Saturday, June 30, 2012

All The Books (June 30th)

Well, it's been a while since I've done an All The Books post and my ALA recap seems to cover most of it. BUT NOT ALL! No, no, not all. There are a few bookish things I'm super excited about.

I recently read The Best Night Of Your (Pathetic) Life, by Tara Altebrando and am right smack-dab in the middle of (re)reading Everything on A Waffle, by Polly Horvath, which was one of my favorite books I read as a kid. I'm loving it so much this time around as well and was shocked when me and my sister looked at the copyright date and discovered it was only published in 2001 -- it seems much older to me, though I'm not sure why. Anyway, if you haven't read it, I really suggest it, especially if you like smart, bittersweet, funny children's novels. (I guess this one would probably be considered middle grade.)

If you haven't seen them yet, the new covers for Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me series are absolutely breathtaking. Pretty much exactly what I was hoping for; they fit the story so well, so much better than the generic cover the hardcover of Shatter Me has. I'm totally buying a paperback of Shatter Me when it hits shelves.

I've come to love Robin Palmer's contemporary retellings of fairy tales and her deal for a Sleeping Beauty-inspired contemporary YA titled ONCE UPON A KISS has me all kinds of excited. Plus, it has a fun time-twist element that reminds me of Prada & Prejudice.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Great Good Thing Should Be A TV Show

Television keeps trying to replace the void that was left by Lost. With confusing sci-fi epics that are cancelled after one season and tricky psychological shows I can't keep up with. And now with Once Upon A Time, which I wanted to like but just didn't.

But might I suggest something else? How about a brilliant, fantastic sci-fi journey based on Roderick Townley's incredible The Great Good Thing? In rereading this book recently I was struck by just how complex the world is and how much more there is to explore of the world, the story, and its characters than the slim little book allows for. This is one of my treasured books and it's strange now to think I wish this were a tv show. Because you guys, it could be so so incredible in the right hands.

For those who don't know what The Great Good Thing is about and/or haven't read it, here's a quick rundown, spoiler-free: Sylvie is a storybook princess living in the pages of her book. When a Reader falls asleep with the book open, Sylvie not only breaks the most important rule ("Never look at the Reader!") but also journeys out of her father's kingdom and into another land... into the Reader's dreams. This leads to plotlines and excitement beyond anything she could have ever imagined in her own story.

I was going to do a big write-up here giving a short summery of all seasons of how I'd imagine the TV show to go but that would have SO MANY SPOILERS, so I decided against it. Just know that it would include fire, the subconscious, and wonderfully fantastic things like characters leaving their books. And that I think it should star Dakota Fanning's little sister, the one who was in Super 8. Elle Fanning I think is her name.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Traveling Book Club Book

Something I've been wanting to do for a while is do a sort of "round robin" reading thing. Get a group of readers (maybe 3-15 or whatever) and have one copy of a book that we send around, each person reading and marking up with their notes/thoughts/highlights/whatever. I just think it would be the coolest thing to have a book that a bunch of people had read and marked up and seeing this tweet from a librarian has spurred me on to see if anyone else is interested.

I do have some ARCs I got at ALA (as well as some older books) that would be good to do this with. How it would work is I'd read the book (and mark it up), then mail to the next person, and they'd do the same... on and on until the last person would send it back to me. (So, um, US residents only because of shipping costs.) We'd figure out a reasonable amount of time to keep the book (I'm thinking about 2 weeks, but I don't know how fast or slow others read) and it would work as a sort of traveling book club.

Here are some of the books I have that could work for this (but of course first I have to find out if anyone is even interested, so leave a comment or email me if you are):

ARC of Scarlet, by Marrisa Meyer (sequel to Cinder)
ARC of Son, by Lois Lowry (though I'm not sure this one would work if you haven't read all the previous books, which I haven't)
Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech
ARC of The Great Unexpected, by Sharon Creech
ARC of Prodigy, by Marie Lu (Legend #2)
an old ARC of Legend, by Marie Lu (Legend #1)
ARC of Love and Other Perishable Items, by Laura Buzo
an old ARC of serafina67, by Susie Day
an old ARC of Imaginary Girls, by Nova Ren Suma

Note that some of these books -- even if they're ARCs -- are a few years old. BUT ANYWAY, if you would be interested in doing this, and are in the US, leave a comment or drop an email to me!

