June 30, 2009

Guest Blogging at Mrs. Magoo's + Clockwork Heart Giveaway!

For anyone interested, today I'm guest blogging over at Mrs. Magoo Reads. She interviewed me for her Blogger Profile feature and you're certainly invited to stop by and say hi. I'm also giving away a copy of Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti to one lucky commenter.
You've probably heard me go on about this book before. In my review, which you can read here, I had this to say:
This debut novel by Dru Pagliassotti is being billed as a steampunk romance/urban fantasy. And it is all of these. But it transcends each of them as well, making it IMO an incredibly enjoyable cross-genre read. I'm sitting here trying to think of someone I wouldn't recommend this book to and I'm coming up blank.
Clockwork Heart delighted me. I went into it complacently, wanting to love some characters and hate others unreservedly, but Ms. Pagliassottii's multi-faceted characterization made that impossible. I was forced to sit up and care about all of them, to see their flaws and their virtues, to really understand them and how they were themselves but also the product of the unique world they lived in, the society they were born into. A world built on the carefully delineated contrast between humanity and technology, privilege and humility. A truly engrossing read.
Sounds good, no? The rules for the giveaway are simple. Simply leave a comment on Mrs. Magoo's post with your email address. For an extra entry, follow her blog AND my blog. Mrs. Magoo will announce the winner on July 22nd.

June 29, 2009

It's a Mystery

Have you ever finished a book that just knocked your socks off? So far off you felt like shouting its praises from the top of someplace very high. And have you then gone trolling around looking for reviews and discussions on said book and been absolutely flummoxed to find...nothing? Or, if not nothing, small pockets of devoted readers here and there but nowhere near the following you feel it deserves. Last week Diana Peterfreund wrote a thoughtful post about Under-the-Radar Books in which she listed a few of the books she wishes everyone were reading and threw the question out to her readers. A lot of it, for better or worse, has to do with money and marketing but in this day and age it seems like authors and readers and bloggers can do a lot to spread the word on a few hidden gems and why they deserve the love. I can think of a host of excellent books--books that have ended up on my Beloved Bookshelf--that I would never have picked up on my own. But because of some other reader's heartfelt recommendation I looked them up, ran down a copy, read them, and loved them. Seems only fair to pass them on.

Here are a few at the top of my list:
Honestly? Anything by the woman. They are all unbelievably excellent. You think you know smart writing and then you pick up an EEW book and you realize all that other stuff was witty and whatnot but this, THIS is smart writing. About tough, strong girls who don't know the meaning of the words "back down." Don't believe me? Others are addicted as well.
Based on her enthusiastic review, I'd say Leila could be characterized as a Fan.
And as Trisha points out in her review, it's to do with the awesome.
Just talking about them makes me want to go re-read one right now. The President's Daughter series (The President's Daughter, White House Autumn, Long Live the Queen, and Long May She Reign) was recently re-released by Feiwel & Friends and I'm really hoping the new issues will garner the attention they've long deserved. I also highly recommend The Road Home and Life Without Friends. Just a cut above the rest.

Speaking of a higher caliber, if you're looking for sophisticated fantasy with an utterly irrepressible, irresistible (and every other irre-) hero, subtle humor, political espionage, and achingly intense emotions then The Queen's Thief series is for you. Reading order: The Thief,The Queen of Attolia, and The King of Attolia. Diana mentioned them in her post as well (for the love of all that is holy, Diana, get it back from Sailor Boy now!) Megan Whalen Turner can do no wrong in my book. Everything you've heard is true. This series does have an incredibly devoted fanbase. They can generally be found hanging out here. How's about we swell the ranks? You have a year until the fourth one comes out to get caught up. Go!










So you say you like vampires. You blew through some of the more ubiquitous titles and you like what you've read so far. You like it enough that you want something more but you're just not sure what that is. Well, I'll tell you. You want Sunshine. Because when Robin McKinley does vampires the result is haunting and beautiful. I re-read this one every year, usually when the autumn wind starts to blow the fallen leaves around. Then the smell of cinnamon rolls inexplicably fills my nostrils and I have to go pull my copy off the shelf and read those wonderful first few lines again.
It was a dumb thing to do but it wasn't that dumb. There hadn't been any trouble out at the lake in years. And it was so exquisitely far from the rest of my life.
And then I just continue right on through to the end. Even if she never writes a sequel, it's perfect. In fact, SFX Magazine recently ran an article about the book that came before Twilight, arguing that Sunshine deserves to be bigger than Twilight. I wholeheartedly agree.

