April 30, 2009
It Happened One Autumn (Wallflowers, Book Two) by Lisa Kleypas (Review copy, eBook)
The Devil in Winter (Wallflowers, Book Three) by Lisa Kleypas (Review copy, eBook)
Project Sweet Life by Brent Hartinger (Review copy, hardcover)
His Calvary Lady (Aikenhead Honors, Book One) by Joanna Maitland (Contest)
Initiation by Susan Fine (Review copy)
Mommy by Mistake by Rowan Coleman (Review copy, ARC)
Bloodhound (Beka Cooper/Provost's Dog, Book Two) by Tamora Pierce (Bought, hardcover)
Toshie: A Story of Village Life in Twentieth-Century Japan by Simon Partner (Textbook)
Japan: The Burden of Success by Jean-Marie Bouissou (Textbook)
ETA: I forgot
Angel Densetsu (Vols. 12-15) by Norihiro Yagi
Claymore (Vols. 1-15) by Norihiro Yagi
Congrats to everyone who participated! Everyone needs a creative outlet and it's good to find a new one every once in awhile. Don't forget to report in at MFA to tell everyone how you did on the Body Image Challenge!
April 29, 2009
I decided I love:
and my butt.
I do not like trying to take pictures of them with a phone. The flash on the first is deliberate to obscure my features; you can see almost the entire dorm room in the fingernails photo; the angle I tried at first made my butt look rounder, which wasn't really my point.
I mostly had to accept compliments on Friday, since I wore make-up for an interview. (People will comment when you do something above the usual to look nice.) I accepted it because I'm proud of my make-up skills, and I tried something new. The main color on my eyes is one I've only used for evening looks and I was happy I could adapt it to a day look. (Metallic emerald is not a standard day color by any means.)
I usually try to compliment my friends, but I ramped it up. And yes, many of my compliments got brushed off. I just have to keep to it until they believe me.
I still need to work on my self-image but I loved hearing everyone else's stories and hope we keep to the tenets of the challenge even though Body Image Week is over.
MODELS DON'T EAT CHOCOLATE COOKIES
by Erin Dionne
Released March 5, 2009 by Dial (Penguin imprint)
AT A GLANCE:
Hardback, Paperback or Library: I'd say that this is a book to get from the library. Although I would buy it for a tween girl without hesitation.
The Next Person I'm Giving This To: My friend Jenny who's daughter has just entered the tween years.
To Read or Not To Re-Read: I'd like to re-read this with my daughters when they get older.
MODELS DON'T EAT CHOCOLATE COOKIES is about how 13-year-old Celeste decides that the best way to get out of the Miss HuskyPeach pageant for plus-sized girls is by losing weight. Celeste learns that weight loss is not a quick fix, either physically or mentally; that beauty comes from confidence, not dress size; and the importance of friends who support you for who you are.
There were lots of things that I thought were great about this book, but I don't want to spoil it for you, so I'll write about one in particular that really struck a chord with me. Celeste's success in feeling better about herself is due in large part to great friends who support her, encourage her, and like her for who she is.
Whether or not we like ourselves and our bodies is ultimately up to us to decide. But isn't it easier to think better of ourselves when we are surrounded with people that like who we are, who are positive, who encourage and support us? Of course it is! If I am trying to eat healthier, it's easier if all my friends don't constantly tempt me with chocolate, sugar, and fatty foods. If I'm trying to be better about exercising, it's easier if I have someone to walk/work out with, give me different exercise ideas, and are interested in my progress.
In MODELS, Celeste has to deal with a long-time friend, Sandra, who gets caught up in trying to be popular and finally tells Celeste that they can only be friends outside of school. Ouch. Celeste ends up becoming closer friends with Katy & Millie. When they find out Celeste's plan to get out of the pageant (that Celeste's aunt mis-guidingly enters her in), they offer ideas to help (walking together around the track) and are positive and encouraging when Celeste gets down on herself.
Towards the end of the book, Celeste and the other Miss HuskyPeach finalists watch Violet Page (a plus-size super model) demonstrate walking the runway. They had met he previously, but Celeste didn't think much of her at the time. Here's what Celeste saw:
From Page 171 (of the ARC ... emphasis added):
Ashley gripped my arm. "She's gorgeous!" she whispered. Her voice was so light and airy, I almost didn't hear her. I glanced at her: eyes wide, face slack,she was locked on to Violet Page like a missle to its target.
And she was. Violet the Model was nothing like the almost-bored, always-flaky judge from the previous session. This person was focused, direct, and sexy. She walked with a determined stride, peering at the audience from under narrowed lids. She kept her mouth pursed for the trip to the end of the runway. Mid-spin, she paused and flashed a dazzling smile. It was then that I realized: Her looks were only part of what made Violet beautiful. Confidence took care of the rest.
As an adult reader, I enjoyed this book. It was a tad more juvenille than I usually like to read (or least re-read), but the subject matter was great. It would be a great mother-daughter book club pick.
