Friday, July 31, 2009

And the Winner is . . .

The winner of my Alphas contest is . . .


Congratulations! I'll be emailing you shortly. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Freaky Friday :|: 22

Title: Year of the Cat Book 1: The Dream
Author: Zoe Daniels
Published: April 1995
Publisher: Penguin Group
Pages: 230
The first in a terrifying new trilogy. Holly Callison arrives at Los Gatos High and hears whispers about the legend of a panther. At night, she begins to dream that she is being hunted by the powerful beast. During the day, she falls under the spell of a dangerous boy named Alex, whose wild nature unlocks the savage nature of Holly's true self. (from
While the cover is a bit of a turn-off, the summary sounds really interesting, especially since it's set in my neck of the California woods!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Reading Challenge + Reminder!

Ashley over at Books Makes Great Lovers! is hosting another 12 hour reading challenge starting Friday at 6 pm and ending on Sunday at 11:59 pm (there's a reason for that). For more information on joining up, give her a shout!

I'm still going back and forth as to whether I want to join or not. I'm leaning towards not right now. If it were next weekend I'd probably do it but, like always it seems, I'm short on time this weekend.

And just to remind you, today's the last day to enter my Alphas contest! Be sure to get your entries in by midnight tonight!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

And the Winners Are . . .

The winners of my Strange But True America contest are . . .

Lilibeth Ramos and Irma!!!

Congratulations! I'll email you guys shortly.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fade to Blue by Sean Beaudoin + Contest + Reminder!

Pub date - August, 2009 (I want to say 25th but I'm not positive)

Sophie Blue is sarcastic, artistic, and always decked out in black leather and Midnight Noir lipstick. A year ago on her birthday, her dad left. Or spontaneously combusted. Or joined an Amazonian cult. Either way, it's sorta bad timing, since a scary Popsicle truck with tinted windows has started circling the house.

Kenny Fade is a basketball god. He's got the cheerleader, the scoring title, the matching sweat suit, and sneakers that cost more than his Jeep. He's the guy all the ladies (and their mommas) want. Bad.

Sophie Blue and Kenny Fade don't have a thing in common. Aside from being reasonably sure they're losing their minds.
(book flap blurb)

This book is nine different level of FUCKING AWESOME! I don't know what's better; the total snark attack or the fact that the plot is so FUBAR that you have to read it again and again and again because it's twisted your brain into a knot and no matter how much you squint, you just can't untie it.

This is not a book you can just skim through because if you do, you'll be more lost than Hansel and Gretel. You have to pay attention. And if you do, you will be amply rewarded and quite possibly become a Sean Beadoin fangirl/boy by the end of it.

It starts off so linear. A little odd, but linear, normal. Your regular, slightly funky story. And then the weird shit gets weirder but running right along next to it, the fuzziness of all of the situations starts to get clearer. I'm sure that makes zero sense. Weirder and weirder but clearer and clearer. I'm not about to spoil and if I say anything about anything, it'll give it away. Just trust me on this.

I love the language of the characters. It's probably the most realistic I've read in any YA book (which is one big bucket of ironic considering the story, read it and you'll get me). It's not that faux trying-to-be-hip-and-current language that the likes of other YA books try to sound like. The dialogue, the jam, just read so naturally. The OS's upspeak is the shit. Because you know you know someone that sounds like they end all their sentences in questions. You know you do. But how often is that portrayed in YA despite the fact that it goes on all the time? Rarely. You get authors trying to bank on the dialogue but never on the actual patterns. Beaudoin does that. He doesn't rely on colloquialisms of the day to get through. It's all about sentence structure. You know "they" say that that good writers can portray accents not through phonetics but through structure. And it's true.

And this is quite possibly one of the most intricately written books I've ever read. And not just in YA. There is nothing simple in this book despite how simple it appears or how you think you've got it all figured out. You're wrong. The skill that a writer needs to write something so non-linear and so utterly fucked up but keep it this intact and understandable is phenomenal. It makes my writing so one dimensional and makes Beaudoin's look like a nine-sided Rubik's Cube. Sure, everything comes together in the end . . . except there's that one stupid red square in with all those yellows that just . . . won't . . . go . . . back . . .

I have nothing to complain about with this book. And you all know me. Even if I love it there's usually something I can point out. Nope. Not here. I wouldn't call it perfect but this is the kind of writing I'm jealous of. If you like books that really make you think while holding you on the edge of your seat while you flip page after page after page because it's your crack, read this. Read it now. Even the comic in the middle is wicked. A book with pictures! Yay! But seriously. Read it.


You want a signed copy of Fade to Blue? Here's your chance. Comment with your email and answer the following question to enter - If you could be anyone else, who would you be and why? You must answer the question for your entry to count.

+ 1 for new followers
+2 for current followers
+2 for linking to the contest (up to three links for a total of 6 points)

I want to stress that this contest is open to US residents only! Ends August 18th.


Today is the last day to enter my Strange But True American contest! Be sure to get your entries in by midnight, EST!

Monday, July 27, 2009

I Haz Awardz!

Yay! I feel loved.

From Christina at Flip the Page! Book Reviews and Steph at Hey! Teenager of the Year, I received the Kreativ Blogger Award! Thank you!

