The Compulsive Reader: February 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Love You, Hate You, Miss You by Elizabeth Scott

In the seventy-five days since the accident that claimed her best friend Julia's life, Amy has been at Pinewood, a rehab center, recovering from her dependency on alcohol, trying to live with the absence of the only person who ever truly understood her and her overwhelming guilt concerning the night of the accident. When she gets out of rehab and is back home, her shrink asks her to keep a journal. Instead, Amy writes letters to Julia. Thus begins her tumultuous, painful, and somehow hopeful process of reconciling with the past, and learning to face the present.

Elizabeth Scott has created yet again another beautiful, eye-opening, and magnetic read that will grab readers and take them on a roller coaster ride of pain and suffering, hope and joy. Scott's tight and brisk writing perfectly convey Amy's tidal wave of feelings—regret, guilt, loneliness, and resentment, but also her hope to find a place where she doesn't feel self-conscious. Scott's treatment of Amy's tendency to use alcohol as a crutch is very straightforward and blunt, and she doesn't let it get in the way of the story, nor does she try to preach to readers on the issue, which is a refreshing gesture some readers will appreciate.

One of the main focuses in the novel is friendship, how it affects and molds who we are as people, and how difficult it can be to reach out to someone new. Scott captures all of the embarrassing, awkward, and frustrating aspects of connecting with those who you have misjudged and the complexity of relationships influenced by peer pressure and the need to belong. Another important element of the novel is how Amy's parent's are portrayed rather unconventionally; as parents who are too consumed with each other and are attempting to live the childless life they originally planned on rather than devote their time to being good parents. How they and Amy deal confront these issues and reveal long-withheld feelings is just another mark of Scott’s excellent storytelling abilities. Few writers can pull off such emotional, authentic, and truly striking novels as Elizabeth Scott has done with Love You, Hate You, Miss You.

Love You, Hate You, Miss You will be available from HarperTeen on May 26th, 2009!

Friday, February 27, 2009

The September Sisters

Hey everyone,

Remember the book The September Sisters by Jillian Cantor? Well, it was released on Tuesday. I had HOPED to post this then, but my computer was not cooperating until now. But no worries!

Please give me feedback! I'm still getting the hang of the art of book trailer making (though it's become easier with my Adobe PremierePro), and I'm still having some issues with the text getting hard to read after I export my file, but all in all, it seems to be working out pretty well.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Lia is anorexic. Her disease is a compulsion, something she can't—and doesn't want to—fight. Before, she's always had her best friend Cassie for support. But then Lia was forced into rehab, and now that she is out, Cassie refuses to talk to her anymore, leaving Lia more confused and alone than ever.

And then Cassie dies. Her tragic and rather mysterious death brings up all kinds of unwanted thoughts and feelings that Lia doesn't want to experience. But she has no choice but to face them—Cassie is haunting her, no matter where she goes, reminding Lia of what she didn't do the night of Cassie's death.

Wintergirls is altogether startling, compelling, and in a way, a bit morbid as the spotlight is cast on Lia and how she lives her day-to-day life with her anorexia. Anderson's writing is stark and even lyrical as she effortlessly characterizes Lia into someone that the reader can't help but pity, but loathes to do so at the same time. Lia herself is a hypnotizing narrator: her blunt honesty draws you near, only to twist your heart as she delves deeper into the finer points of her disease and reveals her secret plots to become thin, which, in Anderson's style, manages not to seem completely crazy and twisted, and will allow readers to identify with Lia on some levels. Besides being about anorexia, the novel also has much to do with family, and how they have influenced who Lia has become. The strained relationships and the uncertainties that come with a family that doesn't get along very well are intriguing and support Lia's behavior and character perfectly, making Lia an even more authentic character. Wintergirls is one of those novels that, once started, cannot be set aside easily, and will drive readers to discover Lia's fate. Wintergirls is all at once evocative, exquisite, and painful, and has the power to engulf readers with waves of thought and emotion.

Wintergirls will be out in May.

Video Excerpt of The Day I Killed James

Check out this video excerpt of Catherine Ryan Hyde's The Day I Killed James. I loved the book, and this video is pretty cool.

Video excerpt of The Day I Killed James

Death by Latte by Linda Gerber

It has only been a few months since Aphra Behn Connolly’s life changed drastically. After Seth Mulo left Aphra’s island with his family, Aphra becomes determined to find her mother, even if it means lying to her father. But when she does find her, Aphra is shocked that her mother doesn't seem too happy to see her. Instead, it seems like Aphra's appearance is stirring up all kinds of unneeded trouble. A when Seth reappears and asks for Aphra to give him back the ring he gave her, it sets off a chain of events that will send Aphra, her mom, and Seth on the run from a danger that is closer than they thought.

Death by Latte may only pick up a few months after its prequel left off, but the action and suspense kicks in right away in Gerber's clever, humorous, and heart-pounding sequel to Death by Bikini. Aphra's reactions to finally meeting her mother again are realistic, and her hurt at being brushed off is understandable, causing plenty of sympathy. Yet readers will be happy to see that this doesn't bring the gutsy heroine down as she continues to search for a way to help Seth and her mother—while at the same time making a few mistakes on the way. Death by Latte is certainly more mysterious and complicated than its prequel, but the perfect amounts of humor, romance, and love balance out the book perfectly. Gerber leaves readers hanging once again, and in desperate need of the sequel, Death by Denim, which hits shelves in May. Fan of Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series will devour Gerber's smart and entertaining series.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hunted: Stevie Rae

Here's another teaser video for Hunted, which comes out in only two weeks!

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Mailbox Exploded

My mailbox exploded today. Too bad all these nice books didn't shove some of those bills out of the way.

