The Compulsive Reader: June 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fall Releases and Supernatural Reads

Here's the latest vlog, in which I talk about fall releases and supernatural reads:

Books mentioned:
The Everafter by Amy Huntley
Fire by Kristin Cashore
Hold Still by Nina LaCour
Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
The Morgue and Me by John C. Ford
Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiana
The Life of Glass by Jillian Cantor
Liar by Justine Larbalestier
Night World Volume Three by LJ Smith
Ghost Huntress: The Awakening by Marley Gibson
Undead Much? by Stacey Jay
Dark Guardians: Moonlight by Rachel Hawthorne
Meridian by Amber Kizer

Interview With Susane Colasanti

Susane Colasanti, author of this month's Book of the Month Waiting for You, was kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions for me about writing, reading, and books. Click here to learn more about Waiting for You.

Do you plan out the entire story before beginning writing?

Before I start writing a new book, I always establish a chapter outline. This doesn’t mean that every single chapter is initially accounted for, though. I have to know what the story’s main plot is going to be about. It’s also good to have an idea of how the last chapter will look, although this can change. As I’m writing, my chapter outline goes through a lot of changes. My characters reveal things about themselves that I didn’t know before. Sometimes they take over entire scenes, doing and saying things I never saw coming. It’s always fun when that happens. I also have a separate notebook for each book where I record details I don’t want to forget, but that are not ready to be included in the outline. These notebooks are where I write everything I know about my characters, adding to their descriptions as I discover more about them through the writing process. So while I always start a book with a strong idea about where the story is going, my outline is more of a general guide than a strict roadmap.

Is it difficult to write from a male point of view, like you did in your first two books?

Not really. Fundamentally, boys and girls want the same things in life: to be happy and to be loved. Keeping in mind our similarities helps to get inside the minds of boys. I also have to remember that boys talk to their friends differently. They don’t say as much as girls do. They generally have a much harder time discussing emotional issues. When I write boy dialogue, it’s usually choppier and more reserved than girls’. Boys tend to hold more back, but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel the same things. That’s what’s so cool about writing from both perspectives. It’s really the only way to reveal what the boy is truly thinking.

What are your three writing essentials?

1. Good lighting. Harsh, overhead lighting makes everything more difficult. I’m into natural light and warm lamps. 2. Music. Depending on the scene I’m writing, music transports me to the place I need to be. 3. My iBook. Shiny Happy Apple World saved me. I am the biggest Apple fan. I should seriously be in their commercials.

About books in general:

What is your favorite genre of books?

It would be hard to pick just one! Looking at the books I most adore on my shelves, they fall into the children’s, teen, and adult fiction categories. I especially cherish the children’s and teen books that I loved growing up. They’re like old friends to me. There are so many adult fiction authors I love that it would take a while to list them all here (you can check them out on my Facebook or MySpace pages). I’m not much into nonfiction, but I do enjoy philosophy. I like Kierkegaard and Alain be Botton, a wonderful contemporary philosopher who is right on. Also, I’m currently reading Always Looking Up by Michael J. Fox and loving it. It’s always a good feeling to connect with a fellow optimist.

What were the last three books you read?

Destroy All Cars by Blake Nelson totally rocked the house. I’ve been a hardcore fan of Blake’s ever since Girl came out, back in the day when it was shelved in the adult section. I just love his writing style. I actually can’t remember which books I read before that one, but I will say that I’m very much looking forward to reading The Treasure Map of Boys by E. Lockhart and Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen. They’re two of my favorite authors, so I’m stoked that they have new books out!

About your books:

What do you have in the works now?

My fourth book, Something Like Fate, will be released next year. Currently, I’m writing books five and six.

What three words would you use to describe your books?

Searching for connection

Thanks, Susane!

Warm thanks to you for having me back, Tirzah. I love your site!

You can find Susane almost anywhere on the web:

Website: http://www.susanecolasanti.com/
Blog: http://windowlight.livejournal.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/susanecolasanti
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/susanecolasanti
Twitter: http://twitter.com/susanecolasanti

Monday, June 29, 2009


Hey everyone, I've got another great contest for you. Check out this new read from Scholastic:

And Then Everything Unraveled by Jennifer Sturman

"Delia Truesdale’s life has just been turned upside down. Her mom has mysteriously vanished, and California-bred Delia has been shipped off to a strange new world: New York City. There, she shuttles between her two aunts—one a downtown bohemian, the other an Upper East Side ice queen—while adjusting to her new prep school and trying not to fall for the wrong boy. But Delia knows her mom is way too organized to fall off the face of the earth, and Delia is determined to get to the bottom of her disappearance. Along the way, Delia might just learn that the wrong boy can be the right boy, and that some secrets—especially the dangerous ones—were never meant to be unraveled."

Jennifer Sturman is the acclaimed author of several adult mystery novels, including The Pact and The Jinx. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with a degree in history and literature. She earned her MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School with the aid of Diet Coke and currently lives in New York City a few blocks from Delia’s aunt. She has no free time, but if she did, she would probably spend it doing the New York Times crossword puzzle, watching bad teen movies from the eighties and sipping drinks that come with little umbrellas in them. For more information about Jennifer Sturman, visit www.jennifersturman.com.

Prize: Three winners will receive an ARC of And Then Everything Unraveled, followed by a finished copy when they are available, and a Magic Eight Ball Keychain.
How to Win: Just comment below!
Deadline: This contest is open until July 12th, 2009 at midnight!

Good luck!

Also...are you a New Yorker? Will you be in NYC on July 22nd? Check out Jennifer Sturman's book signing!

July 22, 2009
7:00 to 8:00 PM
Partners & Crime Mystery Booksellers
44 Greenwich Avenue (corner of Charles)
New York, NY 10011
(212) 243-0440

Join Jennifer Sturman as she celebrates the release of her first young adult mystery. Books and Magic Eight Balls will be given away to 5 lucky readers in attendance.

Niblies and soda will be served!

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

This review is spoiler-free, but I recommend that you do not read it unless you have read The Hunger Games!

