December 30, 2008

The Eyes of God

Man, Steph (Reviewer X) and I were supposed to meet up, but I got delayed by personal reasons. I ended up not coming arriving in the city 'til today when she had to leave. We missed each other by about fifteen minutes. But Taren (The Chick Manifesto) can be jealous because I got to talk to Steph's brother on the phone.

Book Cover

By John Marco

THE EYES OF GOD moves far faster than any book with 779 pages should. I finished it and still had time to read a couple of other books and write 1,500 words in one day. When I started it I had no clue it would suck me in so completely.

John Marco begins not with turmoil, but with peace. Newly crowned King of Liiria Akeela the Good wants to end the war with neighboring country Reec. His mission succeeds and he leaves betrothed to Cassandra, the king's daughter. She waits while he prepares their wedding, protected by his foster brother Lukien (the Bronze Knight), whose prowess on the battlefield doesn't endear him to the Reecians.

This part takes a little of work to get through. Cassandra gains the love of both men simply by being beautiful. I don't think it's her personality because she's rather selfish - more concerned with being a ruler than being a good ruler. She hides the fact she's horribly ill since it might jeopardize her chances of becoming queen FOR GOOD REASON. Lukien is a little bit Sue-ish, with his good looks and athletic skill. This part is also the classic Arthurian triangle, which wasn't a good escape for someone writing a paper on de Troyes creation of the Arthurian triangle and how it compares/contrasts with two of his other non-fin'amours poems. (No seriously, I called it Courtly Love and Chrétien de Troyes: Lancelot in Contrast to Yvain and Perceval. I'm a total Arthur geek.)

But then it gets to the good stuff. Lukien seeks the Eyes of God (two amulets) to save Cassandra, but to do so he must harm a peaceful civilization. Back in Liiria knowledge of Cassandra's affair drives Akeela mad. He's an idealist, unable to deal with the realities of the world, even when the consequences of his actions are reasonably explained to him. (At first I thought Baron Glass would have a small role, and I was glad he continued showing up. He's a very interesting man. I'm very happy that the blurbs of the next novels indicate he plays a large part in them as well.)

The novel covers a decent span of time. In the first part the characters mostly make choices. In the second two, the consequences of those choices are realized. Even Cassandra becomes bearable after the time-skip. (She does have plenty of time to think about her actions.)

THE EYES OF GOD opens with a tale of forbidden love, but quickly ups the ante with political intrigue, battles, magic, and a mad king. It's highly entertaining and moves along smoothly. Marco sets up a number of mysteries in the first part and answers them at a decent pace instead of leaving all answers for the very end. There's also an excellent climax, with possible redemption and a high-stakes battle. If you can get through Cassandra's POV at the start you'll be rewarded.

THE EYES OF GOD is the first book in the Lukien Trilogy, followed by THE DEVIL'S ARMOR and THE SWORD OF ANGELS, all currently available. Marco is currently writing THE FOREVER KNIGHT, another story about Lukien. You can find more information on Marco's website, blog, or MySpace.

December 28, 2008

End of the Year Books!

Between presents and book sales, this is the time of year where I greatly augument my shelves. (The rest of the year my buying is a touch slower.)

For Christmas I received TALES OF BEEDLE THE BARD by J.K. Rowling. So far I have bought myself (I'll update this list as I buy more):
GENERATION DEAD by Daniel Waters
TANGLED WEBS by Anne Bishop
CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller
I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE by Stephanie Kuehnert
THE SOCIETY OF S by Susan Hubbard

In addition, you can still help others receive books this holiday season.

The Book Blog a Holiday campaign hosted by the Bookwish Foundation raises funds to buy books for Darfur refugees. They seek a dollar donation per book received as a gift. More can be found here.

Chelsea (The Page Flipper) and Lauren (of Shooting Stars Magazine) have moved their Leave a Mark auctions to a separate blog. (Link corrected - thanks Chelsea!)

One of my favorite charities is Inside Books, previously blogged about here. I've met the people running this and know they're on the up-and-up and sincerely want to help.

So tell me what books you've received (or bought)!

December 27, 2008

Death by Latte

Book Cover

By Linda Gerber

Aphra Connolly returns in the sequel to DEATH BY BIKINI. Readers of the first will not be disappointed by this continuation and new readers will be able to pick it up without being lost. Though the DEATH BY series is currently three books long (a girl can hope for more), DEATH BY LATTE does far more than set the scene for the end of the trilogy.

Due to the events of DEATH BY BIKINI, Aphra now knows her mom's location. She immediately hops on a plane just like any curious teenager would. While she may not think of her action's consequences, she does have reasons. Her mom did put Aphra in danger, if indirectly. But now Aphra has put her mom in danger.

What's more, Seth shows up in Seattle looking for Aphra, but only to retrieve the extremely ugly ring he gave her in the first book. He acts like they never began a relationship. (Of course, Aphra started flirting with the cute boy who lives next door to her mom while Seth was away . . . ) Unfortunately, the group being together makes them an easier target for The Mole.

Linda Gerber effortlessly combines summer fling-type romance with spy action. The characters hide their true motives, even from those on the same side. (A good practice, since they never know who is on their side.) There are explosions, chases, and simple sleight-of-hand. In the end Gerber once more leaves the reader eager for the next book. There's a complete adventure and many questions answered, but the book ends with much still to be resolved.

DEATH BY LATTE looks like a basic lightweight read. The design is nothing less than adorable and baby blue and bright pink grace the cover. But it's not a little piece of cotton candy. It's rather bittersweet and full of morally ambiguous choices. Aphra's not just growing up, she's growing up in a situation where her decisions can save lives or kill. And no, lives aren't always saved.

I adore this series. (I can say that with full confidence since I've already read the third.) It's morally complex and lacks fairy tale endings, but Gerber still keeps things appropriate for younger teens. (A little violent, but no sex or language.) Aphra and her mother are resourceful, intelligent female characters. Tough concepts are addressed without the bood becoming depressing, angsty, or too serious. (It's not cotton candy but that doesn't mean it's not fun.)

As many have said, one of the great things about YA is how it can bend genres. Pick up the DEATH BY series if you like some hardcore action with your romance, mystery, and coming of age. DEATH BY BIKINI and DEATH BY LATTE are both available now, for the low price of $6.99 each. DEATH BY DENIM will be available May 2009. You can find out more at Gerber's website, MySpace, or blog. You definitely want to check it out since she gives away a freebie every Friday.

December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope all of ya'll have a wonderful December 25, Christian or not. Hang out with family and friends, eat some good food, share the joy of the season.

Merry Christmas.

December 22, 2008


You may be thinking it's a bit late for this post. It is, but I'm confident it will be helpful for other holidays (or birthdays) and I have yet to finish Christmas shopping myself.

1. Giftcards

You cannot always know what book another person wants and if you figure out a title they'll love they might have already bought it for themself. The solution is a giftcard. How do you make it seem more thoughtful? Figure out which bookstore they like. Do they prefer Borders, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon? Are they near an independent bookstore? Find out with Indie Bound.

My personal recs:
Chain: Borders - They've got great discounts including weekly coupons and reward dollars.
Independent: Book People (Austin, TX) - This store contains an interesting selection of gifts as well as books and carries autographed copies of local and visiting authors' books. Those not in Austin can shop online.
Chain secondhand: Half-Price Books - Okay, if you try to sell your books to them they'll give you crap. Don't do it. Otherwise they're a good deal.
Independent secondhand: Katy Budget Books (Katy, TX) - Now this is where I sell my books.

2. Serial Readers

Sometimes you want to encourage the habit of reading in a family member or friend, but it's much easier to gift someone who loves to read already. And what's the easiest way to please them? Peek at their shelf (call someone else to do it if you live to far away) and figure out what series or authors they read. Buy the newest. They have the newest? Narrow down their taste to subgenre. Find someone on the net who knows something about the genre even if you don't.

3. The Young

They might not be serial readers yet, but they will be if you get them young. Just go with what you loved as a child. My suggestions? Amelia Bedelia, Lyle Crocodile, Where the Wild Things Are, Stellaluna, Eric Carle, Dr. Seuss, Frog and Toad, The Berenstein Bears, Clifford, and Mercer Mayer.

4. The Uninitiated

See #1. Yeah, you'd love to hand them the book that changes their world. Save it for any old day and just buy a copy to pass along. A gift is about giving someone a little bit of joy. With a giftcard they can find a book they think sounds interesting or spend the money on a non-book item in the store. Whatever makes them happy.

So what was my biggest book purchase for Christmas?

Book Cover The Clash by The Clash

I had to get this for my dad. I'm not usually into table books, but this one is eye-catching, beautifully assembled, and full of interesting info. I can still remember the first time he gave a Clash CD to my sister and I, so I hope he enjoys the book.

