Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hard on Soft, Soft on Hard


I for one hate hardcovers. Admittedly, they look really nice and all, and the book jackets are adorable, but ick for reading in class - not bendable in the slightest. I like bendy things.

Flexibility.

*winks*

*licks lips*

/perv

And they're more expensive. Especially for foreigners like me who have to pay importing taxes + whatever else bookstore people like to drive prices up for. No Amazon discount here folks - hardcover costs $20 on the cheap end.

So anyhow, I always wondered why a lot of books are published hardcover first. I mean, obviously the ones the publisher is pushing for the season would be hardcover - with marketing behind them. But then there are the hardcovers that get no attention. I get that you make more money from hardcovers but...

And it's especially puzzling for debuts: How can I spend that much money on an author I don't even know?

Which makes me think it's time for some discussion! Thoughts? Preferences? Fetishes? The floor's yours.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Total Knockout: Tale of an Ex-Class President by Taylor Morris

Summary

Thirteen-year-old Lucia Latham isn't like ordinary girls. She's about to be elected junior high class president for the third time -- an unprecedented occurrence. Plus she's a competitive boxer, waking every morning at 5am to practice. To call Lucia driven doesn't even scratch the surface. So this year, Lucia has no reason to believe that she won't have things under control.

But no sooner is she elected three-peat president than she's impeached! Now it's up to Lucia to rebuild her carefully constructed world in time to not only save her political future, but also her own self image.


Grade: B+

Thanks to Taylor for the book!

Review:
At first I thought this book was cover endearing to MG readers, because, really, isn’t it cute? I’d at least have picked it up back when I was categorically MG.

Now I have to wonder who the hell designed this. With that package, don’t you think it’s a cutesy story about a sixth grader or something similar? Even the description seems to point in that direction

...

So imagine my surprise when I began reading and found that this pretty much borders lower YA. When I was in seventh and eighth grade I was already devouring older YA books—and if this had come out back then, I probably wouldn’t have deemed it too immature to be read by my more-grown-up-than-thou self.

So, yeah, it’s fine for older people.

When Taylor offered this to me, she said she “appreciated honesty, both negative and positive”. I’m sure this is her half-blessing for me to make of her book what I will, and while I do love getting my snark on, I regret to inform you, Taylor, that it won’t make an appearance this time around :)

I really liked this. (Second positive MG review in less than a week—wow, I’m a groupie!) Let me make a list of why because I’ve tried straight reviewing and it’s not working on this:

The character building was excellent. I could imagine these characters leading their life as depicted. What I mean is, it didn’t feel like any were plot devices yet they all moved the plot forward anyway.

Boxing! I quite don’t like it myself, but Lucia had a knack for making it both relevant and fun to read about. Not to mention the fact she actually deduced real-life lessons from boxing, which makes her character perceptive and reflective.

And the plot was pretty fun, too.

Now, there were some sketchy things left unanswered...

I’d argue that what Melanie did was as bad as what Lucia did. Why was Lucia the only one who had to step down?

What was Nicole’s deal? She was the knickers-in-a-twist school paper reporter who made all her articles sound negative at Lucia’s expense. I was hoping her vindictive attitude toward Lucia would be a subplot, but alas...

The online polls thing. When I was in junior high, we couldn’t do the most ridiculous things like wear bandanas because they’d been used as gang signs in the past and the school didn’t want to encourage bullying. The US is notorious for a strict zero-tolerance policy for any type of mild, suggestive bullying demeanor—so what was up with the allowed online cattiness? (This is pretty anal of me, but then again, I am rather fond of using my posterior as the looking-glass to the rest of the world.)

BUT, my persnickety observations aside, great read. I could see how this might be able to stretch into a series—more time to explore Lucia and Cooper’s oo-la-la-ness a little more.

Recommended!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Banned Books

Banned Books Week isn't an actual event around these parts, so I'll keep my blog participation on them short and sweet.

I just found out Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld is a challenged book.



For the newcomers to the blog (my stats are going up, so I assume I’ve got a few! welcome aboard!), Prep is my favorite book of all times. I know the response to it is rather polarized—either people love it or they hate it, no middle ground. Personally, I’ve never come across a more touching, brilliant, witty, and soul searching book. I’d recommend it for anyone to read—even if you come out hating it. Because I’ll tell you this: if things go well and you love it, it’ll be like a revolution in your life.

Looking at my list of favorite books, every last one of them could be challenged or banned for whatever ridiculous reasons people are pulling books from the shelves today—sexual content, drugs, illicit activity, or language. Masturbation. Witchcraft.

To which I say: fuck you. I’ma read what I want and to hell with your repressing ways.

So do yourself a favor—pick up a few banned books. Their message is probably not even that bad, but all the glorification and hype of the challenging media only serves as augmentation for their “corruption”.

Besides, doesn’t doing wrong feel so, so right? :)

Sinfully yours,
Steph

Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky

Summary

Before this all happened, the closest I'd ever come to getting physical with a guy was playing the board game Operation. Okay, so maybe that sounds pathetic, but it's not like there were any guys at my high school who I cared to share more than three words with, let alone my body.

Then I met Wes, a track star senior from across town. Maybe it was his soulful blue eyes, or maybe my hormones just started raging. Either way, I was hooked. And after a while, he was too. I couldn't believe how intense my feelings became, or the fact that I was seeing—and touching—parts of the body I'd only read about in my Gray's Anatomy textbook. You could say Wes and I experienced a lot of firsts together that spring. It was scary. It was fun. It was love.

And then came the fall.

Grade: B

Thanks to Daria for the book! (As an add-on to our conversation, yup, I pretty much finished it the day I received it.)


Review:
For those who’ve been living under some sort of an airtight boulder for the past month or so in which this book has been making appearances at possibly every book blog in the immediate blogosphere, I’d just like to say something to you that I can claim “you heard it here first” dibs on:

Wes is a douche.

(That’s the Romeo in this tragedy.)

I liked him and all the first time we see him, when Dominique is bladder-bursting to get to the nearest Port-O-Potty. (Which gives you some keen insight on the kind of background action that suits him.) Afterwards, I begin hating him with intense distaste, and can’t help but wonder what is it about him that makes Dominique crave for him to get her laid.

It’s a question worth good pondering, I assure you.

But moving on. Now that I’ve gotten my rants about Wet-Wes out of the way, let me talk a little about the actual book:

I like that this is a non-smutty graphic book. Because, see, while I enjoy the Gossip Girl series (up until the eighth book, that is) (they’re trashy, but worthwhile to read if you’re in the mood for catty-magazine-like novels (which I occasionally am, yes)! but worthy of solid Ds in literary quality, before anyone smites me) they do absolutely nothing for the girls reading them in terms of better understanding their own sexuality.

Now for a little Steph psychobabble (skip if you’ve not read the novel, or if you’re hoping to remain awake—or alive, depending on how easily bored you are. Go down until the other marker for where you can start reading again. For your health, ya know):

And the thing is, even though I detested Wes, I can see how it was necessary for his character to be the way he is. Because the way I view it, this story was meant to depict a positive first sexual experience. But then it had to turn sour. Not the experience, mind, because it was still positive in its own time; rather, the relationship. It is in my understanding that most YA authors dealing almost-exclusively with sex depict either a horrible first time—or a magical one. So, personally, I view the message here, similar to what I take Forever’s to be (never read the book), is: It’s possible to have an all-consuming moment in time with someone and then have it be spoiled.

