Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Keeper

You know, I figure I better do an "about me" post because I think it makes my blog look prettier and also because I like the idea of an official bio-like thing.

Etymology:
Before I was born, my parents went back and forth on names to give me. They were dead-set on Ana Carolina until my dad jokingly suggested “Stéphanie” as a name they’d never give me. My brother and sister, twelve and fourteen respectively at the time, loved the name, and secretly my parents did, too.

And so, here we are now:

'Ello, my name is Stéph(anie, though use your discretion with that suffix). I'm fourteen fifteen and a first second year collegiate student—that is, a sophomore junior—at a freakin' hard prep school. I also hold a full time job at Party, Adolescent Indiscretions and Sarcasm, Inc. This might explain why my parents sometimes find it hard to like me.

Random Facts / FAQ About Me:

I go through periods in which I hate chocolate and others where I can't get enough.

My best friends are people I've never met before. I move around a lot and keeping contact with internet friends is easier than with my phyisical friends. I guess because it's always the same distance, no matter where you are, with them.

My course load right now includes Trig, Precalc, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, World History, Art History, Geography, Grammar, and Literature.

In a perfect world, I'd be an underpaid, overworked children's book editor (I even know which publisher and imprint I want, but I'll reserve that info).

Also, in a perfect world, my required minimum grade would be a bit lower so I could have more leeway before I get into lose-scholarship territory at Le Prep School.

My room is in an undefinable state of chaos as we speak.

My favorite word is: twinkle.

I AM PRO-UNICORN.

Qs From the Comments Section:
(If you have any, add on and I'll answer. They can be random, silly, or serious, I don't care. :P)

Anon asks: You have a sister?
Yup. It comes as a shock to most people because I rarely ever bring her up, even in real life.

Emily asks: Do you like going to prep school?
I love it. Some people are gifted at sports, others at instruments, so on so forth. I don't have any huge, prominent talent (in fact, I don't know if I even have a talent), but I've always done well in school even without studying so I like it. It means I'm useful for something!

Taren asks: I thought you were named after Princess Stephanie?
Yup, I am! That's where my dad got the name :) My pronunciation is the same as hers, too. Rarely anyone ever gets it right but I don't mind.

Khy asks: Why haven't you mentioned your love for John Green in this post?
I thought it went without saying that my lust (and love *angelic face*) for him is stronger than, like, Edward Cullen. Stronger than all of the Cullens combined, even. (HEY JOHN? I ALSO THINK YOU'RE PRETTIER THAN RPATTZ.) It's an all-consuming thing, this obsession of mine.

Another Anon asks: 1. Is your school co-ed?
'Tis, but I'll let you in on something: The guys at my prep school are not the hunks YA fiction will have you believe they are. Some upperclassmen are actually hot, though, but they either go for the slutty types or their head is so far up their ass, it becomes quite the phenomenom.

2. Aside from the lack of American books do you enjoy living outside the U.S.?
I do! Before I moved here, when I lived in Houston, I never wanted to leave there. But I guess that last move broke any sort of permanent feelings I had toward living someplace, and now I just want to travel the world. The US is a great place to live, but I want to explore other cultures, become fluent in more languages than I am now, and get to know what else is out there. The concept of diversity hands-down rules.

3. Is your boarding school more like the one described in Prep (lonely) or the one described in Looking for Alaska (friendships, deep thought)?
Oh, I should've been more clear - I go to a prep school, but it's not a boarding school. It's just a regular school with a greater focus in preparing us for university entrance exams. (The uni acceptance process here is much, much different than it is in the US, where you apply.)

4. You mention you've moved a lot. Where is the one place you wish you had stayed and why?
I wish I'd stayed in Houston, TX. Like I said above, after this last move I was pretty heartbroken and don't think of any place as "home" anymore. I wish I still had that, even if it meant I wouldn't have any interest in traveling around.

One more Anon! asks: a) Does living in a foreign country give you the added confidence of "I don't have to answer to these people, since I am not one of them?" Or, does it impede your personality, trying to fit in?
Actually, I'm back to my home country. I was born in another state (we'll call it A), moved to the US (B) when I was 8, and moved back to my home country, albeit a different state (C) when I was 13. That said, I definitely feel like an outsider because I was just brought up with a mix of values - Americans ones at school in the US, my native country's at home.

b) Are most of the students at your prep school also Americans? If so, is there less of a "clique factor" since you are all stuck in a land not your "own" so to speak?
No, there'll all native. We have a huge Japanese colony 'round these parts, though, which means there's also their culture to factor in. It's all very confusing. About cliques - we don't really have much of that here, at least not like it is in the US. And I've always been a bit of a social butterfly, so I pretty much get along with everyone and don't belong to any group.

c) What, if anything, do you miss most about not being in the U.S.? Food, movies, etc...
I lived in Texas, so we had a lot of Mexican food. People here have no idea what tacos are! It blows my mind how anyone can live their entire life not knowing how amazing quesadillas, tacos, nachos, enchiladas, burritos, etc, are. I'm not talking about Taco Bell food, either (though my fave fast food place is that) - I'm talking straight Mexican cuisine. Spicy and delicious <3>

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Exquisite

I was talking to a friend Taren and the word "exquisite" came up and I remembered I disliked that word because it sounds stupid, perhaps akin to smelling your wine and "tasting the aroma" before actually drinking it but even stupider, which to me comes across as totally over the top and pretentious so I'm gonna just say that if I ever use that word in a review I'm so so so so exquisitely kidding.

I'm writing a review now and using that word because it just fits with my overall mocking tone, that being the reason for this post: so I can link the word back here.

Exquisite is a stupid word.

Stupid stupid stupid.

YA Connection Thingies

I'm officially out of prizes (and money) to give so no contest this week! Last week's winner was emailed and their book choice should be dispatched soon. If any authors or publicists or anyone really has any books or prizes or whatever they can offer up, it'd be much appreciated.

Have a nice weekend, everyone :)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Amaze Me, Faze Me, Daze Me: Mix!

Amaze Me, Faze Me, Daze Me was inspired by boredom inspired by history (which isn't inspired by anything) studying inspired by the then upcoming (now failed) midterm exams. They're these series of posts in which I talk about upcoming '09 YA releases because it pleases me to lust after books.

To see all of these posts, click here. Thematically speaking, we have so far:

The Historicals #1
(historical YA fiction - from time travel, to scandalous societies, to retellings of English monarchs)

The "Spooky" Fantasy #1
(like, vampires, zombies, unicorns, demons, etc)

Cry, #1
(stories of abuse, self mutilation and death)

Laugh, #1
(humorous-seeming stories)

Heart, #1
(lovelovelove)

This week? I'm just gonna wing it. We get one coming-of-age, one teen romance, one humorous, and one fairy tale retelling. Enjoy!

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen (Amazon Page - June 11th)
It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

To be released June 11th, 2009.

