Sunday, October 31, 2010

Book Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Taylor Markham has a lot on her mind. She’s the new head of her faction in the territory wars, her caretaker Hannah has disappeared, and her love-hate interest Jonah Griggs is back in town. As Taylor begins to investigate Hannah’s disappearance, she discovers that what went down on Jellicoe road in the past might just be connected to her present.

This one was recommended to me by so many people – reviewers I trust – I thought I was going to fall in instant love. But on my first reading (yes, I ended up reading it twice), I was pretty close to hating it. There are two narrative threads – Taylor in the present, and then some seemingly random and unrelated stories about 5 other teens written in italics. For the first 100 odd pages, I was honestly stumped as to why anyone would love this novel.

In the present day, the territory wars were just irritating. I just didn’t care about Taylor and her tenuous grip on power. She’s not a terribly likeable character anyway. She’s prickly, standoffish and often talks to some imaginary guy in a tree. And deal breaker alert – she drowns a cat.

And the 5 teens in italics – that whole part was just confusing. Who were these people and why am I supposed to care? You don’t find out until way into the novel, and by the time you do, for me it was too little, too late.

The second half is a much better read – you’re getting answers and you are getting some steamy action with Jonah Griggs. And even if it is with cat-killer Taylor, it’s still quite touching. They are both broken, and find in each other kindred spirits. Awww!

But still at end of my first reading, I felt so much aversion to the book, I was embarrassed to admit it. I thought there must be something wrong with me. Was I just an unfeeling monster?  How could I not like it when it won so many rave reviews and the 2009 Printz?

So I put it down for 2 weeks and read it again last night. And yes, I enjoyed it much more upon the second reading. Knowing the end, I could finally read the beginning without confusion. It was easier to concentrate and to sympathize.

I have to say, though, I think a book is fundamentally flawed if you have to read it twice before you can really get into it. I’d have been more impressed if Marchetta had found a way into the story that retained some of the cryptic, tragic character, but in way that made me care from the beginning.

JELLICOE ROAD is available in paperback now. Find out more about it at the author’s website.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Book Review: Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan

Nastasya is an immortal, and she’s been partying to forget the pain of her tragic childhood for hundreds of years. But when her fellow immortal, and best friend, Incy starts using magik to hurt people, Nastasya flees to a rehab house for wayward immortals.

First off, I want to address the title. Immortal Beloved is somewhat of a misnomer, because there is no one here being loved immortally (at least not in this installment of the purported series). I was expecting something along the lines of THE ETERNAL ONES (see my review) where two people love each other across time, but instead this is more of a learning to love yourself story.

Nastasya, or Nasty as her friends call her, is a train wreck at the start. It’s interesting that she’s considered a teen protag despite her immortal age, but of course, she certainly is stunted emotionally and has aged so little physically that she looks like a teen. Nasty has a lot of demons in her past, but finally decides she wants to better her existence – or at least escape the pressure for a little while.

Enter River’s idyllic farm. Nasty finds everything boring and beneath her at first (and her snide asides are infinitely amusing), but after a lot of back-breaking work and stargazing starts to let herself heal. Since this is more of an internal process, the vast majority of the novel is either following Nasty’s daily drudgery at the farm or flashbacks from her past which shed light on her emotional state. Surprisingly perhaps, this all worked for me, and I very much enjoyed seeing Nasty emerge from her shell and interact more with the other immortals at the farm (though I must confess, I had a hard time keeping some of them apart) as well as the mere humans around the town.

There’s also a fair amount of immortal mythology and magical powers woven in which I found quite fun. I am looking forward to Nasty’s further adventures.

IMMORTAL BELOVED is out in hardcover now. Find out more about it and read the first chapter at the author’s website.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Book Review: Either You're In or You're In the Way by Logan and Noah Miller

Twin brothers Logan and Noah Miller set out to fulfill a promise to their father to make a movie about his life after his death from alcoholism – and to get Ed Harris to play the lead. It’s a big promise, especially considering making a movie isn’t cheap and the Miller brothers don’t have any money. But what they do have is persistence, a polished script and a few helpful connections from their pro baseball days.

