilled to get my hands on this title. Yes, it's been very hard to find a teaser that includes no spoilers! And yes, this is longer than two sentences (and I took out potential spoilers!)

When I hear the scream of the crowd, I think it's because I must look stunning. Then I notice something is rising up around me. Smoke. From fire. Not the flickery stuff I wore last year in the chariot, but something much more real that devours my dress I begin to panic as the smoke thickens. Charred bits of black silk swirl into the air, and pearls clatter to the stage. Somehow I'm afraid to stop because my flesh doesn't seem to be burning...Then all at once, the fire is gone. I slowly come to a stop, wondering if I'm naked. But I'm not naked...I'm clothed in black except for the white patches on my sleeve. or should I say my wings. Cinna has turned me into a mockingjay.

I'll review this book later this week but all I want to say now is that if you're worried that catching Fire can't possibly live up to all the hype, don't worry. It's fantastic. And will keep you on the edge of your seats throughout.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Book talks with zombies and hand puppets

Authors Maggie Stiefvater, Linda Joy Singleton, Jackson Pearce, Heidi Kling, Brenna Yovanoff, Tessa Gratton, Dawn Metcalf, Carrie Ryan, and Jackie Dolamore interpret their books via hand puppets and zombies. And it is brilliant - and utterly hilarious. And yes, I watched it more than once (of course I did!)

With thanks to Linda Joy Singleton for pointing out this video.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

In My Mailbox

Hard to believe my Ally Carter week is over, it's Sunday again, and I get to tell you about the books I acquired this week and how excited I am to read them. Again I'd like to thank the Story Siren and Alea of Pop Culture Junkie, the blogs where this meme started. And now to the books.

The First is Dead Girl Walking by Linda Joy Singleton, a book I've been meaning to read for ages.

Cover copy: I am so dead... Now, was I supposed to go left or right at the Light?

Seventeen-year-old Amber Borden has a lousy sense of direction—so lousy that she takes a wrong turn when returning from her near-death experience. She ends up in the body of the most popular girl in school, who has just tried to commit suicide.Can a girl who can't even navigate the halls of Halsey High discover the secrets of her new identity and find her way back to her own life?

Lucky me, I also got a copy of Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Manthev

Cover copy: All her world’s a stage. Bertie Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater. She’s not an orphan, but she has no parents. She knows every part, but she has no lines of her own. That is, until now.

Enter Stage Right

NATE. Dashing pirate. Will do anything to protect Bertie.

COBWEB, MOTH, MUSTARD SEED, and PEASEBLOSSOM. Four tiny and incredibly annoying fairies. BERTIE’S sidekicks.

ARIEL. Seductive air spirit and Bertie’s weakness. The symbol of impending doom.

BERTIE. Our heroine.

Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the actors of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book—an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family—and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.

Finally, This Midnight Charter by David Whitley. This came highly, highly recommended by a colleague who searched a huge bookcase to find the copy she had just read, put back, and couldn't find.

Cover copy: Agora is an insular city-state where anything can be bought and sold. Everything is a commodity; goods, services, people, thoughts, concepts and even emotions are bartered on the open market. It’s an economy without money, where trade is the only way of life and debt is death. The successful elite rule, plague festers in the pitiless slums, and children are possessions until their twelfth birthdays.

In the ancient tower of Count Stelli, the city’s greatest astrologer, two children meet, both of whom have been sold into servitude. Mark is an emotional, imaginative boy who is sold by his father to the Count’s grandson in return for medical treatment. The other child, Lily, is reserved and thoughtful; an orphan now owned by the Count. At first, threatened with being thrown out to die on the disease-ridden streets if they displease their masters, Mark and Lily’s only goal is to work and survive. However, as they begin to understand that they can shape their own destinies, they each find their own path — Mark within the system, angling for power and the security it brings; and Lily beyond it, determined to change the city forever. Unbeknownst to them both, however, Mark and Lily are watched by the mysterious ruler of Agora, the Director of Receipts, whose interest in the apparently insignificant pair is more than a passing one.

Hard to know where to start. Eyes Like Stars I think. Now to find more time in my week...

