Monday, April 30, 2012

Top Ten Books I'd See As Movies (grudgingly...)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today's topic is:

Top Ten Seven Books
I'd Like To See As A Movie

It's no secret that I can't stand books being made into movies. I know, there are some exceptions, there are some movies from books that are brilliant, there are some movies from books that you love just as much as the other (Harry Potter, right?) - but generally, I am not a fan. Which obviously makes this list quite hard for me to make!

Hence only 7.

1. Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
This could be such a wonderful, fun Holiday movie.

2. Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
I think this is obvious since Jennifer is also a screenwriter, and her novel would translate SO well. (They are making it a movie, right? Or am I going crazy?)  It would be such an adventure and so action-packed.

3. The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan
Just like Percy Jackson, I think this would be amazing.

4. The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan
I'm just a fan of all Rick Riordan's YA books becoming movies, apparently. They could be some great, enjoyable family films. Plus, I love the history he includes!

5. The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
I waffled a bit if I was going to put this on here, but I think it could be a fun little indie film. Some awesomely-bad girl band with one boy traveling along the Pacific Northwest as they try to figure out their futures, lives and the what-ifs of life? C'mon. That's just screen gold.

6. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
I mean...yes, it would be the cutest little love story chick flick on the planet, but really I'd just want a real life Oliver. (Don't we all?)

7. Take A Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg
Ok, I'm cheating because I have yet to read this - but everything I've read and seen, I think it would be pretty perfect. I'm a huge sucker for anything Arts Schools (name a dance movie, arts movie, I'VE SEEN IT.) and I think this could be among them.

What books do you want to see on the screen?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Blog Tour: Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway


I have the absolute pleasure of hosting Caitlen Rubino-Bradway today for her blog tour; she's the author of Ordinary Magic, a Middle Grade fantasy book that releases next week!

I have to ask about the unusual spelling of your first name - is there a story behind it? Do you like it?
First, I’m really impressed that you noticed the spelling. There are people I’ve known for years that still spell it ‘Caitlin’. I actually really love my name, especially now that I get to see it on a book cover, but I’ve kind of accepted that it’s going to be misspelled a lot. That’s okay, I’m a terrible speller myself. Just as long as they get it right on the book.

There actually isn’t a story behind my name, other than the family rumor that Mom picked out all our names from seeing them in a book. But then she just decided on a spelling she liked. Mom did say I could make up a story if I wanted, so I’m going to say she spelled it that way just to annoy people. Although once this guy in a bookstore tried to convince me that the spelling was Old Irish (I think) and that I’d been mispronouncing it. Apparently the correct pronunciation is not KATE-lin but KAT-leen. Unfortunately, the wrong pronunciation was stuck in my head by that point, so we’ll just have to go with that.

Introduce us to Ordinary Magic: what's something you'd like the reader to take away from the story?
Actually, what I love about stories is that five different people can read the same thing and each take away something completely different. The story is the same, but the reading is personal. I’m really looking forward to hearing what my readers take away from Ordinary Magic.

But, seriously, it should be how awesome Gil is.

Your previous works have all been co-written with your mom (which I love, my mom is my best friend) - was it difficult to do a solo novel?
Yes and no. It’s difficult to write any novel — no matter how much I love a story, there’s always a point where I start tearing my hair out because it is just taking so LONG. That’s what’s nice about working with Mom: there’s somebody else to talk things over when you get frustrated, to keep you going, and, most importantly, go get coffee with. Of course, you also have to have a give and take. When you’re writing on your own, you get to control everything. But then it’s also all on you: meeting deadlines, getting up in the morning, and sitting your butt down in front of that computer.

Your previous works are also all Jane Austen-centric - does Ordinary Magic have any Austen-like qualities? Or did you want to depart from that fully?
I tried to depart from that fully; Ordinary Magic’s just a different story. It’s actually interesting that Mom and I write completely different stuff apart than when we’re together. On her own Mom wrote an awesome mystery series about a single mom, and I love MG and YA fantasy, but then we have Lady Vernon, which is an adult historical inspired by Jane Austen.

