Thursday, September 30, 2010

You Have To Ban A Book... Let's Play Pretend [You're The Expert]

Let's suspend reality for ten minutes.

Pretend you live in a society that censors what you read (I know, that'd never ever ever happen, right?).

Pretend your government said that you had to pick a book to put on its banned books list.  If you don't contribute a title, you will lose all reading privileges and your book buying, library borrowing, and ereading privileges are included in that loss.  If you want to keep reading, you just have to provide them with a title. (No, there is no freedom of speech anymore, or freedom of press... I don't even know how I eeked this post out past Big Brother).

Which title do you give them?  Leave us a comment and tell us which book and why, after which you can come back to reality and join us in the fight against censorship, where people can read what we consider to be crap if they want to.  *feels so good to be free again*

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Banned Books Week Link Roundup

Guys, just a quick reminder that it's Banned Books Week (not that you can step mouse in the blogosphere and miss it, but hey, you know) and that we challenged you to purchase and sport a banned book in public this week to support its author.

Really quickly, here are a few articles from around the 'net that you might enjoy re: banned books:

Texas: If You Can't Ban Books, Ban Authors, Time
A mobile of banned books at Berkeley Public Library, Berkeleyside
Pentagon Burns Copies of Operation Dark Heart Before Banned Book Week, US Financial Post
Happy Banned Books Week, Time
Universities Plan Banned Book Readings, KSPR (Springfield, MO)

Authors And Readers Rally To Defend Rape Novel From School Ban, The Guardian
Banned Books Week Should Thank Twitter, The New York Times
15 Iconic Movies Based on Banned Books, American Library Association
Can Censoring a Children’s Book Remove Its Prejudices?, Nine Kinds of Pie
10 Ways to Celebrate Banned Books Week, The New York Times

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk on Audiobook by David Sedaris [Giveaway]

Featuring David Sedaris's unique blend of hilarity and heart, this new collection of keen-eyed animal-themed tales is an utter delight. Though the characters may not be human, the situations in these stories bear an uncanny resemblance to the insanity of everyday life.

In "The Toad, the Turtle, and the Duck," three strangers commiserate about animal bureaucracy while waiting in a complaint line. In "Hello Kitty," a cynical feline struggles to sit through his prison-mandated AA meetings. In "The Squirrel and the Chipmunk," a pair of star-crossed lovers is separated by prejudiced family members.

Once again David Sedaris shows us the most outrageous, tender, absurd sides of ourselves in his "profoundly funny, well-crafted stories that somehow, magically, bring home a major point about fidelity or guilt or love" (Christian Science Monitor).

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's Read-A-Thon Time Again!

It's almost October... which means that it's almost time for Dewey's 24 hour Read-A-Thon again!  Sign-ups are live for readers, cheerleaders, and hosts for mini-challenges!  Already signed up?  Not signed up yet?  There's still time - October 9th is the date.

What Is A Read-A-Thon?

Well... this Read-A-Thon is all about devoting a 24-hour period of your life to reading.  The idea?  Read for 24 hours straight.  The reality?  Read for as long as you can, and don't make yourself sick over it.

Why In The World Would Someone Do That?

Some of my reasons.  A) It's fun.  B) You are participating in a global event, where people are all reading at the same time, and all posting to their blogs/Facebook Status/Twitter feed how their reading is going.  C) It's way less calories than a 24 hour Cupcake-a-Thon, though that does sound kinda great. D) There are prizes.  E) There are Mini-Challenges for more prizes.  F) When's the last time you read more than one book in one day? (the last Read-A-Thon)

Whoa.  That Still Sounds Crazy.

Well, it is.  And so far, every single Read-A-Thon I've participated in has found me with a horrible sinus infection (it's timed around our huge seasonal changes here in AZ, so it's sucky) and I've only stayed up the entire 24 hours a couple of times.  But, I always get at least one book read, and I always have fun checking out the progress that others have made and I always meet a new bloggy buddy when I participate.  Aaaaaand, I love how people react when I explain to people that I'm participating in a Read-A-Thon with their crazy eyes, and the "OMG, you are a book nut" looks.  Did I mention it's fun?

Okay.  I'll Give It A Whorl.  What Do I Do Next?
Sign up to read.  If you're not sure about reading for 24 hours, sign up to be a cheerleader for an hour so you can check out how it works and whatnot.  Then, go to your bookshelf and pull out 10 books you haven't read yet.  Don't have ten books?  Take a trip to the library.  Now, when you're selecting your books, realize that you're not going to read them all.  Also, pick ones that are 250 pages or less.  The shorter, the better.  It'll keep you moving through and you'll feel less daunted by your reading.  In fact, here'a a fauxlaroid of my selections.

I'm Signed Up.  Now What?
Dude, leave me a comment with your blog link and I'll make sure to check in on you during the 'thon.   Select your books.  Plan your snacks.  Plan your day, and come up with a posting schedule that makes you and your readers happy. (I do one continuous post so that you guys don't get slammed in your readers by stuff you so totally don't care about)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Project Gutenberg Launches App for Android [News]

We've written before about how great the Project Gutenberg website is for readers.  It makes literature in the public domain available in e format so that it can be accessible to people who may not be able to afford it otherwise.

