Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What a fun day in the blog-o-sphere. Jamie over at J'aime... was kind enough to award my blog a Liebster Blog Award. The Liebster Award showcases bloggers with fewer than 200 followers. Thank you so much Jamie! Once the Award has been bestowed on your blog, pay it forward and recognize 5 other bloggers. Here are my pics:

1. Laurel Symonds at The Unemployed Book Lover

2. Katy Upperman on her blog at

3. Jennifer Pickrell on her blog at

4. Lisa Stiles Lofland at Behind the Mystery

5. Allyson Richards on Ally Writes

I also learned that the next book I have to pick up is Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, September 23, 2011

**I'm updating this post because it perfectly answers YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday question: What was the best book you read in September? I can't wait eat up all the juicy suggestions from fellow readers!

I mentioned last week that I would save the review for White Cat for another time, and here it is!

As I started to sum up the back story for White Cat, my respect for Holly Black only grew. She brilliantly creates a complex world and trusts the reader to 'get' it without having to explain. Genius that she is, Ms. Black just tells the story. Through the characters, the reader learns to navigate the world in which they live. But I digress...

White Cat opens with Cassel Sharpe standing on the roof of his prep school, with no idea how he ended up there. In Cassel's world, curse workers can manipulate other people physically and emotionally with a touch of their hands. Cassel has every reason to think he's been worked; everyone in his family of con artists and gangsters has the ability to curse. Everyone except for him. But being the black sheep of the family is the least of his worries. Cassel is sure he's responsible for the death of his best friend, Lila, daughter of the local mob boss. Cassel has to find out who is working him and why, and how it's all related to the mysterious white cat who won't get out of his dreams.

From the first chapter, I couldn't put White Cat down. Cassel is one of those characters who you wish you could have over for pizza in real life. This story has the perfect balance of a teenager's struggles with family, school, and friends, the intrigue of life in a crime family, and the complexity of an urban fantasy world. Think The Sopranos meets Harry Potter.

I can't say much about the sequel without spoilers, but I loved Red Glove, too. I'm just glad the fall release season is upon us, and I'll have plenty of other series installments to keep me busy until #3.

Music for today: Trojans by Atlas Genius

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why the Publishing Industry Isn't Dying

One of the great things about my writing conference last month was talking about great YA books with other people who love YA books. So here are two lessons I need to mark down as learned.

1. When someone who loves the same books you do says you have to read something, go get it that day.

2. Do not start an awesome series until the entire series is finished, or else you will wait an entire year drooling for the next installment.

A couple of the girls at my conference kept mentioning Holly Black and two of her recent books, White Cat and Red Glove. I recognized the name from Twitter, but I had a stack of books from the last Friends of the Library sale to read, so I waited until this weekend to pick up White Cat. Once I started, I couldn't put it down. Holly Black is a genius, but I'll save the review for another post.

When I finished, I immediately ran to Barnes and Noble to pick up the sequel. After scouring the shelves, I landed at the customer service desk to see if they had it in stock. I kid you not, the girl at the counter said, "We don't have a physical copy, but we have the e-book on our website. You can go home and download it to your Kindle." I don't know if the girl realizes that her advice will eventually eliminate her job, or that she works at a store that sells the Nook, or if I look like someone who drove to a store because I didn't know I could download a book from my computer at home.

I drove my old-fashioned self over to Books A Million, where I purchased Red Glove. I paid full price for the hardcover because I love real books, and I couldn't wait to read it, and when my friend asked me to borrow a book the other day, she asked for the single book that I downloaded to my computer, and I couldn't lend it to her. The next time a friend wants to borrow a book, I will have White Cat and Red Glove in-hand.

The publishing industry is changing, but it isn't dying. Eventually I will get an e-reader. But whatever the format, there will always be readers like me, who will do whatever it takes to get their hands on a great story.

Music tonight: Thanks to Pandora for The Section Quartet's cover of Time is Running Out

Monday, September 5, 2011

My boys were playing with friends last week, and the game of choice was making silly videos with their cameras. My boys are seven and five. Their friend burst into the room with joy, eager to show me the video she couldn't wait to put on YouTube. Of course I paused to contemplate how much the world changes in a generation, but I quickly recovered and grasped the teachable moment. I told the kids they should always remember that once something is out there on the Internet, you can't ever take it back. "Oh, we know Ms. Laurie," they said. The kids ran off to play again; they didn't really post the video, but it wouldn't surprise me if they knew how to do it.

This week, another situation brought my point home. I received an email that had been forwarded to hundreds of people. It wasn't chain mail or a silly joke; it was serious. Here's a little exercise to illustrate. Imagine someone you work with has been implicated in criminal activity. Imagine how anyone with knowledge of the situation would respond and discuss official information. Personal might not be the right word to describe those electronic conversations, but at least you might expect some level of privacy. Now imagine every word, among a dozen involved parties, is leaked to the press.

I have a stake in the situation, and of course I felt like I deserved to be informed. I wanted the juicy tidbits, just like any other good gossip. And I truly believe the person who forwarded the email had good intentions, not to gossip or for personal gain, but to bring the situation into the light for open discussion. But I also felt like the method violated the people involved and their right to privacy. They had only written their comments for a limited audience, and didn't get a chance to revise for the masses.

Here's the connection. I warn my kids about how 'public' the Internet is, but sometimes I forget. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, they're all out there. But sometimes I forget that when I send an email to someone, I can't ever take it back. I'm trusting that other person to use discretion. Hopefully one of the good things to come from all this is remembering that we're all at each other's mercy, really, when it comes to discretion.

Here's hoping I remember this lesson, not just for my kids, but for myself.

Tonight's music: Enjoying my Muse station on Pandora tonight. The highlight was Your Woman by White Town.