Your novel sounds fabulous! Why did you decide to write a fantasy book?
I love fantasy books! Especially middle grade and young adult — I feel like they really have this sense of fun and wonder. Some of my favorite books are kids fantasies; I love The Secret Garden, and, more recently, I was really charmed by Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George. It also helps that everybody’s running around in cool fantasy clothing — because, you know, pretty dresses only ever enhance a reading experience. In fact, I often debate dressing up for my reading time, I have a couple of Renn Faire outfits, but my favorite corset laces up the back so it’s really hard to put on by myself.

Are you working on anything else now, or are you basking in the soon-to-be-published glow?
At the moment I’m working on a YA paranormal that is taking forever to finish. It is going to make me go bald from all this tearing the hair out.

What made you choose to write a MG novel?
Actually, when I was originally submitting Ordinary Magic, I thought it was a YA — Abby was 12, because she just sort of showed up at that age, but there was some scary stuff in that draft. The two villains smacked the kids around and cursed a couple times, Abby’s older siblings engaged in a bit of risqué teasing, and there are carnivorous creatures in the book that we, shall we say, saw the aftermath of.  It was my wonderful and fabulous editor who pointed out that Abby’s age dictated my audience — because she’s 12, my target audience is going to be 8-14, as kids mostly like to read up. Because I was looking at a younger audience, I had to cut a lot back to make it more age appropriate. Sometimes it was just the way I’d talk about a certain thing, and other times it was whole scenes.

Was it difficult writing Ordinary Magic? Getting it published?
The writing and publishing process always has it’s ups and downs. For instance, it’s always tough writing a full-length novel, but I feel really lucky to have had Abby. From the first she’s been a character that’s taken hold of the pen, and her POV was one of the easiest things to write.

As for getting it published, I kind of lucked out there, too. I actually work for the woman who’s my literary agent, and I originally asked her to read the book over to just give me some feedback, not expecting her to offer to represent it. I also got Bloomsbury Children’s, which handles some of my favorite authors — I was especially lucky because that draft needed a lot of work. It was a 90k word behemoth that was a little all-over-the-place. I had to cut at least 30k words, which meant I chopped an entire plot line (that will — fingers crossed — make up the backbone for Book 2), and a lot of just chatty stuff. It took me about 9 months to do the revisions, and then another year for it to work through the publishing process, so it’s been a long road.

Argus Filch from Harry Potter
What inspired you? I can't help but think of Argus Filch, the Squib from Harry Potter - but I love that in Ordinary Magic there is a negative consequence for being non-magical.
You’re so right! I actually got the idea for Ordinary Magic a while back, when my friends and I were talking about fantasy novels we liked, and I thought how often I’d seen the special person or kid who is an orphan or unloved by their family who turns out to have the biggest magic of them all. Don’t get me wrong, I love that plotline, but I just thought, you know, I’d love to see a story where the main character can’t do any magic at all. How would they function?

Shortly after that I was re-reading Harry Potter, I was really struck by that scene in Chamber of Secrets where Harry comes across Filch’s Kwikspell letter, and afterwards Ron is laughing about it, and I couldn’t help thinking how much that must stink. There’s also the moment when Neville tells how his uncle dropped him out a window because he was worried that Neville’s magic hadn’t shown up. It’s supposed to be a funny moment, but how awful is it that your family would chuck you out a window just to prove you’re not a squib?

I absolutely ADORE the cover of Ordinary Magic - it's bright and whimsical and so enticing! Did you ever envision the cover before it existed? Is it anything like what you'd imagined?
It’s better than I imagined. I was thrilled when Bloomsbury Children’s accepted Ordinary Magic, and a big part of that was that I’ve always loved their covers. So I knew I was going to get something awesome. Which is good, because I also knew, from working in publishing and the Lady Vernon process with Mom, that the cover is ultimately up to the publisher’s art department. Publishers will consult with the author, but the final say is up to them. As you can see, they came up with something completely gorgeous.

What's the best part about being a writer? The worst?
I’d say the best part is seeing your book in bookstores, but actually my favorite is the feeling I get on those special days when everything’s working. The characters are mostly doing what I want them to do, but when they’re not they’re still interesting and telling me stuff about them I hadn’t thought about yet, when I can figure out the exact way to say what I want, and I can turn off the computer and go do my laundry, feeling like I’ve accomplished something. It’s a total high.