I love love love that people are interested in doing this! (And honestly relieved because I was afraid it would just be silence when I posted this idea.) Anyone who comments and says they're interested will be getting an email with more info (as well as a more complete list of books we could do this with) from me. It would help if you could include your email address in your comment, especially if you don't have a blog. :)

UPDATE #2: Sign-ups for this are closed, as I think we have a good size group right now. So happy people are interested in it!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ALA12 Recap & Books

Alright, I'm taking a break from my actual book-writing to write this ALA recap/book post before I completely forget everything that happened. This past week's ALA Annual event was the second ALA I've been to and it couldn't have come at a better time, because I got to tell people in person that I had an agent. (People I told before I told you include Cindy Pon, Tahereh Mafi, and Morgan Matson. Also Liz, Khy, Zoe, Nancy. And probably a few others I've forgotten.) When I went to ALA Midwinter I made a list of the 25 most exciting or interesting things that happened while there, and I figure that worked pretty well so I'll do the same thing this time.

  1. I was there for two days -- Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday morning I had the go-ahead to make my agent new public knowledge and so spent a great deal of time grinning like a crazy person when I got to tell people. I'm especially especially happy I got to tell Tahereh Mafi in person because she's been one of the most inspiring and motivational writers to me for a long time, and getting to share this news with her was incredible. She's such a supportive and enthusiastic person. (Thank you, Tahereh!)
  2. In less-than-stellar news, I managed to lose my ipod/iphone thingy on Saturday. In the exhibit hall. Next to a booth and that huge line for Marissa Meyer's signing.
  3. I got to meet and hang out with Liz, from Consumed by Books for a while on Saturday morning. So that was nice.
  4. One of the signings I really, really wanted to get to was Morgan Matson's signing Saturday morning. Me and my sister showed up at the booth a little early and I asked one of the ladies there if she knew when/where the signing line was, and it just happened that the lady I asked was Morgan Matson herself. Chatting with her, and getting her to sign a copy of Second Chance Summer (I've been wanting to read this one for a while) was so great.
  5. I somehow went through a ton of my business/blog cards. Which usually doesn't happen -- most times at events I end up giving cards to a handful of people, but I met so many authors, bloggers, reps, and librarians at ALA. It was great.
  6. There were a few absolutely awesome reps I talked to at the booths -- one of the women at HarperCollins and another at Penguin were so sweet and so fun to talk to. I don't think I got their names though (maybe first, not first and last), which is a major bummer but I'm going to see if I can find them on Twitter somehow anyway.
  7. I met so many people at the blogger meet-up on Saturday night, including two authors who have debut sci-fi books coming out next year. AHHHHH!! (And it was so, so crazy to think that someday I might be them. Or not them exactly, but you know.) I had an especially good time talking to Amy Tintera, author of the upcoming Reboot.
  8. After the meet-up I got horribly, terrifyingly lost in the parking garage. And you know what's super creepy at about 10 at night? Wandering about a dimly-lit, low-ceiling parking garage all alone. But all is ok! I found my car! I survived!
  9. After I got home some kind person contacted me via Twitter to let me know they'd found my iphone. I called the ALA conference desk and it's gonna take a while, but I'll be getting it back! Yay! Librarians and librarian-types are so trustworthy; thank you!
  10. I met Sharon Creech. More on this later in the post. I don't normally get tongue-tied or starstruck around authors, but she was a definite exception. 

Okay so the thing I use to take photos is my dad's old iphone that has no service and now I use it as an ipod -- that's the thing I lost at ALA. So I'll be taking not-as-good pictures of these books (ARCs & finished copies) that I was lucky enough to pick up in the exhibit hall at ALA.

A note on the books: when I went to midwinter about a year and a half ago, I picked up a lot of ARCs (less than some people, but still. A lot). I ended up reading -- or at least starting to read -- all of them, but before heading to ALA this time I looked over what I'd gotten, what I'd liked, what I hadn't liked, what blew me away, and what I hadn't even finished. Because I'm picky, there were a lot I abandoned when I realized I wasn't liking the book or just wasn't interested anymore. So I decided that this time around, especially since I have less reading time than I used to, I'd try to be extra-selective in what I brought back. I'm happy to say that quite a few of the books are ones I'm really super excited about and all but about two are ones I'm just regular excited about. And I'm still pretty sure that (sadly) there'll be some I don't finish. The only book I was really, really wanting that I didn't end up getting is Unravel Me, but then I thought probably it'll be easier to wait for the third book if I have to wait for the second book, too.