Great news today though for Android users - the Project Gutenberg application is now available to you!  You can sample the app for 24 hours for free, or buy it for $3.99.  The app is also available on the iPhone/iPad/iPod, and Kindle platforms.  By publishing

For those of you who do not have an Android or Apple phone, or those of you who do and don't want to spend the money to purchase the app, there is a mobile website for  Just scan this QR code to go to

What do you guys think?  Good app?  Bad app?  Useless app?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Support A Challenged Author, 'Cause Banned Books Week Is Next Week

Banned and challenged books have been in YA bookish news a lot lately.  From Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK being called porn to Sarah Ockler's TWENTY BOY SUMMER being challenged to a huge debaucle over Ellen Hopkins speaking at a YA festival that was evenutally cancelled because of author solidarity with Ellen, we've seen a lot about censorship in YA over this past summer.  Followers have even started a Twitter hashtag (#SpeakLoudly) to discuss the subject.

While we whole-heartedly advocate that parents decide what material is appropriate for their children to read (yes, including teens!), we also abhor the practice of wide-spread and absolute censorship and book banning.  In our minds, it's equivocal to book burning.  You're taking away freedom when you take a book off of a shelf.  You're taking away a parent's right to choose whether or not their child can read the book.  You're taking away the right of a child to learn a valuable lesson through the perspective of a fictional character.  You're taking away a resource that might help someone.  So to those of you who challenge books, quit being selfish.  Quit trying to make and enforce unilateral decisions for others.  Quit trying to play God.  Let us all use our first ammendment rights, and our intellectual rights to choose what we put in our heads, mmmkay?

For those of you who are with me on the matter (yes, I am aware that some of you are not), join with me in supporting challenged authors by selecting one challenged book that you haven't yet read and purchasing it next week, or sporting your library copy in public  for Banned Books Week next week (September 25- October 2).  Ideally, you'd sock it to the Thought Police by reading it too, but we realize that money sometimes speaks just as loud as words.  So you pick.  Read one from the library, or pick up your own shiny brand-new copy, but make some sort of a statement by sporting a banned book in public next week, will ya?  I'll be sporting Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK.  To help you choose, here are about a zillion links to most-challenged books, also check out banned books from last year.  Which one do you think you'll pick?  Let us know in the comments section.

Ten Most Challenged Books from 2009 per ALA:
(also check out the 2008, 2007, 2006, and 2005 lists and decade lists for the '90s and '00s)
1. “TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
   Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs
2. “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
   Reasons: Homosexuality
3. “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
   Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide
4. “To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee
   Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
   Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
6. “Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger
   Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
7. “My Sister’s Keeper,” by Jodi Picoult
   Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence
8. “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things,” by Carolyn Mackler
   Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
9. “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker
   Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
10. “The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
   Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Book Signing Scrapbook [Crafts]

While at the Smart Chicks signing last weekend (more to come about that soon), I encountered a girl who was doing something so entirely ingenious...  she was making a book signing scrapbook!  She handed each author a blank page, asked them to sign it, then had her companion take a photo with her and the author.  When I commented on what an ingenious idea this was, she flipped back through the pages and said something to the affect of, "Yeah, and it's really great to be able to show them the finished page the next time they come through," while she was showing me some of the finished, scrapbooked pages from her collection.

This is ingenious for a lot of reasons, and I'll name a few:

1) She's got a lasting memory of the event and a place to put actual scraps pertaining to that event that will not eventually fall out of a book somewhere.
2) She's got something significant for an author to sign even if she hasn't read their work yet.  I seem to run into this on occasion when I'm at bigger events and there are multi-author panels where I don't know all of the authors.  I listened to them, loved them, but have nothing for them to sign because I hadn't known how great they were until that panel!  This remedies that situation.  
3) It gives you a great place to store all of those photos!
4) When you haven't gotten around to purchasing your copy of that book you loved when you borrowed it from the library, you still have a reason to go to the signing, and a souvenir that you can take home with you.  

What do you guys think?  I didn't snap a picture of this girl's scrapbook, but I did ask her if she minded if I shared her idea with you guys, which she totally didn't (because who wouldn't want to be called a genius in public, right?).  The book she had was probably like a 6x6 or 8x8 in size, so it wasn't bulky and wasn't overbearing.  You guys think you might do something like that?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Dead Boys by Royce Buckingham [Book Inspection] [Giveaway]

Plot Sketch:  Teddy, a twelve-year-old boy, and his mom have just moved to Richland, Washington.  Richland is on the desert-ish side of WA state, a city that has a rich history when it comes to nuclear research and the Manhattan project.  Behind the house that Teddy moves into is a giant sycamore tree, and we enter the story knowing that the tree has nuclear-natural abilities.  This is the story of how Teddy discovers how the tree feeds, and the journey that makes you wonder if Teddy will succumb to the tree's feeding habits, and how a new boy in town makes friends that are quasi-real but maybe want to kill him...

