Monday, May 31, 2010

Follow the Shaman's Call: An Ancient Path for Modern Lives by Mike Williams, Ph.D

Published January, 2010.

This evocative experiential guide reveals how you can immediately begin to transform your life by following the path of the shaman. Author Mike Williams, Ph.D., presents hands-on exercises and engaging true stories from decades of shamanic practice and academic study into ancient European traditions.

Once you understand the powerful forces of the unseen world, you'll learn how to apply the knowledge to your own life in a variety of practical ways: predicting the future and understanding the past, using dreamwork to find answers to problems, and clearing your house of negativity. You'll discover how to find your power animal and meet your spirit guides, journey to the otherworlds for healing and self-empowerment, and live in harmony with the world.
(book back blurb)

I had known very little about shamanism prior to reading this book and I chose it for review expressly for the purpose of learning more. I'm glad I did because I think this could be a book that could help me fill a spiritual void I've had for years.

For as long as I can remember I've had an outsider's view of organized religion. My dad's an atheist and my mom's agnostic. When I was 11-ish I was given a choice to go to CCD (both were raised Roman Catholic in Old Vatican practices). Even at that impressionable age, when all of my friends were going to CCD, I said no because even then I knew it would be a waste of my time. I didn't care for "that type" of religion. Of course I was made fun of. I even had a few kids tell me to my face I was going to hell. It didn't bother me even then.

So ever since I've been trying to seek out some kind of spiritual path and I would find aspects of more pagan religions appealing but I never actively considered joining any of them. I wanted something organic, more natural and pre-historic than anything rumbling around currently. For a while it was mixing around those Pagan religions but nothing really called to me. I have my beliefs but they never really fit into anything specific so I've just been going on with my life as is.

Then I picked up this book to read and all of a sudden it clicked. This is it. Williams does an excellent job of describing just what Shamanism is, how to go about practicing it and just what kind of life you'll lead as a shaman. He doesn't pander, he doesn't pull punches. He just tells it like it is and I really liked that. The way he described journeying to the Otherworlds had me wanting to go buy a drumming CD and try it out for myself, despite how afraid it actually makes me.

It's a religion as natural as you can possibly get without the confines of organization or the baggage that comes along with it. There are no stringent requirements, no elevation or shunning of other people. There's just you and nature and that's pretty much it and that's what I like about it.

I plan on using this book as sort of my beginner's guide to shamanism. It's a good tool if you're just starting out and not sure where to step first. It gives you a little bit of information in a lot of areas of shamanism without being overwhelming or confusing. I found it immensely helpful and I plan on making it wholly dog-eared by the time I'm done with it.

If you're interested in delving into a new (well, really old) and natural religion, Follow the Shaman's Call is definitely a good place to start.

Contest Reminder!

Just a reminder to everyone that my contest for Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick ends tonight at midnight, EST! Be sure to get your entries in by then. Trust me, guys. You'll want to read this one.


Time to pass on some awards! Today I'm in the mood to actually pass them on to the designated number of blogs. So here we go!

From the lovely Missy at Missy's Reads and Reviews I got the Prolific Blogger Award. Thank you!

A prolific blogger is one who is intellectually productive, keeping up an active blog with enjoyable content. After accepting this award, recipients are asked to pass it forward to seven other deserving blogs.

My seven are -

DeRaps Reads
WORD for Teens
Ellz Reads
The Book Scout
My Pile of Books
Wondrous Reads
Chick with Books

And from the awesome Jennifer over at Reading with Tequila I'm getting The Sunshine Award! Thanks a bunch!

This one I have to pass it on to twelve other bloggers. Let's see. This one's going to -

Books Make Great Lovers
Good Books and Good Wine
I was a teenage book geek
The Neverending Shelf
Dark Wyrm Reads
Helen's Book Blog
The Hiding Spot
Lost in a Book
Reading in Color
Lost for Words
Milk and Cookies: Comfort Reading

Thanks and congrats!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Added to the Pile + 37

I was one of the winners of Kelsey's (The Book Scout) contest for Morpheus Road: The Light by DJ MacHale so I got my copy this week. Yay! Also, from the folks at Flux I received a review copy of The Sorcerer of Sainte Felice by Ann Finnin. To see my haul from BEA, check out my wrap-up post. I'm not about to repeat all of that here.

Marshall Seaver is being haunted. It begins with mysterious sounds, a fleeting face outside a window, a rogue breeze - all things that can be explained away. That is, until he comes face-to-face with a character who only exists on the pages of a sketchbook - a character Marshall himself created.

Marshall has no idea why he is being tormented by this forbidding creature, but he is quickly convinced it has something to do with his best friend, Cooper, who has gone missing. Together with Cooper's beautiful but aloof sister, Sydney, Marshall searches for the truth about his friend while ultimately uncovering a nightmare that is bigger and more frightening than he could ever have imagined.
(book flap blurb)

Condemned to death by the Holy Office for sorcery, fifteen-year-old Michael de Lorraine is rescued from the flames by Abbot Francis and granted refuge at Sainte Felice, a Benedictine monastery in fifteenth-century France. Michael learns that this strange and wonderful place, famous for its magical healing wine, harbors renegade monk-sorcerers, enchanted gargoyles, and a closely guarded secret that could spell violent death for the Abbot.

