3.30.2011

DOCTOR WHO

Did you see? Did you see?!?!





Who else is excited?

In other news, I'm off to put pink streaks in my hair. Flying home to Boston tomorrow. Then, blogging will resume as scheduled.

3.28.2011

Oh, vacation.

Hey lovelies, I'm on vacation! I was going to write a book review or do a vlog, but after a hundred attempts (Ok, maybe twenty) I give up. I was trying to figure out what to say. It came in out a letter.

Dear Vacation, 


You have been awesome. I've seen a lot of people and spent a lot of time with my mom and sister and best friend. I hung out with Leah Clifford. Went to my new family diner. Had a banana pudding milkshake from Chick-fil-a. (Lovely.) I've edited an entire MS (yay!) and done crits for a friend. I helped someone write a query, did a crazy amount of shopping for the new job, and slept. A lot.

Aside from the attack my eyes are under because of the family dog, a lingering headache, the inability to write or read anything, the lack of attention needed to write a book review AND the black hole that is WV--so much so that youtube won't upload my vlogs--this has been great. 

The only thing I would change about you? I'd slow you down. You are going incredibly fast. I only have three days left with my mom and my sister. Can we please slow down? Oh, and continue to be awesome. I'd really appreciate that.

Sincerely, me

So, when I'm home, I'll have an extraordinary amount of vlogs--and hopefully some book reviews. To all of you, have a good week! Don't forget to enter the Spring Cleaning Giveaway.


Go read a good book.

3.23.2011

Blogger Interview: Terri from Read & Riot

Today I have my first blogger interview! If you're interested in doing an interview or a guest post, then just let me know! Today's blogger is

Terri from Read & Riot.


Tell us some facts about yourself.

I’m an 18 year old Canadian girl who loves to read. I also love chocolate. If you made me choose a favourite book, I would hide from you. Harry Potter holds a special place in my heart. I still listen to The Spice Girls and S Club 7. I miss Sailor Moon. I wish Veronica Mars was never cancelled. I don’t own the Hannah Montana Movie, but I’ve seen it at least ten times. I’ve loved Paramore since I was in grade six. I can quote Gilmore Girls. I love Spring, and I strongly dislike Winter. Glee makes me ridiculously happy.

Why did you start blogging? How long ago?

I started Read & Riot this year. It was in the planning stages during the fourth quarter of 2010. My reasons for starting Read & Riot aren’t entirely honorable. I’ve been working in a book store (Indigo Books & Music) for over two years, and I had never heard about book bloggers. I know, you’re shocked. Take a moment to curse and read on. So, back in November 2010, I had never heard of book bloggers or Advanced Readers Copies or anything that comes with the territory. I was in line for a Cassandra Clare / Holly Black book signing where I met my artist friend Vy. Vy introduced me to ARCs, which led to book blogging. I had previously met someone who worked in publishing and I learned more from them about this genre. Now, I had new knowledge AND free books arriving in my mailbox. I could contently and happily read what I was sent, or I could tell people about it....It was made clear that I had no obligation to review anything. I still don’t. I review because I want to. I love blogging. Plain and simple.

 What's your favorite thing about blogging?

My favourite thing about blogging is my favourite thing about twitter. I love getting to talk to people all over the world, and book blogging gives me a chance to do that. It’s possible to bond over books (hello, Harry Potter!). If you think about it it’s incredible. I have a new friend that I talk to multiple times a week, and our first conversations were about Stephenie Meyer’s, The Host. How is that not amazing?

I also have to mention that getting the chance to communicate with authors is wonderful, and a huge bonus.


 Dream fictional boy?
Now I would be betraying myself if I didn’t say that Harry Potter was my dream fictional boy. Therefore, Harry Potter is my dream fictional boy. But if I had to pick another … it might possibly be Irial from Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely novels.

What do you want to be when you grown up?

What do I want to be when I grow up? When I figure it out I’ll let you know. Teacher, social worker, working in publishing … I still have time to figure it all out.

 Favorite Meme in the blogosphere?
My favourite meme in the blogosphere to write is Top Ten Tuesday by The Broke and the Bookish. I love it because I love lists and narrowing down my favourites is a challenge for me. My favourite meme to read is Waiting on Wednesday by Breaking the Spine. After all, I’m always looking for new books to add to the list.

What you look for when you read a book/decide to review a book?
I can’t tell you what I look for when I’m in a book store choosing a book. Sometimes the cover will catch my eye. I have my go-to authors. Plus, I find recommendations to be helpful.
 
Now, I’m going to get this out there. I find reviewing hard. It takes me hours, and sometimes I get very frustrated, but there are a couple of things that help me express myself. When I review a book:

* I make a list of notes about the book while I’m reading it.
* I focus on how the book made me feel.
* I follow my review checklist (premise, plot, writing, characters).
* I keep the book beside me as I write.

What are your top 5 favorite books?
I’m going to list my top five favourite books for you. I hated making this list, because I found it so difficult. I love so many books, and it took me a long time to narrow it down. I am very, very surprised with the books I ended up choosing for this.

1. Harry Potter series
Why? I’m like many children. Harry Potter is what got me into reading. I cannot explain to you how much I love this series. This is the only book or series where I have actually imagined myself as a character in it. I think everyone who can should read Harry Potter at least once in their life.

2. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Why? I think it’s safe to say that Sarah Dessen is my favourite author. Or at least top three. She’s an incredible writer, and I can honestly say that because I’ve read most of her books. There are amazing themes in Just Listen, and I even have some of the quotes written on the back of my door.

3. Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr
Why? I usually don’t love the continuation of a series as much as I love the first book, but I love Ink Exchange more than Wicked Lovely. It might be because of Irial. He just happens to be one of my favourite fictional characters ever. Also, as strange as this may sound, I could really, really relate to Leslie.

