April 29, 2011


SUPER WHY! is a free app from PBS Kids. Well, it's free right now. At some point in the future it will cost $2.99.

So why am I recommending SUPER WHY!? It's a children's reading app, that's why!

The description bullet points:
-Play four original games that help build literacy skills
-Practice the alphabet, rhyming, spelling, writing, and reading
-Interact with main characters from the TV series SUPER WHY!
-Learn from your mistakes in a fun way
-Please note that this application requires an additional 17MB download

There aren't many reviews yet, but so far reviews are good. It looks like a fun set of games and it's hard to go wrong with free.

April 28, 2011

Celebrate Día De Los Niños in San Antonio (or anywhere)!

From the press release:

REFORMA, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, and Scholastic will host a FREE "Dia de los Niños Celebration" with music, dance, storytelling, crafts, food, and a free book give-away, courtesy of The Caravan. The Caravan offers storytelling, family literacy activities, and free books for kids. The celebration also includes dancing by the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center Folklorico dancers, crafts presented by various organizations, and refreshments for all. Join us to celebrate children, families, books, and reading!

Friday, April 29th
5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Guadalupe Theater
1301 Guadalupe Street
San Antonio, Texas

2011 is the 15th anniversary of Día de los niños/Día de los libros. Check out the ALA page about Día for more resources, such as a map of events across the country and a list of books. If you've never celebrated Día before, this is a good year to start.

Review: 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth

By Matthew Inman (the Oatmeal)
Available now from Andrews McMeel Publishing
Review copy

5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides)

Okay, I often don't talk about what format I read a book in. I read the epub version of 5 VERY GOOD REASONS TO PUNCH A DOLPHIN IN THE MOUTH, which is relevant because the resolution wasn't all that awesome. You couldn't really zoom, which meant some bits were almost impossible to read. Judging by the reviews on Amazon, that hasn't been fixed. So printed is the way to go. Not that I expect many people to be more interested in the e-version of this. It's easier to browse through the random comics with a book or on the site than in an ebook.

I was excited for 5 VERY GOOD REASONS TO PUNCH A DOLPHIN IN THE MOUTH because I'm a big fan of the Oatmeal, author Matthew Inman's humor site. There are great infographics about such things as grammar, vocabulary, cheese, and coffee. There are also fun quizzes and some delightfully surreal comics, such as the eponymous work. It's nice to have some favorites collected and at hand.

At the same time, when idly browsing on the internet I never noticed how often Inman jokes about hookers. Not particularly good jokes, either. It got kind of uncomfortable after awhile.

Between being underwhelmed by the format and overwhelmed by (dead) hooker jokes, I was less impressed by 5 VERY GOOD REASONS TO PUNCH A DOLPHIN IN THE MOUTH. I'll continue to check the website, but I don't think I'm going to purchase the book for myself or as a gift for friends.

April 27, 2011

Contest: A Discovery of Witches Book and Buttons

Book Cover A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness is a thick tome, suitable for using to defend yourself in case of a home invasion.  That thickness also allows for a skyline to be printed on the spine.  Pictured are some of the most famous buildings in Oxford, including the Bodleian Library and Radcliffe Camera.

Below is one of my pictures of Radcliffe Camera:

It's a strange building, and not just because it is architecturally striking.  It was a library, funded by a man who didn't believe in book learning.  Then a tunnel was built to connect the two libraries.  Now, it's mostly used as reading rooms for the Bodleian.  In A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, "a distracting horde of daemons, withces, and vampires [descend] upon the Bodleian's reading rooms." (Quotation taken from book blurb.) 

For five weeks I lived in Radcliffe Square, my home a neighbor to both Radcliffe Camera and the Bodleian Library.  How can I resist a novel that engages my mind before I even reach the first page?  How can you?

Here's your chance to win Harkness's New York Times bestseller and a set of buttons.  Fill out the Google doc below.  I'll choose the winner in two weeks.  This contest is sponsored by Penguin, and thus restricted to US addresses, no PO Boxes.  As always, you can get someone else to mail it to you if you're international.