Verdict: Here's the deal.  This book is written for twelve-year-old boys.  It freaked me out a couple of times. I may or may have not had a nightmare about the book (I can't decide whether or not I want to own to it or not) and I would caution parents of twelve-year-old boys, or younger boys, to read it first to make sure it's not too scary for their guy.  I mean, if I had read it when I was twelve, there's no way I would have ever climbed another tree, and I probably wouldn't want to be alone in the forest either.  That said, I felt like the writing was concise and flowed well, and was appropriate for the age group it was trying to reach.  Reading this book as an adult or anyone over twelve puts you in a situation where it is easier to get through the scary parts because you know that the scary parts only happen to twelve year old boys.  I think the best part of the book was that the further away from it I got, the better it seemed in my head.  It took a few days for it to settle, but afterward, I realized this was a good book, and one worth sharing with you guys, especially since it is not a huge time investment.  My favorite part though are the chapter headings where the tree gets closer and closer to the boy.  It's a nice touch.

Location: Richland, Washington, USA
Main Character: Teddy
Favorite Character: Teddy for sure.
Would Change: Not sure...
Favorite Line: "He reached down and pulled the parasite branch from his torn flesh with a sickening pop." p.172, hardcover
Good for Monster? Sure.  He'd probably enjoy it.
People Who Will Like This: twelve year old boys, police departments, dogs, and photographers.
People Who Won't Like This: ecofreaks, german a-bomb makers, twelve year old boys
Chapters: 39
Author's Website:
Acquire It:   Amazon    Book Depository    Changing Hands

Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publish Date: September 2, 2010 (which is also Mr. Buckingham's birthday)
ISBN-10: 0399252223

If you would like to enter to win a copy of this book, please fill out this form:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Erin Bow of Plain Kate [Debut Interview]

Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska. Though I've lived in Canada for quite a while.
Astrological Sign: Skeptic
Favorite Author: Ursula Le Guin
Favorite Vacation Spot: Chicago
Favorite Animal: Otters
Favorite Movie: The Full Monty
Favorite Musical Artist or Group: The Pogues
Favorite Painter: Hiroshige
Place You Desperately Want To Travel: Mexico City
Place Most Likely To Inspire: Vacant Lots
A Little About Your Book In Your Own Words: Plain Kate is a fairy tale book -- by which I mean about a strong girl in a tight spot.  The people of her village think she’s a witch -- a serious thing, because witches are hunted and burned. To escape them, Kate sells the only thing she has that anyone values – her shadow. This, as you might imagine, is a terrible mistake.

Plain Kate came out September 1. You can order it from  Amazon, Book Depo, or Changing Hands.

Also, check out Erin's website, blog, and twitter page. Below is Erin reading the first chapter of PLAIN KATE:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Would You Buy Essays Like You'd Buy Music? [You're The Expert]

So I came across this article at the New York times about trying out the iTunes model for Essays. Scribner has made 69 essays available for 99 cents each via Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Apple and the like. The hope is that people like me who will buy the one song off of the album that I like, would purchase the one essay out of a printed book that they like.

I happen to think that it's a clever marketing strategy, but don't know how practical it is. I mean, I've usually heard a song all the way through before I buy it, whether it be on Pandora, YouTube, or the radio. With literature, would I pay 99¢ to read someone's work if I wasn't familiar with it?  Would I want to read it before I bought it?  But then again, that's kind of like saying that I want to read a book all the way through before I buy it, or see a movie all the way through before I pay to see it, right?

As you can see, I'm still kinda on the fence. So tell me.  What do you guys think?  Do you think that paying a buck for an essay/short story would be a plausible way to quench your thirst for literature?  Would you pay 99¢ for an essay from someone you'd never heard of just to try them out?  Would you be more likely to sample more literature if it were broken up into more affordable prices?  Is it easier to commit to one story you might like than a whole collection of stories?

For the record, these were supposed to have started selling yesterday, but I have been unable to locate any to purchase.  I know it's just the beginning, but I would definitely be interested to see how the sales page is set up.  You?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Win A Signed Hardcover of When I Was Joe by Keren David [Giveaway]

Last week we reviewed WHEN I WAS JOE by Keren David (@kerensd), and we told you we loved the story, and loved getting to know British slang.  In fact, I've totally incorporated the term 'naff' into my everyday speak, which could or could not be a good thing.  You decide.   This week, we're pleased to announce a giveaway opportunity for you guys... enter the form below for a chance to win a signed hardcover!  This giveaway is open worldwide and will end 10.15.10 at midnight MST.  One entry per person.  (If you accidentally enter more than once, I will remove the duplicate entries)  Oh yeah, and it's totally open worldwide!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Firelight by Sophie Jordan [Book Inspection]

Plot Sketch:  Jacinda is a special girl.  Not just because she's draki, but because she's a type of draki thought extinct.  But when she breaks the rules and goes out in daylight with her friend Azure and they narrowly escape hunters, she seals her fate in the pride and the only way to avert devastation is for her mother to take Jacinda and her twin sister Tamra away from the rest of the draki.  Donning their human forms, they head to the desert 90 miles outside of Las Vegas and try to start life anew.  Since Jacinda's the only member of her family with live draki left, she does everything she can to keep hers alive while her mother and sister do everything they can to kill Jacinda's draki and force her to assimilate into human culture forever.  This is the story of how and who helps Jacinda keep a part of herself from shriveling.  Oh, and there's an awesome love/romance aspect too.

