Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Review and Giveaway! A BLUE SO DARK by Holly Schindler

The gorgeous cover!
Debut author time! Today we're spotlighting A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler.
About A Blue So Dark:
Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura's dad left them. Convinced that "creative" equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.

My verdict:
A Blue So Dark is a refreshing literary novel with a slow, lyrical buildup of the story. It wrapped me up in Aura's world, allowing me to see like her -- like an artist who feels compelled to create, and like a teenager afraid of becoming like her mentally ill parent.

The novel tackled the complexities and challenges of mental illness head-on, not sugarcoating or preaching. Though I've never had an experience like Aura's, I understood why she felt that seeking medical help for her mother would be a betrayal to their relationship, and how she got pulled deeper and deeper into a nightmarish situation. There are plenty of teenagers in the world who care for or parent a parent -- either because of addiction, mental illness, or a disability -- and this book gives them a voice.

Other strengths in the book are the subplots -- Aura's relationship with her best friend, who's raising a son on her own; her issues with her father, who pretty much divorced her along with her mother; a growing bond with her long-absent maternal grandmother; and the possibility of romance in the midst of all the chaos.

A Blue So Dark resonated with me long after I finished the last page. It's the kind of book you enjoy on a quiet Sunday afternoon, and the beautiful writing and solid characters make it well worth the read.

*** Did you review A Blue So Dark on your blog? Leave a link in the comments!

Linky Goodness:
* Holly Schindler's FNC guest post on Balancing Writing, Life, and Multiple Projects.
* Holly's website and blog.
BUY A Blue So Dark!

But wait... there's more!

We're giving away a SIGNED copy of A Blue So Dark!
(Thanks, Holly!)


Monday, June 28, 2010

Painted Cranes Meets Pandora

I have a secret and rarely expressed love for all things 1980s: leg warmers, bangle bracelets, blue eyes shadow, Bonnie Tyler, Bon Jovi...

So recently, while I was searching online for images of Japanese fishing boats and got briefly distracted by YouTube videos about deep sea creatures (which I also love), it's no surprise that this clip completely derailed me:

I know, I know. This is not a song of the 80s, but it's by Bon Jovi, one of my favorite 80s rockers, and it brought to mind his and other songs awesome 80s songs, like this one:

After watching the fish clip, I tried to get back to my task at hand--writing a chapter of my current work-in-progress, a novel set in feudal Japan, entitled PAINTED CRANES. But I had Bon Jovi on my brain at that point, so I hopped onto Pandora and made a playlist, then tried to get back to the writing.

No dice.

I never could write or study with music playing. What was I thinking?

Each new song led me deeper and deeper into a state of nostalgia. It's funny--I didn't "grow up" during that decade. I was only 11 by the end of it. But I LOVE it, which I think comes more from experiencing Japanese karaoke than from my childhood. Anyway, before long, I was back on-line, searching YouTube for original music videos of my favorite 80s tunes. An hour and a half later, my writing session had timed out.

Don't worry, I finished the chapter a few days later. And, in an attempt to get it out of my system--no, actually, just to be completely gratuitous--over the next several weeks, I'm going to share with you some of those music videos in a series of posts cheesily entitled "Music Video Mondays."

I can't wait!

But in the meantime, I've shared my chief vice--wasting time online. What keeps you from writing?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Love Letters to Literary Crushes Blogfest!

So we all know that next Wednesday, June 30th, Eclipse will be in theaters and we know that we're all going to go see it.

Admit it, you are!

Anyway, I was thinking, you know with the movie coming out and all, Edward and Jacob are kind of stealing all of the love.

Sure we all love Edward...as long as he keeps his shirt on.

And we love Jacob...as long as he keeps his shirt off.

But there are a lot of other fabulous literary guys (and girls) we have crushes on--especially in YA!

And maybe they are feeling a little neglected this week...

"I look good with my shirt on and off! Where's my love?"
Damon Salvatore, Vampire Diaries

"Once the school finds out I'm dating a student, I'll NEED some love."
Ezra aka Mr. Fitz, Pretty Little Liars

So I propose a Blogfest on Wednesday, June 30th!

Before you head out to see Eclipse, why not let your underappreciated literary crush know how much you love them. Tell them why they are so cute, adorable, sexy, caring, funny, and awesome that you wish they were real and not just living in some author's head. And even if they're not starring in a major movie at the end of this month, we still think they're all that and a bag of chips.

Anyone can participate by signing up at my other blog Frankie Writes with the Mr. Linky. And if love letters aren't your thing, feel free to format it any way you like--but come on, let's spread the YA Literary Love! You can help out by tweeting, and posting on your blogs and then check back here on Wednesday to see who everyone's literary crush is!

To Sign Up (You know you want to!) Click HERE!

A reader new to YA needs your recommendations!

Ms. First Line asked, "Can anyone recommend some YA paranormal books that are very suspenseful and comedic? I'm a little new to this genre."

Basically, we're looking for a Buffy-esque book with that excellent mixture of wit and the paranormal. Hmmm... off the top of my head, I'm thinking...

- Meg Cabot, with her Mediator series.
- I've heard that Stacey Jay's zombie books are funny, but I haven't read them yet.
- Michelle Rowen's Demon Princess series has a sassy tone, too.

