Dec 31, 2010

End of 2010 Survey

The Perpetual Page-Turner has created an end of the year survey. I thought I would give it a go... I have not linked up the titles because..... A) You have probably heard of most of them, B) I'm lazy today.

1. Best book of 2010? Starting out with the absolute best of 2010? Wow...uh....hmmmm. I would have to say Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Taking into account that it was the end of a trilogy and the whole universe was anxiously awaiting the release, this would be my best answer.  Whether you loved Mockingjay or not, can you imagine not reading it this year? Uh, no!

2. Worst book of 2010? A lot of people may have trouble answering this question, but reality is, not every published book is good. My answer? Without a doubt, hands down, Halo by Alexandra Adornetto. Oy! I literally clinch my teeth when I look back on this book. 

3. Most Disappointing Book of 2010? The first one that comes to mind is Girl Parts by John M. Cusick. The book started out okay and then it got really...weird. Someone described is at the robot sex book. I think that is a great description! Close second...Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. I gave it a good rating, not excellent, because I thought it was the middle grade version of The Mortal Instruments .

4. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2010? I can easily say Firelight by Sophie Jordan. I had just come down from my Halo experience and wasn't too sure about dragons, I mean...draki. The last dragon book I had read was Eragon - and I hated it! I didn't even finish it (one of the few). I was very apprehensive, but I loved Firelight and gave it 5 stars!

5. Book you recommended to people most in 2010? Probably The Hunger Games trilogy. Yes... definitely.

6. Best series you discovered in 2010? The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan! I got the first two at TLA and read them back to back. I had never read a zombie YA before and I LOVED Carrie Ryan's version. LOVE! I am jumping out of my skin for The Dark Hollow Places. Close second...The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. 

7. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2010?  I will start with Heidi R. Kling. We went to high school together and when I learned, this year, that she was working on a YA book, I about fell out of my chair! She is so wonderfully talented and everyone should grab a copy of her debut Sea. Second, Sophie Jordan (Firelight), Kiersten White (Paranormalcy), and Ally Condie (Matched).

8. Most hilarious read of 2010? Two - Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Leviathan and Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. 

9. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2010?  Again, Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. It seems like the entire country was waiting on the edge of their seat to get their hands on a copy. The publisher's were smart not to print galley's. We would have gone mental fighting over them! When I got my copy, I sat and read in 4 hours. I couldn't put it down...

10. Book you most anticipated in 2010? Again, Mockingjay. I was really looking forward to Matched too. I love dystopian's! Oh...and Beautiful Creatures!

11. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2010? 

12. Most memorable character in 2010? Cassel from White Cat by Holly Black! Oh man...cannot wait for Red Glove! Jack from The Marbury Lens is a close second. Wow....

13. Most beautifully written book in 2010? So hard....skip please...? (see below)

14. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2010? Okay, I admit it, I kind of shy away from really deep books. I read mostly for pleasure and I usually don't read super sad and thought provoking books. I need to work on this, I know! So my answer? Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher even thought it wasn't published in 2010. Eeeek. 

15. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2010 to finally read? Crank by Ellen Hopkins. I have no clue what took me so long, but when I heard she was coming to Austin, I read it immediately. So powerful...I highly recommend!

 Book Blogging in 2010 (optional)

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2010? I have more than one - Girls in the Stacks, Page Turner's, Good Golly Miss Holly, Stephanie, A History, The Story Siren, A Blog About Nothing, All About {n}, The Nerd's Wife, and Cari's Book Blog to name just a few. Really...there are so many of you! 

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2010? I think my review for Will Grayson, Will Grayson was pretty good. Also, Sweet, Hereafter by Angela Johnson. I put a lot of time and effort into the post. 

3. Best discussion you had on your blog? I think my post about authenticity with Native American children's literature was pretty thought provoking for me and others. ;)

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else's blog? Tough question....I have read SO many fantastic reviews. In fact, the ones I have disagreed with were the most thought-provoking. Someone didn't care for Matched and I gave it 5 stars. Her reasons were valid although I disagreed. It was a well thought out review that touched on some great literary elements. Wish I remembered who that was....