Death by Latte by Linda Gerber

Love You, Hate You, Miss You by Elizabeth Scott

Mackenzie, Lost and Found by Deborah Kerbel

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong (anyone have a copy of The Summoning I can borrow?)

Something Happened by Greg Logsted

Breathing by Cheryl Renee Herbsman

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Hedley

Everything is Fine by Ann Dee Ellis


Skeleton Creek Live Webcats Today!

If you missed the last webcast, here's another chance to be in on all the excitement:

Jeffrey Townsend, Hollywood filmmaker and director of Patrick Carman's 'Skeleton Creek,' is ready to answer your questions about the making of this groundbreaking multimedia experience live, direct from his production office! Be there!

Watch the live webcast and ask questions via chat here:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

You Are Here Contest!

Have you heard about You Are Here, Jennifer E. Smith's second book (her first, The Comeback Season, was last March's BotM)?

Emma Healy has never fit in with the rest of her family. She's grown used to being the only ordinary one among her rather extraordinary parents and siblings. But when she finds a birth certificate for a twin brother she never knew she had, along with a death certificate dated just two days later, she feels like a part of her has been justified in never feeling quite whole. Suddenly it seems important to visit his grave, to set off in search of her missing half. When her next-door neighbor Peter Finnegan -- who has a quiet affinity for maps and a desperate wish to escape their small town -- ends up coming along for the ride, Emma thinks they can't possibly have anything in common. But as they head from upstate New York toward North Carolina, driving a beat-up and technically stolen car and picking up a stray dog along the way, they find themselves learning more and more about each other. Neither is exactly sure what they're looking for, but with each passing mile, each new day of this journey, they seem to be getting much closer to finding it.

Sound good to you? Well here's how you can win an ARC:

Since the book is about a road trip, all you have to do is email Jennifer at thecomebackseason@gmail.com and tell her about your own favorite road trip or driving story! Please enter by March 1st, and Jennifer will draw the winners at random. First prize is a signed galley of You Are Here, and she'll also give out two signed copies of her first book, The Comeback Season, for second and third place.

Good luck, everyone, and I can't wait to read You Are Here in May!

B2B: Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging

Okay, so when most people ask me what my favorite book is, I usually respond with, "I don't have one." This is mostly because I just love so many books, and because I don't like to think too hard about this question. But, I will admit to one "classic" that is definitely situated towards the top of the list...Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging (HarperTeen, paperback, $8.99). This hilarious, over-the-top read is written by Louise Rennison, is packed full of lovely and wacky Bristish humor, and loads of love and angst. I picked it up not long after it came out in the US almost 8 years ago, and distinctly remember buying it on the sly during a trip to the mall with my best friend and her mother, and then hiding it until I got home, because it had the word "thong" in the title.

Over the years, Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicolson series has gotten wackier, but has also exploded its way into my definite favorites list. If you're in need of some good, hard laughs and some nice love triangles (and later on, rectangles and a bunch of other love polygons), pick up this book! You will not regret it!

Remember, if you buy this book, or any books listed on February's Book of the Month page, you can be eligible to win a copy of Zoe Marriott's The Swan Kingdom! Details here!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Waiting for You by Susane Colasanti

Marisa is determined to make sophomore year great—she’s going to make everyone forget how spacey she was last year when dealing with her anxiety disorder. She's made a pact with her best friend Sterling that from now on, they will live in the Now, and they will find boyfriends—there will be no more waiting.

But the new school year also brings some surprises as well: Marisa rekindles her friendship with her childhood buddy, the extremely nerdy Nash, and attracts the attention of charming and flirtatious Derek. Her unshakable parents are acting completely odd, and Sterling can't stop falling for older guys over the internet, a scary prospect. Marisa learns that sometimes things in life don't go the way they were planned—but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Waiting for You is a book that will really hit home with a lot of teens. At the center of the story is Marisa's struggle with waiting for that perfect someone who will love her for her, no matter what; a longing that is familiar to many. But rather than allowing the book to focus on that one want, Colasanti crafts a multi-layered read that digs deep into the details and captures the subtle nuances of friendship, school, and day-to-day life. Marisa is an engaging and refreshingly honest narrator with an authentic voice who sometimes gets too wrapped up in herself, but her genuinely kind qualities more than make up for it.

One of the best aspects of Waiting for You is how Colasanti weaves each of the situations and plot twists throughout the book seamlessly together to reinforce her main idea: the perfect guy isn't always what you expect him to be like, and not all great relationships can last forever. Waiting for You is a humorous, poignant, and quietly powerful book that will inspire readers to live their lives in the Now instead of waiting for something better.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hunted: Erik

Man, these teaser videos for Hunted are killing me! I need that book!

Here's Erik's video:

Now for the ultimate question: Who do you think Zoey should end up with?

Check out the first book here.

February Book of the Month: Madison Macallister's Love Advice for the Totally Clueless

Sorry this is late, but Jennifer Banash has been terribly sick lately! But, she was so gracious as to pass along some love advice from Madison to celebrate the month of LOVE!

Madison Macallister’s Love Advice for the Totally Clueless

  1. 1. Always play hard to get. The Rules aren’t “guidelines,” they’re a way of life.

  2. Girls like sparkly things—a lot. And the words “Tiffany,” “Harry Winston,” and “Chopard” are music to our ears—and usually our pants J

  3. Always be the dumper, never the dump-ee. And remember—girls can dump retroactively.

  4. Relationships come first—you can explain the Bergdorf’s bill to daddy later.

  5. There’s always someone hotter, smarter, richer, funnier . . . better. Make sure he knows it.

  6. Girls should have as many pairs of shoes as they want; guys often rely on one. The same rule applies to dating.

  7. Having a sex tape will not make you a celebrity—it just makes you desperate.

  8. Never hit on, flirt with, or try to date a certain blue-eyed boy from the Upper East Side who worships Woody Allen like it’s his own personal religion, and mainlines black coffee . . . or I’ll have to kill you.