As the church intensifies its cruel pursuit of Michael, Abbot Francis and the wizard monks find themselves in grave danger. Michael will do anything to protect his mentor, but are his own magical powers great enough to save the monastery from the merciless, bloodthirsty Inquisition?
(book back blurb)

Things I've Learned from Books + 56

You cannot get stuck in the Otherworlds. I hope. *checks footnotes* I am reading that right, right? You can't get stuck there? Anyone?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

And the winner is . . .

The winner of my ARC for The Gardner by SA Bodeen is . . .

D. Gray!!!

Congratulations! I've sent you an email already. And a big thanks to everyone who entered! Keep sticking around. Thanks to BEA, I'll be having a lot of contests over the summer to lighten my book load. :)

Post BEA . . . Post

God, I'm original, huh? So here it is. My wrap-up post.

Wednesday evening was the HarperCollins Celebration of Book Bloggers which was basically just a wine and cheese soiree. It was nice to sit down and chat with a bunch of fellow book bloggers but I think us YA folks were greatly outnumbered! I did get to re-meet Sharon (Sharon Loves Books and Cats) and actually talk and hang out. We met very briefly last year. I caught up with Lenore (Presenting Lenore), Alea (Pop Culture Junkie), Gail (for the life of me I can't remember her blog name), Angie (Angieville), Kristi (The Story Siren) and April (Good Books ad Good Wine), who is now my Sister of Swears. She is also my personal fangirl and totally awesome. I have a horrible feeling I'm forgetting people so if I didn't name you, please don't take it personally! Names just don't stick in my brain unless they're pounded in there.

Then a bunch of us when to Max Brenner's (Chocolate by the Bald Man) for dinner and what was supposed to be dessert but the portions were so huge there was no fitting anything else in the stomach. Still, it was a nice restaurant with really good food and constantly smelled of chocolate. How can you go wrong?

I didn't get to sleep until after midnight and the alarm went off at 5 am. Of course, I didn't sleep through the night and woke up right smack in the middle, mainly because I was sleeping on pygmy pillows. I swear, they were the size of small throw pillows and I had them doubled up. I was afraid if I rolled over I'd fall off and wake up. And did I mention I was in a pygmy room? Yeah. Nice centrally located and if all you're doing is sleeping there (which was me), it's not bad but, I mean, it was shockingly small. As in my bedroom at home was bigger, including the square footage of the bathroom. It was functional, basically. It was nice, not scuzzy or anything. But tiny. Really tiny.

I was at Javits by about 10 to 7 Thursday morning, had my bag checked in and was waiting for the Press Office to open up so I could check in with them and get my badge. In my wanderings I ran back into Lenore waiting in line to get into the author breakfast and we started chatting. She asked me if I was able to get a ticket for the RL Stine signing. I said no. I wasn't really stressing getting one. If I did, I did. If I didn't, I didn't. So she digs into her bag and pulls out an extra one. *squee* She said she was afraid I wouldn't be able to get one so she got me an extra. Lenore is my FUCKING HERO!!! Like, savior. Amazing. I couldn't thank her enough, nor can I ever thank her enough. RL Stine is one of my literary heroes. I've been reading his work since I was like 8 (I'm 27 now, a nice long time). And I was going to meet him! *squee*

Turn the clock ahead to the opening and I'm waiting at a side entrance to get in. Most of the people were queuing up at the main entrance. Not me! I got in the Little Line That Could off to the side, closer to the S&S booth where they were giving away Clockwork Angel. 9 o'clock hit and I hit the ground running. Literally. I ran to the S&S booth and nabbed me a ticket to snag a copy of Clockwork Angel. Did I get it?

It would appear so. Actually, it was the very first book I picked up. Now, if you read my review of City of Bones, you'll see that I actually liked the story, I just wanted to stab those Similes of Doom to death. I've heard that the writing gets better as the series goes on so I'm hoping that for this one, Clare's worked out the need to turn every single description into a simile. I have two books I need to read within the next couple of weeks for a blog tour I signed up for but once those are done, I'm going to read this. I got is expressly for the purpose of passing it on because I know you guys want to read it. So end of June-ish look for a review and a contest for my ARC.

And then after that, I was off. I kept bumping into my fellow bloggers I met the night before plus I got to meet the lovely Sarah (Sarah's Random Musings) and Steph Su (Steph Su Reads) throughout the day. Plus I got to talk to some awesome people, both attendees and authors, not to mention publicity people.

The signing area was one giant clusterfuck and I really hope they move that area back downstairs just for the space. Last year it was twice the size with room for the lines. This year the lines couldn't back out of the corrals because they'd bleed into exhibitor booths so they curled around into each other. When I was waiting in Stine's line, at one point there were 3 other lines lapping over the one I was in. It was nuts. I heard it was even worse on Wednesday and that a fight nearly broke out at the Harlequin booth because it was so disorganized. But I didn't have any of those issues on Thursday. Maybe they got their shit leveled out by then. Next year it's back to three days so maybe they thought ahead and this was an experiment that was best left to the imagination.