Verdict: Here's what I said to my friend, "Not well-written, but.  Whoa is is emotionally engaging! Whoo!"  That sums it up.  It's not that the word choice is poor or that the writing doesn't flow, it's that the characters make such huge unfounded jumps.  It felt like to me that maybe someone capped Sophie Jordan's pages or word count or something so she felt like she had to sum up character changes in a paragraph, and huge ones.  And it seemed like these changes should have taken chapters.  Now don't get me wrong.  I would still recommend this book for you to read.  I could barely put it down!  I gobbled it up and took it with me everywhere, devouring it in doctors offices, friends houses, in line at the grocery store, and even at stoplights. No joke.  I remember pulling it out at three stoplights.  I loved the conflict and the story.  It was such a great story, so original!  I'm totally going to pick up the sequel.  I'd preorder it today if it were available for preorder.  The writing flowed well and made me feel connected to the story even though the premise was so fantastical.  Jordan's descriptions are beautiful and fun and make you really see her world the way she wants you to see it.   If you can just get past the holes in the character development, you'll love this story.

Location: Chaparral, Nevada
Main Character: Jacinda
Favorite Character:  Cassian?  I know for those of you who have read it you might see this dude as a bad guy, but I really enjoyed the way he was written.  He is so mysterious.  So.  And I want to find out more about any relationship that may come to pass with Jacinda and him.  Don't get me wrong though, I'm totally Team Will.  (and yes, this is a book that begs for you to pick sides, I'm guessing the second installment will have us all divided)
Would Change: please develop character relationships and the characters themselves more.  pretty please?
Favorite Line: "In this, with him... I'm as close to the sky as I've ever been." pg. 259, hardcover
Good for Monster?  I'm going to make him read it.  I think he'll like it.  Especially since he adored Shiver.
People Who Will Like This:  epic fantasy ♥ers, zombies (the reanimated variety, not the infected ones), desert-dwellers, fans of Merlin, trekkers
People Who Won't Like This:  hunters, cavemen, dev snobs, and Swiss bank account holders.
Chapters: 32
Author's Website:
Acquire It:  Amazon       Book Depository       Changing Hands
Hardcover: 336 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins
Publish Date: September 7, 2010
ISBN-10: 0061935085

Notes: Sophie is going to be appearing in a lot of bookstores in Texas, as well as Changing Hands! in Tempe, and Andersons in Naperville, IN.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Choose Your Own BlogFest Prize! [Giveaway]

Hey BlogFesters!  Welcome to I Heart Monster!  We're glad you stopped by!

I'm I Heart Monster and I'm married to Monster.  We're all about YA bookish things around here, and we had a really difficult time deciding which book to giveaway for this event.  So, here's the deal.  You get to pick the one you'd want to win and if you win, we'll send you that book.  Sound good?

Pick one of these four titles:

For extra entries, you can follow/subscribe to us, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.
Just fill out the form below to enter:

Update:  If we get 500 entries, we'll pick TWO winners!


Thanks for stopping by for Blogfest 2010!  Also be sure to check out our giveaway for I Am Number Four going on right now.  The next blog in the loop is Review Retreat, stop by over there for another great giveaway.  You can also check out A Journey of Books, our BlogFest hostess, to find a comprehensive list of participating blogs.

Swearing In YA Necessary? [You're The Expert]

Came across this article in The Guardian about swearing in children's books.  It raises several good points about swearing that I won't steal from them (aka read their article!), but I will put in my two cents and then ask you about what you think.  Narrowing the scope to YA literature, I'd say that there is a place for swearing in the genre, but that an author has to be careful not to overdo it.  I went on record and called Robin Benway a potty mouth right here on this blog because of all of the swearing that was in Audrey, Wait! because I felt that it was too much.  I, as an adult, felt uncomfortable reading it, and felt uncomfortable for a couple of weeks later as I tried to get the f-word out of my mind.  Yes, I blame it on that book.  Was it a bad book?  Absolutely not, but I felt like it would have been a better book without all of the swearing.  I adored the story!  Will I read another book by Benway?  It'll take me a while, but provided I don't find 10 f-words in the first chapter, probably.  The problem rises in that I won't recommend Audrey, Wait! to my friends.  And I really won't recommend this to my friends' teens.  

