Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Contest Slurry

Ends ???

Steph of Review X is having a Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins contest over at her site to win an ARC of the much-anticipated sequel to The Hunger Games. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for linking to the contest post. Ending date depends on the response so enter nao.

Ends 5/31 (hurry your ass up and enter!)

Win a copy of The Sacred Sin by Estevan Vega from Sophie at Mrs. Magoo Reads. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for linking and for subscribing to her YouTube channel.

Ends 6/3

Win Lisa Schroeder's titles from Steph at Reviewer X. The collection includes I Heart You, You Haunt Me and Far From You. Comment with book preference and email to enter. Extra entries for linking to the contest and Lisa's Pub Story and doing something special.

Ends 6/4

5 signed copies of The Real Real by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus are being given away on Free Book Friday Teens. Fill out the entry form in the left sidebar to enter.

Ends 6/9

Win a copy of Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker from Sophie at Mrs. Magoo and Aryanna for the Blogger Profile contest. Comment with email to enter. Extra entry for following both blogs.

Ends 6/26

Win Kristi's (The Story Siren) extra copy of Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. Comment with email to enter. Extra entry for linking/posting to/about the contest.

Wow short list this week! Everyone must be in finals mode!

Added to the Pile + 4

Wherein the Pile officially explodes and gets crushed under its own weight. Seriously, a ridiculous amount of books this week thanks to BEA. See my BEA wrap-up post a couple entries down for the pictures of the piles. To keep this post from going on forever, I'm just going to post a summary of the book if I can't point to one on the intarwebs. My fingers won't die that way.

I got my copy of You Are So Undead to Me by Stacey Jay from a Mrs. Magoo Blogger Profile contest. Much fun.

All Megan wants is to go to homecoming. Unfortunately, every time she leaves the house she gets trailed by a bunch of slobbering undead, making it a little hard to score a date. Not that it matters. Her crush, fellow Settler (and total hottie) Ethan, treats her like an annoying kid sister anyway.

When Someone in school starts using black magic to turn average, angsty Undead into flesh-eating Zombies, it's up to Megan to stop the Zombie apocalypse. Her life - and more importantly, homecoming - depends on it.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (eGalley, instead of ARCs, some books were eGalley cards where you get a pin, go to a certain website and redeem it for an eBook)
Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick (eGalley)
The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo (chapter preview)
Pillage by Obert Skye (chapter preview)
Unreasonable Men - A Father and Son Who Changed America: The Birth of the National Enquirer by Paul David Pope
Timothy and the Dragon's Gate by Adrienne Kress
Flesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman
Mr. Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett
A time when the desperate and the broke head west to start over.
Connelly is one of them. But he is not seeking a new life.
Because out there, riding the rails, stalking the camps, is the scarred vagrant who murdered Connelly's daughter. No one knows him but everyone knows his name.
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Black is for Beginnings by Laurie Faria Stolarz (graphic novel edition)
Phineas and Ferb - Speed Demons by Jasmine Jones, from the Disney TV show
Desert of the Damned by Kathy Kulig (warning! erotica, yeah, I had my moment at the Ellora's Cave booth)
Dracula: The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt
The Alchemaster's Apprentice by Walter Moers
The 13th Reality by James Dashner
A Big Little Life by Dean Koontz
Distracted - The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age by Maggie Jackson
The Memorist by MJ Rose
A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein
Brasyl by Ian McDonald
Cincinnatus by Rusty McClure and David Stern
The Sentinels - Fortunes of War by Gordon Zuckerman
School of Fear by Gitty Daneshvari
The Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda
The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani
Three reasons why Viola Chesterton knows she'll never survive her first year at boarding school:
  • She has to leave behind her best friend, Andrew.
  • . . . and replace him with three new roommates who, disturbingly, actually seem to like it there.
  • "There" is South Bend, Indiana, which feels about as far away from her hometown of Brooklyn, New York, as you can get.
The Amanda Project by Stella Lennon
Maximum Ride by James Patterson (Manga version)
Witchblade by Ron Marz and Mike Choi
Adventurers Wanted - Slathbog's Gold by ML Forman
The Soulstealer War by WL Hoffman
The Puzzle King by Betsy Carter
Soulstice by Simon Holt
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
Secret Society by Tom Dolby
Walt Disney's Peter Pan by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (picture book galley)
How Shall I Tell the Dog? and Other Final Musings by Miles Kington
Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr
Sea Change by Aimee Friedman
Alphas by Lisi Harrison
Campingly Yours by Thomas C. Adler
Going Away Shoes by Jill McCorkle
A Quiet Belief in Angels by RJ Ellory
Lament by Maggie Stiefvater
Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater
Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
Ash by Malinda Lo
The Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow by Tim Kehoe
Red to Black by Alex Dryden

All hail BEA!

Things I've Learned from Books + 4

There's nothing wrong with fighting with a ghost because you're crushing on her crush and she just wants to use your body to get to him. Really. NOTHING wrong with that . . .

BEA Wrap-Up

First off, like the changes? Since I ended up not wearing my t-shirt to BEA, I wanted to use the graphics I made somehow so I incorporated them, and a slight change in color scheme, here. A little more vibrant, I think.

Now onto BEA. I set my alarm for 3:30 Friday morning and was out the door and on the way to the train station by just after five. I caught the 6:23 into Grand Central and was in New York City just before 8. And dammit, I forgot just how long the walk of death is transferring from Time Square to Port Authority so I could get the right subway line. I remembered that and decided that if my bag got too heavy, I'd take a cab.

I walked into Javits and my jaw dropped because the place is huge. FYI, if you're a blogger, you're considered press (should have been obvious from the editorial press pass that I got but I'd been up since 3:30 at that point. Throw me a bone.) and should go to the press booth. And then you get to go up into the press office were you get some neat packets of information about upcoming books and stuff. And WTF? looks from the woman working the door, like we don't belong. Ignore her.

