Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Question for You!

I want to read if you have any Halloween traditions that are related to books?

For me, I like to buy my 2-year old daughter a holiday themed book each holiday. I like to go to my local bookstore and peruse their titles. So many of them I know and love from my childhood, or there are great new ones that she would love!

I also like trying to read a Halloweeny book myself, but I haven't had a chance to do that this year. I have been SO busy!

So now on to you, what is your favorite book to read this time of year? Or what have you read lately that would be a good Halloween read?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Review: THE DUFF

by Kody Kelpinger
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Little Brown/Poppy

Placement: Reaching New Heights (but be warned about content)

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.
I've heard a lot of buzz about this book, written by a teenager (Kody Keplinger). I couldn't wait to read it based on what I'd heard.

I wasn't disappointed.

This is a rough book in many ways, the content it pretty up there and usually this would turn me off to the book. There is hard language, sex, you name it. However, despite all that, I really enjoyed this book. The writing was honest, the subject matter was interesting and you really grew to care about these flawed characters. Kody's characters aren't shiny and nearly perfect. They are deeply messed up from the get go, but you root for them and yearn with them and grow with them.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed THE DUFF, but again, be warned about the content. That was really the only thing that kept me from giving it our top rating.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

In My Mailbox (22)

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting IMM each week! Did you know you can go over there and click on all of the links to see everyone's IMM posts? It's a great way to know what books are out there and up and coming!

It has been a while since I have posted, so some of these were aquired over the last few weeks.

From Publisher

Hardcover, 440 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by HarperTeen

Summary: Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -the deliria- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Books I Bought

I didn't think these needed much info since I have reviewed them all here on the blog (except one, that I think you all know about anyway)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Signing: Julie Berry and Jessica Day George!

I had the FABULOUS opportunity to go to a book signing with not just ONE great author but TWO last night! Julie Berry - author of SECONDHAND CHARM, SPLURCH ACADEMY FOR DISRUPTIVE BOYS series, and THE AMARANTH ENCHANTMENT! And the wonderful Jessica Day George! Author of THE DRAGON SLIPPERS series, SUN MOON ICE and SNOW, and her princess books PRINCESS OF THE MIDNIGHT BALL and PRINCESS OF GLASS!

First Jessica was up to talk about her books and journey becoming an author. I have seen Jessica at MANY events, so I am sure you have all heard about her books and journey from me before. But some of the stuff she said was just great! So here is the list of paraphrased info!

How do I come up with ideas? I ask myself a question. Something that I am wondering about. And since I can't find the answers anywhere else I write a book about it. Ex. What if you met a dragon and they didn't want to eat you, what then? Wouldn't your feet hurt REALLY badly if you were forced to dance all night long until your shoes wore out? Wouldn't it really hurt to dance in glass slippers?

For the dragon series, one of the themes in it is that dragons collect things. If you were hundreds of years old, what would you do for fun? What would you collect. One of them collects shoes. So you could say she has a shoe fetish - since most of her books involve shoes.

And lastly she said: I write books because I felt like there were no fun books when I was a kid. Our options were Narnia, Babysitters Club and Nancy Drew. Narnia was great but you can only read that so many times. And I hate babysitting. So I never liked any books that were preachy about being responsible and babysitting to earn money.

Jessica is always a hoot and so fun to chat with!

Then it was Julie's turn, and to be honest I was VERY VERY VERY excited to see her! I just love this lady! We had only met once before but we have kept in touch. She is possibly the MOST genuine person I have ever met in my entire life. Massachusetts is VERY lucky to have her!

Julie just had several books come out that I have reviewed on the blog recently: SPLURCH ACADEMY FOR DISRUPTIVE BOYS series (the first two books were released together) and SECONDHAND CHARM her second YA fairy-tale-esque story that was just beautifully written and so so good!

Here are some of my favorite Julie moments.

As Jessica has a shoe fetish, I seem to have a jewelry fetish in my writing.

I was thinking about good luck charms, and what would happen if someone had some innate ability that if they put on a charm and everything went out of hand, that it was super potent in their hands. Like a luck charm and all of a sudden your chicken was laying golden eggs, etc. Then I thought what about a love charm? What about a young lady that seemingly has been fairly ignored by the boys in her village suddenly got a love charm that was very powerful, and everyone was noticing her!

Julie said she also gave her character a goal that had nothing to do with the romantic aspects of the book. She wants girls to know that their entire lives aren't just boys. (Which might I add, I love about her characters they are strong women, but still willing to love. I think sometimes it is one or the other and with Julie you get both!)

Then these two lovely red heads took questions together. (Notice Jessica is knitting! I have never seen her at any event without something to knit!)

