The Bookanistas: Our Big Relaunch

Posted by houndrat on Thursday May 30, 2013 Under Bookanistas, contests, Uncategorized, Young Adult

The Bookanistas originally came together because of one common love: books. Our goal was simple: to spread that love of wonderful stories with the rest of the world. And now, after years of blogging and love-spreading, our goal remains the same, but our group is getting a makeover. We’re relaunching our website with a brand new look––and TONS of bookish prizes.

But first, we’re talking about favorite Bookanistas Bikini & Beach Weather reads, just in time for summer!

Mine? Well, I am a SoCal girl, so walking cliche or not, my favorite summer reads do often feature a beach–like The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, or Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. Oh, heck, who am I kidding? Give me a frothy, cold drink, the sound of crashing waves, and any good romance, and I’m in summertime heaven. What are your favorite summer reads?

As far as bikinis go–well, I’m all about the board shorts because yo, this junk is staying inside the trunk.



Signed copies of these Bookanista-authored books…

LET THE SKY FALL by Shannon Messenger
BY BLOOD by Tracy Banghart
TOUCHING THE SURFACE by Kimberly Sabatini (plus a swag surprise)
BAD TASTE IN BOYS by Carrie Harris
AUDITION by Stasia Ward Kehoe
THE GIRL GUIDE by Christine Fonseca (plus sweet swag)
MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza
LEVEL ONE by Lenore Appelhans

AND A SECOND WINNER WILL GET A BOX FILLED WITH Bookanista-beloved reads including DITCHED by Robin Mellom, JELLICO ROAD by Melina Marchetta, TAKEN by Erin Bowman, CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare, MONSTROUS BEAUTY by Elizabeth Fama and SPARROW ROAD by Sheila O’Connor.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can find lots more Bookanista Relaunch Book Love at our sites around the interwebs:  Carolina Valdez MillerCarrie Harris,  Christine Fonseca,Corrine JacksonDebra DrizaElana JohsonJessica LoveKaty UppermanKimberly SabatiniLenore Appelhans,  Nikki KatzRebecca BehrensShannon Messenger , Shelli Johannes-WellsStasia Ward KehoeTracey Neithercott , Tracy Banghart 

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It’s Bookanista Thursday!  Before I gush about THE GIRL GUIDE, find out how you can win a copy  on Christine Fonseca’s blog!

Plus, check out what the other Bookanistas are raving about this week:

Lenore Appelhans  is blown away by REBOOT by Amy Tintera

 Carrie Harris adores BEYOND DINOCALYPSE by Chuck Wendig — with giveaway!

 Tracy Banghart  & Debra Driza join THE GIRL GUIDE by Christine Fonseca book blitz!

  Corrine Jackson is stunned by BREAKING BEAUTIFUL by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

 Nikki Katz  wonders at THE GRAVE WINNER by Lindsey Loucks

 Gretchen McNeil talks TRUTH OR DARE by Jacqueline Green

 Elana Johson admires INSOMNIA by Jenn Johannson

 Tracey Neithercott celebrates THE YEAR OF SECRET ASSIGNMENTS by Jacqueline Moriarty

 Katy Upperman fawns over FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK by Melina Marchetta

 Rebecca Behrens is wowed by THE FIFTH WAVE by Rick Yancey

Now, on to my review!

I’m a big fan of Christine Fonseca’s Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students, so of course I was really excited to check out her new non-fiction book, THE GIRL GUIDE:  Finding Your Place in a Mixed-up World.

I so wasn’t disappointed.

Let me just start by saying that I wish I’d had a book like this during those middle school or early high school years. That’s right about when I began struggling with being true to myself versus worrying about how others saw me. I’m a naturally loud (SHOCKING, RIGHT?) and energetic person, but back then, I tried to suppress those tendencies, because it became clear that some of my “friends” frowned upon that type of behavior, and wanted me to conform more to what they perceived as normal.


This book addresses all that uncertainty and more, by providing quizzes and activities and thoughtful questions to help girls identify their own unique voices. It’s a wonderful tool  that encourages girls to think about who they are and who they want to be, by touching on subjects like building resiliency, bullying, mother-daughter relationships, navigating social media, and more, all without ever being preachy. Ultimately, I think the amazing thing Fonseca achieves here is to show girls that even though they might feel powerless much of the time, most of that is just a perception, and yes, they CAN take control of their lives.

THE GIRL GUIDE is an empowering, worthwhile read–definitely a book I’ll be sharing with my daughter when she’s a little older.


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Bookanista Review: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT by Colleen Clayton

Posted by houndrat on Thursday Feb 7, 2013 Under Uncategorized

This review is like whoa, LONG OVERDUE.  Actually, a blog post in general is long overdue. So many things going on, so little time–the usual excuses. But I do plan on jumping back into the blogging saddle (ouch?) soon!

The Book:

How can you talk about something that you can’t remember?

Before the ski trip, Cassidy “Sid” Murphy was a cheerleader (on the bottom of the pyramid, but still…) and a straight-A student, with two of the best friends a girl could ask for. 

When Sid finds herself on a ski lift with hunky local college guy, Dax Windsor, she’s thrilled. “Come to a party with me,” he tells her, but Dax isn’t what he seems. He takes everything from Sid-including a lock of her perfect red curls-and she can’t remember any of it.

After the ski trip, Sid is an insomniac and an obsessive late-night runner, unable to relate to her old friends.

Caught in a downward spiral, Sid drops her college prep classes and takes up residence in the A/V room with only Corey “The Living Stoner” Livingston for company. But as she gets to know Corey–slacker, baker, total dreamboat–Sid finds someone who truly makes her happy. Now, if only she could shake the nightmares, everything would be perfect… 

Witty and poignant, Colleen Clayton’s debut is a stunning story of moving on after the unthinkable happens.

The cover:

The Review:

First off, you should know–this book made me cry. When Sid finally comes clean, at the end…BIG. UGLY. TEARS.  Clayton got to me, and in a way that I didn’t feel was manipulative at all, but authentic. Huge kudos for that!

I really connected with Sid. I love the character Clayton created–a real girl with real friends. At the beginning of the book, she’s far from the media-dictated ideal in terms of body shape, and she’s mostly okay with that–BRAVO.  When her attitude does change, her quest to shed her bountiful curves is driven by an out-of-control urge to hide from male attention, and her reasoning feels scarily–and heartbreakingly–real.

As for the love interest, Corey?  He’s wonderful. Patient, funny, caring. Misunderstood, but not in that typical bad boy way. I haven’t seen many love interests in young adult fiction like him, and that’s a shame. The way Corey respects and cares about Sid is a fine example of a healthy teen relationship.

I loved how this was an “issue book” at heart, yet Clayton added enough lightness that it didn’t feel bleak. I loved how even though Sid was clearly struggling with something huge, that she could still find moments of joy–not every second was grim.

To sum it up:  Clayton tackles a pair of tough issues and handles them with honesty, poignancy, and yes, even humor. I would recommend this book to virtually anyone.

((NOTE: this book could be triggering for those with eating disorders and survivors of sexual assault)

What Happens Next is available at a bookstore near you!

Barnes & Noble



See the stories other Bookanistas are raving about:


Katy Upperman  praises THE TRAGEDY PAPER


Jessica Love thinks THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY is terrific


Stasia Ward Kehoe delves into OUT OF THE EASY

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I’m venturing out of my cave to help celebrate the upcoming release of Dawn Rae Miller’s newest story, CRUSHED.  I’m so excited for this book to come out! I remember when Dawn started writing this story, and we decided that her main character Fletch and the love interest from one of my WIPs (Reilly) would have a total bromance in real life.   Here’s the blurb:

For seventeen-year-old serial womanizer Fletch Colson, life is a game and if he plays by the rules, he’ll win it all: his dream college, his parents’ money, and a hot (if a little vapid) girl on his arm. Really, it couldn’t be easier. All he has to do is get good grades, live a privileged boarding school life, and try not to mess up too much. 

However, when he accepts the seemingly impossible bet to change his ways and be “just friends” with smart, beautiful, tempting Ellie Jacobs – a girl who seems hell bent on confusing him – Fletch’s whole world is turned upside down. 

Suddenly, what seemed simple and clear, no longer feels right and Fletch must decide if winning it all is worth losing a piece of himself.

Doesn’t that sound amazing?  Let’s check out the cover (designed by the hugely talented Pixy!):

What do you think?  I’m totally in love with the starkness of the crumbling heart. Plus, that little touch of black splatter at the top–it really grabs me.

And now, here’s the excerpt that Dawn so kindly shared with us!

I run through the empty Quad, tearing at the tie around my neck, shedding my sports coat. I toss it on a stone bench – the one Reid likes to stretch out on before class.

I need to get out of here. I need to be free.

Graduation. Princeton. A girl like Calista.

That’s my life. That’s what everyone expects from me.

My brown dress shoes pinch my toes as I run, but it’s a small thing. The hole in my heart aches more.

What the fuck is wrong with me?

Dust flies up as I run along the path toward the faculty lot. I search for the side path Ellie led me down, the one toward the clearing, but I can’t find it.

I pick my way through the fern-covered ground to a fallen tree and climb up. Redwood bark covers my dress pants, but I don’t care.

I shouldn’t complain. I have everything I could ever want: two parents and the best friends. My grades are good. I’ll go to a top college.

I have everything.

And it feels all wrong.

Awesome, right? I want to read this NOW–alas, it’s not out until December 11th. But to make that sting a bit less, I’m giving away two pre-order copies of the book. Just leave a comment by December 5th for a chance to win!

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I decided to make a little vlog starring my MILA 2.0 ARCs…since, you know, sanity is obviously completely out of reach for me this summer.

*blows kisses as it floats away on the horizon*

Happy Friday, all!

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Belated Bookanistas Links!

Posted by houndrat on Friday Jul 6, 2012 Under ARCs, Bookanistas, Young Adult

So, it’s pretty obvious that I’ve fallen behind in my Bookanista duties lately. Sorry–I really hope to fix that starting next week. Summer is having it’s way with me (kids, house guests, first pass pages, Book Two deadlines, True Blood), plus, this week I might have been a wee bit distracted by fondling acting out skits with staring at my MILA 2.0 ARCs.


ANYWAY.   Next week, I plan on doing a post about ALA–mainly because I picked up a ton of amazing ARCs there and I want to share their awesomeness with you via giveaways!   But for now, check out what the other Bookanistas are reading this week:

Elana Johnson raves about PERCEPTION.
Carolina Valdez Miller celebrates SKYLARK with an ARC Giveaway
Tracy Banghart praises 12 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES
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STARTERS by Lissa Price Giveaway Extended!

Posted by houndrat on Wednesday May 23, 2012 Under Uncategorized

So, in typical absent-minded Deb fashion, I managed to mess up the ending date of my STARTERS giveaway.  Instead of making the contest run for one week, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t even open for one minute. Smooth, very smooth.  Also, it’s come to my attention that the ending date–Wed. May 17th, 2012–was most likely a figment of my imagination (the 17th was a Thurs). Minor technicalities aside (hey, just go with it!)…the good news is that I’m extending the contest to Monday, June 4th at noon PST.

To win one of two free copies of STARTERS, comment on the original post. That’s it–no hoop-leaping or death-defying feats required (though you’re free to vlog those if you like).

Meanwhile, I’ll be around…contemplating nuclear physics trying my hand at My Little Pony erotica-fanfiction plugging away at MILA Book Two.



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Let me start off this blog post by telling you what the other Bookanistas are up to this week:

Christine Fonseca  interviews author Sandra Almazan

Stasia Ward Kehoe is spellbound by ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD & GIRL OF NIGHTMARES

Jessica Love falls for UNBREAK MY HEART

LiLa Roecker swoons over STORYBOUND

Megan Miranda is giddy for GILT

Now on to last week’s winners. The two lucky ducky recipients of shiny, brand-spanking new copies of HEMLOCK are:

Von and Amy K!

*throws werewolf junk confetti*

Finally, it’s time for another (very tardy) giveaway. See, when I reviewed STARTERS a few weeks ago, I totally neglected to give away the ARC and swag that author Lissa Price so graciously provided.  I know–me, forgetful?  NEVER!


ANYWAY. To remedy that teensy little oversight, this week I’ll be giving away TWO copies of STARTERS plus STARTERS swag. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on the chance to read this fast-paced, thrilling sci-fi tale about the dangers of coveting youth at any price.

To win, all you have to do is answer this question—if you could “borrow” someone’s body for a few months, would you? And because I’m insanely nosey, WHOSE?

Winners picked at random on Wed, May 17th* Mon, June 4th at noon, PST.

*Apparently, it’s helpful to hold contests that are open longer than negative minutes and end on, you know, an actual real date  (as opposed to the ones I make up in my head–there was no Thurs, May 17th)–who would have guessed?

Good luck, and may the bodies junk odds be ever in your favor!


If you live in SoCal and want to meet Lissa in person and get a signed copy of STARTERS,  go see her at the Los Feliz Costco this Saturday at 1:00. More details here!  Or, buy a copy of STARTERS from Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

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Before I showcase my dorkier side, I need to announce the winner of last week’s contest.  The lucky recipient of MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH by Bethany Griffin is…..Melanie!  Melanie, I’ll email you for shipping deets–hope you enjoy MASQUE as much as I did!

And now…on with the show!

This week, I’ll be giving away not one, but TWO copies of HEMLOCK (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books).

The author, Kathleen Peacock, is one of my best writing buds in the whole wide world, and I can’t tell you how stinking excited I am that her very first YA novel debuted this week.  When I need a virtual cheerleader or shoulder to cry on?  Kath is there. When I need an instant Buffy quote or youtube distraction (LIKE THIS)?  Kath is there. When I need someone to write a badass werewolf book with a witty, caring, naive, haunted, brave heroine who I’d love to kick back with (almost) as much I’d love to work on Joss Whedon’s next project?  You got it—Kath is most definitely there.  I can’t tell you how stinking excited I am…but maybe I can show you:

So, do you want to win your own friend kid copy of HEMLOCK?  (not mine, you can’t have it, NO NO NO!)  Just leave a comment and I’ll pick two winners at random on Monday morning at noon, PST (or, you can buy one at IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.)

Good luck!

(And HA!  SEE THAT, KATH? Not a single mention of werewolf junk, anywhere!


Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week:

Christine Fonseca  adores IN HONOR

Stasia Ward Kehoe unwraps UNGIFTED

Tracy Banghart basks in SUNSHINE


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Let’s kick this review off by ogling the cover:

So Pretty!


Seriously, MASQUE is one of my favorite covers of recent months. I love how dreamy it is–in sort of a creepy nightmarish way which totally fits the book– and the color scheme, and how the girl’s face is completely obscured by the umbrella.

Now, on to the contents!  Here’s the official summary:

Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.

So, MASQUE is a steampunk post-apocalyptic Victorian retelling of Poe’s MASQUE—um, hello, how amazing is THAT?  The prose in this book is gorgeous, and the setting is vivid in a dark, dreamy-dreary way, as befitting a world that has been devastated by plague and a heroine who experiences everything through a haze in an effort to forget the past that haunts her. If you’ve read many of my other reviews, you’ll know that I’m a sucker for a broken, flawed heroine, so Araby grabbed me right away with her damaged soul and her exploits at the Debauchery Club.

In Araby’s city, the wealthy wear masks to avoid contamination while corpse collectors make regular rounds to collect the bodies of the less fortunate. I really loved the disconnect between that pervasive sense of despair and the sensuous, ridiculously expensive parties that the rich use as an escape.  The two love interests in MASQUE–Will and Elliott–are so, so different and both have their own secrets to keep.   To me, Elliott is one of the most fascinating characters I’ve read about in a long time, and I seriously can’t wait to see what the next book holds in store for him and Araby.

Now, it’s GIVEAWAY TIME!  To win a shiny new copy of Bethany’s MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, leave your best Poe pun in the comments by Tuesday, May 1st, noon PST (or, you know, just comment)  Winner will be chose by random–Good luck!

Don’t forget to check out what the other Bookanistas are up to:

Elana Johnson more than “likes” BEING FRIENDS WITH BOYS

Nikki Katz is crazy about CREWEL

Stasia Ward Kehoe  adores BREAKING BEAUTIFUL

Katy Upperman wonders at WANDERLOVE

Tracy Banghart  takes a shine to A MILLION SUNS

Jessica Love is wowed by WELCOME CALLER, THIS IS CHLOE

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