If that made any sense whatsoever. I’m not the best at articulation. >.<

So, back to why it was necessary for Wes to be a loser: It wouldn’t be Dominique who’d ruin the “relationship”. (Okay, they viewed it as special; I viewed it as dysfunctional. Another thing this book’s good for: depicting a rather bad relationship that is perceived as a positive for those involved.) Ever. She was always committed to him. Dominique needed to be exactly the way she was for this story to work—slightly bratty, but largely well-meaning and unique in her scientific vernacular. The mature (but only in theory) one of the two.

Thus, her counterpart needed to be someone who, every so often, had the ability to grow a pair (you know, for fornicating), but had no means whatsoever of cultivating...them. Someone with the emotional maturity of a goldfish. Enter Wes.

(If you haven’t read the book and/or wanted to avoid boredom, here's where you can start reading again.)

I liked the book. I do think it’d be good for every girl to pick it up at some time or another, but not for life lessons or anything, just for a little culture. However, be warned that if you’re looking for a wholesome book (with a lot of emotional content, and more than just a relationship), this isn’t it. Like I said, their relationship is all consuming. You are literally reading solely about what they did, who they were, and how it all went to the shitter. The narrow focus may become claustrophobic for anyone expecting any more.

Oh, and for the record, I dislike the shortening of Dominique to Dom. It just rubs me as a sound Jabba the Hutt would make. (Or, at least that’s how I pictured it when Wes saw Dominique topless for the first time—“Dom!” *cringe*)

YA Fabulous! Has Changed Homes

New address: http://yafabulous.wordpress.com/

You guys know how much of a fan I am, thus my ... random announcement. :)

Anyhow, check it out. Girl's good.

Steph

Saturday, September 27, 2008

LMFAO

Any authors or publicists feeling generous? (Please note I do not live in the US, so you'd be the one who'd have to do the sending.) I'm the one who coordinates the YA Connection contests and I'm pretty much out of prizes. Each Connection gets loads of views, people love contests, etc, so it's great publicity! *bats eyelashes* I'm not so great with the flirting, but I rock at groveling. I would be forever grateful.

ANYWAY.

The "LMFAO" at the title refers to one of the search queries than just led someone here a couple of hours ago: jacob nessie disgusting. I'm glad you think so, too, my anonymous Google-using friend!

And why am I ridiculously happy? I JUST GOT THE BEST AUTHOR EMAIL EVER FROM ONE OF MY IDOLS. She's so quick to reply! Details later.

Steph

YA Connection (Week of September 21st-27th)

Last week's winners were: Melissa N, Paradox, and *drumroll* Skyler! I know I said there were two copies to give away, but hell, I lied, there were three. So :P Please check your inboxes for a message from me, and get your addresses out to me ASAP.

This week's contest is for.......

PAPER TOWNS by John Green

THREE
ARCs
OF THE GOLDEN BOOK. I heart it, and I'm sure those who win it will heart it too.

Same as usual - yaconnection@reviewerx.com. Extra entries by spreading the word (+ 1 for each place you get it out to) and also by going over to http://thestorysiren.com/ (+1) for this week's secret word. Since I'm anticipating many entries for this one, I'll send out confirmation emails. If you don't get one within a day, re-email (and mention that it's a re-entry because you never got the confirmation).

Just a note on how awesome the ARC is - you know how there's two covers? Well, the front is the yellow one and the back is the blue one. So you effectively get two covers. Heh. :)

YA Connection
(Week of August 31st - September 6th)

The YA Connection is a collaborative column collected by Kristi (The Story Siren) and Steph (Reviewer X). In it can be found links from around the YA blogosphere, including, but not limited to, contests links, author blog links, review links, and miscellaneous news pertaining to the age group. Also, Kristi and Steph hold weekly contests accompanying the column, as well as a book and author spotlight.

If you're a blogger, author or publicist looking to have your links added, please email Kristi at thestorysiren (at) hotmail.com or Steph at reviewerx (at) gmail.com. Any book donations for giveaways are also greatly appreciated. Please note that the spotlights are not up to suggestion, but rather decided by both Kristi and Steph.

Contests
(compiled by Kristi)

Linda Joy Singleton (Witch Ball) is giving away a signed copy of Dead Girl Walking! Hurry the deadline is Sept. 30!

Liv of Liv's Book Reviews is giving away a signed copy of Song of the Sparrow.

At Harmony Book Reviews win a signed copy of Sleepless by Terri Clark.

Bookluver Carol has a your choice prize of a signed copy of Wish You Were Here or Picture Perfect by Catherine Clark.

Author Musings(Compiled by Kristi)

Heather Brewer (Ninth Grade Slays) will be at the Saint Louis Public Library's Schlafly's Branch (225 N. Euclid Ave. Saint Louis, MO 63108 - phone: (314) 367-4120) this coming Tuesday, September 30th at 6pm.

Justina Chen Headley (Girl Overboard) new neighbors and Chinese traditions!

Kieran Scott (Geek Magnet) posted about her favorite shows this fall! 90210, Privileged and Opportunity Knocks!

The debut author site The Class of 2k8 featured it's authors that have a second book on the way already!

It was a very busy week over at Books, Boys, Buzz hosted by: Donna Sarkar-Mishra (How To Salsa in a Sari), Heather Davis (Never Cry Werewolf), Marley Gibson (Sorority 101), Simone Elkeles (Leaving Paradise), Stephanie Hale (Twisted Sisters), Tina Ferraro (How To Hook a Hottie) and Tera Lynn Childs (Oh. My. Gods.).

P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast (Marked) celebrated the release of Untamed this week andlaunched a new website!

Aussie author Amanda Ashby (You Had Me at Halo) is welcoming spring, while most of us in the US are just beginning to see the signs of fall.

Broke Taylor (Undone) shares her own rendition of the Fashion Police! Baggy Pants, nose piercings and boobie tassels??

Carrie Ryan (Forest of Hands and Teeth) has some fun books news.... she shares some author blurbs on her new novel and is busy working on the final draft for book two.

E. Lockhart (How to be Bad) commented on the new political page made by fellow author Maureen Johnson supporting Obama and the importance of young people being active in politics. After all you are the future!

Jessica Burkhart (Taking the Reins) featured the new cover art for her second novel in the Canterwood Crest series, Chasing Blue.

On Teen Fiction Cafe, Stephanie Kuehnert (I Wanna be Your Joey Ramone) posted about the start of her favorite season, fall!!

Teen Fiction Cafe is hosted by Amanda Ashby (You Had Me at Halo), Lauren Baratz-Logsted (Secrets of My Suburban Life), Teri Brown (Read My Lips), Jessica Burkhart (Take the Reins), Liza Conrad (High School Bites), Linda Gerber (Death by Latte), Sara Hantz (The Second Virginity of Suzy Green), Stephanie Kuehnert (I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone), Alyson Noel (Cruel Summer), Kelly Para (Graffiti Girl), Wendy Toliver (Secret Life of a Teenage Siren), Melissa Walker (Violet in Private), and Sara Zarr (Sweethearts).