Q: What are you working on now?

Julie: I have two new ideas. One is sort of a Dickensian London story, and the other is set in the future in space.

Jessica: So a really great crossover idea.

Julie: Deffinitely.

Jessica: I am working on a new books series called TUESDAYS AT THE CASTLE probably for even younger readers than Dragon Slippers (which by the way I wrote Dragon Slippers for me, and then when they said it was for ages 10 and up I thought "I'm not 10!"). In this new book the Castle Glower is alive - if it likes you you get great things like a nice room and a garden to walk through, if it doesn't like you you might get thrown down a trap door into the dung heap. They should be out next September.

(*note: I think these all sound awesome and I can't wait to get my hands on them!)

(another side note: a great reason to go to indie bookstore signings is you often good refreshments!)

Q: How did you meet? Why did you decide to sign together?

Jessica: Red heads are in a secret club.

Julie: That and we have the same publisher, so they got us together over the internet to review each other's books and we have been e-mailing ever since.

Jessica: We actually just met for the first time 2 hours ago at the Starbucks next door.

Q: When you're working do you collabroate with others?

Julie: No, I don't like other people.

Jessica: Agreed.

(Which I might add was so so funny. Because these two ladies are SO much fun to be around. Obviously they were talking about their creative process being more individual than say, and author who has a writing group.)

A young girl in the audience asked a question that made me laugh, but these ladies handled it very well!

Q: How old were you when you started writing your books?

Jessica: I decided to be a writer when I was 11. I wrote my first short story when I was 14 and got an A++ on it. For years I was a short story author and won lots of contests and things in school. I wrote short stories exclusively until I was bout 21. Then I decided I would write my opus, my novel and it would be the best thing ever. Of course 188 rejections and several novels later I realized it would be work. But it is very rewarding!

Julie: I was late in the game. I didn't start writing seriously until I was 31 or 32. My whole life I wrote in a journal, and I always wanted to write fiction. I was really scared to write fiction because I really wanted to be good at it. I knew everything I had tried to do was rubbish, so I just didn't try anymore. I was scared to try.

Then I was lucky enough to get a job writing a humor column in a local newspaper and the great responses I got really gave me the confidence to try writing fiction, to go for my dream.

Then after the signing and everything my friends and I went to Cheesecake Factory with Julie and had a WONDERFUL time catching up. Talking books, writing, life. Here is me, upcoming author Sara Larson, and our good friend Jena with Julie of course.

I had so much fun catching up with Julie again! And Jessica as always was so fun as well. She had to get home to her kids, can you believe it! :) It was such a wonderful, wonderful night! I will never forget it and I am SO grateful that I can call Julie my friend.

Please check out these two amazing women and their books the next time you are at your local bookstore or searching books online! I know there is SOMEONE in your life that would love their books!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Few Fun Things!

Hey all!

I am sure by now you have all heard of a little book called MATCHED by Ally Condie that I love and adore (and will be reviewing soon!!!) I think the trailer is great! But of course I understand what's going on. Tell me what you think after watching it here: (sorry I can't embed it yet)

Also, tonight I will be at The King's English bookstore to see Julie Berry and Jessica Day George! I hope to see lots of you there! It is an adorable indie bookstore and two of my favorite authors! It's a win-win!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


What are you excited about today? I am excited about the release of CRESCENDO!!!

Patch here I come!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Book Signing: James Dashner!

On Tuesday night I was lucky enough to go to my favorite local Indie bookstore The King's English for the Launch Party for THE SCORCH TRIALS by James Dashner! It is always fun to be among local book lovers! And James is a HILARIOUS speaker.

So here is some stuff that James told us (paraphrased from my notes:
  • THE SCORCH TRIALS starts a few hours after MAZE ends
  • I promise you that by the end of the third book you will know everything. It's not like LOST.
  • The ultimate ending will surprise you.
  • In THE SCORCH TRIALS lots of bad things happen to the main characters. So, those of you who are sick and twisted will like it.
  • I shouldn't use the word "fart" in front of small children.

  • right now he is editing the 3rd book in MAZE and starting a new series
  • The new series is set in the future, and involves simulated reality. So the characters deal with what is real and what is not
Then James took Q&A, here were some of my favorites

Q: How do you keep your mind straight working on all of this at the same time?

A: Ideally I am not working on too many things at the same time. But right now I am really tight on deadlines and working on all 3 of his different series'. Sometimes I'll use the wrong name or think that one character from one series can help out in a different book. Really it comes down to taking a break to get my mind straight.

Q: How much research went into your real world scenario for THE SCORCH TRIALS?