... And I KNOW it's an adult book, but I can't NOT mention the delightfully entertaining Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger.

Alright, Honorary FNC-ers, help me out! 
Please leave your suggestions (and agreements/disagreements with my offerings) in the comments!

* Do you have a question -- silly or serious -- for the FNC? Email us about anything! firstnovelsclub [at] gmail [dot] com

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

10 reasons I only watch Vampire Diaries because of Damon Salvatore

1. His eyebrows are their own character.
- They should get credited in each episode. Seriously, they have more expression than Stefan does in his ENTIRE FACE, which pretty much alternates between "brooding" and "brooding-er."
Elena: I think you should stop with the flirty little comments and the eye thing you do.
Damon: What eye thing? (Founder's Day)
2. He has slick dance moves.
- The Damon-and-Vicki dance party was a season one highlight, no doubt about it.
(No embedding allowed, but here's the link if you want to re-experience the awesome!)

3. He's delightfully villainous.
- I haven't been this entertained by a badass vampire since Spike called humans "Chicken McNuggets with legs" on Buffy. The devil-may-care attitude he takes to killing, feeding, and maiming always gives me chuckles.
"I have two liters of soccer mom in the fridge." (Let the Right One In)
4. He's actually despicable and evil.
- When he killed Stefan's oh-so-sweet-and-fun vampire BFF Lexie after framing her for murder... ouch.

5. He may well be redeemable.
- First he volunteers to alter Jeremy's memory to remove the pain of Vickie's death. Then he does a couple more suspiciously nice-seeming things. THEN in the finale he pours his heart out to Elena Katherine. But he's still a badass and hits on (who he thinks is) his brother's girlfriend can't-be-undead-without-you soulmate.

6. He makes for a heckuva love triangle.
- Case in point: The sexual tension-ridden formal dance in "Miss Mystic Falls." Not touching has never been so hot.
"I'm here to eat cotton candy and steal your girl." (Founder's Day)
7. His abs.
- A girl can drool, ya know.

8. He's a non-discriminating manwhore.
- High school girls, sorority girls, and slutty moms? Sign him up. He even flirts with the sheriff.

9. He's a one-woman vampire kinda guy.
- He's spent the entirety of his undead existence brooding over his lost love, Katherine, and he's willing to kill anyone and everyone to free her from her underground tomb. Um, except she was never trapped. Sorry Damon. After nearly 150 years, what a kick in the groin. No wonder he's pissed.

10. His mockery of vegetarian do-gooder vampires is priceless.
- Stefan's a few steps above Edward Cullen in the boring vampire boyfriend category, considering he cracks a joke once every 6 episodes, but Damon still rules.

On Stefan's choice of animal blood diet:
"When was the last time you had something bigger than a squirrel?"
"Have you been eating bunnies?"
"Stefan likes puppy blood... little Golden Retriever blood with floppy ears. That's his favorite."
"I'll adopt the Stefan diet, only nothing with feathers."
"Is it skunk? Saint Bernard? Bambi?"

And in "Family Ties," even Edward Cullen doesn't escape unscathed:
Damon: What's so special about this Bella girl? Edward's so whipped. 
Caroline: You have to read the first book first, otherwise it won't make sense. 
Damon: Uh, I miss Ann Rice, she was so on it. 
Caroline: Hey, how come you don't sparkle? 
Damon: Because I live in the real world where vampires burn in the sun.

In conclusion? Love him or hate him, Damon's complexities and twisted sense of humor make him hands-down the best character on the Vampire Diaries. And his hotness doesn't hurt.

Tell me tell me tell me! Who's your favorite Vampire Diaries character? Why do you love Damon? Or what shows do you watch because of one awesome character?

For more Vampire Diaries entertainment:
- Check out Frankie's hilarious recaps ... which are the other reason I tune in each week!
- And a video compilation of funny Damon quotes...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

FNC True Life: My Mom Reads YA

My bookshelves are brimming with awesome YA novels, and there are a good number that I still haven't read... but my mom has. She's over 50, and I've converted her to young adult books. Currently, she's addicted to the Pretty Little Liars series, and we've started watching the TV show together. And then we come on this blog and read Frankie's recaps. I love it.

But here's the thing: my mom's a picky reader. She's a hardcore realist, so there goes all the incredible paranormal and dystopian novels. At my urging, she tried three chapters of The Hunger Games and couldn't get into it because she "knew it wasn't possible." (I considered disowning her, but decided against it.) And she doesn't like literary novels, which isn't a problem with YA because even literary YA is much less self-important than the literary adult books.

Recent favorites of hers?
Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer.
Gayle Forman's If I Stay.
Lara Zeises' The Sweet Life of Stella Madison.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
She LOVES everything by Laurie Halse Anderson, enjoys Sarah Dessen and John Green, and got a good laugh out of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Good taste, right?

I love that I can ask her advice on what book's most worthy of reading next, and that she's worried she'll run out of new books of mine to read before I buy more.