Logan and Noah have a very friendly, conversational way of writing, so that you feel like you’re sitting with them at a bar, listening to them tell you the inspiring story behind the making of TOUCHING HOME. And the story’s a great one, especially if you are a root for the underdog type. The twins have plenty of successes (such as getting a young filmmaker’s grant to help pay for equipment), but a lot of setbacks too (including hiring some of the wrong people for their crew).

I most enjoyed reading about the twins filmed Colorado Rockies spring training footage without permission, how they “ambushed” Ed Harris to get a meeting with him, and how their various meetings with industry people went as they tried to get a crew and financing for the film.

This is very much a behind the scenes look at the process behind filmmaking, so if you haven’t seen the movie like I haven’t, then you might miss some emotional connection to why the twins wanted so badly to make a film about their father. I assume that’s covered in the film itself, which was out in limited release this past summer and will be coming to video on January 4th.

Despite that, I really enjoyed this inside look at making a movie on a small budget, and I look very much forward to buying and watching TOUCHING HOME as soon as it’s available early next year.

EITHER YOU’RE IN OR YOU’RE IN THE WAY is out in paperback now. Find out more it and see an author introduction video as well as the movie trailer at the official website.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Return of Cat Tuesday (2)

Things have gotten a lot more relaxed around here.

Emmy's relaxing.

Kaia's relaxing.

And best of all, they are relaxing together...

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Halloween Picture Books for 2010

I love picture books - and especially ones that include monsters.  I featured a few of my favorite Halloween picture books last year, and this year, I wanted to review some new on the shelves for 2010.

Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Scott Magoon
Simon & Schuster
(Source: Bought)

Bernadette may look like a monster, with her fangs, claws and creepy necklace, but she’s hiding a sweet interior (she likes to …gulp! kittens and other nice things.) She’s not like the other monsters at her school, so she has to find a way to fit in while being true to herself – and comes up with a hilarious solution. The text is spare with excellent word choice, and the chararcter design of the monsters is what I'd describe as "cute scary" (though Bernadette is by far my favorite), so even young toddlers shouldn't get too frightened.

Alpha Oops – H is for Halloween by Alethea Kontis, illustrated by Bob Kolar
Candlewick Press
(Source: Bought)

The letters of the alphabet are doing a Halloween show, and since A is not ready, Z makes H go first, since H is the star of Halloween. The letters all come in as different characters – G is for Goblin, V is Vampire, etc – until all the letters have made an appearance. The story is inventive, with charming asides, but may be too complicated for younger children who don’t have a strong grasp of the alphabet already. Love the illustrations!

Which Way to Witch School by Scott Santoro
(Source: F&G from Frankfurt Book Fair)

Every year, a group of young witches gathers at Miss Thornapple’s school to learn chemistry, physics, and other subjects important to witches. The subjects studied seem pretty advanced for the target audience here though, with lots of jokes that only older kids are going to get (a poster of Twilight hunk Edward Cullen hangs on the wall in the girls’ dorm, for example). The story might appeal to the younger siblings of Harry Potter fans, as there is a cool boarding school vibe throughout.
What are some of your favorite picture books featuring monsters?

Friday, October 22, 2010

First Chapter Challenge (3): Werewolf Edition

So, I noticed I have a bunch of books featuring wolves/werewolves/shapeshifter wolves, and since I highly doubt I am going to read more than one of them, it’s the perfect opportunity for a First Chapter Challenge! Basically, I read the summary and first chapter of each book and decide which one(s) I want to continue reading.

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Publisher: Philomel (Penguin)
Release date: Hardcover October 2010
Where I got it: It’s one of the Penguin Five which I received (unsolicited) for review
One sentence summary: Calla Tor is destined to become the mate of alpha wolf Ren Laroche until she saves the life of a human boy and puts herself in jeopardy with her pack.
First sentence: I’d always welcomed war, but in battle my passion rose unbidden.
First chapter review: The first chapter is a 6 page action scene featuring Calla rescuing a sexy hiker from a bear attack. We see her both as a wolf and a human and we see how she acts around one of her subordinate pack members. The central plot is set up well – we can see her attraction to the boy she saves as well as her longing for a different sort of life, but also her resignation to her fate. The scene is brutal, but compelling and definitely makes me want to learn more about Calla.
Verdict: Definitely on the shortlist for a full read, even though it is the first book in a series.
Cover comments: Shows one eye only – must be a werewolf! The model looks very cold, but the effect is softened by the flowers. Until you see the blood.