This is also a meme, so here are the rules: If you accept it, you are supposed to list seven of your favorite things and nominate seven blogs that deserve this award.

My seven favorite things are . . .

1. Santa Cruz
2. Writing
3. My dog
4. Sunsets
5. Flying
6. Relaxing
7. Food

And my other award, the Humane Award, came from Steph from Hey! Teenager of the Year again and and Miss Cindy from Simple Life and Reading. Thank you!

This award is to honor certain bloggers that are kindhearted individuals. They regularly take part in my blog and always leave the sweetest comments. If it wasn't for them, my site would just be an ordinary book review blog. Their blogs are also amazing and are tastefully done on a daily basis. I thank them and look forward to our growing friendship through the blog world.

Thank you guys so much!

For both of these I'm just going to open them up. I'm appreciative of all of my readers and commenters, who just happen to be bloggers themselves, and my blog wouldn't be what it is without them. So if you see this post, feel free to take one of these (or both of them!) awards and consider yourself loved!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Contest Slurry

I can haz contests nao.

Ends ??? (enter raight nao)

Persistence of Memory by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes - Chelsea at The Page Flipper

The complete Elite series by Jennifer Banash, second season DVD of Nip/Tuck, Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr, Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway, Don't You Forget About Me by Cecily von Zeigesar and a Jamba Juice gift card - Liviania at In Bed with Books

Ends 7/26 (time not ur friend)

Two copies of The Girl's Guide to Rocking by Jessica Hopper - Sophie at Mrs. Magoo Reads

Ends 7/29

An ARC of Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink - Jacqueline at The Eclectic Book Lover

Ends 7/30

Two signed copies of Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted - Free Book Friday Teens

Ends 7/31

Evermore by Alyson Noel - Taste Life Twice

Ends 8/2

Gorgeous by Rachel Vail and It's Not You, It's Me by Kerry Cohen Hoffman - Shalonda at Shalonda's Blog

Ends 8/6

Three copies of Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci - Carrie at Carrie's YA Bookshelf

A hardcover copy of The Sweet Life of Stella Madison by Lara M. Zeises - Alea at Pop Culture Junkie

Ends 8/7

Coffeehosue Angel and Fortune's Magic Farm by Suzanne Selfors - Fantastic Book Review

Ends 8/9

Castration Celebration by Jake Wizner, La Petite Four by Regina Scott, The ABCs of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro, Slept Away by Julie Kraut, The Diamonds by Ted Michael, (Re)Cycler by Lauren McLaughlin, Work What You Got by Stephanie Perry Moore, Hancock Park by Isabel Kaplan and 30 Days to Finding and Keeping Sassy Sidekicks and BFFs by Clea Hantman - Sophie at Mrs. Magoo Reads

Ends 8/10

Three copies of Sideshow edited by Deborah Noyes - Lauren at Shooting Stars Mag

The Society of S by Susan Hubbard - Eleni at La Femme Readers

Ends 8/13

The Sentinels: Fortunes of War by Gordon Zuckerman - Right here on Bites

Ends 8/14

Five copies of Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci - Wdebo at The Electrical Book Cafe

Ends 8/16

Red to Black by Alex Dryden - Right here on Bites

Ends 8/17

The Ever Breath by Julianna Baggot - Sophie at Mrs. Magoo Reads and Kristen at BookWorming in the 21st Century

Red to Black by Alex Dryden + Contest!

Pub date: September, 2009

Finn is a veteran operative for MI6, stationed in Moscow. In the guise of an amiable trade secretary, he has penetrated deep into the dangerous labyrinth that is Russia under Vladimir Putin to discover some of its darkest secrets, thanks to a high-level source deep within the Kremlin.

The youngest female colonel in the KGB, Anna is the ambitious daughter of one of the former Soviet Union's elite espionage families. Charged with helping to make Russia strong again under Putin, she is ordered to spy on Finn and discover the identity of his mole.

At the dawn of the new millennium, these adversaries find themselves brought together by an unexpected love that becomes the only truth they can trust. When Finn uncovers a shocking and ingenious plan - hatched in the depths of the Cold War - to control the European continent and shift the balance of world power, he and Anna are thrust into a deadly plot in which friend and foe wear the same face. With time running out, they will race across Europe and risk everything - career, reputation, and even their own lives - to expose the terrifying truth.
(book back blurb)

After The Sentinels, I just didn't have the patience to actually get through this one. I didn't even get 100 pages in before I gave up on it. Despite the larger font and even larger margins, it was like sludging through molasses and when you get to a point where you're dreading to pick up and read anymore of a book, it's time to stop reading it.

It was nearly pure exposition up until my stopping point, and nonlinear at that. The stories the MC kept telling were jumping all over the time line and I found myself having a hard time keeping track of what happened when and where. If you're a Russian history buff, I'm sure it wouldn't have been a problem. Seeing as I'm not, the facts of the story kept getting lost on me because I couldn't remember them.

I wish the MC had a little more emotion. Maybe she does and it doesn't appear until later in the book, because that this point, not all that much has happened so there isn't much to get worked up over. But right now, she's kind of blah and doesn't react much one way or another to what she does see and/or do. But I won't know because I just can't bring myself to keep reading. I don't have the patience and I have better books to read in my TBR pile.