I've tried to put the books in order (bottom to top) of when I got them, though of course I don't remember exactly. Books with a star in front of them are ARCs, the rest are finished copies I bought.

Second Chance Summer, by Morgan Matson - Like I said, I've been wanting to read this one for quite a while now and when I found out she'd be signing at ALA I had to buy a copy. Now, of course, I'm wishing I'd also bought a copy of her debut novel, Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, because I still haven't read that one. But I guess I can probably borrow it from my sister, who did buy it. Meeting the author was super fun though, guys. Authors are fun people to chat with.

* Time Between Us, by Tamara Ireland Stone - A time travel YA romance? Sign me up! Despite not loving (or even liking) The Time Traveller's Wife (movie or book), this seems right up my alley and is something I'm so psyched to read.

* Diverse Energies, edited by Tobias S. Buckell & Joe Monti - In total honesty the one reason I made a point to pick this one up is because Cindy Pon is in it. I don't do great with short story collections, so so far I've been skipping around, reading what interests me and not worrying about the rest. There are definitely some really interesting stories in here, including Cindy's.

* Through to You, by Emily Hainsworth - WOO, MORE SCI-FI. You guys, I'm seriously seriously excited about all the YA sci-fi that seems to be coming out. This one is about parallel worlds, which reminds me of an episode of The Twilight Zone I recently watched. High hopes, guys, high hopes for this one.

* Love and Other Perishable Items, by Laura Buzo - Published in Australia years ago as Good Oil, I'm thrilled that this is finally in the US. The cover/title combo is so much better than the Aussie version (sorry) and it involves grocery stores, which I love. As Khy would say, "it sounds like a Jory book," so I hope it lives up and I feel super-lucky to have a copy of it.

* Prodigy, by Marie Lu - SIGNED! If you remember, Legend was a really terrific dystopian -- one of the best, in my opinion, and I'm excited to see what happens next in this world and find out more about the history. I missed Lu's first signing on Saturday, but luckily she had another one and I got to go to that one (and buy a hardcover of Legend).

* Summer and Bird, by Katherine Catmull - I honestly can't tell what genre this is, though from the summary it reminds me a bit of Imaginary Girls and Alice in Wonderland. Also a bit like the old children's book Silverwing, by Kenneth Oppel. So basically it could be anything. But I love the title and the cover and the story itself sounds fairy-tale-ish. I'm nervous and excited to read it, especially since it's represented by my agent (which, not gonna lie, was a big draw in me trying to get a copy at ALA). 

Legend, by Marie Lu - I had an ARC of this that I got signed at Comic-Con last year, but I had to buy a hardcover. And while I don't like that it took me so long to buy a hardcover, I am glad I got one at ALA so the author got to sign it. 

* Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You, by Joyce Carol Oates - I'll admit I don't know a ton about this book, but it sounds like it could be right up my alley; I love the whole secrets-and-friendship thing in books, as long as it's done well.

* The Great Unexpected, by Sharon Creech - I hate bragging about ARCs, but omg I have a Sharon Creech ARC!!!! This book sounds most excellent. MOST EXCELLENT. *spazzes out* Also, how excellent is that title?

Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech - I don't really know if I've read this one yet, but I bought a copy for Sharon Creech to sign (along with The Great Unexpected and the copy of The Wanderer that I brought with me) and am excited about reading it (or rereading, as the case may be).

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots, by Abby McDonald - My sister has been wanting to read McDonald's Getting Over Garrett Delaney for ages, so we skiddaddled over to her signing as soon as Creech's signing was done on Sunday. And just aside from this book sounding really good, Abby McDonald was absolutely awesome to meet and talk to. Also, at this point I loaned my sister the last ten dollars in cash I had, which is why I didn't end up buying a copy of Between Shades of Grey (NOT THAT OTHER BOOK!!!) for my mom.

* Send Me A Sign, by Tiffany Schmidt - I've read (or started reading, at least) quite a few YA books that deal with "the  big C," but this is one I'm really hopeful about and not just because it has a dandelion (my favorite flower, which I know is not really a flower) on the cover.