Regina Scott (La Petite Four) and Marissa Doyle (Bewitching Season) continue with their list of nineteen reasons they love the nineteenth century.

C Leigh Purtill (All About Vee) blogs about the similarities between knitting and writing.

Aprilynne Pike (Wings) shares some of her reading suggestions and she has a heads up on some upcoming contests!

Cyn Balog (Fairy Lust) had some exciting news this week. She has yet to release her debut novel, but she just sold two more novels to be published!

The Novel Girls is new blog I've discovered. (Steph echoes: Pretty much my favorite collaborative blog - these ladies know how to captivate an audience!) It is hosted by a group of authors, Tracy Madison (A Taste of Magic), Mareen Lipinski (Was It Planned), Lisa Patton (Whistlin Dixie in a Nor'easter), Jillian Cantor (The September Sisters), Lesley Livingston (Wonderous Strange), and Carolyn McTighe (How to Ruin Your Live and Other Lessons from the Fourth Grade). This week they blogged about various topics.

Melissa Walker (Violet in Private) posted the first vlog for her blog! You might have seen some of her guest vlogs, but she hasn't done one for her own blog until now. I love her vlogs!

Meg Cabot (Do I even need to put a title here, or I could just put has written an insanely huge amount of books!) blogged about her book tour, YA for Obama and why Lauren Conrad's book deal is actually a good thing for writers wanting to get published. Meg has a great blog, if you haven't checked it out before, I suggest you get on it.

Author of the Week
Maureen Johnson

Short Bio:
My name is Maureen Johnson. I am a writer of books and things.

Long Bio:
Too long to post! Check it out here.





Blogger Blurbs
(Compiled by Steph)

Jessica at Chick Lit Teens wrote to us: "While reading over the Weekly Odyssey last week I saw that Maureen Johnson had started a YA for Obama website. I find it wonderful that Maureen has created a place where teens can go to discuss the important issues and support their candidate. However I was sad to see that there is no where for teens who support McCain to go. With this in mind I created a similar website for McCain supporters. I'd greatly appreciate it if you could mention it in the next Weekly Odyssey so that teens can see that there is another website for McCain.

The URL is: http://yaformccain.ning.com/."

Amee and Taren of The Chick Manifesto posted a tandem review of the movie Pretty In Pink: "Taren and I both love this movie. Here is our discussion on its finer (or not) points:"

Reader Rabbit reviewed Take Me There by Susane Colasanti: "Having read (and loved) When It Happen, I had high expectations. Sadly, I was utterly disappointed. "

Lenore of Presenting Lenore reviewed The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent: "It’s well researched historical fiction with a compelling narrative and a sympathetic narrator. Plus the author has a special reason to tell the tale and do it justice – she’s a tenth generation descendant of Martha Carrier."

Alea of Pop Culture Junkie posted a new Lookalikes! If you don't know what the Lookalike feature is, it's a manifestation of Alea's keen eye and her deign background: She finds two covers that look similar or use the same stock art and posts about them.

Rachael/Scarlet of The Book Muncher reviewed Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott: "While it’s not right to like a story such as this, I think Living Dead Girl should be read by everyone, if not for enjoyment then to inform readers. It is a short but fast read, beautifully written and impossible to ever forget."

Kate at Book Nymph reviewed Wicked Game by Jeri-Smith Ready: "I loved it. Every second of every minute that I was reading it. The story line was so original, so thought out yet, at the same time, used something we all know and seem to fear...the blood thirsty walking dead."

Kelsey at Reading Keeps You Sane reviewed Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott: "I had some expectations and Perfect You definitely accomplished them."

Em at Em's Bookshelf reviewed Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen: "This book is, at times, heartbreaking, but what makes it wonderful is watching Ruby as she learns what it's like to live with a loving family."

The Compulsive Reader reviewed Witch High by various authors: "Witch High is an absorbing anthology full of fourteen short stories that range from humorous to foreboding, and snarky to heart wrenching."

Trisha at The YA YA YAs reviewed Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles: "A teen romance full of clichés, melodrama, an unrealistic denouement, and a completely over the top epilogue. And I freaking loved it."

Gabbi at All Five Stars reviewed Lush by Natasha Friend: "Lush is everything you could ask for a middle grade and something more."

Becky at Becky's Book Reviews reviewed The 39 Clues: Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan: "One of the things that first struck me about Riordan's writing way back when--before Percy Jackson became the ever-so-popular series that it's become--was how great he was at crafting sentences and hooking readers. The Lightning Thief impressed me because almost every single chapter began with a great first sentence. Something so clever, so witty, so catchy, so intriguing that you wanted to keep reading."

Brina at YA New York is looking for a second writer for her site: "If you’re interested, shoot me an e-mail with some info about your reading habits, writing creds (blogs count!) and maybe a sample review or a link to your own site. I’d especially love to have someone on board who is interested in graphic novels, manga, and any other YA stuff you think the site needs more of. Last thing: You don’t need to live in New York if you want to join up in this volunteer effort. You can live anywhere. Alaska. Oklahoma. Finland. Etc."

Khyrinthia at Frenetic Reader reviewed Skinned by Robin Wasserman: "All in all, fantastic book. I want the sequel as soon as humanly possible."

Kelsey at Just Blinded Book Reviews reviewed I Know It's Over by C.K. Kelly Martin: "Reading this book has made me look forward to reading more of Martin's work."

(Is it just me or are most bloggers not as active anymore? Many places I checked out had no updates this week, thus the shorter list!)

Kristi & Steph's Book Spotlight:

Suite Scarlett
by Maureen Johnson
The Hopewell Hotel is small Art Deco “jewelbox” in New York City. The hotel has a grand past, but a somewhat dusty and broken present, with pigeons breaking into the rooms, chandeliers with more cobweb than glass, and constantly exploding toilets. Guests are rare, but it does have one constant set of inhabitants... the Martin family.

Scarlett Marin is the third of the four Martins. Scarlett is fifteen, blonde, and broke. Her friends are gone for the summer. And she’s got this one curl that exists just to stab her in the eye and blind her. Welcome to her life...

Interviews/Guest Blogs
(Compiled by Steph)

Beth Fehlbaum (Courage in Patience) was featured for The Book Muncher's RAD post this week.

Deborah Reber (Chill) was interviewed by Harmony Book Reviews.

Terri Clark
(Sleepless) interviews in two places: From The Corner Of Megan's Mind and Book-Luver Carol.

Dia Calhoun (Avielle of Ria) interview at From The Corner of Megan's Mind.

Interview with Elizabeth Scott (Living Dead Girl) at Hope's Book Reviews!

Our Reviews
Kristi: Queen Geeks in Love by Laura Preble, The Queen Geek Social Club by Laura Preble, Nailed by Jennifer Lauresn, and Shift by Charlotte Agell.

Steph: Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs and Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head by Nancy Viau.

Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head by Nancy Viau

Summary

Ten-year-old Samantha Hansen is a mad scientist. But not the crazy kind—she doesn’t blow stuff up or mix potions or dissect bugs. She just loves science—especially rocks—and figuring out how the world around her works. But there are some things there just isn’t a scientific answer for. Like, why can’t her bossy big sister keep her hands off Sam’s rock collection? And why can’t Sam control her temper? There are some bigger questions, too, like why did her father have to die? And why won’t her mom talk about him anymore?