Don't forget to enter Deborah Lytton's Challenge!
April 27, 2009
April 25, 2009
When I was 17, if a genie had appeared and given me one wish, I would have used it on perfect skin. Goodbye oily t-zone with visible pores prone to clogging. Goodbye milky white skin tone that burns instead of tans. Goodbye stretch marks on my inner thighs left behind by an extreme tween growth spurt.
My imperfections were relatively minor, but they were so big in my teenage mind that they would have come before world peace or a lottery win. So I could only begin to imagine how Terra, teen protagonist of Justina Chen Headley’s novel NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL, must feel about a port wine stain that covers half her face. Her instinct is to hide, to cover up around other people, to retreat from life. Then she meets an adopted Chinese guy with a cleft palate scar who ends up being a catalyst for her journey towards self acceptance.
Reading about Terra’s struggles to feel comfortable in her own skin, it occurred to me that I don’t run across many YA novels about skin afflictions or oddities. Sure, a huge pimple erupting before a big date is a classic plot point that we are all familiar with, but what a about a novel from the POV of a burn victim or someone with severe acne?
In the last novel I read, Laura Whitcomb’s THE FETCH, two of the protagonists are affected by a supernatural phenomenon called “The Brightening” that makes their skin glow. So as to not freak others out, they dust themselves with heavy powder. And of course there is always the sparkle problem that plagues the vampires in Twilight. Julia Hoban’s WILLOW has to wear long sleeve shirts to cover up her cutting scars. And one of the twins in Jacquelyn Mitchard’s LOOK BOTH WAYS puts toothpaste on a pimple because she heard it is a miracle cure. It does dry out the pimple, but it also gives her a scaly, red rash. The only thing that helps is undertaker make-up borrowed from a funeral parlor.
I too have tried the toothpaste trick. In my quest for model-worthy skin, I’ve experimented with astringents, scrubs, cleansing pads (Oxy anyone?), masks, moisturizers, concealers, foundations and powders. Rabid fashion magazine consultation led to product overload, which just irritated my skin and made it worse. In fact, I found once I started just using a gentle skin cleanser, my skin was a lot better off.
The genie never granted my wish, but I am generally happy with my skin these days. So to sign off, I’ll leave you with some tips for fresh, glowing skin that have worked for me.
Use a facial moisturizer with sunscreen every day.
Avoid excessive sugar.
Do an elimination diet to see what foods might be affecting your skin (I discovered my skin is sensitive to dairy).
Drink plenty of water.
Get adequate sleep (I need 7-8 hours).
Read more YA novels ;)
PS: If you know of any other novels that deal with skin issues, let me know in the comments. Thanks!
April 24, 2009
"He is someone who finds you attractive," Madame said as if she had never said anything more serious in her life. "Be humble, and be grateful to anyone who pays you a compliment." Her tone was so ominous that for a second I thought she was quoting the Old Testament.
The strange part is that she was somehow right. Her I was -- whining about being rejected -- and then, when some guy paid attention to me, I felt entitled to dismiss him. I realized that I was wrong, but I still tried to defend myself by beating on a dead horse: my self-esteem.
"I guess I'm not used to hearing too many compliments."
She looked me in the eye and added, "I'm sure you get many compliments. You just don't know how to listen."
-pp. 70-71, ARC version
B would prefer not to be named Beauty. She's known she was fat since her parents left her with a terrible nanny, and she'd prefer not to have the name to live up to. She can't get ahead in her job because of her looks and she feels terrible when she hangs out with her skinny and confident best friend Lillian. B's unhappy and desperate when she meets Madame.
And Madame thinks B would be perfect for her clients. She's a confident woman, ready to show B how gorgeous she is and how to find the men who will appreciate her figure. B doesn't want to be a whore, especially with her Catholic guilt, but Madame promises no sex . . .
Which leads into: B AS IN BEAUTY is not a YA book. If you're cool with fetishes, you're probably old enough. If you're thinking, "What's a fetish?" or "That's the thing with feet, right?" you might want to wait a bit before picking this one up. I don't want to be held responsible for exposing the kiddies to Fetish Fuel. (Link may be NSFW.)
For those who are old enough, it's an excellent novel. The romance is well done and touching. For those who have read it, you know what I mean when I say I think I'm going to find subway seats poignant from now on. (Bus seats in my case, since there aren't any subways near.) B's career in advertising and her career as a comfort provider are both given a reasonable amount of attention and I enjoyed how Alberto Ferreras resolved things.
B works excellently as an overweight and Latina character without being defined by those things. Being Cuban American shaped her life and her descriptions of home life really pop, but that doesn't define her. (I did enjoy trying to translate the Spanish before I reached the English paraphrase.) I found her very relatable, especially as her work descriptions reminded me of some of my mom's complaints.
