Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Picture Books

Just a couple of my faves for this spooky day:

Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara
Roaring Brook Press

A girl and her cat go to live in the house on the edge of town that turns out to be...haunted! But the girl doesn't mind, because she's actually a witch and she knows how to make ghosts useful. A clever story with really fun three tone illustrations.

Thirteen O'Clock by James Stimson
Chronicle Books

A different girl lives in a house where the clock strikes 13. And when it does, all sorts of strange creatures creep out the woodwork and head up the stairs to where the girl waits hidden... but it's the creatures who get the scare in this whimsically illustrated tale of a "perky prankster in pajamas".

Only a Witch Can Fly by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
Feiwel & Friends

Yet another girl longs to fly, especially when the moon shines on her through her window. It's a inspiring tale of a girl who tries and tries, failing often, but never gives up on her dream. Written as a sestina, an old form of poetry from the 12th century, the rhythms seem strange at first, but draw you in slowly and firmly, the words entrancing you with their bold imagery.

Hope you are having a happy halloween! What are some of your favorite halloween themed picture books?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Book Review: Sometimes We're Always Real Same Same by Mattox Roesch

Alaska is one of the few states I’ve never visited, so everything I know about it is secondhand. Unalakleet, a remote Alaskan village, sounded like an intriguing place to “virtually” visit, and so I waded into this debut novel. As seen through the eyes of 17 year old LA gang banger Cesar, who accompanies his native Eskimo mother back to live with her family after her divorce from Cesar’s father, “Unk” is a desolate place, full of strangers (many related to him), fish, and not much else.

At first Cesar doesn’t plan to stay, but his fear of what his gang might do to him for ditching them and his fascination with manic-depressive cousin Go-Boy keep him around. Cesar often flashes back to his own buried secrets while confronting those of people in town and minimizes his own feelings of guilt by concluding that everyone in the world has done ugly things.

Cesar’s rationalizations are hard to swallow, and in my opinion, the novel went too easy on him. Perhaps his biggest punishment is his inability to form close relationships with girlfriends, but compared to the imprisonment, suicide attempts, and deaths of people close to him, it seems out of balance somehow.

Despite my overall lukewarm reception of the characters and plot, there were compelling scenes scattered throughout that showed great insight into modern Eskimo culture, my favorite being the funeral/wake at the bowling alley.

SOMETIMES WE’RE ALWAYS REAL SAME SAME is available in paperback. Find out more about it on the author's website.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Book Review: Lips Touch by Laini Taylor

I’ve just read three intoxicating stories about kisses with the power to change destinies.

The first, Goblin Fruit, was my favorite (quite possibly the best thing I read all year) and concerns Kizzy, an “urgent, unkissed, wishful girl” growing up somewhere slightly outside modern day suburbia with her large, odd family of gypsies. Although her grandmother has warned her about goblins – and never tasting fruit out of season – Kizzy is charmed by a gorgeous new boy, Jack Husk, bearing a picnic of likely unearthly delights.

The writing here is so masterly and melodic that I read whole passages aloud, savoring the way the words rolled off my tongue. Here’s a sample passage about the woman Kizzy might one day become:

She was the one who would some day know a dozen ways to wear a silk scarf, how to read the sky for rain and coax feral animals near, how to purr throaty love songs in Portuguese and Basque, how to lay a vampire to rest, how to light a cigar, how to light a man’s imagination on fire.

If she lived to womanhood.
(p 24)

The whole story reminded me of a lyric from one of my favorite Tori Amos songs, Cooling:

And is your place in heaven worth giving up these kisses?

I know if I met Jack Husk, I’d have a hard time resisting him….

Story number two, Spicy Little Curses Such As These, is set in India in British colonial times and concerns a deal made between a demon in hell and the earth’s ambassador to hell, an elderly British woman named Estella. In exchange for the souls of 22 children, Estella consents to a curse being put on a newborn girl that if she should ever speak, the sound of her voice would kill all those who heard it.

This is also a love story that very cleverly weaves in the superstitions of the day, peppered with a bit of outsider doubt, to make a truly delectable reading experience.

The prologue to this one is such a sweet tease:

Kissing can ruin lives. Lips touch, sometimes teeth clash. New hunger is born with a throb and caution falls away. A cursed girl with lips still moist from her first kiss might feel suddenly wild, like a little monsoon. She might forget her curse just long enough to get careless and let it come true. She might kill everyone she loves.

She might, and she might not.
(p 69)

Story number three, Hatchling, is the longest and the most involved, thanks to its complex mythology involving immortal beings without souls called Druj that long to take part in the human experience. It all starts with a 14 year old London girl named Esme:

Six days before Esme’s fourteenth birthday, her left eye turned from brown to blue. It happened in the night. She went to sleep with brown eyes, and when she woke at dawn to the howling of wolves, her left eye was blue. (p 145)

Esme’s mother Mab is terrified by the change and tries to escape with her daughter and little by little, we learn about the origins of Mab’s nightmares, why you should be wary of one eyed animals, and how a soulless being might possibly patch together a soul…

Hatchling is a more traditional fantasy story but still with a healthy dose of the lyrical language and fairy-tale character that make the first two stories so hauntingly, achingly beautiful.

And added treat is the artwork by Jim Di Bartolo that accompanies the stories.

LIPS TOUCH is out in hardcover now. Find out more about this recent National Book Award nominee on the author’s website.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Waiting On Wednesday (40) So Much For That by Lionel Shriver

Gayle of Everyday I Write the Book blog alerted me to the fact that Lionel Shriver has a new novel coming out next March, and having really enjoyed WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN and THE POST BIRTHDAY WORLD, I am really excited about this one - and with its focus on the US health care system, it's very timely too.

Here's the blurb from

What do you pack for the rest of your life? Shepherd Knacker is bored with his humdrum existence. He's sold his successful handy-man business for a million dollars and is now ready to embark on his 'Afterlife' - a one way ticket to a small island off the coast of Africa. He tries to convince his wife Glynis to come with him, but she laughs off the idea as preposterous.There's no way she'll let Shepherd uproot the family to some far-flung African island.

