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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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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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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Before I dive into the review, I wanted to give a quick WOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOO!  MILA 2.0 is finally off to copy edits, and yes, I’m totally doing the happy I’m Revision-Free-and-I-Know-it dance! No, I won’t be vlogging this particular dance anytime soon. Trust me when I say your eyeballs should thank me (though I solemnly swear I am not wearing a SparkleSpeedo).


I AM doing a giveaway though, WOOT!

But first, let’s take a look at CINDER by Marissa Meyer. Here’s the official summary:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl… Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future

A Cinderella retelling, featuring a cyborg Cinderella and a futuristic New Beijing?  Yes, please!  I was excited about this story the moment I heard about the premise (I mean, really—HOW COULD I NOT BE?) and oh my gosh, CINDER totally delivers. This book is So. Much. Fun.  The world Meyer paints is imaginative and stunningly visual. I love Cinder’s character—she’s compassionate, smart, and more than a little rebellious as a cyborg manifestation of the fairy tale legend. In her world, cyborgs aren’t considered full citizens, and the way Cinder questions her own worth is very poignant.  Prince Kai is a sympathetic character, as the son of a ruler who’s rushed into being a man, a boy with his own rebellious streak. Yes, the prince wants to do what’s best for his country, but without being a pawn, and the chasm that divides Cinder’s and Kai’s places in society provides oodles of conflict.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but the little twists on all the traditional Cinderella details were awesomesauce, too! And Iko, oh, Iko—your personality chip RULES!

Now for the giveaway!  I want you to win your own copy of CINDER—either a hard cover, or an ebook!  All you have to do is tell me which literary character you think would make a good cyborg, and why. Contest runs until Wednesday, February 22nd at noon PST.



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

Christine Fonseca surrenders to THE SECRET OF SPRUCE KNOLL

Corrine Jackson delights in CHOPSTICKS

Stasia Ward Kehoe  presents a Stunning Seconds interview with A MILLION SUNS author Beth Revis

Jen Hayley gives a shout-out to the classics

Katy Upperman raves over JELLICOE ROAD

Hilary Wagner is all about LEXAPROS AND CONS – with giveaway

Carolina Valdez Miller talks about the tremendous cover of TEN













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LARKSTORM (LARKSTORM #1) by Dawn Rae Miller

Here’s the official LARKSTORM summary:

In the years following the destructive Long Winter, when half the world’s population perished, the State remains locked in battle against the Sensitives: humans born with extra abilities. 

As one of the last descendants of the State’s Founders, seventeen-year-old Lark Greene knows her place: study hard and be a model citizen so she can follow in her family’s footsteps. Her life’s been set since birth, and she’s looking forward to graduating and settling down with Beck, the boy she’s loved longer than she can remember.

However, after Beck is accused of being Sensitive and organizing an attack against Lark, he disappears. Heartbroken and convinced the State made a mistake, Lark sets out to find him and clear his name.

But what she discovers is more dangerous and frightening than Sensitives: She must kill the boy she loves, unless he kills her first.


What’s your ideal YA novel?  Fantasy? Dystopian? Romance?  Perhaps all three rolled up into one delicious yet devastating package?  Then this is your lucky week!

LARKSTORM just came out in paperback, and I’m so excited to share this book with you that I’m giving a copy away!  I’ve loved this story for SO. LONG.—even in its early, pre-pubbed form, Dawn’s striking prose grabbed me and didn’t let go until the last heart-stopping moment.

Dawn created such a fascinating world and setting for Lark and Beck, and the relationship between the two of them felt so real. I love that Lark is a powerful character, and how the reader gets to experience the emotional roller-coaster right along with her.  I don’t want to give too much away, but fans of star-crossed love stories NEED this book.  N-E-E-D.


The Contest: 

Win a paperback copy of LARKSTORM by Dawn Rae Miller AND a $15 gift card to Amazon.

To enter, just leave a comment with your name, email address, and your favorite tragic love story of all time. (+1)

You can get additional entries by:

Tweeting this contest (+1)

Blogging or Facebooking this contest (+1)

BONUS:  Back when Dawn was first brainstorming titles for this book, a few of her friends came up with some really helpful (*cough*) attempts. IF you can come reasonably close to one of my spectacular title fails, I’ll give you your own free copy of LARKSTORM.

The Fine Print:

Contest ends on Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 at 6:07 pm Pacific Time.  (Okay, so I probably won’t be checking down to the minute, but still…it sounded more interesting than a round number)


(And if you don’t, you can buy your own copy of LARKSTORM here.)

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This tattoo is my favorite new POSSESSion.

Posted by houndrat on Monday Aug 15, 2011 Under contests, Young Adult

I interrupt my self-imposed revision exile to bring you this:

Whatever POSSESSed Fergie?