Steph: Y'all, it's Sarah Dessen - she could be writing about canker sores for all I care. I'm still not sold on the cover (it looks a retro and gimmicky), but as the old adage goes, never judge a book by a cover. (Judge it by Sarah's name on it.) Tis the spirit :)

Waiting For You by Susane Colasanti (Amazon Page - July 9th)
Derek
Friendly and popular
Style: Cali surfer boy
Awesome at flirting
Future career: landscape architect
Boyfriend potential: high

Nash
Shy but sweet
Style: totally geeked out
Only talks to girls when absolutely necessary
Future career: robotics engineer
Boyfriend potential: none

Derek is clearly the boy Marisa's been waiting for, but there's just one problem. He has a girlfriend. Nash is wrong for Marisa, but he wants to take care of her. As if life wasn't complicated enough, Marisa's also dealing with overcoming a major problem from her past, a family that's acting totally bizarre, and a secret crush on a guy whose identity is a mystery - even to her.

Sophomore year is going to be intense.

Steph: I'm just waiting to see Ms Colasanti redeem herself. I adored her debut, When It Happens, but then her followup, Take Me There, was hugely unsatisfying (for me). I could deal with the maybe-slightly-trying-too-hard teenage voice in When It Happens because it generally rang true at parts (and the plot was adorable), but I couldn't stand it in the latter. I don't know quite what to make of the setup, because ... well, things can go either way. Fingers crossed though! Check out an excerpt.


Just One Wish by Janette Rallison (Amazon Page - March 5th)
Seventeen-year-old Annika Truman knows about the power of positive thinking. With a little brother who has cancer, it’s all she ever hears about. And in order to help Jeremy, she will go to the ends of the earth (or at least as far as Hollywood) to help him believe he can survive his upcoming surgery.

But Annika’s plan to convince Jeremy that a magic genie will grant him any wish throws her a curveball when he unexpectedly wishes that his television idol would visit him. Annika suddenly fi nds herself in the desperate predicament of getting access to a hunky star actor and convincing him to come home with her. Piece of cake, right?

Steph: I'm reading this one and lemme tell you, what I'm about to say will come back and bite me square in the ass what with my luck with books lately, but so far it's really, really good. In fact, it's proving to be quite the challenge to just stop to write this post because I keep getting sucked back into the story. Final verdict will come in the shape of a review sometime in March, nearer the release date :)

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George (Amazon Page - January 20th)

A tale of twelve princesses doomed to dance until dawn…


Galen is a young soldier returning from war; Rose is one of twelve princesses condemned to dance each night for the King Under Stone. Together Galen and Rose will search for a way to break the curse that forces the princesses to dance at the midnight balls. All they need is one invisibility cloak, a black wool chain knit with enchanted silver needles, and that most critical ingredient of all—true love—to conquer their foes in the dark halls below. But malevolent forces are working against them above ground as well, and as cruel as the King Under Stone has seemed, his wrath is mere irritation compared to the evil that awaits Galen and Rose in the brighter world above.

Steph: I *love* the fairy tale this one is based on. Can barely wait to get my hands on a copy - it looks spectacular. Early reviews are also very positive (very positive). Very EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-worthy, this premise is.

-


And that is it!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ode to Nice Publicists

I’m afraid I will butcher
Convention, meter, rhyme scheme,
And, OMG, grammar...
Sorry for this poetic sepulcher

A Nice Publicist description:
Responds to his or her email,
Is cordial, bubbly, funny,
Works in YA fiction
They do their job so, so well,
That the blogging world,
Without them,
Would surely be hell

Now comes the part
Where I say “thanks”
Because the way you
Treat bloggers is an art

(That was so cheesy
But way better than
Me saying something like,
“You’re off the heezy!”)

And, also, this just for
A certain publicist:
Thanks for sending abroad
To me and to Lenore
(Like—honestly—for real
No better way to make us squeal!)

Have a nice Thanksgiving
And when you get back—
Send me some books
So I can keep on living?

(For the record,
I didn’t mean this to
Be creepy
Oh, wait, maybe I did...
I don’t know, I’m sleepy.)

The well/hell part was based on a stanza L helped me by providing, which I changed to fit the overall poem. Thanks for the help, L! :)

Even though I said YA, I want to make it clear I was only trying to make it fit into this wacko meter I have going on. There are nice publicists everywhere - YA/MG/Children's and Adult alike. I'm sure no blogger (or author) can dispute a nice publicist makes all the difference. Personally, I don't think they get nearly enough recognition for their benevolence, so here this is. Not that I think any publicists will actually SEE it, but it's the thought that counts, right? :)


Have a nice Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Poll, Hannah Baker Speaks, & Sheer AWESOME.

I've been wondering this for a while, and hey, no time like the present to throw this out there:

When writing reviews, do you use past tense or present tense for describing a book? Example: This book is amazing vs this book was amazing. Or, the characters are fluid vs the characters were fluid. I loved it vs I love it.

I'm sure I go back and forth in my reviews. Am afraid to look which is why I can't say for certain. I just don't KNOW what is more acceptable, or if people even care, or if it's just me being weird. Anyone know the standard?

Of course, I'll use this opportunity to also throw in a poll! (I LOVE POLLS.)



Next up on my newsreel... Hannah Baker, the dead main character of Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why, is speaking! Catch her over on her blog as she reads the tapes she sent the thirteen people on her list. And if you recognize the voice ... well, you should! It's the girl from Juno, Olivia Thirlby.

AND, now, for the writers out there - have you seen Pat Holt's excellent list of ten mistakes writers make? Most of 'em are subtle, which makes the list all the more worthwhile to read. :) I'd never been on her blog before, which surprises me because I'm huge on good writing blogs, but that post assured I'd stay a while. A bit longish for those with short attention spans, but useful all around.

Waiting on Wednesday (7)

Again: This is a scheduled midnight post. But for some people (California! Hi!) it's 6pm. Time difference. Same thing :P

Waiting on Wednesday = Jill over at Breaking the Spine's brilliant creation. I now get to book lust for a community effort! YAY!

My pick for this week is:
My Big Nose & Other Natural Disasters by Sydney Louise Salter Husseman
(I'm using her full name no matter what it says on the cover.)

It’s the end of junior year, and summer is about to begin. The Summer of
Passion, to be exact, when Jory Michaels plans to explore all the possibilities of the future--and, with any luck, score a boyfriend in the process. But Jory has a problem. A big problem. A curvy, honking, bumpy, problem in the form of her Super Schnozz, the one thing standing between Jory and happiness. And now, with the Summer of Passion stretched before her like an open road, she's determined for Super Schnozz to disappear. Jory takes a job delivering wedding cakes to save up for a nose job at the end of the summer; she even keeps a book filled with magazine cutouts of perfect noses to show the doctor.

But nothing is ever easy for accident-prone Jory--and before she knows it, her Summer of Passion falls apart faster than the delivery van she crashes. In her hilarious and heartbreaking debut novel, Sydney Salter delivers a story about broadening your horizons, accepting yourself, and finding love right under your nose.