I line-hopped like crazy for those signings and my signing schedule actually turned out to be the exact opposite of what I thought it was going to be. I thought my morning was going to be hectic and my afternoon easy. Oh no. The morning was nice and smooth. The afternoon? Nearly every signing I went to had been changed which totally threw my scheduling for a loop. I was standing in line for Jennifer Lynn Barnes and the table and time changed WHILE WE WERE IN LINE. Even Barnes was like, WTF? and came to the line and walked down it and apologized to everyone for the mix-up even though it was not her fault in the least. Very nice.I wanted to get Simone Elkeles signature but after 15 minutes into a 30 minute signing block and not having moved in the line, I bailed but evened up getting the books. I had to get Fat Vampire by Adam Rex. Had to. And I did!

I ended up grabbing some other rather coveted books including one from the very Simone Elkeles -

I ended up grabbing four of her books which I'm excited about because I wanted to read all of them. So I'm anxious to get to get to them.

I also nabbed a highly anticipated sequel -

Of which I have two copies so be on the lookout for a contest (see? I told you guys I go to BEA with you in mind!). The publisher put this one out at like 4 on Thursday. I happened to catch it because I did one more walk through before leaving for the day. Good thing I went back in!

Plus I nabbed a couple of copies of a pseudonymously written book -

Again, another contest! And if you didn't know, Ivy Devlin = Elizabeth Scott. To which an older woman replied after finding out what kind of book it was, "Oh she's too old to be writing that kind of stuff." I kind of gave her the O_o look as she walked away. Ignorance, I tell you!

And I just have to say, because it's been bugging the hell out of me since I read it on Lenore's blog. When she did the "book blogging mortal sins" post that was collected from a bunch of different bloggers I saw this. I don't know who said it because she kept everything anonymous but someone considered it a sin to nab more than one ARC/book at a signing/giveaway. Well, just in my experience, editors are more than willing to hand over an extra copy if you're going to be promoting it on your blog.

Case in point: when I was in Erin Bow's signing line for Plain Kate, I asked, quite nicely, "Would it be okay to ask if I could have an extra copy?" The editor, who was standing right there, without hesitation, handed over an extra copy and said, "Here you go." And I was taking it I said, "I wanted to give it away on my blog." He then said, "Especially if that's what you're going to do with it, we want you to have it." So shenanigans on that one. I'd just say use your better judgment when asking for a second signed copy like that. If you're in line and there were a million people behind you, don't ask. But if you're one of the last people, don't be afraid to. Just be up front with your intentions with the extra copy. Publishers love book bloggers. They really do. They recognize our value and are more than happy to hand over an extra copy or two to help promote the book.

In that same vein, my BEA pet peeve of the year? People engaging authors in the signing line in extended conversations. It should not take me 20 minutes to go 15 feet. It really shouldn't. Small talk, a little fangirl/boying isn't a problem. Standing there chatting for 5 minutes is. Be considerate of the people behind you, especially if the line is so long it's actually looped out of the corral. We all understand you love the author and want to let them know and engage them a little bit. That's fine. But draw the line, for the sake of the rest of the people waiting.

My favorite signing of the day is split between two people: RL Stine (duh) and Tony Hawk. I had to forfeit waiting in the ridiculously long line for Laurie Halse Anderson to jump into Tony Hawk's line. Fine by me! Love you, LHA, but I've been a fan of TH for a hell of a lot longer. I initially went to Tony's line right as he started signing and, like LHA, it was absolutely ridiculously long. So I decided to come back later and I'm so glad I did. It was about 1/4 the length it originally was and I was waiting for about 5 minutes.

When I got up to him, one, he's really tall, like at least an entire foot taller than me, and two, I totally felt like a goober. I mean, it's Tony Freakin' Hawk!!! But he's so nice and just so awesome and he personalized the sampler of his book he was signing and answered my awesome 80s movie question I had for him ("Where you in Gleaming the Cube and Thrashin'?). His answer, he was just kind of skating around in Thrashin' and wasn't even appropriately named in the credits, just in case anyone wanted to know. But I felt like I was 10 just kind of looking up at him with this goofy smile on my face. OMG, I was high for like an hour after that.

And then there was RL Stine who I could rightly worship as a god if I were so inclined. He is just amazing. I was chatting with another girl in line and when I got up to him, she was going to take my picture getting the book from him. Yay! So she got in position to take it and when the flash went off, he was like, "Who's taking a picture?" in a light-hearted voice. So the girl explained that I'm a big fan and she wanted to get a picture of me getting the book. Stine's like, "No, no, no! I'll take a picture with her. Get over here!" Wheeeeeee! So I walked around the table and got a kick ass picture with RL Stine. Then I gushed that I'm a huge fan and I've been reading his books for like 20 years and he was so appreciative and thankful for my being a fan. Genuinely awesome.

Ayeeeeeeeeeeeee! Wheeeeeeeeee! And this was the picture I realized just how red my hair actually was. Holy crap! It hasn't looked that red in any mirror I've looked into. Yikes! Not that I mind but it was still a shock!

So after it all, I was in some major pain from carrying around all that book weight with me all day. It didn't help that I fell down the stairs at home on Wednesday before I left. Let's just compound the pain, shall we? I could barely move when I got home Thursday evening but it was so worth it. I'm definitely going the entire week next year. It's going to be mid-week again too but at least they're tacking back on that third day. Maybe everything won't be so cramped.

Of course, at the end of the day, we have the haul. The complete list of books I picked up is at the bottom of the post. Any doubled up books you see, expect a contest at the very least for those books, if not more. I did that for you guys!

Total number of books : 48
Total retail value: $781

And then there's the swag. I've already got this stuff partitioned out and I'll be having a swag contest within the next week or so.

The complete list -

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
The Exiled Queen: A Seven Realms Novel by Cinda Williams Chima
I'll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip by John Donovan
Fear: 13 Stories of Suspense and Horror by RL Stine
Of All the Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz
Brilliant by Rachel Vail
Think of a Numb3r by John Verdon
Vampires by Konstantinos
Jane by April Lindner
Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
Hero by Mike Lupica
Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart
Up from the Blue by Susan Henderson
Red Moon Rising by Peter Moore
The Devil's Rooming House by M. William Phelps
Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin
Go, Mutants! by Larry Doyle
Seth Baumgartner's Love Manifesto by Eric Luper
Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
How Did I Get Here?: The Ascent of an Unlikely CEO by Tony Hawk (excerpt)
Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
The Zombie Combat Manual: A Guide to Fighting the Living Dead by Roger Ma
Clockwork Angel: The Infernal Devices, Book 1 by Cassandra Clare
Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles
Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles
Plain Kate by Erin Bow
The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn
Fat Vampire by Adam Rex
Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry
The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry
Virgin Territory by James Lecesne
Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon
Time Riders by Alex Scarrow
Firelight by Sophie Jordan
You by Charles Benoit (eGalley)

80s Awesomeness! ~ 65


Depending on your definition of cool, you were the shit if you were a jock in the 80s. And you can thank the 80s for spawning such a term. I mean, why wouldn't you want to be called the name for the sweaty banana hammock that holds a dude's twig and berries? Totally awesome!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Freaky Friday :|: 65

Title: The Initiation, The Secret Circle #1
Author: LJ Smith
Published: September 1992
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Pages: 320

Cassie must confront a shattering challenge: an ordeal that could cost her life or gain her more than she's ever imagined...

Charmed by the Secret Circle, she's initiated into the mysterious "in crowd," a coven of young witches whose power has controlled New Salem for three hundred years.

Hopelessly in love with the coven leader's boyfriend, Cassie risks falling prey to dark powers in order to have him. But if she does, her endless love could destroy the coven, New Salem, and her! (from

Meh. This one isn't sounding too intriguing for me. Has anyone read it? I know its been re-released recently. It just doesn't sound like my type of thing.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bites Out to BEA!

So this is it. Expect blog silence until Friday when I hobble in with many a pulled muscle and an extra hundred pounds.

I had a d'oh! moment Saturday night when I decided that I really should have business cards to hand out while I'm there. It'll save me a lot of time from having to write out my information over and over and over again. So I looked into ordering some and getting them rushed. I either couldn't get them before Wednesday (the day I leave) or I could spend $100 in shipping alone to get them by Monday. No thanks. I went out to Staples, bought cardstock and printer ink and made my own. I screen-captured some elements from my blog and just pasted them onto the template. Nice and easy. The smudges are personal information that I wasn't about to release to my world wide blog!

Considering I whipped it up in about 20 minutes, I'm fond of it. The printing isn't professional quality, obviously, but they'll do. I've only had 2 months to plan this. I have no one to blame but myself. Maybe next year I don't be so duh.

Tomorrow I'm hitting up the HarperCollins' Celebration of Book Bloggers event. I'm not sure what that entails but know I'll probably have a drink in hand, even if I have to stand in the doorway and drink it. After that hopefully the most epic ice cream sundae ever. I've been fantasizing about it for 2 weeks now (sad, I know).

And then Thursday is my BEA day! Hopefully my OCD planning will be to my benefit and I won't be running around all crazy like I was last year because it took me half the day to figure Javits out. At least this year everything's on one floor. Much easier to manage, let me tell you.

For signings, I plan on seeing -

Sarah Mlynowski (Gimme A Call)
Simone Elkeles (Rules of Attraction)
Adam Rex (Fat Vampire)
Larry Doyle (Go, Mutants!)
Cameron Stracher (The Water Wars)
Deanna Raybourn (The Dead Travel Fast)
Roger Ma (The Zombie Combat Manual)
Eric Luper (Seth Baumgartner's Love Manifesto)
Jonathan Maberry (The Dragon Factory)
Leah Cypress (Mistwood)
Stacy Schiff (Cleopatra)
Anthony Scioli (The Power of Hope)
Nancy Kilpatrick (Evolve: Vampire Stores of the New Undead)
Ivy Devlin (Low Red Moon)
Sophie Jordan (Firelight)
Alexandra Diaz (Of All the Stupid Things)
Laurie Halse Anderson (Forge)
Tony Hawk (How Did I Get Here?) (OMFG *squee*)
Tricia Rayburn (Siren)
Rachel Vail (Brilliant)
Beth Kephart (Dangerous Neighbors)
Jonathan Maberry (again) (Patient Zero)
James Lecesne (Virgin Territory)
Maria Snyder (Spy Glass)
Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Raised by Wolves)
William M. Phelps (The Devil's Rooming House)
Jeri Smith-Ready (Shade)
John Verdon (Think of a Number)
MJ Rose (The Memorist)
Ennis Garth (The Boys)
Earle Williams (100 Facts of Life)
Owen Egerton (The Book of Harold)
Erin Bow (Plain Kate)