  9. Men are like stilettos—wicked, dangerous, and you often have to break them in multiple times before you completely fall in love. Learning to navigate the world in stilettos is much like dating—you have to walk before you can run.

  10. And remember the most important rule of all: never, ever say those magical three little words first—unless they’re “I’m leaving you.”


Want to hear more from The Elite characters? Now is your chance to ask Drew Van Allen your questions! Leave them in the comments by Saturday night, and you'll get your answers!

While you're at it, how about dropping me an email with FEBRUARY in the subject heading for a chance to win a bunch of books? In Too Deep (the latest Elite book), Pants on Fire by Me Cabot, and The A-List: Hollywood Royalty are included! Send all entries to thecompulsivereader@gmail.com by February 28thth, and be sure to check out our other contests in the sidebar!

Good luck, and start leaving those questions!

Monday, February 16, 2009


I've been bombarded recently with someone wanting to know how many books I have, and where I keep them all.

I'm happy to comply, but you see, if I do show you, I'm afraid you'll think I'm a terrible slob. Usually I'm not, but uh, I don't have NEARLY enough room to put all my books (there are piles of them, and I honestly am trying to get rid of some. Honestly) so therefore I end up with this:

There you go. A compulsive reader's mess.

The Musician's Daughter by Suzanne Dunlap

Theresa Maria lives a modest yet comfortable life with her younger brother, mother, and her father, who is a violinist in the orchestra of Prince Nicholas Esterhazy of Vienna. When her father is murdered on Christmas Eve, his body found at a gypsy camp outside of Vienna and his priceless violin missing, not only is Theresa devastated, but desperate for answers. Why would someone murder her kind father, a simple musician? In her pursuit for answers and in looking after her family, Theresa discovers some startling secrets, revealed to her by her godfather, the maestro of the orchestra, and her father's fellow violinist, Zoltan, that will lead her on a path to justice and danger.

The Musician's Daughter is a lively and suspenseful read that will take readers to the glittering life of 18th century Vienna, but also offers a look at the darker aspects of the time. Dunlap offers a very authentic and accurate look at the times and social aspects, as Theresa struggles to find way to feed her family, and worries about her pregnant mother and how her family will cope with the loss of her father. But there are political elements in the story as well, as Dunlap reveals a government that is not always fair and is prone to corruption.

Though a little slow at first, The Musician's Daughter soon picks up, becoming a fast paced and action-packed race to stop many injustices and to keep Theresa's family safe from harm. At times it may be a little hard to keep certain minor characters straight and to keep up with the whereabouts of everyone, but the excitement and danger will keep a tight rein on readers. Dunlap has created a shining, adventurous novel with an admirable and plucky heroine that is sure to entertain.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

This Weekend's B2B: I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Keuhnert

Hey there everyone,

This weekend's Book to Buy is the wonderfully fabulous I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert (Paperback, MTV Books, $13.00). I bought a marked-up copy through the Leave A Mark fundraiser, and read it through, and it is spectacular! It's a very real and powerful story that will leave you paging back and forth through the book many times!

So if you buy it, just send me a picture of the book and receipt, and your name will go in the drawing to win a hardcover copy of Zoe Marriott's The Swan Kingdom. Extra entries to anyone else who buys last week's book, The Dust of 100 Dogs, and any of January's books! Details here.

Reality Check by Peter Abrahams

Cody's life is pretty good—he's the quarterback of his school's (rather good) football team and has college scouts checking him out, he's just passing all of his classes, and he has the hottest girlfriend, Clea, who is really into him. But then things start to go south pretty fast—Clea is sent to a prep school out east to better prepare her for Ivy League colleges, and their relationship is over. Then Cody tears his ACL, leaving him on the bench for the rest of the season—and maybe even the rest of his career.

Without football as motivation to do well, Cody's barely acceptable grades plummet, and disheartened, he drops out of school. Then comes the worst news of all: Clea has gone missing. Driven by guilt and fear for her safety, Cody heads to her Vermont prep school, desperate to join the search to find her. Without telling anyone who he is, he begins to poke around, looking for clues as to Clea's whereabouts, and doesn't like what he finds. Each dark secret brings him closer to what has happened to Clea, but also closer to danger.

Peter Abraham's Reality Check is a fast-paced and smart mystery that will really hook readers and completely draw them into Cody's world. Cody isn't your average hero, but he is relatable and real, and his emotions, motives, and uncertainties make him a likable character and Reality Check an easy book to get into. The mystery is well thought out and convincing, making it hard to guess the outcome until the very end. Though the ending is a bit abrupt, Reality Check is a riveting and suspenseful read and readers will be happy to follow along with Cody as he regains his self confidence and learns a few things about himself.
Reality Check will be out April 28th, 2009 from HarperTeen.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks

I don't have a real romantic read for you today (although, you should check out Radiant Darkness and Daughter of the Flames), but here's the latest from Lauren Myracle, which has a whole lot of LOVE:

Carly has always felt a little out of place in her upscale life in Atlanta, Georgia. When she volunteers six weeks of her summer before sophomore year working in Tennessee woods, she feels like she has finally found herself—her real self that has nothing to do with clothes or money or connections that everyone back home is obsessed with.

So when Carly heads home, clinging to her newfound "realness", she's shocked to find that her younger sister Anna, her closest ally and the person who understands her the most, has gone from the attentive little sister to a sexy sister that guys lust after and who likes clothes and makeup. Now these two sisters, who are so alike and at the same time so different, must find a new way of dealing with things, from their family, friends, and boys, to themselves.

Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks is a completely engrossing and wonderfully funny book. The dynamics between Anna and Carly are completely believable as they grapple with who they have become while at the same time still trying to keep a grasp on their old relationship. The novel is told in big sister Carly's point-of-view, and her frustrations, fears, and wants are quite tangible, especially as she struggles to be different in her cookie-cutter world and tries to understand why Anna is so quick to embrace it.

At its heart, Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks is a novel that deals with some heavy issues every teen faces: change, diversity, acceptance, and of course, relationships. Myracle handles the heavier issues of racial differences that arise with sensitivity and insight, and each humiliating and painful circumstance both Carly and Anna encounter is taken with a good dose of humor as well. Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks is sweet without being cliché, full of wisdom, and a completely authentic book with a great and non-preachy message that every teen girl ought to hear.

Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks comes out in May!

This Week in Books

This week in books wasn't that plentiful...

But, it did bring me THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, which if you know me at all, then you know I've been yearning for it since like, July. Also, needless to say, I've finished it already. And even though I'm not allowed to post my review until next month's release date, I must say this: take it from me; this book is every bit as good as it's made out to be! Truly! PLUS, it totally surprised me in wonderful way. So go pre-order it now! You will love it, TRUST ME! You have my permission to hate me if you don't (which is so not going to happen, because Carrie Ryan will totally put you under her zombie spell!).

And Need! I'm not forgetting Need! I've heard of its fabulousness, and I can't wait to read it! The cover is creepy, and glittery, quite a promising mix. Hopefully I can get to it ASAP.


Ah, look at what I just found lurking in my mailbox! Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund! I loved Aurelia, so this is exciting!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Live Webcast Event TONIGHT!

Hey everyone,

Patrick Carman, author of Skeleton Creek, a neat book that is half book, half movie (I know, it sounds weird and you're scratching your head, but I'll post about it soon, once I finish reading/watching it, which is os only taking forever cause it's super creepy and frankly, I'm a wimp), is hosting a live webcast tonight, Friday the 13th, at 6:30 PST. Go here to watch and leave your questions.

Also, knowing how the book is turning out and the fact that it is Friday the 13th (any superstitious types out there? I have to admit that I am not one of you, but if you're reading this, you're cool in my book), it's going to be creepy! So check it out!

Click here to learn more about Skeleton Creek.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman

We all know how the story goes: poor, innocent Persephone is snatched away from her beloved mother, Demeter, by Hades and imprisoned in the Underworld as his queen. Demeter is grief stricken, and wreaks havoc on the earth until Persephone is thankfully allowed to come back for a few months out of every year. Right?

Wrong. Demeter is smothering Persephone, who yearns for a chance to prove that she is no longer a child, and to explore the world beyond her sheltered vale where her mother has kept her "safe from men" for all her life. So when she encounters Hades by chance and they fall in love, her decision to leave her mother is not a hard one. At first, everything is just fine, and Persephone is adjusting to her new life wonderfully—except now Demeter is killing mortals in a desperate attempt to get Persephone back, and the only way Persephone can stop her is if she leaves her new home and husband...and never returns.

Radiant Darkness is a different look at the ancient tale, but infused with new life and a new attitude. Persephone's voice has a modern edge to it that is easy to read and relate to and her wishes and hopes aren't different from those of any other girl her age. Demeter’s overbearing presence in Persephone’s life will elicit sympathy from many, and Persephone’s courage to make her own decisions in life is admirable. Though the romance between her and Hades isn't portrayed in very deep or meaningful manner, it's electrifying enough to send shivers down your back and make you wish for your own lord of the Underworld to whisk you away from ordinary life. Whitman has created a pleasantly enjoyable read that stays quite true to most of the original Ancient Greek tales and explores both filial and romantic love, friendship, and the coming of age and self confidence in a more modern and catchy voice that will set your heart racing.

This book will be available on April 29th, 2009 from HarperTeen!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Can't Wait for Hunted?

Are you chomping at the bit for Hunted by PC and Kristin Cast? Me too... Well, we've only got four more weeks until it's out (in hardcover!), so here's a video that perhaps shall help ease the wait:

Interview with Zoë Marriott

Zoë Marriott is the author of The Swan Kingdom and Daughter of the Flames (which comes out today!).

Why do you write Young Adult fantasy?

Well, it was a bit of a struggle to get there - I tried being a poet, writing romances, horror, whodunits, all sorts. I was not successful; I never managed to finish anything! When I was about eighteen, my sister had her first baby, and I decided to get a unique present for the nursery, one that was a bit more interesting than a teddy or a mobile: books. So I went online and did searches for authors whose names I vaguely remembered as being ones I loved when I was younger, and came up with Tamora Pierce and 'The Song of the Lioness Quartet'. When the books arrived I was off work and at a loose end, so I decided to re-read them before passing them on (terrible manners, but who can resist a pile of shiny new books? Not me). Bam! It was like getting hit in the head with a lightning bolt. I actually jolted in my chair. Something in my head started screaming, THIS IS IT! I couldn't believe I had forgotten how much I loved fantasy for young adults. It seemed so blindingly obvious that this was what I was meant to be writing too. So I owe it all to Tamora Pierce!

What was your inspiration for The Swan Kingdom and Daughter of the Flames?

Both came from books. The Swan Kingdom was inspired by a picture book that my sister bought me when I was really young - a beautifully illustrated version of The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen. I loved the pictures so much that I used to just sit and stare at them and make up dialogue and descriptions to fit them, and as a result the fairytale has remained my favourite all my life. Daughter of the Flames came about after reading 'The Tough Guide to Fantasyland' by Diana Wynne Jones. If anyone is thinking of writing fantasy, that is the number one book they should read first, because it just skewers all the fantasy clichés and assumptions that give the genre a bad name. Daughter of the Flames is my attempt to take some of those clichés (for instance, what Diana Wynne Jones called 'colour-coding') and fix them.