* Dear Teen Me, edited by E. Kristin Anderson and Miranda Kenneally - To the wonderful rep (and blogger!) at the Zest booth who gave me this ARC -- thank you! We started talking about this book (which they had on display) and how excited we both were for it and she went, "Well, I'm really not supposed to be giving these out, but I'm going to see if I can sneak you a copy." Aaaaand now I've announced it on my blog. Oops! (But seriously, so excited.) We then went on to discuss how brilliant Before I Fall was.

* Son, by Lois Lowry - Ack! I did not actually realize, when I picked up this sequel to The Giver, that there are two books between The Giver and Son. I'm hoping the book will make sense even though I haven't read the other two -- does anyone know? Anyway, I felt compelled to pick up a copy of this since The Giver was such a surreal and weirdly memorable reading experience for me as a kid. The book isn't one of my all-time favorites, but it's definitely one I have vivid memories of.

* Keeping Safe the Stars, by Sheila O'Connor - Another amazing rep (at the Penguin booth) gave me this copy. When she saw I had an ARC of Son she asked if me and my sister could go snag her a copy and we wound up talking about covers and books for a little while. It was honestly one of the best conversations I had at ALA (and there were a lot of good ones).

* Scarlet, by Marissa Meyer - I lined up half an hour early for this signing just to be sure I was able to get a copy of this book. If I'd known Meyer was signing at ALA before I drove down to Anaheim, I probably would have brought my copy of Cinder for her to sign as well, but I didn't. I'm excited for this one, guys. I loved how Meyer twisted the story of Cinderella in the first book and Little Red Riding Hood is one of my more favorite fairy tales from childhood, so I'm definitely intrigued for this next book.

* Out of the Easy, by Ruta Sepetys - First of all, it was embarrassing standing in line for Ruta Sepetys' signing and having to tell people what book we were in line for. Between Shades of Grey is just too too similar to that other book that I am definitely definitely not going to read. Anyway, since I was out of cash I couldn't buy a copy of the paperback of Between Shades of Grey like I was planning. Which is sad because that cover is gorgeous and it would have been awesome to have a signed copy. But her upcoming book, Out of the Easy, takes place in the 50s in New Orleans and sounds even more interesting to me.

* Fangirl, by Ken Baker - This one, that I just happened to stumble upon (the author was signing ARCs) sounds like absolute fun and the type of love story I've been wanting to read for a while. Woo!

Big Girl Small, by Rachel DeWoskin - I wasn't planning on picking up this book but I ran into the author and we ended up talking and now I have a book to read. It's sort of YA but sort of adult.

* Secrets of Shakespeare's Grave - A fun-looking middle grade. It was pushed into my hands right as I was leaving and while I'm not crazy-excited about it like I am for many of the other books I managed to pick up, I'm hoping it'll be a fun, mysterious read. A good middle grade would be awesome.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Writing: The Agent Post

project: Sing Me Away (contemporary YA)
status: AGENTED!!!

I don't know how to write this post.

I feel like I've been hoping and waiting and working and crossing all my fingers and toes for so long, so much, that you'd think I'd know exactly what to say now that it's happened. But I don't. My words are all gone.

I have an agent.

I feel like an impostor saying that. The past week I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, thinking that someone was going to come and tap me on the shoulder and remind me that actually, no, I'm still in the midst of the slushpile, still not knowing how to go from "unfortunately I didn't fall in love with this the way I'd hoped," to "I'd like to represent you." To be honest even now that everything is all official I still feel that way.

But it has actually really happened and I'm a little all over the place not knowing what I'm supposed to say in this blog post. So I'll just say this: I'm represented by David Dunton, of Harvey Klinger, Inc. Sing Me Away so perfectly fits what he represents and I'm very, very happy to be working with not only an agent, but this agent in particular because he seems to just "get" my book.

So that is the news. :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Be Back Soon

You may have noticed I'm not around lately sort of, and I've missed a few of the things I usually post (like, erm, Tuesday Ten).


