Sunday, May 31, 2009

In My Mailbox (14)

IMM was inspired by Alea and memefied by Kristi.

This week I received more books then whats been the usual. There won't be pictures or summaries or links though.


It's Not You, It's Me by Kerry Cohen Hoffman

Alea sent me this one for T2T because she had been sent an extra copy and I hadn't received one yet. It's a lot shorter then I expected from a HB, but it looks short and sweet.

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Sarah actually sent me this one, she's so sweet! I'm doing an OTO with her, um, TOMORROW, so check it out, it's a really good one!

Being Nikki by Meg Cabot

I won this ARC at a contest over at Laura's blog. I had really wanted it too, I'm glad that all the books I have in this series are ARC's though. I like things to match. :)


North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

So I went to Borders and bought some books. This one looked really good. It wasn't on my list, but I saw it and just wanted to own it. Sarah at Sarah's Random Musings was going to let me borrow her copy, but I wanted to buy it instead.

Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten

I've wanted this book for a really long time, so I'm glad I got to buy it! It looks really good and the HB is to pretty.

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

I actually didn't know what this book was really about until I saw it and picked it up, and it looked so good I had to buy it too. I hear it's really good, but people also said not to read it until I get the sequel, too bad Borders didn't have it stocked! I probably would have bought it too!

Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph

You can thank Khy for making me get this book, it looks really cute and I've heard great things about it, but I was told to get a debs books and this is the one to get, so I can't wait to read it!

So, that's it. Well, not really. I received my Little, Brown books, but they came from UPS the day I left for California, so they are in MN right now. I'm having my mom ship them to me tomorrow, hopefully she does! I reallllllllly want them.

And to anyone who is wondering, my flight went perfectly and I got home safely and It's been going good! Though my grandma was sick, so I might catch a little something. Oh, well. It leaves time for reading. But, my grandpa let me use a laptop he had for vacations for the summer and I am LOVING having a laptop. I just lay in bed and have it on my lap! It's perfect!

Also, I am going on a trip the end of the second week of June down to Santa Monica for awhile, then to LA for a bit, and we're going to go have a special lunch with Sarah Dessen too and meet Khy! So, whooo!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Exclusively Chloe by J.A. Yang: T2T Tour


J.A.Yang has slummed it in the valley with the Wakefield twins; slumber partied with Huey, Dewey and Louie; joined Krakow in stalking Angela; and climbed every mountain with the Von Trapps.

Originally from San Diego, he's lived and traveled the world (okay, not all of it) in pursuit of that most elusive of targets -- inspiration.

He's authored and published a book, written for online and offline publications, and maintained a variety of popular blogs on subjects ranging from movies and technology to personal stories and amateur musings. He's just wrapped up his second book, a fiction novel for teens, and is hard at work on his third one.

Exclusively Chloe
Author: J.A. Yang
Publisher: Puffin
Reading Level: Young Adult, 14+
Publication Date: May 14, 2009
Pages: 224
My Edition:
Trade Paperback
Amazon Page

Rating: C-
Plot - 15/20
Characters - 15/20
Writing - 15/20
Originality - 13/20
Entertainment - 6/10
Recommendation - 6/10
Total: 70/100

Chloe-Grace can’t help it—she’s spectacular. How could she not be with celebrity parents who have been the queen and king of Hollywood for years? And Chloe is a celebrity all unto herself as well— she’s the first celebrity-adopted kid in Hollywood. But now Chloe’s sixteen, and she is tired of every undesired moment of the world’s attention. She wonders what it would be like to be a “normal” kid in a regular school. To really understand it, though, she would need to go undercover. So after getting a “make-under” at the hands of her mother’s fabulous stylist, she enters the “real” world. But she soon finds out that there is just as much drama there as there is in Hollywood….

I got this book to review for Traveling to Teens without really knowing what the book was about. I know, that was bad of me. But I liked the cover a bit. It looked cute. Then after i got the book, I read what it is about, and I have to say, I probably wouldn't of picked it up if I hadn't. I had even heard from someone that they didn't like it. So my expectations were kind of bad.

It wasn't as bad as I thought though. It took a while to get to the main aspect of the novel, the characters weren't that great. The writing was that good, the plot was somewhat unoriginal, but it wasn't horrible. It just wasn't spectacular (notice the pun) either.

The writing felt really awkward in some parts of the novel. The dialogue mainly. It didn't feel natural, and I felt kind of like Chloe's thoughts were uncompleted. Does that even make sense? But the story flowed well enough and it didn't get too boring or anything, so that's good.

The characters were, obviously, unrelateable. I didn't really like Chloe as a character, and Chloe's friend, Rachelle, I absolutely hated. I could not stand her. And the other characters weren't really well developed, we never got to really know them that well.

A bad part is that I have seen this plot over and over again. Celebrity, doesn't like her life, disguises herself, lives a perfect life in disguise, everything comes undone. I've read at least three other books about it. It is getting very old. And the worst is, I think this was the worst novel that I have read about it.

So, in short, this novel was just okay. Not really good, and not horrible. But it's still not even worth buying the trade paperback. Go to the library for it.

And here's the interview!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Where Am I?

Where am I?

Well if you're reading this before 7 AM Central time today, then I'm probably still in Minnesota. And if you're reading this post anywhere between 9:15 AM (central) and 11:20 AM (pacific) then I will be flying from Minneapolis to San Fransisco! And if you're reading this post from 11:20 AM (pacific) then I am definitely in California by now.

How exciting is this? Very much exciting. Did you remember my post about what I am going to do this summer in March? If not, then you should probably read this post first.

Before I say stuff. I just want to say how much of a hectic week it's been. Monday was Memorial Day and no school. Tuesday I had to finish all of my finals in all of my classes. Wednesday I had to wake up at 4 AM and drive 6 hours to Minneapolis to go on my class trip to an Amusement park and get back at around midnight. On Thursday (yesterday) it was my last day of school and I had to turn in all of my textbooks and everything. Then I had to finish packing while being exhausted. Then I had to get up at 4 AM again to get ready for the plane and by there at the latest by 6 AM since my plane leaves at 7 AM. So yes. Pretty hectic.

And before I continue I just want to say that I am writing this post up on Wednesday, May 20th, so most of those are assumptions of what is really going to happen.

So, now. I just want to say something exciting I am going to do this summer and some things to be aware of on the blog.

First of all. There will be changes. I will still post at the very least once a week because I have all my WoW posts scheduled from now until the week after I get back for CA. I hope to be able to keep up with reviews and IMM and OTO good, but I honestly don't know how I am going to do everything.