4. Pluto’s Ghost by Sheree Fitch
Why? This book is one of a kind. I love the narrator / main character, Jake Upshore. He’s a character that makes you want to read. Plus, the writing style is incredibly interesting.

5. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Why? This is one of the best love stories I’ve ever read. I’m smiling right now just thinking about it.

What books have changed you in some way?

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Reason: It’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever read. Like I said, it’s the only book or series I have imagined myself in. Also, it’s magical.

Lucky by Alice Sebold
Reason: This book covers adult themes, so if you’re under the age of 18 you shouldn't read what I’m about to say. This is Alice Sebold’s autobiography. She discusses her rape, the trial, and the aftermath. It’s impossible to read it and come out unscathed, especially if you’re female.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Reason: I felt for these characters. I felt for Katniss. The story made me so emotional. It was just something that stuck with me.

What books have you read the most?
Harry Potter, Hush Hush, The Darkest Powers, Wake trilogy, Megan Meade’s Guide to the McGowan Boys, Top Ten Uses For An Unworn Prom Dress, The Mortal Instruments, Stephanie Plum novels.

Trusted authors?
Sarah Dessen, Meg Cabot, Kelley Armstrong, Susane Colasanti, Holly Black,, Cassandra Clare, Lisa McMann.

Anything else?
I got extremely lucky and am exceptionally grateful. Thank you for giving me this chance. I hope you enjoyed getting to know me.

Thanks, Terri! She's really great. Check out her blog

3.21.2011

Spring Cleaning Giveaway

I love Spring. Everything is new and shiny! Except, my bookshelf.

Seriously. It needs some help! So...I'm going to giveaway some things.



In case you missed it, the three rules.  
1. Fill out the form. 
2. Add your blog post giveaway to Mr. Linky and you must give away as many books as you enter to win
3. Link this post somewhere in yours, so people can find all the other opportunities.  

I just think it's a cool thing to pay it forward. I like that. Sharing is fun! And it's spring; it's time to clean off that shelf and make room for something new!

What's up for grabs:

HUNTRESS by Malinda Lo (arc)
BEHIND THE GATES by Eva Gray (arc)
GEMINI BITES by Patrick Ryan (finished copy)
UNEARTHLY by Cynthia Hand (arc)
13 REASONS WHY by Jay Asher (finished copy)
THE MAGNOLIA LEAGUE by Katie Crouch (arc)
WAKE UNTO ME by Lisa Cach (arc)
WITHER by Lauren DeStephano  (arc)
BLOOD MAGIC by Tessa Gratton (arc)
THE WATCHERS by Inara Scott  (arc)
I AM J by Chris Beam (arc)
DEAD BEAUTIFUL by Yvonne Woon (arc)
ANIMORPHS: THE VISTOR&  THE INVASTION by K.A. Applegate (arc)




The giveaway will end on at midnight on March 31. It's for everyone--but I can only send up to can do up to three for international winners.

ALSO, if you entered before when this post was accidentally posted, then you need to do it again. That spreadsheet was deleted. Sorry for the confusion.

Anyway.....go look at your books and give something away! Then, come back here and feed Mr. Linky.  Spread the word all on Twitter (I'm using the #SpringCleaning hashtag), on your blog, on facebook, on Tumblr and wherever you do your thing. Maybe we can start a bunch of giveaways.

Any questions or anything, just leave them below and I will answer!


3.17.2011

Say Hello to YA Author Amanda Havard

When Danielle asked me to guest post on her blog, I was not only sincerely flattered but sincerely panicked over what to say. As I write this, I am two weeks from the launch of my first book, THE SURVIVORS, and after a lovely conversation with the master of this corner of the blogosphere, we thought it might be of interest to share some thoughts on what the publishing experience looks like from someone at my stage in the game.

At the two-week mark, the anticipation of the world connecting to my vision is killing me. The excitement of even the prospect that the world will fall in love with those I’ve fallen in love with radiates in my bones. I am just eaten up with the idea that, by the end of this month, I will have achieved what has been a lifelong dream.

Or will I? In following the deluge of tweets from the SXSW conference this past weekend, I kept hearing bits and pieces about the future of media, of books, of publishing, of, I don’t know, humans. Whatever kind of future aside, we kept hearing about the future. How we will survive in this future publishing world. How we ought to prepare to even try to survive in this new publishing world. Etcetera. Etcetera. And a bit more etcetera. One quote that got retweeted about 647 million times was roughly this: “Publishing is the start gun. Marketing is the marathon.”

It fueled a line of thinking I’ve been tossing around my brain for a long time: My book release looks different than most. It looks [what I hope will be] good different. THE SURVIVORS is blitzing onto the scene (or so we imagine it will) without an eight-month pre-launch buzz. It’s coming from a publisher you’ve never heard of (my trusty heroes at Chafie Press), from an author you’ve never heard of (had you heard the name ‘Amanda Havard’ before this post?), and it’s about creatures you’ve never heard of (Survivors. Capital S.). But when we launch, as we will in two short weeks, I have a lot to show you. I have research I want to share with you covering the myths and history and mania that led me to this story.

We built a website that’s got interaction all over it: I’m live-streaming the ‘soundtrack’ of the first book. I’ve set up world maps of all the places my protagonist, Sadie, goes in book one. There’s a community where you can “Become a Survivor” and set up profiles, talk to me, talk to one another, and really get into the story. You can follow the real Twitter accounts of my characters that have been running for over two years, perfectly in sync with the story line. On my new blog, you’ll be able to read about the basics but also the parts of the story that don’t fit between the covers—style that inspired the characters, character interviews, mythology that shaped the storyline, the life experiences that crafted the settings, the music that practically wrote the story for me.

