Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where She Went by Gayle Forman, Quad Review (+ signed ARC giveaway!)


You know a book is epic if we quad review it. For all four of us to be gushingly, astonishingly, no-holds-barred in love with a novel (and find the time to get together to review it in our favorite, conversational way), it's something really special.

We all LOVED Gayle Forman's IF I STAY and just about died of happiness when we heard about the sequel, so it took all our self control not to have a battle royale over who got to read the coveted ARC of WHERE SHE WENT first! Thankfully, we passed it around peacefully, and one by one fell in love with the novel.

In five short days, you can buy your very own copy of WHERE SHE WENT. Here's why we think you should!

* THE FNC PROMISE: We refuse to spoil a book, so this review focuses solely on the characters and our emotional reaction to the bookno plot discussion whatsoever! *

Introduction:

Frankie: First of allif you haven't read IF I STAY, leave now! Because though we won't be spoilerific ... the summary of WHERE SHE WENT spoils the end of IF I STAY. So you’ve been warned. And how could you have not read IF I STAY yet? Go read it! The book is amazing!

Sara: Also, this book lives up to all the hype it’s received!

Donna: I love that it's a contemporary, character-driven novel that sucks you in as much as a plot-driven paranormal/dystopian spectacular.

Janine: I couldn't put it down.

On Adam:

Donna: Adam!

Frankie: ADAM!!!!!

Sara: I really loved that Gayle gave us a look into his mind.

Frankie: Being in Adam's head was everything I dreamed it would be and more.

Donna: It made WHERE SHE WENT so distinct from IF I STAY.

Sara: And yet connected them so much.

Frankie: Yes!

Donna: It was such a different kind of story, but they both had life or death stakes. Mia's was literal, but Adam's was metaphorical.

Sara: Mia and Adam's voice are both unique and yet weirdly similar. I think it might have be the undercurrent of music that ran through their minds constantly.

Frankie: They are two such well developed and well matched characters. I have NO idea how Gayle was able to do that. Just get so completely into his head and bring him to life.

On Worshipping Gayle:

Janine: I'm awed by how wonderfully and believable emotional it is. I was right there, in their hearts and in their heads. I cried. I laughed. I felt tortured.

Sara: And how to even begin to imagine what the mind of someone who'd gone through that experience would look like.

Frankie: I'm in awe.

Donna: ::bows down to Gayle Forman::

Sara: Yes. Annnd, fin. This book is so good there are no words for it.

Donna: Hahahaha

Frankie: Gayle Forman is our goddess. All you can do is read it again.

Janine: And again.

Sara: And again.

Who We Want Gayle Forman To Have a Baby With:

Sara: I want Gayle Forman and Stephanie Perkins to have a baby. Just saying.

Donna: Hahahhahahaha

Frankie: I want to be Gayle and Stephanie's baby! But I'd take a book baby too...

On The Connection Between Mia and Adam:

Donna: I love that both Adam and Mia are lost in their own way. And they're trying to find their way back to themselves. And to each other. It really does make the books connect.

Janine: And makes the reading of them painfully frustrating--in the best way.

Frankie: And I loved how Mia became a complete mystery in this book

Donna: Yes! I mean, in IF I STAY, we had raw Mia. At her most vulnerable time. And now it's like, who is she? What happened to her? WHERE DID SHE GO? hehe

Frankie: I felt just like Adam--we were in her head for IF I STAY, we knew her, like Adam did. But in WHERE SHE WENT...it was like...SOS Mia!

Sara: I worried a little about that at first--because Mia had drawn me in so much during IF I STAY, I thought, how could I possibly connect as much with Adam? But I did.

Frankie: Easy! Adam is her other half. You connect with her, you connect with him

On The Realistic Portrayal of Epic Love:

Sara: I loved the portrayal of high school/young romance in both of these books. It was intense and beautiful, but felt realistic at the same time.

Donna: Epic and realistic.

Frankie: And Adam was SUCH a guy—I mean boy! He would hate it if I called him that.

Sara: Haha, true.