I came back downstairs and started walking around the crowd to the main entrance to the exhibition hall and I see this chick that looks really familiar off to my left. Now, I never forget a face. Rarely remember names but never forget a face. Yup, it was Steph of Reviewer X and Lenore of Presenting Lenore! Awesome aquaintencing ensued plus pictures taken by Steph's mom. Look for those on her site.

Then the flood gates opened at 9 and the shameless grabbing of free stuff began. Bags and books and bags and books and more bags and books. We ended up getting separated and I saw Lenore again at the Firebrand booth for her "signing" but I was pretty much wandering around on my own for a long ass time carting around a REALLY heavy duffel bag on wheels.

Some woman gave me attitude about how you're not supposed to have anything that rolls in there (mind, I was not the only person with a rolling case behind them) but about 20 minutes after that and one too many rolls over really thick carpeting, I decided to check the duffel and I used it as a drop off point for the rest of the day. Much less hassle that way.

The first autograph line I got in was for Dacre Bram Stoker and Ian Holt for the sequel to Dracula, The Un-Dead. OMFG! I have a signed ARC of the sequel to DRACULA! That's only been 150 years in waiting. Fuck sparkling vampires people. This is the be-all-end-all of vampires right here. Ha!

And then I hopped to a line for a Disney PassPort book for my cousins who go to Disney World about twice a year and then over to Adrienne Kress's line for her Timothy and the Dragon's Gate book. I know her from Absolute Write and OMG is she an awesome chick! Got another signed book called Campingly Yours about a guy growing up in sleep away camp. My main motivation for that one is because I'm writing a series about sleep away camp and I've never been so I need to do all the research I can.

Then it was more wandering and lunch time. The food court was a cluster fuck so I decided to eat a hot dog from Sabrett's outside. With a bun. Bad Donna. Thankfully my stomach didn't start to revolt until last night. Then it was 20 minutes of trying to find the hall where the YA Editor's Buzz was going to be. I'm telling you, Javits is a confusing place. They don't have traditional levels but these sort of sub levels where if you walk down this way you're on one level that's technical on the same level as another place but you can't access it without going back the way you came and going a different way to access it. I was finally getting used to it by the second half of the day.

Steph and I bailed out on that panel early (which I was torn because I wanted to stay and watch but there was getting a signed ARC of Catching Fire to be had, priorities people!) so we could get in line for the Catching Fire signing. I have to say, I totally have Steph to thank for that ticket. She was the one that was in line at 5:30 that morning to get it and when I ran into her when I first got there, she gave me her extra that she snagged just because. How freakin' cool is that! And Suzanne knows how to crank out those autographs. For how long the line was, it was probably the fastest moving one I was in all day. I also met Alea from Pop Culture Junkie in that line! She was a few people ahead of us.

And then Steph and I line-hopped (one of them literally, Amy Friedmann's line for Sea Change, we cut into that one, shhhh! don't tell!) to get more autographs from Amy Friedmann, Melissa Marr and Sarwat Chadda (ask him about Twilight). Then we wandered around and wound up back at Little, Brown so Steph could talk to one of the publicists and we grabbed more books (shock!). She had a meeting to go to so we did our final split and unfortunately I had to bail on a pretty awesome opportunity to hang out with a bunch of bloggers and authors at a book store downtown. All because of my bag. There was just no way I would have been able to cart that thing all over the city. Not a chance. But srsly, Steph is an awesome chick and I couldn't thank her enough for that extra ticket to the Catching Fire line. I hope one day she's my editor! That would rock.

I wandered around a little more but by that point it was after 4 and a lot of the exhibitors were packing up so I just decided to snag my bag and head back to the train station. Not a cab in sight but a whole shitload of livery so I sucked it up, paid the extra money and got to ride in a clean car back to Grand Central. Oh, my bag was so heavy the driver couldn't lift the thing into the trunk himself. I had to help him.

I was able to squeeze into a 5:16 back to Connecticut and some douche decided he just HAD to sit in the seat my bag was leaning up against instead of the empty one right behind it. I told him it was a 150 pound bag and he just went "yeah?" and watched as I struggled to move it (you know, instead of helping me but I guess when you fail at human you're going to lack those kinds of cordialities). And this guy wasn't young either. Middle aged prick, pretty much. A teacher or professor by the looks of the papers he was correcting. That was the only down part in my day, pretty good for being in NYC!

I was hoping to return the duffel back to my mom unscathed but in the roll back to my car and because of the lean the thing had, it wore a hole in the bottom of the bag. And I had to unpack the thing into some of the smaller bags in order to even lift it up into my car. Yeah, grabby hands much?

This is the pile--

I tallied up the retail cost of everything and it came to about $1300 and the bag itself weighed in around 150 pounds, roughly 20 pounds more than what I weigh. Hey, when they hand out galleys like fliers, who am I to say no?

I ended up tearing a muscle in my chest carrying this thing around and I don't think my muscles have ever been this sore. I mean, sore to the point where I can't stand up straight. I was on my feet for 8 hours, literally (I only sat for about an hour total between train rides), and always had some kind of weight on me. My shoulders look like I have sunburn around my bra straps. Nope. That's bruising. I'm fragile. And this was just one day. Next year I'm going for the entire weekend. I'm a glutton for punishment.

Overall, an awesome day, I met some awesome people, got some awesome books and it was an insane and unforgettable experience. Despite the immense pain, I'd do it all again in a second. All I ask is for more time. So yeah, full weekend next year! But hopefully next year I'll be signing! I can only hope.

Here are pile pictures of my books so you can see the titles I got (click to get the full size image).

