Tag Archives: 2011 Releases

Maureen Johnson’s Name of the Star Publication Party

4 Oct


Last week, Books of Wonder in NYC hosted what has to be one of the most interesting and entertaining book signings I’ve been to yet for Maureen Johnson’s new YA novel “The Name of the Star”.

A huge crowd of fans waited for Maureen’s arrival, while two “Jack the Ripper” impersonators roamed around and scared audience members.

There were plenty of awesome buttons for “survivors” of the event to wear.

After a short wait, Maureen finally emerged to a cheering crowd, and entertained us with tales of Ripper research in London, her writing process, and how she’s always shocked when people actually READ the stories that come out of her head. Like magic!


After the somewhat crazy and incredibly lively Q&A, Maureen began to sign. The line was quite long, so fellow book blogger Bethany and I decided to indulge in some cupcakes and wine (which, at least for me, was a Books of Wonder first). There is just something *naughty* about drinking wine in a children’s book store.

We all know what wine looks like. These cupcakes were much prettier.

Not pretty: the table “decorations”.

More pretty.

Maureen signing.

By the time it was my turn to meet Maureen, I was slightly tipsy, and remembered why I don’t usually have wine (and sugar!) before dinner. Or at public events. Pretty sure I mumbled something about how her “rambling, Mean Girls word vomit style stream of consciousness speeches make me feel better about my own propensity to talk too much made me feel as if I’d met a kindred spirit” scared her.

And then someone took a very blurry photo of us together.

Luckily, I learned a long time ago, there is always someone weirder or more intense than you in the audience. Case in point: this dude, who had Maureen sign his forehead.
Awesome. But weird.

After much more book talk, and a very in depth discussion about Game of Thrones with some new bookish friends, Bethany and I realized the store was about to close, so it was time to go home. We took the conversation outside, and ended up looking like creepy stalkers who were waiting for Maureen, probably scaring her once again. But I feel like if any author would understand this, it would be her.

The Name of the Star is out now, in bookstores everywhere.

®2011 Bookshelf Lust

BEA Recap: Day Two

2 Jun

I started my second day of BEA by breaking the cardinal rule of attending book expo: don’t be late. My roommate Jenn (a media publicist) and I both seemed to have trouble getting out of the apt. that morning, and also vastly underestimated the length of time it would take to get us from the subway to Javits Center on the far west side of Manhattan.

And: it was HOT. And very humid.

By the time we did walk in to Javits around 9:20am, I already felt dead. But I sucked it up, and after waiting in a very tiny line for our passes, dashed over to the first signing on my list– Jeri Smith Ready. Sadly, there were only 40 or so books available, so I definitely missed getting a signed copy of Shift. Having met Jeri the night before, I didn’t feel too badly, so my next stop was Scott Tracey’s signing for Witch Eyes. I was really excited to pick up a copy after hearing so much discussion of his book on twitter.

Along with roomie Jenn, I ended up hanging out with Lindsi of Books, Sweets and Other Treats in the signing lines. Apparently a crazy older woman actually BIT Lindsi in the arm when she reached past her for a book that AM—an event that would later reach BEA Urban Legend status. (Edit: You can read her account of the incident here.)

Lindsi was shaken by the experience, but appeared rabies-free, so we decided to hang out while we waited for signings to begin. Together, we made an awesome team, and were able to get each other books we would have otherwise missed out on. At one point, running around Javits, we met this bookish Piggie:

Shortly after we met Melissa de la Cruz (signing Bloody Valentine and Witches of East End), who remembered my blog from the very early “Most Wanted Books of 2011” post I had written about Witches. I’ve met her twice now, and each time Melissa is completely and utterly awesome. She also has the honor of being one of my longest read YA authors (second only to LJ Smith)–I’ve been a fan of hers since the second Au Pairs book!

Melissa De la Cruz.

After Melissa’s signing, we double teamed the lines of Alma Katsu (The Taker), Claudia Gray (Fateful), Trinity Faegen (The Mephisto Covenant, one of my most highly anticipated YA reads of BEA), and Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Trial by Fire). After, Jenn went back to continue her half day of work, and Lindsi headed to some other signings. I stopped by the Harlequin booth to meet Rachel Vincent. The lines were a bit hectic, but I managed to snag a copy of “If I Die”, and have Rachel sign it. Along with one other similarly named blogger friend in front of me, we all had a nice discussion about the proper way to spell Rachel:


At some other point that afternoon, I met Trinity Faegen, Jana Oliver, and Jeri Smith Ready again:
R-L:Trinity, Jana, and Jeri.