Frankie: But there was never a moment where I didn’t believe he was real and a boy!

On The Emotional Epicness of This Book:

Frankie: How emotional was this book?

Janine: It's cathartic.

Donna: SUCH an emotional hook!

Sara: I may have cried in public.

Donna: I read it in one sitting.

Janine: I skipped church to finish it.

Frankie: I cried in public and in private. It was un-put-down-able.

Sara: I found myself ignoring my real-job duties and sneaking it out of my desk.

Frankie: You can't read a Gayle book unless you have several hours set aside.

Music and Lyrics:

Sara: I LOVE the music in this book.

Frankie: I wish I could go see Adam's band perform.

Janine: Or Mia! 

Donna: I never played a musical instrument in my life, but I could FEEL that music, feel their passion for it.

Sara: The whole book was musical--the writing, the rhythm, and it was just such a beautiful foil for the two characters. It was like a second language in the book.

In Which We Crack And Turn Into Blubbering Fangirls:

Frankie: There really isn't more to say without spoiling what happens, and you do NOT want to be spoiled.

Sara: Just let it be known that it's beautiful and intense and AWESOME.

Frankie: Just trust us--this book delivers on all fronts.

Janine: You won't be disappointed.

Donna: I just wanted to hug this book. It felt so RIGHT to have a sequel.

Sara: They're like two peas in a pod. WSW and IIS!

Frankie: Kissing? Language? Tension? Lyricism? Rhythm? Pacing? Romance? Emotion? Development? Plotting? It ALL wins!

Sara: Yes.

Janine: Yes.

Donna: And WHERE SHE WENT feels complete too. It really is the perfect complement, the way I wish all sequels are.

Janine: It stands on its own.

Sara: It was it's own story, but still further fleshed out Mia's story. The sum is definitely WAY greater than the parts.

Donna: YES! Gayle ended IF I STAY so that you don't HAVE to read WHERE SHE WENT.... but you really, really should.

Sara: I was 100% satisfied with IIS and 100% with WHERE SHE WENT. Which just means I was 200% with both.

Frankie: Amen!

Donna: In conclusion: READ IT!!!

Frankie: A lot!

Sara: When it comes out. (April 5th!)

Frankie: And also get the audio. Because its the same narrator who did Cole in LINGER, and he's HOT.

Donna: Smokin’ hot voiceagreed! Alright, thank you, Gayle! Way to set the sequel bar super epically high!

The quad review's over, but that's not all, folks!

If you're lucky enough to have already read WHERE SHE WENT and want to squee spoilerifically over its awesomeness, email us! (firstnovelsclub AT gmail DOT com) If you want to squee non-spoilerifically or link to your own review, do it in the comments!

If you haven't read WSW yet.... we're giving away our ARC of WHERE SHE WENT (internationally!), and there's a very, very good chance that it's going to be signed by Gayle Forman! Frankie is venturing out to NYC next Tuesday for the launch party to get the winner's ARC personalized to them!






Monday, March 28, 2011

Things That Make Me Cry 2

The other night as I was driving, this song came on my ipod shuffle and though I was in a really good mood, and mostly dancing in my seat, I just started crying! This song just happens to be one of those songs that WILL make me cry no matter what.

And so I thought I'd continue from where Sara began with her post on books that make her cry and tell you the top things that throw my tear ducts into overdrive.

The Song That ALWAYS Makes Me Cry

The Hand Song, by Nickel Creek

There's something so simple and beautiful and yet heartbreaking about this. It just gets me everytime--which is bad, because I've given it to one of my characters. *SOB*

Honorable Mention:

Full of Grace, Sarah McLachlan

On its own...it doesn't affect me that much. But since it was paired with the Season 2 finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer which if ANY tv show is going to be mentioned--its this one, THAT episode....I can't hear the song without crying.

The ultimate sad begins at 6:38... :(


The Movie That ALWAYS Makes Me Cry

In America

This is actually my favorite movie of all time. It always makes me laugh and smile and feel hope. But it also makes me cry every time I see it. Like clockwork.