Maybe you noticed some . . . doubles, and even triples, in those piles? Yeah, you guys are so going to reap the benefits of that. And considering most of these are ARCs that I can't donate or sell to a used bookstore, yeah, you guys are so going to cash in on that too. I'm going to be having contests out the nose for the next . . . while. Yay for you!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

80s Awesomeness! ~ 13

Two sisters, high school seniors in the early 1980s, awaken one morning to blood red skies and the realization that the human race has been wiped out. It becomes apparent that anyone who was not surrounded by steel when the Earth recently passed through the tail of Haley's comet has been reduced to a pile of red ash (the trace elements of human chemical makeup.) They encounter a rebellious Native American man and take over the air waves at a local radio station in an attempt to get help. Unfortunately, they attract the attention of a group of scientists who knew what the effects of the comet would be. They hid underground in a steel laboratory, but idiotically left the vents open. Now, as various survivors of the comet who were only partially surrounded by steel are decaying into flesh-hungry zombies, the scientists are attempting to come up with a vaccine made of the blood of people who were not infected by the comet. Thus the trio must fight their way past not only roving packs of the cannibalistic dead, but also outsmart a pack of scientists desperate not to become that way themselves. (from

How can you get any more 80s than this? Like, totally! I love the mom jeans mixed with the Uzi. Such a fashionable combination.

Freaky Friday :|: 13

Belated. Obviously.

Title: Kill the Teacher's Pet
Author: Joseph Locke
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Published: September 1991
Pages: 176
Editorial Reviews:
Locke's menacing, albeit bizarre horror story takes a while to get started, but once it does, readers will be captivated. The sudden disappearance of Mr. Lehman, a high school teacher, has everyone stymied. Lenny, a self-described ``nerd,'' suspects Mr. Trancas, Lehman's replacement. Investigation yields incriminating evidence, and Lenny becomes convinced that Trancas has killed several brilliant students over the years. But none of Lenny's friends, including smart, beautiful Pamela, is swayed by his findings--until it's almost too late. The novel's main flaw (other than not disclosing why Trancas murdered Lehman) is the unlikely behavior of the characters: Lenny, for example, tells no one that he found Lehman's body in a shack on Trancas's property; Lenny and Pamela enter a suspected killer's home by themselves. The mounting tension, however, makes for suspenseful reading. (from

Flat, stock characters, reminiscent of the populace of Sweet Valley High, are strewn throughout this lurid tale of Wes Coswell, the substitute-teacher-from-hell, who leaves a trail of murdered teenage victims in his wake. The sub's grisly lesson plans are uncovered, along with the rotting body of the teacher he's been hired to replace, by Lenny, a nerdy Stephen King wannabe. This student hero triumphs in the predictable ending, curing his father's alcoholism and winning popularity and the cheerleader of his dreams, but not before readers must march through scenes of Lenny's abduction and subsequent torture, and witness the gratuitous stabbing of a kindly counselor. This pointless bit of horror fluff is neither well written nor thrilling. Truly awful. (from
Kind of polarizing, isn't it? I can't find a summary of the plot itself but it looks like these two reviews could be for different stories. The cover alone freaks me out and has me wanting to read it!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

To BEA I Go . . .

My alarm will be set for 3:30 tomorrow morning. Whether or not I actually get out of bed at that time is yet to be seen. But I'm planning to be at the train station by 6 and in the city hopefully by 8:30 with my big ass red duffel bag. The thing is just this side of obnoxious.

I just wanted to apologize in advance for the slurred words in tomorrow's Freaky Friday, if I can stay awake long enough to post it when I get home. My screaming bed might be a little hard to ignore tomorrow night.

And be sure to read my love of reading submission on Tanya Egan Gibson's website!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tanya Egan Gibson Wants Your Reading Love Stories!

Tanya Egan Gibson, author of How to Buy a Love of Reading, has invited all of us to submit our stories of how our love of reading came into our lives at her gorgeous website. Thank you to everyone that posted on my last post. Now pick up your stories and send them on over to Tanya!

How? Just go to her website,, and down by the lamp your see a gherkin/egg shaped thing light up when you mouse-over. Just click on it and send your reading love story over to her! She's looking forward to reading them!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Where did you learn to love reading?

According to a Telegraph article, it's not in the classroom. See, I don't think that's necessarily true. If you have the right teacher, one that actually gives a damn and attempts to step outside the curriculum to integrate some contemporary flavor into the classic dust, it could be a very beneficial environment. When you have the schmoes that are more concerned about their paychecks and social lives than performing their job as they should (meaning superseding the bare minimum absolutely required), you get kids that are being gypped.

I never remember not having books around. In fact, my mom and I just unearthed a whole box of an old but pretty valuable set of books that were saved over the years. I don't remember not having them around, that's how long I've had them. My mom's always been a big reader and I remember flipping through her books when I was really little. I couldn't understand anything but books were always around and I always wanted to touch them. Reading's always been there so when it came to school, it was a breeze. It's like going to art class when you already have a natural talent for art that doesn't involve stick figures.

It didn't matter what was forced on me in school; it never hampered my want to read. And, I think, having a teacher there that's the source for such an introduction to reading for a child that might not have had the same literary influence could be just as beneficial. Classrooms, while cess pools for mass market education, can actually be helpful to a child, especially if that child is eager for something and they just might not know what that something is.

So where did your love of reading come from? Your parents? Your own curiosity? A teacher that was so overly enthusiastic about books that you just had to see what the big deal was? Spill.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

First published in 2006.

If you start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year-old boy named Bruno. (Though this isn't a book for nine-year-olds.) And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence.

Fences like this exist all over the world.

We hope you never have to encounter one.

Having On Demand is a dangerous thing. A couple of button clicks and I can have a new release playing on my TV. I kept seeing the trailers for the movie version of this book and eventually my curiosity got the better of me. I watched it and felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest and lit on fire by a flame thrower. Now, I'm a crier at movies but usually it's a few tears that can easily be wiped away. Here it was full-on body-wracking sobs. The ending was just . . . horrible.

I was in the middle of reading another book when I watched that and once I finished that, I picked up this one so I could compare. It's a very fast read and it's a story kept in its simplest terms because of the fact it's told from the POV of a nine-year-old boy. It couldn't get more in depth because it wouldn't have stayed true to the voice. But I just don't think this book had as much impact at its movie counterpart.

I think the deviation from Bruno's POV in the movie, the brief glimpses into his mother's and father's world, made the impact of the ended that much more bitter a pill to swallow. The emotion was that much more intense and the passivity of Bruno was watered down with the lives of those people around him.