December 20, 2008

Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception

What's this? An actual review? Yep, I'm finally getting myself back on track. All my books for review have been fabulous lately so I'm eager to share my opinion! As LAMENT is a Flux book I would like to point out the Flux Blog. I liked the mini FAQ because I'd be formatting things OUT of Times New Roman. I hate that font with a passion. Nothing against serifs, really - I like Georgia which is virtually identical except for more prominent serifs. (Not to say I'm not a sans-serif/Gothic girl at heart. Give me Helvetica, Arial, or Verdana. The new Calibri is also lovely - it's one of the few good things about Word '07.) Perhaps it's so ingrained into our culture, but I find it uninspired.

Book Cover

By Maggie Stiefvater

I love faeries. Full stop. I adored discovering new versions of tales I was familiar with as a child. Weighing the pros and cons to determine which was my favorite. What rules of faerie I liked best. As an Irish-ish girl, I leaned toward that family of tales. Maggie Stiefvater's debut clearly draws from the Celtic tradition. But she commands the material and fully satisfied this picky aficionado.

A large part of my satisfaction is her characterization. There are no throwaway characters. Coworker Sarah appears maybe three times but still grows as a person. Freckle Freak, Deirdre’s aunt, and others become scarier as the book continues. LAMENT begins low-key, at a music competition at the high school. There’s a niggling sense of wrongness, but nothing too worrisome. Blood, life-or-death decisions, and even death play their parts in the climax. Yet the book builds slowly to that point.

In that movement the characters reveal their personalities. Deirdre lacks a certain kind of confidence. She knows she’s a talented harpist but needs prodding to take the last step and try to improvise. Luke first pushes her to take steps she should have taken herself, but then she begins to develop her own initiative. She senses he’s dangerous and lying to her from the first but doesn’t truly follow him of her own will at the beginning.

While Luke is the dangerous and attentive new boy, her old friend James, the piper, is sheer adorable. Unlike Deirdre he acknowledges his gifts and uses them to her full potential – yet he can’t tell a girl he likes her just like any teenage boy. I loved the jealousy between him and Luke that goes just above Deirdre’s head.

Stiefvater plays with the classic set-up of a talent human who catches the attention of Faerie masterfully. Without ever losing that mood she still delivers an utterly teenage romance. Really, she hit all of my buttons in all the right ways. It’s not just the faeries, but the music, the assassin, the politics, the banter. It’s like she read a field guide to what sort of books I spent my childhood reading before she produced LAMENT.

I’m sad my first review got erased, because it encompassed the book far better than this one did. Let’s just leave it with favorable. If you like faeries, thrilling climaxes, and rounded characters, treat yourself to LAMENT for the holidays. It’s in bookstores now and BALLAD will hit the shelves in 2009, as will SHIVER (from Scholastic). You can bet I’ll be picking both up ASAP.

You can find Striefvater many places on the 'net, including her website, el jay, and the Merry Sisters of Fate comm. The last includes weekly fiction - totally awesome and highly recommended. Don't forget her art blog either.

December 13, 2008

Blog Awards

Diana from Stop, Drop, and Read! gifted me with the "I Love You Blog Award!"

The rules are:
1) Add the logo of your award to your blog.
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog.
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

So my nominees are:
1) Beth Kephart - Her entries are lyrical (like her novels) and accompanied by lovely photos. Her blog will brighten your day.
2) Nineteen Teen by Marissa Doyle and Regina Scott - What can I say? I'm a research junkie.
3) Guys Lit Wire - That's a lot of awesome for one blog to contain.
4) Reader Rabbits - Again, people ganging up to ensure a concentration of awesome.
5) Bildungsroman - People like Little Willow add a lot of positive energy to the world.
6) Sidhe Vicious Reviews - Great for people who like paranormal fiction.
7) Vampire Wire - Marta Acosta will direct you to all the coolest news about vamps on the web.

Jessica at Chick Lit Teens gave me the "Good Job!" award, with the same rules.

My nominees are:
1) Shooting Stars Mag - Great contests, great charity work, all around cool people.
2) Reviewer X - See Below
3) The Story Siren - These ladies probably have a ton of these awards, but it's because they deserve them. Two fine YA blogs.
4) Linda Gerber - She likes to share the wealth with her Freebie Fridays. She also hosts interviews and other cool news.
5) Bookluver Carol - I can talk to her about Heroes. Plus, we're from sister high schools. It's a small world after all.
6) Melissa Walker - She's so positive! She just co-founded Tell me that's not precious.
7) Amberkatze's Book Blog - Fabulous interviews + fabulous reviews = fabulous blog.

December 11, 2008


The Good, The Bad, and The Unread has teamed up with The Book Binge to bring you Bingeaduckia. Click on the picture to the right to be taken to the games and prizes!

You can find an introduction at both sites.

You can also begin working on the Scavenger Hunt, hosted by Rowena.

The ladies at both sites have put a lot of work into this event, so go forth and have fun!

I know my blog is aimed more towards the YA community than the romance community, but it's all a community of book lovers. And what could be a better time to come together than just before the holidays?

December 6, 2008

Things I Hate Right Now, Part II


Book Cover

I wrote a lovely review of LAMENT by Maggie Stiefvater between finishing my philosophy test and beginning my philosophy paper. Finished it, set it to publish at five.

Later that day I checked to see if it posted correctly. Oddly, it hadn't posted at all. When I tried to edit it in my Dashboard I was told the blog was currently inaccessible and Blogger would fix it shortly.

The next day I logged on and the post was gone completely. Me being a brilliant creature, I wrote the review in MS Word first in case something went wrong . . . and promptly deleted it once I set the post to publish.

Unfortunately, I now need to be working on that philosophy paper. I can assure you that once I'm done the LAMENT review will be rewritten. I want to share my feelings on this book.

IN OTHER NEWS, I have a terrible memory. I finally put up a YA blogroll, but I've probably forgotten a hideous number of people. If you want your URL added please comment on this post. Note this is only for YA; other blogrolls will be popping up shortly. Maybe.

Book Cover

For this month you can expect not only the LAMENT review, but also reviews of THE EYES OF GOD by John Marco and DEATH BY LATTE by Linda Gerber. I plan to put up my holiday books=gifts guide soon.

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Good luck to everybody else during finals season!

December 1, 2008

Why I Review

Or, Why I Didn't Post Last Week


So, why I review is an entire can of worms and I am unable to perceive some of those worms (therefore they don't exist). I'm a little bit paranoid and thus have been pretty secretive about my true identity. However, I've been pretty nice to ya'll. Everything I've said about myself is true.

One of those true things: I'm in college. I am a second-year/junior. I have something like 64 credit hours and am taking an easy schedule of 15 hours this semester. (I already have one grade back and finished another class today, though I won't have my grade for it for awhile. Another class finishes next Monday. Then I have two finals, one the 10th and the other the 16th, which sucks. I'm considering going home between them.) I am a liberal arts major, so my classes this semester are:

Biology of AIDS
Introduction to Linguistics
Introduction to China
Literature of the Middle Ages in Translation
Philosophy: Problems of Knowledge and Valuation

Being liberal arts, I write essays all the time. The one I turned in today took up most of my Thanksgiving break - it was thirteen pages total. (Thirteen terrible pages that should've never seen the light of day.) But hey, I can churn out these essays quickly. How? I practice.

I like to write, but sometimes it's hard to find a subject. Reviewing gives me a chance to communicate about something I love (books, for the denser members of the audience). When I find something good, I share it. Books, movies, music, you name it. (I have a whole karmic theory about this practice. Ask me some time. I have delayed my own nirvana to enlighten others.)

So reviews. I don't have pressure - I decide when a review gets done, how often I post reviews, etc. I can quit at any moment if it becomes too much. (I doubt that will happen soon, but I like the freedom.) It's a different atmosphere than writing for school. No deadlines, no grades. On the other hand, I'm still the writer.

Writing continually helps me find my flaws. I overuse "also" and various other little words. I don't vary between complex and simple sentences stuctures often enough. I have a favorite sentence construction that pops up once a paragraph (at least) if I don't hold myself back.

NOTE: If someone guesses the structure correctly, s/he get a prize. I'll give you a choice of ARCs or something.

Another way this kind of writing helps is keeping my analysis skills sharp. I might go months without writing a literary analysis, but at some point I'm going to need to write another. I try to avoid getting technical in my reviews - this ain't the place to blather on about diction, syntax, etc. It is a good place to think about theme, authorial motivation, characterization, contiguity.

I've pretty much free-flowed this, so sorry about any editing problems. I just wanted to say a little about myself and why I'm here. Any questions?

November 21, 2008

Dead Ringer

In other news, Deimyts has not been with us because he was putting together a portfolio. He recently received acceptance into his college's graphic design program. Therefore . . . congratulations! I've got some academic news myself, but I'm going to save it for a review (coming soon) that I think it will go well with.

Book Cover

By Mary Burton

The police discover the body of a woman strangely wearing a charm decorated with a name that's not her own. Soon, another woman with similar facial structure and coloring is found dead. Detective Jacob Warwick notices their resemblance to reporter Kendall Shaw who really gets under his skin.