Body image isn't just a problem for teenage girls, as shown by the number of adults who are participating in the Body Image Challenge. We need more women like B in art - women who know, or learn, they are beautiful without losing a pound. (Not saying anyone needs to stay at an unhealthy weight, but our society has such a distorted perception of what weight is healthy.) Believe me, I could enjoy the movie version of Bridget Jones's Diary far more if people just acknowledged that Renee Zellwegger looks awesome, not chubby. B is a breath of fresh air, and it helps that she's in a wonderfully written and entertaining novel.
You can find more at Alberto Ferrera's website. B AS IN BEAUTY is his debut novel and available now. He is a filmmaker and performance artist in addition to being an author. I'm posting the book trailer because I think it's really cute.
April 23, 2009
My debut novel, Jane in Bloom, is about 12 year old Jane’s journey to believing in herself. In order to embark on the path to self-discovery, Jane has to overcome a family obsessed with outward perfection. Jane’s mother has poor self-image. Jane’s older sister Lizzie has poor self-image. Both Jane's mother and Lizzie have eating disorders. Ironically, it is the invisible Jane who realizes that we must love ourselves as we are and appreciate who we are to be truly happy. Jane finds her strength not from her outward appearance, but from looking inside. She finds self-expression through photography. But our paths to positive self-image can be found in any form of creative expression that allows us to show who we are—art, singing, dancing, cooking, crafts, flower arranging, decorating, party planning, scrapbooking, and my own favorite forms of creative expression, photography and writing.
So as part of this week promoting positive body image, I challenge each and every one of you to find your creative outlet this week. Your creative expression will help you discover your own inner beauty.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Find something you like to do. It has to give you a finished product of some kind. Something you can see, touch, hear or taste.
2. Create something that expresses who you are at this moment. Don’t over-think it, don’t judge it. Just be in the moment and enjoy yourself.
3. If you have chosen to dance or sing, have someone take a picture of you while you are performing.
4. When you are finished, take a look at your finished self-expression. Ask yourself how it made you feel when you were creating it? How does it make you feel now to see what you have accomplished? Is it an accurate reflection of you? Does it make you appreciate your uniqueness?
5. Always remember that no one else in the world is exactly like you—and no one else in the world can create something in the same way that you create something. It is that uniqueness that makes us all special. And that is the real reflection of who you are, because it shows your beauty from the inside out.
6. Try to return to your self-expression as often as you can. Give yourself freedom to create. For it represents you!
7. Write in and tell us how you did on your challenge. We would love to hear from you!
And yes, there is a signed copy of JANE IN BLOOM for someone brave enough to take the challenge. I'll pick the winner from the comments on this post.
You can find out more about Deborah Lytton from my interview and more about JANE IN BLOOM from MFA's review.
I should also say that this theme sent me down a follow-the-link trail over at Jezebel. Here are some current stories about plus-sized model Crystal Renn. Here's one about an anorexic model, along with an entire archive. And here's a slightly older one about how Vogue disguised singer Adele's figure . . . in their Shape issue. Here's to the hope of an evolved standard of outer beauty, which shouldn't matter one wit next to inner anyway.
April 22, 2009
Today kicks off a Body Image theme week at MyFavoriteAuthor and I am excited to be participating along with The Story Siren, Presenting Lenore and authors Deborah Lytton, Sarah Darer Littman, Sara Zarr, Megan Frazer, Laurie Halse Anderson, Sydney Salter, and Erin Dionne!
The issue of body image and loving the skin that you're in is something that affects everyone in different ways and in different degrees. And there are a lot of books recently or soon-to-be released that address various aspects of the issue. SpeedReader of MyFavoriteAuthor has organized this theme week that will include book reviews, author interviews/guest posts/videos, a couple of challenges and a great book giveaway at the end.
So check them out today to see the full schedule of the week's events and where the various posts will be showing up around the blogosphere. And don't forget to accept the Body Image Challenge! Everyone who accepts the challenge and reports back at the end of the week will be entered in the giveaway to win:
WINTERGIRLS (signed) by Laurie Halse Anderson
MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS by Sydney Salter
THE SECRETS OF TRUTH AND BEAUTY by Megan Frazer
MODELS DON'T EAT CHOCOLATE COOKIES by Erin Dionne
For some pre-festivities, you can check out my interview with Deborah Lytton and my review of WINTERGIRLS. As for the festivites themselves, you can see the schedule in the sidebar.
At IBWB, the special stuff starts tomorrow, with a guest post and challenge from Deborah Lytton. Yes, someone will win a signed hardcover. On Saturday, the illustrious Lenore will be guesting here. Yeah, I can't believe I'm doing something like this with a big name either! Then next Wednesday, SpeedReader will be dropping by. But ya'll should by no means restrict yourself to my blog! (At the very least, you should read my guest post - about my very silly issues - at the Story Siren this Saturday.)
Let's give a big hand to SpeedReader, who put all of this together! You're going to love Body Image Week - and hopefully you'll love yourself even more once it's over.