A: Research....I did some. I actually looked at a map once, does that count? I had to look up viruses and how they could affect the brain, that was like a 10 minute online search. Had to use some quantum physics but kindof had already done research on that for THE THIRTEENTH REALITY series.

Q: How was it hitting the NY Times best seller list.

A: I had wanted to be an author my whole life and that is a title you hear and dream of. I got very emotional. I called my mommy!

Q: Do you ever feel constrained by what you wrote in earlier books?

A: I thought book three was perfect when I wrote it, but my editor had a different idea. The problem with writing a series is that in book one, you can pretty much write whatever you want, create any reality you want. Book two you have to kind of stick to the world, but anything that comes up that doesn't fit perfectly you can just say "it's alright, I'll explain that in book three". But then with the third book everything needs to be tied up and correctly. It is harder.

There was lots more, many laughs and it was good fun! Keep your eyes out for your favorite author's touring schedules! There is nothing better than meeting them and getting a signed book!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Which came first?

Okay, so I know the old addage "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" doesn't quite fit this scenario, but it is what I think of when I see the thing this post IS about.

Sometimes there are books where the cover displays the author's name larger, bigger, and before the book title.

You have all seen them. It is common with books by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Dan Brown to name a few. It is not unheard of. But in the YA world it is very uncommon.

Now, authors and potential authors reading this: know I love you, I adore you, I herald the work and time and years and years of effort each book entails. I obviously know that you came before the egg, or novel as it may be. The novel would not exist without you.

I guess my issue is just a matter of the cover look. I am not a fan of the author's name being more prominent than the title of the book I am buying, and I have seen it happen more and more often. It is a matter of opinion, but I wonder, what do you think about it?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Winner of Boys Pack! is my it yours? The winner of the Boy Pack is...


Thanks so much for everyone entering the contests! We love our readers so SO much! It has been fun doing lots of HUGE giveaways this month! I usually try to do at least one giveaway a month and of course we are always reading and bringing you reviews! So I hope all of our readers new and old continue to come and read and comment!

The results of this giveaways questions were really intriguing!

I asked "What is your favorite "boy" book?"
The top answers were: 1) Harry Potter and 2) The Maze Runner!

I also asked "Do you think boys read as much as girls?" I was really interested in what you had to say about this! The answers were very polarized.
Yes: 32%
No: 68%

I think this is something we should all think more about. Maybe encourage the boys to read by giving them books that they want more. I know I am always looking for something else to buy for my husband to read because he isn't going to pick up the romantic books I am reading.

Thanks again to all of the authors who provided material for the giveaways! I could not do this without you and your publicists who send me stuff to review!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Review: THE SCORCH TRIALS by James Dashner

by James Dashner
Published October 12, 2010 (Yep! That's tomorrow!!!)
Hardcover, 360 pages
Source: Publisher

Placement in the Pile: Reaching New Heights

Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more Variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to.

Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, much of the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated--and with it, order--and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim... and meal.

The Gladers are far from done running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.

This sequel was one that does not dissapoint! Weaving the somewhat protected world of the Maze right into the real world works great in this sequel. You thought the boys couldn't possibly have to go through anything worse than the maze? Think again!

Surprisingly Dashner makes the real world as much if not more frustrating for the Gladers than the Maze had been! With grusome new WICKED made machines, the mystery of Thomas' past and his memories coming back this one leaves you questioning what is right until the very last page. Once you think you have it figured out, something will shock you!

Everyone who likes dystopia at all should pick this one up! Many of you have asked after Hunger Games what to read? I say read THE MAZE RUNNER and THE SCORCH TRIALS!

For Utah peeps, James will be at The King's English in Sugarhouse tomorrow at 7pm for the launch! So come see me! Oh and James too! ;)

And remember to enter our boy pack giveaway! Open until tomorrow night and WIN my SIGNED ARC of THE SCORCH TRIALS!

Friday, October 8, 2010


by Julie Berry and illustrated by Sally Gardner
Published August 19th 2010 by Grosset & Dunlap
Paperback, 208 pages
Source: Author

Placement in the Pile: Reaching New Heights!

With Cody's arch-nemesis, Headmaster Farley, banished from the school, Cody should be celebrating . . . but something is bothering him, eating at him . . . literally gnawing on him. Dark forces are on the rise at Splurch Academy and Cody Mack isn't sure which side of the battle he's on.

Julie Berry and Sally Gardner do it again! In fact I think I liked this second book in the series even more. We didn't have to spend time getting to know the characters, we could just jump right into the silly and yet sinister plot. For a moment there I was even sincerely worried for our protagonist Cody Mack! If you like the first one you'll love this second one!