April 19, 2011

Review: Rage

By Jackie Morse Kessler
Available now from Graphia
Review copy
Read my interview with Jackie

Rage (Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Book 2)

I think I'm the opposite of most people. I prefer RAGE, the second Horseman of the Apocalypse novel, to its predecessor HUNGER. I understood Missy more. Missy's going through a rough time: she's broken up with her boyfriend and her cat just died. Then her boyfriend betrays her. Her method of dealing is to let it all out by cutting. Even before Death makes her the new incarnation of War, she's already trying to find a healthier method of self-control.

Missy also spends less time traveling than Lisa did. One battlefield is enough to let Jackie Morse Kessler's description shine while allowing things to remain focused on Missy and her problems. Her issues feel less like an analogue for the world's issues. Instead, the damage of one person relieving her anger is amplified.

The part I was most unsure about was Death and War's relationship. Death's relationship with the previous Wars was sexual. He's got a type. Missy's attraction mostly seems to be based on his looks. Kessler managed to make me mostly like their relationship. but I felt uncomfortable with it for awhile. I like my couples to see each other as people.

I had issues with Missy's sister too. Missy doesn't know where her sister stands and by the end of the book I wasn't sure either. Part of that's the first person point of view. Part of it is that the sister seems to want Missy to quit, but she also says some incredibly cruel things. Some of her actions could be loving, but she sounded so callous.

Overall, I thought Missy was a well-defined character and her emotional arc was clear.  Those who are looking for a true urban fantasy novel probably won't like the Horsemen of the Apocalypse series.  But if you enjoy real world issues combined with fantasy, Kessler's work will be right up your alley.

Interview with Jackie Morse Kessler

Jackie Morse Kessler is the author of the Riders of the Apocalypse series as well as several books for adults. You can read my review of HUNGER now and my review of RAGE later today. You can also read my previous interview with Jackie to find out more. The next stop on this tour is Wicked Awesome Books. Scroll to the bottom for a cool contest.


Rage (Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Book 2)

1. The scenes where Missy cuts herself are emotionally intense. How did you ensure that Missy's story felt emotionally authentic?

JK: Writing those scenes, and the ones leading up to them, left me feeling emotionally raw, and very drained. I tried to be honest to the story and not gloss anything over. (I also wound up eating a lot of chocolate. To soothe the nerves, you know!) I don’t think any writer can ensure anything. All we can do is our best, and hope it works.

2. HUNGER and RAGE address real world issues in a fantastical manner. What advantages are there in using genre conventions to approach the more difficult parts of reality?

JK: I’ve always loved the notion of using monsters and fantastical creatures to show the struggles of humanity. In RAGE, a cutter has the opportunity to use her new blade — the Sword of War — to destroy the world, or possibly to save it. Writing fantasy, or magical realism, elevates personal battles to the level of the mythic. Doesn’t every emotional battle we go through feel like that, like the world itself depends on the outcome?

3. In HUNGER, Lisa visits some real places and some made up places as Famine. Missy visited an unnamed place as War; did it have a real world analogue?

Hunger (Riders of the Apocalypse)

JK: All the places Lisa visits are real places—or I suppose it’s more accurate to say they’re based on real places. Some, like Egypt, are more apparent than others. The climax of that book, for example, takes place in a country that’s, loosely speaking, Haiti. As for RAGE, the place where Missy visits as War is based on Yemen.

4. Part of the proceeds of HUNGER are donated to NEDA and part of the proceeds of RAGE are donated to To Write Love on Her Arms. Both are probably the most prominent charities addressing the issues in the novels. From what you've revealed about LOSS, it will deal with bullying. Do you already have a charity in mind? Most of those that I can think of that deal with bullied youth focus on LGBTQ kids.

JK: I do have a charity in mind, but I’ll talk about it after I’ve completed the book. :)

5. You've stated that you didn't plan to write about the other horseman until your agent asked about them. Was it harder to write Missy's story since you hadn't been planning it for years?