At the same time Kendall has her own concerns. The Stranger (the killer in I'M WATCHING YOU) kidnapped and terrorized her and now she's having nightmares. Oddly, they aren't of her recent experience but of a little girl and baby hiding in a closet. This renews her interest in her adoption. Her parents never wanted to talk about it, but now both of them are dead and she's curious about her ancestry. Of course, her curiosity is also encouraged by her roommate Nicole Piper's pregnancy.

Nicole doesn't know whether she wants to keep her child or give it up for adoption. She does know she doesn't want her creepy customer anywhere near her or the baby. (And that might not be the only creeper after her.) Burton knows how to keep multiple storylines with multiple shady characters in play.

She also knows how to develop a relationship well. Kendall and Jacob are both very independent, career-driven people. With that in common it's hard for them to make connections. It takes them awhile to take steps toward a relationship, but it's satisfying when they do. There are interesting side relationships going on as well. Burton offers glimpses into the life of reunited couple Zach and Lindsey, the hero and heroine of I'M WATCHING YOU. They don't get more screen time than necessary, but they do get enough to show that their marriage has improved.

In addition, Nicole begins a very sweet relationship with widowed policeman Ayden. Well, they don't actually begin a relationship, but they clearly like each other. Nicole deserves it after all she's gone through in this duology. I believe this relationship is the focus of Burton's novella in the SILVER BELLS anthology, which makes me want to pick it up. I'm a sucker for cute, sweet romances. And a cute, sweet romance is exactly what DEAD RINGER needs at points.

Burton doesn't shy away from dark material, which is needed to make a romantic suspense suspenseful. In the end I find the killer a bit overly capable. Just how did he manage to find all his victims? (For that matter, why did they all live so close together?) However, she kept the story moving and I didn't begin to think about these questions until the end.

If you aren't into romantic suspense, this likely won't be the book to convert you. If you are, it's a good one to pick up. It's not too gory and it's there's plenty of lighter stuff to balance out the killers. Please read my review of I'M WATCHING YOU and my interview with Mary Burton as well. Burton's other current release, SILVER BELLS, is currently on the NYT bestseller list. DEAD RINGER is available in stores now. More information can be found at Burton's website.

My review copy was received through PUMP UP YOUR BOOK PROMOTION.

November 20, 2008

Interview with Mary Burton

Mary BurtonMary Burton has been a marketing professional, written historical romances, and romantic suspense. Her latest releases were I'M WATCHING YOU and DEAD RINGER, single title romantic suspense from Zebra. Her other current release, SILVER BELLS (an anthology with Fern Michaels, JoAnn Ross, and Judy Duarte), is currently #16 on the NYT bestseller list. Her novella features a character that first appears in I'M WATCHING YOU and DEAD RINGER.


Book CoverBefore you decided to write and sell your stories, you worked in marketing. How do you apply skills from your first career to your current career?
My marketing background taught me so much. I learned how to network effectively, how to hold my own in a reception full of strangers and how to handle myself at signings. The principals of selling are much the same and I think its very wise for authors to handle themselves professionally.

Of your seventeen novels, twelve were for Harlequin Historicals. How did you research the setting? Do you use a similar process for your romantic suspense?
For the historicals I read just about every diary, map and history book I could find on the American West. One year I even took my vacation in Colorado where I visited every historical site I could find. And when I switched to romantic suspense, I followed the same pattern. First it was reading all the books I could find on crime solving. Then it was a vacation to St. Louis for the Sister’s in Crime Forensic University. I also attended a local citizens police academy and did a ride along with a police officer.

How is writing a single title different than a category?
Single Title plots are more complicated—meaning I’m balancing more points of view and more subplots. Also in Single Title I can spend more time with my characters and dig deeper into their pasts.

What drew you to historical romance and romantic suspense? Are there any other genres you would like to write?
I’ve always loved reading romance so I think no matter what type of book I write, there will be some romance in it. As for the historicals, I love history. In fact, I’ve been accused of being a history geek. If there is a historical reenactment in my area, you can bet I’ll be there. And Romantic Suspense is the perfect blend of mystery and romance. I love creating great puzzle for my readers to solve. For now, I’ll be writing romantic suspense.

Romantic suspense needs scary criminals in addition to an engaging romance. What are some of the difficulties in developing and portraying a villain?
I don’t have trouble building my villain’s history. In fact I try to find something that might explain why they became the people they’ve become. The toughest part for me is writing about my villain’s deeds. I always know if I’m on the edge of my seat while I’m writing a villain’s scene, chances are my reader will be as well.

I’m Watching You and Dead Ringer share a number of characters. Which couple – Lindsay and Zach from I’m Watching You or Kendall and Jacob from Dead Ringer – was easier to write?
Kendall and Jacob. I got to know them pretty well while I was writing I’M WATCHING YOU. Much of their story didn’t end up in I’M WATCHING YOU but I knew it. And when it came time to pen their story it just fell together.

Please tell my blog readers why they might enjoy reading Dead Ringer.
It's scary, sexy and I think I’ve created a book that will keep you guessing right up to the last page!

Mary Burton


"We take books to the virtual level!"

Come back tomorrow for my review of DEAD RINGER!

November 14, 2008

The House on Tradd Street

Book Cover

By Karen White

While I haven't reviewed much literary fiction on this blog, I do enjoy it. On the other hand, I think it's something of an artificial category. The title and faux-impressionist cover speak of the setting but conceal the contents. At least the blurb is honest; otherwise people might be quite surprised to find themselves reading a ghost story with strong romance and mystery elements.

The eponymous house on Tradd Street is Melanie Middleton's unexpected inheritance. She grew up in Charleston and appreciates the history, but she doesn't appreciate the upkeep old houses require nor that her mother sold their house when it was supposed to become Melanie's. Though Melanie has become a realtor specializing in historical homes, she lives in an ultra modern apartment. But now Nevin Vanderhorst has died and left his home to Melanie with several strings attached. To her the most bothersome is having to live in the house.

Mr. Vanderhorst's mother left the family with Joseph Longo when he was a child, a strangely out-of-character move. Melanie inherited the ability to see ghosts from her mother and now she can see both Louisa Vanderhorst and a more malevolent, unknown male presence. However, Melanie wants to keep her nose out of the mystery. On the other hand, handsome, younger author Jack Trenholm is all too interested in the mystery. Joseph's descendant Marc Longo also approaches her to purchase the house.

In addition to suddenly gaining a social life, Melanie's parents are re-entering her life. Her former alcoholic father has been given control of the finances to restore the house and her runaway mother is calling. To survive her childhood Melanie became a very anal and controlled woman. The ghosts, suitors, and reemerging family ties through her off-balance and force her to own up to parts of herself she prefers to ignore.

There's quite a bit going on in THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET and Karen White manages well. She rotates between focusing on the family, mystery, or romantic aspect often enough that you don't forget one plot thread is happening but not so often that the story loses its flow. The characters get less equal attention. Melanie is very well-developed and Jack has interesting dimensions. Marc, the final point of the triangle, is fairly one-note. Sophie and Chad, two supporting characters who appear frequently, are entertaining but rarely escape being stereotypical modern hippies. While I liked all of the characters, in the end I felt like I only had a grasp on Melanie.

Karen White can be found at her website. You can also learn more from my interview with her. The sequel to THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET, titled THE GIRL ON LEGARE STREET, will be published November 2009. I intend to pick it up.

My review copy was received through PUMP UP YOUR BOOK PROMOTION.

November 12, 2008


Bookluver Carol tagged anyone who hasn't done this yet. That would include me.

1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, Minamp, etc on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
4. Put the artist after a dash following the song name.
5. Put any comments in brackets.
6. Tag some lucky people to spread the disease.

How would you describe yourself?
A Child with the Ghost - Gary Numan

Now, that sounds far more interesting than me.

How do you feel today?
Get Down, Make Love - Nine Inch Nails

Makes sense but is inaccurate.

What is your life's purpose?
Sally - Gogol Bordello

How's that a purpose? Great song though . . .

What is your motto?
Once a Part of Me - Eric Johnson

These questions aren't really designed to be answered by songs, methinks.

What do you think about very often?
The Down Town - Days of the New

In a way, I suppose this makes sense.

What is your life story?
Blessed - Simon & Garfunkel

One can only hope.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Mother's Little Helper - The Rolling Stones

That's scary.

What will you dance to at your wedding?
In the Flesh - Luther Wright & the Wrongs

Nothing says wedding like a bluegrass cover of a Pink Floyd song. Nothing.

What will they play at your funeral?
. . . And the Gods Made Love - The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Bwhahahaha. Now I need to make my descendants do that.

What is your hobby/interest?
Gang's All Here - Dropkick Murphys

This one makes sense too, in a way.

If you could do anything right now, what would it be?
Ode to My Family - The Cranberries

I'm trying to make this one make sense in my head. I'm failing at it to.