When Glynis is diagnosed with an extremely rare and aggressive form of cancer, Shepherd's dreams of an exotic adventure are firmly put on hold. He devotes himself to caring for his sick wife, watching her fade before his eyes.

Shepherd's best friend Jackson knows all too well about illness. His sixteen year old daughter has spent her life dosed up on every treatment going while he and his wife Carol feed their youngest daughter sugar pills so she won't feel left out. But then Jackson undergoes a medical procedure of his own which has devastating consequences.

So Much For That is a deeply affecting novel, told with Lionel Shriver's trademark originality, intelligence and acute perception of the human condition.

Sounds good! Oh, and this appears to be the UK cover, but since I'll probably be getting the UK version anyway, it's fine for me.

WoW is hosted by Jill - head over there to see what other bloggers are looking forward to this week.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Library Thing Tuesday (77) + Picture of Emmy

Did you know you can read an author's last 3 tweets using a platform on LibraryThing? Wendi's post tells you how. So the question for today is: Have you checked out any of the links/tweets on some of the author pages for the books in your bookshelves? Have you added any links/twitter information yourself?

This is the first time I've heard of this, but it sounds really useful. I love following authors on twitter and am always looking to add more. My twitter handle is @lenoreva and if you follow me (and don't look like spam), I'll likely follow you back within a few days.


Finn seems to be recovered from his surgery. He still needs to take antibiotics for the next few days (in the form of a pill - which is no problem to get down when wrapped in turkey). Here's how we found our kittehs recently:

Here Finn (the whiter kitteh) looks almost as big as Emmy, but she still has nearly a whole kilo advantage.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Book Review: Amberville by Tim Davys

Eric Bear’s perfect life is threatened when crime boss Nicholas Dove comes by to call in a favor. He’s rumored to be on the stuffed animal Death List (which may or may not exist) and he wants Eric to find a way to take him off… or else…

Early on, as I struggled to make sense of the Amberville world, I wondered if perhaps the whole story was in the mind of some twisted human child who owned tons of stuffed animals and was moving them around, “playing” as kids are known to do. Physically, the stuffed animals always stay the same shape - they just fray around the edges as they “age” - which made me think of our world’s rules. But then, they apparently eat, write novels, gamble, and engage in all kinds of everyday activities that would seem to indicate that they are really living, breathing creations.

Well – there is one main thing they can’t do besides change shape, and that is procreate. When the stuffed animals want to have children, they apply for a place on the Cub List, and one lucky day, a green truck delivers a bundle of joy. Correspondingly, a red truck comes when a stuffed animal's time in Amberville is over. Are the two related? Who writes the lists? Is it possible to change the lists? Why are there lists anyway? Why can’t stuffed animals just live forever? These are the questions Eric and the novel ask over the course of the both twisty and surprisingly philosophical narrative.

Although there are some passages that seem rather pointless at the time you read them, they eventually pay off in a clever fashion. So if you’re a moderately patient reader with a penchant for the bizzare (and don’t mind a sometimes clunky translation - the original is in Swedish), you should get a kick out of AMBERVILLE.

AMBERVILLE is available in hardcover now. Find out more about it (and watch a trailer) at its official website.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Read-a-thon goals accomplished: 500 comments!

I did it - 500 comments. I tried to visit every blog that signed up, and I left a comment as long as it was fairly easy to do so. It was wonderful to see everyone's progress and the mini-challenges were lots of fun.

Now for the end of readathon meme:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
None in particular. I went to bed and slept for 5 hrs and then Emmy woke me up by biting my earplug out of my ear.
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
Everyone reading the Hunger Games seemed to be enjoying it. Which is more than I can say for How I Live Now.
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Nope - if it aint broke, don't fix it!
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
Everyone was really enthusiastic. I even had people cheering on my cheerleading!
5. How many books did you read?
Only 1.
6. What were the names of the books you read?
AMBERVILLE by Tim Davys (343 pages)
7. Which book did you enjoy most?
Guess it would have to be that one.
8. Which did you enjoy least?
Ditto ;)
9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
Setting a goal for yourself is essential. And keep track of how many blogs you visit so you can see your progress.
10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
We'll see! If the time is right, I'd love to participate again. I don't know that I would go for 500 comments again though!

I'd like to say I'm going to take a nap now, but unfortunately, it looks like Finn may have an infection from his surgery. He's thrown up 6 times and is totally lethargic and hot. We are going to the vet here soon. Hope it's nothing serious. Poor little guy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Read-a-thon Progress - 250 comments left so far!

Yep, you heard me right - I've been all over creation leaving little comments of readathon cheer. I've learned a few things along the way:

1. Many people do not know how to use Mr. Linky properly - Seriously?
2. I REALLY hate word verification (I hated it before, but even more so now)
3. There are a ton of books being read right now! Some people are up to 13!
4. It takes a long time to leave 250 comments - whew!
5. Readathon is a great event and the organizers are really on top of things!!

Going to take a break now to read some more. But I will be back. After all, I still have 250 more comments to leave ;)

Read-a-thon a Go! + Welcome Meme

Whew - just visited and commented on 20 blogs since the official start of the read-a-thon...

It's great to see how fired up everyone is and see everyone's beautiful stacks of books.
Here's my hour one meme:

Where are you reading from today? Though I signed up officially to cheerlead, I will also be reading unofficially. I'm at home. It is a foggy, yucky day here in Frankfurt, so I love being inside reading, leaving comments, and cuddling with the cats. Finn is doing much better today after his surgery - thanks for your concern!

3 facts about me … That no one knows already? Hmmm... How about my shoe size is 9 1/2 (that's 40 in European sizes). I just bought a new coat which I LOVE. My grandmother once bought me 20 Precious Moments figurines for Christmas (I could write a whole post on her crazy gift-giving!)