Of course, she reads her contemporary "adult" books -- Jennifer Weiner, Jodi Picoult, Nicholas Sparks, the basics -- but she's having fun with YA, and she keeps coming back for more. I'm supremely proud of this, that she understands the value of the genre and supports my dreams of being a published YA author. Because there are plenty of people who acting condescendingly toward YA writers/books.

And to answer the question that some of you may have:
Yes, my mom has read my novel. Even the hot 'n heavy bits. I handed it to her like, "Mom, just remember this is FICTION. I didn't necessarily do ANY of this in high school." Awkward... My older sister read it, which was funny because she totally picked out the snippets that were based on truth. My super sweet dad even offered to read it, in support of my dream, and I was like, "No... that's ok... it's the thought that counts. You can read it if it's published."

Ahem, yeah. Sometimes it makes me wish I wrote middle grade instead of upper YA.

But enough of the digression! Do any of your moms or other family or friend "adults" read YA too? What are their favorites? Leave it in the comments!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

573 Followers Giveaway WINNER!

A huge thank you to all who entered the 573 Followers Giveaway! With over 160 entrants and a whopping 438 entries, you guys put that randomizer to work!

And like they do on America's Next Top Model, we'll review the awesome prizes first!

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead
(Vampire Academy book 5)

Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr
(Wicked Lovely book 4)

White Cat by Holly Black

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

Plus, the winner gets swag! We have rubber wristbands for each of the Wicked Lovely faerie courts AND a Vampire Academy temporary tattoo.

And the winner is...

Dann Burrow (DKB)!!!

Congrats, Dann! We'll be emailing you shortly to get your mailing address. 
Please reply to the email or comment on this post within 72 hours to claim your winnings, or we'll have to choose an alternate winner.

To those of you who didn't win... this time: Thanks so much for following the First Novels Club, and don't worry, we have some amazing giveaways coming up, so stay tuned for more chances to win incredible books!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Willow and Oz: YA Character Study, Couples Edition!

Season two of Buffy brought about the hilarious and oh-so-sweet relationship of Willow and Oz. Amidst vampire boyfriends gone seriously bad, a couple impending apocalypses (apocalypsi?), and two heart-wrenching deaths, Willow and Oz were a much-needed bright spot in the season. Hands down, they're one of my favorite YA couples.*

* For the sake of the argument, we're limiting this to the pre-werewolf-exodus, pre-lesbian time frame.

Why do they work so well?
Their chemistry all comes down to their personalities, which are somewhat mismatched on the surface, but complement each other. They're a very nontraditional couple in YA, so I couldn't help but analyze their appeal!

The rundown:
Oz: Redefines laidback. Brilliant, but an avid slacker. Music is his passion, and he plays guitar for the band Dingoes Ate My Baby. He's a man of few words, but he views life with a detached irony that's beyond entertaining.
Willow: Shy bookworm with less-than-stellar self-confidence. Fully adorable. Prone to nervous rambling. Fiercely loyal to her friends. Super sweet, but as Buffy says, she needs to "Wake up and smell the hottie."

The chemistry:
Oz notices Willow in a couple episodes before they fully interact in the two incredible What's My Line? episodes, in which they're recruited by some crazy software company during a career fair because they're super smart. And because it's Sunnydale, Oz gets shot in the arm pushing her out of the way of a crazy gun-wielding Order of Taraka member, and then his subtle wooing begins over a box of animal crackers.

Willow: Y'know, I never really thanked you.
Oz: Ooo, yeah, please don't. I don't do thanks. I get all red. Have to bail. It's not pretty.
Willow: Well, then forget that thing. Especially with the part where I kind of owe you my life.
Oz: (pulls out a cookie) Oh, look! Monkey! And he has a little hat. And little pants.
Willow: Yeah, I-I see!
Oz: The monkey's the only cookie animal that gets to wear clothes, you know that?
(Willow smiles brightly.)
Oz: You have the sweetest smile I've ever seen. So, I'm wondering, do the other cookie animals feel sorta ripped? Like, is the hippo going, 'Hey, man, where are my pants? I have my hippo dignity!' And you know the monkey's just, (with a French accent) 'I mock you with my monkey pants!' And there's a big coup in the zoo.
Willow: The monkey is French?

Oz: All monkeys are French. You didn't know that?

How cute is that?! With the sly smile compliment. Oz's relaxed, low-key approach to flirting is perfect for Willow, who gets a little skittish where boys and kissing are concerned.

Fast forward to Surprise and Innocence (OMG squee over the amazingness of these episodes), in which the subject of dating is first breached:

Oz: I'm gonna ask you to go out with me tomorrow night. And I'm kinda nervous about it, actually. It's interesting.
Willow: Oh. Well, if it helps at all, I'm gonna say yes.
Oz: Yeah, it helps. It-it creates a comfort zone. (Willow smiles) Do you wanna go out with me tomorrow night?
Willow: (cringes and slaps her hand to her forehead) Oh! I can't!
Oz: Well, see, I like that you're unpredictable.
Willow: Oh, it's just it's Buffy's birthday, and we're throwing her a surprise party.
Oz: It's okay.
Willow: But you could come. If you want to.
Oz: Well, I don't wanna crash.
Willow: No, it's fine! Well, you could be m... my date.
Oz: (nods) All right. I'm in. (smiles)
Willow smiles back, and after a moment indicates she has to go. Oz nods to give her leave. She starts away, smiling widely.
Willow: (giddy, to herself) I said 'date.'
So Willow's no-drama, friendly approach to life appeals to Oz, and he gives her confidence by approaching her openly (but not aggressively) and not playing games. The traditional bad boy would get nowhere with Willow ... which is kinda why I love her, FYI.