The first three weeks, from now until June 21, my grandma has off so I will probably be a ton busy doing stuff with her, like traveling to LA, going to the beach, among others things. So I really just don't know how I will be able to keep up with everything. By the last week of school, when my grandma goes back to work it will cool down a lot. I will be working with my grandpa on doing stuff with him still though.

I will try my very hardest to keep up with everything, but don't take my word on it just yet.

Now, I have some freaking ecstatic news that I am finally happy to share with you. I haven't found the perfect time to share it yet, so I will do so now. It has to do with what I am going to do while in CA.

Well, I am going to see an author. A very amazing and talented and popular author on June 19th at 3:00 PM in La Verne, CA. Up, the very amazing Sarah Dessen. Who is like my favorite author. Amazing isn't it? She will even be my first author signing! Yippee! And there is more! I will be able to go to it with my awesome blogger friend Khy! How amazing isn't it? I am so very freaking excited you have no idea.

I also plan to go to a ton of museums. My grandma really wants to go to a few and so do I! If you know any great museums in the LA area or somewhere else in CA please tell me so I can go!

Oh, and I will be able to go to an actual real live BOOKSTORE! I haven't been in a real live three-dimensional bookstore in like two years. So this is so amazing. I plan to buy a ton of books. Some are Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott (Yes! I haven't read them yet!), Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten, Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog, Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart and a ton, ton more! I can't wait until I get to actually be in a bookstore again. I think I might make my grandma take me to one ASAP! :)

So that's it! I'll try my best to keep up! If you are waiting for an email reply hopefully you know why I haven't gotten back to you so quickly, but I will!

Thanks everyone! And wish me luck on traveling alone!

*I do not take credit for the picture.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Title: Saving Francesca
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Reading Level: Young Adult, 14+
Publication Date: May 9, 2006
Pages: 241
My Edition: Paperback, signed, Australian version
Amazon Page

Rating: A
Plot - 17/20
Characters - 20/20
Writing - 20/20
Originality - 16/20
Entertainment - 10/10
Recommendation - 10/10
Total: 93/100

Francesca battles her mother, Mia, constantly over what's best for her. All Francesca wants is her old friends and her old school, but instead Mia sends her to St. Sebastian's, an all-boys' school that has just opened its doors to girls. Now Francesca's surrounded by hundreds of boys, with only a few other girls for company. All of them weirdos--or worse. Then one day, Mia is too depressed to get out of bed. One day turns into months, and as her family begins to fall apart, Francesca realizes that without her mother's high spirits, she hardly knows who she is. But she doesn't yet realize that she's more like Mia than she thinks. With a little unlikely help from St. Sebastian's, she just might be able to save her family, her friends, and--especially--herself.

I read this one directly after reading Jellicoe Road, so I had had my share of Melina by then and I got a glorious whiff of her style. So I was really excited to see how this novel compared to Jellicoe Road. It was really good. Extremely good. It had that raw, honest thoughts of a girl trying to survive High School while her mom is in depression and she also finds some love. It was amazing, but Jellicoe Road was really hard to beat. It just wasn't as clever. But still, this book was amazing.

The plot was something done a tons of times before, so it wasn't original. But that didn't matter. The plot was of a girl who is coming-of-age in Australia. Her mom is depressed. She has to keep her family together without her going insane. We've seen it before. But not before with such brilliance of writing and the development of characters.

Francesca was a great main character. She really was. I could relate to her so much, and it was just because she is what you would think of as the average high school girl, and pretty much everyone can relate to her. And we like that in a novel.

The writing was, obviously, so amazing. I just don't know how Marchetta does the things she does with her words? She is a brilliant writer. Period.

I really recommend this novel for everyone. It's a great read that will suck you into Francesca's story. The relationships between her family and Will is amazing. Just everything about the novel is great.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Winner of Release Day Contest!

Sorry this has taken long, it's my last week of school and it's been crazy!

The winners of the Release Day Contest are:
Since I am busy this week, you all need to email me with you're addresses at readingkeepsyousane(at)gmail(dot)com by Midnight at Friday, besides Llehn.

Congratulations everyone! I hope you enjoy the book!

"Waiting On" Wednesday (25)

The Line by Teri Hall

(No cover yet)

Set in the near future, THE LINE chronicles the adventures of fifteen year old Rachel Quillen. Since her father died in a war, Rachel and her mother, Vivian, have lived in relative isolation on a place called The Property. It's the home of Ms. Moore, a taciturn woman who makes her living growing orchids. She hired Rachel’s mother as a housekeeper, even though she sensed Vivian was in some sort of trouble. Ms. Moore couldn’t be too picky, for there are reasons that good help is hard to find when you live too near the Line.

The National Border Defense System is an impenetrable barrier intended to protect the Unified States from invasion. Because of an impending attack, construction of the System had to be rushed, and the last section—called the Line—was built inside the U.S. border. When it was hastily activated, it created a permanent division between those lucky enough to be on the U.S. side and those who were not. Families were ripped apart, lovers separated. The territory left unprotected became known as Away; the abandoned unfortunates who survived the enemy attack became the Others. Over the years frightening stories circulated about the Others, stories about strange abilities and evil intentions. The Line became a place to avoid.

For Rachel, the activation of the Line is just a history lesson; it happened long before she was born. Life on The Property has been good, if rather dull, and the Line is just something that has always been there. But things are about to change in ways she never imagined and suddenly the world outside The Property—a world of government control and corruption, where people without power or influence have few choices—begins to intrude.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

An Interview With An Awesome Person: Part 2

The first part of this interview is over at Khy's blog, The Frenetic Reader, where you can see the first five questions answered.

Jillian works at Penguin Group USA. She is an awesome person and you've probably seen her being thanked as J. or as JL or just as Jillian. She is pretty much the person that gives all the reviewers in YA book blogs ARC's from Penguin. Which is why she is awesome.

Lately, I've been thinking of what I want to do as a career and so has Khy. We both agreed that we both wanted to be Jillian's BFF. Okay, maybe not her BFF, but we want to have a job like her's, or a job in publishing as she does. So we asked her a few questions about her amazing job and a few about the blogging community and she answered with some fantastic answers.

Khy and I both hope that the readers of our blogs who are interested in the publishing career will take something from this interview and we both hope you love it. Here's part 2!

P.S. Don't ask for her email because I won't answer you. That is just rude. It is not my right to give out her email address.

6. What is it like to work with book bloggers like us?

I love it! It's one of the best parts of my job. I've had the pleasure
of working with some amazing bloggers who have provided wonderful
feedback, not only through book reviews but on promotional ideas. I've
definitely bounced some ideas back and forth with bloggers - it's great
for brainstorming.

Steph (Reviewer X) asked me some great questions about working with
bloggers in an interview last year here.