Before you call me a prude, realize that I constantly read books that have swear words in them and don't mind because they are not on every page, and they are used appropriately for character development and/or emotional emphasis.  I also constantly read books that could very well have swear words in them and don't.

Authors, I recognize these areas where you could have inserted an expletive and choose not to, and I appreciate it.  I find myself gravitating more toward your work than the work of an author who took an easy option and inserted a swear word.   That's probably because I grew up being taught this adage, "Cussing is a weak mind trying to express itself forcefully."  I feel the same way about characters that swear.  I just do.  Especially in literature in a fantastical setting where creativity already abounds.  I realize that teens swear.  I realize that they hear it every day.  But that doesn't mean that I want to read it and it doesn't mean that they want to read it.  Does it add an element of reality and credibility to your story?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Depends on how it's executed.

That said though, I have recommended and will continue to recommend books that have swear words in them.  I usually try to note if they do so that if you don't like swearing, you can skip them. I just usually prefer the ones that don't swear.

But I want to know what your take is on it.  Do you hate to see swearing or is it no big deal?  Is it necessary in YA?  Feel free to call me crazy, call me nuts, or tell me I'm the smartest person in the universe.  I won't take offense.  Especially since you're the expert on you and your feelings.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Which Book Cataloging Service Do You Tie In With Facebook? [You're The Expert]

I've noticed that a lot of my friends are on a lot of different book cataloging services.  There are so many to choose from, but I usually use Goodreads and Living Social's Visual Bookshelf.  The reasons for that are many, but not what I want to focus on in this post.  For me, Living Social is easy, I like the way it posts the review in my feed, and I like the customization it affords me as to what automatically posts and what does not.   So, how about you?  If you're willing to share, tell us this:

1) Which service do you use in conjunction with Facebook, if any?
2) Why did you choose to use the one you use with Facebook?
3) If you don't use a book service with Facebook, why not?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September's Indie Exchange [Book Signing Alerts] [Events]

September is a great month for local book events in Arizona!

First, on September 17 at 7pm, we have the Smart Chicks Tour sponsored by The Poisoned Pen at Scottsdale Library.  If you've missed the first couple of posts about this tour, check out the dates (it might be coming closer to you!) and the Q&A with Melissa Marr & Kelley Armstrong.

Then on the 19th at 4pm, Artemis Rocks! is coming to Madcap Theatre in Tempe (730 South Mill Avenue).  The show will feature live music inspired by Artemis Fowl, a Q&A, and booksigning. and a reading of the seventh book in the series, The Atlantis Complex.  Tickets are $17.99 and include a copy of the book.  Additional tickets without the book are $8 each.  Read more about it at Changing Hands.

On the 20thRosalind Wiseman's Girl World Tour kicks off here in Phoenix at Desert Mountain High School Auditorium.  Here's the description:
Moms* & daughters (ages 8-14) are invited to join Rosalind Wiseman, an internationally-recognized author, mom and expert on teens & parenting for a fun-filled evening of mother-daughter bonding. In addition to celebrating Rosalind’s latest books, the tour will feature an interactive discussion about confidence, friendships, sweat-inducing moments and common mother-daughter challenges. A Q&A session and book signing will follow. The two-hour event is sure to get mothers and daughters talking, laughing and connecting.
Tickets are $40 per mother/daughter pair (any adult can fill the mom bill) and include both of Rosalind's latest books, Queen Bees & Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World and Boys, Girls, and Other Hazardous Materials.

There are 2 multi-author events on the 24th.  The first is taking place at Changing Hands in Tempe at 7pm and features Kiersten White, Sophie Jordan, and Aprilynne Pike:
Sophie Jordan presents her teen novel Firelight, the first book in her trilogy about a girl who can shift into dragonform and her dangerous romance with the boy whose family hunts her. In Spells, Aprilynne Pike continues the story of Laurel, introduced in the bestselling Wings, as she accepts her true identity as a faerie and faces a heartbreaking choice. Joining them is Kiersten White with her debut novel, Paranormalcy, which introduces Evie, who's always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she may be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy.

Also on the 24th,  is the Teen Fiction Event at 7pm at Antigone Books in Tucson and features Jillian Cantor, Adam Rex, and Janni Lee Simner.
Jillian Cantor will read from The Life of Glass (Harper, $16.99).  High-school freshman Melissa's beloved father has recently died of cancer, leaving her struggling to find her way and learning how to come to terms with her grief without giving up her memories of him.  Adam Rex will read from Fat Vampire (Harper, $16.99).  In this delightfully macabre spoof on the current vampire craze, Doug Lee is a 15 year-old overweight vampire and will be for eternity.  Janni Lee Simner will read from Thief Eyes (Random House, $16.99).  In this intense new fantasy, 16-year-old Haley accompanies her geologist father to Iceland, where she's determined to discover exactly what happened the previous year when her mother disappeared.

That's it for YA, but I'm also thinking of attending Meghan McCain's Dirty Sexy Politics reading at Changing Hands on the 16th.  Could be interesting...