I'm in the middle of hurriedly rewriting a novel and it has completely, 100% sucked me in. Basically every free moment I have is being spent planning, writing, or plotting. And besides that I have a few other writing-and-life things going on, taking my mental energies away from the blog, so I'm going to take an impromptu break in the blog. Not a long one, just about a week. I'll be back the week of June 25th. Hopefully this draft will be done by then.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Visual Playlists

Inspired by this tumblr post by Karen Kavett, I put together four of my own visual playlists, using books, movies, and television. The idea for visual playlists, as Karen puts it is: "to recommend a set of books not based on their content, but on their spine and cover designs and how they would look on a shelf together." (this is taken from the post I've linked to)

And here are mine... sorry the pictures are such yucks.

playlist #1 - pink.

So Much Closer, by Susanne Colasanti; Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life, by Sandra Beasley; The Summer of Firsts and Lasts, by Terra Elan McVoy; Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, by Rachel Simmons; and Baby Mama.

playlist #2 - bokeh & muted tones.
Lie, by Caroline Bock; Other Words for Love, by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal; Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver; and Friday Night Lights the second season.

playlist #3 - starting with red.
What Happens Here, by Tara Altebrando; The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss; The Rules of Survival, by Nancy Werlin; Red: The Next Generation of American Writers - Teenage Girls - on What Fires Up Their Lives Today, edited by Amy Goldwasser; and Inception.

playlist #4 - shiny silver spacesuits.
A Million Suns, by Beth Revis; The Future of Us, by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler; Legend, by Marie Lu; and Get Smart the complete series.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Writing: Music

Project: sidekicks
Status: draft 2 (edit/rewrite) 

Music for the Story
I'm more than a little worried that talking about this story too much (even though all I want to do is talk about it) will make it lose its magic. So I'm going to force myself not to say much about it. I will, however, share five of my songs from the playlist and you can draw your own conclusions about sidekicks from that.

1. "We Are Young" by Fun.

2. "Big Blue Wave" by Hey Ocean

3. "Miracle" by Joanna Pacitti

4. "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" by U2

5. "Hope" by Jack Johnson

Saturday, June 9, 2012

All The Books: June 9, 2012

This has been a  s l o w  reading week; the only book I managed to finish was Beth Kephart's Small Damages. It's the first Kephart book I've read and the writing here was wonderfully lyrical. I quite liked it.

I wasn't at BEA or the BEA Book Blogger Con, but I did keep up with many of the blogger con tweets and later read this write-up of the event. From my point of view as a blogger, the event seemed like it was probably pretty disappointing.

The bloggers at The Readventurer have made one of the most awesome flow charts ever for Stacked, full of YA book recommendations. In case you're wondering, it suggests I read the Jessica Darling series. (I've read the first book but abandoned the series somewhere in the second novel.)

& A SONG...

I love Alan Jackson's new album, but this song is definitely my favorite from it. When I'm not listening to the playlist for my current work in progress, I'm listening to this on repeat. Loooove it.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Armchair BEA: Beyond the Blog

Note: I somehow got my days really messed up and this post was supposed to be up on Thursday -- yesterday. So I'm posting it a day late, with apologies.

Today's theme for Armchair BEA is getting "beyond the blog" -- whether that means writing reviews professionally, becoming a freelance writer of some sort, or making your blog bigger than it currently is (the Armchair BEA website mentions monetizing your blog).

It's no secret that what I want to do is become a published YA author, but that's not exactly a path that's too connected to my blog. Sure, there are book bloggers who've gotten book deals in the YA world (Pheobe North and Lenore Appelhans come to mind), and I don't know, maybe somehow it's possible to use your book blog in the goal of becoming a published author. But if there's a secret to this, I haven't yet discovered it. I don't even mention my blog in queries, and so far I've never gotten far enough along in talking to agents to even bring up my blog. Reviewing and reading critically helps me in my own writing and editing, there's no doubt about that. But I don't see how blogging about books can help me get a book deal or an agent, and even talking about this topic comes precariously close to that one time I closed my blog after being told that sharing negative opinions about books online was a bad idea for an aspiring writer.

My goal is to have a career as an author. I no longer think that my blog will prevent that from happening (if I did, I wouldn't have opened the blog up again), but I also don't think of it as any sort of "stepping stone" to getting where I want to be professionally. I love reviewing books, discussing them, recommending them. Sharing my opinions. I love shining a spotlight on books I love, especially those that aren't getting much spotlight in other places, and helping readers find something they'll love.

