Monday, September 27, 2010

A Brief Blogging Break

The in-laws are coming to visit (cue shrieking and whatnot), so I will taking a bit of break from the blog while they are in town. The in-laws are staying with us, so I've been extra stressed. Plus this is the first time they have visited the hubby and me since we moved across the country and since we've been married. Must resume cleaning and stressing about their rapidly approaching arrival.

See you all in about a week and half.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Flash Fiction Contest

I have a thing for Flash Fiction; I just love the crazy, weird, wacky prompts and the range of stories that can come from a one-line prompt. So for those of you who share my sentiments Holly Schindler, author of 2010 debut A Blue So Dark, is currently doing a super awesome Halloween-themed Flash Fiction contest over on her blog,

Here are the details from Holly herself: 
"I’m currently running a Flash Fiction Challenge at my blog: you write the prompts, and I write the fiction.  She (or he) who sends in the “best” prompt (I’m leaving it to the bloggers to decide) will get a prize in time for the holidays.

For October, I’m looking for a creepy, horrible, deliciously awful prompt!  Get twisted, and send me your most terrifying ideas to writehollyschindler (at) yahoo (dot) com by October 2…

Check out the complete lowdown on the challenge, the details for October, and the piece I wrote in September based on a blogger-generated prompt!"
Get thinking creepy thoughts and send your prompt ideas over to Holly. I will be trying to come up with something ghoulish to send her way this weekend.

A bit about Holly:
"I received my master’s degree in 2001, and decided to devote full-time effort to my writing.  After (literally) wearing out half a dozen computer keyboards, I’m THRILLED to have released my debut YA novel, A BLUE SO DARK (Flux), last May.  I blog about the writing life, and about BLUE and my forthcoming novel, PLAYING HURT, at"
 Be on the look out for a review of A Blue so Dark and more from Holly as the release of Playing Hurt  approaches.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Banned Books Week

This Saturday (9/25) begins Banned Books Week, a week of bringing awareness to the numerous books that are challenged every year and attempts of literary censorship.
"The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings.  Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.  Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society." - ALA website
Celebrate the freedom to read what you want this coming week!

Read a frequently challenged book. Get the word out about Banned Books Week. Learn about literary censorship and what you can do to prevent it.

I will be re-reading Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower (for the six or seven time, I believe) next week, one of my all-time favorite books, which has appeared several times on the Top 10 Most Challenged Books list compiled by the ALA since it's first publication in 1999. I feel supporting Banned Books Week is doubly important for those of us who love YA and Middle Grade and understand the importance of well-written teen books for teens. Many of the books on the challenged list are there because someone (parent, teacher, adult of some kind) has decided that it is not appropriate for the target age group. Teens need the freedom to read what they want. It is extremely important that teens have access to books about sex, drugs, suicide, and other "difficult issues" -- for many teens these books serve as a way to better understand themselves and the world around them. They need these sort of books to find someone to relate to, someone who is like them. We must do what we can to prevent the censorship of what types of books are available for teens to read. Thankfully very few challenged books are actually banned.  

Resources to check out:
ALA's Frequently Challenged Books Site
ALA's Freedom to Read Foundation
Paste Magazine's 10 Most Frequently Challenged Books Everyone Should Read
Carnegie Library of Pittsburg's Banned Books Page

Sunday, September 19, 2010

In My Mailbox (1)

This is my first "In My Mailbox" post, a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren to showcase what books bloggers have received in their mailbox, from the library, or bought. I've decided to test out doing videos for this meme (been wanting to add a video feature to the blog and really like Kristi's video posts), so let me know if you like the video thing or if you'd just prefer I ramble in text as usual.

Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
City of Bones by Cassandra Claire
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Kiss Me Deadly by Various Authors
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (ARC)

So what did you get this week?
For more info on IMM or to join in check out  The Story Siren's post on IMM.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend
Kody Keplinger
Little Brown/Poppy, September 2010
Realistic Fiction

So I first heard about this book because it's a 2010 Debut, but became more interested in it after visiting and learning a bit more about the book. I was incredibly excited to find in on the shelves at my local indie a few days before it's September release date! So of course I snagged a copy.
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.
From Goodreads site
I have to start with the voice of this novel; I absolutely loved Kody's voice from the first page. It just felt like an honest teenager, not preachy or trying to hip and edgy. It was incredibly refreshing to read something so realistic. Kody didn't shy away from anything here or gloss over the difficult situations teens face. And she managed to be funny and clever throughout the whole thing. Plus Kody is only 19 and wrote the book when she was only 17! Can you believe it!?! She is an absolutely amazing writer and I can't wait to read her next book and see how her wonderful voice grows and changes.

Bianca is one of my new favorite characters. I loved her right away because she's so sarcastic and a bit caustic at times, which is exactly how I was in High School (maybe still am a bit), so I related to her immediately. She's so honest about how she feels and what she's thinking, even when she's trying to run from her feelings her voice is still honest and realistic. You can't help but feel like you're right there with her. Beyond Bianca's character, the concept of the book really draws you in. Who honestly hasn't felt like the DUFF? To have such an honest voice about dealing with that feeling and realizing that you're not the DUFF that everyone feels that way sometimes, is just so wonderful. I really wish this book had come out when I was in high school.

So I have to say just a bit about the sex scenes. My biggest issue with a lot of YA realistic fiction is that the sex scenes or sexually situations are too racy and unrealistic or more often that they are glossed over in a way that is just ridiculous. Kody has written some really great sex scenes, I must say. It's not that there's a ton of detail or the book's super sexual, they're just real (and totally hot). There's nothing fake or over done about them; this is the way to write sex scenes for teens today (or even girls in their 20s).

I talked Friday about how much I love this cover, in Beautiful Covers (2), so we'll gloss over the details and just say it's totally awesome. I can only say good things about this book; already told a few friends that they had to read it now and stop reading whatever else they are currently reading.

Get this book immediately and begin reading

Friday, September 17, 2010

Beautiful Covers (2)

"Beautiful Covers" posts contain covers (about 5) that I absolutely love. The books will likely not be ones I have read; I won't talk much, if at all, about the content of books; they may be new, old, or upcoming titles. The point is just to present beautifully created covers and talk about why I like them. Please join in and tell me if you agree or if you think any of the covers are just awful. For more about Beautiful Covers check out my first post here.

So creepy; I love it!
Why I love it:
The creepiness -- the image itself isn't necessarily creepy or scary, but when you combine it with those blues and greens and the font, oh it's creepy alright
The font -- I just love this font, all lowercase, the weird detailing, especially on the "l"s, it just works so well
The layout -- the very linear image really works here, it completes the uneasy mood

From far away this cover is so hard to figure out and once you get up close it's still hard to really figure out. It's just so interesting
Why I love it:
The lack of color -- I really the lack of intense color here; there's pink and purple, but they are so subdued; this is what really makes the image so hard to read
The negative space -- the white space is just as interesting as the actual image; this is why I really love this cover!
The imagery -- for some reason I just love the dark butterfly images coming out of the flowers; I don't know what it is, but I'm really drawn to it

The darkness combined with the gold patterning just really draws you in, especially since you can't see the girl's face.
Why I love it:
The image -- I love that you can't see her face and her position is so odd, plus that tattoo, oh it's just gorgeous
The colors -- black covers are very popular right now, but this one seems different to me, probably because of all the delicate golden patterning, it makes the cover so pretty and a bit frightening and foreboding at the same time
Everything just comes together so well in this cover; I think I have to read it. 

Another beautiful black cover. This whole series is just so beautiful, check out the next book here!
Why I love it:
The layout -- everything works perfectly together: the colors, the fonts, the images, it all comes together to create a strange beautiful image
The colors -- that blue against the black, oohhh so pretty; how could you not pick up this book?!
The image -- the blue flower right in the center just draws you right in; it's so beautiful and strange and alluring all at the same time!