I'm not going to rate this one because it's not fair to. It could rightly get amazing after all the exposition's out. I just don't have the patience to wait that long.


You want to give it a whirl? All yours. Just leave a comment with your email. I hope it works out better for you! Contest will end August 16th.

Things I've Learned from Books + 12

Avoid batshitty nurses. What they want to inject in you will not do you any good. Of that I promise.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Johnny Depp is a Clown from Hell

And I will officially have nightmares after watching the trailer for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. Of course I'll go see the movie because it looks all sorts of funked up and freaked out and I love that kind of stuff. But that also means subjecting myself to the crazy clown make-up on not only Depp but Helena Bonham-Carter. Holy crap. Those are some serious therapy sessions right there. Click here to see a "Burton-ized" piece of Alice's Wonderland.

80s Awesomeness! ~ 21


While it wasn't invented in the 80s, it certainly hit a boom then. That can't be denied. Tony Hawk was everywhere and skateboarding movies were all over the place. If you weren't punk, a Valley Girl or a surfer, you were probably a skateboarder. I think it's safe to say the movement had it's first good start in the 80s.

Tony Hawk was in both of these!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Freaky Friday :|: 21

Title: The Attic (Nightmare Inn #4)
Author: T.S. Rue
Published: September 1993
Publisher: HarperCollins Publisher
Pages: 176
Tessa Gilbert and her three best friends are planning a weekend of total fun. They even get a special deal at the New Arcadia Inn. Taking it is their first mistake. As soon as the girls arrive at the inn, they hear screams - bloodcurdling screams. Screams coming from the attic. They have to check it out. Mistake number two. Now Tessa's friends are being murdered one by one. When Tessa tries to escape, she discovers there is no way out... will she ever get out of the Nightmare Inn? (from
Eh. It could go one way or another. I'd still read it for the ultimate cheese factor you know is bleuing in there. Cheese can be creepy too.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Sentinels: Fortunes of War by Gordon Zuckerman + Contest!

First published in July, 2009.

In the financial devastation of the 1930s, a greedy, power-hungry group of German industrialists plot to usher in the National Socialist Party in order to rearm Germany and reap the financial rewards - leading to the rise of Hitler. The Six Sentinels, graduates of an elite American doctoral program who have ties to the global financial community, uncover the industrialists' plan to launder their fortunes of war in order to support a new nefarious scheme. In a daring strategy of Robin Hood style thievery, the Sentinels put their lives on the line to serve justice - and thus become embroiled in a dangerous and violent international conspiracy. (book back blurb)

Sounds good, right? All espionage-y and sneaky and dangerous? The blurb sounds exciting!

And then you start reading it . . .

And realize it's the dullest fucking espionage book in the history of the world. Well, I shouldn't say that. I don't read very many of these kinds of books but you'd think, considering the subject, it'd be relatively interesting and fast paced, right?


The only reason I read it quickly was because it's in a larger font with big margins. Zoomed right through it. Thank god.

This book is PURE telling. PURE. TELLING. From the entire book I didn't give a shit about one character. I had no idea what they were going through except what was being told to me. One of the chicks was kidnapped and held hostage and during that time, she slowly lost her mind. Do I feel any of that? Nope. I'm barely told any of it. I just keep getting told her hair's longer, her nails are longer, she's getting weaker, and she has to stay focused. When she's rescued, all of a sudden she's near catatonic. WTF? When did that happen? Trying to escape writing the hard parts, are we?

Another girl has to escape her captors by cross country skiing through the Alps. Do I feel how cold she is or how scared shitless she is? Nope. I'm just told she's huddled under a tarp, waiting for the dudes to pass.

One of the guys is in love with two women. Apparently he was this girl-jumping French playboy and now not only is he in a pickle with some Germans, he's genuinely fallen in love with two women. Do I feel any of this? Of course not. Why would I? I'm simply told that he has sex with one, has sex with the other, oh what is he to do?

I felt nothing throughout the entire book. No suspense, no adrenaline rush, no giving a shit about any of the characters. It just plain sucked. In the right hands, this could have been an awesome book. You know, with someone that knows the proper sentence constructs that creates the element of suspense. Not to mention knows what "show, don't tell" means.

Really, I was waiting for one of the Germans to just up and stab someone to make it interesting. No dice. And apparently everyone sounds the same in this little spy universe. Not sure why.

You know, maybe reading so much YA has completely sapped my patience with adult books. Maybe there's a literary value here that I'm missing. But I really don't think that's going to change the fact that I was talked at for the entire book.



There's gotta be someone that wants to take this off my hands. Please? Just leave a comment with your email to enter. Ends August 13th.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Who Drives YA Sales?

It's been in a few articles lately about how much teen reading is up because of the booming YA sales that have been going on. But really, are the teens really the ones that are reading?

Out of all the YA book bloggers out there, how many of them are actually teenagers and how many, like the rest of us, aren't? How many more adults are getting over the supposed "shame" of shopping in the YA section of the book store and realizing that there are some awesome books to be read over there? Just how many teens are really buying those book and how many of them are adults?