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? Wow! There are so many! I think I would have to say TLA in April. I was in library school and this conference was my first "official" library thing. I was like a fish out of water and kept darting my eyes to everything! The exhibit hall was huge and they were literally handing out books as you walked by a booth. I was losing my mind with excitement! I can't wait until April, 2011 - TLA is in Austin this time around...

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2010? I would have to say being asked to moderate a panel at the Austin Teen Book Festival. I was at the grand opening of a library and ran into a local librarian. We chatted about TLA and then kablamo....she asked if I would volunteer! I was extremely excited and the day was awesome!

7. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? Hands down....ARC tours. I had no clue these existed! I have read some pretty awesome books through tours. I hope to get mine, Banned Book Tours, up and running by next week! ;)

Whew...that was fun! 

Happy Reading!

Dec 30, 2010

Review - The Adventures of Ook and Gluk

The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future by Dav Pilkey, George Beard, Harold Hutchins
Published August 10th 2010 by Scholastic, Inc. 

From the Publisher:
When Ook, Gluk, and their little dinosaur pal, “Lily” are pulled through a time portal to the year 2222 AD, they discover that the world of the future is even worse than the one they came from.
Fortunately, they find a friend in Master Wong, a Martial Arts instructor. Master Wong trains the two cave boys in the ways of Kung Fu, so that they may one day return to the past and save their village. But when their moment of destiny arrives, will Ook & Gluk have the strength and wisdom to defeat killer robots, mecha-dinosaurs, and time-traveling terrorists?

Review from my 12-year-old:
Ook and Gluk have an enemy named Chief Gopper Nopper. Ook and Gluk got the Chief fired from his Chief job. Chief tries to take revenge after he finds his great-grandson from the future - 2222 AD - chopping down trees. His grandson made a time machine to back in time to get the resources from the past to use in the future. They use these resources for fuel and energy. The Chief and his grandson enslaved the town where Ook and Gluk are from. Ook and Gluk escape with a dinosaur named Lily. Lily, has a mother who is still enslaved by the Chief. While on the run, the three meet a karate teacher. Master Wong helps them hide and for seven years he teaches the three to fight. The Lily, Ook, and Gluk set off on an expedition to defeat Chief and his grandson. 

I liked the illustrations. It was good how he thought of how cavemen really don't use grammar so he didn't spell the words right. There was a lot of action and it was really funny. It was cool when it showed how Ook and Gluk got older. 

4 out of 5 stars

My daughter read this in one sitting and I appreciate her writing the review for me! She loves Dav Pilkey and has read just about everything he has written. 

Happy Reading!

2011 Audio Book Challenge

I really can't say enough about audio books. I always have one going in the car. My daughters don't always like it, but on the other hand...they have loved some of my choices! Some of our fave's are Thirteen Reasons Why, The Mortal Instruments (I listened to them all), and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

The 2010 edition was hosted by Alaine of Queen of Happy Endings. When Alaine was looking for someone to take over for her, I, Teresa's Reading Corner, happily volunteered. The 2011 Audio Book Challenge will run from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011.

Here are the levels:

Curious: 3 Audio Books
Fascinated: 6 Audio Books
Addicted: 12 Audio Books
Obsessed: 20 Audio Books

Choose your level of participation and add your name to the linky on Teres's blog.

I am shooting for Obsessed!

Happy Reading!

Review - Sweet, Hereafter by Angela Johnson

Sweet, Hereafter by Angela Johnson
Published January 5th 2010 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

From the Publisher: 
High school student Shoogy Maple moves out of her home and into the home of Curtis, a soldier who just returned from Iraq. Shoogy and Curtis live a quiet, simple life in the woods. After reading a letter from the Army Reserve, Shoogy knows Curtis has a tough decision to make that will affect everyone.

Shoogy Maple lives in a cabin in the woods with no TV, no radio, and no computer. It is a quiet life that she has chosen after leaving her family home at 17. Shoogy and Curtis settle in to a routine of school, work and hushed meals. Life is going at a slow and steady pace until Shoogy reads a letter, addressed to Curtis from the Army Reserve. Shoogy learns Curtis has been ordered to return to active duty. Shoogy begins to understand why Curtis has been suffering from nightmares, yelling out in the middle of the night, and waking up drenched with sweat. Curtis must make a decision to return to war or possibly go to jail. Whatever his decision, Shoogy’s life will change forever.