Catching Fire picks up a few months after Katniss and Peeta return home to District 12 with fame and riches. They are both happy to have survived and brought wealth to their District, but barely speak to each other anymore, except when the cameras come around to keep up the ruse that they are madly in love. Katniss is horrified to discover that her victory has become a symbol of resistance, and finds herself unable to do anything about it. She watches helplessly as violence is inflicted on innocent people, all the while kept under the thumb of the president of Panem. She begins to wonder if there is life outside of oppressive Panem, but doesn't have time to think about it for long, because her worst nightmares are about to be brought to life.

Catching Fire is all that it promises to be and more. Fans of The Hunger Games will devour this second, intense installment. Suzanne Collins begins by showing readers life for Katniss and Peeta once they return home, brings back all the memorable and good characters from the first book, and works at developing her characters and revealing how they act while under extreme pressure. Despite her fame, uncertainty, and heavy conscience, Katniss is still tough as nails, fiercely protective of those she loves, and as resourceful as ever. There is one stretch of the book that moves slowly, but readers won't mind too much once Collins drops her first bombshell (figuratively speaking, of course) in the form of an unexpected plot twist, which will overwhelm readers with a flurry of questions and what-ifs, and the book speeds up once more. From then on out, the book is a heart pounding, exhilarating, and even agonizing race to the climax and ending that will leave readers desperate for more. Catching Fire is an intricate web of lies and secrecy, injustice and rebellion, and danger and hope that will keep readers dreaming long after the final page.

Cover Comments: I like the design concept for The Hunger Games trilogy. The mockingjay on the front is a neat touch, as it does have significance in the book. It's simple, but straightforward. The orange-ish red color is pretty awesome too! Great, great cover!

Catching Fire will hit shelves on September 1st, 2009!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

20 Things in 20 Days: Clue #18

To celebrate the launch of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, I’m blogging clue #18 for the 20 Things in 20 Days Scavenger Hunt. Answer clues and challenges to earn points toward the 20 Things grand prize, including 6 signed books from 2009 debut authors!

Get a clue... June 11th-30th at 20 Things in 20 Days!

Today’s clue:

National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti, author of HONEY, BABY, SWEETHEART and many other books for teens, called Twenty Boy Summer “a tender and heartfelt story of love, loss, and letting go.” For 20 Things clue #18, If you’ve read any of Deb’s books, share your thoughts by posting a review online, like on your blog, Goodreads, amazon.com, Shelfari, or any bookstore or library site that hosts reviews. Link to your review(s) in the comments. 4 points per book (not site!) reviewed, up to max 12 points.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

This is one of my absolute favorite fairy tale retellings, and after reading and rereading it for over five years, I've finally got around to writing up a post on my thoughts!

Ani is the Crown Princess of Kildenree, and a poor one at that. Despite her constant effort and desire to please her parents and her people, she doesn't quite have the confidence and poise her mother possesses, and would rather spend her days outdoors, conversing with the birds. So when she finds that her mother changes plans suddenly and sends Ani to the neighboring country of Bayern to marry the prince in order avoid war, Ani isn't entirely surprised. But on the way there, she is deceived horribly, and her lady's maid takes her place while she is left to die in the wilderness. But despite her self doubt, Ani learns to survive, to trust, and to reach out to others, and must choose to fight back in order to take her rightful place, or remain a goose girl for the rest of her life.

Shannon Hale's debut novel is just mesmerizing. Her sweet, magical, and lyrical style is simply wonderful to read, and her attention to detail and seamless storytelling is just perfect. The Goose Girl reads like your favorite fairy tale, only much more detailed and involved. Ani is a very endearing character, and her coming-of-age story is memorable and empowering as she gains confidence in her abilities and her self-worth. The Goose Girl is a light, captivating fairy tale retelling that manages to be original while at the same time holding on to those qualities that made it a wonderful tale in the first place, which takes true talent. The beginning of Shannon Hale’s Books of Bayern series is entertaining and delightful.

Cover Comments: I love the original cover art. The colors and the style of the artwork are just perfect for the book in my opinion. It is the cover that originally drew my eye to the book all those years ago in the library, and I was sad when I discovered that it got a face lift. However, I do not think the new cover is bad. It's one that I think that will appeal to more readers, despite the fact that it seems more MG than YA. Yes, The Goose Girl can be enjoyed by MG readers, but I think it is mainly a YA book. What it boils down to here is: don't judge a book by its cover. Go read The Goose Girl.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Along for the Ride is a NYT Bestseller!

Hey everyone,

Sarah Dessen's latest book, Along for the Ride, debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List! Isn't that AWESOME? To celebrate, you can win two copies of the book (one for you, one for a friend) here. While you're there, feel free to browse the awesome site!

Congratulations to Sarah and good luck!


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Catching Up and a Mish-Mash of Other Things

Another vlog! With me in front of my bookshelves, as requested! Also, I am wearing my THESAURUS REX tee. Yes, I know you all want one.

Books Mentioned:

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor
ArchEnemy by Frank Beddor
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Enna Burning by Shannon Hale
River Secrets by Shannon Hale
Forest Born by Shannon Hale
Tamora Pierce (Song of the Lioness Quartet)
Mortal Instruments trilogy by Cassandra Clare
The Hollow by Jessica Verday
Psych Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson
Invisible Touch by Kelly Parra
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
A Sweet Disorder by Jacqueline Kolosov
The Heights by Brian James
Ballads of Suburbia and I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Keuhnert

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Though not technically a YA book, this was recommended to me by my English teacher, and both my mother and I zipped through it in a day! This is one of those books that transcends YA or Adult boundaries--definitely check it out!