I can tell you, of the YA book bloggers on my blogroll, only a handful are actually teens. So how are "those people" supposed to accurately gauge teen reading if us adults are muddling those numbers? Are they polling high schools and middle schools? Wouldn't that be a better representation of the numbers than just counting sales? Should the buyer give their age when purchasing young adult books so the Nielson of book stores can count the numbers? I pity the clerks that have to ask that question.

So are YA sales really up in the teen market? Or are adults just getting wise? What do you think?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Your regularly scheduled posting . . .

Will return tomorrow when I don't have a sinus/alcohol headache. One drink. Just one. God, I've gotten weak. (And I had trouble spelling regularly . . . WTF?)

Monday, July 20, 2009

And the Winner is . . .

The winner for my contest for an ARC of Ash by Malinda Lo is . . .


Congratulations! I'll be contacting you shortly.

And just a reminder to everyone that enters my contests from here on out, please be sure to read the entry instructions before entering. I had to disqualify a few people because they didn't answer the question for this one. It wasn't an option this time around! You can do all the extra points you want but answering that question was your entry into the contest. No answer, no dice. And, um, don't try to enter twice by using a name and then again as anonymous. I don't know if that was a mistake or intentional and trying to slip it by me (honestly, it looked like the latter) but it's a little smarmy. If you need to correct something in a previous comment you made, either delete it and do it again or just make another comment letting me know.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Contest Slurry

Ends 7/19 (enter nao)

Why I Let My Hair Grow Out by Maryrose Wood - Sophie at Mrs. Magoo Reads

Ends 7/20 (a little more time, but enter nao)

Bloody Good by Georgia Evans - Lili at ChicaReader

Ends 7/21

Either Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Keuhnert or Coffehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors - Lizzie at The Book Obsession

Ends 7/23

Five signed copies of The Comeback by Marlene Perez - Free Book Friday Teens

Ends 7/26

A signed ARC of The Hollow by Jessica Verday - Lee at Lee A Verday's Book/Writing Blog

Four signed copies of Cold Streak by Lewis Aleman - Eleni at La Femme Readers

Ends 7/28

Three books from the 31 on the pre-order list - Fantastic Book Review

Ends 7/30

ARC of Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen - Alea at Pop Culture Junkie

Ends 7/31

Two prize packs that include Surf School by Pam Macmillan and Surf Sisters by Laurine Croasdale - Steph at Hey! Teenager of the Year

Signed copy of My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent - Darcy at Library Lounge Lizard

Ends 8/1

Massive ALA prize pack - Kristi at The Story Siren

Ends 8/8

ARC of How Shall I Tell the Dog? by Miles Kington - Right here on Bites

Added to the Pile + 9 + Reminder!

Just to remind you all, my contest for Ash by Malinda Lo ends tonight at midnight EST so be sure to get your entries in before then!

I finally got my book from my lovely Canadian friend and you can bet your ass you're not going to be finding any pussy glitterpires in this one (unless it's in the "worst" section).

The Girls' Guide to Vampires - All you need to know about the original bad boys by Barb Karg

Loving a vampire can suck.

The good news is: He's tall, dark and handsome.

The bad news is: He's an arrogant bloodsucker who comes out at night . . .

. . . which makes dating difficult because you have a curfew! How do you explain this to your family? Your friends? Will he leave you for an immortal hottie? No worries - in The Girl's Guide to Vampires, you'll learn everything you need to know about these naughty night stalkers, including:
  • How to spot a vampire
  • What to do when he sets his fangs on you
  • How to avoid his devastating charm
  • How to destroy a vampire (before he destroys you!)
  • The best - and worst - vampire books, TV shows and films
  • Tales from girls who have encountered vampires
Forget about resisting the biting spell of the undead. With The Girl's Guide to Vampires you can surrender to the night - and true blood.

Things I've Learned from Books + 11

Non-linear exposition is an excellent way to get the start of your story across . . . for at least 100 pages of reading . . . because it won't confuse your reader at all. Nope. No confusion or crossed eyes or WTF?'s. They'll get it . . . even if they have to read the book 17 times to do so.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

How Shall I Tell the Dog? by Miles Kington + Contest!

Published July, 2009.

When some people are told they have only a few months to live, they might travel around the world or quietly put their affairs in order. When it happened at the age of 66 to Miles Kington - one of England's best-loved humorists - he did what he did best, offering wry, laugh-out-loud observations about his situation. Following his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, Kington embarked on How Shall I Tell the Dog?, written as a series of letters to his literary agent and longtime friend, Gill, in which he proposes crazier and crazier ideas for a new book that "cashes in on cancer."

His final musings include everything from the irony of
1,000 Places to See Before You Die and creating a funeral video ("Hello. I'm sorry I couldn't be here in person with you today"), to the notion of creating cancer language guides (Parlez-vous Cancer?) and the prospect of being outlived by his dog, Berry. Mischievous and utterly original, Kington's final words are a celebration of life. (book back blurb)

This is another one of my BEA ARCs that I thought looked endearing enough when I picked it up. It's slated as, "A book to make the Grim Reaper laugh" and I honestly thought it would be more musings about how to go about telling his dog that he was dying. I really don't want to criticize a dead guy's final book but . . .