In Innocence, Willow becomes distraught when she discovers her longtime best friend/crush Xander hooking up with uber-mean-girl Cordelia.
Xander: Willow, we were just kissing. It doesn't mean that much. 
Willow: No. It just means that you'd rather be with someone you hate than be with me.
OUCH! So the next time Willow's with Oz, she's feeling the sting of rejection.
Willow: Do you wanna make out with me? 
Oz: What? 
Willow:  Forget it. I'm sorry. (Pauses.) Well, do you? 
Oz: Sometimes when I'm sitting in class... You know, I'm not thinking about class, 'cause that would never happen. I think about kissing you. And it's like everything stops. It's like, it's like freeze frame. Willow kissage. (He smiles to himself. Willow smiles at him, expectant.) Oh, I'm not gonna kiss you. 
Willow: What? But freeze frame! 
Oz: Well, to the casual observer, it would appear that you're trying to make your friend Xander jealous or even the score or something. And that's on the empty side. See, in my fantasy when I'm kissing you, you're kissing me. It's okay. I can wait.
MELT! FYI, Willow melts too, and soon they enter happy coupledom, despite a minor issue with Oz becoming a werewolf in Phases. And even then, it goes pretty smoothly...
Oz: You mean, you'd still... 
Willow: Well, I like you. You're nice and you're funny. And you don't smoke. Yeah, okay, werewolf, but that's not all the time. I mean, three days out of the month I'm not much fun to be around either. 
And that, my lovely blogger readers, is their awesome relationship in a nutshell.

Joss Whedon and the amazing Buffy writers managed to create this couple who's impossible not to root for, who bring a smile to your face every time they're on screen. There doesn't need to be epic drama and romance and heartbreak for a couple to be engaging and have chemistry, and that's the magic of Willow and Oz.

(For more Buffy love, check out the Buffy Week posts on The Page Flipper!)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pretty Little Liars Winner

Thanks everyone for reading my first Pretty Little Liars Recap. And the winner of the first book in the Pretty Little Liars series is....


WOOT! Congrats!!! Look out for an email from me:-)

And don't forget to check out episode 2 of Pretty Little Liars tonight--THE JENNA THING followed by another recap:-)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pretty Little Liars: Pilot Recap/Contest

Alright guys, I'm back for another season of recapping a book gone tv series and I'm super excited because not only is Pretty Little Liars being brought to you by the same people responsible for The Vampire Diaries, but its also a fabulous series that I love! Also in honor of the show, check out my mini-giveaway at the end of the post.

So...here we go!

Opening Credits...

The Barn of Scandalous Sleepovers and Missing Teenagers
Hana, Aria, Spencer and Emily are inside Spencer's family's barn, having the calmest sleepover ever. Their activities include, walking around in the dark, shining a flashlight at the big bad thunderstorm and....SCREAMING at the dark figure entering the barn.

Relax, guys--it's just Allison!

Aria: OMG, Ali, you scared us.

Ali: *grins* I know. Let's get drunk and tell secrets because that's what best friends do and I'm the bestest friend you'll ever have.

Emily: Oh that's ok, Ali, there's not much to tell.

Ali: Of course not you, lesbian*cough*lesbian.


Aria: I'll drink...

And then the magic secret telling drink causes all of the girls to pass out and Aria wakes up and immediately is like, ummmm where's Allison? Another dark figure appears at the door of the barn. But it's not Allison this time. It's...Spencer!

Aria: What happened to Allison? (BTW we'll be asking this question I bet at least twice in every episode)

Spencer: I searched everywhere. I heard her scream, but I can't find her. Dude! Allison's gone!

Dun dun dun....

Rosewood, PA: One Year After Allison Dissapeared: La Casa de Aria

Aria (the funky one) is checking herself out in the mirror when her mom walks in and OMG! Your mom is Holly Marie Combs! Cool!

Holly Marie Combs: I'll be calling myself Ella in this tv show.

Right...not Holly Marie Combs...Ella!

Ella: Thank you. So Aria, I know we just spent the past year in Iceland, but now that we're home, you should totally call your old friends, you know the ones you haven't seen since the night you know who dissapeared from the you know where.

Aria: Ummm yeah, maybe later. Gotta go take my brother to lacrosse practice.

Aria's Dad: Being here must bring up a lot of memories for you, sweetie, like how you once caught me cheating on your mom like your missing best friend.

Aria: Don't worry, Dad. No one but me knows about that. No one...

Some Grill in Rosewood:

Aria sits alone at the bar and orders a beer grilled cheese sandwich. Three seats away is some mad cutie who has also ordered a beer grilled cheese sandwich, cut into squares. Staring back at Aria is another one of Allison's missing persons posters. Aria is freaked.

Cute Boy: Hey baby, you come here often?