What are you working on now/what can we expect from you in the future?

Right now I'm working on a re-telling of Cinderella - but it's a very, very loose re-telling! It's set in a fantasy version of Feudal Japan, with all those gorgeous rituals, costumes and landscapes. When I pitched it to my publisher, I described it as Cinderella meets The Count of Monte Cristo meets Memoirs of a Geisha, so gives you some idea. After that's finished I'm hopefully going to be working on an indirect sequel to Daughter of the Flames, looking at the country of Ruan five or six years after the events of the story, and how the country is rebuilding itself. Zira and Sorin are back, but only for cameo appearances.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Er...I don't really have one. I write on the bus. I write in the coffee-room at work. I write in bed. I write on my laptop in my tatty recliner, and on my PC in my study. I've written while in the bath (note: I advise using a pencil for this). I'm kind of compulsive, can you tell? (We like compulsive!)

What do you do when you're in a writing slump?

Read like mad to try to forget that I should be working. Bake until my family and friends are begging me to stop before they're sick. Take my dog for long walks until he runs away and goes home without me because his paws hurt. Then finally I give in and go and talk to my writing friends, who make sympathetic noises and tell me to get my butt back in gear and stop moaning (only they're really much nicer about it than that). Sometimes I find switching to paper and pen works, and sometimes switching from pen and paper to computer does the same thing, but just like any author, I long for a sure-fire cure for the Block. I'd patent it and be rich (rich! Rich beyond the dreams of avarice, mwaa haa haa!)

What were some of your favorite books when you were a teen?

Weirdly, I did not read young adult or teen books when I was a teen. By the age of about thirteen I had worked through all the children's and YA books and was reading adult books - and some really dodgy stuff, too. I can't believe I didn't warp my brain for life. But I did read YA books non-stop between the ages of ten and thirteen: Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, Patricia McKillip, Margaret Mahy. Those were my idols. But there was a lot less good YA fiction about then, especially in the fantasy genre. We're living in a real golden age now.

What would your dream library look like?

It would go on forever. It would have books in it that haven't been written yet. There would be a massive roaring fire and a big, cushiony window-seat that looked over a different view every day. And there'd probably be some cats in there too. There's nothing like a cat on your knee when you're into a good book.

If you could have a conversation with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?

Jane Austen, I think, though I might actually be too frightened to say anything.

What's one good book you've read recently that you'd like to recommend to your readers?

Graceling, by Kristin Cashore. It just came out here in the UK, and it's great. When I first read about the premise for the story I was really hacked off, because I had a very similar idea that I had been planning to write about at some unspecified future date, and I couldn't believe someone else had gotten in there first. But the book totally won me over - Ms Cashore's take on it was way better than mine would have been, and I loved it, so I gave up being bitter and now I just can't wait to read Fire!

Is there anything I didn't ask you wish I had?

Um....no. But I would like to include my website address here: http://www.zoemarriott.com/. It's full of advice for young writers and book recs and other useful stuff, and I don't get nearly enough company. Come visit me!

Thanks, Zoë!

Now, here's an extra bonus: a contest. Do you have a playlist of songs that inspire you? Comment below with your playlist, and you'll be entered to win a signed copy of Daughter of the Flames, a few of Zoë's favorite books, and a CD of Zoe's own inspiration playlist. Go ahead, it's tons of fun, and a great way to get inspired! The contest will run until the end of the month, and the winner will be announced March 1st!

An Excerpt from Meridian by Amber Kizer

Meridian, a new paranormal book from Amber Kizer (author of One Butt Cheek at a Time), is about sixteen-year-old Meridian who has been surrounded by death ever since she can remember. As a child, insects, mice, and salamanders would burrow into her bedclothes and die. At her elementary school, she was blamed for a classmate’s tragic accident. And on her sixteenth birthday, a car crashes in front of her family home—and Meridian’s body explodes in pain. Before she can fully recover, Meridian is told that she’s a danger to her family and hustled off to her great-aunt’s house in Revelation, Colorado. It’s there that she learns that she is a Fenestra—the half-angel, half-human link between the living and the dead. But Meridian and her sworn protector and love, Tens, face great danger from the Aternocti, a band of dark forces who capture vulnerable souls on the brink of death and cause chaos.


August 11, 2009 Release Date

"In the economy of Nature nothing is ever lost.I cannot believe that the soul of manshall prove the one exception."

Gene Stratton-PorterAfterword from JESUS OF THE EMERALD 1923


The first creatures to seek me were the insects; my parents cleaned the basinet free of dead ants the morning after they brought me home from the hospital. My first word was "dead."
At age four, when I stepped out of bed and popped a giant toad like a water balloon, I never again turned any lights off. For all of my sixth year, I slept sitting up thinking I'd spot the dying coming toward me.

There were times when it felt like my insides were full of broken glass, times when the souls of the animals passing through me felt too big, too much. I'd open my eyes in the morning and peer into the glassy gaze of a mouse on my pillow. Death never became my comfortable companion.
I didn't have nightmares about monsters; I wasn't afraid of a thing in my closet. In fact, there were many times when I wished they, the dying, would hide under my bed instead of burrowing into the pile of stuffed animals by my head.

My mother hugged me, told me I was special. I'd like to think my parents weren't revolted by me. But I'll never forget the feelings apparent in the glances they exchanged over my head. Worry. Fear. Repulsion. Concern.

My first chore was to clean up the carcasses. My second was to make the bed. I'd don rubber gloves and pick the dead up. My hands grew callused from digging so many graves. We ran out of room in the backyard by my fourteenth birthday. When I was too ill to do it, my dad stepped in and removed them, but it was always with thinly veiled disgust.