The worst part is, naturally, the exact opposite of that. There are days when nothing is coming, when it’s pulling teeth to get a sentence written, and my characters are all acting like a sullen 15-year-old Caitlen and refusing to even talk about why they’re not behaving. (Yes, I had a very moody teenagerdom.) Those are the days when I slam my computer shut and can’t stop worrying that the story is stupid, and cliché, and no one is ever going to want to read it in a million years.

As you can see, I’m well past the moodiness now.

Anything you would like to tell the readers?
Just that I hope you enjoy it. For all of my trials and tribulations, I had a lot of fun writing this book, and I hope that translates into the reading.

How can you be contacted/found around the web?
I am on Facebook and Twitter! Also there will be a website coming.

How about some randomness to close out! What were your last 3 purchases?
A coffee, a couple of sea-salt caramels, and a ticket to Newsies on Broadway.

Last 3 websites you visited?
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
Obscurus Lupa's Channel on That Guy With The Glasses
My Twitter page

And of course, last 3 books read?
Eye of the World (now that the final book is coming out in January, I’ve promised myself I’m going to read the entire series)
The Truth by Terry Pratchett
Knightly Academy by Violet Haberdasher

How awesome is Caitlen?? Anybody who loves The Secret Garden gets a plus in my book, and I can't wait to see what's in her YA novel after all she had to edit out of Ordinary Magic. Thank you so much Caitlen for the pleasure of your company on my blog, and I can't wait to read all about Abby!

Ordinary Magic hits shelves May 8, 2012!

The Weekly Wrap Up + My Mailbox

the book that reignited my desire to write


which turned into one of the best nights of my life
Me, Kirsten Hubbard, Nina LaCour, Gayle Forman, Stephanie Perkins


Jace Wayland included!

PLUS: Win a signed finished copy of In Honor by Jessi Kirby!
US only (sorry!), ends 5/1 (hopefully the winner will receive it before or on its release date)

AND: A small preview of an exciting post on Monday...


Finally, this week's mailbox!

Library
Clockwork Prince - Cassandra Clare
I am fully aware how often this pops up in my mailbox haha. I WILL get it done!

Silver Phoenix - Cindy Pon
I stumbled upon this when I went to pick up the others
and I'm too curious to not read it after I had the pleasure of meeting her.

Ripper - Stefan Petrucha

Review
Struck - Jennifer Bosworth 
(thanks DAC ARC Tour!)

NetGalley
Unspoken - Sarah Rees Brennan
One Moment - Kristina McBride
Flirting in Italian - Lauren Henderson
Kissing Shakespeare - Pamela Mingle
The Book of Blood and Shadow - Robin Wasserman**
Something Like Normal - Trish Doller (!!!!)
Velveteen - Daniel Marks
Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein
The Paladin Prophecy - Mark Frost

**I was approved of The Book of Blood and Shadow on Thursday - but the book has already been published and archived. How do I respond on NG? Decline + state I was approved after it was taken down in the "review" section? Help please!

Thank you Random House, Bloomsbury, Egmont, and Disney-Hyperion!

Purchases

For the YA or Bust Tour
Hold Still - Nina LaCour
Where She Went - Gayle Forman

Found out there's a used bookstore in San Diego. Awesome, but sooo bad for my wallet.
But hey, these 4 books only cost me $8!
Nightshade - Andrea Cremer
Teen Angst? Naaaah... - Ned Vizzini
A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray (loveeee this book)

Top: Friends of the Library Bookshop
Bottom: I really need to stay out of Barnes & Noble...haha
The Book Thief - Markus Zukas

Bright Lights, Big Ass - Jen Lancaster
love her! I'll be at her signing next month in San Diego.

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour - Morgan Matson (review here!)
Yay! Hopefully going to her signing next month in Huntington, and I can't wait for Second Chance Summer.

Poison Study - Maria V. Snyder
One of my best friends keeps insisting I need to read this. Plus, the day after I purchased, Anna put up a review saying it was great!

What's in your mailbox?
Leave your link in the comments and I'll hop by!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
Dutton, 307 pages
US Release Date: February 16, 2012
Challenges: Sophomore Reading Challenge, YA Contemporary Challenge


Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev's band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she's abandoning their plans - and Colby - to start college in the fall.

But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie- Colby struggles to deal with Bev's already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what's next?