*Disclaimer:  No sleeping hound dogs were harmed in the taking of this photo.

Also, while I’m here–go check out MTV’s Awkward. It’s my fave new teen show by a mile.

Oh, Jenna.

Jenna and Matty...trying to DTR.

Now, back to the revision cave!!  Hopefully I’ll emerge long enough later this week to post a few SCBWI pics–especially since my pajama party costume was totally crazypants.



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First off–a cover reveal! Check out fellow Apocalypsie Jessica Spotwood’s cover for BORN WICKED–isn’t it STUNNING???

Check out her celebratory contest here.

So, some news. My blog posting time is going to be limited this summer as I dive into revisions for MILA 2.0.

Maybe *I* could learn to type with my feet…

I’ll try to not to disappear completely, but instead continue with updates, photos, and little bits of randomness.  In fact,  I’m going to kick off my revision-mania with an ARC giveaway!

This giveaway is for Andrea Cremer’s WOLFSBANE, the eagerly anticipated follow-up to NIGHTSHADE.



This thrilling sequel to the much-talked-about Nightshade begins just where it ended–Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemy, and she’s certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer–one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack–and the man–she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive




If you’re a Nightshade fan then I know you must be panting after this book (cough, couldn’t resist), which comes at the end of July!

To win, we’re going to  play a little game called Name That Musk.  Tell me in the comments what you’d name a designer werewolf cologne or perfume.  You get an extra entry for tweeting about the contest, and entries close on Monday, June 20th, at noon PST.

Good luck!


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Interview with author Liz Michalski and Evenfall Giveaway!

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Mar 29, 2011 Under contests, dogs, Ridgebacks, writing

I’m so excited to share an interview with debut author Liz Michalski, whose adult novel EVENFALL just recently hit stores!.  Read through the interview, then comment to win a free copy of Liz’s book!

Here’s the EVENFALL cover:

Isn’t it gorgeous?  And here’s the book description:

In life, Frank could’ve had any woman he wanted.

In death, he’ll try to win back the one that mattered…

Frank Wildermuth always regretted a mistake he made as a teenager: choosing Clara Murphy over her sister Gert. And like a true Murphy woman, Gert got on with her life, never admitting to heartbreak. Not even now, decades later, with Frank dead-dead, that is, but not quite gone. Now, Frank’s niece, Andie Murphy, is back in town to settle his estate, and she sees that things have changed in Hartman, Connecticut. Aunt Gert still drives her crazy, but Cort, the wide-eyed farmboy she used to babysit, is all grown up-with a whole new definition for the word “sleepover.” Even freakier are the whispers. Either Andie’s losing her mind, or something she can’t see is calling out to her-something that insists on putting right the past.

Now for the interview!

D:  Evenfall is written from three points of view:  Aunt Gert’s, Andie’s, and Frank. Did you know going into this story that you’d be using multiple perspectives, and can you tell us some of the difficulties associated with that?

L:  I knew early on that Frank would tell his story in the first person but that he wasn’t omniscient — there were too many gaps in the way his story came to me for him to ‘know’ everything.  Originally I had Gert in first person as well, but her voice was so strong that way I felt it would take over the book and overpower everyone else.  With Gert in third person, it made sense to have Andie tell her story from that perspective too.

The most difficult part, for me, was choosing which characters to leave out.  I toyed with having two other perspectives in the book — that of Clara and Cort –  but I felt five would be too unwieldy for me to manage.  Since Clara’s choices truly influence the arc of the book, I tried hard to let her tell her story through the other characters, and to make her sympathetic through them as well.

D:  Was Evenfall your first book, or do you have some hiding in the trunk, clamoring to get out?

L:  In my twenties I did write another novel.  I sent it out to one agent, who rejected it with a very nice personalized note.  I put it away after that.  : )  I think, looking back, that it really never would have found a home, but it was a very good learning experience.

D:  A ghost plays a prominent role in your novel. Do you believe in ghosts?

L:  I would like very much to believe in ghosts, especially benevolent ghosts like Frank.  I have had very, very vivid dreams featuring people I love who have passed on, and would like to believe that they aren’t only the product of my subconscious, but am not quite convinced.

D:  Since you know I’m a dog nut, you won’t be surprised that I glomped onto the dog in your story, Nina.  Did you base Nina on characteristics of your own dogs?

L:  The story of Nina is actually one of the ‘secret pages’ on my website.  (For people who come to a book reading or send me a picture of themselves with my book, I’m giving out codes that let them access those pages and learn more about the backstory of Evenfall.)   But all of my dogs have been big-hearted, protective beasts.