So that's what was in my mailbox. What about you?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Don't Judge a Girl By Her Cover - Review

Ally Carter brings us another fabulous adventure with the wonderful Gallagher Girls. This time Cammie gets to visit Macey in Boston when her father accepts the nomination for vice president of the United States. But they get caught up in a kidnapping attempt that haunts them, and nowhere seems quite as safe again.

While Macey remains deeply under cover as first daughter Cammie, Bex, and Liz must find out who is chasing Macey and why. Do they know about the Gallagher Academy? And why does Cammie keep bumping into Zach in the most unlikely places? Oh, junior year is not exactly as they imagined it would be. Cammie is growing up, there are hints of more serious problems to come, and it’s all told with Carter’s trademark light touch and humor. This is a perfect summer middle school read.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ally Carter Interview

So yes, for me, this is Ally Carter week. As I said yesterday, I interviewed Ally previously (July 2008) but wasn't blogging then. So I thought I'd run it here so you can all learn more about her and her wonderful books.

Tell us a little about your books in a nutshell?

The books I’m best known for is a series about the Gallagher Girls. I like to think of them as fun books set in a boarding school for teenage girls who are learning to be secret agents and the high jinks and boy trouble that they get into. I am figuring out that all teenage girls with crushes are really spies. These girls just happen to have the training to back it up. So no matter how many languages they learn and what scientific methods they master, boys and the general life stuff are still things girls have to figure out on their own. So Books 1 and 2 are about just that: Who can you trust? Who is it OK to let into your life? How do you learn to be who you are when you are just growing up?

Did you always want to be a writer?

I think in the back of my mind the answer to that question is probably yes. I didn’t actively pursue writing, I wasn’t a creative writing major in college or anything like that but it was the dream job. You know if you had asked me when I was ten what I wanted to be when I grew up that’s probably what I would have said was my heart’s desire.

Why YA?

Actually I started out writing very literary adult books then my agent noticed that I was rather funny, so I started to write lighter adult stuff. My agent then noticed that I was kind of clean and kind of funny and suggested I try writing for YA. I had never thought of it because to tell the truth when I was eleven, twelve, thirteen I didn’t find a lot of books I liked. We did not have the amount of great YA writers we have now and I had a bias of sorts in the back of my mind. I knew that I didn’t like teen books when I was a teen and I didn’t know the genre had changed so much. My agent told me to pick up a book by Meg Cabot or any other teen writer and see if I still had the same opinion afterwards. So I did and immediately said, where were these books when I was this age? And I knew I had found my home.

Do you write full time?

I do. I am blessed that I am at the point that I can write full time. It’s a wonderful feeling to roll out of bed and know that you can work in your pajamas all day long if you need or want to. I feel very grateful to my readers because they are the ones who allow me to live my dream.

What inspired you to write the series?

This series came about firstly from the email from my agent saying I think you should try to write YA. Then I sent her a list of ideas, all of which she hated. She told me to go home and think bigger, think better, and remember that teen girls are really smart. They only want to read the best. So I went home and was watching the TV show Alias and I had the sound on mute. When I looked up, only really half paying attention, it was a flashback scene when the main characters were young, running through this old abandoned building. And the first thing that flashed through my mind was, I wonder if they went to a school for spies. I turned up the volume and that wasn’t it at all but by that time the seed was already in the back of my mind. I knew spy school was something I was going to spend time thinking about.

Will there be a third in the series?

Yes, there will be a third. And I can tell you that Book 3 covers essentially the fall semester of their junior year at school. It has worked out very nicely that Book 1 was fall semester sophomore year, Book 2 spring semester, now we’re back in the fall semester for Book 3. We actually see more of the girls away from school than we have ever before and they are definitely growing up. Of course Cammie writes the books and I found myself using slightly bigger words, and there’s just a little more mature of a tone. I didn’t consciously do that but she’s 16 now and the problems of a 16-year-old are a little different, especially when you deal in covert operations. So far it’s my favorite of the three and I hope readers agree.

(I left that question in, even though the third has just been published to keep the interview intact and to hear what she thought of it pre-publication. Now I'd ask about the rest of the series...Ally thinks there will be six)

Will we find out more about Cammie’s Mom, Rachel?