Aria: No, I just got back from Iceland.

Cute Boy: Hot. I just graduated from college and I'm going to be a teacher.

Aria: Really? I want to be a teacher.

Cute Boy: What's your major? You are in college, right? And over 18? And not at all one of my potential future students?

Aria: I'm thinking about English and creative writing...

Cute Boy: OMG that's what I teach.

Aria: I think we're soul mates.

Cute Boy: Want to make out in the bathroom get to know each other better?

Scandalous romantic make out scene on the bathroom sink. Um guys...watch out for soap scum, K?

Rosewood Mall

Hana (the bad one) is flirting with some poor sunglasses guy in the department store.

Hana: Do these make me look sexy?

Sunglasses Guy: *drools*

Hana: Mind if I show my friend?

Sunglasses Guy: *drools*

Hana: Ok, I'll be riiiiiight back. NOT!

And then she leaves to go talk to Spencer.

Hana: Hey Spencer (the overachiever). Aren't you blond in the books?

Spencer: Yeah, but brunettes always get better ratings.


Spencer: Anyway.... in between being the president of the student council and lacross team captain, and getting straight As, and scoring a 1600 on the SATs and teaching children how to swim in Africa...I need a shirt to wear to dinner tonight to meet my even bigger overachiever of a sister's new boyfriend.

Hana: WOW! Well, don't wear that. Wear this sexy shirt.

Spencer: Why?

Hana: It says in the script that your going to steal your sister's boyfriend.

Spencer: Ooooh right, thanks!

And then Hana walks out of the department store, right past a security guard and pushes the sunglasses over her face and poor sunglasses dude is counting his glasses and realizing one is missing *cries* and then security stops Hana!

Hana: OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG I didn't--

Security: Here, Miss, you forgot your purse.

Hana is totally relieved and catches up with her new bff Mona who is also a shoplifter and stole a scarf! The scandal!!!

Rosewood High School:

Aria's dad drops her off for her first day back and in case you missed it the first time around...he is VERY VERY sorry he cheated on Aria's mom, Holly Marie Combs Ella, ok, omg, I will be sorry for forever!

And then Aria gets out of the car and watches it speed away and seeing the license plate triggers a....

Flashback: The Year Allison Discovered Aria's Secret

Allison: Run, Aria! That loserface Mona is following us again.

Aria: Hehe, Ali you're the best.

Mona: Hey you guuuuuuuuuuuys!

Allison: Ew! *grabs Aria and takes her through some bushes and sees...* Hey! Isn't that your dad's car?

Aria: Yeah.

Allison: And isn't that your dad inside it, kissing Not-Your-Mom?

Aria: Oh crap.

Rosewood High School: The Year That Allison is Missing

Emily: Hi, Aria! Wow I haven't seen you in a year! Remember when you used to have pink hair streaks?

Aria: Yeah that was pretty much so the audience could tell the difference between old me and new me.

Emily: But I didn't have pink streaks in my hair.

Aria: You're storyline isn't as interesting as mine.


Aria: Yeah, so weird about Allison still missing right?

Emily: Totally!

So then Emily and Aria go to English class, and Hana and Mona are there and so is Spencer and no one is really friends anymore, not after Allison died dissapeared and word on the street is that the new English teacher Mr. Fitz is hot. And then Mr. Fitz looks up and....OMG it's the Cute Boy from the bathroom sink! AKA Ezra!

Ezra: *sees Aria* OMFG!

Aria: *sees Ezra* NFW!

Aria's Cell Phone: Beeps!

Text Message From A:
Maybe he fools around with students all the time, lots of teachers do, just ask your dad!

Aria: NFW!

At La Casa De Emily:

Emily: It's so weird that Allison isn't living in her house anymore, I mean I guess that's not so weird because she's been gone for like a year and not like I've been thinking about her everyday for the last year or kissing a picture of her by my nightstand, I mean...what?

Emily's Mom: They sold the house. We have new neighbors. Bring them this basket of ridiculous gourmet treats that no human actually likes.

Emily: OK.

At Allison's Old House:

OMG! Kendra the Vampire Slayer has moved into Allison's old house! What's up Kendra! Where'd you move from?

Kendra: Well first I was in some unknown part of the world where slayers are given to their watchers as babies. That's where I got my accent. Then I moved to Sunnydale. Then I changed my name to Emily, and actually I went back in time about a hundred years to become a witch and work for Katherine the vampire, in Mystic Falls, Virginia. But now, I got this stint as a human girl here in Rosewood. Also, my accent is gone.


Kendra Emily Mya: Hi new neighbor! Check out all these boxes of trash I found in my old bedroom. Whoever sold the house didn't take it with them when they moved. Its like the girl died or something.


Mya: So want to come up to my room now?

Emily: Ok!

In Allison's Old Room Mya's New Room:

Mya: You got a boyfriend?

Emily: Yeah

Mya: Me too! Want to smoke pot?


Mya: Come on, sit on the bed with me....closer...closer.. *grins*

Emily: *grins*

At the Barn of Epic Sleepovers and Missing Teenagers/Barn of Epic Heartache and Discovering Your Sister is a Bi-atch:

Melissa: Wow, Spencer, all those countless hours you spent redecorating and refurnishing the barn are really going to pay off when I steal it from you and move in with my new boyfriend, Wren.