I attempted to grab lunch in my downtime, but due to a major Javits FAIL, I wasn’t able to eat. Turns out the entire convention center had lost the use of their credit/debit card network, leaving many attendees unable to purchase food. I was actually chastised by a cashier for not bringing cash, which as a New Yorker, I can say is completely ridiculous. So I continued on, scarfing the only food I had brought with me: a banana, and some peanut butter crackers. Little did I know, I wouldn’t be eating lunch at all that day.

After my lunch disaster, tired, and hungry, I got in line early the Tahereh Mafi signing line for Shatter Me. Which was a good decision, because that line ended up being huge. Tahereh was super nice (and more shy than she seems on twitter), so when I ended up randomly running into her at the Harper Collins booth later that day, she signed a second copy of her book for me to give Jenn, and inscribed it with a “Happy Birthday” message for her!

Tahereh Mafi.

Post-Shatter Me, a small group of bloggers and I got in line at the Penguin booth for Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines signing later that afternoon. We seemed to be blocking the show floor and the current signing line, so a Penguin employee handed out numbered cards, and told us to come back about an hour and a half later for what was sure to be the biggest YA signing of the day.

As expected, things did not go as smoothly as planned.

People were confused by the number system. People got in line where they didn’t belong. And bloggers were told the number system was “canceled” and the line was a free for all.  Luckily, a smart publicist did a last-minute line organization, so we all managed to get back in line close to our original numbers, and meet Richelle. I feel incredibly lucky to have had the chance to meet her a second time. Since Richelle is 5 or 6 months pregnant, I was surprised she even came to BEA! She was amazing, as always, and we had a brief chat about how busy she was going to be around the end of August. (She has I believe 2 books, a graphic novel, and the baby due all within a week!)

Richelle Mead.

After scoring both Bloodlines and Shatter Me, I was pretty confident in my author meeting and book procuring abilities. I only had one other “must have” book left to get Wednesday morning.

I got in line to meet Kiki Hamilton, author of The Faerie Ring, but sadly the books ran out 3 people in front of me –after a BEA volunteer had counted out the number of people in line and told me I’d be the last person to receive one. I was sad, but got over it. I did manage to get Leigh Fallon’s Carrier of the Mark, another book high on my want list, so that pretty much made up for missing out on Faerie Ring. One last stop at Jeff Hirsch’s line for The Eleventh Plague (a highly anticipated post-apocalyptic YA novel), and we were done with day one!

Kind of.

Lindsi, and her hotel roommates Casey, Farrah, and Britney needed to go to the post office, so we hopped on the cross-town bus with our massive suitcases (much to the chagrin of the other passengers), and headed to the giant 34th street USPS location. It ended up being much much cheaper than shipping at Javits, but took forever. I sat outside on the steps and got some sun while I waited, and ended up meeting a woman who works as book reviewer & writer for a Canadian newspaper—who has been going to BEA for 20 years! It was insane hearing the stories she had to tell about past conventions.

After all of day 1’s books were securely shipped off, our group headed to Chelsea to one of my favorite cafe’s, Grey Dog. It felt absolutely amazing to sit down, and finally eat some food. Not only is Grey Dog super yummy, but it’s pretty laid back, which was just what we needed after a long day running around like crazy people doing bookish things.

Finally, I made it home. Where I did not go to bed early (mistake!), and instead pet my new books, and read more of an old one. Other than a few books I missed out on, I had a very successful first day on the show floor. And felt like I was slowly learning what not to do on day 2. Check back tomorrow for that story!

I will leave you with this crazy photo. The end of day 2 book pile, featuring books from Monday and Tuesday:

Class of 2K11 BEA Week Events

19 May

The event listings just keep on coming! I mentioned the 2K11 book signing at Books of Wonder in the post belowthis one. Well now I present to you a whole week’s worth of 2K11 events happening during BEA. Some of the books on this list are on my “most anticipated” books of BEA list! Be sure to hit up at least one of these, and meet some amazing up and coming YA authors.


More info, including post-BEA appearances.

Meeting Author Elana Johnson

15 Apr

Possession by Elana Johnson

Yesterday, along with some fellow book bloggers, I had the pleasure of having lunch with visiting author Elana Johnson, and the ladies of Simon & Schuster’s marketing department. We met in midtown Manhattan at Bill’s Bar & Burger for lunch, and to chat about Elana’s upcoming dystopian YA novel, Possession

Possession has been on my Goodreads TBR list for ages, so I was totally excited to meet Elana and learn more about her book. The seven of us sampled milkshakes and appetizers (the toasted marshmallow milkshake is to die for! I’m not even a big milkshake fan, but I want another asap!) while we discussed Possession, Elana’s writing habits, upcoming events like BEA, and some of our favorite 2011 reads.

Everyone was so nice, and I’m so happy I was able to catch Elana while she was in town:
Eland Johnson
Elana and I with Possession!

Elana Johnson 2
Damaris from Good Choice Reading,  Me, Elana, and JL from An Avid Reader’s Musings.

When I left, I passed by ice skaters at Rockefeller Center. It was 60 degrees yesterday!
April Skaters!

We had talked about The Strand at lunch too, so that led to me stopping by once again on my way home.

I’m reading Possession
now, and am already totally sucked in to Vi’s world after just a few pages! Hopefully I’ll have a review up sometime next week. : )

Thanks again to Simon & Schuster and Elana for the amazing lunch, and Possession ARC!

Review Teaser: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

17 Mar

Blood Red Road

Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba’s world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.

Since it won’t be released until June, I’m going to hold off posting a more in-depth review of this book for another month or so. I’ve decided to do a smaller, teaser review first. The story was really just too good not to start hyping this book now!

Blood Red Roadis the most unique dystopian novel I’ve ever read. The story centers around Saba, an 18-year-old girl who embarks on an epic journey to rescue her twin brother Lugh after he’s kidnapped by mysterious horseman.
Written in a bare bones style, in Saba’s own dialect (Saba cannot read or write), the book manages to convey more intense emotion with its sparsely written prose than books with five times as many words.

Unlike so many recently published YA dystopian novels, in Blood Red Road, the dangers faced are real. Step out of line in this world, and you won’t be forced into an arranged marriage, or have the government remove your ability to feel love. You will starve, die of thirst, be imprisoned and forced into slavery, or drugged so heavily you barely remember your own name.

Real, world changing consequences result from actions and bad decisions. Loved ones are murdered, characters are beaten and abused, and life as it was previously known ends. Yet there is also a bright, uplifting side to the book.
Even when Saba has lost nearly everything near and dear to her heart, she still finds hope, and the ability to carry on living.

At its core, Blood Red Road is a fast paced story about love, loss, and friendship in a world where just staying alive seems nearly impossible. The story mixes the best elements of Mad Max, The Hunger Games, Gladiator, and Clint Eastwood westerns. Blood Red Road is the first in a trilogy, and film rights have been optioned by Ridley Scott. I’m already dying to read the next book, and can’t wait until this series becomes a movie.

Disclosure: I received a review copy via Simon & Schuster’s Galley Grab program.

Review: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

16 Mar


Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it’s getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she’s haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they’re destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.
As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart. -Via Goodreads.

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini is a book that has been met with some controversy in the blogging world. I’m not sure if some people hate to see others succeed and get book deals they could only dream of, or they just need a break from reading the genre. But blogger reviews comparing Starcrossed to Twilight (in a bad way) have been running rampant. After reading, I can safely say other than a few minute plot points that, lets be honest half the paranormal genre probably now shares, Starcrossed is nothing like Twilight. It’s so much better.

When I first started reading Starcrossed, I immediately wondered if I’d be finishing it. In the first few chapters, Helen Hamilton (nicknamed Lennie) is absolutely one of the most annoying main characters I’ve ever read. She has near crippling social anxiety, is whiny to an extreme, and is just beyond annoying. Before you say “no way” to reading this book, let me explain: I’m unsure whether or not other bloggers complaining about this book actually finished. Because as annoying as Helen was in the beginning,she quickly grows out of it. Right around the time she meets and tries to kill Lucas, the love interest. And by the middle of the book, once she learns more about her past, her behavior is completely explained! Angelini is a much smarter author than many are giving her credit for.