Morris Award–finalist Nina LaCour draws together the beauty and influences of music and art to brilliantly capture a group of friends on the brink of the rest of their lives.
------------------------Goodreads summary

Notable Quote
She stares in wonder at the eggs and toast, and I know how she feels, how everyday things are rare and exciting when they turn up in unfamiliar places.

I really wish The Disenchantments was out when I had graduated high school...or even college, really. It's a brilliant, stunning novel about finishing one thing and trying to figure out the big, all-encompassing question of "What next?".

When I was about halfway through the novel, I tweeted out that The Disenchantments made me want to write again. I've been a trained journalist for 12 years, but I rarely talk about the fact that I'm a writer first and foremost. Not a published author (yet), but I have the dreams; just have yet to finish the story. For reasons too personal for the blog, I haven't written a story in a few years -- I've done NaNoWriMo every year, but it's never a story that I know in my heart is destined to be seen. It's been a very massive, very intimidating writer's block, essentially.

But The Disenchantments made that itch flare, made that deep need to write and create and express through words bubble up in my chest again, and it was absolutely amazing. Because this book is something I would absolutely love to write one day (not exactly, of course!). It's filled with that subtleness that works its way unknowingly into your heart, in that quiet fashion where you don't even realize how much it's striking your soul until there's so much of it it overflows. There's nothing EXPLOSIVELY HUGE or anything that comes from left field here, and it's perfect.

I think what really sold this book for me is how absolutely real it is. There aren't massive emotional swings, or tricks in the plot that are supposed to smack you upside the head: like real life, it's a struggle, a slow chipping away at a problem that opens it up gradually and painfully. It's that moment when you learn of the fissure in the foundation, and all that follows are the slowly and ever-expanding things you finally figure out to realize just how broken and screwed you are.

I can talk about how it's an amazing road trip novel, filled with that perfect journey - both literal and metaphorical - as we watch four friends become closer to who they think they want to be; and I could talk about the music (The Supremes!) and how awesomely well it all comes off the page, from Bev's breathy voice to the irregular drum beats to the feedback of the amps; I could talk about how appropriately and quietly art and all its forms and what it opens up in a life are distributed in the book; I could even talk about how even though it's not the sexiest, hottest or dream-worthy kissy scenes I've ever read, I do think they're absolutely perfect in this book and made me swoon just as hard.  I could talk about all that, because it's all true...

But it's about how well it all comes together, how masterful Nina LaCour ties it all together into this perfect little mini-band tour.  Each character (including Melinda!) is so unique and lovely in their own way, and I have to admit that Colby is possibly the best male POV I've ever read--YA or not. I felt like I was in the van with them, answering those quotes on a slip of paper, wishing I could know what was on Bev's walkman, buying Colby a half an hour in the hot tubs. And not just because I loved them all so much and wanted to be their friends, but because I found a little (or even a lot) of myself in every single character; even though sometimes that hurt, it was the best kind.

5 Stars / 5
(and more if I could!)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

TGIF (13) and Follow Friday (12)

TGIF is hosted by Ginger at Greads! This week's discussion is about
Reading Blues
We all get them from time to time. What helps you overcome those reading slumps when nothing seems to grab your attention.

Two solutions for me:
1) Stop reading entirely. Just for a day or two (usually that's all I can handle before I want to read again!). It gives me a chance to breathe, to not feel so pressured to meet a pub date or get some sort of valuable content on the blog and remember that hey...I love reading, and it should never stress me out.

2) Re-read something I love. There are thankfully those books that you know will always make you feel better--even if they're sad books. Those well-worn, well-read stories that make your heart flutter. The Jessica Darling series. Anna and the French Kiss. The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight. The Sky is Everywhere. Maybe that super cheesy adult romance novel (Susan Elizabeth Phillips is my go-to author for that). Reading slumps happen to me when I've read a ton of books in a row that either don't do anything for me, are outside my usual genre (contemporary), or are too similar (I went through an alarming week where every book was about cancer and death). Reading something I know I love reminds me of how beautiful books are and rejuvenates my interest in discovering more.

How do you cure the reading blues?
Leave me your link and I'll come check it out!

Follow Friday is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee's View, meant to spotlight two blogs and allows bloggers to link up and meet other fabulous bookish friends and share the Following love!