I need a good self-esteem novel, according to a good friend, and after some browsing, I not only fell in love with the cover (heh! Barbie!) but I think this is the kind of book I'd like. Sounds really mellow but powerful.... I don't know. Something's appealing to me. And it for some reason looks like it's a sweet and maybe funny book.

For more info click here.

So, let's hear it, y'all!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Dude, I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but this book gave me major Twilight déjà vu. Now, it might just be me being persnickety, which, much to my chagrin, happens with the same frequency as Bella reminds the reader how orgasmic she finds a single strand of Edward’s (maybe even pubic?) hair. (I can’t help myself—can you?)

Deadly Little Secret opens with a mysterious boy shoving our heroine Camelia (as in Chameleon—oh, the woes of the hippie parents cliché) off the path of an out-of-control car coming straight at her. She’s never seen him before. He asks her if she’s okay. Touches her tummy (yes) and gives her a burning stare.

Disappears.

Then, three months later, at the beginning of junior year, he shows up again. His name is Ben and he was suspected of killing his late girlfriend, but then they never convicted him so there he is. Nothing sobers up a high school student body like a rumored murderer among them, but hey, Camelia doesn’t care. She wants him to touch her again (yes). (Erm...)

But he ignores her. Treats her as if she didn’t exist. It’s all very weird, how he shows up and is allegedly a psycho and at the same time, random creepy things arrive in Camelia’s mailbox: notes, gifts, pictures of her taken on the very same day.

It goes on like that until the pivotal moment in which he walks into Chemistry late and, HELLO, Camelia’s got no lab partner. So they pair up—what choice do they have?—and invest their time in their own chemistry rather than in the H2O kind. All the while, of course, making me wonder if Camelia had some sort of unbalanced equation for a brain.

(Honestly, I’m not condoning the ostracism of people rumored of having committed capital offenses. How reliable are rumors anyway? But a girl in this day and age needs to look after herself, and maybe socializing with a shady citizen isn’t the best idea when she’s the lucky prey of a stalker on the loose.)

The entire setup is at least vaguely reminiscent of Twilight, right? Maybe just a bit? Hooooold on, though:

Soon Camelia discovers the reason Ben is keeping his distance is because he’s got a secret ability he can’t control. And—wait for it—she’s at risk by being near him.

Hmm.

This after a nice picnic they had at the park, where they had a romantic heart-to-heart and talked for hours and bonded and a pretty unicorn on top. It wasn’t a meadow, but... Well, the mind wonders.

The ending was also mildly New Moon-esque. Just throwing that on out there.

Anyway, all the Twilight musings aside, I have to say this book came as a bit of a shock. It was highly recommended to me from a couple of different people and so I was expecting more than it offered. Truthfully, I wasn’t even aware that it was a mystery novel. I love those! But the problem there is, I’m usually pretty good at figuring out early on who the wrongdoer is. I did here, too—by the time Camelia received the first stalker package, I already knew who was behind all the mal-doings. To the novel’s credit, I did second guess myself here and there, but overall it was a more-or-less cemented theory, so...

Deadly Little Secret is a fair novel, I’ll allow that. All of its qualities (the pacing, for instance) notwithstanding, however, I like for books featuring stalkers that strike close to home to give the culprit a more psychological profile. That didn’t happen here. The bad guy was just like any other well-masked criminal, someone you see on the street and think you know and you really don’t. It made me wonder, Why did the person do that? But no further explanation is offered, which I think puts a novel like this, set in a close-knit community, at a disadvantage.

And...well, that’s my take. Quick read and not mesmerizing enough for me to recommend purchasing, but I wouldn’t say it’s worth discarding the possibility of reading as a library loan, either.

My grade? An indifferent C.

To be released on December 23rd. Since I am not recommending it, I decided to review with a few more days before the pub date than is my normal policy for ARC reviews. For more info on this title, click here.

(For those present yesterday, no, this was not the snarky review I had in mind. That one is still in the works.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

(Forgoing the summary because it is basically all character description and I will cover that in the review, so... If you need more info, click here.)

Y’all, I think there’s something inherently wrong with me, because I had never, ever read a page upon which MJ bestowed her glorious talent prior to this made of awesome 300+-page collection of MJ scribe.

I know.

(Okay. So if you didn’t already guess it, this one will be very fangirly because I thought this book was, as Brits put it, “brill”. Now, so as not to detract from the review, I shall save the rest of my wordage for the end of the review, yes?)

As I have said many, many, many times before here and everywhere else where I am present and books are discussed (or I turn the conversation over to books), there’s no better way to enamor me than a great, well written and developed cast of characters. Why stop at three dimensions? I’m all about the layers. Similarly, why stop with a single, lone embodiment of brilliancy?

So, when you do what Maureen Johnson did here—which reminded me of what Steve Kluger did in My Most Excellent Year— you get my utmost attention, respect, awe, and support. I am at your mercy.

First and foremost, we’re introduced to possibly one of the absolute best sibling combinations in all of YA: Spencer, Lola, Scarlett and Marlene.

Spencer is an out-of-work, nineteen-year-old actor trying to catch his lucky break (or at least a casting as an extra— anything). Lola is a more mature and dainty eighteen-year-old, but for all her acquiescent attitude and focus, she’s got a lot of intensity brewing “behind those hazel eyes” which aren’t really hazel but I needed a pop culture reference because I feel I don’t do that enough. Scarlett is the 3rd-person focus (hey! I liked a 3rd person POV book!) of the book; she’s a efficient, serious, mature, and mercifully non-whiny and totally relatable fifteen-year-old. Marlene is a bitchy cancer survivor eleven-year-old who drove me bonkers but she was also devilish in that precious spoiled-kid way.

Those four rocked my world. I could’ve read about their laundry-day routine for all I cared, if only to see what kind of hilarious remark would escape Spencer’s mouth once he caught sight of Lola’s granny panties peeking out of her pants as she bent down to put her basket of regular panties in the wash. He’s right up there with Dexter from This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen, TJ and Andy from My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger, and Jamie from Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen, in my list of favorite male characters. Here’s a great exchange:

“Chip has a boat. Fancy boat,” Spencer went on. “And he did promise Marlene a
ride.”

“This is my ex-boyfriend we’re talk about,” she [Lola] said.

“I know,” Scarlett said. “It’s asking a lot. I’m not asking you to get back together with him...”

“She’s definitely not asking that...” Spencer cut in.

“This is just asking him to take a little boat ride,” Scarlett finished.

“You mean you want me to use him.”

“Stop it,” Spencer said. “You’re making me love you more.”
(Spencer no-likey Chip, by the by.)

Another thing I thought was super well done was Spencer and Scarlett’s close-knit relationship. They had a special bond neither had with their other siblings, and I’m very familiar with that because it’s the exact same way I am with my brother. Right down to his overprotectiveness when it comes to other guys. Love.

(Also, Spencer’s would-be love interest in this one—if she weren’t so damn annoying—is named Stephanie! It’s a sign!)