It is 1946 and Juliet Ashton is looking for an idea for her next book. She found wonderful success during World War II writing humor pieces to distract fellow British citizens from the horrors of war, but now she wants to write something different. A letter from someone she doesn't even know might give her the inspiration she need. As Juliet and Dawsey Adams, a resident of the island of Guernsey, which was occupied by the Nazis during the war, correspond, Juliet discovers a group of brave people whose love for reading and each other helped them survive the horrors they faced. But when she travels to Guernsey, she'll discover far more than that.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is one of those unexpected reads that will completely capture the attention of readers and transport them completely into the story. The novel is told in a long series of letters, which may be a turn off for some, but the sharp and sometimes subtle humor in them will capture readers' hearts by page five. The characters are all very colorful and diverse, and each one shines through their own words and passions. The citizens of Guernsey and how each of them discovers a love of reading is wonderful to read, and their pain of the loss of property, family, and friends through the occupation of their home is heartrending. Full of wisdom and courage and love and heartbreak, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will teach you something about history, about literature, and about human nature. This is a definite must-read.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Trailer Update

If you've been following my tweets on Twitter, you'll know that today I did a very stupid thing and accidentally DELETED all of my YouTube videos! All of my trailers and my vlog are gone, but hopefully they will be back up and running by Thursday (thank goodness for back-up files!). I apologize if this is an inconvienance for anyone, and I'll be sure to let you know when they're back, and give you all new links.



Jenny Green's Killer Junior Year by Amy Belasen and Jacob Osborn

Jenny Green has had a horrid sophomore year. After some humiliating internet blog posts and being dumped for another girl, she begs her father to send her to boarding school in Canada where she hopes to make a fresh start. But then she gets spurned by one guy too many, prompting her to go on a killing spree to exact revenge.

Jenny Green's Killer Junior Year is a startling book. The basic principle of the novel—killing ex-boyfriends for revenge—is handled with a cavalier attitude, but instead of being amusing, it is troubling. The book is full of humor as Jenny makes light of the lavish and ridiculous lifestyles she and her friends live, but overall, the book really isn't too funny when you think about it. Jenny is a very three dimensional character and Belasen and Osborn do an excellent job and crafting an appropriately complicated plot, but many readers may not appreciate the dark message it sends. Instead of being darkly funny, Jenny is disturbing and the way she gets away with everything is disconcerting.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog

Hi everyone, and welcome to the first stop of Cyn Balog's FAIRY TALE tour!

Morgan Sparks has a perfect boyfriend, and a pretty-near perfect life. She and her boyfriend Cameron Browne share a birthday, and their upcoming sixteenth birthday party is the most talked of event in school. But just a week before the big day, a strange guy named Pip shows up, claiming to be the Brownes’ real son. He declares that Cam is really fairy royalty, and next in line for the crown—and that it's time for him to return to the fairy world and for Pip to take his place in the human one. But Morgan won't let go of Cam easily; she's bound and determined to make sure that he stays with her for the rest of their lives...but what if that isn't his destiny?

Fairy Tale is unexpected in many aspects—from Morgan's ability to see into the future to Cyn Balog's surprise ending. Morgan herself is a strong narrator who packs in plenty of wit and sass. Her confidence is refreshing, and her reaction to the many magical events occurring around her is humorous and entertaining. Her psychic abilities aren’t dwelled upon for very long, which seems a little curious, but isn’t distracting from the novel as a whole.

The idea that the male lead—not the female one—is a fairy is a different one, and the new approach is definitely welcome. Fairy Tale deals a lot with the emotions and fears that accompany change as both Cam and Morgan face the possibility of losing each other forever and grapple with fears of the unknown, which is an issue that many teens will be able to draw connections with in their own lives. At the center of the story is a sweet romance that is touching without being cliché, and realistically complicated and gut-wrenching. Balog's debut is a dazzling one, full of fun dialogue, true-to-life emotions, and a suspenseful climax that will have readers coming back to this lovely novel again and again.

Cover Comments: This cover is exquisite--I love the beauty of the wings in the background, and the many colors in them. The drops of water make the image look three dimensional and more realistic, and the simple black background makes the color in the wings pop. I like the title treatment and fint as well, it compliments the image nicely. This is a very, very attractive cover!

Fairy Tale will be released on Tuesday!

About Cyn:

Cyn was born in Edison, New Jersey. She went to Woodbrook Elementary, Woodrow Wilson, and J.P. Steven High school. If you did, too, don’t think you might remember her. She was way shy back then, opening her mouth to say a total of two or three words every year. She spent most of her time at the desk in her bedroom, creating stories. We won’t go into all those stories here, but one had a crime-solving feline. Brilliance! She is still trying to get her agent to look at that one.

During her summers, Cyn spent most of her time working at the Jersey Shore. She would also write a lot, and wrote her first young adult novel when she was 15. She worked at the Park Bakery in Seaside Park, as a waitress who could whip up a mean funnel cake and egg cream, as a cashier the A&P (where she was fired for somehow losing $250 and STILL doesn’t know what happened to that money! But… humiliating!)… until she finally got her dream job of badge checker on the 7th Avenue beach. The job was great and allowed for lots of writing and reading time!

Sadly, though, the uniforms messed up her tan lines (oh, who is she kidding, ghosts tan better than she does). She went to Douglass College, Rutgers University, New Brunswick. Douglass College is an all-women school, or so they say, but that’s really a crock because all your classes are with the other Rutgers men. Not that she minded Rutgers Men very much. In fact, she married one.

After college, she immediately set out to look for another job that wouldn’t mess with her tan lines. She had a degree in Communication, which is ironic considering her early inability to speak. She nailed a altogether pathetic job making minimum wage at a newspaper (we were in a recession! Job search = hell!). Since then, she’s worked for a shrinkwrapping company, an insurance company, a bank, a promotional products company, and a magazine. She’s lived in Jersey, the desert of California, Maine, and most recently, Pennsylvania. During most of this time, the urge to write kept rearing its head, and Cyn kept saying, “Down, down!”

Finally, she could stand it no longer and wrote a new book, which nabbed her an agent! But the book didn’t sell. Afterwards, she wrote a couple more books, and finally got the call that FAIRY TALE had sold on November 1, 2007 (at 3:21 pm, not like it was a big deal in her life or anything) to Delacorte in a pre-empt! Since then, she’s sold two more books, SLEEPLESS for 2010 and another book to be released in 2011. As much as she tried to resist it, writing has always been the thing that has made Cyn happiest, and so now she is thrilled to be able to share her books with an audience (who isn’t related to her by blood).