I’m not going to pretend this book was flawless. But it seriously surprised me, and left me anxiously awaiting the sequel. As I said above, a few chapters in, Helen tries to kill the love interest, Lucas Delos. Every time Helen is near a member of the Delos family, she flies into an uncontrollable rage and sees three creepy, crying women. When she first meets Lucas, she ends up trying to strangle him in front of their entire school! I thought that was a hilarious, and absolutely awesome twist. And so refreshing in a genre full of “insta-love”. Even after Helen and Lucas stop trying to kill each other, they aren’t immediately a couple. They hang out quite a bit, learning about their “abilities”, and actually get to know each other. They have fights, and quite a few times, Helen questions whether Lucas should be cut out of her life. All while discovering the truth about her origins, and what lies in her future.

I’m not going to spoil the rest of the book, beyond what you can read in the summary. But I will say Helen kicks some ass. Conflicts arise, a villain appears, secrets are revealed, prophecies are made, and people die. And it all made for one awesome story.


*The main character wasn’t a powerless human falling in love with a supernatural being. SHE was a supernatural being herself.

*A more realistic romance than most YA paranormals.

*The mythology. No, it’s not 100% historically accurate, but honestly that would be boring!

*The Delos family. Each character was unique and actually added to the story.

*The island setting. I really got a feel for life in Nantucket.

*Helen’s human friends. They weren’t just filler background characters. And by the second half of the book, her best friend Claire is hilarious!

*What’s at stake: If Helen and Lucas fall in love, their relationship risks more than her soul/her safety/having to explain weird supernatural crap to her family. The world may actually END if they “get it on”.

*Plenty of twists. I figured out early on who the villain was, but still remained surprised by the twists and turns at the end of the book.

*Many questions were answered. But of course, a few new ones arise for you to ponder until book two comes out.

Didn’t Love:

*Helen in the first few chapters. I wanted to strangle her.

*Weird shifts in perspective. The book is written in third person, but focuses on Helen. So I was confused when randomly, the perspective shifted to Lucas for a few paragraphs at the start of a chapter. And then later, to another character. I felt like that kind of change should have been established a bit earlier in the book.

Overall, I’d give Starcrossed 4/5 stars. It was a refreshingly unique YA Paranormal story, with great supporting characters, interesting mythology, and plenty of action. I want to read the sequel immediately. The only thing keeping me from re-reading this book right now is the scary number of books on my TBR pile.

Starcrossed, the first book in a trilogy, will be released by Harper Teen on May 31, 2011.

Book received for review via Harper Teen at Net Galley

In My Mailbox #2

13 Mar

After watching videos by some fellow bloggers, I decided to film my second “In my Mailbox” video. The results are pretty embarrassing. Watch me say how “excited” I am about 45 times in a row! Next time, I’m definitely going to do a test run. But I got some amazing books over the last month and a half, and I really am genuinely “excited” to read them. On the list: some of my most anticipated books of 2011, sequels I’ve been dying for, and some insane early releases I purchased at Strand:

11 Must Reads of 2011, Part Six: Die For Me

7 Jan

Die For Me

Die For Me, by Amy Plum, is another book I first heard about a few months ago via excited chatter from authors I follow on Twitter. It sounds quite different from anything else currently available in the genre, which is so refreshing!

“In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier’s parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life—and memories—behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate’s guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he’s a revenant—an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.”

So far, Die For Me seems to be flying under the radar of a lot of book bloggers. I have a feeling once it’s published, it’s going to be huge. You can’t beat the combination of supernatural mystery, a cute boy, and PARIS! And as for that supernatural element I mentioned? It’s ZOMBIES. Revenant is French for “one who comes back”. Creepy! But these aren’t your traditional zombies:

“I was drawn by the undead angle because, as a historian, I loved the thought of giving my characters backgrounds based in recorded history. But how could a zombie be attractive? How could a teenage girl fall for one without being worried that he would gnaw her face off during their first kiss? And what about that ultimate turn-off-y odor of decomposing flesh? I laughed my way through scenario after scenario before deciding I would have to come up with my own monster. And that is how my revenants were born.
I started writing the book with only a general idea of what my monsters were. As the story progressed, I honed the concept until the mythology began to come together and make sense. When I got stuck on a question like “why do they do this certain thing over and over again?” I would put on my tennis shoes and walk a few miles until it came to me. And it always came. It felt like I was uncovering something that already existed. I just had to be open to “receiving” it.” Via Amy’s Author FAQ

It’s like Anna and the French Kiss, meets Night of the Living Dead!