Ah, and perhaps my favorite character above all isn’t even a component of the Fantastic Four. There was this prima donna has-been starlet who ran around bossing everyone around in the hotel, Mrs. Amberson, and she ruled (in all possible ways). Here’s a ditzy, flaky character who has a lot of power and isn’t afraid to royally fuck things up from time to time. Great for conflict.

Oh and I just have to add in somewhere that I hated Eric, Scarlett’s lovebird. He reminded me of an ex, with his calculating approaches and scheming masked to look innocent and I thought he was an ass and I hope Scarlett does what needs to be done. But she’ll probably require more lovable slapping from me (and doubtlessly many other readers) before getting there.

And FINALLY, I loved Maureen’s witty use of language. Behold:

Scarlett picked up the Empire Suite key from the table.

“I need a plan,” she said to it. “Something needs to give. What do I do?”

The key did not answer, because keys generally do not speak. This was probably a good thing, because if it had replied, Scarlett’s problems would have taken on a new level of complexity.

And that, she did not need.


See? Love.

Although, in the subject of Maureen’s writing, I would have loved to understand why she used ellipses in spots where em-dashes would’ve fit better. The dot-dot-dot kind of worried me for a second.

Anyway.

There was a lot of theatrics in this one, many theater references and such, which, in conjunction with the great characters, is what reminded me of My Most Excellent Year. I’d recommend it to anyone, old or new, jaded or naïve, happy or depressed. You need this one.

So, easy grade: A.

(Continuation of my beginning intervention: Does anyone want a snarky review or anything? I’ve got the material, if you’re interested, for my next review reappearance.)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Amaze Me, Faze Me, Daze Me: Heart

Amaze Me, Faze Me, Daze Me was inspired by boredom inspired by history (which isn't inspired by anything) studying inspired by the then upcoming (now failed) midterm exams. They're these series of posts in which I talk about upcoming '09 YA releases because it pleases me to lust after books.

To see all of these posts, click here. Thematically speaking, we have so far:

The Historicals #1
(historical YA fiction - from time travel, to scandalous societies, to retellings of English monarchs)

The "Spooky" Fantasy #1
(like, vampires, zombies, unicorns, demons, etc)

Cry, #1
(stories of abuse, self mutilation and death)

Laugh, #1
(humorous-seeming stories)

Am feeling the love this week, so we'll go with romance. :)

Exciting Stuffs Out In 2009
(I haven't read these - yet. This is not endorsement - yet. Only passing my general opinionated judgment.)

Breathing by Cheryl Renee Herbsman
Savannah would be happy to spend the summer in her coastal Carolina town lying in a hammock reading her beloved romance novels and working at the library. But then she meets Jackson. Once they lock eyes, she’s convinced he’s the one — her true love, her soul mate, a boy different from all the rest. And at first it looks like Savannah is right. Jackson abides by her mama’s strict rules, and stays by her side during a hospitalization for severe asthma, which Savannah becomes convinced is only improving because Jackson is there. But when he’s called away to help his family—and seems uncertain about returning — Savannah has to learn to breathe on her own, both literally and figuratively.

Steph: One thing that annoys me about the description is the "literally and figuratively" part. It's the title - this is something we're supposed to get on our own. But anyway, it sounds like one of those soft-spoken novels lovers of teen romances will love. And the cover just kinda lulls you, doesn't it? I like it (except when you get to the guy's backside, where it looks like something freaky is taking root). Sounds sweet, anyhow.

The Espressologist by Kristina Springer
The Espressologist is In
Fridays 6-10 p.m.
Come in for a little latte and love.

That’s the sign outside of a local Chicago Wired Joe’s every Friday night when jerky boss Derek Peters finds out about 17-year old barista and high school senior Jane Turner’s unique talent to match couples based on their favorite coffee drink (which she calls Espressology). He decides to capitalize on it—turning Jane into the holiday promotion for the month of December. She’s never been wrong, sales are through the roof, and the line of people each Espressology night wraps the block. But can it be too much of a good thing? During an interview with a talk show at the height of Jane’s fame, she is faced with a dilemma, lose her love or lose her credibility? Or possibly lose it all, including her best friend.

Steph: LOVE the premise and the cover. LOVE. (Even though I swore I wouldn't buy any more pink books. I have enough of them, thanks to this year's bubble-gum theme. Sigh. Just this once, I suppose.) This sounds like one of those awesome feel-good novels you can read in any mood - depressed, high (as in happiness, not narcotic), heartbroken - and instantly be charmed. Am I placing too high hopes on this one? Maybe. But something in that premise is just registering with me. Maybe I'm in love? Hmm...


Stupid Cupid by Rhonda Stapleton
When seventeen-year-old Felicity gets a job at Cupid's Hollow, she's skeptical at first when she finds out it's no mere matchmaking gig: she'll take on the role of a cupid (there's more than one of them, you know) and matchmake her high school, using Palm Pilot technology to send love emails. In a stroke of sheer genius, Felicity decides to matchmake her best friends, which leads to all kinds of disaster...especially when she accidentally makes the whole school fall in love with Derek, guy of her dreams.

Steph: This one only comes out December of 2009 so no cover yet and even though I try to wait until I have the cover to post these, it goes perfectly with this post. :) Is this a fluffy beach-read type? Simon Pulse is known for its ro-coms (to which I don't think this one belongs, however), so I'm sensing this one will be in a similar vein except with more plot because it's a planned trilogy. Am looking forward to finding out more!

Heartbreak River by Tricia Mills
Alexandra Landon once loved running the Grayton River through the Colorado canyons near her home and couldn’t imagine doing anything else with her life but continuing the family’s river rafting business. But that was before her father died in a rafting accident and she developed a full-fledged fear of drowning. It’s been nearly a year since her father’s death, and the arrival of another summer means Alex has to face the river, the question of whether she can ever recapture her love of rafting, and the return of co-worker and former boyfriend Sean Kenley. One way or the other, this summer is going to change Alex’s life forever.

Steph: I love how the cover is sensual in a subtle way. (Reminds me of Kiss Me Kill Me's, actually.) Definitely one of Razorbill's better ones this seasons. To tell you the truth, this is the first time I read the description in full - and hey, it sounds like a worthwhile story! A bit darker than the previous ones, to be sure, but then again, I love dark.


Taken By Storm by Angela Morrison
Leesie Hunt has many rules: No kissing. No sex. No dating outside the Mormon faith.

When Michael Walden—a deep-sea diver who lost his parents in a violent hurricane—arrives in town, Leesie sees someone who needs her. They fall for one another, even though his dreams are tied to the depths of the ocean and hers to salvation above.

Will their intense chemistry be too strong to resist?

Leesie and Michael must make the hardest choice of their lives: whether to follow their beliefs or their hearts.

Readers will be swept away by this tale of forbidden romance told in online chats, Leesie’s chapbook poems, and Michael’s dive log. It’s as steamy as Twilight and just as clean.

