Monday, July 30, 2012

I can't believe I'll be at the SCBWI conference in Los Angeles by the end of this week. This has been one of my busiest summers ever, with ups and downs more powerful than the Atlantic waves my kids love to ride. I feel excited, nervous, and under-prepared. I can't wait to learn and grow as a writer, to pick up a suitcase full of new books to read, and to meet the smiling faces of this generous writing community in person.

A dear friend of mine came to visit this weekend. She loves to read as much as I do, and she's also one of my beta readers for my current manuscript. As we talked about great books, I gave her a list of the YA titles that she should definitely read when she gets the chance. So many amazing books wait on the bookshelves, ripe and ready to be devoured, and you never know who has found the same treasures as you. Here is my list of gems that my friend hadn't yet discovered:

Bitterblue (Kristin Cashore)
Divergent (Veronica Roth)
Shadow and Bone (Leigh Bardugo)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Laini Taylor)
White Cat (Holly Black)
Matched (Ally Condie)

How about you? When you think back over the last year or so, what books would you say are absolutely must reads? And if you happen to be going to SCBWI, let me know so we can chat about it in person!

Music for today: Jigsaw Falling into Place by Radiohead

Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Review: Something Strange and Deadly

Today I'm reviewing Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard, as a part of an ARC tour hosted by the Southern Book Bloggers.

In Philadelphia in 1876, Eleanor Fitt must partner with the supernatural-fighting Spirit Hunters to find her missing brother, dodge her mother's desperate attempts to find her a husband, and avoid the strange and deadly zombies plaguing the city.

The first blurb I read for this book said if you liked Clockwork Angel, you'll love Something Strange and Deadly. That line alone hooked me, and it truly is a great comparison. Also like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Dennard's debut blends a romantic historical flair with a wide cast of characters and a fresh twist on a zombie invasion.

I really enjoyed Eleanor's journey from unassuming society girl to fearless, ninja detective. The pace moved well, and though there weren't any major surprises, the conclusion was ultimately well planned and satisfying. I loved that the zombies were under the villain's control and not too gory, unlike any other walking dead I've read. I'd recommend this book fans of supernatural and paranormal YA, even if walkers aren't your usual cup of tea.

Something Strange and Deadly is available tomorrow, July 24, 2012.

4 out of 5 stars.

Music for today:  Crawl by Kings of Leon

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Lately I’ve purchased most of my books online. I almost couldn’t remember the last time I’d been in a book store before I read about Lisa Burstein’s giveaway to celebrate the release of her book Pretty Amy. The summary intrigued me, and I knew I wanted to read it. But one of the entry tasks was to take a picture of Pretty Amy in a bookstore. The next time I had a chance, I headed to Barnes & Noble.  And then I went to Books-A-Million. I wised up and started looking online, and I called the local independent stores, which mostly sell used books. Not one store carried Pretty Amy.

I am so glad that I went on the hunt, though. All the books on my Nook look so much more important and substantial sitting on the shelf. Bitterblue is longer than I realized, and the cover is brilliant. Other covers grabbed me enough to pick them up and read the blurb, and I never just browse like that on my e-reader.  

I ultimately bought Pretty Amy at Books-A-Million online, and when it arrived, I took it on a little field trip. (I was too chicken to smuggle it inside for a picture.)

I finished reading it a few days ago, and here is my short review: I really enjoyed it. Burstein captures the heart of what it means to want to belong. She explores choices and responsibility and consequences without being preachy. I’d recommend it not only to readers of contemporary YA, but also to parents wondering what makes their teenage daughters tick. To find out more about Pretty Amy, click here. And the giveaway is still open until midnight Saturday, July 21.

Thanks for stopping by!

Music for today: Youth Without Youth by Metric

Monday, July 9, 2012

My grandfather passed away last week.

His passing was not entirely unexpected, but still, losing a family member always comes as a blow. I had so much respect for my grandfather. He was married to my grandmother for 71 years. He was a preacher, and honestly, my expectations for preachers were set unrealistically high because of him. If he believed in something, he lived it in his every day life. He always told the truth, even when it was difficult. I value resolve, determination, and honesty so highly because of him.

He was also a doctor of psychology, and he spent his career counseling patients throughout the southeast.  I can't imagine the number of people he helped in his lifetime. And he combined his first two passions with a third, writing.

My grandfather published three nonfiction books, in which he combined his clinical expertise with his faith and Biblical teaching. My mother always wanted me to be a writer, or rather, always said that I WAS a writer, whether I realized it or not. But my grandfather was the practical application of possibility, the larger than life family man, minister, intellectual, and author, my example of how to live a full, passionate, and steadfast life.

I just wanted to take a day to honor him here on the blog.