This week's spotlight blogs are: Little Read Riding Hood & Book That Thing

And the question of the week is:
Have you had a character that disappointed you? One that you fell in love with and then "broke up" with later on in either series or a stand-alone book? Tell us about him or her.

Fun question! Difficult, too, because I don't really remember the ones I don't like unless it's a character I have a strong, immediate aversion to.  I think Keith from 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson would have to be the answer...I really, really loved him during most of the book, but towards the end I just wasn't feeling him for some reason. And then when I read Last Little Blue Envelope...40 pages in and I was questioning what I ever saw in him (gosh it was like a real relationship...haha).  No spoilers if you haven't read Last Little Blue Envelope...but he fell flat and I definitely broke up with him.


Can I put an unpopular opinion out there? First and foremost, I love Harry Potter -- the books and the character. I adore him, always. But I have to say, in The Order of the Phoenix, it was definitely a rough patch in the relationship. I just wanted him to stop whining! Everything was about him and how he was being ignored and woe is he and he was being SUCH a baby.  Like I said, I love him, adore him for always...I just needed some time apart after that haha.

What character did you break up with?
Leave me your link and I'll hop by!
And of course I'd love to return a follow if you are kind enough to follow me :)

PS. Have you entered my giveaway to win a signed copy of In Honor by Jessi Kirby? US only, ends 5/1 since I hope to get the book to the winner before or on its official release!

YA or Bust Tour Recap: aka BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE & GUSHIEST POST EVER.

**anyone who met me at the event, please tell me! Email or comment here or add me on Twitter! I wasn't able to get info from anyone :(  This is especially to the woman with dark curly hair who sat in the front row, got the goodreads accounts of the two ladies I was sitting next to, and absolutely loved Etienne! (I am so sorry, I don't remember your name...but I know you know who you are!)

YA or Bust came to gloomy little San Diego last night, and I was lucky enough to go. And seriously you guys...BEST NIGHT EVER.

I'm just going to get this out of the way: each of the authors who were there hold very special places in my heart, for specific reasons. In summary:

  • Stephanie Perkins: Lola was the first review I EVER wrote, before I even had a book blog (the one in my archives was "imported"). Because I loved it so much I had to write about it.
  • Gayle Forman: If I Stay & Where She Went are the reason I read mainly YA. Because her books are what made me realize the beauty and tragedy and pure emotion you can find.
  • Nina LaCour: As I tweeted yesterday, The Disenchantments makes me want to write again. The review will be up Friday, but trust me when I say it is everything I hope to be.
  • Kirsten Hubbard (moderator): If you can't see from my review of Wanderlove, her book made me have PANIC ATTACKS because I felt so many things. TFiOS notwithstanding, Wanderlove has held fast as my Favourite 2012 read. It is my first recommendation to everyone.
Me, Kirsten Hubbard, Nina LaCour, Gayle Forman, Stephanie Perkins
I'm barely holding it together, you guys. SO MUCH AWESOME.
So the fact that they were ALL here, ALL in front of me, ALL talking and telling us these amazing things...I can't tell you how much I had to hold in the squealing.  All of them are such funny, witty, intelligent women. There were so many jokes and so much laughter, I want to hang out with them all the time. (and Kierston White was in the audience, too!)

I had a minor freakout when I saw Kirsten Hubbard walk in. I did my best to reign it in (the two lovely ladies I met and was sitting with, Kami and Meredith, got to hear me have a whispered squeal), but I pretty much DIED when Kirsten saw me and goes, "Hey! I recognize you from Twitter! You're Ashley, right?"  SHE KNEW WHO I WAS, GUYS.

It kicked off with summaries of their books, BUT they each described another person's books! Stephanie introduced Nina's books (called Hold Still "hopeful"), Gayle introduced Stephanie's books (called Anna the "most swoony, romantic book"), and Nina introduced Gayle's (said she got goosebumps just talking about them because they're so beautiful). It was tons of fun to hear how and what the others thought of their books.