Dust City by Robert Paul Weston
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Release date: Hardcover September 30, 2010
Where I got it: Sent (unsolicited) for review
One sentence summary: Henry Whelp discovers that his father, The Big Bad Wolf, may have been framed for the murder of Little Red Riding Hood.
First sentences: Once upon a time, fairydust came from where you’d expect. From fairies.
First chapter review: Before the first chapter, there is also a prologue that talks about Dust City – a place that used to be filled with fairy magic and now is just full of manufactured fairy dust. The first chapter introduces us to Henry, who is hanging out at the St. Remus Home for Wayward Youth when a fight breaks out between some other wolves, one of which was trying to hide a letter. We are also introduced to Henry’s friend Jack (of Beanstock fame). I didn’t really get a sense of Henry’s character at all or where the story is going, and I didn’t find the fight at all compelling. 
Verdict: The premise seems like it could be fun, but this promise is kinda ruined for me by the dud first chapter.
Cover comments: You know he’s an actual wolf because you see both wolfy eyes! The cover makes it look like a very gritty story, possibly with a lot of violence. Hey, there was a fight in the first chapter, so the cover seems apt.

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Egmont
Release date: Hardcover June 2010
Where I got it: Bought it at The Strand when I was in NYC for BEA
One sentence summary: After her parents were killed by werewolves, human Bryn was adopted by the alpha of the pack but begins to question his ways when she finds a teen locked in a cage.
First sentences: "Bronwyn Alessia St. Vincent Clare!" Four names, five words, one pissed-off werewolf. The math in this particular equation never came out in my favor.
First chapter review: The first chapter is a conversation between Bryn and her guardian Callum, the alpha of a werewolf pack. I really liked how well we already get to know Bryn and her complex feelings towards Callum in this scene. She has an easy, wry tone and a rebellious attitude. You can tell it will be hard for her to defy Callum, when it inevitably comes to that, both because he’s very powerful and also because she does have some genuine affection for him. I feel I will like spending time with Bryn.
Verdict: Is the one out of the four that I am most likely to give a full read based on first chapter alone.
Cover comments: Looks like a fairly typical paranormal cover.  We know she's human, though we can only see one eye due to her pose.  Maybe she has werewolf secret to uncover?!

The Frenzy by Francesca Lia Block
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release date: Hardcover September 28, 2010
Where I got it: Sent (unsolicited) for review
One sentence summary: Teenage Liv may be a werewolf.
First sentence: At some point in everyone’s life they ask the question, “Who am I?”
First chapter review: Liv remembers her thirteenth birthday, the day she got her period for the first time and attacked her mother for killing a wolf. Now she’s 17 and knows she’s different, but tries to blend in all the same. I liked the contrast between wild Liv and her perfect mother, and am definitely curious how that might play out through the rest of the story. More so in fact than finding out if Liv is really a werewolf or not. The writing is nice – straightforward and dreamlike at the same time. Still, it didn’t really hook me, though I’d be willing to give it a few more chapters to do so.
Verdict: I have to admit I'm a bit biased about this title after reading a lot of bad reviews.  Probably won't continue. There are too many other books I am dying to read!
Cover comments: Only one eye showing – she MUST be a werewolf! I love the striking green eye/red hair combo.

So which book do YOU think I should finish reading?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

International Book Blogger Mentor Program Featured Bloggers (4)

After a long hiatus to due a variety of reasons, the IBBMP 2010 is back!  Today I am introducing my summer mentors and mentees - long overdue, I know!

First up we have Nina of J'adore Happy Endings who lives in The Netherlands.  She was very excited about the books I sent, diving into Janette's Rallison's MY DOUBLE LIFE and recommending it to her readers as the perfect summer read. Check out her full review! She also adored Kimberly Derting's THE BODY FINDER, saying it "has all the right amounts of ingredients to keep a reader like me glued to the pages."  Nina has a very active blog and following, and if you don't know her, you should definitely stop by.


Steph Su mentored Austria-based Gita of The Reading Nomad. Gita read and had mixed feelings about S.A. Bodeen's THE GARDENER. She enjoyed the character of Mason but felt the romance aspect was unbelievable.  Read her full review and encourage her to blog more often!