Let's end on a fun one. I have been so excited about this book for the past several months; I didn't know too much about it, but I loved the cover. It is amazing read too, review to come very soon!
Why I love it:
The layout --  the giant letters across the cover in bright yellow are just so strange and funky, and the half-face and bubble-gum just add to that vibe
The title treatment -- this book as such an odd title,which could easily create a boring or too clutter cover, but by creating huge letters with the words inside them these potential issues are all resolved into a beautiful and interesting package
The bubble-gum -- I know it's weird to talk about how I love the gum, but I do; the girl just looks so bored and gum just adds to that "I'm bored and possibly highly sarcastic" look, which fits so perfectly with the main character's personality

Friday, September 10, 2010

Beautiful Covers (1)

I will be starting a reoccurring post about beautiful covers. My goal is for these posts to occur every Friday.  These posts will contain covers (about 5) that I absolutely love. The books will likely not be ones I have read; I won't talk much, if at all, about the content of books; they may be new, old, or upcoming titles. The point is just to present beautifully created covers and talk about why I like them. Please join in and tell me if you agree or if you think any of the covers are just awful.

So let's get started:

I just came across this book and not only is the cover super eye-catching, the book sounds super interesting and original. I will definitely be picking this one up when it comes out next year.
Why I love it: 
Half covered face, staring right at you -- totally draws you in
The orange-y-red -- also very eye-catching and well spread throughout the image, so your eye travels around it
The abstract graphic element in the right corner -- interesting added little element of orange-y-red that works perfectly with the title and the image of the girl
The title font -- love all lowercase when it's used well, and here it's definitely used well

So freaking gorgeous! The colors, the image, the graphic elements, oooo just so pretty. I think this might be my new favorite cover.
Why I love it:
The odd graphic elements -- the lines and circles all lead your eyes around the image, highlighting the girl's face, her hands, and the bird, with only the "W" of Wither in a square (ooohhh, so perfect)
The girl -- her pose, her crazy hair, her dress: it's all beautiful and interesting and mysterious at the same time
The colors -- the dark blues, yellowish-greens, and the pink type and graphics play so well together; each element stands out without over-shadowing any other
I just can't say enough good things about this cover -- it's amazingly freaking gorgeous! 

This is one of my all-time favorite covers.
Why I Love It:
The layout -- author's name medium sized along the top with the title just above the girl's head (ooohh amazing) and the girl just staring straight at you; it's perfect
The title font and color -- it's just like a "sold" stamp, so fitting and creepy and sad; the red just adds to this and plays so well with the yellow background and the sepia toned portrait
The girl -- her partially covered face, the sepia tone, her eyes just staring right at you totally and completely draw you in to the book; there's no way you're going to walk past this without looking twice.
Everything about this cover works with the content inside and to draw you in

This cover is just so different from anything else I've seen lately.
Why I love it:
The layout -- although there are other silhouette/profile images on covers this one really feels different; the angle and the boy coming from the top of the cover is just so interesting
The starry space image -- the whole star where the "i" is image could look really lame, but here it seems to work; it's the only bright spot on the bottom half, drawing you into the title; plus the starry image blends so well with the girl's
The white space -- I love the white space around the two faces; it creates such interesting shapes

I know almost nothing about this book, but I came across the cover and became very intrigued. 
Why I Love it:
The simplicity -- the clean single image really focuses your attention to the title and the snowflake; will stand out against many of the other busier YA covers
The colors -- black covers are really popular right now (thanks to Twilight), but I don't really love a lot of them, but this one is so well done; the gold elements stand out perfectly
The fonts -- since the imagery is so simple the fonts and text placements really have to carry more visual interest, which they do; the use of two different fonts helps with this as well; I really love the title font

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Kiersten White
HarperTeen, September 2010

I already talked a bit about my initial excitement in an earlier post here, but I will briefly reiterate that I was/am excited about this particular paranormal novel because of the strong female lead character. 
Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie's always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. Normal.

Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
From Goodreads site
Let's just start with characters: Evie is awesome. Although she works for a secret government agency chasing down paranormals, she is still just like any other teen girl -- she worries about boys, loves to shop, feels out of place, struggles to figure out who she is and what she wants. And through everything she's pretty clever and runs around with a pink sparkly taser. Kiersten White proves that you can be girlie and love pink and still be a strong, smart, independent girl. As for the rest of the characters, they are all interesting and play their rolls in the overall story well. Lend, the romantic interest is an interesting opposite of Evie in many ways adding to her character as well as his. I love these sort of character dynamics.

This novel has more going on than you would expect after reading the summary, even after reading the first 100 pages. It's more than just a girl hunting down a killer of paranormals, or a girl falling for a paranormal, or a girl struggling to figure out who she is -- it's all of those things plus several twists and turns. I honestly had trouble stopping myself from pulling it out at dinner with friends when the conversation began to bore me because all I could think about was what was happening to Evie!

Just have to make a few comments on the cover. It  is one of best I've seen in while. The whole mood created fits the book perfectly and it's mysterious, dark, and pretty all at the same time (just like the main character). Everything about it just works; can't wait to see the covers on the next books in the series.

White has created an excellent YA paranormal novel that keeps all the elements teens (and adults) love about the genre while adding something new and different, especially through her excellent characters.

 Move to the top of your to-read pile

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dark Life

Dark Life
Kate Falls
Scholastic, May 2010

Apocalyptic future, societies living on the ocean floor, crazy out-laws, oh doesn't that sound excellent. The whole idea of society living on the ocean floor seems new and original for YA, and it's all wrapped up into a dysoptia, how perfect.
Set in an apocalyptic future where rising oceans have swallowed up entire regions and people live packed like sardines on the dry land left, DARK LIFE is the harrowing tale of underwater pioneers who have carved out a life for themselves in the harsh deep-sea environment, farming the seafloor in exchange for the land deed.

The story follows Ty, who has lived his whole life on his family's homestead and has dreams of claiming his own stake when he turns eighteen. But when outlaws' attacks on government supply ships and settlements threaten to destroy the underwater territory, Ty finds himself in a fight to stop the outlaws and save the only home he has ever known.

Joined by a girl from the Topside who has come subsea to look for her prospector brother, Ty ventures into the frontier's rough underworld and begins to discover some dark secrets to Dark Life.
From Goodreads site
Let's get the bad out of the way first: I had a hard time getting in the story. I really liked the premise and the characters especially Gemma, but for some reason I wasn't dying to find out what would happen to them. There was a lot suspense and the "villain" character was awesome, so I'm not sure what prevented me from absolutely loving this book. The main issue, I think was I came into the novel thinking YA, older characters, and the characters are fairly young and the story felt very very Middle Grade, which I really didn't expect. Maybe that's really the only basis for my issues with the book.

On to the good: have I said how much I love the idea of society on the ocean floor?! The underwater world Falls has created was amazing; I especially loved all the detail given about how the homes function, how the people "farm" and raise animals. It all seemed perfectly logical, nothing too far-fetched. I could easily picture every part of Ty's world.

And Ty himself is an excellent middle grade boy character; he's adventurous, brave, nervous around girls, a little awkward, devoted to his family. Young boys will totally relate to him especially since he always feels so different. And Gemma, his female sidekick is funny, smart, stubborn, brave; girls and boys will like her and relate to her struggle to find her brother and a sense of family. The rest of the cast is excellent created as well, especially the various "villains;" all of whom are more than just bad-guys out to destroy society.

Excellent Middle Grade dystopia adventure story. I think I would have really loved it if I hadn't been so stuck on assuming it was older YA.

Add to your to-read pile