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? Right now, I am reading AMBERVILLE by Tim Davys. I decided to concentrate on thrillers today, so I have about 6 lined up, though I doubt I will get to them all.

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? I'd like to finish a couple of books at least, but my main focus is on cheerleading. I signed up for 4 hours, but I plan to do more! I'd say my goal is at least 500 comments. Is that crazy?!

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time? I've done one read-a-thon before (motherreader's 48 hr one), and my best advice is to pick short books so you'll feel like you are accomplishing something!
Have fun everyone!


#readathon is a trending topic on Twitter! I took a short break to empty out the dishwasher and observe the kittehs doing their kitteh sauna, but I have left 55 comments so far. A good pace I think.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Fabulous! (17)

Time for another Friday Fabulous list!

1. I will be cheerleading for the 24 hour read-a-thon tomorrow as well as some reading I'm sure. This is such a fun community event and I look forward to checking in on everyone's progress (366 participants in all so far - how many will I manage to visit?)

2. Lauren of Shooting Stars Mag and Chelsea of The Page Flipper are doing the Leave a Mark auctions again this year to benefit First Book. I ADORE marked up books so you can be sure I'll be bidding again. I won two books last year, and it is just too fun to get that behind the scenes look at books direct from the authors themselves.

3. Nicole of Linus Blanket is starting a new radio show interviewing book bloggers called That's How I Blog! She's doing a trial run of 12 shows with fab book bloggers starting next week and going until mid-January. I am so excited that she asked me to participate! My show will be in January, and of course I'll remind you when the time comes.

4. In addition to all those books I brought home from the Frankfurt Book Fair last week, I also got a couple more in the mail and bought some. When my dad told me I got Courtney Summer's latest SOME GIRLS ARE, I squealed. Of the advanced readers who have reviewed in on GoodReads so far, not one has given it less than 5 stars!! I also got Lauren McLaughlin's RECYCLER, Catherine Fisher's INCARCERON, and Lucy Christopher's STOLEN.

5. Finn got neutered today (which isn't fab, but rather sad) and we were much relieved that the pre-op ultrasound showed that his missing testicle was just under the surface of where it should have been instead of floating around somewhere that would have necessitated cutting open his belly. He's sleeping on my lap as I type and we hope for a speedy recovery.

6. My new non-paranoid book club met on Wednesday to great success. We discussed Kathleen Kent's THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER which I actually read and reviewed last year. Hachette was extremely generous and donated 10 copies of the book and are setting up a telephone date with the author for us as well. The reaction the novel was overwhelmingly positive, though one member maintained that no one could ever do the Salem witch trials better than Arthur Miller (THE CRUCIBLE).

We had a lively discussion about mother-daughter relationships, whether witches actually exist, the hardships of early America, and how birth seemed to be a recurring theme for Kent - all while snacking on an incredibly delicious apple cake baked by our hostess. I have a great feeling about this group and copies of the book will be donated to the US Military overseas library so that other international English book clubs and readers can enjoy Kent's novel as well.

What exciting things do you have to report this week?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Book Review: My Invented Life by Lauren Bjorkman

You know that book you got simply because of the cover? Well, this is the one that did it for me. There’s just something about those two girls making silly/glam faces that reminded me of the best times in high school, hanging out and goofing off with friends.

And the great thing about the novel is that it does capture the spirit of the cover. High school junior Roz is overdramatic in an endearing way – she wants to play Rosalind, the lead in the school play of Shakespeare’s AS YOU LIKE IT (even though normally the lead would go to her older sister, the more popular Eva) and would go to great lengths to get it. She also pines for Eva’s boyfriend Bryan and often “invents” love scenes between them. She’s very enthusiastic and exuberant, and jumps into situations without really thinking them through.

AS YOU LIKE IT, a play with elaborate gender reversals (Rosalind disguises herself as a man through much of the play), fits perfectly in this story that explores the sometimes blurred lines of sexual orientation. Just as Rosalind plays at being a man, Roz plays at being a lesbian (in a half-baked scheme to get her sister to come out) and learns some surprising things along the way. Although this idea really works on a conceptual level, I have to say it’s not that believable on a realistic level. Roz is written as a pretty self-confident teen – but confident enough to let taunts and slurs simply roll off her back? Now that is some super-human self-assurance.

Even though the story can be messy at times and it can be confusing to tell what is invented and what is real, I think it would be a great read for Shakespeare enthusiasts (for the Shakespearean insults alone), the drama crowd, and those interested in GLBT lit.

MY INVENTED LIFE is available now in hardcover. Find out more about it on the author’s website.

And as an extra bonus, I give you some silly photos of me and my friend Sommer in HS:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Waiting On Wednesday (39) The Things that Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley

I know I haven't done a Waiting on Wednesday in a long time, but the Frankfurt Book Fair made my wishlist grow by a mile (like I needed that) so I'm back in the fray!

First up is one I also saw on Shelf Awareness last week - a new entry in the apocalyptic lit genre that gives me goosebumps (and what's with that feather on the cover? - freaky!).

The description from amazon:

How far would you go to protect your family? Ann Brooks never thought she’d have to answer that question. Then she found her limits tested by a crisis no one could prevent. Now, as her neighborhood descends into panic, she must make tough choices to protect everyone she loves from a threat she cannot even see.

In this chillingly urgent novel, Carla Buckley confronts us with the terrifying decisions we are forced to make when ordinary life changes overnight.

A year ago, Ann and Peter Brooks were just another unhappily married couple trying–and failing–to keep their relationship together while they raised two young daughters. Now the world around them is about to be shaken as Peter, a university researcher, comes to a startling realization: A virulent pandemic has made the terrible leap across the ocean to America’s heartland. And it is killing fifty out of every hundred people it touches.

As their town goes into lockdown, Peter is forced to return home–with his beautiful graduate assistant. But the Brookses’ safe suburban world is no longer the refuge it once was. Food grows scarce, and neighbor turns against neighbor in grocery stores and at gas pumps. And then a winter storm strikes, and the community is left huddling in the dark. Trapped inside the house she once called home, Ann Brooks must make life-or-death decisions in an environment where opening a door to a neighbor could threaten all the things she holds dear.