4. Sword-Dancer Saga by Jennifer Roberson
I've been reading Jennifer Roberson's books for a long time now. I still remember wandering into a Crown Books in San Pedro, California (I think I was 14) and not being able to leave without purchasing Lady of the Forest for its lovely cover alone. My love of Robin Hood retellings aside. And the thing is whenever I read an article or review about her books, it never fails to say something along the lines of, "probably best known for her Sword-Dancer Saga...". If that's true why do I almost never so rarely run across anyone else who's read them? I adore this sword and sorcery series. The six novels of Tiger and Del follow Northern sword-singer Delilah and the Southron sword-dancer known as the Sandtiger on their many adventures. Told from the incredibly arrogant yet lovable Tiger's perspective, this series has got fighting galore, a killer friendship, subtle romance, kick-a** heroine, and is all kinds of win. Recommended for fans of Sharon Shinn, Moira J. Moore, and Lisa Shearin.

I'm gonna stop there for now. And those are all books that are still in print and readily available! Don't get me started on the ones that are out of print. That's another post...

YA Book Carnival: Fragile Eternity Giveaway Winner

And the winner is...robin_titan!

Please contact me with your mailing address and I'll get your copy of Fragile Eternity in the mail. You guys, I was completely delighted with the turnout and all of your awesome comments. It looks like many of you are already Marr fans and I was happy to see all the Holly Black and Robin McKinley shout-outs. Black's Modern Faerie Tales rock. And McKinley is the master. A ton of you love the Merry Gentry series as well and that is one I haven't dipped into yet. Thank you so much for the recommendations!

June 23, 2009

Beastly: the Movie

Alex Flinn's Beastly was on my Best of 2007 list and it remains my favorite modern-day retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. In my review I had this to say:
This B&B story hits everything right and the changes Ms. Flinn made enhanced her grittier version of the tale. For instance, Flinn's Beast is more akin to a dark superhero. Batman prowling the streets of Gotham City at night. He even takes a new name--Adrian--symbolizing his complete reversal in fortune, bleak new outlook on life, and ultimate rejection of the boy he used to be. In addition, the reader gets to catch the whole transformation thing as it happens. In most versions, we come to it way after the fact. Often the Beast has been languishing under his curse for hundreds of years when we come upon him. In this case, Kyle/Adrian has just two years to find true love and break the spell. I liked that we got in on how he coped with it all, as opposed to getting it in retrospect. This is also the first version I've read where Beauty's family didn't want her. Where, by all accounts, she's had a rougher life than he has. It makes it that much sweeter when these two people who have suffered much find not only love, but a way out.
I'm both surprised and delighted that they're making a movie of this book. The casting choices so far look...interesting. Though Neil Patrick Harris is sure to be awesome as Adrian's blind tutor. We shall see. Anyone else read Beastly? Thoughts?

June 22, 2009

YA Book Carnival Giveaway: Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr

This week Shooting Stars Mag is hosting the first ever YA Book Carnival! I'm delighted to be participating by giving away a brand spankin' new copy of Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr. This is the third book in Marr's Wicked Lovely series and a direct sequel to Wicked Lovely itself.
You can check out my reviews of the series here:


And all you have to do to enter is leave a comment telling me your favorite book or series involving faeries or your favorite classic fairy tale or fairy tale retelling. This giveaway is open worldwide and will run through Sunday June 28th. Make sure to leave me a way to contact you! Also don't forget to stop in at Shooting Stars Mag this week to check out all of the other fabulous giveaways going on as part of the YA Book Carnival.