I trembled my way through the days, constantly sleep deprived, chronically ill. My stomach always hurt. Low-grade headaches constantly thumped a slow tempo. Doctors labeled me a hypochondriac, or worse—still they never found causes for the symptoms. The pain was real.

The cause a mystery. They suggested shrinks. Growing pains. Perhaps I was one of those children who required lots of attention. I'd catch my mom staring at me—she often started conversations, only to break off and leave the room.

With each moon phase, the animals got bigger. Soon, they came during the day as well. At school, kids whispered my nicknames: Reaper, Grave Digger, Witch. Others, I pretended not to hear.

Adults ostracized me, too. It hurt.

As I got older and stopped trying to bond, I came to the same conclusion as everyone else. I was weird. A freak. A sideshow act.When my brother Sam was born, I kept a vigil in his room. Intent on cleaning up the dead things before he woke. I focused on making him feel that he wasn't alone, that I understood how scary this world could be. I wouldn't let him suffer my fears; he'd be normal in my eyes. By the time he was a month-old and the only dead came near him because of me, I retreated.

My parents pretended it didn't matter. That nothing ever died around me. That our backyard wasn't a graveyard. If anything, they acted like I had a talent. A gift.

If we had an extended family, I didn't know them. The only exception was my namesake, a great-Aunt who sent me birthday quilts once a year. My world was, and is, me and death. It's a lonely place to live, but I thought things were getting better. My name is Meridian Sozu, and I was wrong.

Reprinted from Amber Kizer's newsletter—get your own at AmberKizer.com. Amber's debut novel ONE BUTT CHEEK AT A TIME is available in hardcover and paperback. To read or listen to an excerpt, get up the minute news, and be eligible for cool exclusive promotions please visit http://www.onebuttcheek.com/.

What do you think?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen Excerpt

Here's a little something for all those lusting after Sarah Dessen's upcoming book, Along for the Ride: Sarah herself reading from the book. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

February B2B

This weekend's Book to Buy is one that is generating quite a bit of buzz in the blogging world--The Dust of 100 Dogs. With its rocking cover art, great price (just under $10), and all the praise its been receiving lately, The Dust of 100 Dogs is definitely a book you don't want to miss!

So if you've bought it recently or are planning on buying it, you can send me a picture of the book and your receipt (screen shots of confirmation of online orders work too!), and I'll throw your name in the hat to win a hardcover copy of The Swan Kingdom by Zoe Marriot (whose new book Daughter of the Flames comes out Tuesday!).

Also, January's B2B books are still game for this month's contest. If you've bought any of the Elite books by Jennifer Banash, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Bloom by Elizabeth Scott, or The Center of the Universe (Yep, That's Me) by Anita Liberty, all you have to do is send me a picture of the receipt, and I'll give you an entry for each book you've bought towards this month's contest!

Send all pictures in the form of attachments to thecompulsivereader@gmail.com with B2B in the subject heading, and good luck!
February's Books:
The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King
I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert
Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Songging by Louise Rennison

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Unclaimed Heart by Kim Wilkins

This one was so good, I read it in less than two hours...

Constance Blackchurch has lived her entire life with her Aunty Violet and cousin Daphne while her father runs his merchant business, sailing all over the globe. Constance's mother disappeared sixteen years earlier in the middle of the night, and no one has seen her since. One day, when Constance's father is home for one of his rare visits, Constance overhears a conversation not meant for her ears: her father has received word of the whereabouts of her mother. When he refuses to take Constance with him, she stows away on his ship, risking her father's wrath. On their way to Africa, Constance meets Alexandre Sans-Nom, a pearl-diver. They are drawn to each other, and as Constance's father continues to push her away, Constance learns that Alexandre may be the only one who can help her find her missing mother.

Unclaimed Heart is a romantic, adventurous, and gripping read that demands to be finished in one sitting. Constance is a courageous and bold character, but her sometimes childish behavior and mistakes make her an authentic and convincing character that is struggling with the need to be wanted by her parents, both her distant father, and missing mother. Constance's relationship with her father is interesting to read and Constance struggles to be the daughter her father wants her to be even though it goes against what she hopes to do in life, and her father grapples with accepting her as a young woman, not the child her believes her to be. The dynamics between them are handled in a realistic manner for the time period, helping illustrate how oppressing the time period can be for women.

The setting of the novel isn't exactly specific, but the landscape is expressed with vivid imagery, adding to the dreamy air of the book. The historical details when it comes to the marine aspects of the book aren’t overdone, but yet it is evident that it was carefully researched. All of these details, combined with Wilkins' easy and magnetic writing style, make for a daring and glittering novel that is a wonderful escape from reality.
Unclaimed Heart will be available from Razorbill on July 9th, 2009!

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Decent Haul

I came home to find all of these books piled on my porch:

They are:

The Spell Book of Listen Taylor by Jaclyn Moriarty (LOVE her other books)
Unclaimed Heart by Kim Wilkins
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Heartsinger by Karlijn Stoffels
Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes
Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow
Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman (a retelling of the tale of Persephone!)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley
Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle
Waiting for You by Susane Colasanti
Silver Pheonix
The Stolen One

Whew! I've got a lot to read this weekend....

January Book of the Month Contest Winner!

Congratulations, Paradox! You've won! Just send me your name and address, and I'll get them to Julie Linker!

Ranger's Apprentice Giveaway

If you are a fan on John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series, I bet you're dying in anticipation for the sixth book, The Siege of Macindaw. Here's your chance to get a copy before it hits stores in August though! Just send me an email with Siege of Macindaw in the subject heading, along with your name and address, and you'll be entered to win one of five copies, courtesy of PenguinUSA.

This contest will last til the end of the month, so go and spread the word!

Fun Friday

This week for Fun Friday, in honor of Leslie Margolis's appearance, I'll be giving away a copy of her book Price of Admission. Click here to learn more about it!