My Friend Amy exceeded all of Joan's (Rabbit High) expectations as an IBBMP mentor - she sent the Mexico-based book blogger 7 books!  Joan was especially excited to read Maggie Steifvater's LINGER and said, "Linger was as beautiful as Shiver and the characters continued to develop and grow accordingly."  Read the rest of Joan's LINGER review.

Joan will be attending university in Korea come January, so let's all tell her we hope she can find time to keep blogging about books!


Ivana from Croatia who blogs at Willing to See Less. Ivana chose 3 books from my pile and already reviewed all three as well.  She gave 5/5 stars to Lauren Oliver's BEFORE I FALL and now counts it as one of her favorite books.  She also gave 5/5 stars to Chevy Stevens' STILL MISSING and urges all her readers to drop what they are doing and get it now!

Here's an excerpt of Ivana's review of Ninni Holmqvist's THE UNIT:

THE UNIT raises millions of questions about the morality of organ donation, freedom, love, aging, democracy. Is it fair to "force" single people to be dissected in favor of someone who has "better" reasons to live? What makes an individual a worthy member of the society? Who has the right to decide that maybe I'm not? Is it a free choice if we're not forced to do something, but there's no alternative, and so we have to accept what we're offered? Do the faults of a system devalue the benefits and vice versa, do we tolerate the bad stuff to exploit the good ones? And just how easily does it all get out of hand?

Read the rest of her review - really thought-provoking points.  Leave her a comment and encourage her to continue book blogging.  I love her unique view on things.


That's all for now!  Hopefully my next IBBMP posting won't be too far away.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Long Awaited Return of Cat Tuesday

We picked up Kaia on Saturday and brought her home to meet Emmy, who was not pleased.  After a lot of hissing, head bites, and stand-offs/staring contests though, Emmy has finally relaxed enough that she can stand to be in the same room with her new little friend.

Here's Kaia (blue tabby point Birman)

Kaia relaxing

Emmy looking none too pleased

Kaia conquers, Emmy yawns...

It's a bit hard to tell from these photos, but Kaia is TINY.  And she has the sweetest little mew.  Welcome Kaia :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Book Review: Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins

After his father’s arrest for allegedly being an enemy of Burma, Chiko wants to find work so he and his mother can pay the rent. Lured in by an ad looking for teachers, Chiko finds himself captured and forced into army service. There he’s going to need more than book smarts to survive…

Meanwhile, Tu Reh lives in a refugee camp for his tribal people in Thailand after being driven out of Burma by the Burmese army. He’s full of anger and ready to fight back. But a life-changing encounter shows him that fighting is not the only solution.

I featured this novel as a WoW pick back in May because the people of Burma have a special place in my heart (read the post and see my Burma vacation photos). Theirs is definitely a story that begs to be told, and Perkins does so wonderfully with sympathetic characters and an involving plot.

Burma’s current situation is full of tragedy, and the story reflects that – from forced conscription, to low literary levels, landmines, unfair imprisonment, torching of tribal villages and many other atrocities. However, these are balanced with truly touching moments of unlikely friendships forged, good deeds, and hope.

What more can I say than this is a novel everyone needs to read?

BAMBOO PEOPLE is available now in hardcover. Find out more about it at

Friday, October 15, 2010

Book Review and Author Interview: Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

Teen anorexic Lisbeth Lewis has a choice: death (as a consequence of her overdose) or taking on the mantle of Famine, riding a black steed across the Earth, seeing the effects of hunger first-hand.  Will wielding the power of Famine help her to overcome her own inner demons?

I have to admit, with my busy schedule, the immediate appeal of this book was its brevity. At a mere 175 pages, it takes a very focussed look at Lisbeth's eating disorder and how it isolates her from those who love her. 

It really is an inspired way to look at eating disorders, and the author takes a magical realism approach to the plot - never really explaining the rationale of those in charge (or even who is in charge) and basing the whole experience on Lisbeth's needs rather than a grand Four Horsemen plan. This focus is definitely an argument for all the fantastical elements being figments of Lisbeth's imagination, although most will probably not read it that way.  In any case, this is a riveting, affecting novel - and dang is Lisbeth's "thin voice" scary!  It had me second guessing my reading snack choices (plantain chips ??? calories - don't know because I was scared to look).

Today, I am also thrilled to welcome the author, Jackie, for an interview as part of the Traveling to Teens tour.