In this jealousy inspiring video (check out that library!) Amy tells us a little bit more about the book:

Not only does Die for Me sound like the perfect story to get me out of my “so many YA paranormal novels have become repetitive” funk, it comes out the week of my birthday. I know at least one present I’ll be asking for!

Die For Me is the first in the Revenants trilogy, and will be released May 10th by Harper Teen.

Pre-oder the book at Amazon.
Learn more about Amy and Die for Me here.
Or follow her on Twitter.

11 Must Reads of 2011, Part Three: The Wise Man’s Fear

17 Dec

The Wise Man's Fear
The Wise Man’s Fear

Delayed for something insane like TWO YEARS, Patrick Rothfuss’ second book in the Kingkiller Chronicles series has been anxiously awaited by fantasy fans everywhere. It’s a classic coming of age story, but unlike anything to come before it. It’s at once thrilling, heartbreaking, terrifying, and epic in its scope. Hands down one of the best books I have ever read (I’m serious!) The Name of the Wind was featured on many “best of” lists back when it was first released in 2007.

“The story revolves around Kvothe, an enigmatic red-haired innkeeper who, as he shares his incredible life story with a renowned scribe, turns out to be much more than he appears. Born into a family of nomadic court performers, Kvothe’s unconventional education was broadened by spending time with fellow travelers like Abenthy, an elderly arcanist whose knowledge included, among other things, knowing the name of the wind. After his parents are brutally murdered by mythical beings known as the Chandrian, Kvothe vows to learn more about the godlike group, and after suffering through years of homelessness, he finally gets his chance when he is admitted into the prestigious University. But the pursuit of arcane knowledge brings with it unforeseen dangers, as the young student quickly learns.” Description Via Goodreads.

If The Name of the Wind has somehow escaped your attention, do yourself a favor and buy it now. I feel like nothing I could ever say will do this book justice. I have a feeling years from now, Patrick Rothfuss will be regarded with the same wonder and respect as J. R. R. Tolkien. I tell everyone who ever asks me for book recommendations to read The Name of The Wind. And word is, Wise Man’s Fear is even better.

TOR posted a spoiler free review today. Saying, in part: “It’s all light and easy to read and easy to absorb and be absorbed by. There are books that leave you feeling wrung out, and there are books that leave you feeling like you’ve had a vacation. This is definitely the latter kind.”

I didn’t think it was humanly possible for me to anticipate this book any more than I already do.

I was wrong.

Wise Man’s Fear will be released by DAW on March 1, 2011.

11 Must Reads of 2011, Part One: Sweet Valley Confidential

15 Dec

This is the first post featuring eleven of my most anticipated books of 2011. Check back soon for the rest!

Sweet Valley Confidential

Sweet Valley High was one of my absolute favorite series growing up during the 90’s. Every time my parents took me to the mall, I’d stop in Waldenbooks and scope the shelves for new Sweet Valley titles. Sweet Valley was such a huge part of my childhood. And definitely the number one reason I wished I had a twin. So many of my friends lived vicariously through the Sweet Valley Twins, their sun kissed California friends, and their crazy adventures. The characters were so dramatic, occasionally bitchy, and full of high school angst. And the Wakefield twins were the prime example of sibling rivalry in YA literature.

Have you ever wonder what happened to Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield once they grew up? Next year, we’ll all find out:

“Now with this striking new adult novel from author and creator Francine Pascal, millions of devoted fans can finally return to the idyllic Sweet Valley, home of the phenomenally successful book series and franchise. Iconic and beloved identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are back and all grown up, dealing with the complicated adult world of love, careers, betrayal, and sisterhood.”

Francine Pascal has been quoted as saying “I can tell you that what you thought was going to happen to those people doesn’t happen. Different things happen. Ten years, from 16 to adulthood, has made very different people. And I’m having kind of good time writing it, doing what I want to do with these people.”

I seriously can’t wait to find out what’s happend to all of my favorite characters. If it’s anything like the old books, readers will be treated to plenty of drama, backstabbing, cheating, sisterly estrangement, and if the rumors are true, more “adult” concepts than the originals. Sounds like the residents of Sweet Valley have grown up right along with their audience!

Sweet Valley Confidential will be released: March 29, 2011

Get more info on the Sweet Valley Confidential Facebook page.
Read an excerpt from the first chapter here.Or via this free kindle download