7. How long does it take to come up with EXCITING marketing stuff?

I wish instantly! Marketing needs to be consistently innovative and
engaging - I'm thankful that my company recognizes what a great tool the
Internet is for marketing purposes so we have support for trying out new
online campaigns. In the two years I've been here I've definitely seen
an increase in online marketing from eBooks to video campaigns to
widgets - it's all really fun. Plus, the more interactive - the better!

8. Just because we like upcoming book info, can you tell us about
some festive books coming out this year/next year?

A few books I'm really excited about (coming out in fall!) are After by
Amy Efaw, Blood Promise by Richelle Mead, Fire by Kristin Cashore and
Hold Still by Nina LaCour.

9. What do you think is The Next Big Thing in YA books/marketing

Online marketing is really exploding with live online events,
communities and virtual worlds. There are so many fantastic
opportunities for readers to interact with both their favorite authors
and the characters they bring to life. I think all things online will
continue to grow!

10. How much contact do you spend with authors, editors, etc?

Many of our authors are amazing with online self-promotion; they have a
varied presence through blogs, websites, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook,
etc. It's fantastic. I wish my favorite authors were this accessible
when I was a teen! I work with both authors and their editors to further
enhance their web presence and to organize promotional events, blog
tours, etc. Sometimes really little things add up to a huge increase in
awareness. I do my best to connect authors to their audience while
getting the word out there about new releases!

11. What's the best thing about your job?

I'm surrounded by books! My job rests on the foundation of my hobbies:
reading and all things online. My position involves working on websites
I'd need to minimize on screen at any other company. How cool is that?

Thank you sooooo sooooo much Jillian.

Everyone: Doesn't she obviously rock? She's awesome.

Remember! Check out Khy's post on her blog for the first part of this interview!

Monday, May 25, 2009

What is Your Book Personality?

I saw this over at Reverie Book Reviews, who say it at Addicted to Books, and i decided to try it because it sounded fun. Click here for the quiz and share your answer!

Your responses showed you fitting equally into all four reading personalities:

Involved Reader: You don't just love to read books, you love to read about books. For you, half the fun of reading is the thrill of the chase - discovering new books and authors, and discussing your finds with others.
Exacting Reader: You love books but you rarely have as much time to read as you'd like - so you're very particular about the books you choose.
Serial Reader: Once you discover a favorite writer you tend to stick with him/her through thick and thin.
Eclectic Reader: You read for entertainment but also to expand your mind. You're open to new ideas and new writers, and are not wedded to a particular genre or limited range of authors.

I suppose this is me. But I do have a lot of time to read, I just don't always DO it. And I don't really like other genre's that much. Just YA and not even some sub-genres, but everything else it pretty accurate. :)

On The Outside: Elizabeth Scott

Elizabeth Scott is the author of numerous Young Adult books, including her newest book, Love You Hate You Miss You, which is coming out tomorrow! You can visit Elizabeth at her website here.


I confess, I can't take any credit for the gorgeous cover of Love You Hate You Miss You--that all goes to Harper's amazing design team! I'm especially thrilled with the fact that the girl on the cover has red hair, just like Amy does in the book, and I love how if your turn the book to the side, the expression on the model's face does an amazing job of capturing how I feel Amy is. (If that makes any sense!)

One thing I can take credit for though, is the title. Love You Hate You Miss You is the only book I've ever written where I didn't have a title in mind when I started writing the book. I played around with a few things, but nothing ever stuck and so I finally just started calling it what I called the file: Letters to Julia.

When it came time for the book to enter the pre-production process, my editor at Harper let me know that something a little catchier than Letters to Julia was needed.

I confess, I panicked. At that time, it had been over three years since I'd written the book and a little over two since I'd even looked at it--so how was I going to figure out what to call it? Luckily, I was working on edits for the book, and as I went through it, I started thinking about things my editor had asked me to do, and things I'd noticed in the book.

Love You Hate You Miss You is a story about many things: friendship, love, family, but I think it's primarily a story about loss. About grief. And as I thought about that, I thought about all the things you feel when you lose someone. How much you love them. How much you--at times--hate them for leaving you. And, of course, how much you miss them.

And so I thought Love You Hate You Miss You -- that's the title.

I sent it off to my editor, who agreed, and that's how the book finally came to have a title!


Thanks Elizabeth!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Check List

This will be my check list for books that I want to buy this summer in California.
  • Dull Boy by Sarah Cross
  • Castration Celebration by Jake Wizner CHECK
  • Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott CHECK
  • Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler CHECK
  • TMI by Sarah Quigley
  • Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph CHECK
  • Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart
  • Blue Moon: The Immortals by Alyson Noel
  • Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten CHECK
  • Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog
  • Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt
So that's my check list. I might get other books and I might not even get some of those books, but it's my check list. What do you think? Is there some others I should get? Or not get?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen

Title: Along For The Ride
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publication Date: June 16, 2009
Pages: 382
My Edition: ARC
Amazon Page

Rating: A
Plot - 18/20
Characters - 19/20
Writing - 20/20
Originality - 17/20
Entertainment - 10/10
Recommendation - 10/10
Total: 93/100

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

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

Oh, Sarah Dessen, have you ever not written a great novel?

's new novel, Along for the Ride, hits the spot of all her other fantastical novels she has written. This one, not as exciting as some of her others, but nonetheless, just as good. This novel starts out with the beginning of her summer after graduations. Auden doesn't have anything to do all summer, so she goes to live with her Dad and her step-mom, Heidi. But she gets a surprise when she realizes her dad is just busy with his book, Heidi is busy with her newborn, and she ends up getting a job, which changes the course of the novel.

Auden is smart, she's a loner, never really doing anything else but studying for school. Auden reminds me of one of Dessen's other characters, Macy from The Truth About Forever. I kept on thinking that she reminded me of Macy through the whole novel, but the were definitely some changes from her. But, really. Dessen's high point in her novels are her three-dimensional characters. She did not disappoint from that.

I still found the plot and the originality a bit of a downfall from the novel. I mean, everything was there. But I guess, I was just reminded of her other novels, like when Auden meets someone, get's close to him, then distances herself from him. Has that not happen in The Truth About Forever and Just Listen? It has, and I began to think of it as repetitive.

But other then that. Auden's discovery of herself and the person that she has always wanted to be was just as good as you'd imagine it.
It's just as honest and deep as you'd expect from Dessen.

The plot was good, not great, as I've mentioned. The idea of Auden being an insomniac and going around town with Eli is what I really was looking forward to every time a chapter ended.

Okay, so you want a overall. Well, you got it. Overall: This novel was great, not a good as Dessen's other work, not at all, but nonetheless, this is Sarah Dessen, and any of her books are books not to be missed. You've got to read it.