June 19, 2009

Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter by R.J. Anderson

I don't generally review many middle grade novels, but I had read several lovely reviews of Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter--a debut middle grade fantasy novel by R.J. Anderson--and then was lucky enough to receive a copy from the lovely Ms. Anderson herself. Interestingly enough, the same book has been published in the UK under the title Knife, with dramatically different cover art. The changes in title and artwork make it clear they're marketing it to a slightly older young adult audience over the pond, while the U.S. cover and series-friendly title are distinctly more middle grade. As a result, I wasn't sure what to expect going in--a state I honestly quite like being in when starting a new book by a new author.

Bryony is a faery who has spent her short life longing to leave the Oak tree that forms the boundary of her people's world. The only faeries allowed out in the wild at all are the Gatherers who are sent out to forage for food and the Queen's own hunter--a faery trained to hunt and protect the Oakenfolk and the fragile existence they have carved out for themselves. When she is summoned before the Queen, Bryony is stunned and elated to hear she is to be the new assistant to the Queen's hunter. Proving herself extraordinarly skilled, she changes her name to Knife and determines she will not only protect and provide for her people but discover why they are slowly dying out, unearth their mysterious and forbidden connection with humans, and discover why she is drawn to the stone House on the hill and to the unhappy boy named Paul who lives there.
The UK Cover

What makes this story unique is the world R.J. Anderson has created. These faeries are unusual in several ways. They are tiny, much smaller than humans, and are therefore constantly in danger outside of the Oak. They are also surprisingly all female. New faeries are not born in the traditional sense, but hatched from eggs that appear when another faery dies. Lastly, they are, by and large, unemotional creatures focused on their own well-being and supremely uninterested in the welfare of those around them. As a result it is interesting following Knife tread beyond the boundaries of her world, learn how to deal with the emotions of humans, and come face to face with the many ways in which they can mess with and forever change your life. I enjoyed the mystery element to the story as well as the friendship that slowly develops between Knife and Paul through Paul's art. So much so that I wish they'd been able to spend a little more time together so that there would have been room for a little more in-depth exploration of their connection. He is a very unhappy, very sympathetic character and I immediately found myself pulling for him. The ending was very satisfying and even included some rather deft humor that had me grinning. All in all, a perfectly pleasant middle grade/younger YA novel and recommended for those who enjoy solid world building, strong friendships, and the fey. It looks like the sequel is due out May of next year. It follows Linden, a side character we meet in the first book, and will be titled Rebel in the UK and Wayfarer here in the U.S.

June 17, 2009

MWT FTW!

You have no doubt already heard the stellar news. But for anyone out there not already dancing in the streets, Megan Whalen Turner has written a fourth book in her spectacular Queen's Thief series. Enticingly titled A Conspiracy of Kings, book four follows Sophos (yay). And, yes, I have it on good authority the rest of the gang will be there. I would imagine there's no way in Hades Gen would stand for being left out of any conspiracy, of kings or otherwise. There. Carry on with the street dancing, fireworks, and general celebratory merriment.

June 16, 2009

Fire by Kristin Cashore

I seem to be in the reading sequels to my favorite books of last year mode. For the record--a freaking awesome mode to be in. Graceling was one of my very favorite reads of 2008 and the year's best YA I would venture to say. And before you get all up in arms, let me assure you I enjoyed The Hunger Games as much as the next person. But Graceling was just the one, you know? And I have this feeling that Kristin Cashore is something special. I was positively thrumming with anticipation when I heard she had a second book to follow. And it's the one I chose to take home with me on the plane ride home from BEA. Fire is, in point of fact, a prequel to Graceling and takes place 30 years or so prior to Katsa and Poe's story. It is also set in an entirely different land, though definitely in the same world, and (as I am sure you have already heard) a certain terrifyingly familiar character from Graceling makes an appearance in Fire. Otherwise, it is its own story and it stands completely on its own feet.

Fire is a monster. A human monster. And the last of her kind. In her homeland, the Dells, there are all manner of monsters from lizards and mosquitoes to leopards and raptors. But they all have one thing in common--their incomparable beauty. These creatures come in a gorgeous riot of color and texture and are so beautiful they literally impede rational thought in the humans they come into contact with. With the ability to control the minds of those around them, they inspire an uncomfortable (at times deadly) mixture of fear, hatred, and absolute longing in the people of the Dells. And no one is more hated or sought after than Fire. Her father was King Nax's most trusted advisor and closest friend. He was also the one responsible for the king's untimely death and for the current chaotic state of the realm. When Fire's service is requested on behalf of the young King Nash and his brother and war commander Brigan, Fire is thrust out of her quiet life and into a mounting war. Forced to reconcile her questionable abilites with her own demanding conscience, she is immediately caught between right and wrong, a dark past and uncertain present, and a pair of brothers determined to win at all costs.