It's not like the book wasn't good. It's wholeheartedly unique in the fact that it's telling a much-told story from a very different, and naive, perspective. In the interview at the end of the book, Boyne comments on people asking how Bruno wouldn't know what was going on and where he was. Boyne's response was that adults didn't have that kind of enlightenment and didn't know what was going on until the liberations. How would a sheltered nine-year-old boy know then? Very good point.

But the ending . . . while the movie remained true to the book, I just felt the book lacked the same kind of impact. Had I not seen the movie and read the book first, I don't know if I would have grasped what just happened at the end because the insinuation of what was going on was so passive. Which was the point of the book but, in my eyes anyway, that tempered it a bit.

Yes, it's very sobering to read what happened to Bruno but being able to see the actions and reactions of those around him like the movie showed allowed for a little more depth and a little more understanding of what was going on around him. Again, not having that information was the point of the book. You are looking at this insane world through the eyes of a nine-year-old. You're not supposed to know all that was going on. And I don't think you truly know what's going on even though the end. The movie spells that out for you. I guess that's just something I need for greater impact.

I want to see the reactions of his parents and more of his sister and just what kind of solder Lt. Kotler was because it rounds out the picture more. I don't know how mature and aware your average nine-year-old is but Bruno must have lived a very sheltered and spoiled life for the way he acted and how he didn't notice what was going on around him (the smell at the camp alone, which in the movie he reacted to, in the book it was never mentioned, or the way he kept noticing how skinny Schmuel was and how hungry the boy kept saying he was and when Bruno tried to bring him food, he would get "peckish" and eat it all on the way, that really bothered me, at 9 I would think the kid would know better). The movie gave him a little more credit in the maturity department. There was a little more there to work with. Bruno was more receptive.

The intent of the book hit its mark. It told a unique story from a unique perspective. I just happened to like the movie better. Walking away, I felt more from the film than I did the book.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bites' BEA T-Shirt

Like I said before, I took a page out of Jess's book and decided to turn myself into a walking billboard for Bites at BEA by making myself a t-shirt. Seeing as how the BEA plans just manifested themselves half a week ago and considering the astronomical pricing of the shipping I would need to pay for in order to get my shirt in time if I made it on a site like Cafepress, I decided to go the iron-on route.

This involved me creating designs. Of course, when my last laptop decided to fizzle out (the thing was 8 years old, it lived a good life), the one thing I didn't save, by some act of a god-like being, was all of my Photoshop brushes. Dozens and dozens of them. *headdesk* So a-hunting I went. I knew what I was looking for so I just zeroed in on those and I'll scrounge later. Here are the images just so you can see them at their full potential (click to make them bigger).

This is top and bottom on the front of the shirt--

And then this goes on the left shoulder in back--

I have zero eye for design and color coordinating so I just threw a bunch of like-minded brushes together (with a wayward skull and crossbones which had my dad a little worried) and did a little color scheming. When it came to printing, I did it on my dad's printer which is a solid 5 years old so it's not the best, but a hell of a lot better than mine.

It printed out awesome for the printer on the transfer paper but damn it all, I couldn't find transparent transfer paper. So that meant I had to make the background black, otherwise I would have had to cut out the white that would have transferred with the image. As you can see, that would have been a royal pain in the ass and I would have ended up running the damn thing through my shredder. I also had issues cutting off the excess because I don't think my scissors were sharp enough and I was using transfer paper that's used on stretchy material so the paper was more resilient.

This is the final product, front and back--

Aside from the fact that the lighting in my room makes photos look ethereal, it's blatantly obvious I went to town with iron-ons that looked like they were cut out by a six-year-old with a twitch but, overall, I'm pretty proud of the outcome. Next time (if all works out, there'll be a cross for the next couple of years for BEA, it'll be in LA next year, when I'm still in CT and in NY the year after that, right after I move to CA) I'm going to plan it out a little better and get some good silk-screening done in advance.

And damn does that shirt look shapeless. It's relaly a fitted T but it's not laying nicely on the hanger. I had to cut out the collar. No, not because I wanted to go all 80s. I just have issues with t-shirt collars being too tight and since I couldn't find a v-neck, I did what I had to do.

If I do say so myself, those graphics look banging printed off of an ink jet and ironed onto a t-shirt. I could only imagine what they would look like professionally silk-screened. Squee!

Sunday Contest Slurry

Your weekly round-up of contests I've stumbled upon. Looks like Sarah Ockler dominates the list this week.

Ends 5/24 - better hurry up!

Mrs. Magoo Reads has a copy of Also Known As Harper by Ann Haywood Leal up for grabs. Comment with email to enter. Link to the contest and follow on Twitter for extra entries.

Ends 5/26

Win 1 of 5 copies of Stakes the Stilettos by Michelle Rowan from Readaholic. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for following, folllowing on Twitter, blogging/sidebar about contest, tweeting and following the new blog.

Ends 5/28

This week on Free Book Friday Teens, 5 signed copies of The New Kid by Temple Matthews are ready to win. Use the entry form at the left to enter.

Ends 5/31

Win 1 of 5 copies of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler from The Story Siren. Comment with email to enter.

Be sure to check out Bitten by Books for daily contests through the month of May to celebrate their one year blog anniversary.

Ends 6/1

The Story Siren as 2 copies of Drive Me Crazy by Erin Downing to win. Comment and answer question (with email) to enter.

Ends 6/2

3 more copies of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler are ready to win over at Reader Rabbit. Comment plus email to enter. Extra entry, up to 3, for linking to the contest.

For reading Mrs. Magoo's blogger profile of Bookworm, you can win a copy of Talia Talk by Christine Hurley Deriso. Comment with email to enter. Follow Mrs. Magoo's and Bookworm's blogs for an extra entry.

Ends 6/3

Presenting Lenore has the insane Penguin Fantasy Prize Pack all ready to win. The pack includes Dull Boy by Sarah Cross, Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow, Goddess Boot Camp by Tera Lynn Childs, Possessions by Nancy Holder, Dreamdark: Silksinger by Laini Taylor, Fire by Kristin Cashore and Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate. Comment with email and answer the question to enter. Extra entries for linking and following.