Steph: Okay hold up, are they seriously pushing the Twilight comparison?? I thought that was exclusive to vampire or, if you want to stretch it, fantasy books. Okay... Anyhow, the dude on the cover is HOT. (Yes, this is very important. You know. I have needs, too!) Moving on...

So, this is forbidden fruit (as the Twilight comparison will not let you forget) which is tricky to do, because you need just the right amount of tension to make it work. If done well, the novel rocks. Let's hope that's the case. Anyway, while I usually don't like epistolary, I'm curious to see what this dive journal format looks like. It sounds unique in a way.

- - -

Hope you enjoyed!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

YA Connection, November 16th - 22nd

YA Connection
(Week of November 16th - 22nd)

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.

Last week's contest winner was Alyce. Emailed ya :) This week I'm giving away any book of your choice from Amazon.com. Email yaconnection@reviewerx.com (with your address). Extra entries may be earned by +1 getting the secret word at http://thestorysiren.com/ or be linking to this contest from somewhere (and telling us about it in the email).

Contests
(Compiled by Kristi)

Brooke Taylor (Undone) is giving away a collectors edition of Twilight! Sorry no Edward haters allowed. (Steph intervention: Why do I sense this won't sit well with Khyrinthia?)

Liv of Liv's Book Reviews is hosting a contest for a copy of Death by Latte by Linda Gerber.

Lenore of Presenting Lenore is giving away Chalice by Robin McKinley, Schooled by Anisha Lakhani and Beautiful Americans by Lucy Silag.

There aren't really many contests I found this week.. If you have one please feel free to bring it to my attention. If you want to make sure your contest is mentioned, please feel free to email me or Steph.

Author Musings
(Compiled by Kristi)

*random Steph intervention* Before handing it over to Kristi, I just want to post a special author announcement: One of my blog's followers, Kimberly Derting, is getting published!

Kimberly Derting’s THE BODY FINDER, weaving coming-of-age romance into the story of a sixteen-year old girl with trying to find purpose in her ability to find dead bodies of murder victims through the imprints they leave behind on the world and on their killers, who herself becomes the prey of a serial killer, to Gretchen Hirsch at Harper, in a good deal, for publication in August 2009, by Laura Rennert at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (World).

Apparently Ms Derting has known this since AUGUST but she's been sneaky and not said a word until the deal was properly announced. Y'all, this is huge. Congrats, Kimberly!

Back to Kristi...

A.S. King (The Dust of 100 Dogs) was busy doing interviews and guest blogs this week. Did you know she loves Utz cheeseballs and hot baths!

Alexa Young (Frenemies) was all about shameless self promotion this week, but we still love her!

Ally Carter (The Gallagher Girls Series) is looking for her lost mojo... Why do I think of cheesy lines from Austin Powers when I see the word mojo.

If you thought you had a crazy week, you should check out Amanda Ashby's (Zombie Queen of Newbury High) post on her's. Welcome to Crazy Town!

Aprilynne Pike (Wings) celebrated an anniversary!! And she has a timeline to explain all that stuff that happens behind the scenes while we are waiting for Wings to hit the shelves. I'm just wondering if we are ever going to see the cover of this masterpiece!!

Carrie Ryan (The Forest of Hands and Teeth) has a post on honey, baby, sweetheart, snookums.... I mean terms of endearment.

Cyn Balog (Fairy Lust) now has her own personal cyber footprint. Visit her new website: http://cynbalog.com/

Diana Peterfreund (Rampant) continues the Unicorns vs. Zombies campaign. She's also been sick this week, so go leave her some love.

Elizabeth Scott (Living Dead Girl) shared the cover of her new novel Love You, Hate You, Miss You. Gorgeous, just simply Gorgeous.. darling!!

Holly Black (Ironside) shares her views on the Unicorn vs. Zombies debate.

I'm not even going to mention Justine Larbalestier (How to Ditch Your Fairy) because of her blatant support of Team Zombie

Lisa Schroeder (I Heart You, You Haunt Me) has great news about her MG novel It's Raining Cupcakes! CONGRATS Lisa!!

Maggie Stiefvater (Lament) shared her adventures in New York!!

Mandy Hubbard (Prada & Prejudice) has a Teaser Tuesday post from her next possible novel Shattered... me likey!

Mari Mancusi (Boys that Bite) celebrated the release of her new novel Gamer Girl!

Melissa Marr (Ink Exchange) got a special delivery this week from the UPS guy this week. Not that kind of delivery.. sicko, she got a box full of Fragile Eternity ARCs!!

Melissa Walker (The Violet Series) did a cover stories post with Dead Girl Walking by Linda Joy Singleton. I love when she does these! And she also gave a shout out to The Story Siren this week! Thanks Melissa!

Cassandra Clare's (City of Ashes) identity was stolen this week!! Actually someone started a Twitter account posing as her! You know you've hit the big time when someone pretends to be you on Twitter. (For some reason you have to be logged into LiveJournal to view her post... sorry about that)

P.C. Cast (Untamed) announced that The House of Night Series is hitting the Big Screen!

R.J. Anderson (Faery Rebel) revealed the U.S cover for Faery Rebel: Spell Hunter! (Steph: the one on the right is the UK cover. I'm not that stupid :P)

Group Author blogs you should check out:

Author2Author

Books, Boys, Buzz

Nineteen Teen

Ya Fresh

YA Edge (Just recently discovered this one!)

Author of the Week

Libba Bray
Libba Bray is the author of five and a half plays, a few short stories and essays and lots of things that, in her words, "should never see the light of day." She has worked as a waitress, a nanny, a burrito roller, a publishing plebe, and an advertising copywriter. Raised in Texas on a steady diet of British humor, underground bands, suburban dysfuntion, and bad TV, she somehow managed to escape with only a few serious deranged haircuts. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and son.

Find out more at http://libba-bray.livejournal.com/



Blogger Blurbs
(Compiled by Steph)

Gabrielle of Innovative reviewed This Book Isn't Fat, It's Fabulous by Nina Beck: "The book was fun and there were some awesome one-liners. I appreciated how Beck pointed out the obvious problems in any Riley-D romance and Eric can pretty much take me to prom right now."
And hey, Lenore did too! "Not only did I have fun reading this book, I had a big old goofy smile on my face at the end. Go Riley!"

Jia of Dear Author reviewed Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi: "The best comparison for this book is that it’s like cotton candy. It’s pleasant and sweet while you’re consuming it, but the next day it’s a vague memory."

Reader Rabbit reviewed Savvy by Ingrid Law: "Final Verdict: Despite not being much about savvies, Ingrid Law makes this novel worth reading because of her motley array of characters and Mibs' storytelling."

Kelsey of Just Blinded Book Reviews reviewed Sleepless by Terri Clark: "I loved Trinity’s sarcasm it me laugh out loud countless time while reading this; it was just her whole attitude that throughout the book that really made her so likeable as a character."