This book made short work of me. There was just so much hope inside me wrapped around how good it would be and when it turned out to be approximately ten times better than all that wrapped up hope....well....I was a goner. I looked forward all day long to the moment I could crawl back in bed and read more about the Dells and Fire and Brigan and Archer. And the list goes on. These characters are breathtakingly real and the way the gorgeous, understated writing tugs and pulls and builds a complex and lovely world around them makes the whole package irresistable. Best of all, Fire herself struck a chord deep within me and I held my breath as I watched her move through her world, worried she wouldn't meet with enough care, hoping someone in the messy throng of plotting, planning, warring kings and soldiers would recognize her for what she was. Like Katsa before her, she is so very strong, an outcast her entire life, and yet she never turns her back on those who need her. Even when they have no idea how desperately they do. Even when she herself is afraid. Fire is, wait for it, even better than its predecessor. It's subtle and thoughtful and throbbing with genuine emotion--three qualities I often find lacking in my reading. It is, without a doubt, the most difficult of combinations to achieve, but when the right note is struck....magic.

June 15, 2009

Ballad: a Gathering of Faerie by Maggie Stiefvater

And right on the heels of Shiver comes Ballad--the sequel (perhaps companion novel would be a better term) to Lament. In a shift similar to the one in between Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange, Ballad switches narrators from Dee to her best friend James Morgan. And James, like Marr's Leslie, is in rather a lot of trouble. The story follows his struggle to recover from narrowly escaping death at the hands of homicidal faeries in order to protect Dee, as well as his stuttering attempts to deal with life after telling his best friend he's in love with her and having her not return the sentiment.

Even though James doesn't care much what happens to himself, he does still care about Dee (almost against his will). And so he follows her to Thornking-Ash Conservatory, enrolling in a school full of gifted musicians guaranteed to annoy the crap out of him, in order to be near her. And despite the fact that he's a piper and they have no program to suit his level of expertise. But Dee barely talks to him. And when she does their brief conversations are hideously awkward, full of meaningless banter and superficial smiles. Meanwhile the faeries are far from finished meddling in James' life. On his way back to school after a spectacularly failed piping lesson, James runs into an unusual faery named Nuala. Unbeknownst to James, Nuala is a faery muse who gifts her chosen humans with unmatched artistic ability only to feed on their souls until they burn up and die. Nuala has been without a human for too long and is intent on claiming James. All she needs is an invitation...

Ballad is a love letter to James fans. Period. If you liked yon lanky, loquacious lad before you will fall head over heels in love with him in this installment. Witty repartee and quirky t-shirts aside, Ballad brings us infinitely farther into James' mind than the brief but enticing glimpse we got in Lament. And what's there is richer and more painful than one might expect from his humorous exterior. The sort of deal Nuala offers is the height of temptation for this troubled young man who is obsessed with music and excellence and who is so very alone. Ballad is a tighter story than its predecessor and that fact was clear from page one. James and the cadre of disciples he gathers round him like a cloak at Thornking-Ash fairly leap off the page at you until all you want in life is to be chummy and sarcastic with them all day long. Nuala is a different story. The chapters alternate between James and Nuala's point of view (with a few text messages from Dee interspersed here and there). And as she gets to know and appreciate James, I came to like her more and more. But Nuala didn't ever quite come into focus for me as much as James did. Of course, he's a hard act to follow. For as he edges closer and closer to completely unravelling, his witty facade gets sharper, more honed, more irresistable. Both to the reader and the psychic vampire obsessed with him. I laughed and gasped and wrung my hands with worry for this boy. And I miss him now that it's over. So, uh, Maggie--any chance there's a third book rattling around in there somewhere?

Ballad is due out October 1st.