Reviewer X is giving you a chance to win all of Elizabeth Scott's books! Up for grabs are Bloom, Stealing Heaven, Love You Hate You Miss You, Perfect You, Something Maybe and Living Dead Girl. Comment with email to enter. For extra entries, link, link to Scott's Pub Story, link to X's Bloom review, joining Scott's Facebook group, link to Facebook group and surprise.

Sharon Loves Books and Cats is having a 'I'm happy to be going to BEA' Giveaway. Up for grabs is an ARC of Pretty Dead by Francesca Lia Block. If she reaches 200 followers by the end date, she'll throw in some surprise BEA goodies. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for new and old followers, blogging about the giveaway and commenting on upcoming BEA posts.

Ends 6/5

TV and Book Addict is giving away a copy of The Alchemist and the Magician/The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flemel by Michael Scott. Comment with email plus the answer to the question to enter. Extra entries for referring or being referred, following or already following, linking in a sidebar or posting about the contest and commenting with your highest scores.

Ends 6/6

Ravenous Reader has an extra copy of Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard to give away. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for following, blogging or linking in the sidebar and telling a story.

Ends 6/10

The Electrical Book Cafe and More as 5 copies of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler to give away. Comment with an answer to the question plus email to enter. Extra entries for following, linking and adding to blogroll.

And Now a Word from Sophie

Remember the interview I did over at Mrs. Magoo's site? Well it was an interview for a interview so here is the Q&A I did with Miss Sophie, aka Mrs. Magoo! Enjoy!

Why the name Mrs. Magoo?

It comes from the cartoon character Mr. Magoo, who has horrible eyesight.

What made you want to start a book blog?

I was hearing more and more about the blogosphere in general, and I thought it would be cool to start a blog. I decided to write about something I love: books. Little did I know such a community existed and would continue to grow! I was absolutely thrilled when I found out about it, of course, and I am so glad I started a book blog.

You're a pretty big name in the YA book blog community. What advice would you give to novice book bloggers like myself?

Hey, thanks! That just made my day! =) As for the question, be friendly and interact with other bloggers. This is something I myself need to do more. Relationships with other book bloggers are extremely important, especially if you want to become a well-known blogger quickly.

Everyone makes mistakes. What mistakes (or trials and errors) have you made with your site?

As I said, when I started blogging, I didn't know that this wonderful community existed. As a result, I wasted six precious months doing absolutely nothing to promote my blog, and in that time I had, what? Two readers? Once I started talking to other bloggers and doing link exchanges, traffic went up astronomically. My other mistake is something I still do to this day: I don't comment on other blogs enough. Every blogger wants comments, and if you comment on somebody else's blog they will most likely reciprocate. Unfortunately I rarely comment and that is something I definitely need to work on. So if anybody out there has a great system that works for them, please let me know!

Who do you look up to in the book blogging world?

Kristi from The Story Siren, Steph from Reviewer X, and Chelsea from The Page Flipper.

What don't you like to see in book bloggers?

Humongous egos. True, you're blogging to put out your opinion, but I don't want to hear what authors can or cannot write about, or what others can or cannot think. State your opinion, but say it in a tolerant way. I also can't stand it when I receive poorly spelled, one sentence emails basically saying "hi i just started a blog at XXXXX please link to it". Asking for a link exchange is 100% okay with me, but at least write a professional email!

What's your favorite book that you've reviewed?

Well, I can't just pick one! I loved Twilight, Uglies, Madapple, Willow, and many more...

Who's your favorite author that you've either met or interviewed?

Uh-oh... I think I'm going to have to back out of this one... Wouldn't want hurt feelings ;D

What do you like most about book blogging?

The fact that people read, care about, and value my opinion! I love it when I get a comment from somebody saying that they're going to check out a book, just because I recommended it!!

What do you like the least?

There's been a bit of negativity going around, what with ARC requesting and such, and I really don't like it. I'd rather just keep this blogging positive and encouraging for EVERYBODY!

Any other pearls of wisdom?

Be nice, be patient, and be intelligent, and you're all set!

Things I've Learned from Books + 3

Vampires have a tendency of converging on coastal towns. So if you don't want to die a sucky death, avoid the beach. Because, you know, vampires <3 it so.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

80s Awesomeness! ~ 12

Not literally, obviously. Although I wouldn't put it past some people to at least attempt it. A total valley girl vernacular piece of slang, gag me with a spoon is total 80s. If you said it today, people might think you a little imbalanced but it was the height of cool talk back in the day. At least if you were into side pony tails and off the shoulder shirts. Totally.

OMFG, this was really a contest??? Watch your ears. Some of those girls get supersonic with their OH MY GAWDS!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Freaky Friday :|: 12

Title: Petrified
Author: Joseph Locke
Published: December 1991
Pages: 176
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Editorial Reviews:
Four high school seniors keep the pact they made six years earlier by reuniting in the town they all moved away from. The friends are hoping that Karin Potter, a shy outcast once included in their group, will join them, until Mrs. Potter, Karin's strange, embittered mother, tells them that her daughter has committed suicide. The four are devastated by the news, yet are soon faced with a more immediate concern: after breaking into the now-abandoned Waxhouse, a favorite childhood hangout, they must escape from a maniac who is lurking in the building and has sealed its exits. A grisly murder is followed by a near-fatality as Locke ( Kill the Teacher's Pet ) depicts the madness of the criminally insane. Unfortunately, little happens until the novel's midpoint, and except for the impulsive Bret, there's not much character delineation among the friends. The resolution also sidesteps credibility (an alive, albeit weakened, Karin breaks down a padlocked door), but horror story aficionados may forgive these shortcomings. Ages 12-up. - Publisher's Weekly (from