Carla Buckley’s poignant debut raises important questions to which there are no easy answers, in an emotionally riveting tale of one family facing unimaginable stress.

This one comes out on February 9, 2010. So not TOO long to wait...

WoW is hosted by Jill - head over there to see what other bloggers are looking forward to this week.

Guest Post by Daniel at Work in Progress + Contest

Many of you know that my husband Daniel is an illustrator and that his first illustrated picture book IS YOUR BUFFALO READY FOR KINDERGARTEN? is coming out with HarperCollins' Balzer and Bray in Summer 2010.

Today he guests over at my friend Shailia's blog about his career change and living his dream. Shailia also recently switched careers and is now business coaching and training and her blog is very inspiring. Be sure to check out Work In Progress' other posts too!

Anyone worldwide who comments on Daniel's guest post over on Work in Progress has a chance to win one of Daniel's hot-off-the-press F&Gs (an ARC for picture books). You know you want one!! (Contest ends Nov 22nd, 2009)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Library Thing Tuesday (76) + Picture of Emmy

Today's question from Wendi: Do you have a CueCat? Have you thought of getting one? If you had it, would you explore the other uses such as creating a shopping list? Can you think of any helpful uses for the CueCat other than scanning your books into LT?

I do not have a CueCat, though I thought about getting one for my father - he is more likely to need it than I am! Have you ever noticed that ARCs don't have barcodes? Of course, since I'd like to wean myself slowly off ARCs (not completely of course, but to a more manageable number) maybe I can reward myself with a CueCat if I ever do.

But what I lack in CueCats, I make up for in real cats. Real cats that leave real fur in layers all over my clothes, my furniture... and my stove? Finn!!

At least Emmy has the decency to recycle her fur:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Book Review: Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Twins Julia and Valentina inherit an apartment in London from an aunt (their mother’s twin Elspeth) they didn’t know they had. To accept the inheritance, they must live in the flat for one year, which is fine by them since they usually just hang out doing nothing anyway. Once there, they meet their strange neighbors as well as their dead aunt (in ghost form) and get a cat. Oh and… Valentina starts to chafe under Julia’s dominance in their relationship. Is trouble ahead in twinland?

HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY is a strange novel, and I still haven’t decided if I really liked it or just sort of liked it. Although the aimless younger twins are ostensibly the main characters, Elspeth looms so large that it feels more like her story. Add, too, the fact that non-integral supporting characters, such as OCD afflicted Martin and his long-suffering wife, are far more interesting than the twins and you have an odd dynamic indeed.

Still, Niffenegger certainly knows how to hold a reader’s attention and I was never bored – even if the creepy paranormal aspects of the narrative didn’t kick into high gear until halfway through. When what happened with the cat happened, I was so creeped out, I put the book down for two days and shivered whenever I thought about what would probably happen next (and which eventually did happen).

No one should go into this expecting a TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE clone, but lovers of light gothic literary fiction, ghosts and or twins will likely enjoy their reading experience.

HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY is out in hardcover now. Find out more about it at the author's website.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Frankfurt Book Fair Day 2-5

Another Frankfurt Book Fair comes to a close! Here's a short recap of my experiences day by day (see this post for day 1).

Daniel and I got up early and went to the airport clinic to get our yellow fever shots for our upcoming trip to Kenya and Tanzania. It took a rather long time. Daniel went immediately after to an illustrator meeting, but I didn't go to the fair until about 4 pm. I talked to various guide book publishers about getting some guide books to review for my trip. Footprint Books has a travel guide for Kenya, but by the time I made it back on Sunday, they had packed up and left. Thomas Cook has a Travellers guide for Tanzania, but the fair copy was stolen, so the rep promised to send it to me. I have the Lonely Planet East Africa guide and got their Watching Wildlife East Africa guide today. I also already have Fodor's The Complete African Safari Planner. Many companies don't seem to have much for Africa, so the selection isn't as grand as I hoped.

My only schelduled activity on Friday was a reading by German YA Author Nina Blazon. She read from her new novel TOTENBRAUT (Dead Bride) and told us a bit about the story. It's a historical/paranormal set in the Balkans and incorporates vampire myths from Eastern European folktales, which are much different than TWILIGHT and books of its' ilk. Originally, before Bram Stoker got ahold of them, vampires were more like zombies. People were afraid that people who died and were buried could come out of their graves and then suck the life out of the living. It was quite a fascinating talk and we ended up buying the book and got it signed.

Afterwards, we walked around hall 4.1 some and looked at the art and design books. I also stopped by Scholastic and got a few books, and was dazzled by the cover for Maggie Stiefvater's LINGER (highly anticipated sequel to SHIVER). The rep there told me that SHIVER has sold foreign rights in 37 territories and counting so that's exciting news!

After attending Daniel's cousin's birthday brunch, Daniel and I headed over to the Shaun Tan signing (see my whole separate Shaun Tan signing post). Then I went over to Simon and Schuster and got my copy of Lisa McMann's GONE (yay!) and over to Random House were the rep had reserved the last copy of ALL UNQUIET THINGS by Anna Jarzab (unfortunately someone had stolen THE RED UMBRELLA by Cristina Diaz Gonzalez). They were also all out of THE IRON KING by Julie Kagawa by the time I got to Harlequin Teen and neither HarperTeen or Little, Brown had any ARCs of upcoming books. I briefly saw some yummy Egmont USA ARCs at Random House, but they belonged to someone (sigh).

But Penguin saved the day with lots of delicious upcoming offerings! There I met Ka-Yam who is also an avid YA book reader and blogger. You should have seen her bag of ARCs - insane I tell you!

I met Ann again, this time with our friend Rebecca and we were at the fair when the doors opened. We got a ton of picture books and sales dummies of upcoming picture books (including Daniel's!!) - I must have gotten at least 40. We also stopped by a few remainder dealers and bought a couple of books. Then we dropped off our goodies and went out for a relaxing brunch.