Some more galley grabbing that I'd like to do -

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
The Magnificent Twelve: The Call by Michael Grant
Paranormalcy by Kiersen White
The Unidentified by Rae Mariz
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry (and again!)
The Limit by Kristen Landon
Reckless by Cornelia Funke (really want this one)
Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Witch and Wizard: The Gift by James Patterson
The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger
Sapphiqueby Catherine Fisher
Matched by Ally Condie
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Virals by Kathy Reich
The Secret of Ka by Christopher Pike
Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeff
Wildthorn by Jane England
Annexed by Sharon Dogar
Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler
The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn
Tyger, Tyger: A Goblin Wars Book by Kersten Hamilton
Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey
The Agency: The Body at the Tower by YS Lee
Another Pan by Daniel and Dina Nayeri
Girl Parts by John M. Cusick
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Steps Across the Water by Adam Gopnik
The Exhiled Queen: A Seven Realms Novel by Cinda Williams Chima
Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon
The Enemy by Charlie Higson
Red Moon Rising by Peter Moore
Misguided Angel (A Blue Bloods Novel) by Melissa de la Cruz
Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles
The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston
Thaw by Rick Jasper
The Absolute Value of -1 by Steven Brezenoff
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
For the Win by Cory Doctorow
Night Star by Alyson Noel
Shadowland by Alyson Noel
Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel
Hush by Eishes Chayil
Prisoners in the Palace by Michaela MacColl
Accomplice by Eireann Corrigan
The 13th Reality, Book 3: The Blade of Shattered Hope by James Dashner
Choke by Obert Skye
Faithful by Janet Fox
Losing Faith by Denise Jaden
Split by Swati Avasthi
There Are No Words by Mary Calhoun Brown

Whew! And the publishers I want to make sure to hit -

Lerner/Carolrhoda Lab
Raven Tree Press
Macmillan (Henry Holt/St. Martin's/Tor/Forge/Fiewel & Friends)
Dark Horse
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Random House
Simon & Schuster
Little, Brown
Grand Central
Visible Ink
Orca Books
Peachtree Publishers
BenBella Books
Chronicle Books
Shadow Mountain

Hey, when you only have a day, you have to cram a lot in there. Hopefully I won't be so jam-packed next year as I'll be there the whole time. Trying to wedge all the publishers in between the signings is the difficult part. Or maybe it's choosing which signings to go to. Meh. They're both hard.

So wish me luck! The better I do, the better you guys do. I go to BEA with you guys in mind and what I can bring you back! So keep those fingers crossed!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Contest Reminder!

Just a reminder to everyone that my contest for a copy of The Gardner by SA Bodeen ends tonight at midnight, EST! Be sure to get your entries in by then! A winner won't be announced until after I come back from BEA. Just to warn you.

Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor

Published 2009.

A girl who's always been in the shadows finds herself pursued by the unbelievably attractive new boy at school, who may or may not be the death of her. Another girl grows up mute because of a curse placed on her by a vindictive spirit, and later must decide whether to utter her first words to the boy she loves and risk killing everyone who hears her if the curse is real. And a third girl discovers that the real reason for her transient life with her mother has to do with belonging - literally belonging - to another world entirely, full of dreaded creatures who can transform into animals, and whose queen keeps little girls as personal pets until they grow to childbearing age.

From a writer of unparalleled imagination and emotional insight, three stores about the deliciousness of wanting and waiting for that moment when lips touch.
(book flap blurb)

This book had my jaw dropping. Now, I'm not a big romance person. It's not something I seek out. But the twisted parts behind these stories had me intrigued, plus all of the reviews I read were really good. Really, the elements have to be just right for me to pick up a book that, at first glance, was labeled as a romance.

But I don't see these stories as being romantic. At least not two out of the three. The first story, Goblin Fruit, had me stumbling an extra page because I wasn't expecting it to end so abruptly. When I realized there wasn't any more except the next unrelated story, I went nooooooooooooooo! The build-up was so sizzling and filled with teenage angst. You know what's going to happen and you don't. You expect one thing and you get another. You can feel the tension riling and rising and it hits the climax and you don't even get to come down from the high. It just ends. I wanted more.

Spicy Little Curses Such as These was actually my least favorite out of the three. Not that is wasn't good. I just didn't feel the same pull with this one as the other two. Once the boy comes into play, the rest of the story hinges on whether or not the girl will speak. Again, you expect one thing and get another. It's a retelling of the story of Orpheus but without the d'oh! ending. I think this one ended too nicely for me. That just shows how demented I am. I don't want love in a love story, dammit! They have to work for it! Not like they didn't. Not at all, actually. But, meh. It just didn't catch me like the other two.

Hatchling I loved because the world Taylor drew felt so real. I honestly thought she was drawing from some Middle Eastern mythology while I was reading it. I was wrong and for the most part, it came solely from her imagination, with some guidance, of course. That's what had me reading more than the kiss-themed part, which really wasn't a huge part of the story. Not for the main girl involved, anyway. It kept hopping around time-wise and it was kind of hard to keep track of where in the story I was reading but it settled out. But the mythical mythology was what really held my attention. It felt like something you could draw on, something people could believe in. I want to read it again just to soak in more of that world. Even the hideous creatures under the bridge and the nuances of the soulless shapeshifters had me feigning for more. I loved it.

The drawings at the beginning of each story were amazing as well. They give you just enough of the story to get a grasp of what's to come but not enough to spoil anything. The gray and red that were drawn in gave them a rustic, almost grungy type of feel but they complimented each story nicely.