Gr 8-10-- A lackluster, farfetched, gratuitously violent thriller. Best friends Erika, Bret, Lynda, and Leslie, all of whom are moving away from town for various reasons, meet together for one last visit to their favorite hangout, a wax museum called the Waxhouse. They make plans for a reunion, to be held during Christmas vacation of their senior year in high school. Six years later, they discover the Waxhouse closed with its windows boarded. They break in, only to find themselves locked in and stalked by a maniacal adversary. Readers are led through stilted, unimaginative prose to the graphic, stabbing death of one of the girls. That four teenage girls would pry boards off a window and break into a cold, dirty, unlit, ghostly manor to eat junk food and gossip, when they could be in a warm, motel room, requires too much suspension of disbelief (even if their parents did allow the unchaperoned, cross-country trip). Stick to Christopher Pike's and R. L. Stine's books, where evil also lurks, but plots and characters are better developed. - School Library Journal (from
This book sounds like the precursor to a lot of the horror movies around today: House of Wax, the Saw franchise, Cabin Fever and any number of gore = horror movies being pumped out nowadays. I'm more of a fan of the horror that really scares instead of just makes me want to puke on myself but, given these reviews, I'm actually intrigued to read it. I've read more contrived plots.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Who Wants to Shindig at BEA?

Thanks to Jess, I do believe I'll be making a pit stop at BEA. While I have my pass, it can still be declined but I have a feeling it won't. She and I were emailing back and forth last night when she contacted the guy that approves and declines the applications. She heard back from him in record time so I'm lead to believe he's already seen my application. I've yet to hear from him, which is a good thing. So I'm just going to keep moseying on as if I'm good to go.

Getting a hair cut tomorrow. Pushed back a doctor's appointment to do it (non-essential) because I wouldn't have been able to get in with my guy until June. Not going to help me. Not that I really need a hair cut but when it's short like this, it need a refresher more often. I got next Friday off from work and am amping myself up now to wake up at 4 so I can be at Javits for 9. Yay for being able to sleep on the train. I'm also borrowing my mom's big ass duffel bag with wheels for the event. I don't think my back pack will cut it. And did I mention this thing as wheels? So at least my shoulders won't die by the end of the day.

I really have to give the credit to the book blogging community as a whole for this. Because of it's boom within the past year or so, I don't think I would have been able to register as a YA book blogger a year or two ago without getting laughed at. Publishers now see book blogging as a viable (and cheap) means of promotion so why not get them involved, right? I mean, a bunch of our fellows are manning a booth and on Saturday there's a discussion panel on the very topic. Unfortunately I won't be there to see it but I'm sure it'll be interesting!

I'm very excited for this! I'm also taking a page out of Jess's book and making myself a t-shirt as a means of self-promotion (I will be there under a press badge so I might as well look the part, right?). I'm all hooked up at Cafepress but at this point, I'd be paying out the backside in shipping to get the shirt to me in time so I'm just going to go buy myself a t-shirt, some iron-on transfer sheets and make the thing myself. Yay for my dad having a good printer because mine would rather eat paper than print on it. I'll post the designs when I make them this weekend (prepare yourself for neon, I feel like going a little 80s).

So if any of you guys are going to be there on Friday, let me know and we can meet up. I know Lenore's manning the booth that day in the morning so I'll be stopping by to see her. Anyone else? Anybody? Anybody?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Author Bites - Interview with Beth Fantaskey

I did this interview on my writing blog back in January, before I had this blog and before I even read Jessica's Guide. I don't know what it was about this book that drew me in immediately but I had to know more about the author. Since I hadn't read the book yet, the questions are a little more general and since it was for my writing blog, a little more writing-centric. So this'll probably be something a little different than your standard author interview on other book blogs in that respect. Enjoy!


What got you to start writing? Was it something you’ve always done or did you just wake up one day and say ‘I want to write a novel’?

Actually, I’ve been writing professionally for my entire adult life. I’ve done everything from political speechwriting to newspaper reporting, so writing a novel just seemed like the next step in my career. I used to go into book stores and think, “I would love to do that . . .” So I tried!

Is “Jessica” your first novel or do you have manuscripts in your trunk? If you do, how many did you have to write before snagging an agent?

Like everybody, I wrote a few manuscripts that were mainly experiences. I think “Jessica’s Guide” was my third complete manuscript.

Donna’s Note–I’m telling you, three’s the magic number here.

How do you balance writing in your life? Is it something you make time for or when you have a spare second?

Writing really is my job. And as a freelancer, I depend on it for my income . . .the more I write, the more I get to eat! It’s definitely a top priority in my life.

Are you a pen and paper or a fingers and keyboard type of writer?

Oh, gosh - keyboard. I don’t know how authors like Dickens did it, writing 400-page manuscripts by hand. He must have had the world’s worst writer’s cramp, 24/7. And I can’t imagine not being able to just mark, say, an entire hour’s worth of text and hit “delete,” when necessary!

Donna’s Note–LOL! That’s how I’ve written my entire writing life and this past November, for NaNo, was the one and only time my wrist started to cramp.

Any websites or books you want to recommend that helped you as a writer?

My favorite resource is a dog-eared, 1961 Rodale Synonym Finder. It has these wonderful, sort of archaic expressions that somehow inspire me to think differently about how to express things.

What’s the single best piece of advice about writing that you’ve ever received?

Don’t mess around cleaning your house or trying to make everything around you “perfect” before you write. Those types of things are just distractions. Just sit down and DO IT.

How do you push through the “OMG this sucks! EPIC FAIL!” moments of self-mutilation we all have in writing?

I have a pretty standard ritual for that. I go to the gym, get on the treadmill and listen to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” or Social Distortion’s “Live Before You Die,” run really fast, and get all fired up about doing my best . . . which is all we can really do, right?? Then I just try to work again, before the endorphins wear off.

Did you know you were always a YA writer or was it something that you just realized one day?

Actually, the characters of Jessica and Lucius dictated my path into YA. I wanted to write their story, and that made me a YA writer, sort of by default. I’m glad to be here, though! I love the way YA readers are so eager to interact with authors.

If you could dip one author in gold and worship him or her, who would it be and why?

Although I’m a HUGE fan of Alexandre Dumas, I would have to say the aforementioned Charles Dickens. His work is so emotional, and timeless, and although I’ve read “The Pickwick Papers” Christmas scene every Christmas for about 10 years, I still cry. That’s amazing talent, in my opinion.