They seem like the little things, but they add up to tell a story about the story, an account of the writing process. And perhaps I’m most excited to announce that there will be original music for THE SURVIVORS series. The first song will be released the week the book is, and by the next week, you’ll be able to download the song and music video off the site and iTunes.

And trust me when I say this is only the beginning.

Do I mention all of this out of shameless self-promotion? Actually, no. I mention it to say what you could be doing. What you might think of doing. What I’m experimenting with doing and, well, we’ll all find out how it goes. I mention this because we all know there has to be a Goodreads page, Facebook pages for you and for your books, and Twitter accounts for both those things too. You know that you can blog tour or network or have a book blog yourself. (I don’t actually have a book blog. I’m weird.) But what else is going to push your story into the relatable place? The magical place where people take it into their lives and want to hold onto it? Want to be a part of it? Want to think about it and interact with after the last page is closed and, if a series, before the next first page opens?

For THE SURVIVORS, I hope it’s that I’ve crafted a world eerily similar to your own. So similar that you think you could be standing on West End in Nashville or in line at the London airport or on the edge of Swan Lake, Montana and see Sadie. I hope it’s the original music we’re in the studio recording or the music videos (starring faces and voices like this one) we’re producing. I hope it’s that you can pick up the J. Mendel dress Sadie wears in the first chapter of book one at Bergdorf’s, should you have the desire. I hope it’s that you can have grown up in Tupelo, Mississippi and recognize the Main Street described in the first five pages in the book as the real thing. I hope it’s in the details. I hope it’s in doing what’s worked. I hope it’s in trying what’s new.

Two weeks to launch, and I’m working around the clock to try to make sure everything is in place to run the marathon. Crouched at the starting line, waiting for the pull, I hope I’m ready to go.

And more than anything, I hope you’ll run with me.


Amanda Havard has been telling stories since before she could write. She grew up in Dallas, Texas, where her first book was published in her elementary school library at age 7. She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Vanderbilt University. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee with her baby grand piano and more story ideas than she could tell in one lifetime.

Connect with Amanda on Twitter: @AmandaHavard
On Facebook or Goodreads
And on her blog at http://amandahavard.com


 

About THE SURVIVORS:

In 1692, when witch trials gripped the community of Salem, Massachusetts, twenty-six children were accused as witches, exiled, and left for dead. Fourteen of them survived.
The Survivors is the first installment of the tantalizing tales of the fourteen ill-fated Survivors and their descendants, who have been content in hiding for over three centuries. Isolated on a Montana mountainside, only Sadie, the rogue daughter, dares to abandon the family’s sacred hiding place. But no matter how far Sadie runs, something always pulls her back.

On a muggy summer night in Tennessee, she witnesses a shocking scene that will change her life forever. It is the first in a sequence of events that will drag her from the human world she’s sought to belong to for over a century and send her back to her Puritanical family and into an uncertain future filled with cunning witches, mysterious nosferatu shape-shifters, dangerous eretica and vieczy vampires, millennia-old mythology, and the search for her own mortality. After all…How do you kill a Survivor?

The Survivors will steal your heart and invade your mind. Fall into the pages of Sadie’s life, a world so frighteningly similar to your own, you’ll find yourself wanting to go to the Montana mountains to find the Survivors for yourself.

And it is only the beginning...

THE SURVIVORS is available March 29th and in hardcover, paperback and e-book format. Amazon and Barnes & Noble have it online.

For more information on Amanda Havard and THE SURVIVORS, please visit her website at www.amandahavard.com. You can read the prologue and first chapter of THE SURVIVORS here.

Leave Amanda some love & welcome her to the YA community! Or, ask her questions and I shall force answers upon her. :)

3.15.2011

Crazy. AKA The One with Captain Jack, Yoda & Rum. (I mean coffee.)

It's kinda crazy over here in Danielle-land. Seriously. Tons of stuff going on! And, I just finished reading the most amazing book in the world. Now, I need to figure out what to say about it. I loved it. And when I'll have time to do that.


Anyway, this is me right now: 




Yup. Sad and scary. I'm starting training at a new job* (10 hours this week) and working at the store (30 hours this week) and nannying.




This is also me:


Striking similar though not as fun as "where has all the rum gone?"** Where is my sanity? I need coffee. In addition to working, I'm also in the middle of an Edit War with my CP (which was my idea***) and trying to read and make progress in my WIP. I'm also working on a secret thing (slowly) with Victoria Schwab and the rest of the Book Pimps**** AND I need to eventually packing to go home to WV for two weeks on Monday.


I don't know how it's all going to happen either.

SO all to say I have read four books this month. The amazing one I stayed up all night reading. The one I have for a blog tour in April. One I didn't like so won't review****. And one I've already reviewed. Thus, for the sake of time and sanity, I've called upon some lovely friends who are going to do some guest posts for me. Stay tuned for that. I'm pretty excited about it!


Have a lovely week, lovelies. Someone please go read a great book and tell me all about it.




May the force be with you and your endeavours.  And with me. *runs off to find more coffee*


*new job: office admin for a physical therapy office. Part time. Super excited. 


**Do not consume rum unless over 21. Please. I quote it because Johnny Depp is a pretty pirate. Captain Jack rules. In fact, I there are two Captain Jack characters...both rule. 

See? Pretty Captain Jack....

***Edit War: Who can edit the most of the other person's MS in x amount of time. Winner gets a book! Great in theory, killer in practice.

****The Book Pimps....what is that? Find out sooooon. 

***** No, I won't tell you book it was. And no, I don't want to talk about it because it irked me. Nothing happened in 400 pages! *grumble*



3.12.2011

Cover Me! (4)

These were all floating around over the last couple weeks. So, I gathered them up and tada!