Here are some haul highlights (YA):

EXODUS and ZENITH by Julie Bertagna (apocalyptic lit from the UK)
ALL UNQUIET THINGS by Anna Jarzab (mystery/thriller set for Jan 2010)
THE LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS by Francisco X. Stork (March 2010)
SHADOW by Jenny Moss (Fantasy April 2010)
DARK LIFE by Kat Falls (MG dystopia set for May 2010)
FOR KEEPS by Natasha Friend (April 2010)
WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by John Green & David Levithan (April 2010)
SING ME TO SLEEP by Angela Morrison (March 2010)
THE NAUGHTY LIST by Suzanne Young (Feb 2010)
UP OVER DOWN UNDER by Micol Ostow & Noah Harlan (April 2010)
STUPID CUPID by Rhonda Stapleton (Dec 2009)
GONE by Lisa McMann (Feb 2010)
MAGIC UNDER GLASS by Jaclyn Dolamore (Feb 2010)
A MYTHOLOGICAL DATING GUIDE by Francesca Lia Block (out now)

I also got a bunch of adult titles:

And a couple of cook books :)


Book Signing at the Frankfurt Book Fair: Shaun Tan

One of the major highlights of the Frankfurt Book Fair for me this year was the interview and book signing with Shaun Tan, known for the wordless graphic novel THE ARRIVAL and the illustrated short story collection TALES FROM OUTER SUBURBIA.

Shaun was interviewed by a German journalist mainly in regard to THE ARRIVAL which took Shaun 5 years to develop and illustrate. He began thinking it would be a 32 page picture book but while researching immigrant stories, be noticed how detailed they were and he realized he would have to show this detail in order to do the immigrant experience justice which would require many, many more pages (128 to be exact).

Shaun used himself as the model for the main character. He bought a suit and props and also had friends help him act out scenes so he could film them. These films as well as old photographs from the early 20th century helped him achieve the look he was going for.

After the interview, Shaun signed books for us. Daniel and I got our copies of THE ARRIVAL and TALES FROM OUTER SUBURBIA (a gift from Dar) signed. We had him sign them to both of us, so then Shaun joked that we'd better stay together.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

German Translations in the Wild (4) Frankfurt Book Fair Edition

I'll do a recap of days 2-5 of the Frankfurt Book Fair tomorrow when my book stack is complete - so look for that. I made out like a bandit, that's for sure.

Today I finally remembered to bring my camera, so I braved the large German crowd in hall 3.0 to get you the following pictures.

Lightbox with THE HUNGER GAMES (German title: TRIBUTES FROM PANEM: DEADLY GAMES) because I love this cover and want to show it every week.

Bernard Beckett's GENESIS (same title in German)

Very shiny copies of Sarah Rees Brennen's THE DEMON'S LEXICON (German title: THE DEMON'S CIRCLE).


Sure seems like you need to have a fantasy/paranormal or dystopia to make it in Germany doesn't it?!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Book Review: Half Minute Horrors by various

The very short stories in HALF MINUTE HORRORS are full of twists, creep-outs, and shiver-inducing scenarios.

There is such a variety here, many penned by famous authors, that you are sure to find some you love, and if you read some you don’t love too, well at least you didn’t invest too much time.

My fave three stories were:

- An Easy Gig by MT Anderson about a babysitting job gone really, REALLY wrong

- A Very Short Story by Holly Black about a mother tucking her daughter into bed and getting the typical “are there monsters?” questions but with an atypical ending

- Skittering by Tui T. Sutherland that brings out the arachnophobe in me and explains the reason why you should NEVER kill spiders

This collection also marks only the second book Daniel has actually finished reading this year, so I highly recommend it to reluctant readers.

HALF MINUTE HORRORS is available in hardcover now. Contributers include Margaret Atwood, Libba Bray, Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Lethem, Gregory Maguire, Melissa Marr, Joyce Carol Oates, James Patterson, Francine Prose, Lemony Snicket among many others.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Frankfurt Book Fair Day 1

I like to go early on the first day of the fair, so Ann met me at 9 and we walked over. Our first destination was Hall 8.0 - the English language publishers. We mainly picked up catalogs and scanned the shelves to see if there were any titles we recognized.

The fair is noticeably smaller this year. HarperCollins stand and Simon and Schuster's stand are both half the size of last year. Penguin and Random House were the same size. I didn't get close to the books in the first three, but we were very excited to see Anna Jarzab's ALL UNQUIET THINGS and Cristina Diaz Gonzalez's THE RED UMBRELLA at RH.

Faber and Faber didn't have any galleys out like they usually do, but they seemed to have quite a few copies of Barbara Kingsolver's THE LACUNA, so I hope to get a copy of that on Sunday.

My most exciting moment was getting a galley from Hodder and Stoughton of Jasper Fforde's SHADES OF GREY, the first book in an "exciting new series". YAY!

The funniest book I saw was at Chronicle: GLAMOURPUSS - THE ENCHANTING WORLD OF KITTY WIGS. Apparently, they even have a kitty wig website.

We then headed over to check out German children books in Hall 3.0. They had a huge display for the German version of THE HUNGER GAMES and I even saw the German version of Bernard Beckett's GENESIS. I'll have to take my camera tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Library Thing Tuesday (75) + Picture of Emmy

Today's question from Wendi: Do you read ebooks? Have you used Library Thing to record ebooks in your book shelves? Whether you do or don't currently read ebooks, if you read one, will you be including it in your book shelves, and will you tag it as an ebook?

I have not read a single ebook as of yet, and until I someday get a Kindle or other ereader, I probably won't. I guess if I ever do read an ebook, I will probably tag it as such on LT.