From there on, it was just laughter and awesomeness. The things I remember:
  • Nina is very quiet, and has a lovely melodic voice.
  • Gayle is absolutely HILARIOUS.
  • Stephanie is sarcastic in a perfect way.
  • Gayle is apparently the most disciplined of the three.
  • Stephanie took french lessons as research for Anna.
  • Nina went on road trips for her research (I think she mentioned 2, though I can't quite remember)
  • Kirsten and Stephanie jokingly called themselves Sloth "Hipsters" because they loved baby sloths before it was cool to.
  • Gayle's upcoming books are another duet (pair).
  • Stephanie guards her books very closely, but says her next book (Isla and the Happily Ever After) is the last companion to Anna & Lola...and that it will probably piss off a lot of people.
  • Nina considered Wilson Phillips to be the final girl band in her book, but settled on Heart.
  • Gayle listened to Falling Slowly from the Once soundtrack often while she wrote If I Stay.
  • Stephanie's favourite scene in If I Stay is "play me like a cello." (SWOON, RIGHT?!)
  • Gayle's favourite scene in The Disenchantments is the beer scene.
  • Stephanie had on black and yellow striped socks. It was adorable.
I apologize if I'm making you all jealous, but I am totally NOT sorry for having been there. They were the sweetest and so amazing, staying to sign everyone's books - I was one of the last 5 or so, and they were just as perky and nice as when it kicked off.  I got to talk to Kirsten and Nina for awhile about writing, Twitter, ALA, BEA...everything.

Click for the full version
How cute is that Disenchantments poster, you guys?? And they were troopers and signed every.single.book everyone had.

So, is this not the best night ever?

IT GOT BETTER FOR ME.

Shannon Messenger was there too, who has two upcoming books: Keeper of the Lost Cities (Oct 2, 2012) and Let The Sky Fall (March 2013) - and I was creepy and hovering for a few minutes as she chatted with other fellow authors. But when I finally plucked up enough courage to introduce myself, she was so sweet and awesome and we talked about her books and she even gave me signed bookmarks. Keeper of the Lost Cities is almost 500 pages, guys! Andrea Ortega (of YA know) has a picture of us together, I'll add it as soon as it's tagged on Facebook!  And if you're going to BEA, be on the lookout for ARCs! They'll be there - and the cover for Let The Sky Fall will be revealed just before.

STILL GETS BETTER.

After the event finished, I realized I hadn't eaten since lunch and decided to swing by Tea Station (a local boba/tea shop) a few blocks down.  I was about to order a drink to go when I realized I also had to use the bathroom - so I went. And when I finished and swung open the door...who's standing there waiting to use the bathroom? KIRSTEN HUBBARD.  So not only does she still recognize me and say hello (I don't know how I didn't scare her off), but she offers to introduce me to all her friends. And when she did, they invited me to stay and hang out with them!! YOU GUYS. I held it together, but I was FREAKING OUT. I mean, I just had boba with Kirsten FREAKIN' Hubbard. Who I gushed about and absolutely HARASSED on Twitter when I was reading Wanderlove because I couldn't stop tweeting her about how much I loved it. I would not be surprised to receive a restraining order tomorrow.

Who were her friends? Maybe you'll recognize a few of them...as mentioned, Andrea Ortega of YA Know; Nikki Katz of YA Know, is a Bookanista, has a few nonfiction books out, and is a freelance & social media extraordinaire; Cindy Pon, author of Silver Phoenix and Fury of the Phoenix; and Debra Driza, whose very anticipated YA Sci-Fi novel Mila 2.0 will be out next year.

Yeah. Best choice ever to go to the bathroom.  Kirsten is sweet, kind, fun, down-to-earth, totally someone I would hang out with on any regular day. And yeah, she's gorgeous in real life, too. Her friends were also phenomenal, so much fun to hang out. It blew my mind to be sitting with these people who are actually a part of the book world and hear names tossed about, only to realize they're talking about authors who I love, admire, put on pedestals, generally think the sun shines out their asses. Surreal.

I really don't think anything can top this night. To be around all bookish people, authors who I love and adore and admire, learn of new ones, to just chat with people who love what I love...it was AMAZING. I just want to do this all day, every day. I was so honored and lucky to meet these people, to get to hang out with them, and I hope they know and understand just how deep my gratitude goes.

The last stop of the YA or Bust tour is tomorrow in Seattle - if you can, GO GO GO. Absolutely 100% go.