Yes, I love Rachel. She’s a wonderful role model. You can just imagine her going off to some small country nobody has ever heard of, doing these incredibly dangerous, heroic things, then coming home to Cammie and being Mom. And I think that so many of the working mothers of the world are like that and I think it’s a shame that their daughters don’t get to see them in their professional role quite as much. So that’s one of the things I really love about Rachel. Oh, and I love that she’s bad at something. That she can’t cook to save her life. And that’s OK. She tries. She really wants to be able to cook a good Sunday night dinner but she just does not have that skill set.

After this series, will you continue to write for young adults?

Oh I do. I’m not going to say that I’ll never do anything else because I think you have to go wherever the really good idea takes you but I do love writing for teenagers. I think the highs are higher for teenage readers and the lows are lower. And I love that teenagers don’t turn their nose up at you. If you write for adults and you have a character who lives with her heart on her sleeve adults have a tendency to say things like, “oh, I would never do anything like that”, whereas teenagers embrace it. They are not afraid to think something is cool and if they love it they are going to tell their 1400 best friends about it. I’m grateful every day that I write for teenagers.

I’m assuming you read a lot of spy novels or watch a lot of spy movies. Who is your favorite spy?

My favorite fictional spy that I did not create is Jason Bourne. I love the Bourne movies. Maybe it’s because I love Matt Damon. But they kind of reinvented Bond so he’s Bond without the gadgets, Bond on his own. I, of course, have no idea what’s it’s really like in covert operations but I think that’s a lot of it--just a person and their wits, surviving. And that’s something that I really enjoy.

So, who was your favorite Bond?

Honestly I have not watched many of them. Probably Pierce Brosnan, because I loved him back when he did Remington Steel (yes, I'm totally dating myself). But I remember back when I was little, we were all so in love with Remington Steele. So I’ll go with him even though people think Sean Connery is the quintessential Bond. Oh, and the new one, Daniel Craig, is exceptionally dreamy too.

Are you tempted to try out the spy techniques that you write about?

I have to say I am more aware in parking lots than anyone. I memorize license plate numbers, and watch to see if someone follows me in the grocery store and whether he follows me to the car. I’m very into that. And now that I work from home, oh my poor neighbors, I check to see if they are away, I notice if cars are parked in the same place two nights in a row. I’m just very, very nosy. I want some night vision glasses so badly I can taste it but I’m resisting the temptation. I so want to go to the spy museum in Washington, DC especially when I found out that they are selling my books in their gift shop. I have to say that was one of the highlights of my career, knowing they are selling my Gallagher Girls books as reference material!

Which writers do you admire most?

I love Jane Austen. And when I was a teen I really worshipped SE Hinton because she grew up near where I grew up. I’ve often wondered if I would have had the courage to do what I do now, if I hadn’t known that teenage girls from where I was from could do this. She set that example for me in a way that I’m really, really grateful for. When I think of teen books that I love right now, I think of John Green who is great, and I absolutely adore E. Lockhart, especially The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, which I think should win the Printz award hands down. I’m very good friends with Jennifer Lynn Barnes who writes a really fun series called The Squad about cheerleading secret agents. Of course I’m very into Harry Potter and Stephenie Meyer and I make it a point to read as many super popular books as I can because I’m of the opinion that there has got to be something there. Even if I hate 99% of the book, there is 1% there that I can learn from. If you want to win awards you should read the award winners. If you want to be a best seller you need to read all the bestsellers and look for what you can learn from them.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading a book on the history of art theft because I’m doing research for my new series about a band of teenage thieves. So whereas Cammie grew up in a family of spies I’m now writing about a girl called Kat who grew up in a family of high-end con men and thieves. That’s a very interesting world. In Italy alone it’s about a billion dollars a year business because so many churches in Italy have an Old Master on their wall or have a really historic altar piece. And most of these crimes are very low tech, done by a couple of guys with a ladder.

What young adult author are you an evangelist for?

E. Lockhart this year. Emily and I are friends. She and I have the same editor, who often told me about how good the book was. So my expectations were incredibly high and it exceeded them.

Have you ever bought a book because of the cover?