Right now, my blog is pretty much where I want it. I have a good readership (not wildly popular, but the readers I do have are dedicated and, I think, value what I have to say) and am able to be a part of the incredible YA community without it becoming a full-time job or interfering with other priorities (like, say, writing my own fiction).

I want to get beyond the blog. Definitely. But not as a reviewer, librarian, or bookseller -- as an author. And as far as I can tell the blog is not a step on the path to achieving that goal.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Review: Nothing Special

Geoff Herbach
Sourcebooks Fire
Felton Reinstein is the top football recruit in the state and it's making him a nervous wreck, which isn't helped much when his younger brother, Andrew, runs away to a suspicious-sounding orchestra camp. In this sequel to Stupid Fast, Felton is still dealing with his crazy family and his own personal flaws -- most notably his self-centered nature that he tries to fight against. But this time around it's Andrew who's in trouble and Felton, the mostly-negligent older brother, who goes after him.

I wish I'd reviewed Stupid Fast back when I read it, but in the midst of all my Cybils reading it (and many other books) slipped through the cracks. Suffice to say it's a brilliant and hilarious book that worked perfectly well as a stand-alone. Still, Herbach managed to give us a sequel that continues addressing many of the topics present in the first book while also being markedly different and - just like Stupid Fast - this one works fine by itself. Felton and his girlfriend are "on a break" and the book is written as one long letter to her, a sort of explanation of his stupidity and all that's been happening in his family what with Andrew going to an orchestra camp that Felton suspects might not exist.

I understand why the summaries for these books fall so completely short of explaining the plot. It's because Nothing Special is all but impossible to really explain. There's a high school football star who becomes a nervous wreck at the thought of college recruiters and is increasingly focused on only himself (Felton); a younger brother who plays piano, has been acting strangely, and may have invented an orchestra camp; and a crazy, estranged family. The story is written as a letter after-the-fact and because of this there are two different timelines going, which makes understanding the true timeline of the events in the book a little difficult for a while. Still, Felton's voice is spot-on for the story and his character: it's a strangely great mix of naive, funny, and absolutely honest even (or especially) about all the ways he's screwed up. Part of the reason I love Nothing Special (and Stupid Fast, which I also highly recommend) so much is because at the center of the story is the theme of family, genetics, and the effect these things have on the sort of people we become. Felton struggles with the similarities he shares with his dad, who committed suicide when Felton was only five, and his brother Andrew attempts to find out where he fits in the family and what bearing his family history has on him. This is always a fascinating topic to me and it's handled so incredibly well in Nothing Special. This book blends humor with honest questions and realizations about family and life in an almost seamless way. And while I think I enjoyed Stupid Fast more than Nothing Special, this book felt more emotionally powerful to me.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cover Talk: Other Covers

One of more interesting cover-related things is how books get different covers in different countries. Sometimes there are only slight changes, but a lot of times a different country/language warrants a whole new cover that better appeals to that particular market. I've seen other bloggers (most recently ComaCalm's Corner) do similar cover comparison posts and today I'm going to look at different foreign covers for a few YA novels, discussing which ones I like best and which looks like it fits the story best.

Book #1: Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi
Top: American; Left: French; Right: German.
I've never been a huge fan of the American cover of this book; it's very glitz-and-glam for a book that's incredibly bleak. The French cover captures that bleakness (and also, with the stars, the poetry of the novel and of Juliette's character, I think) so much better. And while the German cover is undeniably beautiful, it's a bit too bright for how I imagine the setting of the story. My choice: French, which translates to "do not touch me," according to Google.

Book #2: Twenty Boy Summer, by Sarah Ockler
Top: American; Left: Dutch; Right: German
This is a tricky one, because here's the truth: I like all three of these covers. But at the same time, I'm not sure that any of them are as eye-catching and pretty as I'd like or capture the story as well as I want. I like the symbolism of the American cover because the colored sea glass is a pretty big part of the story. Meanwhile the Dutch version, with the couple walking on the beach, is pretty and simple but not so unique. The German cover isn't at all what I'd expect from this book, but I really like it; it's cute and bright and the girl reminds me of main character Anna, especially near the end of the book. My choice: German, which according to Google Translate means "the stars still shine." (love that)

Book #3: The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green
Top: American; Left: Dutch; Right: German
Ah, another interesting one. On the whole (aside from the Dutch cover) these all seem a bit... bright... for The Fault In Our Stars, which is at best a melancholy book. That said, I absolutely love the German cover, even if I don't think it's totally 100% spot-on. My choice: German, which Google Translate tells me translates to "is the fate of a dirty traitor."