I was just rather annoyed with the humor. I didn't find it all that funny. Maybe I didn't get the British wit. Maybe, to some people, there is something funny about a guy who just has nothing but ideas but no motivation to follow through with any of them. Considering its ringing motif throughout, I just found it annoying and, eventually, grating. Just shut up about the ideas already. You're obviously going nowhere with them. To me, that's what this guy did himself to his agent, which I only found more annoying.

Like I said, maybe that is the humor. I just didn't find it funny. I don't know who Miles Kington was. I've never heard of him before picking up this book. I couldn't tell you if I genuinely liked his humor or not. But judging by this book alone, I don't. It's exceptionally dry. And I like dry humor. I found this so dry it was, for the most part, humorless.

It wasn't the book I thought it was going to be which I think hardened it even more. There were a couple of chuckle parts but none of this laugh-out-loud that the blurb said would be in there. At least not for me. Again, maybe I just didn't get the humor. But hopefully someone else will.


Does this sound like something you might get a kick out of? Then comment with your email to enter to win it. Answer this questions for an extra 2 points - Who's your favorite comedianand why? Follow (new or old, doesn't matter) for another 2 points. I'll open this one up to international readers as well since it's a British author. Contest will end August 8th. Good luck!

80s Awesomeness! ~ 20


Probably most commonly known for spewing out of Bart Simpson's mouth, this lovely piece of slang was made totally popular in the 80s, most commonly as an insult or comeback. Not too sure how it's exactly insulting . . . I guess if you're a really skanky person and demanding someone eat your shorts would be pretty repulsive, but otherwise . . . I don't know. Gotta love the 80s!

Unfortunately embedding is disabled on this particular video but for an excellent John Bender usage of 'eat my shorts,' be sure to click.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Freaky Friday :|: 20

I just realized I haven't done a book review this week. Not like I don't have them to do. O_O Eek!

Title: The Pool (Nightmare Inn, #3)
Author: TS Rue
Published: July 1993
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Pages: 176
Kelly is elated when she lands her dream job as a lifeguard at the New Arcadia Inn pool, but a string of bizarre poolside accidents soon convinces her that someone, or something, is after the lifeguards. (from
I could read this. Most horror novels have some kind of chase-like premise to it but the execution makes all the difference. Since I'm petrified of the water, this could very likely scare the shit out of me.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Pulse It

Simon and Schuster's new Pulse It site debuted at the beginning of last month. It includes Facebook-like qualities like friending other members, plus places to review their books. Instead of the pool of teens getting tangible copies of books, they're now releasing digital copies of two books a month to all members, giving them a set number of days to read. Sounds pretty extensive.

I was too old for Pulse It when I first found out about it and I'm not any younger now. For those of you that do use it, how do you like it? Is it a kind of smaller version of the book blogging community? Is it a good place to meet other book lovers and talk about books? Did you prefer the older Pulse It and would rather get the tangible books?

I'm genuinely interested because this whole movement of digitized reading is supposed to be really central around teens but I'm wondering if they're really just as attached to physical books as the rest of us. Speak up!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Another winner for one of my contests!

John Hafnor, author of Strange But True America, was gracious enough to offer up another book for my contest! So now there'll be two winners! That one ends on the 28th so be sure to get your entries in! The link is right above.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quacks in the Woodwork

Ok, let's get this straight - ideas can not be copyrighted. Got that? CAN NOT BE COPYRIGHTED. If they could, we'd have a very scant reading selection. Not to mention movie and music selection. But they can't. So don't try to sue a bestselling author because you claim he or she plagiarized your work because there's a similar scene in there which only makes you look like a massive tool. Got it?

Because the tool boxes suing JK Rowling obviously don't (here and here). The estate of Adrian Jacobs is suing JK Rowling for plagiarism and claiming that she stole the notion of wizards riding on trains from this man's book that was published ten years prior to Sorcerer's Stone coming out, among other things. You see the ridiculousness of this? It's wasted effort. They really need to stop trying.

My book I'm editing now has a castle that can be moved in it. I thought it was such an original idea! Yay me! Until one of my betas asked me if I got the inspiration from Howl's Moving Castle. I went huh? and then proceeded to Google. Dammit! Granted the premise and everything about the moving castle itself is entirely different, the concept is still there. I'd never heard of Howl's before that. Doesn't make it a plagiarism case. It can't be if I was completely unaware of something similar until months after I'd written the first draft of my own work. But even should my book get published, there's still no harm. Because the idea for a moving castle can't be copyrighted.

Just like the idea for a 19th century Gossip Girl can't be copyrighted or a boy wizard can't be copyrighted or dragon-slaying can't be copyrighted. There's a reason why we tend to see similar books on the shelves, like all of the academy books (with or without fangs). Because the idea doesn't belong to one individual, just the execution does.

It takes a lot of effort to get the lawyers together to take on an author like JK Rowling, not to mention a huge sack of balls. Not because she'll go batshitty on you but because you really have to have a big head to think that she copied off of your work. Really big head.