What do you want most of all?
I Want You (She's So Heavy) - The Beatles

The one worked out beautifully. The one would work even if that wasn't one of my favorite songs in the entire world. If you haven't heard it before, look it up on YouTube or something. The bass line will be in your head for days.

What is your greatest fear?
Blue Valentines - Tom Waits

Yes. Those are scary indeed.

What is your darkest secret?
Whisper - Evanesence

That song works well as a darkest secret, just not mine.

What is your favorite thing in the world?
Burning Hell - John Lee Hooker

Oh iTunes shuffle, why aren't you this amusing on a daily basis?

If you could have one wish, what would you wish for?
God Only Knows - The Beach Boys

Yes, I have the Beach Boys on my iPod . . . another beautiful song.

What is your theme song?
I've Designed It That Way - Townes Van Zandt

"I don't envision a very long life for myself. I do think my life will run out before my work does, you know. I've designed it that way."

The next time you hear this song (aside from now, that is), you must dance.
Welcome Home (Sanitarium) - Metallica

Shouldn't be too hard, unless I forget.

What will you post this as?
Unsent - Alanis Morisette

Actually, I will send this on. I tag Dominique, Melissa Walker, and Stephanie Kuehnert. Now feel free to judge my taste in music.

November 11, 2008

Detective Jermain, volume 1

Book Cover

By Misako Rocks!

High school senior Jermain's father died when she was seven. She wants to follow in his footsteps and become a detective. Luckily, she's in a shojo-inspired ELO manga and can thus discover a case more interesting than, "Does James like Sarah?" Of course, since it is shojo inspired, she does have to deal with those pesky hormones.

When classmate Mike and the band teacher begin acting weird, Jermaine is instantly on the case. Their untimely deaths convince her there really is a case. Her only help comes from her friends Andy and Travis, both of whom harbor crushes on the budding detective. I must admit, I was 100% partial to Andy. First, the shallow reason: I like his character design better. He reminds me of the guys I hang out with. Second, he doesn't go behind a friend's back and make a move on someone he knows his friend likes without telling the friend first. Third, when he makes his move he doesn't go farther than Jermain is comfortable with. Travis is a bit of an unapologetic personal space invader.

Okay, there's another shallow reason. When Andy confesses his feelings there's a full page of him hugging Jermain from behind, surrounded by flowers. It's got to be true love! (Me, a sucker for the pretty? Why yes, yes I am.)

As for the mystery, it involves extremely sketchy chemistry and people who are strangely apathetic that a classmate and teacher died. Jermain can't study the night it happens because she's preoccupied with the case, not because of grief. No one else seems to care much at all. However, the story moves along at a fast pace and Misako Rocks!'s artwork is a good vehicle. She has a strong grasp of layout. I never had trouble figuring out which panel came next.

The art is well done. The character design's are distinctive, the action easy to follow, and the tones well applied. In my opinion, Misako's art is very accessible. Everything's a little round, more cartoony than stylized. Aside for Travis's hair, which I find oddly flat, I cannot think of any bothersome quirks.

While the story features high school seniors, it seems to be pitched at younger teens or tweens. (Seniors will appreciate the characters' worrying about which colleges to apply to.) There's room for character growth, but as this is the first volume I'm not to concerned about that. I did love a panel where the brother is complaining about his mother and sister always ignoring him; I'd forgotten he existed! It was a clever way to be reminded.

DETECTIVE JERMAIN hit shelves in September. I have not found a release date for the second volume. Misako Rocks! also wrote and illustrated BIKER GIRL and ROCK AND ROLL LOVE. Her illustrations accompany Dan Savage's weekly column Savage Love, printed in the Onion. If you're under eighteen, I'm not responsible for making you aware of Savage Love. You can find out more about Misako on her webpage, MySpace, or blog.

November 7, 2008

Interview with Karen White

PhotobucketKaren White marries her passion for Charleston, the architecture of the area, and its history and legends in her new novel THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET, the story of a real estate agent who, though she specializes in homes in the city’s historic area, detests them. To do so, Karen had to conjure up and face a universal horror—renovation. Unlike her recent book, The Memory Of Water, for which she physically confronted her lifelong fear of deep water for the sake of research, this time out she enjoyed a metaphorical wallow in the joys associated with restoring a one hundred and fifty year old house and garden and let her characters deal with the pain.

White’s protagonists face everything from a leaky roof, old fountains, and cracked cornices to overgrown flowerbeds, paint chipped ceilings, disintegrating plaster and warped floorboards. For herself she saved the best. Her research included luxurious strolls on the streets of Charleston, sampling and choosing restaurants such as Magnolias, Gaulart & Malicelet, Cru Café, Blossom and Anson for her characters to enjoy. Rumor has it she also did a bit of shopping at RTW on King Street and spent an afternoon on the Battery visiting White Point Gardens. Relishing the architecture and choosing among Victorians, Federals, Colonial Revivals, Queen Anne, Dutch Colonials and others, along with the amazing range of colors and appointments, Karen eventually placed the house at the center of her story at “55 Tradd Street” in the downtown historic district and, inspired by an actual house on that street, imagined it as a Federal style single family home.

Italian and French by ancestry, a southerner and a story teller by birth, White has moved around quite a bit in her life. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she has also lived in Texas, New Jersey, Louisiana, Georgia, Venezuela and England, where she attended the American School in London. She returned to the states for college and graduated from New Orleans’ Tulane University. Hailing from a family with roots firmly set in Mississippi (the Delta and Biloxi), White notes that “searching for home brings me to the south again and again.” She and her family now live near Atlanta.

It was love at first sight when White first visited Charleston and South Carolina’s lowcountry in 1995. She says it was “inevitable” that she would set several novels in the area, as she did with 2005’s The Color of Light, which Booklist praises as “an accomplished novel about loss and renewal.” Three years later, she returned to the there with The Memory Of Water and, now, to Charleston with THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET. Her love of the southern coast shows no sign of abating. Her next novel, The Lost Hours (May 09) is set in and around Savannah.

Karen White’s work has appeared on the South East Independent Booksellers best sellers list. Her recent novel The Memory of Water, was the Borders Books and Atlanta & Company’s Book Club Selection for May, topped off at the end of the month with their live, television interview with Karen. The Memory of Water, which is well reviewed in Atlanta Magazine and an array of other print and online book media, and was adopted by numerous independent booksellers as a book club recommendation and as a featured title in their store. It’s been back to press five times since its March 2008 publication, the first time within its first four weeks on sale. It is one of NAL/Accent’s fastest selling titles.

Adding to the excitement of The Memory of Water’s March 2008 debut, was the resounding, continued recognition achieved by White’s 2007 novel Learning to Breathe. This spring Learning to Breathe was honored with a National Readers’ Choice Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Virginia Romance Writers HOLT Medallion. It was also named a finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s Award for Best Novel, the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence and the Georgia Author of the Year Award.

White credits years spent listening to adults visiting in her grandmother’s Mississippi kitchen, sharing stories and gossiping while she played under the table, with starting her on the road to telling her own tales. The deal was sealed in the seventh grade when she skipped school and read Gone With The Wind. She knew—just knew—she was destined to grow up to be either Scarlet O’Hara or a writer.

In addition to THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET, White’s previous novels include Learning to Breathe, Pieces of the Heart, and The Color of Light

You can visit her website at


PhotobucketFrom your site, I can see you earned a business degree. What did you do for a living before you became a full-time writer? Do you miss it?

A: I’d worked in the business world in a variety of roles—media buyer in an advertising agency, a department store manager in an executive training program, and my last position as an operations manager for a software development company. When I left this last job, they hired six people to take my place proving to me what I’d known all along: I was overworked and underpaid! So, do I miss it? Not at all!

Many of your books have a Southern (United States) setting, but you grew up in London. Do you think this affects the way you interpret the setting?

A: Most definitely. My parents are both from Mississippi so I spent many summers there with my grandmother and cousins. I think living outside of the country helped my observation skills—watching and listening to everything as an outsider who’d been allowed a peak into the inside of southern life and culture.

What is your writing process like?

A: A process? I’m supposed to have a process?? I’m the mother of two teenagers and my husband travels a great deal—I write in the car, in bed, on vacation, in waiting rooms. I’m writing two long novels a year now so I don’t have a lot of pre-planning time (not that I would do much of that, anyway) so I’m basically a seat-of-the-pants writer. I come up with the characters and setting first, then throw them in a situation that will help them grown and learn. Then I just start writing and see where it leads.

Do you have any favorites in your books? Maybe a favorite character, a favorite scene, or a favorite line?