She is represented by Jim McCarthy at Dystel & Goderich. If you have a matter that’s “businessy” please contact him; she’s a goofball when it comes to that stuff.

Friday, June 19, 2009

GirlForce: A Girl's Guide to the Body and Soul by Nikki Goldstein

Check out this cool new book. I was a little doubtful at first, but it does have some pretty cool and useful advice.

Nikki Goldstein's new book GirlForce is a comprehensive guide to beauty, health, and confidence, based on the idea of an ancient system called Ayurveda that determines that everyone has a body type—Air, Fire, and Earth, and by catering to the needs of your body type, you can boost your well-being.

Goldstein's GirlForce is a crash course in Ayurveda for teen girls (though really, this book can be enjoyed by women of any age), helping them determine their body type, and then laying out guidelines when it comes to food, exercise, fashion, stress, and even relationships. The nice part about the book is its straightforward and non-preachy attitude and the guidelines set out are just that—guidelines. You don't have to follow them strictly, but they offer some smart ideas on how to be healthier and stress-free, and even provide some interesting insights on how people operate. For those looking for a simple, flexible, and fun-filled guide on being healthier and happier, check out GirlForce, and look for its sequel, GirlForceShine

Cover Comments: Not only is the cover really pretty and colorful, but the entire book is full of great photography and bright patterns! I love it!

Win Psych Major Syndrome!

Hey everyone,

Well, June seems to be The Month of Contests. I've got one more for y0u all!

Psych Major Syndrome

"Using the skills you've learned so far in Introduction to Psychology, please write a brief self-assessment describing how things are going in your freshman year. Presenting Concerns: The Patient, Leigh Nolan (that would be me), has just started her first year at Stiles College. She has decided to major in psychology (even though her parents would rather she study Tarot cards, not Rorschach blots).

Patient has always been very good at helping her friends with their problems, but when it comes to solving her own...not so much.

Patient has a tendency to overanalyze things, particularly when the opposite sex is involved. Like why doesn't Andrew, her boyfriend of over a year, ever invite her to spend the night? Or why can't she commit to taking the next step in their relationship? And why does his roommate Nathan dislike her so much? More importantly, why did Nathan have a starring role in a much-more-than-friendly dream?

Aggravating factors include hyper-competitive fellow psych majors, a professor who's badly in need of her own psychoanalysis, and mentoring a middle-school-aged girl who thinks Patient is, in a word, naive. Diagnosis: Psych Major Syndrome"

Alicia Thompson graduated from the New College of Florida in 2006 with a degree in psychology, and wrote this debut novel in between pulling all-nighters on her senior thesis. Her short stories, “Abby Greene for President” and “Stealing Mark Twain,” have appeared in Girls’ Life magazine. She is currently working on an MFA in fiction writing at the University of South Florida, where she still pulls the occasional all-nighter.

Prize: Two lucky winners will win an ARC of Psych Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson, and then a finish, signed copy when it's available (winners can also send their review in for the chance to have it posted on Alicia's site!).
How to win: Just leave me a comment below!
Deadline: This contest will run until June 26th!

Good luck everyone, and thanks for entering!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Suite Scarlett Giveaway!

" When Scarlett Martin turns fifteen she is put in charge of the Empire Suite, one of the rooms in her family’s hotel. Enter Mrs. Amberson, an aging C-list starlet who decides to employ Scarlett. Soon, she is taking dictation, running around New York City, and getting caught up in Mrs. Amberson’s crazy adventures. In the midst of it all, Scarlett falls in love–or so she thinks–and it takes Mrs. Amberson to help her see the light. Now available in paperback! "

In celebration of the paperback release of Maureen Johnson's latest novel, Suite Scarlett (and its snazzy new cover!), I'm holding a contest!

Prize: Five people will win a paperback copy of Maureen Johnson's wacky and hilarious novel, Suite Scarlett, now out in paperback!
How to win: Leave me a comment below, simple as that!
Deadline: You can enter any time between now and July 9th!

Check out this video of Maureen Johnson:

Good luck, everyone!

Sprout by Dale Peck

Daniel Bradford, nicknamed Sprout after dyeing his hair green, is certainly different. He's gay, his mother is dead, his father is an alcoholic, and he is a budding writer. Transplanted from Long Island to a small town in Kansas after his mother's death, Sprout stands out. Dale Peck's book is about his loneliness, and his growth.

Sprout doesn't focus on one goal or ultimate resolution. It's not about Sprout being gay as much as it is about his journey, the ups and downs of being different in a small, conforming town, and discovering who he is. There are mature themes throughout the book, but the sex, for example, is never graphic. At first glance, there are many elements in the book that would seem to be a cliché (Sprout uses writing as a release, he carries a dictionary), but Peck pulls them off quite well without making these aspects seem tired or overused. Sprout is a novel full of drama, discovery, humor, loss, and redemption that is compelling to readers of all ages.

Cover Comments: I've always liked white covers, and this one is no exception. It's simple, yet it conveys the contents of the book pretty well. Good cover.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Down With Book Banning

I don't know how many of you are aware of this, but right now two Florida moms are challenging a Gossip Girl book and Maureen Johnson's The Bermudez Triangle (this is not the first time MJ's book has been challenged either), requesting that they be removed from the Young Adult section. The following video is done by Maureen Johnson, and it is funny, but also very serious too. Check it out:

Now, I loved The Bermudez Triangle. It's not so much a book about homosexuality as it is one about friendship and relationships and how they can change. It's quite clean, despite the many nasty accusations tossed around.

Gossip Girl is a different story...I read the first three books or so before I dropped them. Personally, I didn't really enjoy them. But that's just me. While I wouldn't reccomend them to anyone, I certainly would not go on witch hunt to get those books removed. Obviously someone likes them because they're bestsellers, and someone made a TV show out of them, so I don't feel bad not liking them, but here's the bottom line: everyone can have opinions. Everyone SHOULD have opinions. But when you start telling others what they should and should not read--that's wrong. If parents are so worried about the state of the books that their kids are reading, they should read them themselves--my own mother did that with the first Harry Potter book (and then I started reading the rest of the series faster than her, but that's besides the point). Don't expect libraries to do your job, parents.