[Note: The Love Your Body campaign was shot for Melissa Walker. The photos may not be reproduced without my permission.]
Alan Kennedy-Shaffer served as a regional field director for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in Virginia. Educated at Yale University and William & Mary Law School, Kennedy-Shaffer is the author of DENIAL AND DECEPTION: A Study of the Bush Administration’s Rhetorical Case for Invading Iraq. Kennedy-Shaffer’s writings have also appeared in The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Washington Post, the Patriot-News, the Daily Press, and the Virginia Gazette. Alan lives in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. You can visit his website here.
I highly recommend googling his name to read about his exploits at Yale. It's hilarious; I promise.
By Alan Kennedy-Shaffer
Since The Obama Revolution, my second book, hit bookstores a month ago, I have delivered lectures, appeared on panels, autographed copies, and answered questions from readers and fans. Most people ask: What is The Obama Revolution? That one’s easy. The Obama Revolution, the first book published about Barack Obama’s historic presidential campaign by a former staffer, provides an in-the-trenches look at how the 44th President of the United States came from behind to win the presidency and sparked a movement that has changed the face of American politics forever.
Sometimes powerful, sometimes poignant, always hopeful, The Obama Revolution includes encounters with Barack Obama, insight into why thousands of organizers left their jobs, their schools, and their families to join the most organized presidential campaign in American history. It is the story of how thousands of organizers spurred millions of Americans to register to vote and recruited millions of volunteers. At once meticulously researched and motivational, The Obama Revolution tells the story of a generation of young people—most under 30—who dropped everything to get involved.
But what is the Obama Revolution? Posed to me on more than one occasion by wizened professors, this question is more nuanced and difficult to answer than the first question. Was Barack Obama’s presidential campaign revolutionary in its rhetoric? Was the campaign revolutionary in its policy proposals? Was the campaign revolutionary in its grassroots strategy? Yes. But there is something deeper about Barack Obama’s rhetorical calls for a new era of responsibility that struck a chord with organizers and voters in a way not seen in decades. Consider this excerpt:
There may seem to be little in common between the young children who scampered after me in the housing projects on Allison Hill, eager for Obama stickers, and the Democrats in Westmoreland County who turned out in droves for rural action meetings. But below the surface, they all hope for a brighter future for their children and they share a belief that America can—and will—change. . . . Empowered to serve as the backbone of Obama’s well organized, well funded, quintessentially grassroots presidential campaign, young people left their jobs, their schools, and their homes, in order to recruit and mobilize an army of volunteers committed to positive change.
From just this brief passage in The Obama Revolution, it is possible to begin to get a sense of what made Barack Obama’s campaign truly revolutionary. Although Barack Obama’s speeches were electrifying, the campaign’s policy prescriptions solidly formulated, and the reach of the campaign’s 50-state strategy unprecedented, the revolution was first and foremost visible in eyes of the children who called to their mothers when I rang the doorbell, “Barack Obama’s at the door!” More than a campaign, the Obama Revolution is a call to arms at a challenging moment in history.
The Obama Revolution is a revolution in the way we campaign and the way we look at our government. And it is our government. Ultimately, the buck stops with the organizers, the volunteers, and the voters who made history by electing Barack Obama and who will continue to make history by keeping our nation accountable to the ideals upon which it was founded. We have an historic opportunity to turn the hope expressed by millions of Americans at the ballot box in November into the change that this nation needs. This is our moment. This is our time. This is our revolution.
Don't forget to read my review.
April 21, 2009
Clearly, this is not IBWB's usual. But I must admit, I'm a little geeky for politics and government (I did go to Girls State) and so I took the chance when I heard about this tour. After all, a book written by an insider should contain information not found elsewhere. And hey, I did vote for Barack Obama. (I'm young, in college, and living in the most liberal city in Texas. Don't tell me you're surprised.)
To me, THE OBAMA REVOLUTION starts slow. Alan Kennedy-Shaffer's prose is clear and his text is clearly researched, as evidenced by frequent quotes, but it starts with a description of Obama's stance during the campaign. It's nice to know what he promised, but that's not his revolution. Every politician outlines a plan during a campaign that's mostly unlikely to come to fruition. This part of his revolution cannot truly be examined until he's out of office and we can see how Obama affected policy, specific issue awareness, and how he deals with crises.
After that, the book does pick up. Kennedy-Shaffer discusses the technique of the campaign, which used technology and rhetoric in innovative ways. His bias shines through the entire novel, which you do have to work through, but the wealth of empirical evidence helps keeps things even-footed.
THE OBAMA REVOLUTION definitely hasn't converted me to reading political books full time. If I'm going to read something political, I still prefer a primary source. (Check out Brutus. He could make a business student question his or her worship of Alexander Hamilton. ) As things go, the book is written in an easily readable style and is a good primer for those who want to know more about what Obama promised the nation and how he convinced the US those promises were real. It's good information to keep in mind as one keeps an eye on what he does in office.