Chelsea of The Page Flipper reviewed I Know It's Over by C.K. Kelly Martin: "The author approached the topic of teen pregnancy with delicacy. She didn't scold or point fingers (Annie's Baby, anyone?); teen pregnancy is a reality, and she made the story revolve around a healthy teen relationship that simply took a hard turn, rather than a simple fling."

Sophie of Mrs. Magoo Reads reviewed Violet in Private by Melissa Walker: "I have to say, though, I am increasingly confused by the marketing of this series. They seem to be promoted as very beach-y, pro-model books, and yet the books come across as anti-model/fashion world and reveal the bad messages that that world can give out. Does anybody else feel this way, or am I missing something?"

Brina of YA New York reviewed The DeVouring by Simon Holt: "I swear, the night I read this book for the first time, I couldn’t go to sleep. And the night I read it again, I couldn’t get to sleep either. I myself have read very little horror, but this tale was chock full of terrors. Clowns, for example. Very, very scary clowns. I really hate clowns."

Rachael of The Book Muncher reviewed In Too Deep by Jennifer Banash: "I think I must emphasize how great it is that The Elite series is the Gossip Girl series once it’s grown a conscience. Readers will be drawn into the extravagant and high-end lifestyles of New York’s upper class as well as sympathize with these spoiled teens’ issues."

Becky of Becky's Book Reviews reviewed You Know Where To Find Me by Rachel Cohn: "I think that You Know Where To Find Me will either appeal to you...or not. It wasn't quite my thing. I know it sounds awful to not like Miles. After all, she doesn't love herself or respect herself...and someone needs to love her. But other than the fact that at one point Miles loved to read, really loved to read, we have very little in common. I guess I've just never felt so deeply-troubled and angry and despondent."

Alea of Pop Culture Junkie posted a new Lookalikes!

Taren of The Chick Manifesto reviewed Masquerade by Melissa de la Cruz: "Hot damn! These books have more twists and turns than my back did before scoliosis surgery!"

(Um... that's nice, Tar. :))

Okay, I'm gonna have to cut this one short because today = mom traveling abroad and I have to help her out with stuff.

Book of the Week

A Great and Terrible Beauty
It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?


Our Reviews

Kristi reviewed: Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead, Poseur: The Good, The Fab and The Ugly by Rachel Maude and Moonstone by Marilee Brothers.

Steph: Nada... Oops!

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Nice weekend, everyone!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Booking Through Thursday Friday: The Dreaded Honesty

I may officially join this Booking Through Thursday business if the questions continue to be so freaking awesome.

So, question:

I receive a lot of review books, but I have never once told lies about the book just because I got a free copy of it. However, some authors seem to feel that if they send you a copy of their book for free, you should give it a
positive review.

Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews?
Something I think all authors should realize when they sign a contract is that once that book is printed and bound, it's out of their hands. When another, unrelated-to-the-project person reads it, they don't know ANYTHING about the author's intention, or history. So, they take their own meaning from the story. While writing a book is a hugely personal thing, once it flies away, it ain't coming back. We readers make it ours, depending on our own history, perspective, and context.

This in mind, if you send me a book, you thereafter agree to let me do your job, and that is to be a reader. You're the writer, the mirror-maker - I look at the mirror and whatever I see, you can't tell me I'm wrong. (Unless I snark on the author. Then I am absolutely wrong. Feel free to call me out on it. Note the difference between "author" and "book", however.)

And in fact, if you follow this line of thinking, there is no bad book, just the wrong reader for a certain book. But I still firmly believe this much is only true when the book is well-crafted. The problem is, some (read: a lot) of books have many weak spots, in which case I say it sucks (in different amounts, depending, but nevertheless sucks).

Which again is very subjective, what you perceive as a flaw or not. This, my friends, is why it's important to find a source of book recommendations whose taste correlates with yours.

Okay and now I must get back to reading.

I've Really Got Nothing Better To Do

I won't be seeing Twilight the movie for a while (not released here yet) and I don't feel like downloading a bootleg version because let's face it, I've got better things to be doing, like THIS. Still, I'm having a ridiculously fabulous time looking at the online news for it. There's nothing you can't add a small dose of bacterial Twihards to that doesn't become virally funny.

And so I begin my online odyssey for humor fodder. Such is the type of thing I enjoy doing on Friday afternoons. :) This won't be long because I'm in the middle of another vampire book and I want to get back to it, but I just had to share.

A particularly funny starting point over at Film Blather and their review of Twilight:

A little while after Bella (Kristen Stewart) confesses her love to exceptionally
handsome 108-year old (but perpetually 17) vampire Edward Cullen (Harry Potter's
Robert Pattinson), Edward takes her to a cloud break at the top of a mountain.
With a fierce glint in his eye, he growls (I'm paraphrasing), "let me show you
what you've fallen in love with," and steps into the sun. Does his skin start
burning? Does he scream in pain? No, no. He glitters. His skin sparkles. "It's
beautiful," swoons Bella. These aren't vampires. These are fairies.
[Via Do I Dazzle You?]

MSN (whose acronym might, judging by this article, mean My Snark Network) said:

Maybe whatever makes Bella smell so good to Edward has been spritzed onto the
pages of the millions of books that have been sold.
[Again via Do I Dazzle You?]

So... Robert Pattinson apparently crushed under the weight of the mall mob, the 7-year-old Bella-to-be, his sparklepire sinister appearance, and let's not forget his hobo hair, so he overdosed on heroin at 3am on November 20th.

... oh, wait, that's NOT TRUE.

(Honestly, though, these rumor-mill midgets need to get more creative. Would Edward really kill himself with his heroin? Well, maybe. But he sure planned to do it with a lot more style in New Moon.)

But back to the reviews. Jezebel's is probably my favorite:

Worst of all, in Twilight, instead of being killed by the sun, vampires glitter
— and in the film, when Edward showed Bella his skin in direct sunlight, the
guffaws in the audience would not die down. Instead of making his skin look
"like diamonds," the special effects looked more like Gay Pride parade body
shimmer.

That's perfect.

You can keep track of all the reviews and such via Twilight's Rotten Tomato page.

But wait, don't forget the WTF moment of the week: People who haven't read the book are not qualified to like (or dislike) the movie!

Ummm...what?

Okay, I'm getting bored now so I'll keep getting my Twilight updates from Cleolinda and refrain from propagating the movie news for fear I'll get stuck in this never-ending, downward spiral of hilarity.

ETA: OMG REASON #373982 NOT TO SEE THIS:



[Via Cleolinda.]

The people in the audience - haven't they ever heard of Silence is Golden??? That, plus the horribly stilted, slow-moving, and all out sucktastic scene and acrid acting kinda sucks the life out of me.

ETA 2: How rude of me. What did people who watched the movie think?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Annnnd The Publicists Speak Up!