When Sam’s mom announces a family trip to the Grand Canyon, it’s a dream come true. But it’s also a challenge: If Sam can’t learn to calm down and ignore her irritating sister, she’s going to miss her chance to see one of the world’s biggest rocks and maybe find the answers to some of her questions.

Grade: B+

Thanks to Nancy for the ARC!

Funny ARC Tidbits:
Hehe, this one had the history of the font used on the penultimate page. I thought that was so weirdly cool.

Review:
Wow, how long has it been since I last picked up a MG book? Four years? I’m not familiar with genre at all anymore, so forgive me if anything I say is hogwash. I accepted this to review because I loved the title.

*fourth grader hat on*

Not a perfect novel. I don’t mean this to detract from the praise I think it deserves (which you can scroll down to get my take on), because it’s a good read, but I’m just saying. For the first portion of the book, there isn’t much of a discernible plot: it’s, by and large, a lot of setup. I say this because, as a munchkin, I had many friends who went for plot-driven, and if that’s what you’re looking for, Samantha Hansen’s first instalment probably won’t be a match.

Now! This novel had some killer qualities: Sam is such a humorously quirky character, in the vein of Junie B Jones. Her voice sings—which is a sizable feat, as the pacing zips by and—blink!—before you know it, the novel’s over. Sam’s mannerisms, fixations (on rocks, specifically), impassés, and lists were clever—endearing, even. She was just such a fun character. (And good thing, too, for a character driven story.) For all her traces of aforementioned Junie B Jones (never an insult), she’s also got a straight line of noticeably unique traits, from the way she thinks to her love for science. (I take my hat off to someone who can make science sound vaguely non-torturous.)

And then there’s the writing.

The first lesson my legendary literature teacher taught me last year was, writing simply is complicated—it takes hard-earned skill to mask effort with grace. I’d imagine it’s the norm for MG to be to-the-point, but the conciseness in Ms. Viau’s voice is taking it to the next level. It’s easy to fall into this narrative, with its subtle wit and sophisticated simplicity. What can I say? Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head is simply sophisticated.

Oh and for a moment of undiluted fangirl appreciation: Sam’s penguin stuffed animal is named Ace! How perfect a name for a penguin is that?!

So, yeah, recommended for people looking for good MG novels for their offspring, siblings, library flock, cats, etc.

Y'ALL!!!

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=AneJVA4iyPAF8mkSjQwvsMnsy6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20080926092452AA4SC3S

I mean, REALLY. How does one not squeal over that?? I'm 95% sure I never talked to that reader before, which is why I'm doing a public announcement - thank you! It's been a crap day so far, but just totally picked up! :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Take On Random

I'm bored, I'm numb, and I'm fed up with my project that is GOING NOWHERE. Therefore, random links of love! Here are all kinds of nifty stuff I've found today:

Lenore is celebrating a big awesome reviewer something that happened today and I'm so happy for her! And also, she made the most spectacular post of the week, which you can have the pleasure of viewing by clicking here.

A.S. King revamped her site!

I'd like to kindly ask Twilighters to stop killing Khyrinthia, the blogosphere would not be complete without her hating on Jacob and Edward.

Trisha over at The YA YA YAs decided to make my day and give my blog some love! Kristi over at The Story Siren followed suit. <3

The judges for the Cybils 2008 have been announced!

Organizer: Jackie Parker Interactive Reader

Panelists (Round I judges)
Leila Roy Bookshelves of Doom
Rebecca Laney Becky's Book Reviews
Amanda Snow A Patchwork of Books
Trisha Murakami The Ya Ya Yas
Kate Fall Author2Author
Jocelyn Pearce Teen Book Review
Abby Johnson Abby (the) Librarian

Judges (Round II)
Jackie Parker Interactive Reader
Sarah Stevenson Finding Wonderland, Readers' Rants
Allie/Little Willow Bildungsroman
Lili Wilkinson Inside a Dog
Casey Titschinger Avid Teen Reader

I see some friendly reviewer & author faces, don't you?

I also got some link love over at Omnivoracious's YA Wednesday! Nice column for bookish people to check out =)

Kristi posted an awesome Books to Pine For Part III, where I got several wishlist items. Damn you, Kristi, making me more book hungry =/

I just realized that I'm an insomniac, but that doesn't mean I make any sense whatsoever at midnight (which it currently is). So I'll leave you be with this - hopefully someone makes some use of it!

One Up For The Nonconformist

Anyone else ever get the feeling that if people actually agree with you on something, then you must be wrong about it?

Just my random musings. Back to doing a project for school!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs

Summary
A modern girl’s comedic odyssey in a school filled with the descendants of Greek gods.

When Phoebe’s mom returns from Greece with a new husband and moves them to an island in the Aegean, Phoebe’s plans for her senior year and track season are ancient history. Now she must attend the uberexclusive academy, where admission depends on pedigree, namely, ancestry from Zeus, Hera, and other Greek gods. That’s right, they’re real, not myth, and their teen descendants are like the classical heroes—supersmart and superbeautiful with a few superpowers. And now they’re on her track team! Armed only with her Nikes and the will to win, Phoebe races to find her place among the gods.

Grade: C+/D-

Thanks to JL for the book!

Review:

Before I wrote this review, I did a quick blog search for others’ reviews of it. And what I found stumped me—this book is adored everywhere except for a few places that do like it, just had qualms about the character development. I’m wondering just how this became everyone’s pet.

... I must’ve not read the same novel as everyone else.

In the first three pages, it’s established Phoebe’s a runner, her mom’s a therapist, and her mom’s getting married with a man she’s known for six days (and tells Phoebe this right after Phoebe’s done running a very important race. Like, in the middle of the track!). And she says it’s love. Oh, and they’re also moving to Greece because the dude’s Greek and “can’t leave his job”.

First of all, is it just me, or is informing your daughter that you’re moving her thousands of miles overseas in the middle of a cross country meet about the most inopportune moment in the history of crappy timing? Who drops that kind of a bomb out of the blue like that? A therapist? It doesn’t stop here either—when they’re getting to the island where they’ll be living in Greece, on the ferry ride, Damian (that’s hubby-hunk) explains that the school Phoebe is going to is populated by descendants of Greek gods.

Yes. In the ferry.

And they expect this to sink in quickly and for her to keep in quiet.

Just—oh, I’ll let you form your own opinions. Let’s go back to the opening scene.

So, the mom’s a psycho-therapist who expects her senior daughter to move to an isolated Greek island because she fell in love with Damian in the six days she was in Greece for a family reunion with her late husband, Phoebe’s father. (Phoebe wasn’t able to make it because of this Very Important Race that would decide if she’d get a scholarship to her dream school, USC.) She’s all blushing, heaving bosoms, and being clingy like a teenager to this Damian.

WHO DOES THIS?!

I’m wondering why there was this opening scene at all. Why not just begin with Phoebe in Greece? And why make the mom a therapist? Why not one of those obsessive-compulsive, needy women who would actually move halfway across the world with a man they’ve known for six days and claim it’s love?

I’m sorry, but the plot’s got more holes than the ozone layer.