Just comment below for a chance to win!

Far From You by Lisa Schroeder

For years, Alice hasn't been fully living. Ever since she lost her mother to cancer, she has immersed herself in her morose music, has been preoccupied with her boyfriend, and refuses to connect with her stepmother, Victoria. But this becomes harder for her to do when Victoria has a baby, Ivy, and Alice is left with overwhelming feelings of resentment and sorrow. When Victoria, Alice, and newborn Ivy and trapped in a deadly snowstorm and their situation goes from bad to deadly, Alice will discover new perspective and find that maybe her mother really isn't as far from her as she thought.

Far From You is a beautifully written and artfully arranged novel made up of free-verse poems that range from humorous to heartrending to contemplative. The plot moves quickly, and the poems are oftentimes quite short, but the beautiful thing about Far From You is that although it is not very long, it is brimming with emotion. Alice's journey to reconciliation with her mother's death and the fact that her father has found a way to move on is beautiful and touching, and the circumstances surrounding that journey are suspenseful. Lisa Schroeder has created a lyrical and uplifting tale of understanding, love and family.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Simon Pulse's Spring Fling Contest

February Book of the Month: In Too Deep by Jennifer Banash

February's Book of the Month is a continuation of a glamorous, intriguing, and drama filled The Elite series, In Too Deep.

Casey McCloy is enjoying her new life in New York City, despite her frenemy Madison Macallister's attempts to scare her off. But Madison doesn't give up—it's not in her nature—and she is determined to steal back Drew Van Allen, her ex and Casey's almost boyfriend. In the midst of it all, Sophie is planning her Sweet Sixteen, which has to be completely memorable (and not just because she's trying to one-up Mad) because her biological mother will be there, and they will meet for the first time. And Phoebe is struggling with her own budding feelings for Jared, Sophie's hot and completely annoying brother, while at the same time attempting to deal with the identity of her mom's secret lover...everyone in Jennifer Banash's riveting sequel to The Elite is in a little too deep...

Fans of the drama, romance, gossip, and privileged lifestyle depicted in Gossip Girl and Blue Bloods will be drawn to In Too Deep. Banash is a pro at keeping things moving with her alternating points of view and knack for adding just the right touches of drama at just the right places, giving the book an exciting, sparkling air that isn't overdone. Once again, Casey proves herself an admirable character with her grounded desire to fit in, but not at the cost of turning into a bad person, which is an issue she struggles with. We also catch a glimpse of Madison's vulnerable side, which makes her a little more reachable to readers than the standard mean girl. All in all, In Too Deep continues to showcase the glitzy and glamorous lifestyle of New York City's privileged teens with a bit of depth that makes it easier for readers to relate to. Banash's Elite series continues to rock above the rest.

Go pick up a copy of this series! Even if this isn't "your type of book", you'll be pleasantly surprised--I know I was!

Jennifer Banash and I will be working together the rest of the month to bring you some cool Elite posts. Check back next week for some Valentine's Day love advice from your favorite characters! And also stick around for some cool giveaways...we've got copies of I Know It's Over by CK Martin, Envy by Anna Godbersen, Pants on Fire by Meg Cabot, A List: Hollywood Royalty by Zoey Dean, and of course, In Too Deep to give away!

Also, for you fans of the series, have you ever felt like getting into Drew Van Allen's head? Here's your chance--just comment below with any questions for Drew, and in two weeks, you'll get your answers!

In the meantime, go buy this book! You can get both on Amazon for under $20!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott

I love Elizabeth Scott--she is one powerhouse of an author, and her stories are all so sweet and real. Here's her latest:

If you think your parents are bad, try having a scantily clad mother who makes a living by hosting her own web show, and a famous playboy father old enough to be your grandfather. This is Hannah's reality, and her extremely embarrassing parents cause her to strive to become unnoticeable so as not to attract condemnation and rude comments from her sometimes-heartless classmates. But when her father contacts her for the first time in years, it dredges up a lot of buried feelings and resentments, but also may enable her to gain the confidence she lacks.

Elizabeth Scott takes what is a very much a repeated lesson in YA literature and gives it new life with her unique plot line and her trademark heartfelt storytelling. Hannah is a strong, intelligent, and no-nonsense character, yet her inability to see some truths makes her an endearing and convincing character, if not frustrating at times. The family dynamics in Something, Maybe are certainly unique and quite interesting to read about and observe; they are sometimes humorous, and at the same time sorrowful to witness as Hannah is put into an unenviable position of understanding and dealing with her father's distracted and detached love for her. Scott's talent for dealing with love, loss, family, and relationships in a wholly sincere way without being cliché is once again present in Something, Maybe, making her latest an enjoyable and sweet book that is the perfect pick-me-up.


Hey everyone, this is from Deborah Reber's (author of In Her Shoes and Chill) blog, and it's DEFINTELY something you want to know about:

- Do you love to journal or blog?

- Is writing your passion?

- Do you have an important real-life story to tell?

- Do you dream of being a published author?

- Are you a girl between 13 - 19 years old?

If I just described you, then read on! This new project is about giving a voice to young writers with important things to say. I’m not looking for the next great American novel, but I am looking for teens who are interested in writing a memoir (yes, that’s right…a whole book) about your true-life story.


Email (contact@deborahreber.com) with the following information:

Your name, age, and email

A description of what your nonfiction story would be about…in your description, please give a sense of the overall theme of the story and details regarding the personal journey you want to share with the world. Are you writing about a specific event and the affect it had on your life? Put yourself in the readers’ shoes…what would they take away from your story? Write as much about your story as you like.

1-2 writing samples that demonstrate your style, tone and writing ability. You can submit nonfiction essays, journal entries, blog entries, or fiction pieces, but please, no poetry unless you can imagine writing a whole book in verse. Send your best stuff!