That's this month's Arizona Indie Exchange.  Anything fun going on at your local Indies?  Let us know in the comments section... and also let us know if you're heading to any of these events!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Heist Society by Ally Carter [Book Inspection]

Plot Sketch:  Katarina Bishop walked away from the family business in grand style.  As her last act "in the life," she stole herself a new identity, and obtained entrance into an illustrious boarding school, Colgan.  That was all fine and great until somebody framed her for something she didn't do and she gets kicked out.  Thrust back into her old life, Kat bands together with some other teenage thieves to try to free someone important to her of something he didn't do.  It's a game of perceptions, not actions, can Katarina outsmart the best thief of all time?

Verdict: I hated the first third of this book.  I was constantly like, "What?" "Huh?"  And then, about 100 pages in, it all started to fall together.  The only reason I gave this book 100 pages instead of my usual 20 is that I like the author's other work, The Gallagher Girls series.  I said it with Only the Good Spy Young, and I'll say it in this review as well: Maybe Ally Carter is spread too thin.  The first three books of hers that I read I adored.  They were witty, clever, and suspensefully packed with action.  The last two however, I'm afraid are not up to Ally-Carter standards.  Heist Society starts out very confused.  It progresses into a great story, with characters I really hope to read about again someday.  It progresses into something that made me squee with delight and really get into the book... in the last 100 pages.  So, would I recommend this to you?  Sure.  Just don't expect it to sweep you off your feet immediately, 'cause it won't do that.

Location: All over the world, but a lot in London.
Main Character: Kat
Favorite Character: Hale.  *swoon*
Would Change: First 100 pages.  Make them less disjointed, more coherent and like the last 100 pages of the book.
Favorite Line: "Kat simply shook her head. 'You got me kicked out, Hale.'  He grinned and gave a slow bow.  'You're welcome.'"  page 13, hardcover.
Good for Monster?  Nope.  Not something he'd dig at all.
People Who Will Like This:  fans of the Gallagher Girls, fans of the Italian Job, La Femme Nikita, Sydney Bristow, Batman
People Who Won't Like This:  John Robie, Interpol, U2, and Mr. Rogers
Chapters: 37
Author's Website:
Acquire It:  Amazon       Book Depository       Changing Hands

Notes:  The movie rights for this book have been sold to Warner Brothers.  Read more about that at Variety. Also, Ally blogged that they will be aging the characters up in the film from the book.

Friday, September 3, 2010

When I Was Joe by Keren David [Book Inspection] (@Kerensd)

Plot Sketch: Ty witnesses a crime take place in the park.  It's a heinous crime, and the police feel the need to move him and his mother into the witness protection programme and move them out of their home and out of London so that Ty will be safe to testify.  As soon as they get out of London, Ty's name is changed to Joe, and he and his mother start a new life.  Joe starts a new school, has a new eye color and has the opportunity to become a completely different person.  This is the beginning of Ty's story, and it takes you through the bad, the good, and the ugly of being in witness protection, weaving in the events that led up to his family's entrance into the programme throughout his experiences as Joe.

Verdict:  At first, I had a really hard time getting through this book.  I realized immediately that it was a language barrier that was preventing me from understanding what was going on and was preventing me from getting into the story.  As soon as I started writing down the words I didn't know so that I could look them up, I felt better about the story.  A lot of the British slang you can pick up from context, but a lot of it you can't.  I've added a guide below for my fellow Americans who may have been/may become confused as to the terminology of this book (thanks  After I became accustomed to writing down these words, I began to really enjoy the story.  I thought Keren David's character development brilliant and her storytelling adept. The main character is done so well!  He is so deep and so real and so relatable.   I can't wait for the next installment of Ty's story, Almost True, and if an American/British English barrier is something you can easily overlook or get used to, this YA thriller will not let you walk away and forget about it.  Also, prepare yourself to be shocked during a couple of scenes, and be prepared to change the way you perceive the story and its characters several times.  It takes a talented author to change an entire book and the entire way you view a character with one sentence.  Karen David did that for me, and all I want is more! And for those of you who want a more comprehensive list of American translations, check out Keren's Tossers & Trainers Glossary with "translations" and read an explanation on why she wrote such a British book (to which we say Brava! and thanks to Keren for pointing it out!)

Location: a town 50 miles outside of London, but Joe can't remember his name
Main Character: Ty/Joe
Favorite Character: Claire
Would Change: I can't say I would change anything.  Maybe just my knowledge level of British slang?  The story is gripping.
Favorite Line: So hard to pick, I have to give you two:
1)" I tell her in a soft, Istanbul-accented whisper that there are cockroaches in the kitchen and I'm worried about a visit from environmental health, and she sighs and says, 'That sounds so sexy.' I kiss her again and say in English, 'It's so dirty I can't tell you what it means.'" p143, paperback
2) "'Yeah,' I say and she says, 'You know Ty, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger,' which is pretty amazing because I would have thought that Maureen'd be way too old to had even heard of Kanye West." p251, paperback
Good for Monster? Not for my fantasy-loving Monster... but your guy who likes Dekker or Grisham or Patterson will love this.
People Who Will Like This: Detective Olivia Benson, Veronica Mars, vampires, and my mom.
People Who Won't Like This: hardcore romantics, aliens, and people who pick their nose in public
Chapters: 31, and at times they felt long, even though they aren't physically very long.
Author's Website:
Author's Twitter
Acquire It: Amazon       Book Depository       Changing Hands

This book came out in the UK in January, and in the U.S. on August 31st.