And now I'm going to get off my soapbox here. What do you all think?

Dork Diaries: Tales From a NOT-SO-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renee Russell

Nikki Maxwell, a self-proclaimed dork, is just trying to get through her eighth grade year at her new private school, Westchester Country Day. A voracious writer and budding artist, she deals with all the normal things girls her age face: her parents not understanding her, an annoying sibling, friend troubles, and stuck up girls. But then a school art competition gives Nikki the chance to shine--if she can beat Mackenzie, the most stuck-up and snobbish girl in the school.

Dork Diaries is a hilarious and authentic portrayal of the ups and downs of middle school, finding friends who understand you, and finding yourself. Nikki is a witty, smart, and self-deprecating character that many young teens and preteens will be able to relate to, and her voice is especially compelling, despite her tendency to be a bit dramatic. The many drawings and the simple, straightforward writing style in Dork Diaries is certain to appeal to girls who don't normally read. Rachel Russell has created a fun, clever, and highly entertaining book that is sure to satisfy.

Cover Comments: I like the pink, and the sketch on the cover is just a sample of all the ones that can be found inside the book. The cover is similar to the popular series Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and I think they're trying to appeal to the females of that age. Cute cover!

And here is the cute trailer:

Also, Rachel Russel was kind enough to send me a piece of original Dork Diaries artwork! Check it out!

Thanks so much, Rachel!

ALSO--do you want to win a copy of Dork Diaries, as well as Nikki's purse--packed with things she can't live without? Just comment below then! Prize is pictured below:

Leave a comment, and you'll be entered to win! The contest closes next Wednesday at midnight!

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Kyra lives on the compound of the Chosen Ones, a fanatical religious group set apart from the rest of the world. For the most part, her life is happy. She lives, works, and plays with her many siblings, three mothers, and father. Every Wednesday, she sneaks away to the county's mobile library, and reads of life beyond the compound. When the Prophet, who rules everyone in the compound, decrees that Kyra must marry her uncle, Kyra begins to question her life. Her determination to not marry a many more than forty years her senior leads her on a dangerous, heart pounding search for the truth.

The most remarkable thing about The Chosen One is Carol Lynch Williams' ability to create such a sympathetic and realistic character that readers will be able to identify with, despite the fact that Kyra's life is so different from those of her readers. In fact, many characters in the book, as seen through Kyra's eyes, are quite lovable and relatable, despite their many flaws and beliefs. It is Williams' ability to so completely pull in the reader that makes The Chosen One such a harrowing and frightening book, not for the faint of heart. As Kyra defies the Prophet again and again, she observes the consequences of her disobedience and the sheer brutality of the Chosen Ones is revealed. The book gets steadily suspenseful throughout, and all the while you will hope and pray that Kyra will make the right choice. Breathtaking, heartbreaking, and courageous, The Chosen One will haunt you.

Cover Comments: I like the simplicity of the cover, and the back view (to all you anti-headless cover people, LOOK! A head! But no face) of the girl. The colors work well together. It's not the most striking cover I've ever seen, but I think it's very appropriate.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Reads Vlog

In which I reveal my secret identity for the first time (don't laugh), and recommend to you some great summer reads for summer '09 (or really, any summer). I also fumble with my camera at the end (did I mention I was new to this vlogging thing?). But, there are authentic nature sounds in the background.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Prizepack Giveaway

Okay, so usually when people ask me about my favorite book, I try to get around the question. But, if I'm honest with myself, my favorite series is the Harry Potter series. And my favorite book from the Harry Potter series is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. So that must mean my favorite book is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, right? Right. I'm going with it.

Anyways, for those of you who are a little behind on the series, I am offering you a chance to catch up! I'll be giving away to five lucky winners:

Book 5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Book 6: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Book 7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This is to celebrate the paperback release of Deathly Hallows.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a breathtaking finish to a remarkable series. The final chapter to Harry Potter’s adventures will be releases in paperback July 7th! It all comes down to this - a final face off between good and evil. You plan to pull out all the stops, but every time you solve one mystery, three more evolve.

Check out the official site.

Now, all you have to do to win is leave a comment below telling me your favorite character from either the books or movies. And if you've not read the books or seen the movies, ENTER ANYWAY! Because you need this amazing series! (And do not be lame like a certain friend of mine who only read the last book to see what all the fuss was about, and then refused to read the rest of the books! GAH!) Contest ends July 13th!

Good luck!

The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson

Ruth Berger is a bright student who lives with her family in Vienna in 1938. When her father, who is half Jewish, is dismissed from his prestigious job as a well known professor because of his Jewish blood, the Berger family knows it's time to leave Vienna. They form a plan, and move out quickly, but it went wrong, and Ruth was left behind. Hiding in Nazi-occupied Vienna is extremely difficult and risky, and she's lucky when Quin Somerville, a young colleague of her father's, offers his help. They form a marriage of convenience and escape to London. But once there, it will be harder to dissolve their marriage than Quin thought. Now Ruth is enrolled in the university he teaches at...can they possibly keep their marriage a secret? Or their growing attraction?

All of Eva Ibbotson's books are wonderfully charming, and The Morning Gift is no exception. Ibbotson has such a polished and sophisticated style, punctuated with smart snatches of humor and irony, which makes this book a delight to read. All of her characters are carefully portrayed with just the right amount of background details and traits so that they seem more realistic and three dimensional, even the lowliest one. Ibbotson's novel is also brimming with references to paleontology and other sciences, music, and literature that go hand in hand with the very academic characters and setting, but aren't over the top, nor do they require that the reader need any prior knowledge of such things to enjoy the book. The Morning Gift is a believable, well researched book that chronicles the wretchedness of the displacement of millions of people before and during World War II, and also offers a bit of hope and romance, along with one of Ibbotson's trademark nerve-racking endings, complete with miscommunication and misunderstandings, that ultimately result in a happy ending. The Morning Gift is highly recommended.