HUNGER is about an anorexic teen who becomes Famine, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. In your version, the riders constantly change and have been around presumably since the creation of the Earth. How much of your inspiration did you take from the Bible? Did you research biblical scholarship at all?
The passages in the Book of Revelation definitely were a springboard. The two things that resonated most for me were 1) the Horsemen were truly global, which is a big reason why Lisa in HUNGER travels far away from her home when she is the Black Rider, and 2) Famine’s symbol, the Scales, is important to Famine’s function; in the book of Revelation, a voice speaks when the rider on the Black horse comes forth, saying that now it would cost a day’s wages for a quart of wheat and a day’s wages for three quarts of barley (and the oil and wine would not be affected)—thus, scales must be used to accurately measure the food. That inspired me to have the Horsemen’s Symbols of office be more than mere symbols. (There’s more about this in RAGE, I promise!)

In your novel, Death looks like Kurt Cobain. If you had to choose a currently living celebrity to take over for Kurt in say 50 years, who would you choose?
There’s a reason he looks like Kurt (although I didn’t know it at the time I created the character). Who’s to say that Death will still look like Kurt by the end of the fourth book in The Riders’ Quartet? **grin** Stay tuned.

I was recently awarded Best Author Interviews during Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2010, so I am feeling the pressure. What is the best question you’ve ever been asked?
Hey, congratulations! Ooh, the best question? Ever? Well then. This goes waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back to 1995, when I was single. Loving Husband To Be and I had just chaperoned a youth group dance, and we and a bunch of our friends went out for dinner after. We exchanged phone numbers. The next day, I called him and asked for his email address. He asked me, “Why do you want my email address?” And I replied, deadpan, “To send you email.” **grin** Or was that not what you meant?

Not exactly...but I'll take it! In your bio, you mention your cranky cat. Tell us more! (We love cats at Presenting Lenore!)
Yay, cats! Tawny is a 17-year-old tortoiseshell cat, and she’s the queen of the house. It took her seven years to get used to Loving Husband and realize that he wasn’t leaving any time soon, so she grudgingly agreed to share the bed. While she won’t let anyone but me feed her (at six in the morning, sigh), she finally has deemed him worthy of occasionally petting her. When she allows it, of course. I don’t have any good stories about her, not like I do for her sister Mist, who died two years ago. (Mist’s death actually wound up leading to the first line of RAGE. But that’s another story, literally!)

Ooh! I do want to hear that story, someday. You also mention that you have a bachelor’s degree in English and American Literature. What American classic is ripe for one of the paranormal mash-ups that are so popular these days?
I’m waiting for The Old Man And The Sea Serpent, in which the fisherman Santiago encounters Cthulhu. Hilarity ensues.

Thanks Jackie!
HUNGER is available now in paperback.  Find out more on Jackie's website.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Book Review: Freak Magnet by Andrew Auseon

Charlie Wyatt is a freak. He has trouble making polite small talk to anyone, let alone to a girl. But he sets his sights on Gloria, a girl he sees in a coffee shop one day. He’s going to chase her down and tell her she’s pretty – because what could be wrong with that?

Gloria Aboud is a freak magnet – to the point that she carries around a notebook to write down all her freak encounters. Other girls thank Gloria when she’s around, because it means less freaks they have to deal with. But then Charlie happens. He’s a certified freak, yes, but why does she feel strangely drawn to him?

FREAK MAGNET starts out fresh and funny and then offers up a surprising amount of depth. Because Charlie and Gloria are not just the freak and the freak magnet, they are also both dealing with some pretty heavy family issues. Because they are both pretty messed up and in need of help, it’s kind of wonderful that they find each other – even though Gloria does her best to push Charlie away and Charlie does his best to freak her out with his freakiness.

Just how much of a freak is Charlie? Well, he’s the type that tells a pregnant woman (a stranger) looking for formula that she should breast feed her baby because formula has been tested with dangerous amounts of lead. He has no internal filter whatsoever, so he just blurts out whatever he’s thinking, no matter how inappropriate.

Customer service is not his forte, so it’s a surprise that his boss at the drugstore he works at let him stay. But it’s a good thing for the reader, because the scenes at the drugstore are hilarious. And there’s a scene between Charlie and Gloria on the roof in the rain that gave me absolute chills it was so touching.