Shiver Giveaway Winner

And the winner is. . .Jennie!
Please contact me with your mailing address and the signed ARC of Shiver will be on its way shortly. And thank you to all you commenters for sharing your shivers. So many of you named The Forest of Hands and Teeth that it's clear I'm going to have to pick it up again soon!

June 14, 2009

Bookworms Carnival

Just a quick post to let you know the 31st Edition of the Bookworms Carnival is up. This edition focuses on Parnormal Fiction and is the first one I've contributed a review for. They've divided the the entries up into four categories: Angels & Demons, Magic & Fey, Vampires & Shapeshifters, and Random Supernaturals. Check them out here.

And make sure to drop in tomorrow as I'll be announcing the winner of the Shiver giveaway followed by my review of Ballad!

June 11, 2009

Old Friends

I'm a huge re-reader. I re-read therefore I am. I cannot imagine going through my life reading each book just once. Never forming such an attachment to a character or group of characters that at some point down the road I find myself having to return and walk with them once more. I know that, as Tom Stoppard said, "I'm going to be dead before I read the books I'm going to read." But I don't care. Or at least not enough to change my ways. I could as soon give up re-reading as breathing. So it was with much delight that I came across this piece in the New York Times, "Some Thoughts on the Pleasures of Being a Re-reader." The author describes his rereading library:
It’s a miscellaneous library, always shifting. It has included a book of the north woods: John J. Rowlands’s “Cache Lake Country,” which I have re-read annually for many years. It may still include Raymond Chandler, though I won’t know for sure till the next time I re-read him. It includes Michael Herr’s “Dispatches” and lots of A.J. Liebling and a surprising amount of George Eliot. It once included nearly all of Dickens, but that has been boiled down to “The Pickwick Papers” and “Great Expectations.” There are many more titles, of course. This is not a canon. This is a refuge.
I adore that. A refuge. That is exactly how my collection of books I re-read regularly feels. They're not what I should read, necessarily, but what I have to read. They're the books that last, that remind me everything's going to be okay, that there are entire worlds on the other side of a wardrobe door, that Lizzie and Darcy will forgive each other, that Huw's valley was once so very green. I love how he talks about "savory re-reading," the kind in which you already know how it all plays out and so you're able to just drink in the language itself, the turn of phrase, the emotions evoked, the simple location of the words on the pages themselves. I love it all. And I love reading about others who feel that way too.

(Thanks to A Curiosity Shop for the link!)

June 10, 2009

Wednesday Giggles: Literal Video Version


I know you've probably seen this already, but I had to put it up. DH and I laughed so hard our 5-year-old had to come in and ask us to keep it down.
(via the equally hilarious Shannon Hale and Libba Bray).

June 9, 2009

The Haul

Surely the best UPS package ever to grace my doorstep.

Gone

After nine years, Readerville is shutting down for good. I've mentioned this place now and then as the venue that got me started discussing books online, but I'm not sure I've ever touched on just how much it meant to me and how sad I am it will be no more. Because it was a happy place. I "met" and made so many friends there. I was a regular member through the majority of my formal education, including the writing and defending of my thesis. I got pregnant and they threw me a virtual baby shower, sending me the most beloved books of their childhood. Logging on and checking out the threads marked the beginning of every day. Suffice it to say, it and its members had a huge influence on my life at a time when I needed that kind of community. I've moved on to blogging now and it is wonderful in its own way as well. But something inside seemed to go out when I read that announcement. So here are a couple of favorite posts from the 'Ville, in which people describe what Readerville meant to them.

You know, people see what they want to see. We're too clubby, too nice, too intellectual, too female, too liberal, too mainstream, too straight. It's just like life, folks. "We" are not any one thing. "We" are a bunch o' folk who like to read. Some of us are nice, some are prickly. Most are a combination of the two. Some read Proust. Some read Clancy. Some hold others "in the light." Some hold their noses. Some like God. Some like flowers. Most like good food. All like books. --NancyS

But on the flip-side, the internet can also bring people of different viewpoints together. People of all political and philosophical stripes can enjoy talking about good books, or even about how much they love their VW New Beetles or the details of planning their next trip to Disney World, etc. As we build and spend time in communities based on these particular interests, we have the opportunity to hear, from people we like and respect as friends, different viewpoints from our own in politics, religion and other "hot-button" issues. I think that can defuse the tendency we all have on occasion to think of those on the other side of the political spectrum as "them" vs. "us." It's hard to think of someone that way if they just sent you the new Mary Russell or a no-fail recipe for spice cake or step-by-step instructions for de-fragmenting your computer. And, to me, that is a good thing. --CKDexterHaven

I loved you, Readerville. R.I.P.