OK, I think I won the cover lottery. I love my covers. I am so blessed. One of the research books I bought recently, The Museum of the Missing: A History of Art Theft, is a gorgeous book and even if I never read it, I will lay it on my coffee table forever because it looks so sophisticated! There’s also a book called Hero by Perry Moore that has a wonderful cover, white with a mask on the front. I went away with a copy of that book from BEA because I loved the cover.

Have you had any interest in making your books into a movie?

Usually I get that question from the girls. It is currently under option at Walden Media, who did Chronicles of Narnia, Bridge to Terabithia, Journey to the Center of the Earth. They do a great job of bringing books to film. They are working on a script and it was an honor just being asked if they could turn it into a movie. If it happens, it would be wonderful. If not, it doesn’t change the books one bit because they’re already movies in themselves you just have to sit down and roll the film inside your own head.

(this was last year and I'm assuming things are different now)

If you could pick someone now, who do you see playing Cammie?

I like the young girl in the movie, Jumper — AnnaSophia Robb. She was also in Bridge to Terabithia. She’s a wonderful young actress and I think would make a great actress. But nobody is going to ask me!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ally Carter

Ally Carter, author of the wonderful Gallagher Girls series, was at Kepler's on Monday and I had the great pleasure of chatting to her about her books. She is charming and funny and genuinely interested in her readers. And her fans are incredible. Two came dressed as Gallagher Girls and drove for three hours to get here. One fan flew in from Florida!

So here's video of Ally talking about her newest book, Don't Judge a Girl By Her Cover (review later this week - I loved it).

And here's video of Ally talking about the series, her influences, and how she came to write it in the first place.

And if you haven't read this series, I thoroughly recommend them. I interviewed Ally when she was touring previously with Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy but wasn't blogging then so I think I'll post the interview this week so you can all get a chance to learn more about her.

What else can I tell you about Ally? She's just stayed in a castle in Ireland with several other YA authors, she's a big fan of Rick Riordan, and she's also writing a new series about a cat burglar named Kat by the way, which I can't wait to read.

Finally, if you love this series check out the wonderful new Gallagher Girl web site here. (Is it obvious how much of a fan I am?)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can join. Here are the rules
(1) Grab your current read
(2) Open to a random page
(3) Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
(4) BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!
(5) Share the title & author, too, so that other other participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

And this week I'm reading The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Tenth Grade Bleeds. I'm a big fan of this series and am really enjoying it (after starting and giving up on two others this week!)

So here's my teaser:

"With a horrible shock, Vlad realized that his mouth was open, his fangs elongated, poised over the delicious-looking blue vein in Meredith's neck. He snapped his mouth shut and stepped back.

He'd almost bitten her. He'd almost fed from Meredith. And if Nelly hadn'tintervened...he could have killed her - would have killed her. Vlad shuddered at the thought. He'd gotten too close."

I'm really enjoying this book. Review soon. What are you reading?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Richelle Mead Interview

I was lucky enough to meet Richelle Mead, author of the very wonderful Vampire Academy series and am so very grateful that she took the time to answer some of my questions. So without further ado, here they are. And oh I can't wait to read Blood Promise.

Tell us a little about your most recent YA book, Shadow Kissed
Shadow Kissed is the third book in the Vampire Academy series. In it, our heroine Rose is starting to suffer some nasty side effects from the tragic events of the previous book. As the center book in the series, SK is also a turning point, in which a lot of big and shocking events occur.

How many titles can we expect in the Vampire Academy series?
There will be a total of six, likely to be followed by a spin-off series about different characters.

What can you tell us about Blood Promise without too many spoilers?
It's hard for me to talk about this, without giving away the ending to the previous book (in case people haven't read it). But in Blood Promise, Rose is trying to right the wrongs of the last book and finds herself going abroad to do it. This is the first book that doesn't take place at the school.

What led you to write Vampire Academy and did you do much research for the books?
Writing Vampire Academy was an off-hand suggestion by someone when I had some free time (which I don't have anymore!). I had no clue teen vampire books were on the verge of becoming so big. I did some research into Romanian myth to get the ideas for my two races of vampires, but like all myths, the details are sketchy--so I had to do a lot of improvising.

What is the difference between writing for adults and young adults?