Charlie and Gloria are some of the most real characters I've met in awhile. And I'd definitely go to a party with them, especially if Charlie's friend Edison and Gloria's sister Maggie came too.

So yeah. Read this one! FREAK MAGNET is available now in hardcover. Find out more about it at the author’s website.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Book Review/Fan Letter: Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales

So, this is what happened. I met Leila Sales at a friend’s dinner party back in May. She gave me a copy of MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS. I knew it had the potential to be really witty – because Ms Sales is really witty. I went back to my hotel and started reading. I started reading passages aloud to Daniel. Daniel stole the book from me and read it first. He wrote Ms Sales his FIRST EVER fan letter. Then I read it. And I now I owe Ms Sales a fan letter of my own. So here goes:

Dear Leila,

Thanks for writing a book that all of us mostly good girls can relate to. Not everyone is an outcast or a mean girl or a wallflower who falls in love with a vampire/werewolf/fairy/demon. Most of us are more like Violet – someone who makes mistakes sometimes but means well.

I loved the vignette style of the story, and how all these funny scenes at a girl’s prep school and Violet’s wry observations were woven together to form a larger tale of the ups and downs of friendship as well as the overemphasis on achievement in today’s society. Most of all I loved the six paragraphs that make up the chapter “The precious Jewells” which have to be the most hilarious paragraphs I’ve read all year.

Keep writing and I’ll keep reading,


Find out more about the novel, which just came out, at the author's website. (There's a really awesome trailer to be seen there. Trust me!)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Frankfurt Book Fair + Tori Amos with Orchestra!

The Frankfurt Book Fair took place this year from October 6-10.  This is my highlights post.

Wednesday October 6th
While Daniel picked up our friend Wes from the airport, I headed to the fair to check out the set-up this year and see which hot books were on display. I walked around hall 8 for about two hours and then went home.  Reps tend to be busiest on this first day, so I only try to talk to them if they look alone and bored. Unfortunately, the ones I did try to strike up a conversation with were seriously rude to me. Only saw three galleys up for grabs in all of hall 8 - a new low.  At least I grabbed a couple of catalogs to bring home.

Thursday October 7th
Got to talk to the lovely reps at Penguin for about 10 minutes and they told me which Fall 2011 books they are most looking forward to, including the start of a new dystopian trilogy called LEGEND by Marie Lu which is based loosely on Les Miserables and set in a flood submerged Los Angeles in 2130.  They also gave me a copy of XVI by Julia Karr - yay!

Friday October 8th
I skipped the fair to go to Amsterdam to see Tori Amos' first ever show live with full orchestra!  It was amazing! I had a 3rd row center seat and loved every minute.  First time songs for me (at my 20th show) were Yes, Anastasia (not full version, but close) and Programmable Soda as well as four songs from her new seasonal album Midwinter Graces: Snow Angel, Our New Year, Holly Ivy and Rose, and Star of Wonder.  I also loved to hear Precious Things reworked for orchestra as well as favorites Winter, Baker Baker (which I will now always associate with Peeta from Hunger Games), and Flying Dutchman.  I was hoping for Winter's Carol and Strange, but you can't have it all!

Saturday October 9th
I went straight to the fair after getting off my train from Amsterdam.  There I met Ka-Yam who gave me the most amazing present: an Emmy keychain!

I picked up a few picture books and arcs as well.  Here's Ka-Yam and me in front of Bloomsbury (where I got MY UNFAIR GODMOTHER by Janette Rallison and THE LEGACY by Gemma Mailey).

Unfortunately, I couldn't stay for the afternoon because of a preplanned event at my mother-in-law's.

Sunday October 10th
I met my friend Tracy very early, and we were shocked to find a lot of the stands already packed up and picked clean. I guess Saturday afternoon is the new Sunday morning as far as giving away books goes.

After going home to take a nap, I meet Ka-Yam at Maggie Steifvater's reading event where she saved me a front row seat.  The actress who reads SHIVER (German title: NACH DEM SOMMER) for the audio book read a passage from the book while Maggie drank water. (Fun Fact: She's the same actress who does the German voice for Bella in the Twilight movies)

I took 40 seconds of video:

And then, I got to say hi to Maggie.  She was surprised to see my ARC of LINGER and commented, "Wow- you must be someone important." And I said, "Well, I'm Lenore." She got up and hugged me saying, "Yes, you ARE very important."  Then Ka-Yam took this picture of us.