What did you stress over more: the novel or the query?

The novel, definitely. I was so doubtful that the query would work that I just sort of dashed it off, if I remember right.

Care to share your hook that you used in your query?

I don’t remember exactly, but it was something on the bad-vampire-humor-side, like, “Sometimes love sucks - and that can be a good thing.” Looking back, I think it was a little risky! I probably wouldn’t recommend being so off-the-cuff.

What was your initial reaction when you got “the call” #1 from your current agent and #2 from your agent about the sale of “Jessica”?

I had a complete, embarrassing freak out when my agent called to say that she wanted to represent me. It was such a thrill. The, when she sold the book, I think my heart stopped. I was so overwhelmed that I kept it a secret for the longest time. I just kept thinking, “This can’t really be happening . . .”

No doubt “Jessica” will be compared to the “Twilight” series, as Publisher’s Weekly has already done in passing. How do you feel about that?

“Twilight is a cultural phenomenon - a force of nature - so I’m flattered by any comparisons, but especially happy about contrasts. I love it when somebody e-mails to say, “I liked that your book had the intense romance of “Twilight,” but had humor in it, too,” or something like that.

Are there any particular scenes in “Jessica” that you didn’t want to cut but knew they had to go?

Hmm . . . Actually, I remember adding, more than cutting, scenes, and I loved the additions, like Jess’s breakup with Jake, which wasn’t in my original manuscript.

Do you find that your characters have a tendency of getting away from you and hijacking the story, leading down a foreign road that you never even thought of taking?

Sure, that definitely happens . . . It’s weird how people you invent can surprise you. I guess that’s just testament to how real they become.

Which character had the loudest voice that just wouldn’t shut up?

Lucius is definitely a forceful presence . . . but I liked to hear him talk! I was always happy to write his letters.

You can only choose one: which one of your characters is your favorite?

I love Jess, and even Faith, but I’d have to say Lucius. I created him, and he still fascinates me!

Aside from writing, what’s another passion of yours?

Music. I’m totally un-musical, but I can spend hours just listening to my iPod and daydreaming.

Crunchy or smooth peanut butter?

Smooth . . . I think I’m too lazy to actually chew peanut butter.

How about a guilty pleasure. Care to spill one of those?

Every Friday night, I get a big stack of women’s magazines - the kind you buy next to grocery store aisles - and some kind of really bad fast food like a huge Big Mac, and I sit for about two hours stuffing my face and reading about make up and clothes and hairstyles. It’s my favorite time of the week . . .

What’s your favorite movie?

Right now it’s “The Princess Bride.” I just discovered it, years after its release, and I think it’s such a great blend of comedy, romance, and adventure. I love it!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cathy's Book by Sean Stewart, Jordan Weisman and Cathy Briggs

First published in 2006.

If your name isn't Emma, put this book down, BACK OFF, and nobody gets hurt!

Emma - I know it all sounds crazy. You (and Mom!) will be wondering where I've been
disappearing to, and when I'll be back. That's why I'm leaving you all this evidence - in case something happens and I DON'T come back.

Look at everything in my book. Call the phone numbers. Check out the websites. But you can't tell ANYBODY about it, unless you want to end up over your head, like me.

So don't worry. I'll be OK (I think). Hey, maybe this is the beginning of a new life for me. For sure it's the end of the old one.

Call me.

Love, Cathy (book back blurb)

I caught this one on the bargain shelf at Barnes and Noble. The whole packaging just drew me in (not to mention the $6 price!). The drawings, the package of stuff at the beginning, the whole journal set-up. For the price, I decided to give it a try.

Well this was definitely an interesting one. I loved Cathy's voice even though her persistence in the whole situation got a little grating every once in a while. I have to agree with her mom in the "you better find a rich guy to support you" mantra because of her tendency to brush off her studies. What can I say? I'm a school person. And in a world where the Bachelor's degree is the new high school diploma, trashing out on school to dream and stalk an ex-boyfriend is not the best of ideas. I'm a creative, dreamy type of person but I'm not deluded enough to think my dreaming will pay my bills. So the story tweaked that logical side of my brain every so often. But not nearly enough to give up on it. Not even close.

I really liked all of the characters, especially Mr. Tsao, but Emma, well, I didn't see what Cathy saw in her. Her ego-maniacal insistence to carry out her 30/30 plan at the expense of Cathy, I didn't see that "I'm there for you, now you need to be there for me" type of thing. Offering a helping hand is one thing. Offering yourself up to marry a rich psycho just to help your friend fulfill her superficial dream of being rich so she doesn't have to be poor is a little much. Wasn't too fond of that dynamic.

But aside from that, it was a really interesting story. I kept getting really frustrated because I wanted more information and more explanation that what we were given but thus is the burden of remaining in first person. We only know what Cathy knows and how frustrating it must be for her being in the middle of it! I was right there with her the entire time, especially every time she went to San Francisco. I love San Francisco! I blew through this book because I just kept wanting to find out what was going to happen next. And I love the set-up of the entries and their little titles.

I love the little doodles throughout the book and I even pulled up some of the websites in all the paperwork that came with the book. What I especially liked was the ending. SO didn't see that one coming! I won't spoil it but what I will say is I love the scientific aspect of a very prevalent trope in a saturated YA market. It was very refreshing, especially the build-up to it all. It leads you down one road only to have a bum-rusher come along and thrust you into another lane at the very last second. Very awesome.

If you can find this in the bargain bin like I did, I highly recommend snatching it up. If not, buy it anyway. It's money well spent.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Author Bites - Beth Fantaskey on Mob Rule

This time around on Author Bites it's all about Beth Fantaskey and mob mentality. As you all know (if you don't, time to crawl out from under that rock), Beth is the author of the marvelous Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side and while it's filled with snark and high school drama, it taps into some pretty serious issues like mob rule (not THE mob, just A mob) and being different. Read on to find out what Beth has to say.

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
is, of course, a love story. But it’s also about being different, whether you’re a size ten in a society that prizes size two – or a vampire prince walking through a high school cafeteria.