**Much thanks to J. for this novel to me.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

New Personal Blog

I finally made one. I figured since I'm reaching a high point in my teen years that I think I should do something to document them. So the blog is born.

You will here me rant, ramble on and on, and just write about pointless things that I care to share in my ever so dull life. So if you want to share my teen years with me, in a way, they why don't you head on over to my new blog, One Umbrella in the Rain, and follow or subscribe.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Waiting On" Wednesday (24)

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
October 2009

Samara Taylor used to believe in miracles. She used to believe in a lot of things. As a pastor’s kid, it’s hard not to buy in to the idea of the perfect family, a loving God, and amazing grace. But lately, Sam has a lot of reason to doubt. Her mother lands in rehab after a DUI and her father seems more interested in his congregation than his family. When a young girl in her small town is kidnapped, the local tragedy overlaps with Sam’s personal one, and the already-worn thread of faith holding her together begins to unravel.

In her third novel, acclaimed author Sara Zarr examines the coexistence of affliction and hope, and what happens when everything you thought you believed—about God, about your family, about yourself—is transformed.

I scheduled this post about two weeks ago. But I now know that I am actually expecting this book in the mail. So it's more like: "Waiting On" The Mail (3). But I do have to say that this book looks absolutely amazing, partly because it is Sara Zarr.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

WIngs by Aprilynne Pike

Title: Wings
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Publisher: Harperteen
Reading Level: Young Adult, 12+
Publication Date: May 5, 2009
Pages: 304
My Edition:
Amazon Page

Rating: B+
Plot - 18/20
Characters - 16/20
Writing - 17/20
Originality - 18/20
Entertainment - 10/10
Recommendation - 9/10
Total: 88/100

"Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful--too beautiful for words.

Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings."

When a flower blooms in the middle of her back, Laurel discovers that she is a faerie and was placed with human parents as a child. As Laurel learns about her true background and the dangers that face the faerie realm, she struggles to find her place in both worlds.

The first thing that I want to say is that I am not a fantasy lover. I don't read fantasy, I don't have fantasy books, and I haven't read a fantasy book for two years. But this one intrigued me. Mainly because of the cover. The cover is absolutely stunning, and the jpeg doesn't do justice for the real hardcover. It is such an amazing cover. But when I was sent this book randomly (I probably wouldn't of picked it up without this being the case) I looked at it, and I read the very vague synopsis on the jacket cover and it actually got my interested. So I picked it up and I read it.

I loved it. In a I-have-never-read-anything-like-this-before type of way. It was different from anything I have ever read. And I like that aspect of it. I'm not sure if this is a cliche faerie novel or not, but from my experience it was so different, that I just loved the uniqueness of it.

The writing was good, not spectacular. The characters were good, not wonderful. The plot was awesome and the originality was awesome. That is what did it for me.

Laurel was likable. Maybe too likable. She just seemed, perfect. She didn't seem to have her flaws, besides the fact of the flower growing out of her back. David was a bit too perfect too. Tamani was too perfect also. They are good characters, yes. They just need more flaws to come out.

The book was told in third person, and as much as I know you all probably know this, I really hate third person narrative in a lot of books. Some books it fits and I don't complain about it. Actually I don't think I've said anything about this since last August or so. Anyhow, I'm bringing it up again. I really think this novel could have benefited more by the use of narration in first point of view. I think it would've become more personal and more of an honest novel then just a fantasy novel.

In one word: Awe. This novel made me awe it. It was just so different. I just can't get over that. This novel was a great start to the beginning of a new four-book series and I can't wait until next year for the next installment.

Monday, May 18, 2009

On The Outside: Lili St. Crow

Lili St. Crow is the author of numerous books, but Strange Angels is her first young adult novel, which was released May 14, 2009. You can visit Lili at her website here.

Strange Angels actually wasn't my first title choice. The working title for the book was Ghost Hunter, but the editor and I agreed that didn't have very much "snap" to it. So the book was without a title for the longest time, which was exceedingly odd. I normally have a very clear title by the end of the first chapter, when the book has "jelled." Every book's pattern and ending are inherent in the very first beginning words.
Not like life.

While reading the first draft, my editor Jessica came across the phrase "strange angel" and loved it. It was a throwaway term, one I meant to come back to later. The half-vampires in the series, those fighting the forces of darkness, are very strange angels. They look like teenagers all through their lives, so people react to them in an oddly-demarcated fashion. They even react to themselves with a mixture of youth and adulthood—a very apt metaphor for the teen years.

This odd dichotomy starts in the very first book with the heroine, Dru, feeling very disconnected from her peers. In some ways she's all teenage girl, but in others she's very adult. She's had to cope most of her life. I see this over and over again in young people, especially those who have had less-than-stable upbringings. Being forced to cope made me oddly mature in certain ways when I was very young. It wasn't until I was at least a decade older that I caught up with myself in other very important ways.

It's something I often want to tell young people, especially teenagers who think they're somehow less when they hit eighteen and are terribly confused. Most of the worthwhile people I know don't "settle into" themselves until they were in their mid-twenties or later. I'm thirty-three and some days I still feel adrift. It's okay not to have everything decided when you're sixteen, eighteen, twenty. Being confused is normal. A lot of people try to fill that confusion with all sorts of things—"love", chemicals, weird notions of success. Being terribly unsure is actually OK. It frees you up to try things, to say "I don't have this figured out yet."

Just think of the pressure of having everything "figured out" so early. It doesn't sound fun to me.

The funny thing is, now Strange Angels is the only possible title for the book as far as I'm concerned. And I never would have noticed it. I might have gone through and cut that phrase out in later drafts if the editor hadn't spotted it. Which is another thing about life—sometimes it takes a different vantage point to see the important things.


Thank Lili!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

In My Mailbox (13)

IMM is hosted by Kristi and inspired by Alea.

This week I only got one book. One book that looks really good though. :)

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

The undead can really screw up your senior year . . .

Marrying a vampire definitely doesn't fit into Jessica Packwood's senior year get-a-life plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birthand he's her long-lost fiance. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire's Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war and save Lucius's soul from eternal destruction.

I got this book because I won a contest at Amber's blog, Must and Lust for Books! Thanks so much Amber! It looks great!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Winner of Waiting For You

And the winner of the signed finished copy of Waiting For You is:

Okay, after much fiddling with the widgets. I couldn't put it on my blog. Sorry!
Anyway, the winner is comment 7.

And comment 7 was made by the one and only: CHELSIE!

Congratulations Chelsie! You have won a signed finished copy of Waiting For You!

I shall be emailing you soon to collect your address and the book should probably be mailed out on Monday! Congrats again!