The kittehs love when we run the dishwasher so that they can do kitteh sauna when the cycle is up:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book Review: Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman

Andromeda Klein is a strange girl with a strange life. She’s into magic and tarot and reads obsessively on the subject. Her best friend has recently died, her much older boyfriend has disappeared and her parents are as kooky as she is. But things get really complicated when she discovers the “friends of the library” plot to rid her local library of all the best books.

Ok…first what I liked about this novel: Andromeda is a well-drawn and fascinating specimen. Her interactions with people are often unintentionally hilarious or even borderline dangerous because her hearing problem (something to do with brittle bones) means she mishears about 68% of what is said. There are many scenes where you just have to shake your head in wonder at the twisted imagination necessary to think up such absurdities and such wacky characters (I particularly liked the paranoid dad and the hyper-texting mom).

And of course I loved the bits about coincidence, being that it is the subject of my imaginary thesis. Apparently, “the universe chooses to show itself in tiny flashes, revealing connections amongst its diverse elements at odd moments. Coincidence, say the unobservant or the spiritually obtuse, when they notice them at all. But educated people […] know them as synchs, since the common understanding of coincidence implies something accidental, and there are no accidents.” (p. 2 ARC version. May vary from the final printed version.)

As Andromeda tells her “disciple” (a guy who for some reason would prefer to be her boyfriend), “A synch would be like: [….] you know, the Universe is nudging you a little there. […] Maybe it’s telling you something that’s going to happen, or maybe it’s showing something about what is happening. Or maybe it just wants you to wake up a little.” (p. 328, ARC)

But….because there is so little actually going on (the “friends of the library” plot notwithstanding), the book feels overlong and the constant references to obscure occult literature become tiresome very quickly. I have to admit that my eyes glazed over at times, and I resorted to skimming through some sections.

This will be a tough sell for the pink and glitter crowd, but I am sure there are some which will think it’s utterly brilliant.

ANDROMEDA KLEIN is available in hardcover now. Find out more about it at the author's website.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Book Review: Secret Son by Laila Lalami

18 year old Youssef El Mekki has lived all his life with his mother in the slums of Casablanca thinking that his father died in an accident when he was a baby. When he finds out his father is not only alive but also a rich businessman, Youssef tracks him down and father and son begin a tentative relationship. Youssef begins to enjoy a life of privilege and allows himself to finally hope for a brighter future – but forces beyond his control threaten to take his new life away from him.

One of my favorite aspects of reading international fiction is being able to immerse myself in the culture that the author is presenting – in this case modern Morocco. Author Lalami writes with such immediacy and passion that it’s easy to get drawn into Youssef’s story. As is often the case with sagas involving family secrets, selfishness and a lamentable lack of communication shape the characters’ destinies.

As I’ve told a couple of friends since reading this, it seems that Lalami already had an ending in mind and then fashioned a narrative that would lead to that end. I can understand why Lalami would want to tell a story with the type of ending she has chosen, but she put so much effort into Youssef’s character that this ending ends up feeling like a cop-out and not the inevitable one she may have been going for. SPOILER: (Roll over the following text with your mouse to read) The ending has strong similarities to the Jeff Bridges/Tom Robbins movie Arlington Road – but the movie’s ending was better set-up and just better. I guess if you haven't seem the movie, this isn't much of a spoiler, but if you have, you know what I am talking about.

SECRET SON is available in hardcover now. Find out more about the book (and watch the trailer) at the author's website.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fire and Ash Winners!

Sorry this is a bit delayed! I was in Berlin for the past few days, visiting a friend and attending yet another Tori Amos concert (finally got Northern Lad - YAY). Since I'd done most of the tourist sites on my previous visits to Berlin, we went out to Postdam and walked around Sanssouci park - gorgeous!

Anyway, on to the winners.

The winner of the signed copy of Fire is: Mrs. F-B’s Book Blog

The winner of the copy of Ash is: Michelle

Congrats you two!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Book Review: The Everafter by Amy Huntley

Madison is dead and surrounded in space by glowing objects - objects that she lost during her lifetime that can take her back to the scene where (and when) she lost them. Will they eventually lead her to understanding the cause of her death and the meaning of her life?

When I first read the summary for this one, I knew I had to read it. I loved the premise, but couldn't fathom how Author Huntley could actually make it work. But oh does she! The structure she has set up of Madison being able to "jump" to certain moments of her life gives us ample opportunity to really get to know Madison and the people that are central to telling her story - her sister, her best friend Sandra who is terrorized by her unstable mother, her boyfriend Gabe (and his ex-girlfriend Dana), and a former friend Tammy. Madison visits seemingly random scenes from her life, but they all fit together like a puzzle to help her (and us) solve the mystery of her death - leading to a surprising and bittersweet ending that really packs a punch.

What I probably liked best about the novel was the philosophical subtext. Huntley has some very intriguing ideas about the coexistance of life and death - a scene from Madison's childhood where she and her friends play with a ouijia board is especially spooky in this context. I also appreciated the inclusion of a few Emily Dickenson's poems and discussion thereof. It definitely made me want to dig out my volumes of her poetry again.

The Everafter is now available in hardcover. Find out more about it on the author's website. I read the ARC, but will be buying a copy for my keeper shelf.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

German Translations in the Wild (3)

Today I have some adult titles for your viewing pleasure.

Thrillers (have actually read all of these - yay!)
DOWN RIVER by John Hart (German title THE DARK RIVER)
IN THE WOODS by Tana French (German title THE GREEN FOUND ON GRAVES)
THE LIKENESS by Tana French (German title DEATH-LIKE)

Urban Fantasy
ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE by Jeaniene Frost (German title KISS OF THE NIGHT)
DEAD UNTIL DARK By Charlaine Harris (German title TEMPORARILY DEAD)
LOST IN A GOOD BOOK by Jasper Fforde (German title IN ANOTHER BOOK)
EVERNIGHT by Claudia Gray (same title) Note: Marketed to adults in Germany.