You can find more information on Kennedy-Shaffer's website and MySpace. He's written several newspaper articles, including a promotion for the book at The Huffington Post. THE OBAMA REVOLUTION is available now. Be sure to come back tomorrow for a guest post as well as the beginning of Body Image Week.
Review copy courtesy of Pump Up Your Book Promotion
April 20, 2009
Hey, Teenager of the Year is hosting the new People's Choice YA Book Blog Awards. It's time to show some blog love!
Nominations are now open.
Here's the quick rundown of the categories:
Best Interviewer: That blogger who asks authors all the tough questions.
Best Reviewer: Whose reviews are almost better than the books?
Best Newcomer: A new, fabulous YA book blogger (Six months blogging or less).
The Golden Book Blog Award: This award is for the long-time blogger who deserves recognition for their commitment to making a star blog. The blogs that inspired you to start book blogging, the pioneers of YA book blog land. They know who they are.
Rules: You can nominate for one category, or you can nominate for all four. You cannot nominate more than four times, and you can’t nominate yourself. You can nominate someone who has already been nominated, though.
Nominations are open until the end of April. If there are more than ten nominees in each category, the most popular will be up for the awards. From there, Steph will make up polls – this is a people’s choice award. Head over to the contest post to nominate your favorite blogs.
April 19, 2009
The third Elite book - SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE - won't be on shelves until July 7th.
Before that, the book trailer will premiere here on In Bed With Books, to make ya'll want the book even more.
But Jennifer's already put one of the ARCs up for grabs . . . along with an entire prize pack.
Check it out. You can't resist it.
I don't think I'll do In My Mailbox this week - I didn't get much and I'm too tired from traveling. But here's something else fun!
By Ellen Jensen Abbott
Abisina lives in a repressive community, following the laws/religious codes of Vran, which declare her an outcast. The only reason she wasn't exposed to the elements at birth was her mother's powerful position as the village healer. But another charismatic leader is about to come to power, and his rise is bad news for all the outcasts - human and other.
Events cause Abisina to seek her father, in the far village of Watersmeet. But her journey causes her to face her own prejudices, and realize she's not the only one discriminated against. Ellen Jensen Abbott does a wonderful job of showing how being oppressed and mistreated doesn't stop you from doing the same to others - and that it's hard to learn to do anything else. It's not very subtle and at times I worried some of the metaphors/allegories were too bold, but I think the message is well presented for the age level.
The publisher, Marshall Cavendish, is marketing the book as twelve and up, but I think younger kids will enjoy it to provided they don't mind a little violence. (Nothing that's not in a Disney movie, to be honest.) I know I would've been happy if I found WATERSMEET on the shelves in elementary school.
It's got a lot of the classic fantasy elements - secret parentage, fantastic sentient creatures, a quest, and a climatic battle. But Abbott doesn't make the proceedings route - she imbues the characters with a variety of reasonable backgrounds and desires. It's a tale of cultures clashing as much as it is a fantastic quest, and that needs development of societies and mindsets.
WATERSMEET is a very quick read, at least for someone older. A class was unexpectedly cancelled and I read the entire novel waiting for the next class to begin. (Minus the time ducking into a convenience store to buy some cheese because the opening made me really hungry for it. That's the power of description for you.) I enjoy picking up something that can make me think while maintaining forward momentum.
WATERSMEET is Abbott's first novel, and it's an excellent start to her writing career. (The way it ends makes me hope that there will be a sequel. Things tie up, but there's certainly room to explore more of the world.) Abbott is a member of the Class of 2k9 and writes a blog. There will be an interview with her on this blog, though it's not her fault I don't know when - I haven't sent the questions yet. (Oh, how lazy the end of the semester makes me.)
ETA: WATERSMEET is available now. It was released the first of the month.
April 16, 2009
1. Bite Me! by Mel Francis
2. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
3. Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
4. Willow by Julia Hoban
5. Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten
6. Beautiful Americans by Lucy Silag
7. Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
City of Glass (Mortal Instruments, Book Three) by Cassandra Clare (bought, hardcover)
Curse the Dawn (Cassie Palmer, Book Four) by Karen Chance (in bookstore)
Secrets of a Summer Night (Wallflowers, Book One) by Lisa Kleypas (review copy, eBook)
April 15, 2009
I haven't read I Know It's Over, but I'm still interested in C. Kelly Martin's next release: One Lonely Degree.
Blurb from Amazon:
Anything is possible. . . .
Finn has always felt out of place, but suddenly her world is unraveling. It started with The Party. And Adam Porter. And the night in September that changed everything. The only person who knows about that night is Audrey—Finn’s best friend, her witness to everything, and the one person Finn trusts implicitly. So when Finn’s childhood friend Jersy moves back to town—reckless, beautiful Jersy, all lips and eyes and hair so soft you’d want to dip your fingers into it if you weren’t careful—Finn gives her blessing for Audrey to date him. How could she possibly say no to Audrey? With Audrey gone for the summer, though, Finn finds herself spending more and more time with Jersy, and for the first time in her life, something feels right. But Finn can’t be the girl who does this to her best friend . . . can she?
One Lonely Degree comes out next month, on the 26th.
April 14, 2009
I'm having trouble with the VC Andrews Challenge, but hopefully I'll catch up in the summer. In the meantime, I'm joining The Story Siren's '09 Debut Authors Challenge. Since I'm lazy, I'll just aim for her number: 30 books by debut YA or MG authors.
So far I have read:
1. Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
2. Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd
3. Hottie by Jonathan Bernstein
4. Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King
5. Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell
6. Watersmeet by Ellen Jensen Abbott
Off the top of my head, I own but haven't yet read:
1. Bite Me! by Mel Francis
2. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
3. Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
4. Willow by Julia Hoban
5. Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten
6. Beautiful Americans by Lucy Silag
7. Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
I should receive the following YA Debuts for review:
1. Initiation by Susan Fine
2. Breathing by Cheryl Renee Herbsman
This post will be update as time goes on. (Actually, I should link to related reviews and interviews already.)
April 13, 2009
You can read Cynthia's write-up here. I'm in one of her shots and I hate to think I actually looked that bad.
First: I arrived super early because I took the bus, which runs every forty minutes or so and takes me fifteen minutes to walk to the stop. I didn't have many choices of which to take. I grabbed a book off the shelf I've been wanting to read (must buy my own copy so I can enjoy it again) and went up to wait.
Cynthia and her husband Greg were setting things up with the workers, which surprised me. At BookPeople the authors usually wait somewhere else and you don't get pre-event interaction. Anyway, Cynthia quickly figured out that she "knew" me and thanked me for coming to the event. It was very nice, and I enjoyed watching her greet others as they trickled in. Cynthia's blog and efforts with SCWBI have really made her a presence in the young adult/children's lit world and it seemed like she knew every one of the 100+ people who attended.
Then it was time for the event to actually begin! Cynthia and Kathi introduced each other, which was very sweet and a good way to get brags in. (I can tell you, this event sold me on THE UNDERNEATH. I'm buying it as soon as it comes out in paperback.)
Next came readings: Cynthia's from Zach's POV in ETERNAL and Kathi's . . . a song!
It turns out Kathi once wanted to be a songwriter, so almost every character in THE UNDERNEATH had a song. But her editor chopped them out one by one, until only one was left: a blues number for the dog, who was based on Kathi's childhood dog.
She looked really cute while singing so I did her the disservice of managing to take the pic while her eyes were closed. (See her foot tapping?) Of course, my cell was almost dead so I only took four photos . . . should've accounted for mistakes like this.
There was also a showing of the trailers:
. . . with a little technical difficulty for the ETERNAL trailer.
Anyway, there was a very cool Q&A and fanmail reading section. My favorites: a sixth-grader telling Kathi how to improve her writing and a librarian telling Cynthia she wanted Zach and Miranda (the main characters of ETERNAL) to have sex.
The questions they asked each other mostly involved the appropriate approach to sex and violence in books for young adults and children. Their answers were very sensible and unfortunately, the crowd was probably their choir. I did like an audience member's follow-up question, about whether those aspects were differently received in other countries. (The violence is apparently more common in America.) Both had interesting issues with France editions - they can't decide whether to market Kathi's as children's or adult and for Cynthia, there is no French translation of "tantalize." Hard to believe as much as the country likes food.
Then came signing, which made me sad I managed to leave my copies of Cynthia's books at home after Spring Break. I'd forget my head if it weren't glued on, seriously. But I did take the opportunity to finish the book I'd snagged at the beginning!
April 12, 2009
This week I received four books for review.
A Certain Strain of Peculiar by Gigi Amateau
Project Sweet Life by Brent Hartinger
I am reading this one now. You can also watch a video by the author I posted earlier on my blog.
Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Sunnyside Blues by Mary Carter
This review won't come up until June or July, but it will be accompanied by an author visit and giveaway.
Expect an interview with Ellen Jensen Abbot later this month. One good thing about the blogiversary/birthday is authors asking to visit In Bed With Books. Can you believe it?
April 11, 2009
Read my interview with the author.
Just because I can't ignore it, let's look at the original cover:
Why does this cover work better?
1. The clothes are classier. Hottie's outfit was inspired by her style idol Audrey Hepburn, who would wear a little black dress with pearls - but not one that looks like a bagged Halloween costume.
2. The orange is brighter than the light pink, making the whole thing pop more. You know what happens to books that pop? People pick them up.
3. The girl is a cartoon, a nice homage to the fact superheroes are mostly found in graphic novels and animated shows. It gives a hint of the contents and taps into one of the hottest markets. Many local bookstores and libraries have been expanding their graphic novel/manga sections.