Spencer: What...but...No! The barn is mine!

Melissa: Not anymore.

Wren: Hi, I'm absolutely adorably charming. And from England.

Spencer: FML

Later that night...
Wren puts out his cigarette in a plant and Spencer is like ooooooh no you didn't, my sister hates smokers and he's like well baby, it's our secret and Spencer is like, yeah....I like you.

Rosewood High:
Aria goes to see Cute Boy Mr. Fitz Ezra.

Ezra: I can't believe your 16! How are you such a good kisser?

Aria: We can still kiss

Ezra: Um, no we can't! I'm your teacher. And I can't believe your 16!

Aria: Fine!

Outside Allison's Old House/Mya's New House:

Emily: OMG NO! Trashmen! Stop throwing away Allison's old things!

Mya: What's wrong with you?

Emily: It's just that the girl who used to live in your room dissapeared and I refuse to believe she's dead. And I love her.

Mya: Oooh, I see. *winks*

Emily and Mya: Awkward friend kiss on the cheek that is somehow not quite on the cheek

Rosewood High Locker Room:

Emily gets out of the shower and goes to her locker and finds...

Note From A:


Emily: WHAT?

A: OOps, wrong note. Can I have that back?

Emily: Sure....

Note from A: Take 2

Em, I've been replaced! You found a new friend to kiss!

Emily: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At La Casa De Spencer:

Wren comes into the kitchen soaking wet from the hot tub and Spencer is there alone, without her sister in a bikini and a towel about to head out.

Wren: Towel?

Spencer: *hands him her towel to reveal her bikini* Ow, my shoulder hurts.

Wren: I'm almost a doctor, let me fix it for you.

Spencer: K

Seductive backrub from your sister's much older boyfriend....INTERRUPTED by your sister!

Spencer: GG! BYE!

Later that Night:

Spencer watches Melissa and Wren kissing outside HER Effing Barn--Dammit! And then she gets a ping from her email.

Email From A:

The Latest Developments in Penis Enlargement

Spencer: WTF...delete!

A: Oops wrong email....*resends*

Spencer's Email: Pings

Email From A: Take 2

Poor Spencer always wants Melissa’s boyfriends. But remember if you kiss, I tell.

Spencer: OMG!!!!!

Flashback! To the Year Allison Discovered Spencer's Horrible Secret:

Allison walks into Spencer's kitchen and sees Hana eating.

Allison: Don't eat that you'll be fat *cough* fat.

Melissa walks in with her boyfriend Ian.

Allison: Spencer, you have to tell, Melissa.

Melissa: Tell me what?

Spencer: You! Me! Outside!

Allison and Spencer head outside

Spencer: WTF was that!

Allison: I'm your bff, you have to tell your sister you kissed her bf.

Spencer: If you tell on me, I'll tell everyone the truth about The Jenna Thing!


Spencer: YES! The Jenna Thing!

Audience: What's The Jenna Thing?

Pretty Little Liars Fans: Read the book.

At Aria's:

Emily: I got a note from someone called A saying things only Allison could know!

Aria: I got a text message from someone called A saying things only Allison could know!

Emily: It can only mean one thing. Allison is alive! And she's trying to scare us.

Aria: Yeah, that's it.

Emily: Yeah...

At La Casa De Hana:

Hana's Mom: So I saw Aria's mom, Ella today. She didn't know your dad left us.

Hana: Oh. Yeah, we're not friends anymore, so Aria didn't know...

The Doorbell: Rings

Hana: Answers the door

The Police: Are here

Hana's Mom: What are you doing here?

The Police: We're arresting your daughter for grand sunglasses theft at the department store in the mall.

Hana: Is Handcuffed

Rosewood Police Station:

Hana nervously grabs at candy outside the office where her mom is talking to the detective, and showing a LOT of leg and....the door closes.

Text Message From A:

Careful, Hana! Prison food makes you fat.

Outside the Police Station:

Hana's Mom: Hana, what is your problem? We have a reputation here. And I buy you everything you need to be popular.

Hana: I don't know, I just do it.

Hana's Mom: No you don't. Also your record is cleared. I'm taking care of it.

Hana: How?

Hana's Mom: Ever seen the beginning of Forest Gump?

Hana: What's Forest Gump?

At Allison's Old house/Mya's New House

Police sirens are going off and police are EVERYWHERE!

Emily: OMG, Mya! Are you ok? I was so worried something had happened to you.

Mya: I'm ok! But...they found your friend's dead body under the gazebo.


Allison's Dead Body: Is pushed along on a stretcher

Hana: Sees Allison's Dead Body

Aria: Sees Allison's Dead Body

Spencer: Sees Allison's Dead Body

Aria: Do you think...

Spencer: the police know....

Emily: about the Jenna thing?

Aria: NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THE JENNA THING! Only Allison knows...

Emily: And she's dead, right?

Spencer: We are so screwed!

At La Casa De Hana:

She watches the news about Allison and the police announce there is a killer on the loose. And then her mom comes home...with the detective from the police station and they are making out and head upstairs...