On to the comments and why I asked the question I did. I asked what you wanted to be when you were growing up because in this novel, Marisa grows up and becomes someone. I wanted to know what you wanted to be when you were little to, maybe, remind you a little of yourself when you were a young one and to see how far you have grown since then. I hope it made you think at least a little.
Also it gave me some ideas for what I want to be when I get to that age. :P

Anyhow, congrats Chelsie, and thanks for entering everyone! You can always enter my contest to win one of 4 copies of Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow, here.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

Title: Suite Scarlett
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Point
Reading Level: Young Adult, 12+
Publication Date: May 1, 2008
Pages: 368
My Edition: Hardcover
Amazon Page

Rating: B+
Plot - 18/20
Characters - 18/20
Writing - 17/20
Originality - 19/20
Entertainment - 8/10
Recommendation - 8/10
Total: 88/100

Scarlett Martin has grown up in a most unusual way. Her family owns the Hopewell, a small hotel in the heart of New York City. Her nineteen-year-old brother, Spencer, is an out of work actor facing a family deadline to get his career in order. Eighteen-year-old Lola has the delicate looks of a model, the practical nature of a nurse, and a wealthy society boyfriend. Eleven-year-old Marlene is the family terror with a tragic past.

When the Martins turn fifteen, they are each expected to take over the care of a suite in the once elegant, now shabby Art Deco hotel. For Scarlett’s fifteenth birthday, she gets both a room called the Empire Suite, and a permanent guest named Mrs. Amberson. Scarlett doesn’t quite know what to make of this C-list starlet, world traveler, and aspiring autobiographer who wants to take over her life. And when she meets Eric, an astonishingly gorgeous actor who has just moved to the city, her summer takes a second unexpected turn.

With Mrs. Amberson calling the shots, Spencer’s career to save, Lola’s love life to navigate around, and Marlene’s prying eyes everywhere, things won’t be easy. Before the summer is over, Scarlett will have to survive a whirlwind of thievery, Broadway glamour, romantic missteps, and theatrical deception.

The show, as they say, must always go on . . . .

I really wasn't expecting what I got out of this novel. Maureen Johnson's novels have been kind of on the fence with me. I like one book, but then I can't get in the other, I like the next, can't finish the other. So where did I think this would get me? It was the best books of hers the I have yet read, that's what.

I have to say the whole old-school glamour of this novel, it gave this novel a awesome atmosphere to it. I just loved it because of that, it was awesome. The plot was a simple plot. Nothing spectacular, but because of the setting and the old style of it, it felt like it was worth more then it was. Which means it was awesome.

I loved the realness of everything. The characters were the best. They were so real, and alive. Scarlett was a really fun character. She was just like an average teenager, discover her first crush, her first boyfriend, going through her families rough time. It was all very average teenager-y stuff. Very fun stuff.

This novel was fun, real, and honest. Plus I loved how the guy to love wasn't the love interest of Scarlett but her honest to god *swoon*-ish brother, Spencer. That is totally different and I loved it. But, yes. This novel is one to buy, and whoo! It just came out in paperback with a awesome new cover.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

You Must Get Sick of This

I changed my blog. Again. I bet you're really tired of all these post of blog templates now, right? I am.

Anyhow. I just had to change it. I loved my template before, but it was so, so, so dark and it's so nice out, I just needed something more cheerful. So, this is what came out of it. The layout isn't mine, but the header is. But, of course, not the header picture. I just changed the hue to math, added some gradient so it wouldn't be so stretched out and slapped my blog name on it. Ta da! So there you go. Like it or hate it?

I personally love the colors and everything. It reminds me of early morning Spring/Summer at the beach. Doesn't it a little bit? I dunno. But I'll be busy from now until August so I wanted to change it now. I have to say I am completely satisfied with it. I also like having another sidebar again. :)

What about you?

Release Day Contest!

I am lucky enough to be able to host a contest for a book that is release today. That book happens to be the first in a series that features vampires, werewolves, and a butt-kicking female main character.
This book is:
STRANGE ANGELS by Lili St. Crow!“Dad? Zombie.

Mom? Long gone.

Me? Well, that’s the Scary Part.”

Dru Anderson’s not afraid of the dark. But she should be. STRANGE ANGELS (Razorbill; Trade Paperback Original; 978-1-59514-251-1; $9.99; 304 pages; Ages 12 up; May 14, 2009) is the first in a thrilling new paranormal series that introduces readers to Dru, the toughest teen hunter since Buffy hung up her stake. When something evil taps at her kitchen door, can this strange angel stand the heat? Or is it just a matter of time before her blood turns cold?

Dru and her father travel town to town hunting “Real World” baddies like suckers, wulfen, and the occasional reanimated corpse. Then Dru’s dad turns up dead (but still walking), and she suddenly finds herself in the middle of a deadly game of cat and mouse where she’s going to need every inch of her wit and training to stay alive. Even worse, she’s got two guys (Graves, freshly bitten by a werewulf, and Christophe, a half-human vampire hunter) hungry for her affections, and they’re not about to let the fiercely independent Dru go it alone. Will Dru discover just how special she really is before coming face-to-fang with whatever— or whoever— is hunting her?

Fans of vampire series and paranormal romance will be mesmerized by the action-packed adventures and self discovery Dru must face in order to come to terms with her destiny. And this girl’s not going down without a fight.
Contest details:
  • There are five ARC copies to be won.
  • There will be five winners.
  • The first person to comment will be an instant win.
  • The other people who want a chance to win the other four copies will have to also comment to win. I am excluding the first comment from this.
  • US only, sorry international readers!
  • This contest will run from now until Sunday, May 24th. (Sorry it's not longer but that's my last week of school and I'll be going to California on Friday of that week, so I'll be busy busy!)
  • To officially be entered to win this contest you will have to comment with the answer to the following question. This includes the instant win.
If you had to be something, who would you rather be? A vampire, werewolf, or zombie? Why?

Extra entries (All +1 entry):
  • Comment about this on your blog, myspace, facebook, whatever. Yes twitter counts. Because twitter is awesome.
  • Follow my blog. Already following? Tell me.

Thanks and have fun!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Waiting On" Wednesday (23)

The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy
Spring 2010

(No cover yet)

Sixteen year old Jess Parker gets the chance of a lifetime: an invitation to join a secret society of popular girls where ultimate life makeovers reign supreme. But there’s more to membership in The Cinderella Society than meets the eye. Being a Cindy means reinventing yourself from the inside out, a concept lost on Jess as she dives tiara-first into creating a hot new look.

… be careful what you wish for.