Without giving too much info, I think there isn't much else to say. These books are worth it. Now everyone go buy them and let your boys (and girls) own and destroy these books as they devour them!

Local Utah readers, want to know where you can not only get these books but meet Julie? (Who is seriously made of awesome-sauce!) Check out one of these events! (you can click on the image if you need to see it bigger)

And don't forget to sign up to win signed copies of these first two Splurch books, and many other books for boys! HERE.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


By Julie Berry and illustrated by Sally Gardner
Published August 19th 2010 by Grosset & Dunlap
Paperback, 208 pages
Source: Author

Placement in the Pile: Reaching New Heights

When Cody Mack is called to the principal's office yet again, he finds something far worse than detention awaiting him: Splurch Academy, a frightfully sinister boarding school for disobedient children run by a group of monstrous teachers. One where the headmaster has a sinister plan for how to make the boys behave.

This was the first MG designed to attract boys to reading that I have read for a long time. I loved Julie's first YA novel THE AMARANTH ENCHANTMENT, and I love Julie. She is an amazing person! So I was worried about reviewing this one because I wanted Julie to know how much I love her, but still be honest about the book -- especially since this isn't the age range I am usually attracted to.

However, I had nothing to fear!

Julie Berry with the amazing illustrations of her sister Sally Gardner have created a classic series for boys. One they will connect to, love and crave for more. The illustrations are not just a superfluous part of the book to attract reluctant readers, they are a tool for the telling the narrative, something that boys and girls will love.

Funny, witty, a bit twisted in all the right ways, SPLURCH ACADEMY FOR DISRUPTIVE BOYS will keep you and your kids wanting more! (And thankfully there is more!) And it is a perfect read for October!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Boys and Books: A Guest Blog by Julie Berry

Julie Berry is one of my good friends in the book world. She is one of the kindest most genuine people I know. I am so excited to bring to you her thoughts on boys and their books. As a mother of 4 boys,and an author this topic is near and dear to her.

About Julie:
I’m the youngest of seven clever children, none of whom are children anymore, but they’re all still clever. I spent my early years desperate to catch up to what they were reading, and sit at the big kids’ table.

Now with four sons of my own, ages 13, 12, 9, and 6, I eat every meal at the big kids’ table.

After my fourth son was born, I decided that since my dream of having a family was now firmly established, it was time to pursue my second dream, writing novels. Eventually I received an M.F.A. in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of the Fine Arts, where I learned from many talented and committed writers for young people. The Amaranth Enchantment was the second novel I wrote in school, and the first one to sell to a publisher. Since then I've written Secondhand Charm, which is soon to be released, and the Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys series with my older sister, Sally Faye Gardner, as the illustrator.

For more on Julie and her books please check out her website and blog at And please, please come back the next few days for my reviews of her first boy series SPLURCH ACADEMY FOR DISRUPTIVE BOYS, and information on how my local Utah readers can meet Julie!

Now on to her post:

BOYS AND BOOKS by Julie Berry
Boys are bad to books.

They prop books on the rims of their cereal bowls. They stuff books under the bed covers and fall asleep drooling in the gutters. They reread comic books until pages disintegrate. When a boy is done with a book he liked a lot, there’s not much left to salvage.

This may be why librarians, those guardians of the precious pages, have tended to view boys, as a species, with a wary eye. And not just librarians. How many mothers have told their sons, “I won’t buy you more books until you learn to take care of the ones you have?” Such mothers should think of books as hamburgers. Meant for consumption, not décor. Paperbacks don’t cost much more than Big Macs anyway.

Much has been written about why boys separate themselves from books in the middle grade years—attention span, gender stereotyping, video games. The children’s book industry is dominated by women, and, as a female author of books for boys (here I peel off my false mustache), I’m not helping that much.

I think we need to look more closely at how we allow boys to interact with books. Think hamburgers. For a boy to want to eat a book, he needs to have it his way. The book itself can’t be physically sacred. Let him stuff it in his moldy backpack and bend all the pages if he likes. Don’t force him to extract meanings and a moral. Let him laugh, let him get sucked in by suspense, let him transport himself elsewhere and see himself mighty, brave, or diabolical. Don’t make him sit still and quietly read. Let him jump and act out the farting sounds if he must. Every day it keeps him reading is worth it, isn’t it? Every book trashed is just another hamburger.

Boys don’t subscribe to the “Books Are Our Friends” party. Their platform: “Books Are Our Doormats.” If this troubles female book guardians, just remember – this is also how boys view their mothers. So let Junior devour books in every sense of the word. In a few years he’ll come to appreciate books, and Mom, much better.