PS. I'm a selfish blogger and did not get anything at the signing to give away, but you can still win a signed copy of In Honor by Jessi Kirby! Enter here, US only. Ends 5/1, because I'm hoping to get the book to the winner before or in time for its official release! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review: Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard

Like Mandarin
Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard
Delacorte Press, 320 Pages
US Release date: March 8, 2011

Challenge: Local Library Challenge

It's hard finding beauty in the badlands of Washokey, Wyoming, but 14-year-old Grace Carpenter knows it's not her mother's pageant obsessions, or the cowboy dances adored by her small-town classmates. True beauty is wild-girl Mandarin Ramey: 17, shameless and utterly carefree. Grace would give anything to be like Mandarin.

When they're united for a project, they form an unlikely, explosive friendship, packed with nights spent skinny-dipping in the canal, liberating the town's animal-head trophies, and searching for someplace magic. Grace plays along when Mandarin suggests they run away together. Blame it on the crazy-making wildwinds plaguing their Badlands town.

Because all too soon, Grace discovers Mandarin's unique beauty hides a girl who's troubled, broken, and even dangerous. And no matter how hard Grace fights to keep the magic, no friendship can withstand betrayal.
-------------------------Goodreads summary

Notable Quote
While it's smart to plan for the future, we won't find real happiness if our eyes never leave the horizon.

When I was reading this, I had to keep reminding myself that Grace is only 14-years-old -- so many instances I wanted to shake her and tell her to come to her senses! She was just so impressionable and naive, and it absolutely killed me.

I did not like Mandarin at all--but she's a great character because of that. She's a lost 17-year-old who needs to act out and chooses to do so in bad ways; when she finds Grace, a girl willing to do and be just about anything for or with her, how could Mandarin resist? I'm nothing like Mandarin and I don't think I would have been able to.

Their friendship is infuriating to me, because it's just such a bad thing and I wanted to step in and be the mother that Grace doesn't have in her own. I wanted to forbid her from seeing Mandarin and tell her all the wrong ways she was going about standing out -- even though I knew it would make Grace go faster. It was a very obsessive devotion from Grace, which was a bit disturbing to me. I was surprised at such a strong reaction I was having, actually, which is a testament to how well and consistent the characters and stories were.

Everything that happens in this novel makes sense, and as long as you remember the ages and circumstances, you'll enjoy it. The supporting characters were done really well, especially Taffetta, and each one has an integral part to the ending third of the book.

Truthfully, I was a bit underwhelmed by the book, and I can't quite pinpoint why. I don't think I had too many expectations after Wanderlove since it is such a different premise, and I don't think I went into it expecting anything. The first half felt a bit slow, but I powered through the last half. And while there's nothing bad at all about this book, there was nothing I was completely gushing over, either.

3.5 Stars / 5

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger & The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine,

meant to spotlight an upcoming release we are eagerly awaiting!

A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger
Poppy, 304 Pages
Expected US Release Date: June 5, 2012


Whitley Johnson's dream summer with her divorced dad has turned into a nightmare. She's just met his new fiancée and her kids. The fiancée's son? Whitley's one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin' great. Worse, she totally doesn't fit in with her dad's perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn't even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she's ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn't "do" friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn't her stepbrother...at least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together.
------------------------Goodreads summary


I've only read The Duff by Kody Keplinger, but this sounds like it'll be just as good: a nice blend of the serious with the fun.



The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando
Dutton Juvenile, 239 Pages
Expected US Release Date: July 5, 2012

An all-day scavenger hunt in the name of eternal small-town glory
With only a week until graduation, there’s one last thing Mary and her friends must do together: participate in the Oyster Point High Official Unofficial Senior Week Scavenger Hunt. And Mary is determined to win.

Mary lost her spot at Georgetown to self-professed “it” bully Pete Lembo, and she’s not about to lose again. But everyone is racing for the finish line with complicated motives, and the team’s all-night adventure becomes all-night drama as shifting alliances, flared tempers, and crushing crushes take over. As the items and points pile up, Mary and her team must reinvent their strategy—and themselves—in order to win.
-----------------------Goodreads summary

As I've mentioned before, I adore one-night books. It's like I get whisked away with them on this whirlwind night journey! And the fact this is a Scavenger Hunt of some sort? This could be all sorts of interesting.

What book(s) are you waiting for?
Leave your link in the comments and I'll hop by!

PS. Have you entered here to win a signed copy of In Honor by Jessi Kirby? US only
ends 5/1