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books
Publish Date: August 31, 2010
ISBN-10: 1847801315

(updated per Keren's comments, thanks Keren!!)
British WordDefinitionBritish WordDefinition
naffuncool, tacky, unfashionable, worthlessflannelwashcloth
tosserEnglish insult.
Implies that the person masturbates excessively.
odd kebabfew kebabs
crispschipschavHumanoid in appearance, but primative and animalistic in nature
form tutorprovide parents with most of the information about their child’s progress and any problems they might be experiencingtaking the pissMaking fun of something or someone
chuffedTo be very pleased, proud or happy with yourselfkit bagduffel bag
right lemonidiotslapperslut
aggroaggressive, argumentativemingera male or female who fell out of the ugly tree at birth and hit every branch on the way down

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Prophecy Tour Coming Near You? [Book Signing Alert]

Hey guys! Heads up about Michelle Zink coming to a book event/bookstore near you. If she's coming anywhere near you, I'd suggest you go. We went when she toured last year and we know it's a treat that you'll enjoy. And if you haven't read PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS yet, it's just come out in paperback this summer, so one of these events would be the perfect time to pick one up!  Don't miss out!

  • September 4, 2010        Barnes & Noble       Alpharetta, GA
    Reading and Signing
  • September 5, 2010       Decatur Book Festival
    Decatur, GA
  • September 7, 2010
    Blue Bicycle Books
    Charleston, SC
    Reading and Signing
    4pm – 5:30pm
  • September 8, 2010
    Davis-Kidd Booksellers 
    Memphis, TN
    Reading and Signing
    4pm – 5:30pm
  • September 9, 2010
    Barnes & Noble
    Brentwood, TN
    Reading and Signing
  • September 10, 2010
    Barnes & Noble
    Greensboro, NC
    Reading and Signing
  • September 11, 2010
    Fredericksburg, VA
    Reading and Signing
  • September 12, 2010
    TBA – Washington, D.C.

A Q&A With Two Very Smart Chicks [Book Signing Alert]

Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr, two authors participating in the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour, give a behind-the-scenes look at the unique concept behind the tour, how and why it was developed and what fans have to look forward to when the Smart Chicks hit the road on September 13, 2010.

What makes the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour different than other tours that feature multiple authors at one venue?

Melissa: This tour is definitely one-of-a-kind! We are author-organized AND author-funded with an ambitious schedule -- 12 cities in 14 days.  Another unique component is that the 18 participating authors come from a wide variety of different publishers.   Additionally, the author line-up at each city is different, and the authors on the tour are a combination of bestsellers, award-winners, and up-and-comers.  They are all authors that Kelley and I personally chose (although there are a lot more authors we wanted to include but we are already twice the size we planned!).

Kelley: Most importantly, these are all authors who write “kick ass” protagonists—and in our opinion, a lot of the authors we invited are pretty kick ass too. A couple of them have reached out to set up visits to juvenile detention facilities in tour cities; they are reaching out to readers; and they are rolling up their sleeves to make this potentially unwieldy tour of ours run smoothly.

How did you come up with the name for the tour?

Melissa: During the preliminary planning in August 2009, I sent an email to Kelley & Alyson Noel that (among other things) said, “We need a name.”  Kelley pulled our ideas together and suggested “Smart Chicks Kick It” because, as she succinctly summarized, we were focusing on books about “Strong heroines, smart heroines, capable heroines...real girls with real strengths, not necessarily out there kicking butt, but able to handle themselves in tough situations.”

Putting together a twelve city tour with 19 different authors must be quite challenging.  How have you managed it all?

Melissa:  I like organizing things—to the point that as a result of the fun of setting up the tour, I recently volunteered to run the Young Adult track for RT Booklovers Convention in 2011. To me, this is good fun.

It looked complicated (and has been), but I enjoy it. Fortunately, Kelley is also very organized, and we have many great volunteers.

Kelley:  Yes, this has really been a grass-roots effort and it’s been great how several Smart Chicks have lent their expertise to the planning and execution of this tour.  For example, participating authors Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a PhD student at Yale, so she’s our “gridmaster,” creating numerous spreadsheets to help keep track of everyone. Rachel Caine is a graphics professional, so she designed one of our tee-shirts and web icons (Melissa’s husband was even roped into doing some graphic work too).  Sarah Rees Brennan is a frightfully clever young woman, so she’s written some great blogs that are both fun and smart.  We have a lot of volunteers, and to be sure we didn’t miss any essentials, we collectively pooled our funds and hired Media Masters Publicity, a literary public relations firm, to help us.  