Hana: Oh, that's how you're taking care of it.

Hana's Mom: I'm doing this for you, punk!

Hana: Oh come on, Mom. He's cute!

At Allison's Epic Funeral

Aria stands alone, contemplating.

Ezra: I'm sorry I'm being mean to you. It's for the best. I'm not a good friend for you.

Aria: Because you're a vampire?

Ezra: No, because I'm your teacher.

Aria: Oh right. Well I'd never do anything to hurt you, or get you in trouble or arrested for statutory rape.

Except then she does! She kisses him on the cheek and Ezra's restraint is GONE and he grabs her and starts kissing her.

Ezra: I'm so going to jail.

Aria: Does this mean I don't have to do my homework?

So then Aria sits with Hana, Emily, and Spencer right in front of Allison's ginormous death picture and then Aria's cell phone goes off again! Girl, learn how to use the silent button.

But it's NOT a text message from A.

Aria: Phew!

And then the girls turn...and see a blind girl coming in.

Spencer: OMG, it's Jenna!

Allison's Mom: I didn't think Allison was friends with Jenna

Aria: She wasn't.

Emily: OMG, the Jenna Thing!

Hana: Shhhh!

Outside the funeral...

The detective comes over to see the girls...while Jenna of The Jenna Thing stands in the distance

Detective: Just so you know girls, this is no longer a missing person's investigation, it's a murder and I will be interviewing every single one of you until I get to the bottom of this mess!

Hana, Aria, Spencer, Emily: *Gulp*

Four Way Text Message From A:

I'm still here bitches. And I know EVERYTHING

Hana, Aria, Spencer, Emily: Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh

Close Up On Allison's Funeral Portrait:


Ok guys, hope you enjoyed! Giveaway time!

I'm giving away a paperback copy of Pretty Little Liars Book 1 (with the new tv show cover) to one random commenter below. Rules are simple, comment on the recap and/or the show and leave your email address.

To win, you must be a follower of The First Novels Club and Frankie Writes.

I'll announce the winner just before next week's episode.

Monday, June 7, 2010


When the FNC finds a book that causes us to gush and squee so much that we practically fight over who gets to review it, we review it together! Sara and I joined forces to discuss, book-club-style, one of our favorite recent reads, Going Bovine by Libba Bray.

If you've been on the fence about trying out this book, or if it's still sitting in your TBR pile, this is the review for you!

Read below for our (spoiler-free!) take on the novel, or just entertain yourself by counting the number of times we used the words "awesome" and "hilarious." Because this book totally is both.

Pre-co-review reading: Going Bovine summary on Goodreads.

Sara – Let me just start by saying that Balder is awesome!

Donna – Yes! You were further into the book than I was and you kept saying that and I had no clue what you meant. Then I finally got to the Balder part… and he was amazing.

S – To back up, for the non-readers – Balder, one of the characters, is a talking yard gnome who’s actually a cursed Norse god.

D – And that is the brilliance of Going Bovine in a nutshell.

S – The main character, Cameron, is your average, disaffected teenage guy with less-than-average aspirations…until he learns that he has mad cow disease. Which rots your brain, gives you hallucinations…and kills you.

D – Fun times. And somehow, Libba Bray turned this into a bittersweet tragic-comedic masterpiece. Not exaggerating.

S – I think my favorite thing about the writing – aside from it being hilarious and beautiful – is the fact that the whole story is so bizarre, but there’s never a point where Libba stopped and said, “I wonder if I should stop and explain some of this.” It’s like, you’re on the train, and you’re gonna ride it to the end.

D – And that Cameron knows he’s going crazy, but goes on a ridiculous quest (a road trip from Texas to Florida) for a cure that modern medicine says doesn’t exist – really pulls you into it as a reader. Because you care about him, and you want to believe, just like he wants to.

S – Not to mention, it’s all tied back to the “It’s a Small World” ride in Disneyworld.

D – Yes, we do love our Disney.

S – And it’s also tied into Don Quixote, the ultimate windmill chaser, in an explicit way. Cameron goes on his quest with Gonzo (his Sancho), a hypochondriac dwarf, and he’s inspired to seek out his cure by Dulcie (his Dulcinea), a pink-haired punk-rock angel. I also felt like it had Wizard of Oz tie-ins. But that might just be me. Each character was searching for something – Cameron his brain (literally), Gonzo his courage, and Balder his heart.

D – It’s so hard to describe this book, because the whole thing is like an inside joke that Libba is sharing with us. I want you guys to be in on it!

S – And it hits on so many themes, like every theme from every coming of age novel ever written. What’s real? What matters? But it never feels like too much. It’s all woven together beautifully, and surprisingly subtle, so you’re never like “Oh, this is where the message comes in.” I guess that’s why it won the Printz.

D – Agreed, completely. You know what else I loved? The happiness cult.

S – CESSNAB! So awesome!

D – FYI, CESSNAB is the Church of Everlasting Satisfaction and Snack ’n Bowl. A world of instant gratification, with the motto, “Don’t hurt your happiness.”