If you haven't seen this movie yet--you MUST! It's absolutely beautiful.

Honorable Mention:

A Little Princess

Also one of my favorite movies and BOOKS! But the moment when Sara Crewe goes up to the attic alone the first night and draws the circle and cries for her dad....also the moment when he comes back and his memory returns and he screams her name...ok, I'm ready to cry right now.

The Books That ALWAYS Make Me Cry

I really couldn't name just one because there are some REAL tear jerkers out there. But these are my top three that I LOVE and that really bring on the waterworks like CRAZY!

1. If I Stay, Gayle Forman

I'm pretty sure this needs no explanation. I mean...Mia's parents...Teddy...her memories...Adam...ok I'm ready to sob just thinking of it.

2. Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver

I'm pretty sure by the end of this I'd curled up in a ball and spent the next 24 hours on the verge of tears. Though the waterworks were always close to the surface once I got to day 5....and then it was all downhill...

3. Succubus Dreams (the end), Richelle Mead

I know a lot of people are still traumatized by the end of Shadow Kiss. But let me tell you, it has NOTHING on the ending of Succubus Dreams--this is Richelle's most heart shattering, soul splintering ending. It's sooooo tear inducing, I've actually put a ban on myself from reading the end.


And there you go--the song, books, and movies that send me flying toward my box of tissues.

Fess up. What books, songs, movies (or tv shows) make you cry?

Friday, March 25, 2011

BUMPED it up!

I'm really sorry that it isn't April yet, for a few different reasons.  First of all, by the end of April it's going to be almost May, and that's like real spring, not this fake spring stuff that March teases us with.  Also, my husband's birthday is in April, and for once I know what to get him!

But the other reason I'm sorry it's not April yet is because Megan McCafferty's BUMPED doesn't come out until April 26th, and I have no one to gush about it with yet!



Let me set the scene with the Goodreads summary: "When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend Zen, who is way too short for the job. Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her that “pregging” for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from."


Crazypants, right?!  I don't know how authors come up with these insanely clever ideas.  I wish I could have sat down at my computer one day and said, "Hey, what if only teenagers could get pregnant?" and then write a super-awesome and creepy dystopian world where the happened.  So I guess what I'm really saying is I secretly wish I was Megan McCafferty.


BUMPED had some of my favorite elements of dystopia, like major insider slang!  I think it's funny that I like this, because the same thing drives me nuts in fantasy.  But I love it in dystopians, and McCafferty has it in abundance.  The overall tone and use of the slang reminded me a little of Scott Westerfeld's UGLIES series, but the abundance of it throughout the text also made me think of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.  Which are, y'know, two v. v. different books.


But in some weird way, that's kind of what BUMPED was.  On the surface, life seems kind of awesome.  Getting to "bump" with attractive dudes for profit (and minus the sleaze)?  Being a surrogate mom in exchange for perks like full college tuition, cars, and celebrity status?  That's all kind of cool, in a weird way.  But then you start to think about what that REALLY means.  How it's not so much cool in a weird way, just weird...in a creepy way.  I don't want to spoil anything, but let me say this: If you've read A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, then you know that the slang "covers up" the atrocities that are going on.  BUMPED is kind of like that.


BUMPED was also one of those books--like ACROSS THE UNIVERSE and THE HUNGER GAMES--that stayed in my mind after I finished it.  I explained the entire plot to my v. patient husband, just so then I could talk to him about it.  (It half-worked.)  I walked around the school I work at and thought, what if?  What if this happened to our society?  What would this school look like?  Especially within the context of girls maturing earlier and earlier...shudder.  It was a creepy train of thought, to say the least.


I think McCafferty's really hit on a pressure point of society with this book.  I'll admit to guiltily watching Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant, and I always feel sorry for those girls and their children.  But even creepier than watching Teen Mom is reading BUMPED, where instead of feeling sorry for those girls, it explores what it would be like to envy them.


(I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley and get nothing but your wonderful comments for talking about it.)