Hey, guys! Remember my post a couple weeks back about how long before publication most people prefer ARCs be reviewed? Well, I decided to spam-attack mass email a bunch of publicists and marketers from houses I have contact with and see their take. Not *all* of the ones I emailed got back to me (folks are quite busy!), and some did get back saying they preferred not to reply, but we love them anyway. :)

Anyway, here are all the responses I got. Please note this is an informational post—don’t take any response as law for any of the publishers named below because the circumstances are ever-changing. And guys? I'm not at liberty to set you up with any of the publicists herein—so as much as I like to help out my fellow bloggers, please don't ask me. Also, please don’t post any publicist details in the comments area.

Nowwwwwwww:

The Question:

How far ahead of the release date you consider ideal for bloggers to post about ARCs you send out?

The Answers:
(In no particular order. I decided to mix it up and do a long one, a short one, another long one, etc. Make it easier to read! :))

Abrams/Amulet
To answer your question – I’d say we generally like to see reviews about two weeks to a month in advance – but sometimes it differs for certain books because we try to generate an early “buzz.” Still, a review posted at any time is wonderful! -Laura


Random House
In new media publicity, we handle things much closer to the actual on-sale date than traditional publicity efforts. Since bloggers do not work on a specific deadline, and in my experience their turn around time from reading to review is much faster, I send the books with only a few weeks lead time. If a blogger asks for a specific title to review, I’ll honor that request as soon as I can, but if the publication is months away, I ask them to hold off on posting a review until closer to the on-sale date. For a publicity perspective, a review that is printed months before the book is available – while always appreciated!- detracts from its positive effects, since people will forget about the book by the time it’s on sale. Our end goal is that a review is printed the same week as, or the few weeks following, the on-sale date of a book. -Jenny

Penguin
Well, from my experience I prefer to have a few reviews out there a few months in advance to start building awareness, but I like most reviews in the month leading up to on-sale. No set answer to this question really! -Jillian [interview]




Bloomsbury USA
This may sound convoluted, but it depends on the site/blog and its outreach.

Since online is so immediate, if it's a site/blog whose audience extends to teens/book buyers, we prefer the posts go live right around or after the book's on-sale date so that the enthusiasm (hopefully) of the blogger will make the reader want to go buy the book. So, if the post is well before the book's available, the concern is that (to be blunt) we won't be able to capitalize upon the positive effects of a blogger's good review.

However, if the blogger's audience is more industry people (educators, librarians, publishing people, authors, booksellers) then posting as soon and as early as possible is great; it starts and continues good buzz for the book. -Deb

Berkley/NAL JAM (Penguin)
We prefer to see a book review on, or very soon after, the book’s pub date. Posting a review before the book is available in stores really doesn’t help with sales, we’ve found. We like knowing that a reader of the review can potentially go out that same day and buy the book, if they’re so inclined. If they have to wait a few days, weeks, or months, they may forget that they wanted to buy the book at all. -Caitlin


Henry Holt (Macmillan)
I'd like it if there was a bit of buzz going into the release date, but I don't prefer the review to appear so far ahead of the release that people forget about the book before it's available. -Sean



St. Martin's Press (Macmillan)
I would say that in most cases, you want something coming out 2-4 weeks before the book. That way, when blog readers get excited about the book, the book is already available for pre-order and when books appear in the stores, people recognize it. Keep in mind, this may vary from book to book depending on specific marketing plans or how much buzz the marketing/publicity team wants to get before books appearance in stores. For some really big bigs, you want buzz to begin 2 months or more in advance. In many cases, though, you want people to be able to read the review, and then go out and purchase the book soon thereafter. ALSO, timing of review greatly depends on how long it will appear on main page of site. If the review is going to remain prominent on the homepage for, let’s say, a full month, then 1-2 months in advance of publication is right. If it stays up for a week, then 2-3 weeks in advance is better. If the review is only up for a day or two, and then is replaced by newer posts/reviews, I’d say that it should only come around a week before publication. Again, timing is all about imagining the the blog’s readers will read about the book, have their interest peaked, and then remember it long enough to either order it online or recognize it when it appears in stores.

I would say that even more important than when the review comes out, is the “extras” that go along with the review. 1) Book jacket should always appear 2) A link to a place where the readers can buy the book 3) A link to the author’s website or blog OR the publishers website for the book, when applicable. -Sarah


Little, Brown
We’re happy to have review coverage whenever you are able to post it, but ideally it would be in the weeks leading up to or just after pub. Anything more than a month beforehand can lose its impact by the time the book is actually available. -Jillian




Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan)
I’ve always been of the mind that it’s bloggers that REALLY start the buzz around books. That buzz has to happen before the book is published to really make an impact. It’s those circulated ARCS, ones passed from hand to hand, that wind up being the books seriously discussed later on in the year.

My boss felt this:
I think it's about WHO reads WHICH blog.

Teachers have short memories and even shorter budgets. When they read about a book, if the book's not available, they are likely to forget about it, partly because they cannot afford to commit money to a thing they might want (even want very much), but not get right away.

Librarians have longer memories and more flexible budgets -- but they mostly cannot buy a book (i.e., preorder) unless it will arrive within a certain, specified time span: 3 months, 4 months, less... This is about cash flow in libraries, and rules manage the process.

Consumers -- well, consumers -- a much less predictable bunch. But again, they'd have to be mighty mighty moved to preorder a book. A blog might get them there, but I'd say that's rare. Some consumers will remember -- or respond to reminders. But again, too far in advance just might not pay off well even here.

So I'm thinking 6 weeks is a good lead on blogs. Maybe as much as 3 months. -Colleen

HarperCollins
It's always great to get a review. Ideally we like reviews to run as close to the on sale date as possible, whether it is the week before or the week after. -Elyse



Simon and Schuster
From a publicity standpoint, the best time to post a review is a few weeks before the on-sale date. If a blogger posts before that time, readers are more likely to forget about the book once it goes on sale. That being said, it’s OK if bloggers post any time after that – we’d be happy to have the publicity, especially as we get closer the on-sale date. -Andrea

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Annnnnd that's a wrap, everyone! A big, huge THANK YOU to all the publicists and marketers who helped me put this together. After all, without their words, I would not have anything. Hope you all enjoyed. Oh, and if you want more publicist-related posts, you should check out my interview with Jillian from Penguin Group USA. (I totally linked to it above, but a double-plug on my own blog is not a crime, right?) :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Waiting on Wednesday (6)

Ya know, I'm scheduling this post for midnight, but to some people, that midnight = 6PM their time. (Hellooooooo, California!) Quite cool, how a 15-degree difference in longitude can have an hour difference between places. In this case, it's a 6 hour diff.

Anyway.

Waiting on Wednesday = feature brought to you by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

My choice for this week is an '08 book (I think it's my first - mostly I've been drooling at '09 things lately, it seems):

Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers
Perfect Parker Fadley isn’t perfect anymore. She’s quit the cheerleading squad, dumped her perfect boyfriend, and she’s failing school. Her parents are on suicide watch and her counselors think she’s playing games. But what they don’t know, the real reason for this whole mess, isn’t something she can say out loud. A horrible thing has happened and it might be her fault…

Ahh, it's quite tragic, my search for this one. I had one contact at the publisher who apparently left because she never replied back when I asked if she had any left and I know many people weren't getting through to her anymore. I'd sent her some emails about this one sometime in early September.