S – Completely bizarre. And awesome. The voice and sense of humor throughout the novel is so dry and twisted, and the dialogue is hilarious. I think that’s why I could handle the epic proportions of Cameron’s adventures. He took so much of it in stride, so it was easy to follow his example as a reader.

D – Yes! I mean, he gets sucked into the CESSNAB cult, learns about alternate universes from crazy physicists, competes in a YA!TV spring break game show, meets a jazz legend, and gets chased by fire giants AND employees of a psycho snow globe company. All to save the world and find a cure for his disease. And I know I’m forgetting a few things.

S – It’s a huge book! There’s no way to cover it all. That’s why everyone should read it, so they get in on the jokes, and we can all talk about the Copenhagen Interpretation and Star Fighters. By the way, can I just manage how genius the pop culture references are? They’re genius.

D – That’s an excellent idea. And honestly, the size of the book intimidated me a bit at first, and I found myself rushing through it because I had so little time to read. 150 pages in, I knew I was missing the magic, so I switched to the audiobook. BEST decision ever. It forced me to take my time and really appreciate the story.

S – You can’t rush through Going Bovine. There are just layers and layers of awesome. And since it’s this absurd, epic tale, we should tell you guys what we thought of how it all wrapped up. (No spoilers, promise!) Donna?

D – As I was nearing the end, I completely trusted Libba to end it properly, but I had no idea what she’d do!

S – Even though the majority of the plot was totally surreal, I believe it was real. I believed in his quest. I cared about Cameron so much!

D – I felt like Libba ended it perfectly.

S – Agreed. On one hand was the ending I wanted, and on the other was the ending I knew had to be, and she found this balance.

D - *Bows to Libba’s brilliance.* In conclusion?

S – I’ve never read anything like it. Throw your preconceptions out the window. Be prepared to laugh and cry. Sometimes at the same time.

D – It reached beyond what you normally see in YA novels, and that’s saying something, because YA novels just keep raising the bar. It grabbed me, and it had such heart, but I laughed the whole time.

S – Alright everyone, go read Going Bovine!

Post-co-review linkage:
Buy Going Bovine 
Going Bovine website
Libba Bray's website and livejournal
FNC Recap of Libba's keynote at SCBWI 2010 Winter Conference

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Vampire Diaries Recaps Announcement

Hey guys! Just a quick FYI.

I've been getting a lot of questions lately and just wanted to give you a heads up that I'll be finishing season one's episode recaps within the next few weeks. I needed to take a break to finish revising  my novel, STOLEN for Agent Laura.

So look out for those soon!

Also...if anyone is interested in Pretty Little Liars, this awesome book series that was just turned into a tv series for ABC Family--it debuts this Tuesday at 8pm. I'm planning to discuss after the show, though I'm not sure if they'll be treated like my Vampire Diaries recaps yet.

So stay tuned, thanks for sticking with me and reading the recaps!

In the meantime, have some Damon.

You're welcome!


Friday, June 4, 2010

On my 24th birthday, why I still love YA.

I turn 24 today, and I've accepted that being an adult is just as scary as being a teenager. I think this is why I fell in love with YA all over again near the end of college.

Life became one big question mark -- Where will I live? What job will I have? -- and I found comfort in reading about characters who were just as unsure and terrified as I.

As of today, I've owned my first home for five weeks.

I have no clue what I'm doing.

I'm learning about all kinds of things, like homeowners insurance and showers that drip through the ceiling of your finished basement. (I also learned that showers aren't supposed to do that. Go figure.) These new things all cost money. I'm frequently covered in oil-based primer. It's not pretty.

But here's the thing. It's my house. Mine!

From the so-hideous-it's-awesome jungle wallpaper in my stairwell to the just plain hideous pink-and-blue tile bathroom with duck pattern wallpaper (notice a wallpaper theme here?), it's all mine.

(Ok, it's Future Husband's house too, but just a little bit.)

[For real, this is my house's stairwell landing. Life-sized jungle scene wallpaper.]

Anyway, what I mean is that I can completely identify with all those teenage protagonists who take leaps of faith and are building their parachutes on the way down, because I'm doing that too. And I have a feeling that, at every stage in my life, I'll be doing that.

Yep, YA lit and I will have a long, happy relationship.

But the duck wallpaper? That's gotta go.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Help! The most awkward blind date ever.

I met my new novel last week. It was... strange, to say the least. I mean, I'd just gotten out of a two-year relationship with my old novel, and you get into routines, you know?

I miss my routines.

Not that my new novel wasn't polite, and attractive, and full of promise. But I have to try so much harder to keep the conversation going, and there are those long pauses where I pick at my cuticle and want to crawl under a table to avoid the silence.

My old novel? Heck, half the time I didn't even shave my legs before a date. We spent so many hours together, I knew that novel backward and forward.

So why move on? We'd learned all we could from each other, and I got restless. There are only so many times you can tell the same stories and watch the same movies and hang out at the same places.

One day, I imagined life with the new novel, and I just had to know.

I'd forgotten how tough it was to stare at a blank page, cursor blinking. But I have to believe it'll be worth it, in the end.

I have a second date coming up this week. Any advice for my new novel relationship? It's been so long since I began one, I forget how to start!

(I'll trade you for revision advice.)
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