It doesn’t really get much better. Characters: all clichés (right down to the misunderstood environmentalist, obsessively tree-hugging best friend named Granola by her hippie parents), never really developed (the mother goes on random bouts of psycho-babble, but frankly, given her lack of consideration to her daughter’s needs, namely not moving in with some random dude!!! make her a caricature to me), and most of the time nonsensical (she meets Love Interest #1, Griffin, in a beach run where he just miraculously show up so we get the Fateful Meeting of Lovebirds—apparently Psycho Mom didn’t teach her not to speak to strangers, especially descendant-of-gods who might zap her to Saturn strangers).

The writing lacks transition. There’s no logical connection between what happens in the story. I mean, the sudden move to Greece is semi-explained in the end, but I just don’t buy it—it’s too much make-believe (even for a book where the Greek gods are alive) that it’s like fantasy within fantasy.

The plot’s....meh. I could’ve done without the whole Nicole-Griffin drama, and frankly, I thought the whole thing was a little too dramatic and rushed. The actual, primary plot is more predictable than night following day, but by the point where all is revealed, I didn’t really care anymore.

I thought the concept was brilliant—Greek gods having descendants, descendants having to work for their power, the high school clique scene (determined by which god is in your family. Emos are the “Hades harem”, so on, so forth), etc. It was really original, and being a Greek raised knowing mythology myself, I thought this book could’ve gone deeper. It’s obvious Ms Childs knows the gods. The question is: When will we get to see more of the premise and less of these overly comical setups that are neither commonsensible nor funny?

I, for one, found this disappointing. I just cannot do with clichés, y’all. Perhaps if I was a little less anal-retentive... I’m not sure this would work, even then. Liked the premise; not so with the execution.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

You Googled WHAT to My WHERE?

Search queries that have landed people here:

Key: query (my comments)

how do you spell gracais? (hint: not like that)

what book am i thinking of? (only you can tell)

get the pretty little liars collection cheaply online by sara shepard (other cheapos exist in this world!)

horny midnight fairies (this makes me think of "pixies")

books to make me horny (I can offer an alternative for the counter effect: Flowers in the Attic)

breaking dawn birth scene (and we have our share of masochists)

megan mccafferty perfect fifths excerpt (don't I wish)

the possiblity of saint hood (not the book, I'll gather. I think the ratio is like 1 to 5 million, if that helps)

horny books (wow, like action figures for the bookish set!)

Some of these frighten me. But mostly, they amuse the hell out of me.

Changes

http://fluxnow.blogspot.com/2008/09/new-news.html

Read.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Importance of Communication

During Book Blogger Appreciation Week, there was one day devoted to giving blogging tips, but I chose to forgo it because 1) I’m a newbie, 2) therefore I know nothing, and 3) I was tied up at school. However, I have gone back on my decision and here’s something I’d like to touch on for bloggers, and maybe even any authors and other readers out there who happen to stumble upon this post:

It’s so very, very, very important to be communicative. What I mean is, be available! Be friendly! Be responsive! When people email you, please email them back. Try to get to things as possible as you can, and if there’s a holdup, let the other person know so they’re not left hanging.
Don’t stall on others.

Don’t ignore messages.

Don’t take forever to do every little thing.

I’m always disappointed when I email someone and receive no response. Interview requests ignored. Could-you-put-me-through-to-your-publicist-cos-I’d-really-like-to-review-an-ARC-of-your-work requests left unanswered. Nice notes every once in a while to see how things are, to congratulate a person on recent successes, or to compliment them on something like their work or cover, all left to gather dust.

Worse yet is when someone doesn’t reply mid-conversation and you can’t very well email them, sweating indignation, and say, “So, when do I get your side of the dialogue back?” That’s just awkward.

Now, this is just me, but:

I don’t mind being turned down on an interview request. I just would love to know I’m being rejected instead of receiving no response and wondering if the person got my message at all and risking coming across like a pest when I re-email them.

I get I’m an intimidating person (or so I’ve been told) and that my reviews are of a rather brutal nature (depending on which book we’re talking about). But ARCs are there for a reason: One can’t make a profit on them, so, after they’ve exhausted all mainstream publicity venues, and if they have any copies left, what’s the harm in putting a teenager with a site through to their publicist?

Ignoring these requests, even when there aren’t any left, is just plain rude. Explain the situation. Let us know we’re not annoying you by expressing interest in your work and posting about it to our audience. If you just don’t want a certain blogger with your work, I’d still reply anyway—don’t hide behind your screen! A response is better than nothing to the person inquiring.

And, finally, when I leave a comment or whatever on a person’s profile saying I like their cover, I’m not fishing for an ARC or a review copy. I know that’s how it looks, but believe me, if I wanted your book, I’d just get a publicist to send it to me and not bother you. The only time I contact authors for their books is when they’re published by a house that won’t send abroad unless the author requests it to their publicist themselves. (And again this is why I’m doubly disappointed when I’m ignored on such requests—I only ever go through this when the book is too expensive for me to afford and given I live in a country with no English-book libraries because English is not our primary language, I have no other choice if I want to read a book.) So, if I leave you such a comment, it’s okay to reply back—I won’t pounce.

And I mean this to bloggers as well. If a book is offered to you, turn it down if you don’t want to, but do it politely. Don’t just reply to people whose books you want to read—that, too, is rude.

This industry, I’ve found, can be quite lonely. When someone singles you out about something, emails you politely asking for something that won’t pain or cost you to do, or is simply being nice, they should always be acknowledged. Reputations go around, and unless you’re a bestseller (which most aren’t) or a mega star like JK Rowling, Philip Pullman or Stephenie Meyer, those expressing interest in you and your work will become few and far between should you regard yourself as too important to reply. (Because that is how it looks.)

The Perfect Man

Another random reviewer musing - There's sure a lot of perfect guys in YA lit. Perfect, as in looks. The heroine at sometime has a chance with The Perfect One, but most of the time it's superficial and we never get any personality. (Or if we do, it matches their looks - perfect.)

So, I'm wondering, what are your thoughts on this? What makes the perfect guy in books to you? Any worth mentioning?

(Lame topic, yes, but I'm away this weekend and this is all I could come up with for Sunday and yeah, I don't need a new post every single day, but that's just how I am. Scheduled posting, BTW.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

YA Connection Contest

Kristi and I are giving away two signed copies of Twisted Sisters by Stephanie Hale. To enter, please email yaconnection@reviewerx.com. Extra entries can be earned by posting about this contest (and linking it to us on your email entry) [+1] and/or by getting the secret word from Story Siren later today. (Please wait til YA Connection is posted up there before emailing so you get all your extra entries in one email.)

And shower Kristi with love - I was unable to do ANY of YA Connection this week (studying for finals during the week) and I'm away this weekend, and if you get a post today, it's all Kristi. (And convince her not to ditch me as a Connection partner - I'm sure she wants to kill me by now!)

There might be a scheduled post or something on Sunday, if I come up with anything in the next five minutes.

Best,
Steph

Friday, September 19, 2008

My Cover Art Fetishes

Recently I received a book the cover of which caused my mother to go, "That looks boring." But, see, if there's one thing that reading Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews taught me, it's that covers are misleading. (Okay, I finished reading that this week. But it reinforced that notion.)