A: I can’t pick a favorite book anymore than I could pick a favorite child—but because my last book is always the freshest in my mind, I’d have to say THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET. The two main characters flirt with ‘snarky and sparkling energy’ (according to Publishers Weekly) with each other and I had so much fun with them. The protagonist, Melanie Middleton, is an uptight control-freak (in the beginning, at least) and her nemesis is Jack Trenholm, a laid-back bestselling author of historical true-crime mysteries. She’s obsessed with order and the musical group ABBA and Jack has so much fun teasing her. But as much as I love Melanie and Jack and their sparring, my favorite character is Melanie’s best friend, Sophie, a professor of historical restoration at the local College. When we first meet her, this is what Melanie thinks and says:

I eyed her now. She wore brown suede clogs, a long, gauzelike skirt with embroidered iguanas racing along the hem, and a tie-dyed T-shirt tucked into the elastic waist of the skirt. Her long, curly black hair was pulled into a straggly bun at the back of her head and held in place by what looked like two chopsticks—complete with the name of the Chinese Restaurant they had come from.

“Your outfit alone is a strong case against tenure, you know.”

You’ve received a variety of awards throughout your career. Which was the most exciting?

A: The most exciting was actually the one I didn’t win! This past summer, my 2007 release, LEARNING TO BREATHE, was nominated for the RITA award and was in the same category with one of Nora Roberts’ books. Neither one of us won, but it was such a thrill to see my name up there with Nora’s!

What kind of books do you read? Are there any book releases (beside your own) that you¢re anticipating?

A: I read anything and everything. I love historicals—anything from Philippa Gregory to Eloisa James. And I love general fiction, too--Nelson deMille, Sue Monk Kidd, and Sara Addison Allen. The list could go on and on but we don’t have room here. Last night I was at a book store and bought THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL SOCIETY. I’ve heard so much about this book that I can’t wait to read it. I also listen to books on CD (since I’m in the car more than I’m sitting down at home) and I’m currently listening to THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH by Ken Follett. It’s extraordinary! As for an anticipating a book release, I can’t wait to read THE ACCIDENTAL BESTSELLER by Wendy Wax which comes out next June.

Avoiding quoting the blurb, how would you recommend THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET to a curious reader?

A: I call THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET my ‘Moonlighting meets The Sixth Sense’ book. It’s a fun treasure hunt through Charleston’s history peopled with characters with emotional depth and issues that aren’t all resolved in this book (the sequel, THE GIRL ON LEGARE STREET will be out November 2009). This book is romance, mystery and ghost story and to borrow from my PW review again, “a fun and satisfying read.”

"We take books to the virtual level!"


Be sure to return on the 14th for my review of THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET.

November 4, 2008


At this moment, I am incredibly proud of my country.


I'm listening to his acceptance speech right now and it's beautiful. I have such hope for the next four years.

November 3, 2008

Thirteen Reasons Why

Don't forget you can always read more of my reviews here.

I'm sorry for disappearing for over a week. I didn't mean to, but that's how things worked out. Now here's the first truly unfavorable review I've posted to this site.

By Jay Asher


Hype helps and hinders novels. It gets the word out and gets people excited. But it can make people too excited and hold the novel up to unrealistic expectations. I have never heard anyone say anthing bad about this novel. But, while I did like TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY in many was . . . In several ways I didn't. I recently told someone that the reread is very important to my internal scale - and I don't believe I will ever reread TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY.

Here's reasons why:

1. I like Clay. Clay's a sweetheart, the kind of guy I want to like me. He's easy to sympathize with. When he reaches his tape, I can barely stand it.
My heart doesn't jump. My eyes don't flinch. I don't breathe.
And then.
I snap my arm back, my elbow into the seat. Then I smash it into the door and I want to pound my head sideways into the window. But I pound it back against the headrest instead.

I love this boy and he spends most of the novel needlessly tortured. Hannah, for all she made these tapes to force people to look at what they've done, never examines her own actions . . . which leads me to my second reason.

2. I hate Hannah. She's not just cruel to Clay. She's perhaps most cruel to Mr. Porter. Without context he gets the burden of everything. He's just a high school teacher, not perfect, not even a counselor. Most of the people Hannah blames in her thirteen reasons, she seems to blame after she made her decision to commit suicide. She could have better served the world by telling these secrets openly rather than giving them to a few people after her death so that they can fester.

TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY is built around an incredible premise. It's emotionally compelling. The story weaves around itself and pulls together in an examination of unintentional cruelty, unexpected consequences, and some of the darkest sides of human behavior. I found it torturous to read.

Jay Asher is 1/3 of the Disco Mermaids. He can also be found on MySpace or the Class of 2k7. TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY is now available in paperback.

October 24, 2008

Manga Primer Part II: CLAMP

On the manga primer, Oliver suggested CLAMP titles:

For new readers, they must get educated as to what a CLAMP book is like (since there are many CLAMP series and it's better to found out earlier that you're a fan than later). I suggest "Chobits" is a good starting point. From there, decide if you like apocalyptic manga, or light and cute manga because CLAMP's got a lot of both. For apocalyptic manga, choose X/1999 (before it goes out of print), and for light and cute, choose Wish and Cardcaptor Sakura.

I agree completely that being educated on CLAMP is important. CLAMP, a group of four manga-ka, is popular and have been in the biz for 20 or so years. Now, there is a reason I didn't suggest any CLAMP titles in the first post: CLAMP is evil and quite possibly insane. Expect homoeroticism, eye gouging, and horrible things happening to good people. On the other hand, one of my first titles was by CLAMP. It was, of course, Cardcaptor Sakura, made available by Tokyopop through their now defunct Chix Comics imprint.

Book Cover

The series is twelve volumes long; the second six volumes are titled Cardcaptor Sakura: Master of the Clow in the English release. (I've been sticking to things I know are available in English.) Adorable Kinimoto Sakura must capture the Clow cards, a plot anyone with the slightest familiarity with anime can recognize. Of course, in most of those stories the main character and her love interest don't have a rivalry over the affections of another guy. Oh, CLAMP. Of course, while this story has the tangled webs of love and gets progressively darker, it's still basically a fluff series that has nothing on CLAMP's darkest moments. In addition, there's no eye-gouging.

For those interested in the anime, find a subtitled version. The English dub chopped it up, changed the episode order, and generally sucked.

Chobits is a shonen series, heavy on the philosophy and slight on the SF (despite featuring an android) . . . and also heavy on the adult humor. But hey, I read it in middle school.

Book Cover

Filled with adorable loli-style art and adorable moments of unbearable cuteness between the pervy stuff, I love CHOBITS. It's a well-plotted series that sets up and establishes a relationship in seven volumes even with all kinds of crazy conspiracies going on. The fanservice does decline toward the end, as the characters try to discover whether a human and a persecom can truly love each other. It's classic CLAMP and yet half as crazy as their usual fare. (No eye gouging, for one.) I adore the anime, despite the filler episode about shopping for underwear, if only because it has a fabulous opening theme.

For the final one Oliver suggested that I've read, is one of my favorites: X/1999.

Book Cover

Okay, the art is a little dated and people tend to look like triangles (broad shoulders, tiny waist). The sound effects in English are ridiculous. Until you reach far enough in the series to learn the characters' motives almost all of them seem like unsympathetic jerks. That is, except for poor, doomed Kotori, who just wanted to become an indigo dye expert. Anyway, what happens when you throw together Buddhist, Shinto, and various other mythologies with stylistic use of Christian symbolism to depict the battle over the fate of the world? Pure, crazy awesome. There's a schoolgirl in love with a middle-aged man that's possibly the sweetest romance in the entire thing. And yes, there is eye gouging. Romantically significant eye gouging, at that.

The series went on hiatus (at eighteen volumes, at a CLIFFHANGER, basically) after 9/11, as the violence and wanton destruction of major landmarks kept increasing and CLAMP refused to censor themselves. However, two endings are available in the anime (simply known as X - X/1999 is an English-only title) and the OVA (ie, movie). The movie just makes everything 30x more incomprehensible. The TV series is pretty good and even manages to make the characters more sympathetic. Episode 9, which introduces Subaru, is a work of art. It's even more beautiful if you understand the Buddhist symbolism, but it's incredible without it.

Of course, to get the lowdown of the relationship between the characters of Subaru and Seishirou, you have to read Tokyo Babylon.

Book Cover

This is the story of a Bet. It's also the story of a 25-year-old veternarian romancing a 16-year-old boy while the boy's twin eggs it on. It begins fairly episodic, with Subaru going about various onmiyoji jobs. (An onmiyoji is something like a medium/exorcist . . . in short, he's got awesome supernatural powers.) Now this one starts rather adorably but slowly crumbles that veneer until the tragic ending. It's seven volumes of superb storytelling. This one contains eye gouging.

The OVA is only two episodes long and skippable.

Another series that gives some background for X/1999 is Clamp School Detectives, which I have not read. (I'm fairly sure there is not eye gouging.) It was adapted into an anime that fans generally hate.

To continue the steam of interconnected series, I'll next talk about CLAMP's two current projects.

First is xxxHolic.