I started writing children’s books by writing to the daughters I never had. Now, in the Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys series, I’ve come full circle. I’m writing for the four boys I do have, boys who range from book devourers to complete book avoiders. I’m writing to lure my reluctant reader boys, and others like them, to pedal through my drive-up window. “Look at my sister Sally’s goofy pictures! Hey, look, the book’s really short, and it’s got monsters AND boogers. It’s a series – unlimited refills. You want fries with that?”

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Boy Books Pack!

Our final blogiversary giveaway starts today! I can't believe it is almost over. I hope you still come to our blog frequently even without the insane giveaways I've been doing. You never know if a book you love or really want to read will be up for giveaway another time!

This week is all about boys. There has actually been a lot of conversation about this in the blogging world lately. Without going into details, someone said that the book world is overpowered by books for and by girls. To those people I say that we love our boy books too! I don't think there can be too many books for any person out there!

But I do realize that most boys are turned off by books that many girls eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. So in honor of those boys, here is a set of books that boys AND girls will love!

SPLURCH ACADEMY FOR DISRUPTIVE BOYS: THE RAT BRAIN FIASCO by Julie Berry and illustrated by Sally Gardner- Paperback, signed by Julie Berry
SPLURCH ACADEMY FOR DISRUPTIVE BOYS: THE BIZZARO BEETLE by Julie Berry and illustrated by Sally Gardner - Paperback, signed by Julie Berry
THE SCORCH TRIALS by James Dashner - Paperback ARC (which I can get signed next week)
THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy - Hardcover
THE WHITE HORSE TRICK by Kate Thompson - Paperback ARC
HOTHOUSE by Chris Lynch - Hardcover
A WHOLE NOTHER STORY by Dr. Cuthbert Soup - Paperback ARC

2 each of THIEF EYES and BONES OF FAERIE by Janni Lee Simner postcards
some sour candy - not sure what kind yet
2 MPB buisness cards
1 MPB tote bag!

The contest is open until 11:59 PM Tuesday Oct. 12th. Open for US and Canada mailing addresses only. Just fill out the form below!

Winner of Vampire Pack!

I am very excited to announce the winner for the vampire pack! The radomizer has spoken!


I will e-mail you when the pack is in the mail.

Thanks to everyone who entered! Besides the Paranormal Pack this set has had the biggest response!

FYI the overwhelming number one vampire book that you all love? TWILIGHT of course.
Other mentions:
The Sookie Stackhouse Series
and Vampire Academy Series

We have one more giveaway pack to look forward to so keep on entering! Thank you again for all of your support!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Review STARGAZER by Claudia Gray

by Claudia Gray
Published March 24th 2009 by HarperTeen
Hardcover, 329 pages
Source: Publisher

Placement in the Pile: Middle of the Stack, inching towards New Heights

Summary: (Spoilery for the first book)
Evernight Academy: an exclusive boarding school for the most beautiful, dangerous students of all—vampires. Bianca, born to two vampires, has always been told her destiny is to become one of them.

But Bianca fell in love with Lucas—a vampire hunter sworn to destroy her kind. They were torn apart when his true identity was revealed, forcing him to flee the school.

Although they may be separated, Bianca and Lucas will not give each other up. She will risk anything for the chance to see him again, even if it means coming face-to-face with the vampire hunters of Black Cross—or deceiving the powerful vampires of Evernight. Bianca's secrets will force her to live a life of lies.

Yet Bianca isn't the only one keeping secrets. When Evernight is attacked by an evil force that seems to target her, she discovers the truth she thought she knew is only the beginning....

For the fact that this one didn't have something that made me upset with the narration of the story, in my head I'm placing it above the first book. It was a good read, a good story.

The plot here however just keeps getting more and more strange and involved in the paranormal. So if heavy paranormal stuff isn't your thing, this book starts to veer off in that direction. It involves a ghostly wraith and you discover more about Bianca's past that she doesn't even know yet, fancy that. But it ends up that everyone around her does know, and has been keeping from her.

Then throw in the romance aspect. In this novel it is clear that Bianca is in love with Lucas, but the nature of their relationship isn't easy, and there is another boy or should I say vampire, from Evernight vying for her affection.

This book left me wanting to know more, and was better written than the first. I am excited to find time to read the next one in the series.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Book Trailer LOVE!

Okay, so it isn't just a trailer for one book, but this is an amazing commercial for what is being called the Penguin Five!

For more info on the books that are represented here check out the video explanation HERE at MTV's website.

A special hooray for the depiction of Cassia from MATCHED by Ally Condie. I have the privilege to know Ally and I love love love MATCHED and can't wait to share it with you!