However, I'll agree: crappy covers suck. Nothing is more of a mood killer than seeing an excellent book with a cover designed by an unconscious infant - nothing is more aggravating than buying a book with an excellent cover only to find out the writing is ... in a class of its own, to be sarcastic.

So I thought I'd compile a list of my cover attractions - what calls me to a book before I even read the synopsis.

Frogs. Hey, I'm looking for my Prince Charming, all right? (Er...not really.)













Butterflies. They're fascinating creatures - metamorphosis and all that.













Dark themed - they set such a great mood!















And, okay, I'm also a huge fan of the Maureen Johnson covers:









So -- anyone got any thoughts on covers? Are they deal makers or breakers for you? And - important question - have you seen any lately that made you go, "What kinda crack was that artist ON?"

Thursday, September 18, 2008

In Which I Praise the Flux Winter '09 Catalog

My 'net decided to PMS today. Everyone knows the way to stop a petulant child is to pay them no attention, so I turned my back to its disconnecting spasms and went to check out the Winter '09 catalog sent to me by the nice people over at Flux. (And sure enough, in the five minutes it took to read through their new releases' synopses and such, my internet calmed down.)

Y'all, it sounds like Flux has a damn nice offering for the season! Here are the ones that caught my eye:

(And just as a note, I can't seem to find the summaries on Amazon or on the Flux site, so these are typed in from the catalog.)


The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King
From the catalog: In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping the pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with "the dust of 100 dogs," dooming her to the one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human body--with her memories intact. Now she's a contemporary American teenager named Saffron and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica.

This book is raising hell's flames everywhere lately. It's the cover of the catalog, the first book listed in the catalog, and the backdrop of some random page in the middle of the catalog. They don't want us to miss it, y'all! And now you can see it here.

For some reason my goddamn bookstore didn't have it on for preorder so I just sent them a polite email requesting they add it or ominous else. My friends will be hearing a lot about this. I'm nothing if not imposing persuasive.


The Glass Maker's Daughter by V. Briceland (it's a dude!)

From enchanted champagne flutes to rituals that hold the city together, magic lies at heart of Cassaforte. Bearing a striking resemblance to Venice, this medieval city of canals is the home of Risa Divetri, whose future is about to be decided.

Risa has led the sheltered life of a nobleman's daughter, but now she's on the brink of adulthood. Soon she will leave home to study the family craft--creating and enchanting glass objects. The gods will choose which school is best for her. But then the impossible happens: Risa remains unchosen. The gods don't need her? he rejection sends Risa into a spiral of shame, anger, and confusion. If she's not meant to be a glass maker, what will she do?

An answer is found when Cassaforte's age-old magic begins to unravel and corruption threatens their kingdom. As she battles against dark forces, Risa's fiery spirit and untapped powers rise to the surface--leading her toward her true fate.

1) This is set in a medieval kingdom, 2) this deals with gods, and 3) I like it when it's the GIRL who has the powers and such.


This Is What I Want to Tell You by Heather Duffy Stone
Fraternal twins Nadio and Noelle share a close connection--and as Noelle's best friend since they were five, Keeley Shipley fit perfectly into their world. But everything changes after Keeley spends the summer before junior year at Oxford. When Keeley returns, Nadio falls in love with her. Noelle, ripped apart by resentment, sees her as an ungrateful rich girl (Steph's says, read: bitch). But Keeley has a painful story that she can't tell yet. As Nadio and Keeley hide their romance, Noelle dives into something of her own--a destructive affair with an older boy.

Okay, that synopsis is a mess, I'll admit. Keeley has a painful story--but surrender more details! Relating to what?! That sentence is just thrown in there. Nadio (name is...interesting) and her are hiding their romance, but I suppose they're not doing a good job of it cos Noelle's still diving headfirst into what seems to be an abusive relationship. And speaking of which, there should be another way of wording "hiding their romance", as it's not exactly a secret since Noelle knows about it anyway. They're tip toeing around it? Being discreet? What?

Bottom line is: when you try to include three people's lives in one short paragraph, it becomes sketchy. However, I see major potential in this one. I waaaaaaaaaant it.

Heh, guess who's speeding through the remaining books to be reviewed from Flux so she can get her ARC requests for the next season in?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We Don't Actually TALK Like This

*Note: the Flowers in the Attic review is taking a while to materialize. Taren asked, so if she remembered I said yesterday that I'd post it today, maybe someone else did, too - this is to let you know.

*clears throat*

Up I was, during some weekend I can't remember, reading a book the title of which I can't remember, and neither the author, and as you can tell, I'm really on top of stuff. (It's the reviewer-shuffle-of-books thing in play here.)

I do remember, however, that the expression "all the rage" was used. And that I cringed when I read that - who talks like that?

And now I've just been super focused on how the author's "teen" voice is like. It's not so much that the narrative needs to sound like a teen - I learned my lesson with Take Me There by Susane Colasanti. It's more like, does this captivate me? Will it captivate other teens? In fact, Ally Carter said it best:

There is no such thing as a "teen" voice. And no amount of hanging out in shopping malls and eavesdropping on the kids at the next table is going to teach you to write in a manner that will appeal to those kids.

Furthermore, trying to mimic those readers is an almost surefire way to make those kids hate your book. They know imitators when they see them. They don't take kindly to pandering.

Then my friend emailed me today with some WTF phrase from a book. So I had to make a post. Maybe create some sort of a teen-slang-don'ts guidebook in the comments section (but all thoughts are welcome, really) if anyone's got a horror story to share.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Damn This Fugly Pink Cover, Y'All

Yeah, I know I said this was the better one.

Having finished the book (review tomorrow for those interested), I can say, though, that while the other one is by far one of the ugliest covers to have made an appearance in this world (though the Poseur by Rachel Maude cover is a strong contender, and many others I'll save for a later post), it fits the book better.

This is just too pink.

People. It is not a wonderful life. The idealized color in the book is yellow, for hope. Not pink, for ruffles. Seriously, how hard is it to get it right?

The book is bleak, sad, devastating, with an undercurrent of unfailing hope. Not a summertime romance, fergossake.

But you guys, before my post on this book tomorrow, let me just say this: You need to read it. You simply do.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Thanks Gracias Merci Part 2

Blogs I saved to mention now in my thanks-for-being-awesome post:

Book Chic - James has been around for a while and, while I was still getting settled, he provided a lot of guidance. (And the dude even scored me some books!) Thanks, you. :)

From The Corner of Megan's Mind - I fell in love with her name and later her blog too. She keeps good company and I'll tell you what, her author features rock, too!

Bildungsroman - *shameful* I only just learned how to spell your blog's name, Little Willow. My bad. Anyhow, don't be fooled - LW and I have very different tastes: books I have loved, she wasn't the greatest fan of, and vice versa. (Diversity is good, though.) But old-time bloggers deserve a round of applause for themselves - they pretty much trailblazed the road to book blogging as we know it, and we newbies owe them a lot for that. (Miss Erin and Jocelyn come to mind, too.)

Frenetic Reader - Haha, just thinking about our IM convos makes me laugh. Khy is great, and she's a young reviewer too! (More than me.) I'm a fan =)

YA Fabulous - just a great roundup blog. I adore it, and the keeper (YA Q as she's known) is nicenicenice. Head over there, y'all!