Book Cover

CLAMP's artwork started out lovely, but I think this series features the most beautiful art. Watanuki can see ghosts and can only not see them in the company of Domeki, the rival for his crush's affections. Pretty soon he's indebted to the Time Witch . . . and things just keep getting worse for him. This one also starts off episodic with "be careful what you wish for" type parables. Then the overarching plot begins to become evident, although it might make no sense if you don't read TSUBASA as well. If you do read TSUBASA, the plot makes sense if you make an effort not to think about it. Eye gouging that's practically Disney by CLAMP's standards.

The anime is a decent adaptation, but due to copyright issues avoids referencing TSUBASA. This might make trouble as it continues and the plotlines become increasingly interwoven.

This brings be to Tsubasa: RESERvoir CHRoNiCLE, the epitome of begin fluffy and become completely dark.

Book Cover

Knowledge of Cardcaptor Sakura will aid in reading this one, as will knowledge of xxxHolic. Alternate-universe versions of characters from all of their other series will make appearances, but they're more like bonuses if you recognize the series. Sakura loses her memory and falls into a coma and her childhood friend Syaoran wants to save her. The price? Her memories of their relationship. Soon Syaoran is on a roadtrip through universes with warrior Kurogane, magician Fai, and Mokona. Then the Acid Tokyo arc happens. CLAMP has never had this much fun with eye gouging before. And as those of you who read the scantilations before the official translations, it just gets weirder and weirder. I'm pretty sure they've violated their own canon. Also, the art is purposefully a little rough and generally excellent, though action scenes can be a little hard to follow.

The anime started speculating too much during the filler, so CLAMP back their rights (or whatever) and a new adaptation will be out soon.

One of their titles that might be good for a beginning reader is Magic Knight Rayearth.

Book Cover

This one combines schoolgirls falling into another universe, Magical Girls, and mecha. The first series plays fairly straight with the typical trappings of those genres, but the second series explores the consequences of their actions. Generally a very good series that is much more straightforward than most of what CLAMP does. It's been awhile since I've read it, but I don't remember eye gouging. The TV series (two seasons) changes some elements from the manga, leading to plot holes. The three episode OVA barely resembles the source.

There are only two more CLAMP series which I've read. The first is the three volume Legal Drug, which is currently on hiatus.

Book Cover

Rikuo discovers Kazahaya passed out in the snow and takes him to the shop where he lives and works. Soon the two are running odd errands together. It's an interesting series with fabulous art, but I don't recommending getting into it since it currently stops just as the plot is picking up speed. However, anyone who can explain to me what the marijuana leaf motif has to do with anything gets a cookie. No eye gouging. Yet.

The 10-volume RG Veda draws heavily on Buddhist and Hindu myth.

Book Cover

It's pretty, but it is an early work and CLAMP didn't quite have the chops to pull the complicated story off. It's still good reading and features a number of sympathetic, complex characters. I don't recommend it for manga beginners. At this point CLAMP had yet to develop a penchant for eye gouging. There's an OVA that doesn't fit into the storyline.

Other CLAMP works currently available in English include Angelic Layer, Legend of Chun Hyang, Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland, Suki: A Like Story, and Wish. Clover is out-of-print, but it's rumored Tokyopop will print a new edition soon. Let's keep our fingers crossed, because what I've read of it was minimalist and beautiful.

October 22, 2008

Manga Primer

I've been reading manga since elementary, so it's hard for me to come up with introductory works. On the other hand, I know a number of people who are interested in manga but intimidated by the large number of titles as well as the different format.

On the whole, I am going to suggest right-to-left titles. It may seem easier to start with a flipped work, but it's about the same learning curve. Manga, especially shojo manga, uses 'indefinite' panels rather than the strict rectangles of western graphic novels.

For those confused by 'indefinite' panels, see the above page from Aishiteruze Baby** (Yoko Maki). It might be a hard page to start with because there are a number of people speaking in the background in addition to the main action. You can still follow the flow of the art. The top right corner ends the previous scene, then the large art beneath it begins the new one. The next panel is the top left corner, followed by the bottom right, and ending with the bottom left. Though it's right-to-left instead of left-to-right, the panels and bubbles are still oriented top-to-bottom.

For those confused by the term 'shojo manga,' it simply refers to girls' comics. The other common division used in the US is 'shonen,' or boys' comics. There are other genres, but many of them blend into each other. The final determination is the genre of the magazine it was originally published in.

The other restriction I put on my selections is I limited myself to mostly happy titles. Saikano (Shin Takahashi) is a beautiful work, with spare art that seems to minimal at first, until you realize how well it fits the story. Of course, if you don't cry about once per volume of Saikano you have no heart. It's a bit to deep for a starting point.

Instead, I'm going to open my primer with a comedy: Haunted House by Mitsukazu Mihara.

Book Cover

Sabato Obiga just once a girlfriend, but every time he brings one home his family manages to scare her off. Both the humor and the moral translate well. Sometimes research into Japanese culture is needed to properly appreciate a tale, but no one could argue with the family's motivation. Mitsukazu Mihara has beautiful, stylized art well-showcased in a variety of series and one-shot volumes. I chose one of her one-shots because it allows for a lack of monetary committment. Her other volumes are more heavily influenced by Gothic Lolita fashion and sensibility and might be less immediately accessible.

My second recommendation is the bildungsroman (of a sort) Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa.

Book Cover

This series is contained within a mere five volumes, much shorter than Ai Yazawa's more popular NANA. Personally, I prefer it to that work. On the art side, Yazawa is top notch. Detailed, distinctive, and clear. She's also fabulous at characterization, need in this tale of first love and growing independence. Yukari just wanted to do what her parents wanted her to do, until she met a group of art students helmed by the charismatic and attractive George. She agrees to become the model for their "Paradise Kiss" label and soon begins to learn what she really wants from her life. I have yet to see the anime adaptation, but it's been reviewed favorably.

Next, I'm going to change gears with the much darker Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata.

Book Cover

Genius teenager Light finds the Death Note and decides to use it to create a utopia by killing criminals. Soon he's playing a game of cat-and-mouse with the world's best detective, known only as 'L.' This one is a bit more of a committment - twelve volumes total. The story is compelling psycologically and Obata's artwork is as beautiful as always. I used this one to start my dad on manga. Once you've finished the manga, there's an excellent anime adaptation, live action movies, and a light novel.

(Yes, that is from the anime - the dubbed anime - while this is about manga. However, it is just that epic.)

My next choice is again a longer series, but one worth the investment. Of course, I also encourage investment in the anime which goes in a much different direction. (Even as good as the anime is, the manga is better.) Primer choice #4 is Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa.

Book Cover

Two brothers try to resurrect their mother using alchemy, but it goes awry. They want to restore their bodies using the Philosopher's Stone. The elder, Edward, joins the military to fund their quest. Unfortunately, things aren't very straightforward. This series will appeal to fans of science fiction and fantasy. Arakawa is an excellent storyteller and his art is a bit rough but flows nicely and is well-suited to the story. This one and Death Note are popular for a reason.

I think four is a good number, but I'll offer a few more suggestions:

Trigun by Yasuhiro Nightow: Great art, great story, western, sci-fi, and awesome. (Anime availabe and worth watching.)

Excel Saga by Rikdo Koshi: Possibly the wordiest manga ever. Utterly insane and requiring some knowledge of Japanese culture, but there's a handy glossary in the back. Once you're familiar with anime, manga, and have done some cultural research, watch the anime adaptation. It's absolutely hilarious, but the more you know the more jokes you'll get.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki: Beautiful, detailed art and a complicated by wonderful story about environmental protection in a post-apocolyptic world. The anime movie is one of my favorites, but it's compressing quite a bit into two hours.

Mushishi by Yuki Urushibara: Not sure how to describe this, except there's a reason it's won several awards. There's no overarching plotline, just a series of episodes, but they capture human emotion beautifully. There's also an anime and live action movie.

Okay, so Excel Saga might not be the best for beginners, but I had to pimp it. Feel free to disagree with my selections, suggest your own, or ask me for more!

October 15, 2008

Melting Stones

Book Cover

By Tamora Pierce

Rosethorn, a dedicate at Winding Circle Temple, has been called to Starns, one of the Battle Islands, because the plants are dying. She brings Evvy along since Briar is in Namorn and Evvy's been getting into trouble, but it turns out to be lucky because the island is suffering from worrying earthquakes. Evvy's rock magic allows her to realize the island is a volcano about to become active again and erupt.

For those familiar with Tamora Pierce's Emelan universe MELTING STONES steps out of the usual pattern. It's told in first person, partially due to its origin as an audiobook. I think the narration worked well in written form as I could easily imagine a voice speaking the words aloud. It's also the first book to not feature Sandry, Tris, Briar, or Daja. The four are mentioned, especially Briar, but this is not their book. It's Evvy's. For those who might not have liked her in STREET MAGIC, this could be a problem. I liked her in her first appearance and enjoyed the trip into her head.