Then, a month or so later, another publicist at the same house emailed me randomly about something else (it wasn't a followup to my emails to #1). When I asked about this one, she said they'd given all the remaining ARCs to Library Thing for reviews.

Ahh >.< CK Kelly Martin's recommendation of this book and Courtney Summers's guest blogs over at The Swivet [*~sparkle~*, heh], I have a feeling this book will be worth buying. Courtney sounds like a stellar person, so I want to show my support for her debut! (And you should too.)

Speaking of which, GO TO THE SWIVET, search for "Courtney Summers" and you'll find her entries. They are funny, insightful, and very endearing, and if you're on the fence about this one, I'm sure you won't be upon reading the guest blogs.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What Book Was It, Again???

Okay I just read a book that triggered my memory about another book and now I can't pinpoint what Triggered Book was and I think I might have OCD because it's driving me crazy. So maybe my fellow avid readers can help me out here! I swear, since this reviewing thing got - well, intense - I haven't had my usual great memory with every last detail in every last book.

NOT.

GOOD.

I try to forget, but this non-knowledge, this inability to recall ANYTHING, makes me loco.

(Why yes, I do have issues. How 'bout you?)

So anyway, I don't remember the context, I don't remember the setting, I don't remember the release-date time period, I don't remember--let's just say I don't remember anything other than the fact the book had a cheer squad whose name was like Hornettes or something. And the name was ever-changing because of the provocative cheers they came up with. Like, Horny Horny (something).

HELP PUT MY MIND AT EASE, PEOPLE.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What Bugs You In A Review?

Hey, everyone :) I planned on reviewing a book today but I got sidetracked by this hilarious book I'm reading now so, no time! Must get back! Anyway, a topic's been bouncing around my mind lately and I thought I'd use it for today: Is there anything you sometimes see in other people's reviews that rub you the wrong way?

For instance, I hate it when someone condemns a book solely because of profanity, sexuality and sexual orientation, and drug and alcohol usage. Like, I understand some people get uncomfortable with excessive profanity or a lot of drug use or mindless drinking or inconsequential sex - but I can't stand it when someone calls a book smut because of any of those things. Looking For Alaska had all of that and it was one of the best YA books I've read to date.

(Also it helps that none of those things in a book bother me.)

Once I complained a book had too much swearing. That would be Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, and I said it because it made the book quasi-unreadable to me. I thought people should know and in fact, illustrated it in my review and even had some people tell me they couldn't finish reading the review as a result. But I didn't call the book trashy because of it, see.

And that is what annoys me.

So, how about you?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

AHHH Baby-Sitters Club *Glomps*

Time and again, I'll get nostalgic (or, in my case, nostragic) about my childhood, as a wittle bitty munchkin who loved reading super-long series of books, who used to lock herself in her room for days on end during her summer vacations and pour over books, and who used to practically live at the library. Yesterday was one of those days, and by pure chance, I was talking to my friend Taren during my passage down Memory Lane. We were web browsing together (you know, sending funny links back and forth) and...

She reminded me of my utter obsession/fascination/infatuation with the Baby-Sitters Club books! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I WAS OBSESSED. I think I even have 70 of the books I managed to buy at my local used bookstore in storage. Being 11 and all, I marveled at the freedom these girls had and how much adults respected them. Seriously, I longed to live in Stoneybrook, catch a glimpse of Claudia in her so-called fabulous attire, get a feel of Stacey's sophistication (though she looks fugly on her portrait on the side of the covers), and see Mary-Anne and Logan be in their Serious Adult Relationship. (Speaking of which, I think I cried when they broke up on #41, Mary Anne Vs. Logan. Sigh.) I WANTED TO BABYSIT THE PIKE KIDS SO BADLY.

Taren shared a spectacular site for recaps on the books: BSC Central. Am currently making my way through the archives, and wow, so many memories flooding back. Congrats to the author for keeping it snarky and real.

Speaking of snarky, what in the fresh hell is this??

A GRAPHIC NOVEL???? Anyone know if it's any good? The cover certainly makes the series feel like it's for a younger set than the ancient covers did.

Blogroll

When I changed layouts, I lost all of my page elements in the sidebar. Before I uploaded this new (hopefully spectacular) code to make my blog go from rags to riches, aesthetically speaking, I transferred all of my blog roll components into a list which will be my official blog roll. I don't have time to add everyone back (remember that post a while back about how screwed everyone was? Yeah, I rated off the charts, so I need to get reading).

So, this is my compromise because I don't want people thinking I'm overlooking them - the list will be placed in a blog post (below). Some people are also on my sidebar blog roll, yes, but most of them are people who're A) my best friends, B) my good friends, or C) people I speak to very, very regularly.

If you'd like to be added onto my blog roll please shoot me an email or comment below. I hope no one's offended with this new arrangement - honestly, I read most of these blogs (via a feed reader) and I'm huge on the community as I hope it's apparent. If you're not on the sidebar, it's not that I don't love you. It's just that my book pile is threatening to eat me whole.

3 Evil Cousins
A Hoyden's Look At Literature
Abby (the) Librarian
All Five Stars
And Another Book Read...
Au Courant
Author2Author
B is for Books
Bean Bag Books
Becky's Book Reviews
Beyond Books
Books make great lovers
Book Bopper
Book Chic
Book-Luver Carol
Book Nymph
Book Reader 4
Book Review Maniac
Books, Boys, Buzz
Bookity Book Books
bookshelves of doom
Bookworm Extraordinaire
Charybdisreviewz
Chicklish
Confessions of a Bookaholic...
cynsations
Dear Author
Elaina Reads
Frenetic Reader
From The Corner of Megan's Mind
Harmony Book Reviews
Holy Name's Library
Hope's Bookshelf
In Bed With Books
Just Blinded Book Reviews
Juvenil Romántica
Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf
Liv's Book Reviews
Midnight Twilight Book Blog
Mrs. Magoo Reads
Ms. Yingling Reads
Muffins.and.Books
My Favorite Author
My Favourite Books
nineseveneight
The Page Flipper
Plenty of Paper
Poised At The Edge
Pop Culture Junkie
Presenting Lenore
Random Thoughts from a Random Teen
Read, Read, Read
Reader Rabbit
Reading Junky
Reading Keeps You Sane
Reading Rants
ReadthestAr
Rimasbookjournal
Sarah's Random Musings
Shooting Stars Mag
Simply Books
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
Stop, Drop and Read!
The Story Siren
Teen Book Review
Teen Fiction Cafe
Teen Troves
Tempestt Reviews
The Book Muncher
The Book Spot
The Book Vault
The Chick Manifesto
The YA YA YAs
What Vanessa Reads
WORD for Teens
Words Speak Volumes
Writers Block Reviews
YA Book Realm
YA Fresh
YA New York