All in all, not the best Frankfurt Book Fair ever (and I am definitely spoiled by BEA), but it was still fun.  Here's my fiction book pile:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Book Review: Take Ivy by T. Hayashida

Back when I lived in Japan, I had a friend who was obsessed with Ivy League universities in the US and she had a copy of this book, which is basically a style guide for men with excellent, authentic pictures. I wanted to get my own copy, but she told me that it was really rare and if she wanted to, she could probably sell it for over $1500. (It was printed in 1965 and quickly acheived cult status in Japan and around the world.)

So when I found out it was going back into print (and in a language I can actually read), I was thrilled. It's exactly like I remember it - with that kind of slightly blurry but very observant photography that's almost like a yearbook (but better).

And, I have to admit, I find the text hilarious. For example, this gem found on page 68: "Simply slipping into a pair of Bermuda shorts is no guarantee that you will look stylish. Strut in a brisk and confident way to complete your style."  Can't argue with that.

Nothing like going to the source of this "prep" style that has been so influential the world over. If you are at all into fashion or "vintage" photography, you'll love it!

Find out more about the book (and see some more images from it) at the publisher's website.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book Review: Losing Faith by Denise Jaden

Brie and her sister Faith have not been close in awhile, so when Faith dies under mysterious circumstances, Brie is not sure how she should feel. In order to gain closure, Brie starts investigating Faith’s death and uncovers some shocking secrets.

Yesterday after I finished reading this, I tweeted: “If more contemporary YA was like LOSING FAITH, I’d read more of it.”

Contemporary YA doesn’t make up a lot of my reading. Mostly because I tend to be drawn to high-concept premises, but also because contemp YA novels seem to be so focused on high school drama or the high school experience. This of course CAN be done well (see Courtney Summers’ novels) but just gets so tiring after awhile.

LOSING FAITH is about a girl in high school, but it’s not ABOUT high school, and that already endeared it to me considerably. Brie is a realistic mix of self-absorbed and self-aware – clueless about what her ultra-religious sister is up to, but savvy about her precarious place in the social order. Faith’s demise alienates Brie from her peers, but Jaden wisely skimps on the pity party to really delve into Brie’s feelings about her complicated relationship with her sister.

While Brie’s parents are sidelined with grief, Brie finally picks up some clues that Faith’s church life was not what it seemed, and gets help in her sleuthing from an unlikely source – tough girl Tessa.

Tessa had quite the outlandish back story, but somehow came off as one of the more believable characters of the bunch. (If I have to get nitpicky, I’d say homeschooled love interest Alis(stair) was perhaps too sweet to be real while his sister Reena felt exaggerated at times.)

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that this is a fast paced mystery read, because it isn’t. Jaden often takes her sweet time to get from one plot point to another, and it takes a looong time for any cult activity to be uncovered (and cults are what originally sold me on this story, so I was looking for them.) But once I settled into the novel’s rhythms, I was undeniably entertained.

LOSING FAITH is available in paperback now. Find out more about it at the author’s website.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Book Review: Joy of Spooking - Unearthly Asylum by PJ Bracegirdle

Joy of Spooking is back, this time in a bid to prove that favorite author E.A. Peugeot wrote his horror short stories about her beloved Spooking, a fact that would surely bring much needed capital into the town before it crumbles entirely. Meanwhile, Joy’s nemesis, Mayoral Assistant Octavio Phipps has his eye on appropriating Spooking’s insane asylum for his own dastardly purposes.

FIENDISH DEEDS, the first book in this middle grade series, holds a special place in my heart as my first ever requested review copy (in only my 3rd month of blog reviewing). In my review, I gush about the writing and the well-rounded villain and declared it one for my all time favorites shelf.

UNEARTHLY ASYLUM is a sequel, but it could also very well be read as a standalone. Both the writing and the plotline strike me as very sophisticated for the middle grade bunch, so it’s probably best enjoyed by precocious readers with an appetite for the weird and spooky (but not outright scary).