Cover Comments: I really enjor all of the covers of the reprint editions of Eva Ibbotson's books. The music in the bacground hints at the musical influences in the book (though really, academics and science is focused on more), and the pose of the model is nice. This is a very attractive cover.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

Parker Fadley used to be perfect: Captain of the cheerleading squad, perfect boyfriend, and great grades. But that was back before last year when something so awful, so unspeakable happened, that she withdrew from everything and everyone around here. Now all people see is a deeply sarcastic, obstinate girl. But they don't know why—they don't realize that Parker is the way she is now because everything that happened is all her fault.

There is something about Parker Fadley that makes her impossible to resist. Despite her indifferent, caustic attitude about things both insignificant and significant, you can't help being drawn to her, her pain, and her secret. The novel is stuffed with sarcastic wit that will have you laughing one minute, and catch you off guard the next. Summers slowly unravels the mystery of the cause of Parker's pain through skillfully placed flashbacks throughout the novel, while at the same time forcing her to confront her feelings slowly, through her parents, the boy she likes, her ex boyfriend, and even her dog, in a realistic and affecting manner. Cracked Up to Be is just as unassuming and as straightforward as its protagonist, and refuses to sugarcoat anything, making this book a breath of fresh air for many teens. Courtney Summers is an author to watch.

Cover Comments: I do like this cover--the dark green really stands out, and I like how the model is positioned. I know a lot of you guys out there really hate the headless cover trend (I don't mind it), but it's fitting for this book. I also love the font used--so cool!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Uncover The Prophecy of the Sisters with Michelle Zink

Hey everyone,

Check out this cool video featuring Michelle Zink, author of the debut novel The Prophecy of the Sisters (which is a fantastic read!).

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Every since she was born, Belly and her mother and brother spend the summer months at their mother's best friend Susannah's beach house with her and her two sons, Jeremiah and Conrad. The time they spend there is idyllic and perfect, everything Belly could want for in a summer. The summer she turns sixteen though, everything is different. Her mother and Susannah are being secretive, Conrad is extremely moody, and the boys can't seem to understand that Belly isn't a little kid anymore. As everything around her changes and Belly falls in and out of love, she’s certain of one thing: this summer will be far different than all the ones before.

Skillfully combining the present and scenes from summers past, Jenny Han portrays a summer of change and discovery in The Summer I Turned Pretty. Belly is a very realistic character, eager to prove she's not a little kid anymore to her childhood friends, but also reluctant and just a bit apprehensive to embrace the future and the change that comes with it. Though it's hard to pinpoint one main plot point or focus of the novel, Han deftly portrays the meandering and almost dream-like qualities summer vacations can have and the qualities and personalities of teenagers, and her insights are so keen and her characters so endearing that a structured plotline isn't really necessary. In the spirit of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Sarah Dessen's novels, The Summer I Turned Pretty is a witty, wise, and thoughtful book about change, relationships, and love that is hard to put down.

Cover Comments: I love, love, love this cover! I do admire white covers, but then the sunlight in the background coming acorss the models and highlighting the girl's hair is just such a stunning effect. It's a simple, elegant cover, but it certainly conveys a lot. Perfect!

(On a side note, the guy on the right is a dead ringer for this guy who is in my class...so weird!!)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Twenty Boy Summer Twitter Party!

The Twenty Boy Summer Twitter party is going on now, 7-11 PM Eastern! Join or log onto to Twitter, and follow @sarahockler! Prizes and such included!

Along for the Ride Countdown Widget!

Check out this really awesome widget for Along for the Ride:

It's so pretty, I wish I had gotten it a lot sooner! Go ahead and take it and pass it around!

Interview with Tonya Hurley, Author of Ghostgirl

Check out this interview with Tonya Hurley, the author of the popular novel Ghostgirl.

Where did you get the inspiration for ghostgirl?

Mainly from my own experiences in high school and my work afterwards. I was popular in school, but I still felt no-one really knew me. No matter where you are in the social pecking order, it is easy to feel alienated. I guess I wrote the book that I would have wanted to read when I was in school - something funny, but also something that I could relate to. I also worked with some very well known teen celebrities for a while and I saw how desperate people can get for a little fame and attention, not just stars but fans too. I thought taking that down to a real life, high school level might make for a really good story. The whole idea of invisibility is something that starts when you're young, but it carries on through life - it's the most pronounced in high school, I believe.

How have your teen years influenced your writing?

Since my books are set in that world, my teen years have had a lot of influence. I draw on people and places I've known all the time in writing ghostgirl. It's all a fantasy, but I try to ground the books in reality as much as possible. High school was the best of times and the worst of times for me, so it's the perfect physical and emotional setting to tell a story, in my opinion. They say that nothing bad ever happens to a writer, it's all material - so I guess this is my therapy.

How many ghostgirl books do you plan on writing? Do you plan on branching out into something new?

I've just finished the third, but I would love to write ghostgirl books forever! I'll quit when they make me, and even then I'll probably just write them for myself. Besides ghostgirl, I'm always working for ideas for books and screenplays. I couldn't stop if I wanted to.

What are a few good books you've read lately that you'd like to recommend to your readers?

I am re-reading lots of books now, mostly fairy tales and classics. I love short story collections and essays as well. I have a copy of Miranda July's book on my night stand, so I'm enjoying that. Oh, and I devour autobiographies.

Music is a big part of ghostgirl; what are some bands or songs that you would encourage readers to check out?

Yes, music is a big part of ghostgirl. I think it's a big part of every teen's life - I know it was for me. I started playing instruments at a very young age and then I was in a punk band in high school with my twin sister, Tracy. I studied music, along with writing, in college and when I moved to New York City I worked with pop/alternative acts like Prince, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Bush, No Doubt, John Cale, John Lydon, Morrissey to name a few, and because of that I got to meet everyone =0 D from Madonna to David Bowie to Courtney Love. What would I recommend now? Bat For Lashes!

Thanks, Tonya!

Check out my reviews for Ghostgirl and Ghostgirl: Homecoming, and keep your eyes peeled for Ghostgirl: Homecoming starting July 1st!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Word Ninjas Updates!