This one's a must read for anyone that like writing. Really, even if you're not a romance fan you're going to like this. In all honesty, it's not about romance, or even love. It's about passion and fire and longing, something I think far more people feel than the other two. The writing sucks you in and holds onto you until the very end. And by then you're the one longing for a kiss. Let's just hope it turn out better for you than it did for these characters.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Your book sucks, bitch!

AKA how we're viewed as reviewers and how we should be reviewing. Apparently.

If you take a look through my reviews, especially those with fewer bite ratings, you'll be hard-pressed to say that I sugarcoat my words when I give a less-than-stellar review of a book. But apparently enough YA bloggers are being more nice than honest in their reviews that it's gotten the attention of The Huffington Post.

Now I know we've had this discussion before on various blogs, some people give honest reviews of everything, some only post good reviews because they only want to promote books they like instead of downing a book they don't, and so on. But it's never been brought down to gender. THP did just that, claiming that it's mostly women yielding to other women in their reviews because of some underlying gender coddling, probably on a subconscious level. While the article does state the fact that most YA book bloggers are female, and most YA authors are female, the "results" don't seem to skew with the numbers. Personally, I don't think there are enough males in the blogging or YA author world to get a more accurate read as to whether these assumptions are even close to being right.

Yes, some reviewers do feel guilty for giving a review book a bad review. Some feel somewhat obligated to a publisher to give a good review when they're sent an ARC. That's fine. But I don't like the assumption being made that people are giving sugary reviews because of the parts between their legs. I don't like how other factors aren't being taken into account, how it's been stripped down wholly to gender bias.

Mostly what I see in this article is the push for YA bloggers to be more like professional reviewers when they break down a book in review. But you know what? We're not. Many more people than what's insinuated in that article do state what they like and don't like with a book. Maybe it's not backed up by in-text references or the nuances of writing aren't discussed as reasons for it not being good. So what? It doesn't mean the review's been hampered. It just means the person doesn't have the knowledge to "properly" break down a book, or flat out just doesn't want to turn a review into a critique. It has nothing to do with vaginas. Maybe if reviews were read a little closer, people would see everything they're looking for, just not executed the way they want it to be.

We all have our own reviewing style. I don't think female authors should be graded on a curve and I want to punch commenters in the throat when they say things like, "Well, that author did their best, let's see you try and write a book," and while it makes me laugh, I'm not the one with eyes so clouded that I feel the need to pander to the author. As an author, they should be able to handle constructive, honest criticism. They don't need fans coming to their defense and fans shouldn't come to their defense if the review is legitimate and isn't a total bash.

I think what this article author missed is that this community is filled with a lot of young people, a lot of people that aren't English majors, a lot of people that are just people that love to read and want to share their opinions. The internet will always be filled with anonymous pandering assholes but I think for most bloggers, that doesn't affect them. They just continue reviewing.

We're not held to NYT standards, and we shouldn't be. We're just people that sign up for free Blogger blogs so we can share our opinions about books. It's rather insulting to try and force a review style on people and say you're pandering if you don't conform. We're not in this to advance our reviewing careers to major newspapers. Stop trying to force stylistic preferences on us and just let us review. We all do it differently and that's how it's going to stay. Read the reviews a little closer and you'll see they're not all sunshine and farts.

Added to the Pile + 36

Another haul from PaperBackSwap! How I love that site.

Herb just wanted to photograph the cheerleaders in the school showers. He planted his camera high in the corner where no one could see it, and rigged it to a special homemade timer. He did this Thursday night, and he hoped by Friday night to have an exciting roll of film to develop.

But a girl dies Friday afternoon. On the surface it appears to be nothing more than a tragic car accident. But when Herb finally does collect his roll of film, he develops a picture that shows a shadowy figure sneaking up on the girl who dies - sneaking up on her with a baseball bat.

It makes Herb wonder if the girl was dead long before the car accident.

But unfortunately for Herb, he
doesn't wonder if the murderer knows he took the picture. (book back blurb)

August 1793. Fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook is ambitious, adventurous, and sick to death of listening to her mother. Mattie has plans of her own. She wants to turn the Cook Coffeehouse into the finest business in Philadelphia, the capital of the new United States.

But the waterfront is abuzz with reports of disease. "Fever" spreads from the docks and creeps toward Mattie's home, threatening everything she holds dear.

As the cemeteries fill with fever victims, fear turns to panic, and thousands flee the city. Then tragedy strikes the coffeehouse, and Mattie is trapped in a living nightmare. Suddenly, her struggle to build a better life must give way to something even more important - the fight to stay alive.
(book back blurb)

Gabe just got lost - in a pyramid. One minute, his crazy cousin Sari was right ahead of him in the pyramid tunnel. The next minute, she'd disappeared.

But Gabe isn't alone. Someone else is in the pyramid, too.

Someone. Or some thing.

Gabe doesn't believe in the curse of the mummy's tomb. But that doesn't mean that the curse isn't real.

Does it? (book back blurb)

Josie is on vacation in Greece with her father, his new girlfriend, and her best friend. While visiting the sacred island of Delos, she accidentally stumbles upon an ancient artifact - a tiny statue of a Goddess. Immediately Josie is enchanted by the statue and she takes it with her when she leaves the island.

