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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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!

Oops.)

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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So, last week was the final week (sniff sniff) of the Divergent Faction Challenge (inspired by Veronica Roth’s book, Divergent), and we ended with:

DAUNTLESS

From the Divergent fansite:

*****DAUNTLESS: fearless, undaunted.

Undaunted: courageously resolute, especially in the face of danger or difficulty; not discouraged.

It’s those two definitions (fearless, and undaunted) that I found so fascinating. Being fearless and being undaunted are two different things. And the characters in DIVERGENT struggle with that distinction. ******

Oddly enough, danger did not really rear its ugly head in my small northern suburb of San Diego last week. I’d like to think I would have held off an armed robber with my bare hands if the need had arisen, but the most dangerous event for me consisted of dropping my son off at school. Hey, don’t laugh—that parking lot is insanity on a stick.

Instead, I chose to embrace my dauntlessness by doing something I’d always wanted to do and never quite had the guts for:  dyeing my hair a crazy color.  I know, for some of you, this is a big SO WHAT?  But for me, it took courage. And it wasn’t just about the dyeing, but about dealing with the looks I knew I’d get post-streakage.

(there’s a peek-a-boo streak on the other side that you can’t see from this angle)

I’m kind of loving the pink, though. Strangely, I even feel a little empowered. Who knows? Today it’s pink streaks, tomorrow, maybe I’ll start  jumping off trains.

In all seriousness, I think we could use a little more dauntlessness in our lives.

Read other Dauntless week posts here:

Lora

Sarah Nicolas

Kate Hart

Lyn Almodovar

Sarah Enni

Kaitlin Ward

GotYA/Jamie Blair

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Week Two in the Faction Challenge (inspired by Veronica Roth’s debut novel DIVERGENT) has finally ended. How did I do during Amity Week?

Well, I ATE apples. So there’s that. Oh, and I sang! Katy Perry’s E.T., and One Potato Two Potato Three Potato Four. Which should really earn me extra points because it’s a song about farm-y stuff.

That’s one big ass potato

But by the end of the week, I pretty much wanted so say:  SUCK IT AMITY. I mean, I tried to be more understanding of others, especially the kids. I think I had some success. But there were moments when being understanding was QUITE a challenge. Like when the kids refused to stop yelling in the doctor’s office while the doctor was trying to speak. Yeah, Amity pretty much bailed on me there.

My 3-yr-old struggled with Amity this week as well.  Example?  How about the time she walked down the stairs, eyed her older brother’s elaborate Lincoln Log creation, and then kicked it over for no apparent reason…and she did it with a song in her heart.

My money's on the 3-yr-old

I’m pegging her for a Dauntless.

Also, I was hyper-aware of my non-Amity-like thoughts this week, even when I didn’t act on them. I’m still trying to figure out if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Overall, I guess I’d say that while Amity wasn’t an unqualified fail like Abnegation, it also wasn’t as simple an undertaking as I’d hoped.

But enough about me—how did everyone else do? Check the (continuously updated) links below and find out!

Kathleen Peacock

Katharine Owens

Lora 

Kaitlin Ward

Jamie Blair/GotYA

Sarah Enni

Nikki Katz

Lori Tays Eastep

Kate Hart

Dana Alison Levy

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In honor of Veronica Roth’s Divergent release, I made a little spin-off vlog of the Facebook Faction Quiz.  In my head, I call it: Faction Fail of the Very Indecisive or, How To Have Your Cheese And Your Stabby Knife Too.  Oh, and sometimes:  Humiliate Yourself Publicly for Kicks and Giggles.

Hope you enjoy!

 

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It’s Friday!  Which means…I get to tell you all how Abnegation kicked my butt  in the DIVERGENT Faction-of-the-week Challenge, inspired by Veronica Roth’s amazing book!  (Don’t know what the challenge is? Read about it here.)

(FYI–Blogger’s been super wonky, so I expect many participants will be late with their posts.  Just keep checking back in!)

So, I don’t know about you, but I definitely learned something this week.

I’m not cut out for Abnegation.

It’s not that I didn’t like doing nice things for other people. It’s that I liked it too much.  Every time I did something nice, I actually felt a sense of gratification. Whether I donated items for a charity auction, added a dollar to my grocery bill to benefit a good cause, gave extra time to my kids instead of working, or even performed the common courtesy acts I try to do on a daily basis—hold open doors, let people in while driving—they all served the same purpose. They made ME feel good.  And since Abnegation is sort of like the anti-me faction, I’m not sure I can consider any of that a success. This past week really made me think hard on the nature of selflessness, and if there IS a truly selfless act.