Book #4: The Future Of Us, by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
Top: American; Left: Spanish; Right: Danish
The American cover doesn't quite work with me, despite the fact that I like the inclusion of binary code. The Spanish cover has models that, at least in my mind, look like Emma and Josh, but doesn't really get at what the book itself is about. The Danish cover, on the other hand, isn't perfect, but has a sort of 90s-zine look and incorporates the technology of the book. My choice: Danish, which translates to "yesterday today tomorrow." Or something.

I should note that the fact that I didn't choose any American versions doesn't mean I don't like American covers. But sadly, many of the books with covers I love haven't been translated into other languages (and if they have the cover hasn't been changed much.) So, which covers are your favorite?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tuesday Ten: Childhood Favorites

This week is a "rewind" week for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish (choosing a topic you previously missed out on). I've decided to go with ten of my childhood favorites. Reading now is awesome, don't get me wrong, but there's so much truth in that line from You've Got Mail (my FAVORITE movie): "When you read a book as a child it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does."

1. At Play
I can't find this book anywhere. I don't know who wrote it and as much as I search it's almost like this particular book doesn't exist. But it did! This was a reader from the '40s or '50s and the first book I ever read. I think my mom picked it up at a thrift store and it had those really simple Dick-and-Jane type stories in it, but I read it over and over and over again. (And then the book got lost and never found.)

2. Once There Were Giants
Martin Waddell
This is one I still have (minus the dust jacket). It's one of the most simple but honest and a little bit sad picture books I've come across: it tells the story of a girl, from birth until she becomes a mother herself, in simple words and detailed pictures. My mom gave it to me when I was five years old and wrote a wonderful inscription inside. It's always been one of my favorites and one I've reread throughout my life, always measuring my growth against the girl in the story.

3. The Long Winter (and all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books)
Laura Ingalls Wilder
In first grade I got completely hooked on the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. There's an old-fashioned-ness and simplicity to them that really really appealed to me (and still does, honestly). The Long Winter was probably my favorite and is definitely the one I remember best. These were books I could always slide easily into and know exactly what I was getting.

4. The Gadget
Paul Zindel
When I was in second grade I started giving my dad books to read and this was the first one I told him he had to read. It's an odd blend of historical and science fiction that takes place during the testing of the atomic bombs in New Mexico. To this day I still remember it as one of the weirder books I've read and because me and my dad both loved it so much it's earned a special place in my personal reading history.

5. Bridge to Terabithia
Katherine Paterson
I don't quite know what it is about this book, but from the moment I started reading it back in third grade I just fell completely in with Jess and the heartbreaking tale. This is one of those books that's just so incredibly sad and there's no other way to look at it; from an adult perspective I can easily see how some might not understand the appeal -- why on earth would an elementary age kid want to read something so horribly sad? The thing is though as you grow up I think it's easy to forget that childhood isn't perfect. There are problems and they're no joke. When I was eight years old, dreading P.E. class and hating the boy I rode the school bus home with, this book was something of a you are not alone lifeline. It didn't pretend things were perfect and it didn't pretend its readers didn't have hard stuff to deal with in their own lives.

6. Gone-Away Lake
Elizabeth Enright
I don't remember the first time I read this book about two kids and their perfect, magical summer, but I know that it stuck with me. For years after I'd scan the library shelves, looking for this book I felt like I'd made up in my mind. I couldn't remember the title or the cover, only a vague memory of a lake and two siblings. I finally did manage to find it, reread it, and then reread it again. When I found a copy in a thrift store as a teenager, I snapped it right up.

Jane Flory
As with other books on this list, here's one that seems to have disappeared. I can't find a cover for it anywhere, though Goodreads does have a short description up, which is more than I can say for At Play. Anyway, this is another book I pulled from the library as a kid and OH MY WORD. It was incredible. A story about this family floating down the river on their boat that doubled as a "traveling emporium" and -- if I remember correctly -- some guys who try to swindle the kids out of something but then in the end the kids win! Yaayyyy!! It was honestly amazing. Another book that for years I was convinced I'd only imagined or maybe it was in my dream or something. But no, this is a real book, and if I ever find it I am taking it home with me.