4. Young adults like it better. (So do adults who read young adult literature.) HOTTIE is a young adult book. You see where I'm going here?
More power to Penguin, for doing what they needed to do to get the book in stores. But bookstore buyers, I must ask you: Really? Really?
But hey, we all know not to judge a book by its cover. It's the content that matters. And I was almost as worried about the content as the cover a couple of chapters in. The first sweeps through the head of several characters of varying importance, as Alison receives news of her election. None of the characters come off as particularly sympathetic. Alison then gives in to her friends manipulation to get plastic surgery - at fourteen.
But when her bad decision goes wrong, HOTTIE gets moving. There's a wonderful sequence of destruction as Alison discovers her new flamability, at which point she realizes she needs the help of her high school's comic book geek, David. Their adventures together help Alison become less shallow and David more self-actualized. (Plus, their driver - an older teen who can be paid to chauffer people to parties - gets off some of the best lines.) Then she discovers her arch nemesis: Wettie. (So they don't know her powers . . . it makes sense.)
I really enjoyed how the love triangle was done. Both boys were nice, cared about Alison for Alison, although one had the advantage of knowing her secret identity. Love triangles work much better when there's reasonable belief either of the choices could win fair maiden. (I'm looking at you TWILIGHT.)
After the disastrous beginning chapters, HOTTIE becomes a funny and entertaining story. There's crime-fighting, friendship drama, family drama, and romantic drama. Pretty much any kind of drama you can think of, which is a nice counterpoint to the comedic elements. Jonathan Bernstein likes to make pop culture references, most of which blend in fine, except for an unfortunate one to Chris Brown. Of course, I read my copy shortly after the news broke so the reference will likely become less jarring as time goes on.
I'm partial to superhero stories, but even taking that bias into account I enjoyed HOTTIE and stayed up late to finish it. The ending is a little far-fetched, but I like how it calls back to an earlier important conversation in the novel enough to accept it.
HOTTIE is available now, and is Bernstein's debut novel. He's also a screenwriter, so you can enjoy his talents with the movies JUST MY LUCK and MAX KEEBLE'S BIG MOVE. His blog is linked to above, as is my blogiversary/birthday interview with him.
April 9, 2009
Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds (borrowed)
Watersmeet by Ellen Jensen Abbott (review copy, ARC)
My Little Red Book by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff (contest, hardcover)
Angel Densetsu (vol. 11) by Norihiro Yagi
MY LITTLE RED BOOK was interesting and definitely good for young girls, but now it reminded me of how much getting my period sucks and it isn't going to end for thirty years or so. I do wish those movies they show you in elementary just straight up said, "Look. There'll be blood on your underwear. M'kay?"
Meet Tricia Mills, the author of HEARTBREAK RIVER, releasing this month from Razorbill. You can find her on a number of social networking sites, including MySpace. She also writes for Harlequin in addition to her work as a freelance journalist. She believes Buffy and Angel will one day find their happy ending, which I can totally get behind.
Fortunately, the people at Razorbill didn't change this awesome cover, unlike HOTTIE.
By Tricia Mills
I’ve been cracking up at the new Hulu commercials that make fun of TV rotting our brains. While I know that sitting in front of the tube for hours on end and channel surfing isn’t the way to enrich my brain, I don’t subscribe to the belief that TV is inherently a bad thing. In fact, I get a lot of inspiration from TV programs. Plots or characters will trigger something in my mind, and off my imagination goes.
For instance, in the summer of 2006, I went on a DVD binge on programs I’d not seen when they originally aired. I watched all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, all five of Angel and the first of Supernatural. The novel I wrote that fall isn’t a copy of any of those programs, but it was definitely inspired by all that viewing of paranormal programming.
Characters on shows can be the models for characters I create – physically, that is. I rip their photos out of magazines and put them up on a corkboard above my computer for inspiration as I’m writing their descriptions.
Sometimes it’s just a spark that comes from watching a certain show, and my own story goes off in a totally different direction. From watching Legend of the Seeker, I have an idea for a magical story percolating in my brain. And I have to admit that Craig Horner, who plays Richard Cypher (the Seeker), may appear as the inspiration for a hero at some point.
It’s not only TV characters and plots that inspire me, but also those of movies. For my second young adult novel, Ice and Desire (set to release in the summer of 2010), the two main guys in the book are modeled physically after Ben Barnes and William Moseley, who played Prince Caspian and Peter Pevensie in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
Sometimes inspiration can even come from a sub-par show or movie and the thought that “I so would have written that differently.” That’s the cool thing – I can. :)
When you’re a writer, you don’t have to feel guilty about those hours you spend in front of the TV. After all, it’s research!
Yes, that's what I'm doing when I watch Chuck, Heroes, and Dollhouse. Research.
I need to watch Supernatural, don't I?