Oh, and the vanity thing. HOLY COW. If you’d asked me prior to this challenge how I rated on a vanity scale, I probably would have said on most days, low to moderate. I mean, I almost always pull my hair back in a ponytail, spend about three minutes slopping on some make-up, rarely bother with lipstick, and throw on whatever clothes are convenient (i.e. easy to find in my disaster zone of a closet).

So yesterday, thinking it would be no big deal, I went without make-up.   And for the first hour afterwards, THAT’S ALL I COULD THINK ABOUT.  It got better as the day wore on—I’d forget for stretches—but OMG, every time I passed a mirror, I stared. And fretted. Will everyone see the circles under my eyes?  Do my eyebrows look freakish?

Is this my color?

You know what was REALLY weird?  In a way, going without make-up made me vainer than actually wearing it.   Because on a typical day, I spend my fifteen minutes getting dressed and then I don’t think about my appearance again. Whereas yesterday, I thought about it. A LOT.   I guess that either makes me:  a) vainer than I thought (eyebrow pencil! EYEBROW PENCIL!  MY KINGDOM FOR AN EYEBROW PENCIL!) or b) very comfortable with my usual appearance and very uncomfortable with change.

And I was. Very. Uncomfortable. At least, when I remembered to think about it.  Which made me pause to consider how utterly miserable it must feel to be uncomfortable with how you look on a daily basis.

But that’s another story.

(We won’t even talk about how I also gave up flat-ironing my bangs. Which I only bother with when they’re overgrown. Only—they’re seriously, seriously overgrown. So they were basically sticking out from the side of my head about two inches, waiting to stab the dude in line next to me at Starbucks in the eye. But we won’t talk about that. Meep.)

So, sadly, I’m a giant Abnegation Fail. How did others fare?  Read about their experiences here (I’ll keep updating the list as posts pop up!):

Kaitlin

Sarah Enni

Dawn Rae Miller

Lori Tays Eastep

Lyn Almodovar

Jenn Wood

Jamie Blair/GotYA

Dana Alison Levy

Ashelynn

Nikki Katz

Katharine Owens

Kathleen Peacock

Kathy Bradey

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OMG! OMG! OMG!  DIVERGENT IS FINALLY IN STORES!!!

Do you know how long I’ve been waiting to say that about this book?  NOW EVERYONE CAN SHARE IN THE BRILLIANCE THAT IS VERONICA ROTH’S BRAIN! (Only, you know, in a non-creepy, non-brain eating way.)

DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth is a book that makes you think, a book that stays with you long after you finish reading. A book that makes you question:  which faction would YOU choose?

DAUNTLESS—The Brave

CANDOR—The Honest

ERUDITE—The Intellectual/Knowledgeable

AMITY—The Peaceful

ABNEGATION—The Selfless

One of the many things I took away from the book is that while sticking to one virtue might sound simple, ultimately, it’s probably better to branch out a little bit.  So guess what?  I created the DIVERGENT FACTION-OF-THE-WEEK CHALLENGE, where some of my writer friends and I are going to take on all five of them!

THE CHALLENGE:

Every Monday for the next 5 weeks, I’ll announce the faction/virtue of the week. Over the next four days, we’ll be trying to perform at least ONE ACT that embodies that virtue/faction. It doesn’t have to be fancy; just something in everyday life, something we might not usually do.  Then, each Friday, we’ll all blog about our act.

THE GOAL:

TO SPREAD THE DIVERGENT LOVE–and maybe find out a little something about ourselves in the process. Tell your friends, get them involved—the more, the merrier!! If you plan to join us, leave a link in the comments section each week, and I’ll make sure to add them to the bottom of the posts.

And, in honor of the main character Tris’s upbringing, our kick-off virtue is…..

WEEK ONE:  ABNEGATION!

According to the Divergent fansite, Abnegation means:

  1. To refuse or deny oneself (some rights, conveniences, etc.); reject, renounce.
  2. To relinquish, give up

Basically, Veronica says the faction is about selflessness; stripping unnecessary things from life in order to help people forget themselves and do away with vanity, greed, and envy.

So, this week–GO FORTH! Step outside of your “you” zone and perform your selfless act in the wild. If you like, tweet about your trials and tribulations with an #abnegation hashtag. Then, on Friday, blog about your experience and share your Abnegation-ness with the rest of us!

Participants:

Kate Hart

Sarah Enni

Dawn Rae Miller

Jenn Wood

Lori Tays Eastep

Kathy Bradey

Jess Byam

Ashelynn Hetland

Katharine Owens

Dana Alison Levy

Sarah Nicolas

Marilyn Almodovar

Antimony

Kaitlin Ward

Cass

Adam

Nikki Katz

(Pssst! If you haven’t read DIVERGENT yet, you can still join us. Plus, what are you waiting for?  DIVERGENT is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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):

BUT


 

 

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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And the (very, very belated) winner (one day I promise to do these things on time) of the Where She Went ARC (but maybe it just makes you savor the anticipation even more) by Gayle Forman (or probably you find it utterly annoying. I’ll shut up now) is…..

ALEEZA!

Yay!  Please email me at houndrat at yahoo dot com to claim your ARC, WOOT!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Now for a quick announcement!  Do you see that Goodreads button on the right?  Do you?  That actually LEADS TO MY BOOK!  Yes, I realize it’s still titled Book One, but still—IT’S MY BOOK! SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!

I can’t tell you how thrilling it is to see my name next to that poor, empty rectangle featuring that poor non-title.  Even the tiniest thing makes my book deal feel a little more real, you know?  Some day, I might actually be 100% convinced that’s it’s going to happen.

Anyway, I planned to follow up that announcement by blogging about Important Things. Except, the only Important Things I can think about at the moment are asiago bagels and where I can find a sparkle cowboy hat for Kirsten Hubbard’s book release this weekend.  (if you know, please tell me…I’m flailing here. FLAILING.)  But it’s kind of hard to carry an entire blog post with those topics.  Okay, that’s a lie. I could totally carry an entire blog post about those topics…it just wouldn’t be one you’d want to read.

So instead, I decided to embrace the easy path and give away another ARC instead. YAY!

This one is Chime by Franny Billingsley, which earned a starred review from Booklist. If you enjoy dark fantasy, this is your kind of book!  Here’s the blurb:

Before Briony’s stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family’s hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it’s become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.

Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He’s as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she’s extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn’t know.

And here’s the cover, which I totally love:

To win, follow me on Twitter, and leave a comment telling me which power you would want the most if you were a witch.  Personally, I’m kind of a fan of the classic turning someone into a newt.  Or maybe a banana slug.  Seriously, how entertaining would that be? Well, as long as you could change them back.

I Need This Sign.

Contest ends this Friday at noon, PST and I will TRY MY BEST to notify the winner that same day.  Feel free to poke me in the comments if I forget!  GOOD LUCK!

 

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Read this book.

Okay, so I’m one week late with the next ARC Giveaway. In Debra-time, that’s impressively close to the target date, so we’ll roll with it.

I’m typing this up at the total last minute while my 3-yr-old pretends I’m a jungle gym, so please excuse me for brevity. Or mistakes. Or when you see OUCH! pop up in random spots.

Where She Went is Gayle Forman’s eagerly awaited follow-up to If I Stay, and I have to say, I think I loved it even more than the first one.  This book is from Adam’s perspective, and Adam is broken. And there’s nothing I like better than a broken male character.

Wow, that makes me sound like a crazy, warped man-hater. When really I’m just warped.

Anyway, it’s written in the author’s powerful prose, and like her first one, alternates between real time and flashbacks, with just a touch of magical realism.  Plus, it’s full of angry break-up songs, which made me think of Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill album, and that’s always a good thing.

Angst angst angst

Okay, now I just need a contest.  How about…in the comments, tell me you at least went and READ Maureen Johnson’s The Last Little Shelterbox fundraising post about helping disaster victims in New Zealand.  I won’t ask if you donated or not but if you do, well, know that you are awesome and entitled to be addressed as Mr. or Ms. Awesomesauce for the remainder of the week.

Contest will close Tuesday at noon, PST.

And because it amuses me, here are a few keyword searches that led people to my blog recently:

“BREAST RASH PHOTOS”—Because nothing says Quality Writer’s Blog like a few solid posts on breast rash.  Hmmmm.

“BRI SUE FIRST NAKED”—Obviously someone with ADD who got distracted from legal matters by more pressing needs

“BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER FUR COAT”—Anytime I get a Buffy search, I’m stoked. Even if I’m now picturing a black fur coat with a massive picture of Buffy wielding a giant stake painted on it. In blood. Remeber that warped part?

“MY ASS BEAUTY”—For those in search of total body sparkle.

“PENIS”—Nice. Simple. I like it.

“ SAHM PICTURE OF A NASTY HOUSE”—Finally, a legit reason to come to my blog!

Anyway, GO!  COMMENT!  WIN!  And…try not to search “my ass beauty.”  Please.

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