So, PLEASE tell me that some of you have read this book, because there are so many more things I want to say about it but I don't want to spoil anything!!  Please talk to me?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hottest Guys of YA

Ok we know we talk about hot guys a lot, but some of the guys in YA nowadays are HOT! And they're fun to talk about!

So here is our current list of faves:

1) Prince Brigan, FIRE

Seriously, if we could have any YA boy man prince jump out of a book and be ours....we at the FNC all agree right now that Brigan would be number 1! The man is strong, fierce, protective and smart. But he's also soft, sweet, polite and BEYOND adorable with his daughter Hanna. Brigan is so hot, we wouldn't even mind the baby-mama drama.

Also, is it just me, or do you see this when you imagine Brigan?
Lady Fire, won't you come for a ride?


2) Adam, WHERE SHE WENT



S-WOOOOOON! Adam has it all. He's loving, romantic, sweet, funny, sarcastic, musical. And if he falls in love with you, he will write you songs and then play them for you (or on you...) Oooh la la. Adam is definitely the guy you want around in the face of a major tragedy, because he's steadfast and devoted and he'll never let you down.

And his voice is pretty damn sexy too.



3) Etienne St. Clair, ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS

Etienne, Etienne....just your name gives me goosebumps. What can we possibly say to you that we haven't said before (remember when all FNCers proclaimed their love for the short sexy hobbit?)? Etienne is a history dork, KNOWS how to dance. And kiss. He's sweet, he listens to your girl drama, he remembers little details from your life and takes your side no matter what. He has the perfect hands for holding and the soul of an artist even if art isn't his strength. And did we mention he's a good kisser?

So that's our top three. Which guys are in yours?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Richelle Mead's Storm Born Graphic Novel Art: First Look


You guys know that the FNC loves themselves some Richelle Mead. We've even gone to meet her. Twice. So we were thrilled when Sea Lion Books emailed us with artwork from her upcoming graphic novel based on her adult urban fantasy series Dark Swan.

FYI, the series and the graphic novel are not YA--but we know a lot of Richelle's YA fans also enjoy her adult books (we do!).

Storm Born, the first in the series will be premiering as a graphic novel (first in comic book form) on May 18th, 2011 (what a great way to hold ourselves over until Bloodlines and Succubus Revealed!).

For more info on the graphic novel, the comic books and where to buy, check out Richelle's blog. In the meantime, enjoy the pretty pictures!

Eugenie, the main character


Ooh la la....

There was also another picture. But it was....ahem....too hot for blogging;)

Enjoy! Any Eugenie fans out there? What do you think? Also shout outs to Georgina fans and Rose fans!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

HOUSE OF SIX DOORS Blog Tour: Guest Post from Patricia Selbert!

Here's part two of our stop on the HOUSE OF SIX DOORS blog tour: A short guest post from the author, Patricia Selbert.

I asked Patricia: How do you use your own life experiences in fiction, and why did you decide to write YA?

Here's what Patricia has to say:
I write about issues I find interesting, controversial, or about which I have questions. The writing process is fascinating to me. It clarifies and alleviates any tension I might have around the subjects. Writing fiction gives me the opportunity to place myself in each character’s position as they experience an event. It gives me a better understanding of the subject and allows me to feel more compassion for all characters involved.


I find young adult fiction especially interesting because young adults are still in the process of developing multiple perspectives on any particular subject. Through story telling I like to illustrate the contrast between having only one perspective on a subject, which increases drama, tension, and disconnection, and having the ability to see multiple perspectives on a subject, which leaves you feeling more compassionate and connected. The mama character is an example of an adult who never developed the empathy that comes from seeing situations from different perspectives. The Oma character on the other hand, is an example of someone who has developed immense empathy, which comes from seeing multiple perspectives.


Thanks for stopping by, Patricia!  And remember, we have our tweetstakes happening for our ARC of HOUSE OF SIX DOORS.  Just tweet @FirstNovelsClub where you'd like to visit or live in the world, and you're entered!

Monday, March 21, 2011

House of Six Doors Review and Tweetstakes!

Today the FNC is the final blog tour stop for Patricia Selbert's HOUSE OF SIX DOORS, released in February from Publishing By The Seas Press.


Here's the Goodreads summary: "Mama takes thirteen-year-old Serena and her sister to the US in search of fortune, leaving behind their multicultural family, stability, and the colors of the Caribbean. After driving from Miami to Hollywood, their money and luck run out and a 1963 Ford Galaxie becomes their first American home. Guided by the memory of her native CuraƧao and the words of her wise grandmother, Serena confronts unimagined challenges and grows up quickly. What gifts will this new country bring, and at what price?"


This book definitely doesn't fall into my usual reading canon--I'm mostly about the fantasy and the dystopia, so this was a change of pace for me.  What drew me to this book originally was the concept--I thought the idea of following the story of a girl moving from Curacao to America was an interesting one.  Not knowing much about the Caribbean other than the few places I've been on vacation, I decided to give it a shot.


Selbert's voice is unique, both in general and even more so in the YA world.  It's a quieter voice than most YA I've read, and Serena is a narrator who likes to tell you things in her own time.  As we follow Serena and her family on their journey across America, she intersperses her present-day experiences with memories of her life in Curacao and the sprinkling of family stories.  


It was interesting to read about Serena and her family's shared history in Curacao.  As I mentioned earlier, I've only ever been a tourist in the Caribbean, and my knowledge of what life is really like there is quite limited.  The things that Serena's mother accomplishes and what day to day life looks like on the island provide an interesting contrast to her life in America.  Reading this book made me wonder about some of the places I've visited on vacation and what it really looks like to live there.


HOUSE OF SIX DOORS is set in the 1970s, which is something else I haven't seen done much in the YA world.  I suppose this could be the new trend for historical fiction, especially since the target audience for the YA world was born in the mid-nineties (does that make anyone else feel old?) and it won't be long until the first children of the 00s will be hitting their teenager years (now I feel REALLY old.)  It will be interesting to see if Selbert's novel remains unique in this aspect or if more fiction will appear set in this time period.   


Overall, this was definitely not a beach read type of book, but it brought up some issues I hadn't given much thought to before.  It had a lot of interesting elements that I haven't seen used or worked with much in other YA books, definitely giving it a different feel.


And now, on to the TWEETSTAKES!


To win my ARC of HOUSE OF SIX DOORS, all you need to do is tweet @FirstNovelsClub and tell us the most interesting place you've ever visited.  Maybe it was South Dakota.  Maybe it was South Africa.  Either way, we want to know!


The Details:


HOUSE OF SIX DOORS Tweetstakes is open beginning right now until 11:59 on Wednesday 3/23/11.  Open to international followers!  Contest winner will be contacted via DM on Twitter, so PLEASE make sure you check!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Coming Soon To a Bookstore Near You! Two Books To Look Out For:

For my birthday, I indulged myself and got an iPad.  Since then, I've been enjoying lots of Fruit Ninja, DoodleJump and Angry Birds.  I've also been enjoying Bluefire Reader, an app that works in conjunction with NetGalley so I can read digital ARCs!  I have to say, when I decided on the iPad I never thought I would use it as an e-reader.  I am very much a traditionalist when it comes to books.  I think e-readers are great because they've opened up the market in a whole new one, but I want my books in paperback and hardback, stacked up on my shelves.  But, I've found NetGalley to be awesome.

Having a digital ARC instead of a paper one reminds me to go out and buy the book when it comes out.  It's easy--even with books you really love--to just hold onto your ARC.  We're all poor bloggers, after all!  But going out and buying--especially right when a book comes out--is so important because it helps out the authors we love by supporting them and letting booksellers and publishers know about that support.

Below, I tell you about two galleys I just finished, and will definitely be going out and buying when they come out!


Shine by Lauren Myracle, due out 5/1/2011

Here's the Goodreads Summary: "When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice. Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author."

Intense, right?  I have to say, the first thing that drew me to this book was the cover.  It's gorgeous!  The theme is kept going inside the book, with a repeated haunting black and white photograph of a dilapidated house and some tree branches of the first page of each new chapter.  Score one for the design team!

I wondered if this book was going to feel over-the-top on its "hard" issues--I mean, drugs and hate crimes in the same novel?!--and lose the mystery side that it had.  But I was totally wrong, and now know that I should never doubt Lauren Myracle again.  This book pulls you in so strongly--it's almost a physical sensation of sinking into Cat's world of Black Creek.  Even as a lifelong northerner, I could not only see and understand what it felt like to live in a tiny backwoods town in the South, but I could feel it.  Myracle does some of the best world-building I've ever seen in this book--tight and as fully-realized as the most intricate fantasy novel!

Myracle did what is so hard for so many writers to do--she wrote a book about hard issues without trying to directly teach readers a lesson or have the plot feel didactic.  Even our protagonist, Cat, has moments of seeing things both ways, which adds another level and deeper thought to the two main issues happening in Black Creek: the hate crime committed against Cat's friend Patrick, and the drug use that runs through the town.

As for the mystery, I felt kept in the dark in a good way.  I liked the Cat was smart and a little scrappy--she was resourceful and brave, but realistically so.  I liked all the twists and turns Myracle put into her plot.  There were few things that felt coincidental or set-up just to move the plot along.

This book gave me chills.  Like I said before, it's an INTENSE book.  I definitely needed a breather after finishing it...which is why I decided to read THE GODDESS TEST by Aimee Carter.

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter is due out 4/19/11 from Harlequin Teen.  Again, it was the cover that grabbed me first.  How epic is that chick in the white dress?  And how cool is it that they put the Greek letters into the title?

Here's the Goodreads summary: "Every girl who has taken the test has died. Now it's Kate's turn. It's always been just Kate and her mom--and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall. Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld--and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests. Kate is sure he's crazy--until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess. If she fails..."

I was totally sold based on the summary!  THE GODDESS TEST is a super fun, fast-paced read.  I love Greek myths, so this was right up my alley.  Carter doesn't waste any time--she jumps right into the action.  Before you know it, you're getting the SparkNotes on Greek mythology and trying to figure out just what's up in Kate's world.

Something I really liked about THE GODDESS TEST is that Kate is fighting to save her mom.  I feel like YA is always about the unrequited love (and I do love me some unrequited love, don't get me wrong) and that parents are always either dead or evil.  It was a nice change to see the teen giving up something for the parent and having a wider view of the world than just themselves.  It was also great to see a loving relationship between a mother and a daughter.  I'm glad Kate wasn't fighting to save her love, because...

Henry is mad hot.  I would've been really sad if he had been on the page less!  As it was, I could've used a few more Henry scenes!  Henry is a great twist on the dark and tortured type.  Edward Cullen has nothing on him--he's been a vampire for a few hundred years?  How about trying to be Lord of the Underworld for a few thousand?  Now THAT'S dark and tortured!  Carter wrote Henry with an ethereal quality that made him feel like he really had been around for centuries, but also with an innocent, curious side that made him sympathetic and relatable.

I really enjoyed reading these books back-to-back.  Definitely worth checking out--and they work great as a pair if you're like me, and need a breather in between intense books!

(Both of these ARCS were received digitally through NetGalley.com and I don't get anything cool from them for doing this, other than just enjoying the sound of me talking to myself out loud.)

So, have any of you checked out these books?  Have thoughts on e-readers or NetGalley?  What other 2011 books are you looking forward to?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Philly Lit Night TOMORROW!

The epically awesome tri-named duo of Frankie Diane Mallis and Simon C. Larter have teamed up for Philly Lit Night* part trois!

Specifically, we'll be here. So pretty! Filled with so many books!
And this time, I'll actually be there!
And you should be too! (We love to make new writer-friends!)

So if you're in the Philadelphia area and you have any interest in writing or books or bookstores or Irish pubs or just want to hang around and pretend you do, check out Simon's blog for all the important details. And Frankie's blog has them too! (But Simon's has pictures, so he wins.)

Hope to see you there!

* Ok, it starts at 4pm, so it's more Philly Lit Evening. But whatevs.

Friday, March 18, 2011

THE LIAR SOCIETY ARC Winner!!!

After going through over 60 entries for our copy of the LIAR SOCIETY yesterday (St. Patrick's Day!), wonder who still has the luck of the Irish?

Congratulations to...


Samantha!!!

See how I did that with the green?  And the Irish?  Get it?

Anyway, congratulations to Samantha!  You'll be getting an email from us shortly.

And if you didn't win, don't be sad--we have some awesome giveaways coming up very soon!  Like one by an author who's name rhymes with Ale Corman., maybe. :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

KATNISS KATNISS KATNISS!!!

I'm cautiously optimistic about the casting decision for Katniss --- actress Jennifer Lawrence.
Credit: Dominique Charriau/WireImage.com

(Check out the announcement HERE. And more from GalleyCat HERE.)

Give her some brown hair, and I can see her as Katniss. Yes, she's 20 playing a 16-year-old, but I think she can easily look 16. (Obviously she looks super-glam in the red carpet pics. Here's an LA Times article with a de-glammed look from the movie Winter's Bone.) She's apparently an amazing actress, and she's still unknown enough to give us (or at least me) a blank slate. Fingers crossed she'll be amazing!

(Stalk her IMDB page like I did HERE.)

What do you guys think?

No matter if you're pro or con, I'm super excited about this announcement because they're one step closer to making this movie!

Hunger Games, here we come!!!

The cutest thing I've ever seen.

My future nephew-in-law, falling asleep in his carseat, clutching a book in his hands.

Boy after my own heart.

And if you're looking for death by cuteness overload:

For related awesomeness: The best thing I ever overheard.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Interview with literary agent Doug Grad

Check out the GLA blog for my interview with Doug Grad of the Doug Grad Literary Agency.

Find out about his newfound interest in YA fiction, his top four pieces of advice for writers, his instant fiction turnoffs, and more!

Previous agent interviews of mine on the GLA blog:


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What if the Glee cast auditioned for Disney musicals?

Check out debut author Stasia Kehoe's new blog, A Year of Auditions, for my Glee/Disney mashup guest post!


Tasty snippet of my fantasy casting for the Glee characters:

Sue Sylvester
The Queen, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 
She rules the roost, and will do anything and everything to keep it that way. Plus, there’s this tiny obsession with being the best (“fairest of them all,” anyone?). And a rockin' wardrobe.

Weapon of choice: Magic mirror or bullhorn?
I just about died of the awesomeness of the post topic, and I had SO MUCH FUN matching up the Glee cast with the Disney characters! Some were pretty obvious (the ever-so-abtastic Mike Chang as Aladdin, for example), but some were pretty surprising!

Anyway, go check out the post (and Stasia's delightful new blog), and tell me your favorite mashups --- or make up your own!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

YA 2010 Superlatives!

We're a few months into 2011 but the characters of 2010 are still in my head and in true yearbook style, I wanted to say goodbye to some of them (I mean, not forever, obviously I've reread Anna and the French Kiss 3xs...) Ok so not say good bye, but you know, honor them. With Senior Superlatives!

Ready!

Most Likely to Run for President: Lissa Dragomir, LAST SACRIFICE

Cutest Couple: Anna and Etienne, ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS

Class Flirts: Evie, PARANORMALCY, Adrian Ivashkov, LAST SACRIFICE

Class Loner: Mackie Doyle, THE REPLACEMENT

Most Musical: Sam Roth, LINGER

Class Clown: Sophie Mercer, HEX HALL

Class Protector (a la Buffy): Katniss Everdeen, MOCKINGJAY

Biggest Drama Queen: Tiny Cooper, WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON

Prom King: Ren Laroche, NIGHTSHADE

Prom Queen: Samantha Kingston, BEFORE I FALL

Most Naked: Cole St. Clair, LINGER

Class Cynic: Bianca Piper, THE DUFF

Anymore? Go on! Add more superlatives in the comments!

Friday, March 11, 2011

SECOND SIGHT: The new must-own book on craft.

All you need to do is look at the Table of Contents of SECOND SIGHT: AN EDITOR'S TALKS ON WRITING, REVISING, AND PUBLISHING BOOKS FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS to know it's a worthy purchase. (Seriously, check out the ToC here.) For months now, I've been saying to my FNC ladies that I craved some upper-level writing advice -- like a Master's class instead of a Writing 101. (As if I consider myself a writing Master, ha!)

If you've already learned the basics (and then some) of writing philosophy and craft and want that next step up, you know what I'm talking about.

This is where SECOND SIGHT comes in.

Scholastic super-editor Cheryl Klein* has compiled seven years' worth of her conference talks, blog posts, and web features into one book. As the title implies, the goal of this book is to give you an editor's perspective for analyzing and revising your book.

The verdict: It does!

The background: I read SECOND SIGHT initially because I was lucky enough to interview Klein for the upcoming 2012 CHILDREN'S WRITER'S AND ILLUSTRATOR'S MARKET**, and the interview centered on concepts in SS, as well as other topics. I had to frequently remind myself of my impending deadline and the interview questions that had yet to be written, because SS made me want to open up my WIP and get tinkering. Now that's an effective book on craft. (Also, I have an electronic version, but I'm totally buying a printed version, because this book begs for Post-It flags!)

The explanation: SS works for me for a number of reasons, namely...

1. It's an excellent blend of philosophy and technique. Klein first explains why and how something works (such as voice or plot/character development), then offers concrete advice or worksheets on how to make it shine in your WIP. Nothing makes me snooze more than a lofty book of 500 pages of theory. This is not that book!

2. The examples she gives for each topic cemented my understanding of the ideas she puts forth. From epic fantasy and dystopian series like Harry Potter and Hunger Games, to contemporary YA/MG books like Marcelo in the Real World and Millicent Min, Girl Genius, Klein pinpoints exactly why these novels are so loved and honored. (I had more than a couple "Ohhhh. That makes sense!" moments here.)

3. SECOND SIGHT can be read cover to cover if you choose, but you can also just dive in to a specific section. Klein acknowledges that parts of the book overlap, but I found it helpful. It reinforced how each element of strong writing builds upon the others, and it highlights the primary considerations for revision. And just in case you want a quick refresher, the book ends with "Twenty-Five Revision Techniques."

4. SS offers more than just craft. There are two heavily annotated query letters (one good, one awful), a section titled, "Finding a Publisher and Falling in Love," and one on the author-editor relationship.

5. It's realistic and practical. For writers who want to revise their novels until they're as strong as possible, and who are willing to put in the grunt work to make it happen, SECOND SIGHT has a plethora of exercises, questionnaires, and worksheets to do so. And if you're like me and are picky about those kinds of things, there's a variety -- find what works for you.

The conclusion:
In Klein's introduction, she states,
"I love reading stories, taking them apart and seeing how they work, then putting them back together with each piece polished and gleaming."
Her passion for literature shines in SECOND SIGHT. In my initial post title, I described SS as "must-read," but I switched it to "must-own" because it's the type of book you want beside you as you work, so you can thumb through it when the need strikes. Reading it revitalized my progress on my current WIP; specifically, it made me realize I'd begun to stray from the heart of the story and needed to refocus. I can honestly say that the book lives up to its title: I gained a new perspective on the elements that make a strong novel, and my writing (and especially my revision techniques) are better for it.


* Ok, technically her title at Arthur A. Levine Books is "senior editor."
** Another awesome book I highly recommend you pre-order, but I'm a wee bit biased.


More goodies:
- An excellent, in-depth review of SS. My favorite quote from the review: "No shortcuts are given, no platitudes are offered: writing is hard work, and Klein lays out a series of techniques to produce higher quality work."
- Cheryl Klein's website and blog.
- Order your copy of SECOND SIGHT today!

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