Then the trouble starts. A guy takes her for a boat ride and she is almost killed. Then the image of the Goddess begins to haunt her dreams. The Goddess wants something from Josie that she doesn't want to give.

The immortal wants to be mortal.

The Goddess wants Josie's life. (book back blurb)

A spring night . . . soft moonlight . . . five beautiful Prom Queen candidates . . . dancing couples at the Shadyside High prom - these should be the ingredients for romance.

But stir in one brutal murder - then another, and another - and the recipe quickly turns to horror.

Lizzie McVay realizes that someone is murdering the five Prom Queen candidates one by one - and that she may be next on the list! Can she stop the murderer before the dance is over - for good? (book back blurb)

Things I've Learned from Books + 55

Drumming can take you to a whole 'nother world. Unless it's being played by a death metal band. You don't want to get taken to that world. Full of headaches.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

BEA ?s Answered + 5 And Final!

When you told us about a lady who acted like you didn't belong at the BEA, what did you say? Im worried I wont be allowed in if I encounter a person like her. What do you say to get your badge? Do you need proof of your blog?

Did I say that? I remember mentioning that I got a couple of weird looks going up into the press office but other than that, nothing. I saw a family walking around in sweat shorts and Hawaiian shirts. No kidding. As long as you have a badge, you're not going to get bothered. And you're not judged going in to get your badge if you don't "look the part." If you have your print-out to get your badge, you're all set. As for proof, when you register for the press pass, you'll have provided your blog and your credentials will be verified before you even get to BEA. If they don't accept you, you'll know before hand. No word means good to go.

Good post! I am attending BEA for the first time this year as an author, and am taking your tips to heart! If you're there this year and interested, I'll be signing INVISIBLE THINGS (sequel to THE EXPLOSIONIST - which does feature a boarding school, but not I think one of the sort to which you would definitely object!) on Wednesday at 3:30 at Table 19 - come by and pick up a copy if you feel like it...

Thank you! This would be Jenny Davidson so if anyone wants to get a book signed by her, you now know the time and place! I wish I could but I won't be on the floor until Thursday. Good luck, though!

What exactly is the YA Authors of YA Editor�s Buzz? Is it worth attending as a blogger? Do you recieve any books?

First, YA Editor's Buzz is an hour-long panel where some YA editors rave about some of their books that are coming out. I went to it last year and they talked about The Maze Runner, Lips Touch and The Devil's Kiss, among others. I don't think they had the YA Authors of YA Editor's Buzz last year, though. I can't remember. It looks like just an extension of the editor's panel, this time just the authors talking about their books and writing and stuff like that. It's something to stop by and listen to if you want the leg up on some upcoming books. No books are given out at this specific event.

So if the exhibition hall is closed on Tues what other events or things are happening to that are interesting to attend?

See the BEA schedule for that answer.

I'm planning on going to BEA next year. You mentioned that book bloggers are considered members of the press and get in for free, right? On the site, it specifies that not all people who register for a press pass get one. Is there an age limit for book bloggers who get admitted? Is there a rule of thumb for what is considered a good enough book blog to get entrance to BEA, stat wise?

I don't know what their criteria are for rejecting people for the press pass but I've never heard of a book blogger getting rejected. But your blog will need to be evaluated once you register. Last year, I'd only been blogging for about three and a half months and they accepted me. So I would guess as long as you're not someone that has three posts in three months or something like that, you'll be accepted. As for age, if you're under 18 you'll need to be escorted by a parent but you won't be denied a pass solely for your age.

I don't think stats make a difference for getting a press pass. Again, I can't say for sure what would make them deny someone a press pass but just keep blogging. You don't need to be The Story Siren to get one but have a regular posting schedule, post reviews, look like you're up to date on the publishing world and your blog is what it says it is and you'll be fine.

This was THE most helpful post about BEA that I have read!! Thank you thank you!!

You're very welcome!

I swear, I didn't plan to end on that one. It was the last comment in my spreadsheet queue. No really. It was! I swear! :)

So that's it! I'm sure some people are on their way to NYC as I type so good travels to them. I hope all these Q&As did you guys some good and I hope they were helpful! If you're still desperate to find a BEA answer to something and I haven't touched on it in my original post (which includes all subsequent answers posts), feel free to either leave a comment or send me an email. Thanks for listening!

80s Awesomeness! ~ 64


Its simplicity is awesome. Its graphics . . . not-so-stunning. The play-time, amazing. Get the apple-thing. That's all you have to do. Get the apple. But it grows! The more you play, the more the snake grows! Watch out! Or it'll eat itself. Not good.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Up to HERE with BEA Books!

In case you want to know what other books will be floating around BEA on top of the ones being signed on their various days, be sure to check out Publisher's Weekly's Kids' Galleys to Grab. It's a pretty intensive list that will have your eyeballs bugging and your shoulders sagging. Included in that list is -

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
The Exiled Queen: A Seven Realms Novel by Cinda Williams Chima
Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles
Sapphique by Catherine Fisher
Draw the Dark by Ilsa Bick (which I highly recommend!!!)
Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin
Tyger, Tyger: A Goblin Wars Book by Kersten Hamilton

And so, so many more! Be sure to check out the article for the rest.

Books@BEA is also live, listing highlights all of the books that the various publishers will be showcasing throughout the event. Not all of these books will be in galley or finished copy form and available to grab. You'll have to check the marketing information under the title's tab to see if something will be given out but it's worth a look through. I found a bunch more that I'd love to grab. As if the bag won't be heavy enough!