What can fans expect when they attend a Smart Chicks Kick It event?

Melissa: At each event, fans will have the opportunity to participate in a Q&A with the authors and get their books signed by all of the Smart Chicks.  We love to get our pictures taken with our fans – but since we might be sharing a few “spoilers” we don’t allow video.  We don’t want our spoilering caught on tape!

Kelley:  We’re looking forward to having fun and interacting with our fans. There will also be tons of give-aways, including one “mega swag basket” at each stop that features books from ALL 18 Smart Chicks, tote bags, audio books, bracelets and necklaces and lots of other cool stuff!

What has been the response from fans and booksellers?

Melissa: Amazing! We wanted this to be not just “our way” but “their way,” so our first step was a Facebook page where we solicited city and store suggestions from our fans.  Once we came up with our wish list the booksellers eagerly jumped on board. From there, we also spoke to a couple of librarians because we want to include both stores and libraries in our plans. Honestly, the response has been so positive that we went from our initial plan of 6 cities to twice that. We’ve had to draw a line somewhere, but the support has been so strong that we are already getting requests for a Smart Chicks 2.0.

Readers, of course, were a very vocal part of the initial conversations, and their support and enthusiasm for this tour has been there every step of the way.

All of the authors on tour write books categorized as “young adult novels” but many of your fans are adults.  Are you surprised by this?  

Melissa: For the decade or so before I wrote, I taught university, but I still read picture books. Story transcends form and age, and as my inbox and solo touring experiences make clear, a lot of adults read so-called “young adult” books.  I think JK Rowling went a long way to reminding readers that books featuring younger protagonists were accessible to adults too.  Moreover, a lot of paranormal texts derive from myth, folklore, and fairy tales. Today, those are wrongly thought of as “children’s” texts, but in the original versions, they were far from child-focused. It’s no wonder then that these texts are resonating for adults.

Kelley: I’ve been writing “adult” urban fantasy for years, and those readers also cross all age boundaries from teen to retirement age. I’m not surprised to see the same thing with my YA novels.  If a reader is willing to spend a few hours enjoying the story of a werewolf, he/she isn’t going to have much trouble reading about characters in another age group!

You two will be with 16 other women for almost two weeks – do you think you will all have a special bond with each other after this experience?

Melissa: I’ll confess that I already knew a number of these women.  I’ve read all of their books, blogs, and in many cases have shared panels with them at conferences, so I’m optimistic that the tour will add to my already positive regard for them. Likewise, others on the tour know each other already. I think the writing community already provides a close connection for a lot of us, and I’m counting on that to give us the strength to succeed at the tour . . . and collaborate to find ample morning coffee.

Kelley:  I’m a little more isolated from the community than Melissa, both because I come from the adult side and because living in Canada has limited my chances to meet fellow writers in person.  But while I only know some of our “Chicks” personally, I’m familiar with all their work and looking forward to meeting the rest.

Can I still “follow” your tour if I’m not located near a city where you will be?

Melissa: Absolutely.  We’ll be tweeting, Facbooking and blogging while on the road, sharing the good (the events), the bad (the grueling travel) and the ugly (a bunch of night owls trying to locate coffee before an early morning interview!).

Kelley:  We’ll also be bringing a photographer along for the ride so we can visually chronicle this adventure and share our trip with our fans.

Are there plans for a Smart Chicks tour in 2011?

Melissa: Tentatively, Kelley and I are looking at a smaller 2.0 tour with a different line-up, bringing in a lot of non-paranormal YA writers and some of the paranormal YA writers who couldn’t make this tour.  In my rather optimistic way, I’d love to do a few big “reunion” events with this line-up too.  I haven’t exactly mentioned that to the authors on tour yet, though, so we’ll see where we end up on that topic.

Four tour dates and places, refer to the first post we did reminding you to mark your calendar for Smart Chicks Kick It!     Don't forget that you can become a fan of the tour on Facebook, check out the Tour's blog, and its website.  

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Brenna Yovanoff of The Replacement [Debut Interview]

Hometown: Fort Collins, CO
Astrological Sign: Libra
Favorite Author: Donna Tartt
Favorite Vacation Spot:  Hawaii
Favorite Animal: Red panda
Favorite Movie: Heathers
Favorite Musical Artist or Group: Firewater
Favorite Painter: Duy Huynh
Place You Desperately Want To Travel: Corfu
Place Most Likely To Inspire: Anyplace I haven't been before
A Little About Your Book In Your Own Words:   The Replacement is a story about Mackie Doyle.  He's not human.  Also, there are baby-thieves.  Also, music, kissing, and dead things.

The Replacement debuts September 21st. 

Also, follow Brenna on Twitter, her blog, Facebook, and at Merry Sisters of Fate... and I found this video of her telling a little about her book and reading from it on her YouTube channel: