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Insurgent Release Day: Veronica Roth in NYC!

24 May

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One of my favorite YA authors, Veronica Roth *finally* made it to NYC earlier this month to promote the release of her new book Insurgent. Book 2 in the Divergent trilogy. If you’ve been living under a rock, and somehow haven’t ready Divergent yet— go buy it asap! It is one of the best, most absorbing dystopian novels I’ve ever read. It *gasp* may even be better than The Hunger Games!

It’s hard to really review Insurgent without spoiling major plot elements from both it, and its predecessor. But suffice to say, it was even better than book 1. Veronica Roth really understands the motivations and psychology behind ALL of her characters, something I find some authors to really struggle with. Every single person in her books if a fully fleshed-out, realistic character. And she also gave the reasonings and rationale behind the basis for every faction.

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Quite a few people turned out for the release day signing, at Barnes and Noble Tribeca. Veronica read from one of the earlier scenes in Insurgent, then did a short Q&A with the audience before beginning the signing.

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Getting excited about an audience question

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About to sign

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Veronica meeting her fans!

If you get a chance to catch Veronica on her tour–take it! I hear she may be at BEA 2012 too. Her interaction with the audience was candid, informative, and brutally honest about all things Tris, Divergent, and even a little about her personal struggles as an author, and human being.

I gave Insurgent 5/5 STARS. And Veronica 5 stars as well. 😉

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Stephanie Perkins NYC Meet & Greet

12 Jun

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Saturday, on what would have been just a boring and disgusting rainy day in NYC, I went to one of the best author/blogger events I have ever been to!

I started my weekend pretty bummed out about missing one of my other favorite author’s only nearby US appearance, due to transportation issues. It’s not always easy to get outside of the city when you’re car-less, and trains can get costly and complicated. Thankfully, there was still some hope left for my Saturday!

I’d read on twitter the day before that “Anna and the French Kiss” author Stephanie Perkins was coming to NYC, and would be having a meet and greet with fans uptown. So roomie Jenn and I made the rainy trek up to Bryant Park to meet up with Stephanie, and some fellow blogger friends of mine.

The park was out, so after wandering around a bit, we found a local Cafe with a large basement seating area to hang out in. A few fans drifted in and out, but total there were around 15 of us. It made for quite an intimate gathering, and we were able to ask Steph about her books, characters, future projects, and her writing process.

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3/4 of our group.

Stephanie is absolutely adorable in person. If you like her quirky, fun characters, after meeting her in real life, you will fall in love with her even more. She’s very big on hugs, and has a contagious, goofy laugh. Chatting with her feels like catching up with an old friend.

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We learned that she is in NYC doing research for “Isla and the Happily Ever After”, her 2012 release. Nothing has been officially announced about her next project after Isla, but she did say that she has an idea already planned, and whatever she writes will most likely be a stand alone novel.

That revelation earned quite a few satisfied comments from those of us in attendance. EVERYONE agreed that sometimes, there are just too many series in the YA world, and that stand alone novels are highly missed.

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We also got to hear about how meticulously researched the world-building in her books are. She was still working as a librarian while writing “Anna”. So Stephanie said she checked out every single fiction, non-fiction, comic, and children’s book she could find about France. She also watched every French film she could get her hands on, and analyzed things as detailed as what went on in the background scenes behind the actors to find out how the French lived their lives.

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Rachael’s coveted copy of Lola and the Boy Next Door. We all wanted to steal it from her! (Lola takes place in San Francisco, where Stephanie went to college.)

One of my favorite moments of the day: a fellow attendee compared Steph’s work to Jane Austen. You should have seen her face! She was shocked, but I have to say that I think the comparison is spot on. I can’t think of any other contemporary YA writers who capture the same feel of Jane’s work, yet also modernize a story in their own way. One of the reasons I love Stephanie’s writing so much is because it feels so REAL. I can imagine saying and doing the same exact things her characters do were I in their situations.

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Me clutching one of my most anticipated 2011 reads! It was really hard not to pet this book.

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After our big group discussion, Stephanie took time to sign our books, and chat with everyone individually. A few of us posed for photos with her as well.

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Steph and some new friends!

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Signing books.

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Talking with roomie Jenn. They have a TON of mutual friends, from the Harry Potter fandom and Wizard Wrock worlds.

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Steph and Damaris.

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With Mitali.

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Steph & Jenn again.

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Me and Steph. She’s so cute! And I look like a total nutter here. Thanks,rainy weather!

We had a brief chat about her bff Kiersten White’s “Supernaturally“, (which I’m reading now) and whispered about how awesome her favorite character in that book is.

Soon, it was time for Steph to go meet up with a friend. So we all said our goodbyes, and thanked her for an awesome time! Seriously, I don’t know many authors who would set up a spontaneous meet and greet with their fans during a whirlwind, last-minute book research trip. 😉
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Before she left, I photographed Steph’s crazy cool outfit for one of the fashion websites I shoot for. I’ll definitely be posting a link/photos once this week’s street style goes live on their site.

Thanks again to Stephanie for totally making my weekend, and making time for all of your fans. You were beyond awesome, and I hope some day soon you can make it up to NYC again! I had so much fun meeting you, and making some new blogger and publishing friends. ❤

And to everyone else: If Stephanie comes to your town this year, GO!

All Photos ®2011 Rachel Scroggins/Bookshelf Lust.
See the full album here.

Words of Love Book Signing: With Sarah MacLean, Kieran Kramer, and Maya Rodale

29 Apr

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Back when I first started blogging, I kept coming across Sarah MacLean‘s name on a lot of other book blogs. The more time I spent on Goodreads, the more I noticed her books popping up on friends’ TBR lists. After reading so many rave reviews, I finally broke down and read her first adult romance “Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake” and promptly fell in love.

I hadn’t read any romance since I was a teenager. And even then, V.C. Andrews’ novels– what I mostly read- are more akin to  psychological terrorism than romance. (Not sure what I mean? Read My Sweet Audrina. It’s still giving me nightmares 10 years later).  After reading 2 of Sarah’s novels, I went on a bit of a romance kick. So I was completely overjoyed to hear she would be in Brooklyn the night after her newest book’s (“Eleven Scandals…”) release, with 2 other celebrated Regency romance novelists Kieran Kramer, and Maya Rodale.

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I had never been to WORD in Greenpoint, Brooklyn before. But I’ll definitely be going back! It’s an incredibly cute little bookstore, and only about 15 minutes from my apartment. They host a lot of great events too, so next time an author I like is making an appearance, I won’t miss it!

The ladies of WORD had set up all kinds of fancy treats for the night’s guests. Champagne, scones, and clotted cream (which I had never tried!) were a total hit.

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After a short time, a Q&A with all 3 authors began. I wish someone would have videotaped it! Sarah, Maya, and Kieran had the best chemistry of any group of authors I’ve ever encountered. They answered questions submitted over email, and told stories about deadlines, coming up with titles, and what lies in their future. Kieran especially had some crazy stories, about her time working for the CIA, and what a Scotsman *really* wears under his kilt! The entire audience was laughing throughout the night.

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I was especially excited to learn that Sarah’s next series, a quartet, is about 4 scandalous men who start England’s first casino. Luckily, book one is out this December!

After the Q&A, the authors signed books and spoke to fans upstairs:

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I’m so glad I got a chance to meet and talk with all three of these amazing women. Hearing the back stories behind the books, and the writing process was great! I feel like I learned a lot about what it takes to write a GOOD romance novel. Sarah, Maya and Kieran were so nice too! 

After getting my books signed and having a little chat, I got my photo taken with each author. Please pardon the crazy hair: next time it’s grossly humid, and I’m rushing to a book signing, I will look in a mirror before putting my hair in a bun! ; )

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Me and Sarah.

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Me and Maya.

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Kieran and I.

My review of Eleven Scandals… should be up sometime in the next week. And I can’t wait to read Maya and Kieran’s newest books too. Thanks to all 3 author and WORD for such an amazing event!

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Top 10 of 2010: Anna and the French Kiss

29 Dec

Anna and the French Kiss

“Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?” Via Goodreads.

I haven’t been running my “best of 2010” book posts in order, but it’s safe to say Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins, is my #1 pick of 2010.

I stopped reading most contemporary YA romance novels a few years ago. When I read, I want to escape reality. So paranormal and fantasy books swiftly took over my reading list. I’m so glad I broke my self-imposed rule to read this book! I’d been hearing nothing but good things via twitter posts from authors I admire (Like Kiersten White, and Rachel Hawkins) for months. So when I found Anna on the shelf a month early at the Strand in NYC, I was ecstatic…Then I let it sit on my shelf for a month. I’m a firm believer that books “choose you” when it’s the right time to read them. The blizzard that struck the Northeast the day after Christmas ended up providing me with the prime reading opportunity. Now that it’s made my best of 2010 list, I’m a bit mad at myself for not reading it sooner!

The story is so incredibly well written, honest, and REAL. Stephanie Perkins has perfectly captured what it feels like to be a teenager, and unsure of yourself or your heart. Anna is cute, smart, and has the strength to stand up for herself. Against her better judgment, she falls hopelessly in love with her (taken) new best friend Etienne St. Clair, but refuses to let him walk all over her in the process.

As for St. Clair? He’s gorgeous, charismatic, and funny, but not too perfect. From his physical appearance (he’s short, and has some crooked teeth) to his behavior (his inability to dump his girlfriend for Anna, running away from his problems), he’s a wonderfully flawed love interest.

The romance development is slow, almost painfully slow. But the story is even sweeter for it. There are dozens of accidental touches—like knees brushing in a dark theatre– before kissing comes in to play. Plenty of obstacles stand between the two lovers: a girlfriend, a potential boyfriend, and a handful of misunderstandings. And of course, time–they’re only in Paris for a year. Rather than being “soul mates” (gag) whose world revolves around their lover, Anna and Etienne get to know each other gradually over the course of that year, before realizing they’re in love. Together, they bring out the best in each other, like true love should.

Unlike a lot of books I’ve been reading lately, even the secondary characters are fully developed. From Anna and St. Clair’s circle of friends, to St. Clair’s mother (whom we never even meet!) to Anna’s little brother. I felt like I knew each of them, and was right there in the middle of the action with them. And the action just happens to be non-stop. There isn’t a single dull moment in the entire book, which had me hooked by the second page. I can’t wait to read the two companion novels “Lola and the Boy Next Door” and “Isla and the Happily Ever After”, which come out in 2011, and 2012 respectively. After reading Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins has definitely been added onto my favorite authors list. Not only is her book amazing, she has an adorable blog, with stories from her life, and trials of getting her work published. She’s so open and honest about it all, it’s like reading the blog of a close friend.

Anna and the French Kiss is the one book of 2010 I’ll be recommending to every reader I know, regardless of age, sex, or “preferred reading genre”.

It’s just that good!

Anna and the French Kiss is available now from Dutton.

5/5 Stars.