Popular fiction
POPE JOAN by Donna Woolfolk Cross (German title THE FEMALE POPE)
THE BOOK THIEF by Marcus Zusak (same title) Note: This is the cover marketed for adults.
THE TIME TRAVELERS WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger (same title)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Book Review and Author Interview: The Waking - Dreams of the Dead by Thomas Randall

Kara moves with her father to Japan when he accepts a teaching position at a boarding school that Kara also attends as a day student. Before she can even settle in, Kara begins having nightmares that get stronger when students at the school start dying. Is someone - or something - trying to take revenge for a murder of a popular student killed before Kara's arrival?

Although probably too slow for most horror fans, this novel does build up to a nice crescendo of creepiness for the final reveal. I liked how we got a fresh take on the paranormal craze with the incorporation of Japanese myths and legends.

The main reason I wanted to read this was for the Japanese setting. I spent two semesters at a university in Fukuoka, Japan and Kara's experience (minus the paranormal happenings of course) was in many ways similar to mine so that aspect was very fun for me.

This is the first in a trilogy but the plot wraps up so nicely in this one, I really can't imagine what the other two novels could be about - and I love that.

THE WAKING: DREAMS OF THE DEAD is available in paperback now. As part of the book blog tour, I got to interview Author Thomas Randall. Here we go!

THE WAKING has a Japanese horror flick vibe. Were you inspired by any of them? I've enjoyed THE RING and THE GRUDGE and their American remakes, to a point. The U.S. version of THE GRUDGE doesn't really hold together, which is unfortunate because the vibe and atmosphere of it are awesome.

But actually those weren't my inspirations at all. I love folklore, and Japanese folklore and legend are incredibly rich and varied. I've always been fascinated by the fact that Japan has no real vampire legend. There are vampiric creatures, but no vampires, so I wanted to take what is fascinating to me about Japan--its beauty and history and folklore--and mix it with an exotic vampire story that would be new and different for readers mostly familiar with modern vampire stuff.

On top of that, I loved the idea of writing about this girl who is on this real adventure that would intimidate or terrify most of us, starting over in a new place many thousands of miles from home, and to show the kind of courage that takes and how large a mysterysome parts of the world are to people who don't live there.

Kara and her father move to Japan after her mother dies. Why are authors always killing off mothers?
Bad childhoods? :) Just kidding. It's very practical, to be honest. Writers often kill off both parents, forcing the young protagonists to make their own way in the world. It's a classic conceit of children's literature. If the reader is identifying with this character, the first thing you've done is made the reader understand the peril the character is in...what would THEY do without their parents to take care of them? Many of the greatest stories in children's literature simply wouldn't happen if the parents were around to take care of the young protagonists.

In killing off just the mother, which is another common tactic, you've similarly denied the main character something, but it's a different something. Fathers are often seen as more distant or befuddled or less caring than a mother would be. That's not the case with Kara and her father in THE WAKING, but even in this trilogy, there's a comfort and an understanding that Kara might receive from her mother that her father has a difficult time providing. Not to mention that in order for them to both feel cast adrift while starting anew in this strange land, they need to feel loss. The absence of Kara's mother is just as important to the story as the presence of her father. So, no, it's not a conspiracy against moms. :)

You describe a lot of Japanese cultural customs throughout the novel. What kind of research did you do? Did you actually eat umeboshi? (I did once...and never again!)
I am, I confess, the pickiest of eaters. Two of my three kids have inherited that trait and it drives my lovely wife nuts. Most of the things I talk about the characters eating in the trilogy would never pass my lips. My eldest son would probably try most of it. There are a few things that intrigued me, but for the most part, I'd be starving.

As far as research goes, I read books and essays and blogs and did other research online. I talked to a friend of mine who taught English in a private school in Japan. I wanted the reader to see the world from Kara's perspective as she immerses herself into the culture. There's gradually less reliance on that as the trilogy goes on because Kara will have become acclimated and so will the reader. One thing I didn't get to do for research was go to Japan, but I still hope that will happen one of these days.

Wow - you really got it right for never having been there! You have written a ton of novels - which one would you most recommend to someone who enjoyed THE WAKING and why?
Curious readers might give Christopher Golden's POISON INK a try, for another smart, gutsy girl dealing with a supernatural encounter that could destroy her life.

Thanks Thomas (a.k.a. Christopher)!

Find links to more reviews of the novel and interviews with Thomas by clicking on the graphic below.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Library Thing Tuesday (74) + Picture of Emmy

Today's question from Wendi: Have you searched for books using the Tagmash feature on the search page? If you took a look at the Tagmash Overlap, what did you think? Anything surprising pop up under the tagmashes?

I've never searched for books this way before today. I noticed in my personal Tagmash Overlap, I had a lot of categories with dystopias listed. I clicked on some of them and found some great suggestions of dystopian fiction I can read in the future. I was surprised that the tag romance came up a lot more than I expected it to, especially since I tend to avoid books marketed as romances.


Look at my little kitteh soliders standing at attention:

Does anyone else think Finn has a squirrel tail? Or is that just me?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Book Review: Liar by Justine Larbalestier

Before I get into my review, I have to admit something. I am not sure I can be a fair judge of this novel because Justine and I are close friends. There. It’s out.

It’s not something I usually broadcast, since I know you all would be really envious - especially because often when we meet (usually along some major highway, so we can feel the wind in our hair), she brings her husband Scott Westerfeld (not pictured) and we drink these awesomely delicious chai tea lattes Justine whips up and have the most amazing conversations.

The last time Justine and I met up (very near US Interstate 95), she pressed a copy of LIAR into my hands and winked at me – pointing at the inscription she had just written:

Dear Lenore –

Give bad reviews when deserved.

XOX Justine

Justine and I laughed together until our bellies ached about that. We were both thinking how truly unlikely it would be that one of her novels should deserve anything less than 5 stars.

Before I started LIAR, I read the rave reviews where everyone was saying how surprising, how original, how exceptional the book was. So wouldn't it be funny if I then really did give it a bad review?

Now you're thinking, "but don’t best friends usually HAVE to say good things about each other?"

Well, ok…. Don’t think less of me…but I might not have told the WHOLE truth before….