Just Blinded Book Reviews - Kelsey...must I even go there? You know why.

Other blogs I recently came across that I liked and whose owners I don't know well but hope to are: Book Nymph, All Five Stars, Beyond Books, and Booked Books.

The Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas

Summary

Antonia Lucia Labella has two secrets: at fifteen, she’s still waiting for her first kiss, and she wants to be a saint. An official one. Seem strange? Well, to Antonia, saints are royalty, and she wants her chance at being a princess. All her life she’s kept company with these kings and queens of small favors, knowing exactly whom to pray to on every occasion. Unfortunately, the two events Antonia’s prayed for seem equally unlikely to happen. It’s not for lack of trying. For how long has she been hoping to gain the attention of the love of her life – the tall, dark, and so good-looking Andy Rotellini? Too long to mention. And every month for the last eight years, Antonia has sent a petition to the Vatican proposing a new patron saint and bravely offering herself for the post. So what if she’s not dead?

Grade: B-/C+

Thanks to EK for the book!

Fun / Notable ARC Tidbit:

I loved how nice this ARC was. Way better quality than most I've received, resembling an actual trade paperback rather than a cheap reading version of the book. FSG rocks that way. =)

Review
Ah, y’all, like Leaving Paradise, this is another one of those books I don’t know how to grade. Because, see, it, too, is flawed—but it’s also readable and, above all, enjoyable. (More so than Leaving Paradise, by the by.)

There’s this girl, Antonia Lucia. She’s fifteen, though it never feels like it—instead, it feels like she’s a supposed fifteen-year-old a thirteen-year-old who reads up can easily step into and relate and feel more mature. Which is actually what I think is this book’s selling quality—tons of girls want to read up nowadays (I was only eleven when I read Gossip Girl: A Novel) and this book, by portraying a main character who’s older than the audience will probably be, and is relatively innocent, provides a tame and—dare I say it?—productive read.

Actually, I found some parallels between this book and the Jessica Darling books, the first two (Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings) to be specific.

Jessica is in perpetual freak out mode over the prospect of staying a virgin forever.

Antonia is worried she’ll never get kissed.

Jessica’s conflicted love interest is male-slut Marcus, who’s been with countless girls.

One of Antonia’s prospects is Michael, a guy who’s known to kiss lots of girls.

Jessica and Marcus became friends and right when she was about to lose her virginity to him in the first book, she got freaked out and cut off all contact with him for the next year and a half (which are covered in the second book) because she didn’t want to be “just another donut”.

Antonia and Michael develop a relationship in the summer after seventh grade (if I remember correctly). Right when school’s about to start, Michael, despite his public playboy tendencies over the summer, wants to take their relationship to another level. She cuts him off right when they’re about to kiss (this all in a flashback sequence) because she didn’t want to be “just another girl he’s kissed”.

Suffice it to say, I’m a big Jessica Darling fan and don’t mind at all seeing similar traces of it in other books, given you don’t go all Kaavya Viswanathan on Ms McCafferty’s idea. That said, while it was heartwarming seeing Michael still try to win Antonia over whereas Marcus didn’t Jessica, the male slut aspect to his personality was unfounded. I mean, with Marcus, it worked well—we could see the before and after.

Now, with Michael, I as the reader was constantly told he’d made his way around the block. But through the entire progression of the story, he never so much as looked at another girl—he only sort of hinted at making moves on Antonia’s cousin when Antonia herself would get all up on Andy, her dream boy’s, face. It was so obvious a jealousy ploy that Antonia had to be, like, twelve to fall for it. (See, she is depicted as younger than her established age.)

Oh, and Andy. Jesus, whatever the girl saw in that boy goes right over my head. He’s hot—but that’s it. People who like and dislike Edward Cullen alike would have a problem understanding why Antonia was hung up on him. Nothing to do with him made any sense either: He up and started groping Antonia for god knows what reason we’re never explained at six AM on her family’s store’s storage closet when she goes down there to fetch her mom some flour. Boys are horny, I’ll give them that, but stealing second when her nun of a mother is upstairs? A boy brought up in an Italian family himself? Not even kissing her properly first before going for the glands? And we get no reasons for this later on, did I mention that?!

This is why I submit he was a useless character—a plot device to elongate the Antonia and Michael subplot further. And this is this novel’s the deserved C-grade WTF.

Oh, and for people worried this is too religious or whatnot: it’s not. If anything, it’s the opposite. Antonia’s Catholic but she’s really only fascinated by the saints—everything else is your typical my-mom-and-her-crazy-holier-than-thou-ideas disdain. I mean, she’s not nasty about it—but she kind of dismisses the whole YOU MUST BE HOLY PURE CHASTE idea her mom pushes upon her as you would expect a normal teenage girl.

So, yeah, there are flaws. But I enjoyed the novel, and I really do think parents or librarians or teachers or even teens looking for a good read-up novel should give this a shot—everything revolves around kissing, as benign as that is, when many other novels tweenies pick up will fixate on sex and all that good stuff.

(Not that I think it’s beneficial to deny them novels that touch on those subjects. But, like, Gossip Girl doesn’t do it productively—picking something more sensible and tasteful would do the trick. AND reading a tame novel once in a while *eyes tweens and teens knowingly* doesn’t hurt, either.)

Edited to add: I do not mean to say this novel is immature. While it is definitely not super serious, I think it serves as a nice middle ground chameleon for teens both young and upper-age.

Thanks Gracias Merci

This week is Blogger Appreciation Week. As participants, our first task is to thank and acknowledge our favorite blogs who did not make the nominations list.

The YA YA YAs - What gets me about this blog is the sheer brilliance of the contributors, particularly Trisha (who seems to be the one to post the most). Seriously, if all librarians were this cool, maybe all those kids at my school wouldn't be afraid to check out a book :P (Seriously y'all our librarian was freaky.)

Teen Book Review - Jocelyn's been around forever and her work on her blog, for the past few years, really shows through. I took in her model for my own blog so - thank you.

ninseveneight - I'm just a huge fan of both Eli and Rae. They articulate their thoughts on a book well, not to mention concisely, without going overboard - I envy them that. Plus, their blog radiates origininality, which never hurts.

The Ravenous Reader / The Chick Manifesto - for Amee, who's kept me sane all this time and who usually has a good review or two left over to show me what's worth reading or not.

Now, also Taren, to suggest trashy books to me.

The Reader Rabbit - Hah, if anyone got half the amusement I get by reading Reader Rabbit's (both 1 and 2) posts, they'd understand. I always get the backstory behind a post and I assure you, these two sisters are hilarious.

Pop Culture Junkie - because Alea provides reviews, book cover analysis, and also she's a great person to talk to.

--

Before anyone goes like, "Hey, bitch!" to me, I just wanna say there'll be a part 2 when I get back from school. I just gotta MOVE, people!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Things of Note

I'm reading Flowers in the Attic and LOVING it. Thank you, Taren!

Ally Carter has some great posts about the questions people should be asking about the YA genre: The Wrong Questions --- The Questions No One Asks At All.

There's this also aggregation of soon-to-debut YA writers I just found out about! The Novel Girls presents: Tracy Madison, Maureen Lipinski, Lisa Patton, Jillian Cantor, Lesley Livingston and Carolyn McTighe. The blog is pretty awesome, so y'all should head over.