June 8, 2009

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, Review + Giveaway!

As I was packing for BEA, I said to DH, "Oh, and I still have to pick out which books I'm taking." He let out a bark of laughter and put his hand on my shoulder pityingly. "You do realize you'll be coming home with a box of books, right? You do not need to take books to the Book Expo. They will come to you," he said in soothing tones. And so after much debate, I allowed myself one book to get me there. There really wasn't any doubt as to which book it would be. A copy of Shiver had shown up in my mailbox shortly before and I was fairly itching to dive in.

At the edge of the woods in Mercy Falls, Grace lives alone. Oh, her parents are there but nigh unto incapable. Wrapped up in themselves and their careers, they are aggravatingly oblivious, managing to check in with their seventeen-year-old daughter in the unlikely event it occurs to them. And since she's never known any different, and they are her parents, the eminently practical Grace made her peace with it a long time ago. She doesn't weep over lost chances. She just makes dinner, does her homework, and quietly obsesses about the wolves in the woods. Yeah, Grace has one thing that consumes her. One messy, inexplicable fact in her otherwise staid existence. When she was a child she was mauled by wolves and left for dead. Somehow she survived and, ever since, a solitary wolf watches her from the shadows. Every winter, like clockwork, he skirts the edges of her home like a silent guardian, only to disappear again when summer arrives and temperatures rise. His presence is the one constant in her life. Until someone else is mauled by wolves. Until a boy named Sam turns up on her back porch. A boy with strangely familiar yellow eyes. And the world begins to change.

I picked the right book to take with me. As soon as I found out Maggie Stiefvater was writing a new series to do with werewolves, I began counting down the days. Lament was on my Best of 2008 list, and I was relying on the mysteriously titled Shiver to tide me over until the release of the sequel Ballad. And honestly the first thought I had after finishing was that it was perfectly titled because Grace and Sam's story sends shivers down your spine repeatedly. The second thought was how the characters surprised me--in a good way. I don't know exactly what I was expecting. Probably something along the lines of Dee and Luke in Lament, all urgent and angsty and dangerous as hell. But Grace and Sam are an entirely different breed. She is cool and methodical and even and I warmed up to her as I got to know her better. He is warm and thoughtful and artistic and I liked him right from the start. On the paranormal scale, this one falls much heavier on the realistic end of the spectrum. There's even a scientific (sort of) explanation for the werewolves' condition, with the result that the emphasis remains on the characters themselves. They and their storyline are so tied to the seasons, to the minutest fall in temperature, that I discovered I was responding to them in the same way. I loved how contained they both were. Maggie Stiefvater has managed to craft an intensely involving, desperate love story without the cliche teen stupidity a la Romeo & Juliet. Quite the feat. The descriptions are lovely, the young protagonists sympathetic, and there's a scene in a candy shop that will leave you absolutely salivating. I dare you to read that one just once.

And now for the giveaway. Because I enjoyed it so much (and because I was able to snag an extra copy at BEA), I'm giving away a signed ARC of Shiver to one commenter. All you have to do is tell me the last book you read that literally sent shivers down your spine and you'll be entered. This contest is open to U.S. and Canada residents only. Open till Sunday the 14th at midnight and I'll announce the winner on Monday.

June 4, 2009

BEA 1.0

For the last several years I've been experiencing a more-than-passing longing to attend the legendary Book Expo America. It all started back when I used to frequent a lovely place known as Readerville. I met so many wonderful people there and a few of them used to regale us youngsters with tales of floors of bookish sorts, rows of publisher booths, stacks of free galleys, and line after line leading to authors willing to talk to you and smile at you and nod patiently while you tell them you love them. My longing grew. Soon I began plotting how to get around the minor obstacles of lack of funding and a location nowhere near New York City.