JK: OMG, YES. There were times when it was a true struggle. Maybe part of that is because writing HUNGER was very cathartic for me, partially because I used to be bulimic. I never self-injured, so I had to do a lot of research to understand what self-injury is, and what it’s not. But the story itself took a vastly different turn from what I had planned. HUNGER, I just wrote. For RAGE, I came up with a synopsis, but I wound up throwing it out about a third of the way into the actual writing. I had no idea how the book was going to end until I wrote the last two chapters. That was sort of terrifying, in a very cool way. (And I ate a lot of chocolate during that time. Did I mention that it soothes the nerves? Or, at least, my nerves? **grin** )

6. Which authors inspired you the most? Do you have different influences for your YA fiction than your adult fiction?

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, WitchOn a Pale Horse (Incarnations of Immortality, Bk. 1)Speak: 10th Anniversary EditionLooking for AlaskaTwelfth Grade Kills #5: The Chronicles of Vladimir TodPlease Ignore Vera Dietz

JK: So many authors!!! In terms of Horsemen of the Apocalypse influences, there’s Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (read GOOD OMENS. Read it. READ IT!!!) and Piers Anthony (ON A PALE HORSE — terrific stuff). Reading Laurie Halse Anderson’s SPEAK was truly eye-opening as to what YA fiction could be, as was John Green’s LOOKING FOR ALASKA. In terms of being inspired to write something personally meaningful, I absolutely tip my hat to Heather Brewer and Amy King.



Riders of the Apocalypse giveaway! Three lucky winners will receive one copy each of HUNGER and RAGE along with postcards and a mini-poster! To enter, send an e-mail to RageGiveaway@gmail.com. In the body of the e-mail, include your name and e-mail address (if you're under 13, submit a parent's name and e-mail address). One entry per person and prizes will only be shipped to US or Canadian addresses. Entries must be received by midnight (PDT) on 4/30/11. Winners will be selected in a random drawing on 5/1/11 and notified via email.

April 14, 2011

Rock the Drop!

I Rock The Drop from crissachappell on Vimeo.

Just put a bookplate in a Young Adult book and leave it in a public place. Snap a photo of your drop! E-mail the photo to readergirlz AT gmail DOT com or tweet it with the tag #rockthedrop.

April 11, 2011

Kate Spade Book Clutch

On the way home, my mom and I decided to stop by the Mall of America. In Nordstroms I saw the Kate Spade Romeo & Juliet book clutch and fell in love. (Unfortunately, it's $325.00.) This blog has pictures of the front, back, and interior.

Kate Spade Book Of The Month Club Emanuelle Clutch,Emma,one size

The Emma clutch is available from Amazon. See other covers at the Kate Spade website. (Apparently designs have been coming out since fall.) Here's an article on how to make your own book clutch.

I don't know how useful the clutch is. After all, like most clutches it isn't huge. But the material looked easy to keep clean, which is always a consideration. Now I shall pine that I can't seem to find the R&J clutch for less than full price.

April 7, 2011

Terrific Thursday!

I just got my acceptance e-mail from the Columbia Publishing Course!

Plus, it's my nephew's first birthday. He opened half his presents this morning, then we went to get his pictures made. Right now the kids are napping. (I thought I loved nap time as a kid. Now I love it for the hour of quiet.)

April 6, 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday: Superhero edition!

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a meme began by Jill of Breaking the Spine.

Book Cover

AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE by Carrie Vaughn comes out April 12 - less than a week from now! I love superheroes and I enjoy Vaughn's work, so it's a bit of a no-brainer that I'm waiting for this one.

Book Cover

Coming out the same day is WAR, POLITICS, AND SUPERHEROES: Ethics and Propaganda in Comics and Film by Marc Dipaulo. This one is more expensive since it's an academic book, but it sounds cool.

Book Cover

On May 1, Garth Nix's new book comes out. TROUBLETWISTS is co-written with Sean Williams, another Australian author. It's not quite a superhero story, but close.

The blurb:

A spectacular new middle-grade fantasy series from NYT bestselling authors Garth Nix and Sean Williams, in which two twins find that they must act as wards against a threatening evil.

The Evil has been trying to break into our dimension and dominate the earth for centuries. Unbeknownst to most of us, there are Wardens all over the globe, who protect humanity from the Evil that asserts itself at the Portals, which are the only places through which the Evil may pass into our world.

Jaide and Jack Shield don't know that the world is under attack. They don't know that their dad and their Grandma X, who they move in with, are Wardens, or that they themselves are troubletwisters, young Wardens just coming into their powers.

ETA: I am definitely not waiting on WICKED PRETTY THINGS. Cleolinda's update on the kerfluffle will link you to all you need to know.