To be fair, I said the same thing about Rowling when the issue with the HP Lexicon came about. One of her defenses was that the idea for an HP encyclopedia was her idea first. Push all of the copyright infringement issues that the Lexicon had off to the side, that statement is irrelevant. Who had the idea first doesn't matter. Why? "Because you can't copyright ideas." Very good! It's all about winning the race, not what you did to get to the end. So if that alone was her stance, she would have been screwed. Thankfully she's actually the copyright holder of all things HP so she had a pretty comfy pillow to fall back on there.

If you're going to go after any author, let alone one as huge as Rowling, for plagiarism, for the love of god be sure you can substantiate your claim so you don't look like an ass. Jealousy is not a good motivator, even if her idea did better than yours. Publishing has a lot to do with timing and luck and not everyone can win that game. If you can't substantiate your claim, just take the hit and write another book. Maybe you'll get lucky next time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Author Bites - Ellen Hopkins on Why

After reading Tricks I had to get Ellen Hopkins to talk a little bit on my blog. And she graciously agreed. And she agreed to talk about why she writes the kind of stories she does. She just made me love her even more!

First, I'd like to thank Donna again for plunging into Tricks, which is undoubtedly my toughest book yet, in many ways. I found it quite interesting that she said she had to put it down several times, yet was almost obsessively drawn to return. Interesting, because my husband had the same reaction. You'd think he'd be used to my writing by now.

My path to bestselling author was never a sure thing, yet I feel like fate drew me here. I knew I was a writer. Knew I could make a living writing, and I was eeking out meager sustenance as a freelance writer and nonfiction children's book author when fate slapped me in the face. My oldest daughter, my "perfect child" fell in with the wrong crowd, gave crystal meth a try, and our lives have never been the same. It was six years before I could even try to make sense of that, and the only way I could figure to do it was to write her story. From her point of view. Problem was, in prose it was my voice, not hers.

Confession: I've always been a closet poet. It wasn't academic poetry, or even particularly polished, but I'd been growing it through a local poetry group and was beginning to come into my own as a poet. So when I saw another verse novelist, Sonya Sones, speak at a conference I knew almost immediately that verse was the way to tell "Kristina's" story. Verse is personal. Interior. Filled with imagery, stark as it might be, and once I started Crank in verse, well the rest was [fairly recent] history. Less than five years, in fact.

Okay, I got my catharsis. And more. In fact. I discovered something totally unexpected--where I belonged as a writer. I understood not only my daughter, but her generation. OMG, as they say, I so remember my own teenage struggle to find my place in the world. False starts. Wrong turns. A good deal of pain, and yes, not a little joy. And I can put those things on paper, in a way that resonates not only with teens, but with those who have been teens.

I continue to write tough subject matter because issues like sexual or physical abuse, addiction, cutting, depression and more touch every single life, in one way or another. Still, despite what to many might feel like no way out, there is hope. But hope is all about intent. Reaching for something better. Through the (literally) scores of messages I receive every day, I know I am offering hope, and the knowledge that people, young or old, are not alone within their imagined isolation.

Yes, there is room for fluff in literature. Gossip Girls. Vampires. Captain Underpants. But there will always be a deeper hunger for books readers can relate to their own lives. I had a story that led me to this unimaginably wonderful place. Maybe you do, too. Fictionalize where you must. But be fearless. Some special reader (and maybe an entire generation of them) needs to hear your voice.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday Contest Slurry

Ends ??? (aka enter ASAP)

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - Steph of Reviewer X

One of three copies of Suite Scarlet by Maureen Johnson for first place and reading goodies for three second place winners - StarGirlReads of Books make great lovers! (140 followers will end the contest)

Ends 7/16

One of five signed copies of The Lost Summer by Kathryn Williams - Free Book Friday Teens

Ends 7/19

$35 dollar gift card to Free People, Gossip Girl season 2, Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott, Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott, bamboo address book and bookmarks - Chelsea of The Page Flipper

Ends 7/20

Tempo Change by Barbara Hall - Alea of Pop Culture Junkie

Ends 7/21

One of five copies of The Miles Between by Mary E Pearson - Lenore of Presenting Lenore

Ends 7/22

A signed copy of Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey, a t-shirt with the Jessica's Guide logo, sample pages from Jekyll Loves Hyde and a surprise - Beth Fantaskey

Ends 7/23

Evermore and Blue Moon by Alyson Noel - Fantastic Book Review

Ends 7/24

Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev and a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card - Fantastic Book Review

My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent - Jess of Book Reviews by Jess

Ends 7/26

A signed copy of A Sweet Disorder by Jacqueline Kolosov - Rebecca of Rebecca's Book Blog

Ends 7/28

Strange But True America: Weird Tales from All 50 States by John Hafnor - right here at Bites

Ends 7/30

Alphas by Lisi Harrison - right here at Bites

Ends 7/31

Jasmyn by Alex Bell - Lauren of Shooting Stars Mag

A grand prize winner will get a copy of Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson plus a $50 PBTeen gift card, four other winners will get a copy of the book - Teen Libris

Cathy's Key by Sean Stewart, Jordan Weisman and Cathy Brigg - Callie of Handle Like Hendrix

Ends 1/31/10

One of many winners of Strange But True America: Weird Tales from All 50 States by John Hofner - Strange But True America site

Added to the Pile + 8

Just one book this week, which is way more than enough considering the massive pile I still have. This one sounds good though.