8. The View from Saturday
E. L. Konigsburg
You know how there are some books that just feel like you, sort of? Well, when I was in whatever grade I was in reading this book, that's how it felt. Somehow the intertwining stories of these four characters just felt, somehow, like me. And I'm not going to bother giving a description of this one because it's such a stand out, so great for whatever age you are, and such a classic that if you haven't read it I'm just going to say DO IT.

9. The Great Good Thing
Roderick Townley
This is a book that -- aside from being freakin' insanely genius -- is one I associate so strongly with the time in my life when I discovered it. It was another that I found at the library originally. It's also one of the books my aunt sent me when I was in the hospital and this strange, wonderful little fairy tale-fantasy-science fiction mix is one of the books that helped me get through what was a fairly tough time in my childhood (hospitals, ugh). (This is also the book I'm going to be rereading this month, so there'll be a bit more about it later on.)

10. The Baby-Sitters Club
Ann M. Martin
Somewhere between fourth and seventh grade I became obsessed with these books. I can't even explain it, but if you grew up reading these books you know exactly what I mean. They were weirdly addictive and at one point I think I owned the whole series (which, if I'm being honest, might still be in boxes in my grandparents' garage somewhere), though it's now been slimmed down to a mere shelf of ones I've found in used bookstores the past few years.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Armchair BEA: Introductions First

Things are going to be a bit different on the blog this week. I'm participating in Armchair BEA so in lieu of my usual Monday Writing post (and the other regularly scheduled memes/features), I'm going to be doing a few of their theme days. Today is a virtual meet-and-greet sort of thing, which means I'm answering a few (Armchair BEA-provided) questions about myself and my blog.

1. What is your current read?
I'll probably be reading something else by the time this goes up, but right now I'm in the middle of Beth Kephart's Small Damages. And the writing is so gorgeous it makes me a little sad. (This one's coming out in July.)

2. Tell us one non-book-related thing about you that everyone reading your blog may not know.
I don't know what qualifies as interesting about me, but if I didn't run a book blog I'd want to run a food blog. (I've considered doing both but it would be way too much work.)

3. Where do you see your blog in five years?
I have no idea. I love my blog, but it's definitely just a hobby and when it stops being fun or I stop being able to reasonably make time for it in my life, I'll give it up. Right now I could see myself ending it this year or keeping it going for years and years.

4. What is your favorite post you've written that you want everyone to read?
I don't know what my favorite post is. But this ("On the Topic of Bloggers at ALA") is one I wrote after attending the exhibits at ALA Midwinter last year; with ALA Annual approaching (and yeah, I'll be going again -- yay!), I think it's a very relevant post on bloggers at ALA and what is expected of us. I highly recommend reading the comment section.

5. Have your reading tastes changed since you starting blogging? How?
I wouldn't say my tastes have changed, but being so immersed in the YA market has really helped me finetune what I like. I try to be a pretty selective reader but at the same time I love to read tons of books, so really knowing what's happening in my favorite genre helps me find the books I'll like and better avoid the ones I don't want to read. Aside from this it's also introduced me to plenty of authors and books that I wouldn't have heard of otherwise -- because let's face it, BN's selection isn't that impressive.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

All The Books: June 2, 2012

I read Nothing Special, the (very worthy) sequel to last year's Stupid Fast and it was so good. I also read my first-ever Agatha Christie novel and am now wondering why I've never read her before, because And Then There Were None was just a masterfully-written whodunit mystery.

Behold! A picture (from Beth Revis' tumblr) that influenced the cover of A Million Suns. I can definitely see the similarity there.

Also, I love this idea: book/tv/other media recommendations based on how good the spines look together. Karen Kavett calls them visual playlists and I think I'm probably definitely going to be making some of my own.

And then there's book spine poetry, which is another idea I love. (Maybe when I do the visual playlists I'll include book spine poetry?)

& A SONG...

Ahhhhh, I love this song. I haven't heard the rest of John Mayer's new album (Born & Raised), but based on this song I might just have to. It's not a play-over-and-over song for me, but it is a powerful one.