 I think BEAUTIFUL CHAOS goes well with the others. Not a huge fan of the gold, but I don't hate it. THE PLEDGE is pretty and I want it now. NOW. 
























I think the original cover of DIE FOR ME (in the boat) was really pretty, but this one is nice too. I like the red, but I liked that the last one was a little more different. How many girls' backs do we need on covers? But it's pretty and I can't wait to read. 


CROSSED blows my mind. I can't stop looking at it. Just look at it next to MATCHED and that alone tells a story. Love it!


SHUT OUT sounds like an interesting story. All of Kody's cover have this air about them. LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR! *squeal* I can't wait. It's so real now that it has a cover! I love everything about this: her purple hair, the almost touching but not really, the shirt the boy is wearing--very next door cute boy. The window they're framed in. LOVE LOVE. LOVE.





VANISH isn't as eye-catching as FIRELIGHT but I like it. Didn't her hair change colors? I thought it was red in the last cover. *Shrugs* The final cover of THE NEAR WITCH, which is even more gorgeous with the swirlies, which I'm saying represent the wind. Love this cover and this book! 


I guess Penguin re-vamped the Nightshade covers. From this:  




NIGHTSHADE hardcover/ WOLFSBANE what-they-showed-us cover.




To this:


I guess the NIGHSHADE cover is the paperback and the WOLFSBANE cover is the hardback and paperback. If that's wrong someone correct me. Cremer said on her blog that the overall response was that the old covers "didn't convey enough about the story so that's the idea behind the new covers." Some bloggers have yelled about hating them, said they looked like bad jobs, but I think they capture the story perfectly. Now, you know exactly what you're getting when you look at the book. 


That's all I have. What do you guys think?

3.10.2011

When Reading Wasn't Homework...

I can remember when reading was fun.

Don't get angry. I love reading! But I remember when it was joyful thing.

It wasn't that long ago when I'd walk into work (because that's a bookstore), pick up a book with a pretty cover, be elated because the back sounded good and dive in. There's something about discovering a new world that's so filling. You're following this blog then you're a reader so you know. You pine for characters, yell and sigh at all the right moments. Then, when you're finished, you go back and find a new book.

I miss those days. I miss walking into a store and finding a new discovery.

Until I started blogging and jumped into the YA community, I went purely on instinct and read what sounded good. Now, when I find the new book, my first thought is: "I can't. I have too many to read." So I put it back--and unfortunately for me I have to stare at it every day when I'm at work and wonder what it's about. Sometimes, I never get to find out.

Don't misunderstand me.

This is not a complaining post. I'm completely floored everyday that I get to be involved in the YA community. This is where my friends are, my make-shift family. I wouldn't trade any of this or you for all the cupcakes in the entire world. Seriously. And I'm not going to quit blogging. I don't want anyone to think that. I just need you to listen, because this has been on my mind.

I have to read A LOT. I have to read as a blogger and write reviews that may not get a single comment. I have to read as a writer. I have to read as an indie bookseller. I need to be on my toes, to know what's coming out, to know the content, the story, who will like it and if we'll sell it the store.  I have to know what's coming out, so I have to read. I GET to read for work. How awesome is that? It's totally awesome. But sometimes, I get so overwhelmed by the reading. Sometimes, reading is more of a chore than fun.

Since I've been blogging, I've learned a ton about how all this works. I understand the importance of reading a book or an ARC and spreading the word about it. It's so important. And I don't--and won't-- write negative reviews. I am a writer. When this blog or my job disappear, I'll still be a writer. I want to be a person of integrity and for me, that means not writing negative reviews. I'm okay with that. I look at this way.  If I'm at work and I'm recommending a book, I'm going to recommend one I like. The ones I don't--unless someone asks me--I'm going to ignore. Why even bring up a "bad" book? This is the approach I'm taking. I'm talking about books I love for whatever reason. (That doesn't mean if you don't see a book here I hate it--just maybe I haven't gotten to it yet. Don't assume things people.)


Anyway, talking about books is a responsibility that I love having. But one thing I never, ever, ever want to do is be that "look at me" blogger. You know, the ones who have to have every title first and read it first and post it before everyone else does. Honestly, it's so exhausting. I have a stack of books I still need to read for this month--and I probably won't get through it. But I'll try. And I'll write comment-less reviews and share my opinion. I love doing that. If I didn't, then I wouldn't do it.

But.

I miss the freedom of reading. I miss getting to read what I want to read whenever I want to read it. I miss the time before how many hits I got on this or how many books I can read this year or how many comments I got on that post. (Guilty of all those things.) Those aren't the reasons I started this blog. In fact, any advanced copies I get are from work. I'm not a blog that many publishers recognize--and I'm totally okay with that. None of these reasons are why I'm here.

I started this blog because I wanted to share a) my writing life, which I don't do as much as I'd planned b) I have all these books in my head and all these thoughts with no one to tell and I needed an outlet (my head is crowded enough!) c) maybe someone would read about a book I loved or something I'm dealing with in my writing and learn or connect or discover something new. That was I started a blog. It was never to get books---I didn't even know how people did that. This was never going to be a book blog.

But it is. Of course it is! I'm a writer, a bookseller, a reader--it's my life. And that's okay. I have to read incredible amounts of books and  live a life surrounded by words, so I don't mind. In fact, I love it.


So what's the point of this post then?

To say that I want to love reading again. I want it to be fun and enjoyable--and less of a checklist or a chore or a rush to read books a, b & c before this date.

From now on, I'm reading the books I want to read. If I have something from a publisher that I need to read and review before release date--or if I've read something early--I'll post it to help promo. I want to help promote books. It's why I'm a bookseller--and a book blogger. But I don't want to race anymore. I don't want to pass on a book that sounds incredible because Mt. TBR is overflowing and six books come out this month. I'm going to read what I want to read. I hope that's okay with you. I hope you stick around--but if you don't want to, then you can leave.

I have this blog to share my struggles and my words and the words that pierce me with. That's what I do. Giveaways are fun, but my wallet is decreasing so those will be too. I don't want followers at the cost of reviews. I'd rather have six people who read, comment and share their thoughts with me than 256 who don't. Seriously.

Reading IS FUN. Blogging is fun. Writing is fun. The moment any of them become homework is the moment it should be re-evaluated.  That's what I'm doing. Re-evaluating. Telling you why I'm here and hoping it's why you're here. I'm going to be making some changes around here--so those are coming this month. I'm excited about them!

I feel better. I'm off to read a book THAT I WANT TO READ. And it doesn't come out until May. I'm excited. I hope you're still here when I get back, but if you're not, that's fine too.

3.08.2011

Book Talk: The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0-54-748247-7
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Description:
It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him.


When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

First line: I woke in Oakhaven entirely ruined.

I can describe this book in seven adjectives. Ready? Vivid. Developed. Lyrical. Hilarious. Captivating. Romantic. Amazing.

Vivid. This story takes place in 1889, when Amelia van der Broek goes to Baltimore from Maine to spend the summer with her cousin,in hopes to find a suitable husband. Now, I’m assuming that Saundra Mitchell has never been to Baltimore in 1889. I could be wrong and she could have a TARDIS in her backyard—but I doubt it. You would never know that from reading this book. Every detail, every line of dialogue is exactly what I imagine 1889 would be. I mean, she nailed it. It’s as if she visited and took notes on the experience—or has lived forever with the soul purpose of writing this book. I can’t imagine that it was easy, but it’s done flawlessly. Jane Austen would be proud.

Developed. This is to talk about the characters because I need to say that Amelia is one of the best and most unique protagonists I’ve ever encountered. I loved her from the first page—with her excitement and honesty and demeanor. I even love what she turns into at the end. It was very fitting. In fact, all of Mitchell’s characters are well-developed and purposeful. I found myself liking all of them—or disliking them if I was supposed to. They were very strong and really made the story.

Lyrical. Mitchell has this amazing ability to take a simple moment or emotion and write the most amazing lines. I mean, I’ve read a lot of brilliant books but there were moments I had to stop and re-read them, take them in. They were THAT good. I pulled out some examples:

"He drew me to the floor and the crowd dissolved. They could've danced in London, for as distant as they seemed. Nathaniel took one hand and rested his other on my waist, branding me deliciously. We moved, somehow elemental. I felt like fire, the skies poured rain that rattled on the roof, the earth wavered to teach us the steps of this dance, and like air we floated across the floor together. We were all four points on the map, turning and turning like a compass."
“His murmurs slipped into me, onto me, warming me in his familiar way. If he knew my thoughts, he knew my wanton, wilding desire to hide away with him. Longing felt like a thread, slipping between us, sewing us together.”

Hilarious. Amelia is a fun character—especially when she’s in the presence of Zora and Mattie and Sarah. Imagine a group of young women who laugh and talk about boys, play, dream, imagine…the scenes between the four of them are so funny. I caught myself smiling a lot in this book. Even the exchanges between Zora and Amelia are amusing. They are more like sisters and best friends. I found many of the moments between them reminding me of Jane & Elizabeth (Pride and Prejudice.) as they shared the banter and honesty and laughter. They always had each other’s backs and I like that.

Captivating. Imagine if you will a picture of 1889 that you’ve seen in movies. Now, add in premonitions that make no sense, secrets, powers, disappearing men, scandal and death. Yea. All of that’s in here. This book will keep you guessing. It will keep you hanging on until the end because it gets better and better with every passing page. By the end, I couldn’t look away. I had to know what would happen. Mitchell so elegantly pieced together this story and every scene—from beginning to end—is perfection. There are subtle clues but you can’t even pick them up until you look back from the end! She builds up in the story in a way I can’t even explain, but you know that eventually something is going to happen to destroy it all. You don’t know what it is and it’s so crazy-awesome that you can’t even guess. That is good story-telling.


Romantic. “All I want is to be the thing that distracts him and troubles him and sweetly disturbs him from morning ‘til night.” Yup. That’s romantic!! I was saving this point because it’s not the main focus of the story but it’s an important one. And one that grows as the story develops, which makes me like it more!

Amelia lives in a time where women get married. That’s their worth, in some ways. Everyone needs a husband. It’s why she went to Baltimore—to find a good man. But Amelia doesn’t fall for a good man. She falls for a mysterious one, one that others say she probably shouldn’t fall for. He’s not good for her. And she struggles with that. She can’t figure him out. Is he good? Is he bad? What is his secret? That’s the making of a great romance right there! I absolutely love Nathananiel. He’s so edgy and rebellious and mysterious. I like that. He’s dark, artsy and swoon-worthy MEGA. I won’t tell you anything but it is good. There are other boys—Thomas Rea & Caleb to name just two—but Nathaniel has my heart.

Amazing. This is the last adjective because it’s all encompassing. This book is brilliantly good. It has everything a book needs. I can’t recommend it enough. I loved, loved it. If this is any indication of what’s to come from Saundra Mitchell, we’re in for a treat. I mean, I liked Shadowed Summer but The Vespertine is remarkable. She outdid herself and I, for one, am impressed.

Also, this is my favorite line: “Everything’s extraordinary. And everything that isn’t sweetens the rest.”

3.07.2011

So many WRITING-type contests!

I'm not sure how many of you are writers. (Hopefully there are some that follow me!!) But there are A LOT of contests going on in the blogging world. I wanted to share everything that I've seen pop up--and I'm sure there are tons more I'm missing. If you know of one, post it for me in the comments!

Lynette Labelle is offer a query/opening page critique. All you have to do is follow some of her blogs and spread the word. So check out this one! Lynette will even be teaching a class about hooks in April. You can get more information on that here.

WriteOnCon is having many query contests! What is WriteOnCon? "WriteOnCon is a totally free, interactive online Writer’s Conference held annually during the summer. Our first Conference, held August 10-12, 2010, had over 11,000 attendees." Click HERE to read the story in Publisher’s Weekly and HERE to see the about on the website. I attended last year and loved it! It was very helpful and fun.

Some things up as of Monday:

Query letter critique: Jill Corcoran with Herman Agency
Query letter critique: Ginger Clark with Curtis Brown ltd.
Query letter phone critique: Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary
Query letter critique: Jennifer Rofe of Andrea Brown Literary
Query letter critique: Marietta Zacker of Nancy Gallt Literary
Query letter critique: Beth Fleisher at Clear Sailing Creatives
Query letter critique: Tina Wexler at  International Creative Management


added: 
First three lines contest
 
 That's it for now! I'll keep updating this as I see more come along. Don't forget to add something if you find it! And good luck if you enter.

A Year Ago I Started a Journey

A year ago I ended a journey. And started a journey.

The day after I was home--the next day--I was told the trip was paid for. Remember? I said I only had half of the money. A friend from college surprised me and fronted the rest. I cried and cried. That was the moment I knew I really had to find a passion.

I don't think there was a "what is it?" process. I think I just started writing. I've always written, but somewhere along the way I got tired. With my first novel, I had all these snippets of scenes that I wrote at work over the first two weeks of being home. There were so many and none of them went together at all. A friend said to me, "just pick one and write it." So, I did.

Then I wrote a half a novel. Then, I stopped and re-wrote it. Then, I kept going.

It was somewhere in the re-writing stage on a day in early April (in fact--it was the day New Moon came out on DVD because I was at work at Borders) I met Myra. She came into the store and we (she, my boss Elizabeth and I) talked YA books. Then, we found out that she had a book coming out. And before the night was over, I said to her, "I just started writing a YA novel. I mean, I don't know what it means. I love writing. I don't know what to do. What do I do?" She told me to get on twitter and get involved. And I did.


You don't realize how much a single conversation will change the course or your life until it does. I mean, if I'd never met Myra that day I would've never used twitter correctly. All of April is a blur of #yalitchat and blog reading and writing my novel. That's how it started for me. She pulled me into a world of encouragement and amazing people. I felt like I could do something for the first time in my life. It was a good feeling.

When the floods came to Nashville in May, Myra introduced me to Victoria and Amanda. I've said in various places that those three women really taught me a lot. And they did. Perseverance. Hope. Possibilities. The importance of putting yourself out there, of trying. I can't tell you how awesome and unexpected their entrance into my life was--and how needed. In a way, the flood washed away all the bad I had in my life...because by the end of it all, I was loaded up and leaving. It was quick and unexpected, but I'd never felt more assured of a decision in my life. Leaving Nashville was hard and easy in the same breath.
 
Leaving a place that you didn't love is an easy thing to do. Leaving a place full of people you did love is a hard thing to do. You see the purpose in a place over time. Since I've been in Boston, I've learned the purpose of the misery I allowed myself to live in Nashville.

I was in Tennessee so I could my internship. I was at my internship so I could go to South Africa. So I'd be inspired. I had an internship that made me work--so  I could work at Borders--where I'd meet Elizabeth (my boss). She was the person who got me reading YA. So I could meet Myra, V and Amanda. So I could be on twitter. So I could be encouraged. So I could move to Boston and have a community before I even arrive.  All of that so I could write.

It's all entwined. Each moment, each decision, each conversation. A year ago I started a journey. I'm sure a year from now I'll be on a new one. I don't know what that looks like but I'm sure that it will one I'll never forget.

3.06.2011

A Year Ago I Came Home

I was really bad about posting my South Africa experiences. But it doesn't matter. The main things that matter--I went, I experienced and I came home. A year ago today, I came home.

While I was there I experienced so much. Children who had nothing. Adults who had nothing. An entire community that lived divided by race--a community whose children were being taught another way to live. The sick received help. The hungry received food. The broken started healing. The poor (which was almost everyone we encountered) found small victories that made them rich.

Our last morning before the flight, we were asked what we learned or what we didn’t expect to learn and did anyway. My answer was simple. I felt like people hoped this trip would teach me so much about myself and make my passions clearer. I came and experienced everything with that expectation. I was so tired of being lost and I had been for months. BUT I didn't get any of that.

I did get a reminder about life, about the things I knew and had forgotten somewhere along the way. That was the place to start. The other thing I learned is that I want to passionate about what I’m doing. I watched the Life Skills Educators (regular people who went into schools and taught abstinence, health, and everything that you can't learn in school) and they gave up everything for the kids and teens they in their communities. They do it  because they are passionate. I knew from that moment in the living room that was how I wanted to  live my life. I didn't want to do things just because it's easy
This is Snazzle. She's my fave girl ever!
or where I am or whatever,  but because I’m passionate about those things.
 
I spent the whole 28 hours of travel thinking about that question: What was I passionate about?

I can't remember how long it took me to get the answer: writing. I honestly don't remember much about coming home except being so utterly disgusted with my life. There was nothing joyful in it. Nothing I liked about where I was (except the people) and nothing I liked about myself. I was so miserable--and worse, I'd decided there were no other options for me and I'd become comfortable in the misery. Misery is a warm blanket. It wraps itself around you until you're so hot and twisted in it you can't get out of it.

A year ago I came home. And then, I started a journey. I'll post that one tomorrow.

3.05.2011

WINNERS

I owe the announcing of two winners. Falling Under and Clarity...



Falling Under:  

Dani J.

Clarity: 

Marcie! 

3.03.2011

The Book of Awesome

 If you know me (in any form of the word) you know three things.

One: I love the word awesome and, in fact, use it too much. But whatever. It's the best word.
Two: I pretty much AM awesome.
Three: I love random things. Random makes the world go round.

(Speaking of "awesome" and "random" my blog is now www.frenzyofnoise.net! I'm excited!) 

Still here? Good. I discovered this book on Friday at work. I was immediately drawn to it while shelving because of the bright colors and the use of my favorite word. I wasn't really sure what a book titled The Book of Awesome had to offer me, but when I opened it I was completely floored. Really. I lost balance from laughter and proceeded to hit the floor. Luckily, it was only a few inches so no need to worry.
The Book of Awesome presents simple pleasures for a younger, hipper generation. From the smell of gasoline to fixing electronics  to the extra time you get when the clocks roll back, The Book of Awesome reminds readers of little things that make us smile everyday. Paperback: 400 pages   Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
There's really no way to explain or review this book besides to give you a taste of what's INSIDE. So, I had some lovelies on Twitter pick page numbers. This is just the entry heading, each thing is described with more detail as to why it is awesome. But I can't tell you everything or you won't want to go buy it---which you DO want to do.


357: New Socks Day  
256: Backseat Car Windows That Go All the Way Down
3: The Other Side of the Pillow
359: Watching Your Odometer Click Over a Major Milestone
42: Fixing Electronics by Smacking Them
13: Strategic Trick-or-Treating
7: Wearing Underwear Just Out of the Dryer
21: When You Get the Milk to Cereal Ratio Just Right
264: Perfectly Popped Microwave Popcorn
27: Having a Whole Row on the Plane to Yourself
9: Old, Dangerous Playground Equipment
250: Peeling Off Your Old Bathing Suit and Putting on Warm Clothes After Swimming for a Long Time
183: Laughing So Hard You Make No Sound at All
99: When You're Really Tired and About to Fall Asleep and Someone Throws a Blanket on You 
301: The Smell of Books
44: Hitting a Bunch of Green Lights in a Row
117: The First Scoop Out of a Jar of Peanut Butter

Fun right? This book makes me smile so incredibly much. It's the gift that keeps on giving. And would make a perfect gift for anyone--especially when you don't know what to get! You should buy it. I've even linked every site I could think of for easy ordering access. It's seriously worth it!

You can also learn about awesome things at the website that started this awesome-ness http://1000awesomethings.com/ and a second book The Book of Even More Awesome Things that comes out in April 28.

If you leave a comment with a number, I'll put up whatever the subject is in the comments. It runs from page 1-367.

Awesome. :)

3.01.2011

Interview with Kim Harrington

Kim Harrington lives in Massachusetts with her husband and son. When not writing, she's most likely reading, watching one of her favorite TV shows, or fantasizing about her next vacation. She has no psychic powers and is cool with that. Her debut young adult novel, Clarity, is coming out March 1, 2011 (TODAY!) from Scholastic.


If you were an item on a Mexican restaurant, what would you would be and why?
Enchilada because I'm cheesy.
Do you remember where you were/what you were doing the first time you heard Clare’s voice?
I don’t remember, but I imagine I was sitting in my living room since that’s where I usually brainstorm. 

What type of research did you have to do for this book?
I visited a few psychics. That was fun! I got help from a security camera expert for one scene. And I researched what kinds of police programs a 17-year-old could be involved in. I didn’t need to research Cape Cod since I’ve spent so much time there, but of course I made a few trips for inspiration. :) 

What are the last five songs played on your I-pod?
Okay, this is going to be a whole lot of random…
Interpol – “Pace Is The Trick”
Buffalo Tom – “I’m Allowed”
BLK JKS – “Lakeside”
Explosions in the Sky – “Your Hand In Mine”
Cypress Hill – “How I Could Just Kill a Man”

Tell us a funny story.
The secret in my author photo is pretty funny: http://kimharrington.blogspot.com/2011/01/secrets-of-author-photo.html

If you could be a character in any novel you’ve ever read (that’s not your own), who would you be and why?
I can’t think of any. My favorite books pretty much torture their characters. Their lives have too much conflict for my taste. I like my fiction exciting and my real life drama-free.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
I’d say DORK DIARIES, but I think that already exists.

If you could have any special power, which one would you choose and what would you do with it?
I would want to teleport because I’m so impatient. Long car rides, plane rides…I want to just get there! Teleportation would rock.

What’s the journey of a book for you? (How does it start, how do ideas develop, writing process, edits.)
Idea development actually differs from book to book. With Clarity, the characters came to me first. I developed them, then came up with a plot. With my standalone that’s coming in 2012, the plot came first and I developed the characters second.  My writing process, however, seems to be the same for each book. While writing the first draft, I work steadily day after day. I’m not a burst writer. I could never write 6000 words in a day. I also go back and edit what I wrote the previous day before I start writing new words. It gets me back into the right voice.

How did you get interested in writing YA?
Mainly from reading it. Some good advice is to write the book you’d like to read, so it came from that.

Describe Clarity in six words.
Murder mystery, beach town, hot guys.

Which character is the most fun and the least fun to write?
Clare is the most fun to write because she’s funny and snarky. Hmm…least fun…that one’s hard. Maybe a side character, Phil, because I pity him.

Which of your characters will be the biggest surprise to readers?
[redacted for spoilage]  ;) I loved Mdm. Maslov, but that's because I adored her.

What’s one thing you want people to know about your book if it’s all they ever get to know?
Holy crap, this is the hardest question ever. Maybe I should make something up… IF YOU READ THIS BOOK, A GENIE WILL GIVE YOU THREE WISHES.

Someone said Clarity, “I'm grateful to have finally found a story to fill the Private-Detective-shaped void left in my heart after VERONICA MARS was canceled.” I agree with it. But as a VERONICA MARS fan yourself, what is your response?
As a Veronica Mars fan, it’s a HUGE compliment. Anytime someone compares the two, my heart smiles. (Hearts can smile. Really.) 

And FTW….The world is about to be destroyed by evil green alien penguins. You are the only one who can save it and you have at your disposal: a broken oil lamp, duct tape, a wooden spoon, a bike horn and a pair of sneakers. What would you do? 
First, ask Danielle if she’s on crack. Then, find out she’s serious, put on the sneakers and run.

Thanks Kim! And I may be on crack. The tests are still out. (kidding!)

I love Kim. Check out my review of Clarity right here and it comes out today everywhere---so go buy it!! You won't regret it. 

Kim's launch party is Saturday--and I'm going. So, I'm going to give you a chance to win a signed and personalized copy of Clarity. All you have to do is fill out this form. And, if you want to tweet about this contest or share it on your blog or facebook or something...that would be lovely. It's not required. 
This is open internationally and ends at midnight on Friday, March 4.

ALSO, part of the joy of a launch party is asking the authors questions. So, if you have any questions you want Kim to answer, leave it in the comment and I'll ask some on Saturday and share them in the recap. Make sure they're good!


Spotted: Today's Releases (2)

ALL OF THIS COMES OUT!! There was so much I had to share....Happy March 1!!


Clarity “Clare” Fern is a physic, who can see visions with the touch of an object. Her brother Perry is a medium and her mother is a telepath. When people start dying, Clare is the only one who can help and save her brother. But the closer Clare gets to the truth, the more dangerous it becomes. Clarity is a must-read. It’s part Veronica Mars, part Nancy Drew and filled with great characters, mystery, drama, paranormal and romance. It’s a hysterical, wonderful blend of all the best things in YA fiction.  It will keep you wondering whodunit and how in the world so many secrets can exist in a small town.  

Clarity review
Kim interview (posted today! You can win a signed/personalized copy!)
Fragment Friday

Buy it:    
Amazon      Indie Bound    Book Depository


(I am very excited to read this! I can't wait to get my hands on it. Soon...)

Kate Lowry didn't think dead best friends could send e-mails. But when she gets an e-mail from Grace, she’s not so sure.

To: KateLowry@pemberlybrown.edu
Sent: Sun 9/14 11:59 PM
From: GraceLee@pemberlybrown.edu
Subject: (no subject)

Kate,
I'm here…
sort of.
Find Cameron.
He knows.
I shouldn't be writing.
Don't tell.
They'll hurt you.

Now Kate has no choice but to prove once and for all that Grace’s death was more than just a tragic accident. But secrets haunt the halls of her elite private school. Secrets people will do anything to protect. Even if it means getting rid of the girl trying to solve a murder...

 
Buy it:
Amazon    IndieBound   Book Depository 


The gorgeous cover of this book is only a glimpse at what lies inside. Everything about Falling Under is so marvelous—the prose, the characters, the plot, the descriptions—I was in love right away. Theia sees Haden in her dreams, and then in her reality and she must figure out what is real and what isn’t. Falling Under is the perfect blend of things that go bump in the night, dreams, nightmares and the deceptive beauty of love. It will challenge your view on what's real and what's only a dream--and how both of those things can completely transform a life. This is story that you won’t be able to predict, with deadly secrets and dreams and reality. Everything is so exciting and descriptive and unique. It will take you down one road only to switch directions and leave you with whiplash. It will tear out your heart, stomp on it and then patch it back together—that’s a good thing, of course.




Sophie Mercer is back in part two of the Hex Hall trilogy—and she comes back with a bang! Demonglass picks up shortly after where Hex Hall ended. Sophie is still set on the Removal and her father has just showed up at school, telling her to come to London for the summer. Accompanied by Jenna and Cal, Sophie dives into a new world of London and a mystery—as someone has been making more demons. She’s set on finding out who and stopping them before the world she knows becomes chaos. This is an incredible sequel.. Here are some reasons: It’s set in England. Sophie’s still vivacious and snarky. Cal is wonderful. The new characters add so much to the story. Demonglass sparkles and completely rocks. If you liked Hex Hall, you’ll love Demonglass.

Demonglass full review

Buy it: 


My mini review (look for longer soon!)
Sean Griswold’s Head is a unique story. When Payton Gritas learns her father has been diagnosed with MS, her whole world starts to fall apart. Her counselor at school tells her to find a focus object—something that she can devote her thoughts and feelings to until she can figure them out. That’s the same day Sean Griswold—the boy who’s sat in front of her for years—talks to her and gives her something to focus on: his head. Sean Griswold’s head tackles a hard issue in a funny, relieving, heart-warming way. It shows you the journey a young girl takes to find herself when everything changes. 

Buy it: 


More of today's titles (whether new or in paperback):

Blood & Flowers by Penny Blubaugh
Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler
The Subrosa Semesters by Alissa Grosso
Beautiful Dead: Summer by Eden Maguire
The Chaos (Numbers) by Rachel Ward
Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney
I Am J by Cris Beam
May (Daughters Of The Sea) by Kathryn Lasky
One Hundred Candles by Mara Purnhagen
Outside In by Maria V. Snyder
Betrayal by Lee Nichols
The Pirate Captain's Daughter by Eve Bunting
Strings Attached by Judy Blundell 

Happy release day to all these wonderful books! Go buy something! And tell me....What are you reading?