D:  Name the naughtiest thing one of your own dogs has done:

L:  Oh, the list is long and illustrious, and I’m not sure there can be just one thing. (Debra:  I know the feeling) It has to be a toss-up between the time one dog concussed me (accidentally, of course) and the time the same dog decided that a horse counted as ‘big game’ and attempted to take said horse down by the neck.  The counter-surfing incidents in which they ate entire cakes, loaves of bread, a 120 count bag of Dum-Dum lollipops (just the wrapper and candy — they spit out the sticks) and an entire bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken aren’t even in the same league.

(While Liz didn’t have photos of her dogs caught in the act, I just happened to have a few of my Fergie–aka: The Ferganator.  In honor of naughty dogs everywhere):

Sprinklers Taste Just Like Chicken

So do toothbrushes.....

What this backyard needs is more cardboard pieces....

D:  Nina seems to have an awareness of what’s going on above-and-beyond what many would attribute to a dog. Do you believe dogs understand and sense more than we realize?  Do you have any personal examples?

L:  I do believe dogs are often more aware than we give them credit for.  My current pup, Harley, is particularly sensitive to moods.  There have been times when I’ve found him sticking especially close to me, and when I’ve thought about it I’ve realized I’m particularly stressed that day.

Harley kicking up his heels

Another dog I had loved absolutely everyone, and barked maybe 10 times in his life.  I was hiking in the woods one day with my daughter and that dog, who had rambled off on his own.  All of a sudden he bounded down from a hill, got directly in front of my daughter and started to growl.  A moment later a very unsavory gentleman emerged from the woods.  He’d been hiking on a separate path and started to cut across the uncleared woods toward us.  When he saw the dog, he immediately got back on his own path and disappeared.

D:  I know you’re writing another book. Can you tell us a bit about it, and also—will there be dogs in that one, too?

L:  My next book is about a family in which in every generation, one daughter is born with the power to make things disappear — to literally wish them away.  Those wishes don’t always work out as planned, however.

Like Evenfall, this book has very strong ties to the natural environment.  And there are dogs — a small furry pack of them.

D:  Describe your ideal writing environment:

L:  My ideal writing environment would have shelves lined with the colorful  Waldorf toys my children are outgrowing, and maybe a few fish bowls with beta fish in them.  It would have white walls, but plum, hydrangea blue, raspberry, and canary yellow chairs and throw pillows, and a beautiful pine desk.

My most productive writing environment is an unheated beach cottage with no television and no internet connection and no phone.  I go there in March, when it is still quite chilly, and walk in the morning to warm up.  Then I write for four hours, break for lunch and short walk, write for a few more hours, go for a run, eat, edit,  and go to bed.

D:  Sweet or salty treats?

L:  BOTH!  Popcorn with dark chocolate, or a Snickers bar.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog!

Author Liz Michalski, photo by Elizabeth Sullivan Photography

And thank you, Liz, for stopping by!

Remember—comment to win a copy of her fabulous book! Share your favorite pet or ghost story, if you have one (but not necessary to win). Winner will be chosen this Friday, April 1st, at noon PST.


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This weekend, I was lucky enough to attend writer friend slash YA Highway girl Kirsten Hubbard’s Like Mandarin book launch in La Jolla.  Such an awesome gathering, complete with homemade iced cookies that looked like cowboy hats and Jackalope cut-outs decorating the walls. Kirsten even sported a Jackalope dress she ordered just for the occasion.

Also, I got to hang with a bunch of my fave local YA writers:

So of course I wanted to participate in the Total Non-Blogfest blogfest today to support Kirsten! In the beginning of Like Mandarin, MC Grace would have given anything to be like exotic, wild girl Mandarin.

And when I was in high school?  I was like this (the blond sitting in front):




Yes, I was the kid who desperately wanted to be a rebel, but was too terrified to try.  So I lived vicariously through those who did. And who symbolized rebellion better than Madonna in her early days, wearing whatever bits of ratty clothing she could throw together, writhing around on the ground in a wedding dress and thumbing her nose at the idea of being “proper,” and generally giving conservative adults everywhere heart attacks?

So, I would have given anything to be THAT girl in high school:  confident, unconventional, and completely unconcerned about what others thought of me.

It’s  okay, though. I’m still a work in progress.  (Also, in the interest of complete disclosure, I could not have dealt with Madonna’s hairy armpit phase AT ALL. I have this neurosis about freshly shaven pits. And enough with the over-share.)

Go, buy Like Mandarin, if you haven’t already!

Must. Have.

Oh, and I’M GIVING AWAY AN EXTRA SIGNED COPY of Like Mandarin that I bought at the launch, just for the occasion! Simply tell me in the comments who YOU would have given anything to be like in high school (or WOULD give anything to be like, if you’re still in high school) and I’ll select a winner.  Contest ends at noon this Friday, March 18th.



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