Evvy grew up poor, eventually sold into slavery by her mother. She lived in the slums until Briar recognized her magic - and then the two got caught in the middle of a war, along with Rosethorn. Perhaps the thing I enjoyed most about the book was learning more about Gyongxe, since the war occured between The Circle Opens and THE WILL OF THE EMPRESS. I also enjoyed the reveal of the nature of Luvo, previously known only as Evvy's strange friend.

For those unfamiliar with the 'verse, it might be hard to understand some of Evvy's more callous actions since she has undergone a rise in social status. On the other hand, it's in a fairly new setting with only two recurring characters so there isn't much background explanation needed. (The island is populated with orphans from the destruction of the pirate fleet - a nice exploration of the consequences of Tris's book. It rewards old fans but doesn't need to be explained to new readers.)

The plot moves a bit slower than most of Pierce's novels. She's usually deft in balancing internal and external conflicts, but the internal conflict is far more interesting in MELTING STONES. I wanted to spend less time with Evvy trying to mitigate the volcanic explosion and more with her learning how to interact with humans rather than rocks. It's still a good, quick read, but I can't help but compare it to earlier books in the series.

Melting Stones became available in book form on October 1st. The audiobook is available from Full Cast Audio. Previous novels in the Emelan universe include The Circle of Magic Quartet, The Circle Opens Quartet, and THE WILL OF THE EMPRESS. You can find out more about Tamora Pierce and her novels at her website or eljay. I also recommend a stop by Sheroes Central, the incredible forum Pierce co-founded. Readergirlz is featuring Pierce, among others, on October 16 as part of their Night Bites promotion for YALSA Teen Read Week.

October 11, 2008

Dreaming Again

Book Cover

Edited by Jack Dann

For the past couple of weeks I've been using this collection of thirty-five speculative fiction stories from Australian writers as a present to myself. A story here, a story there, and I haven't even finished yet. (Oh, how I don't want it to end! I'm having fun!) Once I do, I need to find a copy of DREAMING DOWN-UNDER, the previous anthology edited by Jack Dann and Janeen Webb. (Janeen Webb also contributed a story to the anthology.) If it impresses me as much as this one, they're going on my editors-to-trust list, with such people as Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling.

I love anthologies. Short stories allow authors to show off, to show their technique and style in a concise manner. I knew several names that contributed to this work, but I'd only previously read Garth Nix, Terry Dowling, and Stephen Dedman. You can bet I'm buying some more of the contributors' backlists now.

Of course, while anthologies are an excellent source of new authors to explore, there are always those stories that you feel bring the quality of the anthology down. Sometimes you wish you could pick and choose which stories you could buy if enough of them are duds. So far, with a mere ten stories to go, none of them have disappointed me. There have certainly been some I enjoyed more than others, but no bad stories whatsoever. I wish all anthologies were so well chosen.

The stories cover a variety of subjects, moods, and themes. Some are extremely unsettling, others funny, others mysterious. It's hard to pick favorites. The end of "This is My Blood" by Ben Francisco (the only American in the book) and Chris Lynch was the first thing to truly terrify me. They left the details of the end to my imagination, which is apparently a sick, sick place. This one is followed by the unnerving "Nightship" by Kim Westwood. I wanted more elaboration on how gender worked in the society (for instance, the ship's captain appeared to me to be a member of an Iron Family and female), but this one really caught my attention and made me think. The final one that's truly freaked me out is "In From the Snow" by Lee Battersby, the story of a pack living outside of human civilization. This wasn't truly a horror story, but my mind seized ahold of the darkness and continued thinking of it after I finished.

"The Constant Past" by Sean McMullen features a librarian and a time traveler. What more can one ask for, really? (The answer is found in "Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh" by Jason Fischer. To quote the TV Tropes wiki, it's Exactly What It Says On The Tin.)

The viral mystery "Lure" by Paul Collins had a nice twist at the end, even though I did expect it. I enjoyed his style, exploration of cyber-cheating, and assertion that PCs are better than Macs. "Empire" by Simon Brown is an amusing look at WAR OF THE WORLDS and Gilbert & Sullivan. Shortly after finishing, I learned the Mikado would be playing in my area soon (swoon-worthy) and that bubbles and squeak is a real dish in England (bemusing). "Smoking, Waiting for the Dawn" by Jason Nahrung is a vampire story that stands out from the current pack I've been reading. (Added bonus: zombies.)

I feel bad for not mentioning more of the stories I've read, because each had something special. These are just my personal highlights. DREAMING AGAIN comes out this month in the US, and more reviews are available at Out of this EOS. The other contributors are Richard Harland, Adam Browne, Angela Slatter, Kim Wilkins, Lucy Sussex, Sara Douglass, A. Bertram Chandler, Christopher Green, Jenny Blackford, Aaron Sterns, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Cecily Scutt, Rosaleen Love, Trudi Caravan, John Birmingham, Rowena Cory Daniells, Russell Blackford, Margo Lanagan, Rjurik Davidson, Trent Jamieson, Dirk Strasser, Peter M. Ball, and Isobelle Carmody.

October 10, 2008

Interview with Lou Aronica

Today we have an interview with Lou Aronica, who has worked with Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Lisa Kleypas, and Neil Gaiman. He's worked for Bantam and Avon and has recently begun his own house, The Story Plant.


How did you first decide on publishing as a career?

To be honest, it wasn’t my first choice. I wanted to be a teacher and I had visions of spending my summers writing unforgettable fiction. Teaching jobs were in short supply when I graduated college, though, and book publishing was one of the few other choices available to someone with an English degree. I found the industry intriguing as soon as I started at Bantam, but I didn’t fully commit to publishing until I started working in the Publisher’s Office there a couple of years later. At that point, I got a true inside glimpse at the inner workings of the book business and I was completely hooked. Ian Ballantine, who founded Bantam (along with Ballantine and, for that matter, brought the mass market paperback to America) took me under his wing and I received the most incredible education from him. This caused me to fall completely in love with the field.

I want to go into the publishing industry myself, so I know a little about the various people needed to produce a book, but I also realize itʼs fairly obscure information. Perhaps you could say a little about what being a publisher entails? What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the job?

There are dozens of steps involved in bringing a book to market. The editorial side of the business seeks out manuscripts to acquire and works with the writer to make the manuscript as strong as possible. A book’s editor is the person closest to the material at any house. The publishing/marketing side deals with packaging and positioning the book and puts the plans together to draw attention to the book. The managing editorial/production side deals with copyediting, proofreading, generation of galleys, and all of the other steps that go into the physical creation of the book. The sales side deals with getting the book into the marketplace and maintaining relationships with booksellers. The warehousing side deals with getting the books from the publisher’s warehouse to retail and wholesale sites. Then, of course, there are corporate, financial, and management components of any large publishing house.

I love the editorial and publishing/marketing parts of the job. I also love working with production and sales people. I don’t dislike any part of the job but, since I’m not the best detail person on the planet, I tend to have much less fun with the small details.

You have a long history in the publishing industry. What led you to start your own publishing house, The Story Plant, with Peter Miller?

In 2000, I decided that I was going to focus my career on writing and editorial development and I started a company called The Fiction Studio. I love this work and The Fiction Studio is very much a living entity, but I slowly discovered that I missed being able to publish books. I especially missed publishing fiction and Peter and I both felt that the major publishers had taken a very jaded view of fiction publishing. We genuinely believed that we could do this with passion and vigor and the only realistic way to do so was to create our own house. You can see what we’re trying to do at Our first two books, American Quest (a contemporary fantasy) and Capitol Reflections (a medical thriller) have just come out. It’s very exciting to be back on this side of the business.

Part of that history is your time as Deputy Publisher at Bantam. You launched the Bantam Spectra and Bantam Crime Line imprints. How is it decided that there is a need for a new imprint? Once itʼs established there will be a new imprint, how is one developed?

Different publishers have different opinions about this. Some prefer not to segregate any portion of their lists. Others, like me, believe that you can only create a genuine vision for a publishing program if you create an imprint. Imprints only make sense if the house has a deep commitment to publishing in a particular area. Spectra was my first imprint and it developed from the size and scope of the sf/fantasy list I’d put together at Bantam. We were very committed to this kind of fiction and we wanted the list to have an identity distinct from the rest of the Bantam list.

Developing an imprint requires having a consistent publishing plan (a certain number of titles that you will publish in a season or in a year), and an editorial focus. Beyond that, the mechanics are relatively simple. You come up with a logo, you develop some marketing materials, you make some special presentations to your sales people and your key accounts, and you’re off to the races. To be honest, the toughest thing about and imprint I ever started was coming up with the name. This sometimes took months.

You also acquired the Star Wars book publishing program. I spent my elementary and middle school years devouring Star Wars novels, completely unaware how much geek cred I would gain from the experience. Iʼm curious about how the line began. Did you realize how large the publishing program would become?