I am really drawn to that theme, and to people who have the courage to stand out.

I encourage my kids to wear the crazy, mismatched outfits they love, or do their hair up in ponytails that sprout all over their heads, or take drama when everybody else is playing soccer.

And, although I’m shy, I try, in my own way, to take small stands against conformity. A few years ago, I had a job with this awesome dental plan, and one of my friends kept saying, “You should get braces! Fix that crooked tooth!”

But I kind of like my crooked tooth. It might not be traditionally “pretty,” but it’s ME.

And in the end, I kept my face the way it’s been since I was a kid. My little rebellion.

And being REALLY different… well, that takes guts. I applaud people who live on their own terms. That’s why, when Lucius first walks through the cafeteria, and students edge away, I stress that he doesn’t get embarrassed. He interprets their cringing as deference to his difference.

Of course, being different can be risky.

For all the efforts to boost “tolerance,” a lot of people still struggle with accepting those who don’t look, sound or act like “we” do. And if you don’t think this can get downright dangerous, just read the news. Recently, a bunch of Pennsylvania high school kids got into a fight with an immigrant boy, racial slurs flew, and the outnumbered “outsider” ended up dead.

Scary, scary stuff. But it happens.

That’s why, in Jessica’s Guide, I included a fairly literal interpretation of the classic movie scene, where the villagers descend with pitchforks and torches to expel the monster – the “different” being – from their midst.

At first glance, that might seem over the top. But is it, really?

I’m not preaching. I’ve edged away, too, from difference. Who hasn’t? But our reaction to different people… it’s definitely worth trying to think about, before we act.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Contest Slurry

Yeah, don't ask about the title. I have no idea. That's what happens when I play brain Boggle.

Anyway, I don't know how many people utilize or even realize about the massive list of contests I have in my sidebar but I figured a weekly round-up of the recent one I've found would be a good way to draw attention to it. So expect this every week from now on because I usually come across quite a few. Anything with an asterisk next to it in the sidebar is new as of every Monday.

Ends 5/17 (hurry, you don't have much time left!)

Mrs. Magoo has a copy of Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande to give away. Pretty standard to win. Watch the whole of the video and post a comment with your email. For extra entries, link to the contest and follow Mrs. Magoo on Twitter.

Ends 5/19

A signed hardcover copy of Waiting for You by Susane Colasanti is up for grabs at Pop Culture Junkie. To enter, you need to share a favorite school memory.

Ends 5/20

A Maze of Books is giving away a copy of Sea Change by Aimee Friedman. To enter, comment with your email saying why you need to have the book. Extra entries for following (new and old), promoting the contest and linking in your sidebar.

Ends 5/22

Lauren's giving away a copy of How to Buy a Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson from her Crammed Bookshelf. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for following/subscribing (new and old), linking and adding to blogroll.

Ends 5/25

TV and Book Addict are giving away a copy of A Kiss in Time by Alex Finn. Comment with email to enter (answering the question is optional). Extra entries for following (new and old).

Ends 5/27

My very own Buy a Book, Win a Book contest. Buy a book to donate to this charity and be entered to win a book of your choice. Comment letting me know you bought and I must be emailed some kind of proof to validate. litbites at yahoo dot com

Ends 5/28

Win a personalized signed UK copy of Out of the Blue by Val Rutt. Comment with email to enter.

A hardcover copy of Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender is up for grabs on Shalonda's Blog. Comment with email telling your scariest movie/story/both you've encountered. Bonus entries for blogging or linking to the contest or being a follower (new or old).

Ends 5/29

Addicted to Books has The Princess Plot by Kirsten Boie, The Glass Maker's Daughter by V Briceland and a hardcover of Watersmeet by Ellen Jensen Abbott ready to win. These are individual contests but one person can win all three. To enter, comment with email answering their respective questions. Extra entries for following, link to the contest and referring a friend.

Ends 5/30

Beth Fantaskey is having her So Much Better Than 'Nice' Giveaway in honor of her new website. You can win a signed copy of Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, Pennsylvania Dutch cherry bites, a teen-sized box of local chocolate, a tin of Vampire-Repelling Garlic Mints, a bookmark with Jessica cover art on it and the opening pages of Beth's next book, Jekyl Loves Hyde hot off her computer printer.

Ends 5/31

Shooting Stars Mag has a signed hardcover copy of Dull Boy by Sarah Cross and The Last Days of Krypton up for grabs. To enter, comment with email answering the posted question and fill in the speech bubble.

Wrighty's Reads is having a giant Mother's Day giveaway. There will be a total of fifteen winners so your chances are good! There are three sets of books to be won: set #1 - Miracles of Motherhood, Odd Mom Out by Jane Porter, Mommy Grace by Sheila Schuller Coleman, Beginner's Greek by James Collins and The Road Home by Rose Tremain; set #2 - B as in Beauty by Alberto Ferreras, Into the Beautiful North by Luid Urrea, Hungry Woman in Paris by Josefina Lopez, The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos by Margaret Mascarenhas and Houston, We Have a ProblemFree Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee, Trail of Crumbs by Kim Sunee, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer Lee, Transparency by Frances Hwang and Strangers from a Different Shore by Ronald Takaki.

A signed copy of How to Buy a Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson is ready to win on The Book Muncher. Comment with email to enter.

Ends 6/1

Win one of 50 copies of The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams from Reviewer X. To enter, comment with email. Extra entries for linking to the review, linking to the contest and becoming a Facebook friend. Other special circumstances apply so read the post for more details.

Ends 6/2

The Page Flipper has a couple of copies of Drive Me Crazy by Erin Downing to win. To enter, comment with email answering the question posted.

Books By Their Cover has five copies of Cathy's Ring by Jordan Weisman, Sean Stewart and Cathy Brigg. Comment with email to win. For extra entries, referring someone and being referred.

Ends 6/15

Shooting Stars Mag also has a chance to win some lovely jewelry. You can win a $25 gift certificate to the showcased store and free shipping on one item (excluding large photograph prints). To enter, comment with email detailing your favorite item from the store.
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