Being one of the few children from Spooking, Joy has always been a loner at her school in cookie-cutter perfect Darlington. And now that her brother Byron has found a friend (the off-putting Gustave), Joy is grumpier and more withdrawn than ever – so much so, her mother decides to put her in therapy. The novel gets off to a slow start as it seems to revel in Joy’s isolation and prematurely crotchety behavior. Fortunately, this section is pepped up by the ever-engaging Mr. Phipps, with his hilarious mix of groveling and snarls.

Once the insane asylum plot kicks into full gear, it is back to intrepid Joy we know and love, complete with Byron back at her side. The story is less reality-based this time around and ventures into a decidedly paranormal realm. It will be interesting to see what becomes of Spooking in the promised third installment of the series SINISTER SCENES (due Summer 2011).

UNEARTHLY ASYLUM is out now in hardcover. Find out more about the series at the author’s website.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Buffalo Tour Recap

As some of you know, I accompanied my illustrator husband Daniel on a mini-tour in support of the book he illustrated IS YOUR BUFFALO READY FOR KINDERGARTEN?  The author, New Jersey native Audrey Vernick was on hand for 3 of the dates.

First up was the Princeton Book Festival in NJ on September 11th.

Daniel and Audrey signed books and greeted fans.

Including these adorable twins:

Audrey poses in her Buffalo hat with Erica S Perl and her Dotty hat. (Love Dotty by the way!)

Afterwards, Daniel and I went out with my best friend from Jr. High, Laura, who I hadn't seen since she moved away the summer after 8th grade!  She's now engaged to another high school friend and it was amazing to see them again!

And then, on September 14th, Daniel and Audrey signed books at the powerHouse Arena in Brooklyn, NY. The turnout wasn't great because it was a Tuesday afternoon, but it was still fun to see Lauren, Chelsy, Jeff and Bemi.

Audrey poses in a Buffalo mask with Daniel and their HarperCollins editor Kristin Daly Rens (in Audrey's Buffalo hat).

Then, Daniel and Audrey signed books at Hooray for Books in Alexandria, VA on Sept 19th.  Lots of book bloggers here: Michelle, Jenn, Swapna, Deborah, James, Diana.  And irl friends Ann, Heather, and Margaret.  (I also have to give a shout-out to Michelle for the homemade lasagna!)

On Sept 21st, Daniel was the special guest for Watermark's Story Time Hour in Wichita, KS.  He read aloud from the book and made original drawings for the children in attendance, including Melissa's daughter.

And then on Sept 25th, Daniel was a special guest at Watermark's Teacher Appreciation Day.  He also read and signed books.  Biggest turnout of the tour!  Lots of family and my friend Rachelle. (And thanks to Josh for the excellent dinner!)

ETA: Just got word that IS YOUR BUFFALO READY FOR KINDERGARTEN? was #1 on Watermark's bestseller list this week! (#9 last week) Go Buffalo!

Thank you to everyone who came out!  It was great hanging out with you.  Maybe next year we can get more places.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Book Review: I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman

Eliza has recently moved back to her native Maryland from England with her successful husband and two bright children. She’s finally feeling reasonably secure in her life when she gets an unexpected letter from Walter, the man who kidnapped her when she was 15 and is now scheduled for execution for murders he committed with her as a witness. Does her kidnapper finally want to talk to her so he can confess to other crimes? To explain why he left her alive when he killed the others? Or is he still toying with her, just because he can?

Lippman is one of my go-to authors for intelligently written literary thrillers, and I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE was such a great read, it even surpassed WHAT THE DEAD KNOW as my favorite of hers.

For the first part of the book, Lippman alternates chapters between the present and 1985, giving us a complete picture of Eliza now and as a teen and showing how the person Eliza is today was greatly affected by her harrowing experience with Walter.

Walter is a very fascinating kind of killer. He’s not your typical evil mastermind, just a confused sort of guy who stumbles into murder because he’s bad with women.

Later on in the book, we get insight into a couple of other characters – an anti-death penalty activist who has befriended Walter and hopes Eliza can deliver some sort of testimony that will stay his execution and the mother of one of the girls Walter killed (Holly) who blames Eliza for not doing more to help her daughter.

And that brings me to one of the book’s central questions: Could Eliza have done more? There are people who believe by not fighting back, Eliza was an accomplice in Holly’s death. But there are also those who believe not fighting back is what kept Eliza alive. Should she feel guilty for that? It’s all very thought provoking.

I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE is out now in hardcover. Find out more about it at the author’s website.