Coretta Scott King Award winner Angela Johnson gives us the final installment of the Heaven trilogy. Told from Shoogy’s point of view (a supporting character we met in Heaven and The First Part Last), Sweet, Hereafter is a novel as quiet as the characters. There is sparse dialogue and there are no in-depth self reflections. Shoogy is a young African American female whose mother characterized her as “free” and “restless”. Shoogy moves out of her home at a young age, but we do not quite know what finally led her to leave, and we do not quite know why she turned to Curtis. We are only told, “I left home on a sunny day.” Curtis was a former neighbor, and the two had a few brief encounters in the last year or so. This adds to his mysterious quality. The reader is given no information of his background, military or family life, and we are left to assume he is an uncomplicated man haunted by war. When Shoogy mistakenly reads the Army Reserve letter intended for Curtis, they never discuss his choices. The reader is never positive whether Curtis knows that Shoogy read the letter. Although his decision is heartbreaking, it was really hard to connect with Curtis because the reader had no chance to get to know him.

This book is quite different from the others in the trilogy. Heaven and The First Last Part had a defining plotline of family. Young Heaven (Heaven) discovers her parents are not who she thought they were, and Bobby (First Last Part) is a single, teenage dad fumbling his way through fatherhood. Sweet, Hereafter is more subtle and nothing is told outright. Sure Shoogy chooses her family when she turns to Curtis, but we do not know why. Did she get kicked out? Did she leave in the middle of the night? There are no details and the story is very ambiguous. Sweet, Hereafter is more poetic and figurative than the companion novels. For instance, Shoogy refers to Alice and after a few minutes, you realize she is speaking of her truck, and not a person.

Even though the main character is African American, in my opinion, there are only subtle references to African American culture. We are told that Shoogy had a "curly ‘fro", but if the author did not come right out and say it, we might never guess that Shoogy is an African American girl. The cover art is the only evidence. Her boyfriend Curtis is only described as having “the darkest eyes”. In addition, there is no talk of religion, spirituality, celebrations, traditions or any other aspects that could be cultural markers. The language can be that of any teenager living in America today. Lingo used was something that any young person would say, and it wasn't on the heavy side. Sweet, Hereafter is a novel that blends in perfectly with other young adult fiction. Recommend for ages 13+.

3 stars

Five Great Miracles

Persnickety's FIVE is all about what restored your faith in the genre you love to read OR what got you to read more!

These are my FIVE miracles that got me to read more:

1. GRADUATING with my MLS this August! Holy cow.....I had to put off reading SO many fantastic books because there wasn't enough time in the day. After finishing school, I swear I read for a month straight. This is me and my favorite professor, Dr. Maria Cahill, at the ceremony a few weeks ago! Awe...we will be presenting at ALA together in June. *shakes in boots*

2. ZOMBIES! I fell in major love with Carrie Ryan and The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Major love! I would read it aloud and my old man would make me stop. He hates zombies! Can't wait to meet her at TLA in April!

3. The Hunger Games... FULL disclaimer: I LOVE DYSTOPIA! I wish to be an expert some day. The Giver literally changed my life and The HG reassured me that YA was where I needed to be. I blog about Suzanne Collins often. I think she is a genius. She could write awful love poems on a roll of toilet paper and I would buy it. ;)

4. Texas Library Association - this event is like the Disneyland of events for Texas! I walked about with over 120 books and spent $78! I scored so many ARCs and signatures. It's where I met Suzanne Collins too! I REALLY encourage you all to go to author events. Even if you don't know a single soul there, you will have a great time! I have met some really awesome authors, stalkers, and bloggers in my area.

5. I Read Banned Books & Literary Lonestars - I started this blog for school in 2009. I stuck with it and I love what it has become. The blog is like my literary diary. I don't complain about the kids or what the husband did to upset me, but I do vent about not so great stories and fantastic reads. It has been very therapeutic for me. The blog is a perfect blend of computer nerd and book nerd = perfect for me!

Happy Reading!

Blessed - Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith (& Giveaway)

If you haven't read my full review of Blessed, hop over HERE. Cynthia is a local author (Viva Texas!), and I am always excited to run into her. Here we are at TLA in April!

Your blog, Cynsations, has won numerous awards and you were in my text books for library school! How do you juggle writing, being a faculty member for Vermont College, of Fine Arts, blogging, touring, and daily life struggles?

Thank you! It's not so much juggling as standing in the line of fire and trying to catch each incoming missile, flip it, and heave it back into the world. Or something less artillery sounding.

At the moment, I'm on leave from teaching. But I hope to start working with students again soon. Basically, unless I'm speaking, my typical day involves the business of being an author in the morning, sometimes into the afternoon. That time is allocated to posting the blog, media, business correspondence, working with event planners, and other publicity. On a good day, I'm writing fiction by 10 a.m., but it's not unheard of for me to open my manuscript in progress after dinner.

That's okay, though. My husband, Greg Leitich Smith, is also an author. But he has a day job, so I often get in another session, writing with him in the evenings. If I'm on the road, then I seldom try to write new scenes, though I may well read and mark up manuscripts in progress, especially on planes. It's typically all I can do to keep my email caught up and put out any unexpected fires. I know authors who're really successful at writing on the road and still wowing the crowd. Maybe it's that I'm not as good at compartmentalizing, but when someone has brought me in for an event, I want to be really present and engage with them and the audience. And that seems to take a 100% commitment.

When Blessed is released this January, it will be 4 years since the first installment, Tantalize. How do you feel now that Quincie's story has been told? 

I started making notes on Quincie in late 2001/early 2002, so it's been quite a journey. She may well have small roles in future books-the graphic novels start coming out in Aug. 2010-but Blessed does conclude her big arc in the prose novels.

I'm proud of Quincie. I'm glad that I didn't cave to the commercial pressure of putting a romantic bow at the end of Tantalize. I'm glad that challenged some readers, especially the two girls who wrote to say they left their abusive boyfriends because of her example.

I'm thrilled that reader-and-publisher support gave me the opportunity to write more books and tell the rest of Quincie's story. In Blessed, she took back so much of what had been taken from her in Tantalize. I love that she's smart and ambitious and sensitive-that, after everything she's been through, she still has a sense of humor and can embrace life and a new beginning while still holding onto the people and places she holds dear.

Finally, I feel that her arc makes a fresh and substantive contribution to the literary tradition surrounding the vampire mythology. It calls long accepted metaphors into question, especially as they relate to gender, power, and the ability to be defined by someone else (versus defining yourself).

Austin, Texas is almost like a side character in Tantalize and Blessed. How does the "weird" city inspire you as a writer? 

It's funny. When I go to other parts of Texas and tell them about the shape-shifters and vampires and guardian angels in Austin, they all nod sagely like that explains a lot. Our reputation for weirdness is well earned, I suppose. What strikes me about central-near south Austin is that it's a place of optimism and possibility. People embrace their quirks and make them work, often in surprising and inspiring ways. But beyond that, Austin is home to one of the best youth lit and writing communities in the world. Brian Yansky, Jennifer Ziegler, and April Lurie have crafted totally different YA novels, drawing on that same Austin setting.

When you were writing Tantalize and/or Eternal, did you know exactly what characters would make an appearance in Blessed?

I knew the pending threads in Tantalize that I still wanted to address. But I didn't have a clear sense of the mix until I was fairly far into Eternal. Much of it evolved naturally. For example, the staff at the estate in Eternal included a top-notch chef named Nora, and we knew that Quincie had kicked Brad out of Sanguini's at the end of Tantalize. She'd need a chef to replace him. Likewise, when Miranda asked Zachary at the end of Eternal to help neophytes like her, those who could still be saved, I couldn't think of anyone more deserving to be his next assignment than Quincie. 

Bram Stoker's Dracula is an integral part of Blessed. Do you think the story of Dracula can measure up to today's horrific standards? In other words, would teens find the story scary and entertaining today?

The execution of Dracula demands a somewhat sophisticated reader. The 1890s prose style is heavy and repetitive. The fantasy element doesn't quite hold together, and critics continue to debate who the protagonist might be. (My vote is Mina.) But the story? Sure. If I did a straight-up plot retelling in my own voice, I could scare the teeth off of today's teens.

Quince and Kieren have a love bond that shouldn't be possible, just like Zachary and Miranda (Eternal). Is it true - all you need is love?

I would agree about Zachary and Miranda. Angels are supposed to hold themselves apart in general. A vampire was clearly a bad choice, but in fairness, Zachary fell for his girl back in her human days. Now that she's in heaven, the good-evil conflict is out of the equation but, given his earthbound status, the promise of seeing her someday is hard to hold fast on a day-to-day basis.

Quincie and Kieren make an easier match. Sure, he's a werewolf and she's a vampire, but again, their romantic history predates her transformation. Going into Blessed, the big question-at least in her mind-is whether she's still worthy of him, of going on at all. Kieren, being Kieren, never doubts her. I adore that about him.

That said, actually, no, I don't think all you need is love. Over the years, my fan mail has been abundant and overwhelming positive. But I definitely punched the buttons of a couple of girls-one who argued that you're "nothing, nothing, nothing" without a boy to love you and another who said that Quincie couldn't love Kieren because her family restaurant and other people also mattered to her. "Giving up everything for him is what love is," she argued.

So, for the record: No, romantic love isn't all you need. You need yourself, your own interests, and additional people to care about. That will make the love real and far more resonant. That will amplify the love in a way that being someone else's echo never could.

The cover art for Blessed is beautiful! Is that you in that fancy white dress?

Thank you! All the credit goes to the amazing folks at Candlewick Press. And it is fancy, isn't it? My closest dress to it would've been my wedding gown, which was far simpler, with clean lines and just a hint of a teardrop to the skirt.

Predator or Prey?

Predator. I have the law degree to prove it.

Do you know any of your tour stops for 2011?

Yes! The launch party will be at 2 p.m. Jan. 29th at BookPeople in Austin. I'll be sharing the stage with fellow Austinite Mari Mancusi, who'll be celebrating her new release, Night School (Berkley, 2010). From there, I'm off to the northeast. I'll be in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut in February, and then swooping down to Florida in March.

Here's a sneak peek sampling; see my website/blog for a more complete listing:

Sunday, 2/6/11: 1-3 p.m. - Books of Wonder: reading/Q&A/signing with author Daniel Nayeri 
(18 W. 18th St., New York, NY 10011)

Tuesday, 2/10/11: 3:30-5 p.m. Brooklyn Public Library - Will You Be My Paranormal Valentine Party

Tuesday, 2/10/11: 7 p.m. The Voracious Reader: "Will You Be My Paranormal Valentine?" with author Daniel Nayeri: reading/Q&A/signing 
(1997 Palmer Ave, Larchmont, NY10538-2439 -- (914) 630-4581)

Saturday, 2/12/11: 1:00-2:30 p.m. Mercer County Library Event -- West Windsor Branch
(333 North Post Road, Princeton Junction, NJ08550)

Saturday, 2/12/11: 6:30 p.m. Barnes & Noble, Cherry Hill, NJ (Greater Philly area)
(911 Haddonfield Road, Cherry Hill, NJ08002)

Saturday, 3/19/11: Southwest Florida Reading Festival, Fort Myers, FL

And watch for Tantalize: Kieren's Story, a tie-in graphic novel, illustrated by Ming Doyle, which will be out from Candlewick in August 2011. I'll definitely be heading to Houston and who knows where else in celebration of that release!

THANK YOU, Cynthia! 


You will happy to hear that I am giving away my ARC of Blessed to one lucky winner! Cynthia has also thrown in a cute little bat (important in the story and to Austin, TX) and a Tantalize postcard. 

Contest Rules
US address
Must be a follower
Contest ends at midnight CST, Sunday, January 9th
Winner will be chosen using
Must fill out the form below to be officially entered
Good luck!

*Giveaway closed*

Review - Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Published February 8th 2011 by Candlewick Press

From the Publisher: 
With a wink and a nod to Bram Stoker, bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith unites the casts of Tantalize and Eternal in a delicious dark fantasy her fans will devour.

Quincie Morris, teen restaurateur and neophyte vampire, is in the fight of her life — or undeath. Even as she adjusts to her new appetites, she must clear her best friend and true love, the hybrid-werewolf Kieren, of murder charges; thwart the apocalyptic ambitions of Bradley Sanguini, the seductive vampire-chef who “blessed” her; and keep her dead parents’ restaurant up and running. She hires a more homespun chef and adds the preternaturally beautiful Zachary to her wait staff. But with hundreds of new vampires on the rise and Bradley off assuming the powers of Dracula Prime, Zachary soon reveals his true nature — and his flaming sword — and they hit the road to staunch the bloodshed before it’s too late. Even if they save the world, will there be time left to salvage Quincie’s soul?

Blessed is the final installment in the Tantalize series and combines the characters in Tantalize and Eternal. We catch up with Quincie right where we left off in Tantalize. She is a vampire and her maker, Brad the head chef she hired for her vampire themed restaurant, has given her a choice; go with Brad and live a life of damnation or drink from her best friend (who is also a wolf and her not-so-secret love) Kieren. Brad is certain that because Quincie is a new vamp, she will drain Kieren completely dry. Brad is wrong. Quincie stops herself from killing Kieren and Brad has no choice but to leave the bloody scene empty-handed. Because Kieren has been framed for a few deaths in Tantalize, he joins a wolf pack and leaves Austin. Quincie is devastated when Kieren leaves. She tries to focus on Sanguini's by hiring new kitchen and wait staff. As luck would have it, Nora the head chef for the drac in Eternal, and Kenny the party planner for Miranda relocate to Austin. Also, Zachary is officially assigned to be Quincie's guardian angel. Although she has the distractions of the restaurant, school, and her new friends, Kieren is always on her mind. Worse, she now lives with Kieren's parents and has moved into his room. Quincie begins to go through Kieren's books to find answers about her 'condition.' When Quincie runs across a copy of Bram Stoker's Dracula, everything changes. Characters from past and present join forces to end Brad for good. First, they need to find Kieren. Vampires looking for a wolf pack isn't exactly tea at the Plaza.

I am thankful for the way Smith reminds the reader the events in Tantalize and Eternal. It has been a very long time since I read the first book in the series, and I worried about being lost. Not the case here. I think the summarization of the previous novels at the beginning of Blessed was one the best summarizations I've read in a YA. With other books I have had to refer back to the previous installments when confused. I didn't have to do that once for Blessed. I also appreciate that the summary of events in the previous installments weren't dumped on me in the first chapter. They were integrated seamlessly over several pages and chapters. 

I love it when a series comes full circle and all questions are answered. I had that feeling when I finished Blessed. I didn't feel cheated or wonder why the events took place the way they did. Blessed reads as if Smith had a plan all along. I'm quite sure she did.... Blogging from Austin, TX, I was happy to read about some local places. I recognized street names, parks, restaurants, and even the lake I live next to. That was a special touch that I hope some Texans appreciate. 

The utilization of Bram Stoker's Dracula was a double edged sword for me. On one hand with no spoilers, how cool! I had zero clue "that" was coming. On the other hand, I was a bit confused. I think if a reader had a little more background with Stoker's novel, they would fare a bit better than me. In the end, the cool side of the coin won over the confused side. 

Can we give a round of applause for the cover?'s beautiful! The best of the trilogy by far! 

Bottom line: Readers will be happy to see more than a few characters from Tantalize and Eternal make more than just a quick appearance. A great way to end a trilogy.

4 stars!

Dec 28, 2010

Five Great Author Moments

The Persnickety Snark Five continues...

Today's post features my top 5 author moments from 2010. There were so many great author meet-ups this year that it will be hard to choose just five.

TLA (Texas Library Association), April - Meeting Suzanne Collins was THE highlight of my year. Okay, graduating was up there too, but seriously folks.....Suzanne Collins! I was the second person in line and we all watched her lay out her things carefully. Then...she brushed her hair! It was amazing...her hair gets huge (like mine if I brush it out). I think we look like we could be related. After her signing, she spoke for an hour about her career and growing up in a military family. I wrote about the entire day HERE if you care to read.  

Austin Teen Book Festival, October - I was very fortunate to be the moderator for the Dastardly Daydreamer panel at the #ATxTBF this year in Austin. The panel made up of Kiersten White, Sophie Jordan, Melissa de la Cruz, and Nancy Werlin were some of the sweetest ladies to hang out with all day. They put up with all my prying questions, and squeeee moments. (there were many). I wrote about the awesome event HERE

Beautiful Darkness Signing @ Book People, October - Austin has a fantastic book community and we were all more than pleased when Mari and Kami stopped on by to promote Beautiful Darkness. Who should come along too? Anastasia Hopcus, a local author that we all love to hang out with. I wrote about being a swag hag for the tour stop HERE

Texas Book Festival, October - I was happy to volunteer at the signing tent at the Texas Book Festival this year. The highlight of the festival was meeting (and hugging) Laurie Halse Anderson and M.T. Anderson. I was assigned to host Laurie's table, and she was so warm and welcoming to every fan. She gave out a lot of hugs and plenty of smiles. She was engaging and funny, and made the day totally enjoyable. M.T. Anderson and I talked about his awesome book, Feed. I had just finished the audio version and was blown away by it. We talked about all of the extras the producers made for the audio book. I highly recommend it! It was a fantastic day! 

Smart Chicks Tour, September - I think a lot of people will post about the Smart Chicks Tour today! The Austin stop welcomed Rachel Caine, Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Holly Black, and Cassie Clare. It was SO incredibly crowded and hot, but the night was fun. The authors were hilarious and I'm sure they were exhuasted from signing hundreds of books. It was a packed house! 

Dec 27, 2010

Across the Universe Swag Winners

Congratulations goes to...

Kate from WI

Llehn from Singapore

Nancy from UT

Kulsuma from England

Karenlyn from Philippines

Lucia from Uruguay

Inspired Kathy


You have each won a signed bookmark and a signed book plate to put in your copy of Across the Universe! I will be mailing those out when I return from vacation.

Happy Reading!

Five Great YA Movie Deals

Before we get on to my list, I have a few points to make about "movie deals". One - just because your movie is optioned does not mean that the movie will be made. There are thousands of books and scripts that get optioned, but until the money comes through....nothing happens. Two - is it just me or has every book under the sun been optioned?

Was there really any other movie that would be in my #1 spot? I think not! It would be an understatement to say that I am excited about this movie. I do have some concerns though. Will they pick the right actors? Will they follow the plot line closely? There are SO many variables that could make me worry to death!

The Giver has been optioned for years, and hopefully it will be made by 2012. IMDB says that it is "in development," but I haven't heard anything lately. Even though I heart The Hunger Games, I hope The Giver gets a chance. This is my favorite book and it changed everything for me (as far as what I read).

I think this would make a fantastic movie! Shadowhunters, vampires, warlocks, werewolves....this story has it all.  I hope they pay careful attention to the special effects. I think the effects will make or break this movie.

The book came out only a few weeks ago, and yet Matched gets optioned. Fine with me - I loved this book! I think this is a great dystopian and I hope Cassia, Xander, and Ky's story gets the go...

I really enjoyed Firelight and I hope this movie gets a greenlight for production. This book takes on a more 'Twilight' feel for me over the others. 

Dec 25, 2010

Five Hope For YA...

My hopes for YA literature are pretty simple:

1. No more"fall in love at first site, and I get physically sick to be aways from my boyfriend" girls. I know teenage girls are emotional roller coasters (so are boys!)m but enough is enough with this "Bella Syndrome". I would love to see the desperateness slip down a few notches. Maybe wait until the third or fourth time characters meet before they fall head over heels.

2. More male protagonist's written BY males! I can think of around 10 YA authors who are male that write for males. We need more! Something needs to be written for these reluctant readers and boys who don't fancy vampires. Jon Skovorn, Kenneth Oppel, James Dashner, and Sherman Alexie are fantastic and we need others to join them.

3. Lessen the amount of series. We talked about this a little this year, but I'll say it again, "Seems like everything I read is part of a series." For me, 9 times out of 10 a book I am dying to read is part of a collection. We need some good solid stand alones out there!

4. Zombies, we need more zombies! I'm done with vampires, I won't even begin to tell you about how many times I've been scorned by angel books, and I don't do dragons (okay, I love draki - Firelight).  I need zombies!

5. Lastly, we need AUTHENTIC, contemporary, multicultural books with an insiders perspective. Meaning, a Native American Indian writing about Indians in today's society that are actually Native American. Doesn't too hard does it, but you will be amazed how many Caucasians (try) writing with an African American or Mexican American voice. Although these stories may be outstanding, we need more titles written with first-hand experience.

That's it!

Happy Reading!

Five Most Anticipated....

A little late, but I am giving the Persnickety Snark FIVE Challenge a go. What's going on? Head on over to
Persnickety's site and get the low down. Here we go for Saturday...

The Five Most Anticipated Titles of 2011:

First off - 2011? I can't believe it! I remember writing 1980 something on my school papers. Wow....time is flying by! Here are the titles I can't wait to read.

Carrie Ryan's The Dark and Hollow Places is without a doubt at the top of my must have list for 2011. I am going out of my mind waiting for this book. Literally.... This series is one of my favorite's EVER and I can't see how it all wraps up. Check out The Forest of Hands & Teeth to get started. Don't let the zombies scare you!

Book three in the Prophecy of the Sisters series by Michelle Zink is also a must read for me. I can't wait to see the sisters face off in Circle of Fire. I hope it goes down like a UFC fight and Lia kicks the snot right out of Alice! By the end of book two, I was ready for Alice to jump off a cliff.

Give me some Cassell! Red Glove by Holly Black has a total 1984 Dynasty cover, but I'll go ahead and forgive the art department, and read the next book in the White Cat series. Seriously, this cover is redonkulous.

Is this really any surprise? I am almost through City of Glass as I type. Clary's wonky eye can't scare me...I'll stick with the series even if they move to the Meat Packing District and become street walkers. I'm in it for the long haul! 

Matched by Ally Condie was one of my favorite books this year. So, I leave you with Crossed. So can't wait for this series to continue! 

Welp, that's my list. There are several that debut in 2011 that I have already read and that is why they did not make the list. Across the Universe for example....can't say enough about how great that book is! 

Happy Reading!

Dec 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has a joyous holiday with family and loved ones. I look back on the year and am reminded of my many blessings; friends, family, and books! Here are some of my favorite pictures from Christmas present and past.

Merry Christmas! 


Dec 23, 2010

The Book Blogger Hop (11)

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly event hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books and runs from Friday to Sunday. The Hop is a fantastic way to get your blog noticed, and visit some other blogs that you didn't know about before. Head over and sign up and see what you can find!

Each week a different question will be added to the hop in order for conversations to occur, and for your followers to get to know you better. Here we go!

Whah, whah, whahhhhhh; there is no question this week.

Follow Friday is hosted by the lovely Rachel at Parajunkee's View. Here is her question:

"What are your plans for Christmas"?

Oh Lord, I'm not sure if anyone wants to hear about the craziness that is Christmas for the Bigheart's! In a nutshell, I will be visiting three houses and eating three meals in less than 24 hours. I am adopted and SO blessed to know my birth family. We spend Christmas Eve together with my birth mother, Myra, and about a zillion other relatives. BTW, this is no exaggeration - we counted over 70 last year. Anywho, on Christmas morning we open presents at my parents house and scarf down breakfast so we can visit my husbands family, the Bigheart's by 11am. We open presents with at least 40 other Bigheart's (twelve are from 6-18 years old) and zoom back to my parents for more gifts with my siblings. Aren't you happy you asked! Throw in two turkeys, three hams, and around 10 pies and that is Christmas. We also play games and pop traditional Christmas crackers - my mother is British! Did I mention that I live in Austin, Texas and ALL my relatives are in Oklahoma? We have to take two cars in order to bring the haul home. We keep asking everyone to chill on the gifts...

It is easy to forget what the season is all about when our kids beg for every electronic toy and our relatives spoil us with food and gifts. No matter your religion or the holiday you recognize, this is the season for family and giving. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday! 

What about you? Leave me your link and I'll find you. 

Across the Universe SIGNED swag - Ends Dec 26th, enter HERE
Blessed giveaway coming soon....
Plus...big news!