So get on sorting! I should have my schedule finalized this weekend. Wheee!

Freaky Friday :|: 64

Title: Dark Reunion, The Vampire Diaries #4
Author: LJ Smith
Published: May 1992
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Pages: 320

Love Can Kill Elena: transformed, the golden girl has become what she once feared and desired.

Stefan: tormented by losing Elena, he's determined to end his feud with Damon once and for all - whatever the cost. But slowly he begins to realize that his brother is not his only enemy.

Damon: at last, he possesses Elena. But will his thirst for revenge against Stefan poison his triumph? Or can they come together to face one final battle? (from

These keep sounding better and better. So long as I keep them detached from everything that is recent it should be fine. No TV series, no market flooded with schmoopy vampire romance. Stand alone, it could be great. I might have to find out for myself.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Anne Spollen on YA Writing

I loved Anne Spollen's Light Beneath Ferns so much that I asked her to do a blog post about it and/or her writing. Come to find out, not only do we share similar perspectives on a lot of things, we share really similar writing styles. No wonder I was able to nuzzle my way between the lines of her book and cuddle in. It's like we're in each others' heads. So yeah, Anne says she took over my blog. But my soul does feels a little crowded . . .

I am taking over Donna’s blog for a little while. It would probably be a whole lot more interesting if I could take over her mind or her soul, but her blog is all I can manage for now. When you think about it, in a small way, for a short amount of time, writers DO get to take over your mind and soul. (And, I guess now, occasionally your blog…)

For those of you who don’t know me, I am a YA writer with two books currently out, and more writing news to share soon. One of the things I try to do when I blog hop is anticipate questions folks might want to ask. An awful lot of avid book readers and blog stalkers (yes, I stalk blogs, too) are aspiring writers, so I think a good place to begin would be to speak about writing.

Whenever people ask me why I write, I always answer, “Because I have to.” Writing is my one addiction. (I am visualizing the people who know me, nodding and saying, “Yes, but so is her chocolate consumption” – but that’s another post)

I have always had to write, the way some people have to jog or eat certain foods to feel normal. If I don’t write for longer than a few days, I feel really irritable, as if my mind is cluttered and clouded. Writing is therapy. All the images and impressions that have been gathering in my brain come out on paper.

I write really quickly, not really caring how it all hangs together at first. I go back and revise later on, after the ideas are down and my brain is less frenzied. It’s not entirely unlike a binge and purge episode, only in this case it’s images and bits of dialogue that are rambling around in my head instead of food.

I know in writing classes they teach you to make outlines or to fill in plot outlines in organized, logical sequences. A friend of mine once gave me colored index cards to organize my work. She explained her writing teacher told her to use the blue ones for character, the salmon ones for setting details and so forth.

For a long time, I thought maybe there was a correct, accepted way to write the way there is a correct, accepted way to go about producing an oil painting. I don’t plan. I don’t make outlines. Sometimes what I am writing takes a totally unexpected direction. I don’t quite understand the process of writing, but now I do understand that there is no method, no way of utilizing color coded cards or outlines that works. What works is telling a good story. It’s that simple – and that impossible.

I think what happens is I see someone, or hear something, and at the time, it does not seem at all significant. Later on, that experience shows up on paper.

When I began The Shape of Water, my first story, I saw a girl standing on a beach: I recognized the beach as the one I had grown up on. It was windy, and the girl walked over to the marshes and lit them on fire. A disturbing image, and I’m not sure where it came from, but I began this odd kind of “listening” when I revisited the image and the novel began to take shape.

Years ago, when my boys were still cruising around on big wheels, I would take them to a rural cemetery across the street from our house. It was safer there than the road as there was no traffic. Sometimes I saw this really wild teenage girl sitting by a rock at the edge of the cemetery. She looked so much happier there than she did when we saw her at the bus stop or walking around. She used to watch the river. Somehow that girl, the image of that girl, returned to me and I began writing Light Beneath Ferns.

Which brings me to my second question, one I am asked whenever I am asked about writing:

So why do you write about teenagers? Why not write an adult novel?

I may write an adult novel one day, but that question is usually asked in the exact tone that my English teachers used to coerce me into writing something for an essay contest. In other words, you have more potential than you’re using…

I have a standard answer for this question: I like to write for and about teens because I believe we are all still secretly recovering from middle school. I think that time in a person’s life is so easily recalled; the details are still so vivid.

In childhood, it never mattered who you ate lunch with or whether or not you wore white socks (I absolutely could not wear white socks when in middle school – I’m not sure of the reason, but when I found them in my drawer, I would dispose of them the way someone would dispose of uranium) Then comes middle school where everything matters, and it matters tremendously. Adolescence provides such a clear division in human experience, and I like to mine that border as it is so rich. People connect to that time instantly. I think that’s the appeal of YA, either, “Oh, that’s how it is. This author is speaking directly to me,” or “Yes, I remember that. Thank God I’m past all that now.”

I want to thank Donna for giving me a new place to rant a little today, and for her perceptive reading of Light Beneath Ferns. Sometimes it’s not just the readers who say, “Oh, this author gets me!” it’s the author saying, “Yes, that reader gets me!” Luckily, Donna was that reader.
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