April 5, 2011

Review: Red Glove

Red Glove By Holly Black
Available now from Simon & Schuster
Review copy
Read my review of WHITE CAT

Cassel Sharpe and his friends return in the second installment of the Curse Workers series. This time, the mysteries afoot are ones Cassel has already solved. (Or mostly solved.) The Feds want Cassel to find out who Zacharov's wetworks man is. They're interested in one murder in particular, one that Cassel has a personal interest in. He needs to give them an answer, not just to protect himself, but also to protect their number one suspect and his love interest: Lila.

I loved RED GLOVE as much as I loved WHITE CAT. I was pleased to see that most of the book took place at Cassel's snooty private school. I loved his friends and their willingness to help him out at WHITE CAT's denoument. They also prove that Cassel doesn't have a monopoly on secrets. One of them is hiding something rather important, in fact. (Do you know how hard it is to review a book about cons? I'm afraid to give away any information in case it's too much information.)

Also like WHITE CAT, Holly Black ripped my heart out just as I thought everything was going to turn out perfectly. This time the heart-ripping was tempered by a bit of, "Okay, that was your fault, Cassel." Still, this series better end happy. Cassel is earning his happy ending.

Cassel has more control of events in RED GLOVE. He's not scrambling around trying to find out what's going on. He's trying to figure out how to handle the various people who want control of him. (That group includes the Feds, Zacharov, and a rival crime family.)

If you didn't like WHITE CAT, you probably won't like RED GLOVE. The characters haven't fundamentally changed. Cassel will never be entirely a good guy. Lila will never be a good girl. I love the world Black has created, where every magic user has few opportunities aside from crime. I like the discussions of workers' rights. I like the crazy plots.

But why does Black insist on ripping my heart out at the end every time?

April 3, 2011

Week In Review

I may do this weekly, I may not. Pretty much I'm just linkspamming random nifty bookish things.  Feel free to share your favorite things from this week with me in the comments or on your own blog.

(Two via Go Fug Yourself)

Insulted by Authors (some NSFW)

Beauty and the Beast

360-Degree Panorama Takes You Inside Prague’s Off-Limits Baroque Library
One of the best things about college: you meet other girls who saw Beauty and the Beast and decided they were interested in the type of guy who would give them a library.

(via too many people to count)

BigAl's Books and Pals: Review of the GREEK SEAMAN by Jacqueline Howett

I want to thank every author I've ever reviewed for not reacting like this.

(via my own blogroll/browsing)

1bruce1 proves Francine Pascal is real. Ya'll don't know how badly I want to read SWEET VALLEY CONFIDENTIAL. I had to resist buying it in Target the other day.

Jennifer Egan Tells Young Writers to Ignore "Best Of" Lists

Signed onto Jezebel for the first time in forever. The new design still sucks.

Maggie Stiefvater's April Fools Prank: LITTER

A. S. King's V-Day Post

The Demon's Surrender (Demon's Lexicon)

Sarah Rees Brennan announces a new trilogy. THE DEMON'S SURRENDER, the final novel in her current trilogy, will be released June 14. I had a ridiculously fun time seeing her live last year and can't wait to read the new book.

Tributes to Diana Wynne Jones:

Neil Gaiman

Emma Bull

Farah Mendlesohn

Quoth Mendlesohn:
It would be conventional to say here, “and had children of their own” but while that’s true too, what is fascinatingly true, is that many of them had books of their own. Diana had not just grown fans, she had grown writers. Science fiction and fantasy authors, writers for both adults and children, began to cite her influence, writers as diverse as Neil Gaiman, Kate Elliott, Marie Brennan, Chaz Brenchley, John Scalzi, Shweta Narayan, Rhiannon Lassiter, Charlie Butler, Sarah Monette, Sharianne Lewitt, Caroline Stevermer, Sonya Taafe, Nisi Shawl, Gillian Polack and Greer Gilman. Some had read her as children, some met her work later in life.

April 2, 2011


You may have noticed some changes in the blog lately. I've added an "About Me" page, a widget for the Book Blogs Search Engine, the LinkWithin widget, and a few ads. I'm also trying to update my blogroll, so if I've left you off, please let me know.

As always, comment if you have any ideas about how I can improve the blog.