Thanks for buying all of those books. The launch of the Star Wars program was a fascinating story. There had been novelizations along with an original novel published during the release of the first three movies. Then the property lay fallow for a long time. Since there was so much more of the story to tell, we all expected more movies, but one day I read that George Lucas had said that he wasn’t going to do any additional movies. I decided to write him a letter saying, “If you aren’t going to make more movies, why don’t you let me tell the rest of the story in books.” I got no response to the letter and just assumed that he tossed it out. Then, a year later, I got a call from Lucasfilm saying they found the idea interesting. The Director of Merchandising there told me that Lucas was still thinking about making prequels, but was open to the idea of letting novelists explore the world after “Return of the Jedi.” I convinced them that we should launch the novel series with a major trilogy, that we should get an award-winning sf writer to write these, and that we should publish the books in hardcover (all of which was highly unusual for licensed fiction at this point). We signed Timothy Zahn to write the novels and the very first one went to #1 on the New York Times hardcover list. Lucasfilm actually credits the book program with reviving interest in the property. I always knew the program would be hugely successful, though it turned out to be even more successful than I imagined.

In your years at Bantam and Berkley and Avon you worked with a wide variety of authors. What are some things that might make an author easier or harder to work with?

Writers should try to do as much as they can to help market their books, especially by creating a presence online. The most important thing a writer can do, though, is commit to writing a number of books for a similar audience. I can’t tell you how many writers short-circuit their careers by bouncing from one kind of book to another. This isn’t to suggest that you need to write the same book multiple times; what it means is that you need to offer the same kind of experience to the reader multiple times. Think of writers like Neil Gaiman or Nelson DeMille. Each novel is distinctive and surprising, but it also fulfills reader expectations. When a writer delivers a consistent reading experience to an audience, that audience grows.

In addition to your job, you write fiction and nonfiction yourself. Is it difficult to find time to write? Is it strange to be the author rather than the publisher?

I do find myself getting up earlier and earlier every day. On my current pace, I will soon be waking up before I go to bed. At the same time, I have a real passion for both, so I need to find a way to do both. It is somewhat strange to be the author rather than the publisher. This was especially true with the early books where I had to remind myself to avoid being the kind of writer publishers disliked working with. Of course, up to this point, they have been distinct careers. My next book, The Element (written with the brilliant Sir Ken Robinson and coming in January from Viking), will be the first to come out since we started The Story Plant. It might be a more schizophrenic experience because of that, but Viking is doing such a good job with the book that I really just need to sit back and admire at this point.


You can find out more about Lou Aronica here. You can find The Story Plant at this site.

October 5, 2008

End of Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week finished yesterday, but I spoke about it tonight on my radio show. This month I'm planning on doing a second program about voting as well. For those of you over-18, living in the US slackers who haven't registered yet . . . the deadline is about to hit you in the face. DO IT NOW.

The following is ALA's list of the 100 most challenged books in 200-2007. I've bolded the ones I've read and italicized the ones I want to read. Star means I've read parts. I've read 36 total. Of those, I only had trouble with one. My mother searched a long time to find a copy of ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET.

1 Harry Potter J.K. Rowling
2 Alice series Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3 The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
4 Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck
*5 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou
6 Scary Stories Alvin Schwartz
7 Fallen Angels Walter Dean Myers
8 It’s Perfectly Normal Robie Harris
9 And Tango Makes Three Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
10 Captain Underpants Dav Pilkey
11 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain

12 The Bluest Eye Toni Morrison
13 Forever Judy Blume
14 The Color Purple Alice Walker
15 The Perks of Being A Wallflower Stephen Chbosky
16 Killing Mr. Griffin Lois Duncan
17 Go Ask Alice Anonymous
18 King and King Linda de Haan
19 Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger
20 Bridge to Terabithia Katherine Paterson

21 The Giver Lois Lowry
22 We All Fall Down Robert Cormier
23 To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee
24 Beloved Toni Morrison
25 The Face on the Milk Carton Caroline Cooney
26 Snow Falling on Cedars David Guterson
*27 My Brother Sam Is Dead James Lincoln Collier
28 In the Night Kitchen Maurice Sendak
29 His Dark Materials series Philip Pullman
30 Gossip Girl series Cecily von Ziegesar
31 What My Mother Doesn’t Know Sonya Sones
32 Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging Louise Rennison

33 It’s So Amazing Robie Harris
34 Arming America Michael Bellasiles
35 Kaffir Boy Mark Mathabane
36 Blubber Judy Blume
37 Brave New World Aldous Huxley
38 Athletic Shorts Chris Crutcher
39 Bless Me, Ultima Rudolfo Anaya
40 Life is Funny E.R. Frank
41 Daughters of Eve Lois Duncan
42 Crazy Lady Jane Leslie Conly
43 The Great Gilly Hopkins Katherine Paterson
44 You Hear Me Betsy Franco
45 Slaughterhouse Five Kurt Vonnegut
46 Whale Talk Chris Crutcher
47 The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby Dav Pilkey
48 The Facts Speak for Themselves Brock Cole
49 The Terrorist Caroline Cooney
50 Mick Harte Was Here Barbara Park
51 Summer of My German Soldier Bette Green
52 The Upstairs Room Johanna Reiss
53 When Dad Killed Mom Julius Lester
54 Blood and Chocolate Annette Curtis Klause
55 The Fighting Ground Avi
56 The Things They Carried Tim O'Brien
57 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Mildred Taylor
58 Fat Kid Rules the World K.L. Going
59 The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things Carolyn Mackler
60 A Time To Kill John Grisham
61 Rainbow Boys Alex Sanchez
62 Olive’s Ocean Kevin Henkes
63 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Ken Kesey
64 A Day No Pigs Would Die Robert Newton Peck
65 Speak Laurie Halse Anderson
66 Always Running Luis Rodriguez
67 Black Boy Richard Wright
68 Julie of the Wolves Jean Craighead George
69 Deal With It! Esther Drill
70 Detour for Emmy Marilyn Reynolds
71 Draw Me A Star Eric Carle
72 Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
73 Harris and Me Gary Paulsen
74 Junie B. Jones series Barbara Park
75 So Far From the Bamboo Grove Yoko Watkins
76 Song of Solomon Toni Morrison
77 Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes Chris Crutcher
78 What’s Happening to My Body Book Lynda Madaras
79 The Boy Who Lost His Face Louis Sachar
80 The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold

81 Anastasia Again! Lois Lowry
82 Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret Judy Blume
83 Bumps In the Night Harry Allard
84 Goosebumps series R.L. Stine
85 Shade’s Children Garth Nix
86 Cut Patricia McCormick
87 Grendel John Gardner
88 The House of Spirits Isabel Allende
89 I Saw Esau Iona Opte
90 Ironman Chris Crutcher
91 The Stupids series Harry Allard
92 Taming the Star Runner S.E. Hinton
93 Then Again, Maybe I Won’t Judy Blume
94 Tiger Eyes Judy Blume
95 Like Water for Chocolate Laura Esquivel
96 Nathan’s Run John Gilstrap
97 Pinkerton, Behave! Steven Kellog
98 Freaky Friday Mary Rodgers
99 Halloween ABC Eve Merriam
100 Heather Has Two Mommies Leslea Newman

Here's the same for 1990-1999. Most of these are the same, but there's still several differences. For one thing, more of these are directed at adults rather than children.

1.Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
2.Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
*3.I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4.The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
5.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6.Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
7.Forever by Judy Blume
8.Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
9.Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
10.The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
11.The Giver by Lois Lowry
12.My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
13.It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
14.Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
15.Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
16.A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
17.The Color Purple by Alice Walker
18.Sex by Madonna
19.Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
20.The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
21.In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
22.The Witches by Roald Dahl
23.A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

24.The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
25.Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
26.The Goats by Brock Cole
27.The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
28.Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
29.Final Exit by Derek Humphry
30.Blubber by Judy Blume
31.Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
32.Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
33.Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
34.The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
35.What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
36.Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
37.The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
38.The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
39.The Pigman by Paul Zindel
40.To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
41.We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
42.Deenie by Judy Blume
43.Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
44.Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
45.Beloved by Toni Morrison
46.The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
47.Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
48.Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
49.Cujo by Stephen King
50.James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
51.A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
52.Ordinary People by Judith Guest
53.American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
54.Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
55.Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
56.Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
57.Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
58.What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
59.The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
60.Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
61.Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
62.Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
63.Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
64.Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
65.Fade by Robert Cormier
66.Guess What? by Mem Fox
67.Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
68.Lord of the Flies by William Golding
69.Native Son by Richard Wright
70.Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
71.Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
72.On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
73.The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
74.Jack by A.M. Homes
75.Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
76.Family Secrets by Norma Klein
77.Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
*78.Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
79.Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
80.The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
81.Carrie by Stephen King
82.The Dead Zone by Stephen King
83.The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
84.Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
85.Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
86.Private Parts by Howard Stern
87.Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
88.Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

89.Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
90.Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
91.Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
92.Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
93.Sex Education by Jenny Davis
94.Jumper by Steven Gould
95.Christine by Stephen King

96.The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
97.That Was Then, This is Now by S.E. Hinton
98.Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
99.The Wish Giver by Bill Brittain
100.Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier


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