Two great friends of mine, Taren and Amee, have a new blog: The Chick Manifesto. Both kind of rule my soul, is all I'm saying.

David Foster Wallace passed away.

Lauren Conrad (yes, of The Hills) got a three-book YA deal from HarperCollins and John Green's got a few things to say about it.

John McCain makes Utah schoolteacher cry.

A.S. King still rocks.

Hopefully I'll get some reviews in this week.

May tomorrow not be such a stereotypical Monday for you!

Interviewww!

Jennifer Banash, author of The Elite, invited me to do an interview on her blog. How could I refuse? Jennifer and I have history, dude! :P

I'd love love love it if you out there in the audience would go over there :) Of course, leaving some love is never discouraged, either!

http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=295210480&blogID=432931225

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Steph

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Damn These Fugly Covers, Y'all

All right, so I received Flowers in the Attic today. Only I forgot I bought the cheapo mass market paperback edition instead of the trade paperback one, so when I opened the box, I nearly dropped the book:

And that side image is actually a COMPLIMENT to the real live one. The colors are in actuality way brighter: "V.C. Andrews" shines like the sun, or like haven't-drunk-water-in-a-while piss, as the case may be; the red and the blue are also screamers.

Oh and the girl is way more pallid, but that's understandable, given she's locked in an attic.

How I wish I made more money tutoring. Or that I wasn't such a cheap ass. A visually pleasing cover like the trade paperback one (image 2) would've been nice.

I hear this is an amazing book left and right and it's sold something like 4 or 5 million copies (but probably more as the back cover says 85 million VCA books are in print and this is her biggest seller, so...). I know we're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but come on, Pocket Books. I know you could slap a lunch bag and it'd still sell out, but out of respect for the author, give us cheapo readers some benefits. Sigh.

But whatever, I'll probably read it over the weekend (while subtly ignoring my blog pile, double sigh). My friend Taren over at The Chick Manifesto has been telling me this book is awesome ever since I was thirteen and, more recently, Melissa Walker and C Leigh Purtill have reinforced that statement, so naturally I must see what the fuss is all about.

Last Week's YA Connection Contest Winner

That'd be H - emailed you! Please get back to me ASAP.

Thanks everyone for entering and be sure to check out this week's column over at Kristi's!

Friday, September 12, 2008

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


















....all arrived today from that order I made forever ago. (5 books still to come, either tomorrow or next week.)

Thank you and good night.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why I Write Negative Reviews

I posted on Young Adult Book Bloggers today, my second time ever! We're supposed to do it weekly, but I just don't have something to talk about every week, so if anyone's interested, you can check me out on there once a month. This month's post:

At the risk of sounding heartless, being snarky suits me. Don’t get me wrong—I always feel apprehensive when I’m about to post something less than 100% nice because it is in my bones to be polite to people. But then again, I want to keep the reputation I somehow ended up with, which is telling it like it is. I like receiving book offers with “I want one of your book-shredding reviews”. That’s what I’m about, in essence, more so than being polite. Polite doesn’t cut it sometimes.

Read the rest of the post here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tête-à-Tête with Jillian of Penguin Group USA

Background: If you haven't already, read Lenore's interview with Courtney, Penguin publicist, on how they choose to contact bloggers and how bloggers can approach them.

This interview is meant as a followup -- now that you've got the contact...what do you do?

Jillian works over at Penguin Young Readers Marketing. She's worked there for about a year (this is what I gather from the emails she's sent me), and she's pretty much made-of-awesome and the nicest marketing or publicity person alive. I'm so psyched to have her come out here on the blog, so I hope you enjoy the interview!

Scenario: Initial contact has been made.

It's time to send out the books. Do you usually place random titles in there, or do you allow the blogger to request the ones they want?

Each season I order in a quantity of ARCs for lead titles. I tend to send the majority of these to bloggers, although sometimes I select titles for mailings based on the genre (romance, fantasy, etc.) of the blog. When contacted by bloggers for titles I don't have I do my best to track down copies from other departments.

How many books do you consider acceptable for the blogger to request at once?

Most bloggers are great in that they provide a list but also mention they are more than happy to receive any titles at all from it that I am able to provide! New bloggers tend to request about five titles in an initial request. I've had bloggers contact me with 30 or so titles from the catalogue. This is difficult to fulfill as there are so many requests coming in from different bloggers and I don't have all ARCs in stock. I wish I could send that many, it's just outside of my resources!

So let's talk time and responsibility. Do you expect a review out of all requests? What about the random ones? Most importantly, do you have a certain time frame expectation?

Most of the books I send are for titles I am very much excited about, that I want to get into the hands of as many readers and bloggers as possible. When I send books at random, of course I would love for them to be reviewed but I don't expect the blogger to cover all of the titles, especially if they hadn't initially requested the books. If a blogger requests books, I anticipate reviews will follow. I typically mail ARCs about one-two months prior to publication to allow time to read and review, however when I send a plethora of ARCs I figure it will take reviewers a bit longer to post for the titles!

How important is it to you that a blogger emails you links to reviews of books you sent?

I follow reviewed titles through my Bloglines and Google feeds, however there are so many
blogs, so many titles and so many reviews that it's difficult to keep track of them all! I very much appreciate when bloggers mail me links. Not only as it ensures I won't overlook a review, but it's a great way to have a running dialogue with bloggers and to find out about themed blog tours, other bloggers, what books receive the greatest response from readers, etc.

Generally speaking, how would you say negative reviews are received by publicity and marketing folks alike? Will they prevent you from sending a blogger followup material?

It is understood my publicity and marketing that not everyone has the same tastes in books. While everyone loves a great review, I have never been discouraged from sending books out to a particular blogger who has reviewed a title negatively. Generally if there is a negative review of a title, there is also an explanation as to why the title didn't click with that particular reviewer, which can be very informative.

Now, about followup books-how do you usually handle these? Do you approach the blogger, or do you expect them to approach you for further review material after they finished the first batch?

There are many bloggers that I stay in touch with regularly, so it's about a 50/50 split for requests from the blogger and the titles that I send out. Most often when we are going into a new season of titles, bloggers will request catalogues and from there request the titles they are interested in for that season.

I've heard of a few cases where the blogger received a few books from a publicist once, reviewed all of them, and then, out of nowhere, they received more random, unwanted books from the same publicist. Is this common practice? If so, is it expected the blogger reviews all of these?

I keep track of which bloggers I have sent copies of titles to so that it's an organized system where bloggers don't receive duplicates of unwanted titles and so that I have enough ARCs to send out to a wide range of bloggers. In that case it could have simply been a mix-up where a publicist had not been aware the titles had already been sent to that blogger. If a blogger hasn't requested ARCs we don't expect them to all be reviewed (although reviews are always great!)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Reviewer X Interview!

Gabrielle over from Innovative Teen invited me along to do an interview. Now, how could I not promptly say yes? I was flattered! You can check out the (somewhat embarrassing) final product at: http://innovativeteen.blogspot.com/2008/09/behind-blog-reviewer-x.html

I never said I was articulate. But it was fun all the same. Thanks, Gabrielle! I look forward to seeing the rest of the Behind the Blog interviews =)