Fade to Blue by Sean Beaudoin

Sophie Blue is sarcastic, artistic, and always decked out in black leather and Midnight Noir lipstick. A year ago on her birthday, her dad left. Or spontaneously combusted. Or joined an Amazonian cult. Either way, it's sorta bad timing, since a scary Popsicle truck with tinted windows has started circling the house.

Kenny Fade is a basketball god. He's got the cheerleader, the scoring title, the matching sweat suit, and sneakers that cost more than his Jeep. He's the guy all the ladies (and their mommas) want. Bad.

Sophie Blue and Kenny Fade don't have a thing in common. Aside from being reasonably sure they're losing their minds.
(book flap blurb)

Things I've Learned from Books + 10

Everyone who went to grad school in California in the 30s all sound the same. Apparently along with their study of choice, they all went to the same speech classes. You'd think that they'd know how to talk by then.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Author Bites - Sean Stewart on Science

In an email exchange with Sean Stewart about his Cathy books, I asked him why he decided to take a more scientific approach to immortality than what many other YA authors were doing and this is what he had to say. It's pretty insightful!

Re: scientific immortality. Er... I'm married to a biological scientist, and the child of another, so when the topic comes up, it's natural to me to think about it in those terms: e.g., bats live far longer than they "should" based on their body size...why? Immortality can't be a dominant gene and can't be easily passed along (or we'd all be immortal). Species that are long-lived tend to reproduce at a low level, OK, that makes sense... etc. etc. Just how I think, I guess.

Or, to put it in an entirely literary way, if you had read a bunch of my other, non-Cathy books, like Perfect Circle or Resurrection Man or Mockingbird, you would see that I have always had an impulse to try to fit the tropes of fantasy into the actual world around us. I grew up a total Lord of the Rings fan: but my circumstance, in reality, was late 20th century, so my job felt, ultimately, like it wasn't about recreating a faux medieval world, but rather imagining what magic would look and feel and taste like in a world of shopping malls and seatbelt safety ads. By which I explicitly don't mean the "elves in New York" meme, but rather trying to douse into the modern world and find a way of expressing a Sense of Wonder (tm) that felt like it was ours, not borrowed from some other time or culture and stuck on with velcro.

80s Awesomeness! ~ 19


Probably one of the greatest bands of the 80s, female or otherwise, The Bangles were a force to be reckoned with. They were chicks that could play guitars. What could be better? Probably their most famous hit was 'Walk Like An Egyptian' that actually launched an 80s dance craze. Unfortunately group jealousy eventually broke The Bangles apart (mainly because Suzanna Hoffs, the shortest in that picture, was getting most of the attention). They're back together now and their music will live on!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Freaky Friday :|: 19

Title: Room Thirteen (Nightmare Inn #2)
Author: T. S. Rue
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Published: May 1993
Pages: 176
Erin reluctantly accompanies her family on a summer vacation, during which she meets Sam, the mysterious boy in Room 13 at the Arcadia Inn who is capable of making her wishes come true. (from
Ah, moved on to a new author! Well, one that I started before on a brain fart and can now finally go back to. The summary sounds intriguing. I'd probably read this to see what it's like. Sounds like an Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode. I so want that TV show on DVD.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Alphas by Lisi Harrison + Contest!

Pub Date - August 25, 2009.

Welcome to Alpha Academy, the super-exclusive, ultra-tricked out institute created to groom the next generation of world class dancers, writers, musicians, and inventors. It's a dream come true for one hundred lucky girls. But competition breeds excellence, and one wrong move will get you sent home at any time, for any reason. What happens when the country's best, brightest, and hawtest begin clawing and scratching their way to the top? (book back blurb)


I am now officially dumber for having read this epic fail of a book. Seriously, what the fuck is the draw? Yeah, this doesn't render WTF? It needs the full on WHAT THE FUCK??? The vapid, pea-brained little girls are as shallow as dried puddles with nothing more going for them than good feet and great ideas. Yeah sweethearts, feet can break and ideas are dimes a dozen. What happens then? I'm not a fan of targeting talent like that to being with. Everyone needs a contingency plan because, like Murphy said, anything can happen and environments like this don't offer that. Weight gain is forbidden at Alpha Academy. Seriously? Well you're in deep shit if you're a dancer and gain more muscle . . .

It's just so . . . implausible. For a book that's somewhat supposed to be grounded in reality, I just couldn't suspend my disbelief for most of it. Yes, I understand that there are child prodigies everywhere but these girls are so unfocused it was hard to believe that they've made the achievements they have being as flaky and flighty and boy-crazy as they are.