There's actually very little difference in the two. Naturally, adults and teens are in different situations, and I have to tone down sex and violence for teens. But overall, I don't believe in "talking down" to my teen readers. Their emotions and thoughts are just as complex and intense as those of adults.

I like the complexity you give to some of your minor characters. That said, are we going to see more of Adrian?
You will definitely see more of Adrian! In fact, in Blood Promise, we see a lot of him and find him developing in new ways (but don't worry--he still has his bad boy thing going on).

Have you been surprised at the vehemence of some reactions to Shadow Kiss?

I'm not entirely surprised by the emotional reactions, mostly just the quantity since I'm still not used to how many people are reading these books! The nice thing is that even though people are shocked by the ending, they're still excited for the next book.

Have you thought about filming this series?
Sure, I'd love it, but it isn't anything I have any control over or can do myself. I have to be approached by film company, and they have to offer to buy the rights to make the movie (or show). So far, no one has, so keep your fingers crossed.

I know you write three series (although only one is YA). Do you write them at the same time? Do you ever get confused with your worlds? How do you keep them separate? And how do you have time for three series?
I try to write my first books one at a time, but the thing with publishing is that there's more than just writing the book. You're revising, editing, and proofing. So, I may be writing a new book, and then edits for the previous book will come in, and I have to work on both. I never get the worlds confused--they're very different to me. And as for having the time...well, it's my job and I'm under contract! You make the time, one way or another.

Which writers do you admire most and did they influence your own writing?
Growing up, my favorite books were the Dragonlance series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. They influenced me a lot in that I believe strong characters are the most important part of a book (even though you ideally want all parts to be good!). Those books also taught me not to be afraid to do shocking things in the middle of the series--as shown in Shadow Kiss.

What are you currently reading?
I'm currently reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which is pretty funny for a Jane Austen fan like me. I'm also about to start Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman since I frequently read more than one book at the same time.

Do you have any advice for young aspiring writers?
My advice is to keep with it. That sounds obvious, but a lot of people get frustrated or distracted and stop writing for a day...or days...or weeks. And then nothing gets finished. Even if it's only a page a day, you should keep with your writing. If you truly get blocked and can't go on with a story, then start something new. Keeping your momentum is most important.

If you haven't read the books (and they are very good), my reviews are here (Vampire Academy), here (Frostbite), and here (Shadow Kiss). And you can also see video of Richelle talking about Blood Promise here, and about Vampire Academy and her influences here.

Thanks Richelle.
And for those of you who have read the series and are eagerly waiting for Blood Promise, write and let me know what you expect or even hope will happen in Blood Promise. I know you must have theories...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

In My Mailbox

It's Sunday again and I get to tell you about the books I acquired this week and how excited I am to read them. And what a week (as you'll see)! Again I'd like to thank the Story Siren and Alea of Pop Culture Junkie, the blogs where this meme started.
Now to the books.

So, the first book I got, the book I am most excited about, the book I can't believe I have, is Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Yes, the sequel to The Hunger Games. And I can't tell you how happy I am about this. Highlight of the week. (Thank you Antonia.)

From the back: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

The second fabulous book I received was Ash by Malinda Ho. And oh, I so wanted this retelling of the Cinderella story too.

From the back: Pushed into indentured servitude for her stepmother in the City to pay off her father’s debts, Ash is consumed with grief. She misses her family and her happy life at the edge of the Wood where old magic used to linger in the air like fairy breath. Her only joy comes from the brief, stolen walks in the woods with the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean. Ash’s single, unspoken hope is that someday he might steal her away, as fairies are said to do.

But on the day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, from Kaisa she learns the art of the hunt, how to ride and track. Their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, but it grows and changes, and with it, Ash reawakens her capacity for love—and her desire to live.

Entrancing and romantic, Ash is an empowering retelling of Cinderella about choosing life and love over solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

And I also got Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri, a book I had not heard of before but sounds great.