Hey everyone,

Word Ninjas, the great promo colloaboration between '09 debut authors and bloggers, announced that Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, authors of Beautiful Creatures which comes out in December, are now on board. So that calls for some new banners! If you are currently displaying a Word Ninjas banner, please update it!

New Word Ninjas Sidebar

Word Ninjas, Ink

Beautiful Creatures Sidebar

Word Ninjas, Ink

Twenty Boy Summer Twitter Party!

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Join us for this one-of-a-kind YA book launch party featuring book
trivia, spontaneous (and sometimes inappropriately personal) author
Q&A, prizes and giveaways, laughs, and tons of tweety tomfoolery
celebrating Sarah Ockler's debut novel, TWENTY BOY SUMMER!

Date: Friday, June 5, 2009
Time: 7:00-11:00 PM, EST
Location: Twitter.com

10 Reasons to Come to Twenty
TWEET Summer

  1. At this swanky book launch party, you can totally
    show up in your PJs.

  2. Prizes and giveaways throughout the night! Goodies include signed
    books, bookstore giftcards, cool sea glass stuff, and Sarah’s
    hometown-inspired gifts like Buffalo’s famous chocolate sponge

  3. Unlike attending a regular party, you won’t have to see Sarah
    dance and then pretend that she doesn’t totally suck when she asks you
    about her moves later. And trust us. She will ask.

  4. It’s free! No cover charge for Twenty Tweet Summer!

  5. Rap, country, pop, grunge, classic rock, indie… at this party, you
    can be your own DJ!

  6. No forced conversation with that goofball at the munchies table. I
    mean, unless you’re into goofballs. You’re call at the Twenty Tweet

  7. Nothing will get broken, including your new heels, your glasses,
    your heart, or that really expensive one-of-a-kind sculpture someone’s
    parents brought back from Greece.

  8. Chat with YA author Sarah. Go ahead. Ask her any embarrassing,
    crazy thing you want because she’ll be there all night, ready
    to dish about her own summer of 20 boys.

  9. There’s pretty much zero chance of the cops busting up
    the party.

  10. Sarah is excited and honored to celebrate with you as she
    introduces her debut novel, TWENTY BOY SUMMER, to the world! So please
    join us for the fun!

  11. Bonus reason: Okay. How adorable is our Twenty TWEET Summer mascot
    up there?!

Party Pointers

  • You'll need a Twitter account (free) to join the party. If you
    don't have an account, you can sign up

  • Be sure to follow Sarah at href="http://twitter.com/sarahockler">@sarahockler before the
    party. Only Sarah's twitter followers will be eligible for

  • When you get to the party on Friday, say hi, introduce yourself,
    ask a question, or jump right in on the conversation! Just use the tag
    #20BoySummer in all of your party tweets.

  • Watch for TWENTY BOY SUMMER book and author trivia questions from
    @sarahockler throughout the night. Answer correctly to win more

  • If you've already read the book, don't post any spoilers! No
    comments or questions that give away the good stuff!

  • Stop by any time!

  • Party times are listed in EST.


Shiver and Liar and Catching Fire, Oh My!

Hey everyone, check out Presenting Lenore's awesome, awesome contest! Enter to win copies of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, Liar by Justine Larbalestier, and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (which I just finished last night and it so out-of-this-world AMAZING)! Just click here! Also, sorry for the cheesiness of the title...

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Auden has always been highly motivated and focused on her schoolwork, pushed by her successful scholar of a mother and bestselling writer father. When her parents split up, Auden becomes an insomniac, and becomes all too familiar with the night. The summer before she starts college, she decides to live with her father, his new wife, and their newborn daughter. There, in a small beach town full of eclectic people, Auden realizes all that she has missed out on, and discovers that maybe it's not too late to grab on to all the life has to offer.

Along for the Ride is a heartfelt, humorous, and thoughtful read by popular author Sarah Dessen that readers will devour. Dessen creates an enchanting setting in the beach town of Colby, one that every girl can't help but fall for, and a cast of characters that are charming, witty, and captivating. Auden's epiphany of all the things that she missed out on while concentrating on her academics and her resulting mission to make up for all of the things she missed out on is entertaining and perceptive, and sure to resound with many readers. Her other discovery, that people aren't always as they appear, may be cliché, but nonetheless meaningful within the context of the novel. A reoccurring debate within the novel is whether or not people ever really change, and Dessen does an exemplary job relating that issue to Auden's story. Full of all the wonders of summer time, Along for the Ride is an insightful and enjoyable read full of romance, healing, discovery, and wonderful friendships that will charm readers and inspire them to take advantage of every opportunity to live life to its fullest.

Cover Comments: This is a very cute and flirty cover in general. It's a bit ironic though, because Auden is certainly not a girly-girl, so I have a hard time imagining her in that pink dress, but I like how the bike is included.

Along for the Ride comes out on June 16th, 2009!

Check out this cool trailer:

Find more videos like this on Sarah-land

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Along for the Ride Excerpt Take Two

Hey all you Sarah Dessen fans: Do you want to read the first two chapters of Along for the Ride before it comes out in two weeks? Join Sarah-land's "Come Along For The Ride" Challenge! Sarah-land is a Ning social network set up for Sarah Dessen fans, and it's pretty cool. If they get up to 2000 members by this Friday, June 5th, they'll release the first two chapters of Along for the Ride (Members only!)

One lucky member will receive an ARC of Along for the Ride. Tell your friends and spread the word for exclusive access to this fantastic summer read! After your friends join, have them post here with a link to your profile. +1 chance to win for each friend that posts. (No need to tell me if you've joined, I've already read the book, and my review should be up!)

Good luck, guys!

P.S. In the meantime, check out the Along for the Ride trailer! It's so cute!

Find more videos like this on Sarah-land

Catching Fire Teaser Video

Here's a short teaser video for Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games, which comes out September 1st! I'm reading the book right now, and I must stay, the video doesn't do it justice--the book is simply amazing. It just took an unexpected turn, and I had to struggle to tear myself away long enough to post this.


Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley

Emily's life was quiet and sweet before the plane crash that claimed the lives of both of her parents, before her mother scrawled "Emily, please forgive me" on a tray in lipstick and launched her into the tabloids’ spotlight. Now, months after the event, she's living with her make-up artist aunt in New York City, trying to piece together a life for herself through her grief at a new school where everyone already knows her, and no one is who they seem, all while still trying to derive the meaning behind her mother's last words.

Lipstick Apology is a skillfully written and memorable novel with so many wonderful messages between its pages. Jennifer Jabaley has packed an incredible amount of emotion within the novel—from grief to the exhilaration of first love—and she has created a dynamic, fallible, and likable heroine in Emily. Many of the experiences that Emily faces aren't very different than those that teens face on a daily basis, but it is the unique way that Jabaley presents them that makes Lipstick Apology such an engaging and even humorous read. She skillfully reveals to readers the true nature of friendship, the complexities of romantic relationships, and demonstrates that true love isn't judgmental, but it is about learning to see beyond mistakes and faults and accepting people for who they truly are. Lipstick Apology is a novel of holding on and letting go that is simply beautiful.

Cover Comments: This cover is quite unique. I like all of the colors used and the bright lights look. The skyline of New York City on the bottom is also a neat touch. The font is nice and simple, and I like how it doesn't compete with the image of the girl's face. It's always fun to see new styles and unique covers.

Lipstick Apology will be released from Razorbill on August 6th, 2009.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Contest: Win a Book a Day Throughout the Month of June

Giving It Away For Free

(the only time Momma would approve)

Serena Robar is giving it away for free the entire month of June. That’s right. A book a day, every day in honor of her latest book release Giving Up the V. All you have to do to is sign up for her newsletter and you are entered to win. Enter once and you are in the running to win a book every day the entire month of June!

About Giving Up the V:

What's So Wrong With Waiting?

Spencer Davis just turned sixteen. But unlike most hormonal teenagers who seem obsessed with sex -- like her entire crew of friends -- Spencer just doesn't get it. She'd rather wait for the right guy and the right moment. But that moment may be arriving sooner than she'd thought.

Enter Benjamin Hopkins, a new transfer student who seems to have his eyes on our V-card-carrying heroine. He's gorgeous, funny, suave, athletic, and capable of making Spencer's knees wobble with a single glance. Spencer has never felt this way about anyone before, but is Ben truly V-worthy?

Check out Serena Robar's website for more info, and good luck!

After by Amy Efaw

Devon Davenport is the perfect student, teammate, and daughter. Responsible, talented, and hard-working, she has a bright future ahead of her, and is determined to not be like her mother, who gave birth to her at age sixteen. Because of these reasons, it's unbelievably hard for her family and friends to accept that she was pregnant, and didn't even know it, and that when she gave birth, she left her baby in the trash to die. But Devon did...and now the question is, is she guilty of attempted murder?

After is a heartbreaking novel that is simultaneously hard to read and intensely compelling. The book starts out briskly and suddenly, offering an unflinching look at Devon's situation and mental state as she is discovered, and then shuffled through the legal system, is assigned a lawyer, experiences juvenile hall, and is forced to appear in court. Accompanying her is a wide array of conflicting and complicated emotions, from shock to fear to indignation as Devon is forced to face the facts by her pushy and passionate lawyer, a believer in "tough love". Efaw's writing is detailed and precise, and her prose haunting and throughout Devon's tumultuous journey, she carefully reveals to readers Devon's past and the situations that led to her deeply ingrained denial, until readers can't help but feel deep sympathy for her, even as they face their own doubts and question Devon's behavior. Skillfully written and highly affecting, After is an emotional rollercoaster of a novel that explores the complexity of human nature and is sure to leave a mark on readers.

Cover Comments: I like this cover, it is simple yet striking, and it also very subtle--I was halfway through the novel before I realized the difference in the reflection. I think it is very fitting for the topic--carefuly neautral, but eye catching as well.

After will be available from Viking on August 11th, 2009.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sarah Dessen Talks About Along for the Ride

Hey everybody,

Check out this cool, cool video in which Sarah Dessen discusses Along for the Ride, her latest novel. It comes out later this month, and is so, so cute! This is your perfect beach read (or, if you're not going to the beach, it will transport you there!).

Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog

Morgan Sparks has a perfect boyfriend, and a pretty-near perfect life. She and her boyfriend Cameron Browne share a birthday, and their upcoming sixteenth birthday party is the most talked of event in school. But just a week before the big day, a strange guy named Pip shows up, claiming to be the Brownes’ real son. He declares that Cam is really fairy royalty, and next in line for the crown—and that it's time for him to return to the fairy world and for Pip to take his place in the human one. But Morgan won't let go of Cam easily; she's bound and determined to make sure that he stays with her for the rest of their lives...but what if that isn't his destiny?

Fairy Tale is unexpected in many aspects—from Morgan's ability to see into the future to Cyn Balog's surprise ending. Morgan herself is a strong narrator who packs in plenty of wit and sass. Her confidence is refreshing, and her reaction to the many magical events occurring around her is humorous and entertaining. Her psychic abilities aren’t dwelled upon for very long, which seems a little curious, but isn’t distracting from the novel as a whole.

The idea that the male lead—not the female one—is a fairy is a different one, and the new approach is definitely welcome. Fairy Tale deals a lot with the emotions and fears that accompany change as both Cam and Morgan face the possibility of losing each other forever and grapple with fears of the unknown, which is an issue that many teens will be able to draw connections with in their own lives. At the center of the story is a sweet romance that is touching without being cliché, and realistically complicated and gut-wrenching. Balog's debut is a dazzling one, full of fun dialogue, true-to-life emotions, and a suspenseful climax that will have readers coming back to this lovely novel again and again.

Cover Comments: This cover is exquisite--I love the beauty of the wings in the background, and the many colors in them. The drops of water make the image look three dimensional and more realistic, and the simple black background makes the color in the wings pop. I like the title treatment and fint as well, it compliments the image nicely. This is a very, very attractive cover!

Fairy Tale will be available from Delacorte Press on June 23rd, 2009!