Happy International Children's Books Day!

April 2 is International Children's Books Day, in honor of Hans Christian Anderson's birthday. This year the international sponsor of ICBD is Estonia. A message from author Aino Pervik can be found by following the link on the USBBYP site.

To celebrate, I'm going to look at the international visitors to IBWB!

This week, there were more visitors from France than the United States. I don't know why I struck a chord with the French, but I'm grateful for the attention anyway. I unfortunately didn't get to visit France while I was in Europe, but I've heard good things. This week, countries 3-9 were Canada, Russia, Germany, Hong Kong, the UK, Iran, Brazil, and Ukraine. I'm familiar with some Canadian, German, and UK bloggers, but puzzled about how everyone else found me! I can only be happy that my words have reached a variety of people. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you come again.

Here's my challenge for you, today: give a book to someone under the age of 13. I don't care whether you do it directly or through a charity. It can be something you loved, something new that's now being hyped, or something you discover poking around the site on ICBD.

April 1, 2011

Review: Why I Love Singlehood

By Elisa Lorello and Sarah Girrell
Available May 31 from AmazonEncore (Kindle edition available now)
Review copy

Why I Love Singlehood

I loved the first AmazonEncore novel I read. I'll admit to being nervous when I started Andrew Xia Fukuda's CROSSING. I've wanted to rewrite the review of CROSSING, as I don't think I captured the novel well. I felt it exemplified the AmazonEncore statement of "exceptional yet overlooked books." I could see why it would be overlooked - the protagonist is often unlikeable and there is no happy ending. WHY I LOVE SINGLEHOOD had a lot to live up to. Unfortunately, I felt like the novel fit "overlooked" more than "exceptional," because WHY I LOVE SINGLEHOOD would be overlooked due to being average.

WHY I LOVE SINGLEHOOD is Eva Perino's journey from lying to herself and playing it safe to doing the things that fulfill her. That doesn't mean her life at the start of the novel is terrible. She has a thriving business – a coffee shop named The Grounds – and a group of fabulous friends. When her ex-who-she-remained-friends-with Shaun tells her he's engaged, Eva is hurt and realizes remaining close to the guy she used to love might not have been the best idea. Unfortunately, she just started the eponymous blog. Thus, she begins to turn it into a chronicle of her forays into dating again.

I liked that it wasn't immediately apparent which guy in Eva's life would be the one she ended up with. She has several good choices, including The Grounds' manager Norman and regular customer Car Talk Kenny. While WHY I LOVE SINGLEHOOD is chick lit rather than romance, the romantic storyline is the strongest. Other aspects of Eva's life are interesting, but the book meanders. There isn't a strong sense of structure.

In some ways, that's good. The way things unfold in the story feel organic. At the same time, it's sometimes confusing. The Grounds contains the Originals and the Regulars, a reoccurring cast of customers. Members of this supporting cast disappear and reappear. There's quite a few and most are minor, so I kept losing track of who some of them were and what they'd previously done in the story. (I forgot Jan and Dean were dating until it became important, long after it was first mentioned.) It felt like some of them could have been cut.

I also feel like the setting is slightly misued. Elisa Lorello and Sarah Girrell focus on the people that inhabit the coffee shop. The coffee itself is rarely mentioned. (Eva dislikes coffee.) As for the baked goods, two are mentioned in detail - a lemon tart and a halfmoon cookie. Both are excellent, evocative scenes. How is it through the rest of the novel that the sensual power of food is ignored? WHY I LOVE SINGLEHOOD lacks a sense of taste and smell that's right there. Instead it is content to remain floating on the surface of the coffee shop.

WHY I LOVE SINGLEHOOD is definitely the kind of chick lit I prefer. It tends to be humorous and light rather than dramatic and angsty. There are moments of drama. Terrible things happen to some of the characters. But even when a character lands in the hospital, things quickly return to normal.

WHY I LOVE SINGLEHOOD will appeal to those who enjoy stories about women reevaluating their life choices, told in a way that isn't overly serious. Eva is a decent heroine – she's hard-working and a bit controlling, but she's willing to own up to her own mistakes. At the same time, I didn't feel a spark. I found the novel fun, but I'm already forgetting the details and I just finished.


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