From the back: One night, in cities all across Europe, five children vanish — only to appear, years later, at an exclusive New York party with a strange and elegant governess. Rumor and mystery follow the Faust teenagers to the city’s most prestigious high school, where they soar to suspicious heights with the help of their benefactor’s extraordinary "gifts." But as the students claw their way up — reading minds, erasing scenes, stopping time, stealing power, seducing with artificial beauty — they start to suffer the side effects of their own addictions. And as they make further deals with the devil, they uncover secrets more shocking than their most unforgivable sins. At once chilling and wickedly satirical, this contemporary reimagining of the Faustian bargain is a compelling tale of ambition, consequences, and ultimate redemption.

Can't read them fast enough. Don't they sound amazing?
So, that's what was in my mailbox. What was in yours?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Catching Fire video trailer

Just got sent this from Scholastic (subtitled the deadly cost of victory) and simply cannot wait. I loved - oh, I loved - The Hunger Games and this looks simply amazing.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

YALSA's teens' top ten

Over the summer we're all looking around trying to decide what to read - right? Well YALSA has tried to make that easier for us by listing their top ten books. They ask teens to nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year and teens across the country vote on their favorites. Readers ages twelve to eighteen can vote (at the website), online, anytime between Aug. 25 and Sept. 18; the winners are announced during Teen Read Week. For more information click here.

Here's the long list (24):

1. Cashore, Kristin. Graceling.

2. Cast, Kristin & P.C. Untamed.

3. Clare, Cassandra. City of Ashes.

4. Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games.

5. Fukui , Isamu. Truancy.

6. Gaiman, Neil. The Graveyard Book.

7. Green, John. Paper Towns.

8. Harris, Joanne. Runemarks.

9. Hopkins, Ellen. Identical.

10. Lockhart, E. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.

11. Marriott, Zoё. Daughter of the Flames.

12. McMann, Lisa. Wake.

13. Meyer, Stephenie. Breaking Dawn.

14. Moran, Katy. Bloodline.

15. Ness, Patrick. The Knife of Never Letting Go.

16. Noёl, Alyson. Evermore.

17. Palmer, Robin. Geek Charming.

18. Pierce, Tamora. Melting Stones.

19. Scott, Elizabeth. Living Dead Girl.

20. Smith, Cynthia Leitich. Eternal.

21. Smith, Sherri L. Flygirl.

22. Weingarten, Lynn. Wherever Nina Lies.

23. Werlin, Nancy. Impossible.

24. Yee, Lisa. Absolutely Maybe.

Interesting list.
How many have you read? (Eek, I've only read 8. Maybe I shouldn't admit to that)
And which would you pick as your #1 favorite?
Mine would have to be Hunger Games, because I loved that so much, but Paper Towns and Frankie Landau-Banks were so good too.
Thoughts? Picks?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Sorceress by Michael Scott - Review

I have waited so very long so continue reading about Nicholas Flamel, his wife, Perenelle, and the twins Sophie and Josh. We left them fleeing Paris at the end of The Magician, the city in ruins. Now they are in London, surrounded by enemies, hoping desperately to find allies, in search of Gilgamesh the King who they hope will teach the twins Water Magic. But Perenelle is still trapped on Alcatraz (with an army of sleeping monsters, Areop-Enap, and the Crow Goddess), Nicholas is growing weaker every day, Scatty is missing, London is full of Dee’s allies, and Gilgamesh – well, poor Gilgamesh is insane.

Breathtaking in its scope, The Sorceress takes hold and doesn’t let go until you turn the very last page. I sat up very late into the night unable to sleep until I knew where the book was going. Many series don’t hold me. Many greatly anticipated sequels disappoint. But not this one. This series has gone from strength to strength. Don’t miss it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - Epoch by Timothy Carter

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can join. Here are the rules
(1) Grab your current read
(2) Open to a random page
(3) Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
(4) BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!
(5) Share the title & author, too, so that other other participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

So, as you can see, I started Epoch as soon as I got it. And it opened on page 71. Here's my teaser:

"So, how's it going to end?" Vincent asked. "Nuclear war? An asteroid impact? Ice age? Killer bees?"
"Worse," Nod`said. "Demons."
"They actually exist?"
"Not in the way you're probably thinking," Nod said. "For one thing, they don't use pitchforks. They don't need them. And they're not from Hell."

Monday, June 1, 2009

New Moon official trailer

So you knew I'd have to post this - right?

And look how Jacob/Taylor has changed...