Well, this year everything just fell into place. It should be noted that it helps to have a husband willing to keep the kids and garden alive while you go off gallivanting with a few thousand other hopeless bibliophiles. And every time you call to check in he tells you everything's under control, everyone's happy, and go back to enjoying yourself already. It should also be noted that it helps to have a friend willing to let you crash at her place, tag along with her to various publishing events, and keep her up late talking when she has a host of other important things to do. If you do not have these two sorts of people in your life I highly recommend acquiring one or both.

There's so much I could tell you that, if I let it, it would bleed over into a string of increasingly rambling, gushing posts. Add to that the fact that there are literally scads of BEA reports out there you can read to your little heart's content, and I think I'll settle for a list of things I learned at my first BEA (with accompanying art).
Deanna Raybourn is as luminous and lovely as Lady Julia Grey herself. I actually had to restrain myself from asking her if there's a real Brisbane out there somewhere as well.
• When four YA authors get together to form a rock cover band (particularly when one of them is Libba Bray) the results are simply awesome.
Neil Gaiman doesn't just sign a book, he draws a picture of your gravestone above the signature while chatting charmingly in a voice you could listen to all day long.
• Sitting in the cupcake cafe at Books of Wonder and reading is one of the most relaxing things you can do while in NYC. Particularly when the book you're reading is a galley of Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater.
• Librarians make the world go round. No joke. I talked to one who works full time at her high school library and part time as a YA librarian at her local library. She literally spends every hour of every day fostering a love of reading in her patrons. It's a labor of love and that's all there is to it.
• If you've never been to the Statue of Liberty before, it really is worth a trip. It certainly was a (non-book-related) highlight of mine.
• All those bloggers you converse and correspond with on a daily basis but have never actually "met" before? They're just as cool (if not cooler) in person as their virtual personas lead you to believe.
Scott Westerfeld is a funny man. He is also fond of midnight blue velvet blazers, zombies, and Lindy Hopping in the street.
• Being able to periodically stop in at the shipping center and drop off your latest haul in a box with your name on it throughout the conference is ideal. Having to tape up the box, let UPS haul it away, and cross your fingers it actually arrives is less than ideal. It's not that I don't trust the strapping UPS dudes. It's just that there's a copy of Catching Fire in that box. And Forest Born. And Fire. And, well, you get the picture...
• Having people come up to you and tell you they love your blog, they read it every day, they think it rocks? That's the kind of mind-blowingly awesome experience for which I was completelty unprepared and which, for the record, I will never forget.

So. That's it in a nutshell. Walking out of the conference center was a surprisingly difficult thing to do, only slightly mitigated by the knowledge that it'll all happen again next year. Of course, leaving TMUAGOBPE is much easier when you have this bundle of awesome to come home to:

June 2, 2009

A Couple of Stops



Reading and Ruminations is holding a fantastic Summer Reading Blitz giveaway, in which she's giving one lucky commenter the entire Ivy League series by Diana Peterfreund. You've heard me go on about this series and, now that the fourth and final one is out, this is a superb chance to get a hold of the whole lot and read them through without even having to blink an eye in between. At least, that's what I'd do...Go leave a comment and be entered in the contest.





My friend Martha has a lovely post up on her favorite literary places. She's got some great golden, glowy places on her list, including the Murry's kitchen from A Wrinkle in Time, the Dancing Dove from Tamora Pierce's Alanna books, and Mr. Tumnus' house from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I love each of those places so much. When I think about the coziest literary places I love to return to again and again to curl up and just be with the characters, those always come to mind, along with Charlie's Coffeehouse from Sunshine. Drop by at A Curiosity Shop and leave a comment with your own favorite places.

June 1, 2009

Coming Soon, I Swear

I'm back from BEA, or the event that shall hereafter be known as The Most Unbelievably Awesome Gathering of Bookish People Ever. Or, TMUAGOBPE, for the acronym inclined. And my report is coming soon, I swear. But while I'm hugging DH and kiddoes and working and trying to wrap my brain around the fact that it's over *sob*, I leave you with two very dissimilar but noteworthy items. Enjoy.

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