The only girl with a nominally compelling story was Charlie. She actually seemed to be a raw talent, she's down to earth and pretty normal. Not to mention she doesn't talk like a massive airhead tool. Bonus points in my book. The situation she's in sucks ass. It really does. And the woman controlling the entire situation, plus the Academy, is a complete cunt. There's just no other word for it. And chicks are supposed to want to be her? Why? Because she's successful? Superficially, sure, but her life's as empty as many of these girls' heads because of it. Apparently that's supposed to be a worthwhile venture. How encouraging . . . O_o

And what the FUCK is with the hyphenated verbs? Giggle-sniffed? Lip-kiss (this one REALLY pissed me off because that dumb-twat Skye kept saying it, what other kind of kissing are you trying to differentiate from, sweetie? and it was used REPEATEDLY)? There's one involving a pillow, pillow-sniffed or something like that. I think my brain's officially blocked them out because I can't seem to find all of them but reading it, it's like they're on every fucking page. It's so goddamn annoying I wanted to cry.

The language is just trying so hard to be hip and up-to-date and fashionable it's revolting. You know, when I was a teen, we got by just fine on reading books that didn't sound like a sub-par Clueless spin-off. Is sounding as dumb as these girls do in this book actually fashionable? Is this ear-bleeding slang-type-speak the next Valley Girl? Honestly, I can tolerate Valley Girl better than I can handle this crap.

And the worst part about it (OK, who am I kidding, they're all worst parts) was the ending. You know how Pirates of the Caribbean 2 ended? You know they filmed movies two and three together and the end of two looked like someone took a set of scissors to the reel and blindly cut? That's what the end of this book was. A shameless shill to buy the next one because where it ends has you wondering what's going to happen next. And it's not like a Harry Potter ending where the story within the book is rounded out and leaves only a few pieces hanging so that you're satisfied enough until the next book comes out? Not this one. It's like Harrison wrote one giant manuscript and randomly pointed to a spot in the book as an ending point for this first one, chopping it up like that. Ugh.

Really, what a waste. I just don't get the appeal. I really don't.


Yeah, I know my review isn't exactly encouraging to want to read the book but there has to be someone out there that wants my ARC, right? Please? I'll make it really simple for you. Just comment with an email and you're entered. I'll even open this one up to the planet. International people, come on and enter. Please. You have until July 30th.

Please. Someone's got to take it . . . I'm begging you . . .

ETA 7/22/09--Uh, yeah, please be aware that bombarding my comments section will not get you any closer to the book and it's one entry per person. The winner will be chosen by a random number generator.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What gets you into a bookstore?

Or a library, or anywhere else there are books to be loved?

At BEA there was a panel of "young adult specialists" that talked about what it takes to get teens through the doors of your business and buying books. I'm not sure what makes someone a young adult specialist nor how you apply for a position with that title but I guess working in the YA section of a bookstore or library is a qualifying factor.

That article mentions involving teens in coordinating events and posting fliers for events where teens normally hang out. A librarian noted that a good way to get teens looking at books at one of these shindigs is to bring them in and then strew books all over the place, regardless of whether they're related to the event or not. The important thing being they're within eye shot and that's all that matters.

An aspect I found kind of insulting is that the publisher on the panel claimed that teens don't know what they want when it comes to reading. O_o Really? I beg to differ. I think teens know exactly what they want. This entire YA book review blogopshere alone is a testament to that.

So what gets you walking through the doors of a bookstore or a library? Are you there with intent or just to hang out? Did something catch your eye or are you there on impulse? Would you jump all over the opportunity to help coordinate things like author events if a bookstore worker approached you?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Strange But True America: Weird Tales from All 50 States by John Hafnor + Contest!

Pub date - August, 2009

US president skinny-dips in the Potomac - every day!

America's real headless horseman

Oops - Student cuts down world's oldest tree

Mosquito bite secures statehood for Florida

US presidents killed by their own physicians

What a quirky and awesome book. This is one of those books you gift to people for birthdays or holidays and it'll be a sure bet that they'll like it, the stories are that entertaining.

They're edited in AP format so as to mimic a newspaper article, as if blood-letting is breaking news! The stories are short, sweet and to the point and you're sure to rocket right through this book with certain tales that just won't leave your head.

One of them for me is how the Democratic party got the mule/donkey as a mascot. And it has nothing to do with it being a "working" animal! Another one that made me laugh out loud was a Vermont story and Ethan Allen visiting some post-Revolutionary war British friends who had hung a picture of George Washington in the bathroom, presumably as an insult to him. Allen then retorted, "It is most appropriately hung. There is nothing that will make an Englishman shit so quick as the sight of General Washington." That's freakin' hilarious!

I can't help but wonder how deep Hafnor had to dig to find some of these stories. This is an excellent bit of eccentric history-telling, right here and it's told in short bursts and accompanied by wonderful illustrations from Dale Crawford. I mean, how often does anyone over the age of six get to guiltlessly enjoy books with pictures in it?

If you want to know something quirky about your state, or any state, definitely pick up this book. You know, I didn't know Connecticut, my home state and current residence, was home to the real first president of the Unites States! How awesome is that! And while Sleepy Hollow, New York might have the famous headless horseman, Texas has a true version. Dun dun dun!

Definitely an awesome read!

Contest Time!

You want a copy? You got it. I'll make it simple this time. Just post a comment with your email address to win an ARC of this awesome book. I only have one for grabs so you all are going to have to fight for it!


John Hafnor was awesome enough to offer up another book for my contest so now there'll be two winners! Yay!

Open to US residents only and the contest will end on July 28th.
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