A couple of sentences describing the role writing plays in your life.

Sounds awesome, huh? Hurry up and enter, because Debbie can only accept one more person!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Winners of January's Contests

First off, thanks to everyone who entered! I appreciate it!

The winners of the Behold the Eye contest are violetcrush and Nicola! Send me your addresses, and thanks for entering!

The winner of January's B2B contest is Chelsie Lacny! Congrats, Chelsie! Stealing Heaven will be on its way soon.

Thanks everyone, and check back soon for another B2B contest, and more, coming soon!

The Plague by Joanne Dahme

Nell and her brother George are left alone in the world when their parents die from the pestilence that is ravaging London and all of Europe. But then by chance Nell discovers that she looks exactly like the princess Joan, and she and George are whisked to the royal palace to assist the princess and for Nell to act as a decoy to anyone who might wish to harm her. Two years later, Joan and Nell have become friends, and Nell and George are accompanying Joan to her new home in Spain where her betrothed, the prince of Spain, is awaiting her.

But on their journey, the pestilence strikes, and Joan is taken. Desperate to make the alliance between the two countries still, Joan's brother, the Black Prince, forces Nell to assume the role of the princess. Fearful of both The Black Prince and the plague, Nell and George flee, unwilling to be a part of The Black Prince's plot. But they will have to evade much more than just the plague in order to survive...

The Plague is an interesting and rather different take on the lives of two young people affected by the plague in the year 1348. One element of Dahme's writing that stands out the most is the gritty, harsh description of the land that is the reality of a country consumed by the pestilence and overrun by grime and pests, which lends an air of authenticity to the entire book. Dahme's plot line also offers a more adventurous look at the times, which does its job at drawing readers in, and the superstitious slant propels The Plague along, leaving readers hanging in suspense. However, the occasional anachronisms and slightly unbelievable plot secure The Plague's status as a more adventurous novel meant to entertain more than give a serious look at the struggles of the people in that time, and teens looking for a more introspective look at the time of the plague may want to look up Geraldine Brooks' Year of Wonders as well. Despite this, The Plague is a unique and engrossing read with admirable characters and possess a good, even pace that will even entice the reluctant reader. This is one to stick on the wish list.

The Plague will be released in May.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Conversation With Leslie Margolis

What motivated you to move away from the YA genre dealing with cosmetic surgery and Hollywood to the middle grade genre?

When I'm in the early stages of developing ideas I'm not thinking in terms of age group or genre. I start with character and story.Annabelle appeared as a sixth grader, and her story was set in junior high school. The transition from YA to middle grade was organic. That said, I'm thrilled it happened because adolescence is such an exciting and dynamic time. There's so much material to draw from.

Which of your characters do you think you resemble the most...Annabelle,
Cameron, Allie, or Jasmine?

I didn't mean to write any of my characters as myself. However, Price of Admission is the most personal novel I've ever written, so I suppose I feel most similar to Jasmine. Of course, my high school English teacher read both novels and he claims to see a lot of me in Allie – at least when I was fifteen. And I suppose I can see that, as well –although I was, am, and always will be a terrible soccer player.

What inspired you to write about plastic surgery in Fix?

When I began to formulate the idea, reality television shows abou tplastic surgery like The Swan, I Want A Famous Face, and Dr. 90210 were very popular. This horrified me, because on television, plastic surgeryis often treated way too casually. All surgery is risky and serious business – literally life-threatening. So what's to romanticize? Plastic surgery is too often treated as a joke or a punch line, which makes it easy to dismiss. Yet it's a billion dollar industry that grows stronger each year. There are so many issues to explore. One – why is it that 91% of all cosmetic procedure patients are women, while most cosmetic surgeons are men?

What sort of research went into the writing of Fix?

I interview plastic surgeons, as well as teenagers who'd had plastic surgery, and some who hadn't. I read a lot about the issue and also watched too much makeover/plastic surgery reality-TV. The latter was myleast favorite part. It gave me nightmares.

One thing that really stands out in Fix is how objective your writing is. Did you set out to make it that way, and was it hard to do?

Thank you. That was a huge challenge. The more research I did and the more I thought about it, the more cosmetic surgery scared and depressed me. Breast implants, especially, left me with strong opinions, because I spoke with numerous women whose lives have been destroyed due to complications related to their implants. But no one likes to be preached to – especially teenagers and especially in fiction.

Why did you choose the rich lifestyle of the family of a Hollywood executive as the setting of Price of Admission?

Again, the character came first and then the story. But as I mentioned before, Price of Admission is more personal than my other novels. My father was a Hollywood executive and that certainly influenced me in numerous ways, growing up, but not how people might assume. I don't understand why so many books about Hollywood focus on the superficial -money and looks and excess and labels. Not every teenager is obsessed with shopping or cares about brand names. I wasn't. None of my friends ever were. I think teenagers are smarter and more nuanced. I really wanted to write something different – a novel set against the backdropof Hollywood that wasn't 'aspirational'.

What's one thing you'd like teens to get out of your novels?

My goal is to write smart, honest fiction that sparks independent thought.

What was one of your favorite books when you were a teen?

I think these are the five books I loved the most when I was in high school: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf, White Noise, by Don Delillo, The Secret History, by Donna Tartt, and The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger.

What are you planning on writing next?

I just finished Girls Acting Catty, the sequel to Boys Are Dogs. And I've been working on some new ideas – one having to do with friendship and aliens, and another having to do with a magical ice cream shop. I'm not sure what I'm going to focus on next, but so far, all of my novels have been set in Southern California. I've been in New York for over ten years, so I think it's time to write something set there.

What's one author, living or deceased, you'd like to have a discussion with?

Virginia Woolf. Do you know how I can get in touch with her?

Thanks, Leslie!