Jess’s transformation wins her the heart of the Varsity quarterback and a shot at uber-popularity. Until the Wickeds–led by Jess’s arch enemy–begin targeting innocent girls in their war against the Cindys, and Jess discovers the real force behind her exclusive society. It’s a centuries-old battle of good vs. evil, and the Cindys in power need Jess on special assignment. When the mission threatens to destroy her dream life come true, Jess is forced to choose between living a fairy tale and honoring the Sisterhood… and herself. What’s a girl to do when the glass slipper fits, but she doesn’t want to wear it anymore?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Strange Angels Trailer

Hey everyone!

I really loved Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow (My review is here.) and I wanted to share the new trailer for it with you. It's pretty awesome!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Finally! It's Done!

Okay, for the past, I don't know, month or so I have been making something in my Wood Shop class at school. Something that would be very useful to me. Something that satisfies me and actually kind of makes me proud of myself. And guess what? It's finally done!!!!

I made a bookshelf. By myself (with the exception of my teacher who helped me in things I couldn't do by myself for safety reasons). And I have pictures of my new bookshelf and the new way my books are organized. For you. :) Enjoy and tell me your thoughts.
This is a front view of it. You can see me toolbox I made in the class too when we were in the metals shop for a month. It's a bit scratched up now.
This is it as a whole. Isn't it purdy?

And because I wanted to show you how I changed all the other stuff around. See, Alea is not the only Pop Culture Junkie here. Hehe. Those are my magazines for a year or two. I still have a few more I think too. They are People and EW magazines mixed in with some others. This is a better picture of it as a whole.
This is a closer picture of the other side. And you can see more of my books. :)

Sooo? What do you think? I am so happy with it.

On The Outside: Susane Colasanti

Susane Colasanti is the author of three young adult novels, including her newest novel Waiting For You, which will be released this Thursday.


Back in the days of my teen life, I felt like I was endlessly waiting for everything! Waiting for my soul mate to find me, waiting for things to get better, and waiting for my real life to begin. The waiting was excruciating. This story reflects how painful it can be. So I knew that the title of Waiting for You would involve this concept of waiting in some way. The main character, Marisa, wants more than anything to connect with someone who gets her. She feels like she’s been waiting for her future boyfriend for so long.

Before I started writing books, I always thought that getting to come up with a brilliant title would be the easiest part. But actually? It’s way easier for me to write a book than to think of a title for it. The exception is my fourth book, Something Like Fate. That title came to me suddenly and I immediately knew it was meant to be. However, both When It Happens and Take Me There had different original titles. Take Me There was originally called My Way Home, but Penguin’s marketing team thought the title should be flashier. I wasn’t sure if they would like Waiting for You, so I’m thrilled that I got to keep the title. I’m completely certain that there’s a better title out there. I just don’t know what it is.

I absolutely love the cover of this book. My amazing cover designer at Viking Children’s Books (my hardcover imprint at Penguin), Sam Kim, has an amazing talent for reflecting the tone and emotions of a story with his art. I feel like he really captured the essence of my book. Waiting for You takes place in a small town on the water and Marisa spends lots of time on a dock she shares with her neighbor, Nash. So having Marisa and Nash on the dock, looking out at the water the way they are, is just perfect. Sam used a stock photo for the cover, then selected beautiful colors and fonts. I’m stoked.

Connecting with readers is fun times. I’d love to hear from you! You can find me here:






Thanks Susane!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Title: Jellicoe Road
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publisher: Harperteen
Reading Level: Young Adult, 15+
Publication Date: August 26, 2009
Pages: 419
My Edition: Hardcover, signed, US edition
Amazon Page

Rating: A *New favorite*
Plot - 18/20
Characters - 19/20
Writing - 20/20
Originality - 19/20
Entertainment - 9/10
Recommendation - 10/10
Total: 95/100

"What do you want from me?" he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.

Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn't a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.

In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.

Okay, I'm sitting here trying to think of a clever way to start this review. Honestly? I can't think of one. Someone tell me in the comments why it's always hard to start reviews. I really would like to know. But know I guess I'll just start this one, un-cleverly.

Jellicoe Road was amazing. There is no other way to put it. It is just a brilliant work of fiction. Marchetta wove this story into another story so perfectly. I just feel like standing up and giving Marchetta a round-of-applause.

Yes, this novel was a bit confusing in the beginning. It was different and strange. But the amazing writing, the wonderful characters, the astonishing setting kept me reading, and My Gosh! I am so very much glad I did. This is a new favorite of mine. A book everyone should read. You might have your doubts when you first start reading, but, do you trust me? If you do then you should listen to me when I say to keep going strong and finish it because it is such a complex and marvelous novel that I cannot express me feelings with enough gratitude. Honestly.

Taylor was such a fantastic heroine. You just could've help but like her ways. She is a strong and multifarious character. And she was not the only fabulous character in this novel either! All of them were! Every. Single. Character. I am not lying. They were all so stupendous and extensively three-dimensional.

The writing. Gosh. It was fantastic. Have I already said that? Well it was. Melina Marchetta just has this way with words. This scintillating way of words that you have to love. Her writing has this, this soothing, soft, but important, I don't know. It's just like . . . authoritative. Does that even make sense? You get what I'm trying to say. The words that vibe from her mind and strime through her fingers on a keyboard is the work of a genius. That's a good was to put it.

The plot. The fantasticly amazing plot. It's so, so, so very much complicated. But good. Not just good. Great. Glorious. It started without really giving the reader a hint of what's to come, no, the hints would come later. But I think that's just the reason it IS as brilliant as it is. The weaving of the two stories together was unbelievably impeccable. It was original in the littlest of ways. Maybe it was just because the story is Australian, but the littlest details (that you might know what I'm actually talking about if you have read the book, or not.) is what I think made it so original. The lifestyle of Taylor. The Cadets. The house on the river. The people. It was all original. And amazing.

Okay, it's pretty obvious what I think of this novel. So I think I won't use that word again or the synonyms of it either because it's probably worn out for tonight. But the verdict is: READ THIS NOW!

Sorry, I had a ton of trouble writing this novel. I tried to get the facts out, but I just couldn't stop saying how amazing it is. Sorry again!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Susane Colasanti Blog Tour: Stop 6

Myth #6. The popular kids will be the most successful.

In case you haven’t heard, it’s the eccentric, nerdy, quirky kids who grow up to be the most interesting, caring, accomplished people. Game on.

1. What kind of research has gone into WAITING FOR YOU?

The greatest amount of research pertained to anxiety disorders and depression. Like Marisa, I was also a very depressed teen, but not to the extreme that she experiences depression. I discovered that having a generalized anxiety disorder, which involves obsessive thoughts, excessive worrying, and extreme fear of being humiliated, commonly results in states of depression. In Waiting for You, Marisa uses cognitive behavioral therapy to modify her thoughts and actions, so I had to determine what that process would entail for her.

With every book I write, I want the details to be accurate so I can create a realistic story. Waiting for You takes place in an actual boating community on Long Island Sound. I researched the town’s events and landscape to develop a realistic feel for each scene. Since I didn’t know much about Connecticut, I had to find out about things like the legal driving age and the state curriculum guidelines. I also made sure I knew exactly how podcasts worked, since they play a major role in the book.

2. Do you collect anything like Nash does with bells and Marisa with sea glass? What significance is it to you?

I love this question! Yes, I’ve always been a passionate collector. I had a fierce stamp collection in junior high. I’ve collected coins, postcards, printed pencils, erasers, crystals, movie ticket stubs, matchbooks, fortunes…all sorts of fun stuff. I still collect a few things. Whenever I travel somewhere that has sand, I always bring home a small sample. So I actually have a sweet sand collection! I think Gelly Roll pens are the ultimate, so I collect those. And I still add stamps to my book when I see good ones.

I’m not sure if these things have any particular significance. They speak to me. Anything glossy or sparkly catches my eye. It’s usually the little things in life that make me the happiest.

3. If you could spend a day with any three authors, who would they be? What would you do? Why?

If I could spend a day with S.E. Hinton, it would be the ultimate. The Outsiders was pretty much the only book I had to read for school that I actually liked. It inspired me to think about writing my own young-adult books one day, so that I could help teens the way The Outsiders helped me. From what I know about Susie, she’s a laid-back kind of girl. Maybe we’d play backgammon or cards and then go to Chat ‘n Chew for grilled cheese sandwiches.

Louise Fitzhugh died a year after I was born, but I wish she were still alive. I’d really want her to know how much of an impact Harriet the Spy had on me and so many others. It’s an amazing thing when someone’s work lives on with an invincible life of its own after its creator is gone. I’d want to know about how life in New York City was back in the day. We could walk around the places she loved the most and she could talk about the way they used to be.

Laurie Halse Anderson is my favorite contemporary YA author. We’re both published by Viking, so I’ve been able to visit with her a few times. But we haven’t yet chilled as friends. There’s a sort of Zen garden by the river that’s very peaceful, which I think Laurie would like. It’s cool to have a secret, calm place in the middle of a busy city. She loves coffee, so I’d take her to my neighborhood coffeehouse. I probably wouldn’t have coffee, though. I’d have a granita, because they are so frothy and delicious.

Title: Waiting For You
Author: Susane Colasanti
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Reading Level: Young Adult, 12+
Publication Date: May 14, 2009
Pages: 336
My Edition:
Amazon Page

Rating: B
Plot - 17/20
Characters - 16/20
Writing - 18/20
Originality - 15/20
Entertainment - 10/10
Recommendation - 9/10
Total: 85/100

At the beginning of her sophomore year, Marisa is ready for a fresh start and, more importantly, a boyfriend. So when the handsome and popular Derek asks her out, Marisa thinks her long wait for happiness is over. But several bumps in the road—including her parents’ unexpected separation, a fight with her best friend, and a shocking disappointment in her relationship with Derek—test Marisa’s ability to maintain her new outlook. Only the anonymous DJ, whose underground podcasts have the school’s ear, seems to understand what Marisa is going through. But she has no idea who he is—or does she?

In this third romantic novel from Susane Colasanti, Marisa learns how to “be in the Now” and realizes that the love she’s been waiting for has been right in front of her all along.

To be honest, this was the first novel of Colasanti's that I have read. And I tried reading her other novels. I just couldn't get into them. I'm not really sure why, until I read this novel.

The beginnings of Colasanti's novels aren't really strong, they seem a bit shallow and cliched. But the more I read Waiting For You, my thoughts on the novel changed. The novel turned my thoughts a whole one-eighty. In the beginning of the novel I didn't have high expectations and I figured it for a shallow novel, in the middle my thoughts started changing to about ninety and I began thinking that maybe this novel isn't as bad as I thought it might be, I decided that I was actually enjoying myself reading Marisa's story. Then by the end of the story I realized there was much, much, much more to this novel then a cliche love story that we all know how it would work out.

This novel is about love, yes. It's also about trusting the people you know, about family, and how divorce can change you. It has a major issue that teens face each year: depression. It has the problems that could go wrong with meeting strange people online (in a light way). It just had so, so, so much more then I thought it would. It surprised me! I ended up really liking this novel!

Marisa at first seems like the average sixteen year old girl in high school. But she wasn't. In the beginning you started to see that differences between average teen girls. And in the middle you could definitely see how different she was. She was a good friend, she was a girl who desperately wanted someone to love her for who she really is. She was depressed. The depression in this novel was a really different part that I never expected. And I loved it! I haven't really read a novel where a girl (or boy) goes through depression, and that not along with some other diagnoses. The supporting characters weren't the best, no. But they were still good. They had enough layers and uniqueness that they felt different from each other.

Colasanti's writing was pretty good. I enjoyed her style of simple writing. It was easy to read and fun. Just really simple, and it was a nice change in pace from what I was was reading for awhile. (Especially during testing week!)

Overall this novel was light and fun and simple. On the outside. In the inside this novel produce shocking results and a totally different uniqueness then expected. It is sure to be on to pick up when your in the mood for a easy novel, but a novel then has many layers to it.

Oh, and I just say how much I loved how the title completely fitted with the novel? Well it so did in a way that I don't even remember any other book doing of!

Okay, get ready: THERE'S ALSO A GIVEAWAY! Whoo! Okay, the prize is a signed finished copy of Susane Colasanti's Waiting For You.

Contest details:
  • You have now until midnight next Friday, the 15th of May.
  • One winner will be chosen at random.
  • Comment with the answer to this question to be entered: What do you want to be (or wanted to be) when you were little (career-wise)?
  • US only! Sorry International readers!

Here's a Susane Colasanti Sampler for you!

Thanks to Susane for stopping by Reading Keeps You Sane and answering my questions and to the awesome people at Penguin for setting this up!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Waiting On" Wednesday (22)

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
On the authors website it says Valentine season 2010, but I also found something that said December 22, 2009, so I dunno.

(No cover yet.)

Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in blood. But the monstrous secret of what really transpired resurfaces when Daniel returns, three years later, and enrolls in Grace and Jude's small Christian high school.

Despite promising Jude she'll stay away, Grace cannot deny her attraction to Daniel's shocking artistic abilities, his way of getting her to look at the world from new angles, and the strange, hungry glint in his eyes. The closer Grace gets to Daniel, the more she jeopardizes her life, and the lives of her entire family, as her actions stir the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind Daniel and Jude's dark secret, and the way to save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.

Need I say more?

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams T2T Tours

Welcome to the first Traveling to Teens tour! Due to some circumstances, the first month, May, will be iffy and filled with many bumps. Right now time is the main issue. First up we have Carol Lynch Williams.

CAROL LYNCH WILLIAMS, a four-time winner of the Utah Original Writing Competition and winner of Nebraska’s Golden Sower Award, grew up in Florida but now lives in Utah with her husband and seven children. She has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and helped develop the conference on Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers at Brigham Young University.

The Chosen One
Author: Carol Lynch Williams
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Reading Level: Young Adult, 12+
Publication Date: May 12, 2009
Pages: 224
My Edition:
Amazon Page

Rating: B+
Plot - 17/20
Characters - 17/20
Writing - 18/20
Originality - 17/20
Entertainment - 9/10
Recommendation - 10/10
Total: 88/100

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated polygamous community without questioning her father’s three wives and her twenty brothers and sisters. Or at least without questioning them much—if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her 60-year-old uncle—who already has six wives—Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family.

I really didn't know what to expect from this book. I hadn't heard of it before. But it sounded interesting enough. The only thing that I was unsure about from it was the age of Kyra. From what I've read, I had never read a single book where an author illustrates a thirteen year old like they really are. Carol Lynch Williams is the only author I know to be able to illustrate a thirteen year old correctly. So that automatically made it good in my book.

Kyra was a wonderful character. I loved seeing everything through her eyes. I felt what she felt. I felt her struggle with the need to runaway but also the need to want to stay with her family. She was a great character. The other characters didn't really feel alive to be. They were there, but they didn't feel there.

Williams writing was fantastic. She's a great writer.The novel was original and entertaining. The book was good. But, I don't know, it just didn't give me any 'wow' factor. I enjoy it, yes. But I still felt it wasn't anything spectacular. But nonetheless, I highly recommend it for a quick and easy read.

1. Do you see yourself writing from a teen male perspective at any point?

I did once before (in my novel My Angelica), but I am better at girls because I am a girl, had a sister (no brothers), mostly female cousins, two aunts that I associated with, great aunts (seven or eight of them), and then I birthed five daughters from my body (one pregnancy at a time). I’m all about girls!

2.You're a writer, so it's only natural that you will get ideas for potential novels, where do you store these thoughts? Do you use little pieces of them in your novels?

When I’m working on an idea and another pops in my head I will sometimes start that new idea, get the emotion part of it on the page (the spark that made me want to write that particular piece) and then I’ll just save it in a file till I can get to it. Sometimes I do think I have two different novel ideas and it turns out that the two actually do go together.

3.How do you pick your characters names?

I use people I know. My girls names are in my books, or derivatives of their names. I use my good friends. I’ve used my enemies names (for the bad guys!). If you know a writer, watch out! You might end up in their book. I also look through the phone book. Or when I meet people, if I like their names, I borrow them for a acahracter.

4.What three words would you use to describe The Chosen One?

Family, love, choice.

5.What challenges, if any, did you face writing for young adults?

I feel pretty young in my head. Maybe my challenge is that most my readers are probably a good deal smarter than I am.

Monday, May 4, 2009

On The Outside: Sarah Quigley

Sarah Quigley is the debut author of the very cool sounding novel, TMI, which was out in bookstores April 16. You can visit Sarah at her awesome website here.


TMI: The Title

It’s strange that TMI didn’t instantly come to mind as the title for a book about Becca the Overshare Queen. I originally called Becca’s blog “Go There” (the opposite of “don’t go there,” get it?) and thought that this could be the title of the book, too, but I wasn’t that excited about it. I needed something catchier. Several weeks went by, and I was still stumped. My editor told me not to worry; the title would work itself out eventually.

I was living in New York at the time, and I went to a party of a friend of a friend. I was talking to a woman I’d just met, and I excused myself to the bathroom. “Damn, I’ve really gotta pee!” I exclaimed. To which the woman said, “Um, too much information.”

I frowned and headed for the loo, thinking about how much I hated that phrase. Hearing it always made me feel small and stupid and embarrassed for simply being myself. And what was this woman’s problem, anyway? I was only talking about urination. It’s not like I announced, “Well, time to go change my super plus tampon now. My period’s a real gusher this month!”

Too much information, indeed. Why are some people so uptight? I thought as I sat on the toilet. I felt just like Becca at that moment, as I had many times before.

Too much information. Ugh.

And then, ding-ding-ding-ding-ding! All the light bulbs flashed in my head, and the trumpets blared, and the dancers leaped out. Too much information! What a perfect name for Becca’s blog! Wait! What a perfect title for the book!

I called my editor the next day, and she agreed.

A few months later, my editor emailed to say that the Powers That Be wanted to shorten the title to TMI. I wasn’t that jazzed about it. I liked the reaction I got when people found out my book was called Too Much Information. “What a great title!” they’d say. “I’m surprised it hasn’t been taken already.”

My publisher felt that TMI would sell better to a teen market, much like Lauren Myracle’s books ttyl and ttfn. I was concerned that not everyone would know what TMI stands for, but my editor assured me that teens would know it. Actually, most adults do, too. And hey, if shortening the title helped the book sell, I was all for it.

TMI: The Cover

I was nine months pregnant when my editor emailed me to ask if I had any ideas about the cover of TMI, such as specific images and colors. At that point, the only thing I could think about was how I was going to squeeze out what felt like a very fat baby. I wrote back something lame about a girl sitting at a computer with the letters TMI on the screen. I wanted her face hidden because it was important for readers to come up with their own vision of how Becca looked. I also said that I liked red.

Yeah, yawn.

I didn’t hear back from my editor, and I managed to squeeze out that baby (who was, in fact, on the large side, but I survived). A couple of months passed, and I forgot about the cover (gee, why would that be?).

Then one day I got an email from my editor. She was incredibly pleased with the design department, who had produced what she thought was “the cutest cupcake of a cover.” Eagerly, I opened the attachment to her message.

My jaw dropped.

I loved it.

The cover was so much better and more enticing than anything my non-artsy, sleep-deprived brain could have come up with. I didn’t even care that it showed Becca’s face (well, half of her face). She was adorable. I peered closely at the cloud of images swirling above Becca’s head and recognized important objects from the story. A unicorn. A laptop. A peanut. And yes, a cupcake.

I was thrilled.

I still am. When I go to the teen section of my local bookstores, TMI really pops out at me. Okay, maybe that’s also because I wrote it, but several of my friends have said the same thing. It’s a fantastic cover, and I think the colors and images are playful and fun, which is exactly what I was going for when I wrote TMI.


Thanks Sarah!