I'm going to come clean about a little white lie I told you earlier. You see, Justine’s chai tea lattes really aren’t that great (I prefer Starbucks to be honest – but please don’t tell her that. I don’t want to hurt her feelings…you know us being besties and all.)

But trust me, that’s the only lie I’ve told you.

So anyway, then I read LIAR. In case you don’t know already, it’s about this girl Micah who lies all the time. From what I understand, she lies to protect a secret no one would believe anyway. And even though she says she’s telling you the truth, she also admits to lying sometimes until you really don’t know what to believe.

And Micah knows how to lie. Here’s what she says about it:

Details. They are the key to lying.
The more detailed you are, the more people believe. […]
Verisimilitude, one of my English teachers called it. The details that give something the appearance of being real. It’s at the heart of a good lie, a story that has wings.
That and your overwhelming desire not to be lied to. You believe me because you want what I tell you to be the truth. No matter how crazy.
(p 245-246 ARC, may vary from final published version)

Even though, honestly, I think LIAR sometimes seems more like a writing exercise (TOPIC: Unreliable narrator) than a fully formed narrative, it is riveting stuff. You hang on Micah’s every word.

And now you’re thinking, “Oh, now Justine’s best friend is telling us the novel is awesome. Why should we believe that?”

Well, because it IS awesome. Oh, and also because I just might have exaggerated my friendship with Justine a teeny, tiny bit…

LIAR is out in hardcover now. You can find out more about it at Justine’s website.

*This is true. Mainly.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Book Review: The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson

In this short middle grade novel, we follow Meli Lleshi, an ethnic Albanian in Kosovo, as she and her relatives live in fear of Milosevic and his Serbian army, eventually becoming refugees and finally making their way to a new life in Vermont.

Paterson, known best for Newberry winning books BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA and JACOB I HAVE LOVED, is not afraid to tackle difficult topics like war and death, though the more horrific realities of war are muted here. Her skill and experience in crafting three dimensional characters we come to care about is evident, and the Lleshi family’s story is an important one that children certainly need to hear.

But I do wonder if this book has an audience beyond required reading lists. There is nothing really compelling in the story that might appeal to a book buying or library going 10-14 yr old reader or that even differentiates it from other war/hardship/refugee tales (not that I know of any others for this age group).

THE DAY OF THE PELICAN comes out October 19th in hardcover.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Third Quarter Reading in Review

Here's what went on in July, August and September:


I read 27 YA and middle grade novels (and 1 YA non-fiction):

Crashed by Robin Wasserman
Skinned by Robin Wasserman
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Fire by Kristin Cashore
Things Are Gonna Get Ugly by Hillary Homzie
Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble
Wanderlust by Lucy Silag
The Stolen One by Suzanne Crowley
Everything Sucks by Hannah Friedman
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
The Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink
Exclusively Chloe by J.A. Yang
Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
Starfinder by John Marco
Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley
An Off Year by Claire Zulkey
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Ash by Malinda Lo
Feathered by Laura Kasischke
Dull Boy by Sarah Cross
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The Miles Between by Mary E. Pearson
The Heights by Brian James
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev

I read 9 adult novels:
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Swimming by Nicola Keegan
Labor Day by Joyce Maynard
Time of My Life by Allison Winn Scotch
The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato
The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns by Elizabeth Leiknes
Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
Last Last Chance by Fiona Maazel
Life Sentences by Laura Lippman

For a total of 37 over 3 months, which was much better than last quarter when I only managed 27.

Interviews/Guest Posts

Lisa Mantchev (Eyes Like Stars)
Mary E. Pearson (The Miles Between)
Diana Peterfreund (Rampant)
Suzanne Crowley (The Stolen One)
Hillary Homzie (Things Are Gonna Get Ugly)
Malinda Lo (Ash)


I had one day with over 800 visitors for the first time and three of my contests attracted over 300 entries. I also read my 100th book during this quarter. I am well on track to pass my total of 125 books read last year.

Oh and happy German Reunification Day! Thanks to this holiday falling on a Saturday this year, all stores are closed all weekend. We wanted to buy a few things last night to tide us over until we saw that lines were at least 40 people deep...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Book Essay: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and Banned Books Week

FAHRENHEIT 451 is really an ideal book to read during banned books week, since it presents an empty, unfulfilling dystopian world in which censorship has won.

In it, Guy Montag is a fireman who sets fire to books because books are banned by the government. Guy goes about his job without much thought until a chance encounter with an unusual teen girl gets him interested in finding out why books are considered so dangerous.

Guy lives in a purely consumer culture where diversity and individual thought are squashed. As his fire chief explains, firemen were given the job “as custodians of our peace of mind, the focus of our understandable and rightful dread of being inferior; official censors, judges, and executors.” If no one is more knowledgeable than anyone else and no one is encouraged to debate, there can be no controversy, and thus everyone is “happy”.

The fire chief fully acknowledges the slippery slope of censorship. Once you start banning content one minority doesn’t like, you set a precedent making it easier to ban content another minority doesn’t like. And so the process continues until you have “a nice blend of vanilla tapioca” and books that are so boring, no one wants to buy or read them anyway.

Of course, since there is some sort of deadly war going on in the background, the reader must assume that not everyone in Guy’s world is a mindless consumer sitting all day in the parlor surrounded by a big screen TV walls shouting nonsense – the big guns must still have access to meaningful, thought provoking books.

And then there are those intellectuals of the older generation that Guy meets on the run outside the city after succumbing to his curiosity and stealing a book to read. They keep literature alive by memorizing it and reciting it often and dream about a day when the human race goes back to being creators instead of mere consumers – giving something back instead of just taking.

In my favorite passage of the novel, one of the intellectuals says, “Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched in some way so when you die and people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. [….] Grandfather’s been dead for all these years, but if you lifted my skull, in the convolutions of my brain you’d find the big ridges of his thumbprint. He touched me.”

And may books continue to be allowed to touch us – all of us.