April 8, 2009
I am waiting on a 30 June 09 release:
City of Souls by Vicki Pettersson, the fourth in her awesome Sign of the Zodiac series. They're urban fantasy with superheroes instead of vampires or werewolves or whatever.
They redesigned the look of the series, which annoys me. At least it's the same trim size.
Summary from Amazon:
In Sin City, a little girl suffers from a strange and terrible malady. If she dies, the Light will die along with her.
Warrior, avenger, Joanna Archer has survived countless otherworldly terrors—and has found her rightful place among the agents battling the all-pervasive evil of Shadow . . . even as she struggles against the darkness within herself.
A war is raging for Las Vegas—a city without a heart—one that catapults Joanna into a new world hidden from mortal sight. In this lethally seductive alternate dimension the lines blur between good and evil, love and hate, and here lies the last hope for the Light. But Joanna's price of admission is a piece of her own soul—and the odds of her escaping are slim . . . to none.
April 7, 2009
(Also, be sure to come back on Thursday for a guest blog from Tricia Mills, author of HEARTBREAK RIVER.)
Lenore won a signed copy of LAMENT from Maggie Stiefvater.
Leigh and Erika Lynn won signed copies of STARFINDER from John Marco. These will be shipped after the book releases in May.
asherz86 won CAMILEON from Shykia Bell.
Ally in WA won JANE IN BLOOM from Deborah Lytton.
Polo.Pony won an ARC of ALSO KNOWN AS HARPER from Ann Haywood Leal and Henry Holt.
Diana Dang and Valorie won bookmarks from Cheryl Renee Herbsman and myself.
Llehn won a signed ARC of WHEN THE WHISTLE BLOWS from Fran Cannon Slayton.
Book Spot won a copy of RED-HEADED STEPCHILD from Jaye Wells.
taterbug and scottsgal won signed copies of A WALK THROUGH A WINDOW by kc dyer.
Shadows won a signed copy of either WICKED GAME or an ARC of BAD TO THE BONE from Jeri Smith-Ready.
If you won something in the first half, I still have your addy. If not, send it to inbedwithbooks AT yahoo DOT com.
April 4, 2009
Available now from Delacorte BFYR (Penguin)
Iris and Colette are bored of small-town Louisiana. They're too old to be happy hanging out at the Dairy Queen and too young to drive anywhere more interesting. So they hang about places with atmosphere like the cemetary and cast "spells." It's just play-acting fun until Iris actually encounters a ghost - a breeze and a male voice asking "Where y'at, Iris?"
Logically, Iris wants to know who the voice belongs to and what he wants, especially as his attempts to get her attention become more petulant and violent. (Understandable given the age he died and why.) Before his attempts become more noticeable she's more interested in proving to herself that she's not going crazy. She enlists bestie Collette and platonic male friend Ben to help solve the mystery of Elijah's disappearance. Of course hormones get in the way of that since both girls are kind of interested and Ben encourages both by being a generally nice guy and they're all young teens, bored in the summer.
I saw the twist(s) about Elijah's death coming, but I think that says more about a certain type of book I read rather than the quality of the writing. And I think Saundra Mitchell's description of his behavior towards Iris is supposed to key the conclusion I came to. Overall, I really enjoyed the book. Some of it was needing something to relax with after the hell week before Spring Break; the rest was SHADOWED SUMMER reminding me of the books I read in elementary like Mary Downing Hahn's I'LL COME TO YOU BY MOONLIGHT.
I've only been to Louisiana briefly (with no intentions to stay longer), but Saundra Mitchell captures my impression of the state. (At least, the fact that no one there can drive is intact. Seriously, driving through Louisiana sucks.) People's tempers do get shorter during the longest days of summer. It does have several notable graveyards as well.
Those expecting SHADOWED SUMMER to be scary might be disappointed, as it's more creepy than anything. The mystery plot is done well, mingling with the other events in the books. I really liked Iris and Ben's relationship - I thought it progressed naturally and made sense that Iris didn't like it as she couldn't take it further. The brevity makes it more suitable to elementary and junior high readers, though teens will probably enjoy SHADOWED SUMMER if they pick it off the library shelves.
You can find out more at the SHADOWED SUMMER website as well as Mitchell's website and blog. The book is available now, though only in hardcover. Mitchell is also a screenwriter. She's a member of the 2009 Debutantes - I'm reading all sorts of debut books this year!
April 2, 2009
April 1, 2009
How many people commented on both my birthday and my blogiversary post? 12. That's right, Cecilia (the epic rat), Diana Dang, Erika Lynn, deltay, Alyce, Lauren (Shooting Stars Mag), techyone, LuAnn, Elie, Polo.Pony, Lenore, and Thao were the only ones eligible for the big prize. And the big winner was
Also, YA Bookrealm never claimed the ARC of DEATH BY DENIM and swag so I hereby award that to Sena.
ETA: The author contests March 18-31 will remain open until April 6.