Sunday, March 30, 2014

Stacking The Shelves 2

This haul is for the months of February and March !


Jess Instagramed some of these, but I wanted to capture them all:

Keeping The Moon and The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
If you read this blog you know we love Sara Dessen books and even though we own all her books we were at 2nd and Charles and saw the new Sarah Dessen covers for only $3.00 !

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
I've been hearing about this adult novel on my literary podcasts for months, so I got it to make an Amazon order even out.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
This is going to be a movie with Jennifer Lawrence !
Thanks from Anya at Think Jam

Inferno by D. Brizzle Dan Brown (Book Riot reference)

I read literally every Dan Brown book in high school, so when I saw this for only 10$ and in amazing condition I thought it was time I caught up.


Jess and I already posted about NovaTeen Book Festival and while we were there we picked up:

Fake ID by Lamar Giles (RVA-ish author + Diversity !)
Replica by Jenna Black ( Yay for more LGBT YA Characters)
Prophecy by Ellen Oh (More characters of color!)
Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby (A circus book and a Morris Award nominee)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Launch Weekend : Miss Mabel's School For Girls + Giveaway

This is the launch weekend of Miss Mabel's School For Girls, the debut novel from Katie Cross ! I love a texty cover and this one has a cool Gothic and classical feel. This is the first book in The Network Series.

Never underestimate the power of a determined witch. Letum Wood is a forest of fog and deadfall, home to the quietly famous Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, a place where young witches learn the art of magic.Sixteen-year-old Bianca Monroe has inherited a deadly curse. Determined to break free before it kills her, she enrolls in the respected school to confront the cunning witch who cast the curse: Miss Mabel.Bianca finds herself faced with dark magic she didn’t expect, with lessons more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. Will Bianca have the courage to save herself from the curse, or will Miss Mabel’s sinister plan be too powerful?Miss Mabel’s School for Girls is the first novel in The Network Series, an exciting new fantasy collection. A gripping tale about the struggle to survive, it will take you to a new place and time, one you’ll never want to leave.

Check out Miss Mabel's School For Girls on the web and with this  awesome giveaway 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Days of David Levithan: Lover's Dictionary and Realm of Possibility

Between 2013-2014 I attempt to read a large selection of David Levithan novels.
See the full list here

We are kind of skipping around in publication order because I think these two Levithan novels have a lot in common as they are both love stories written in nontraditional prose.

 The Realm of Possibility is Levithan's second novel and tells the stories of 20 high school students through individual 2-3 page narratives; each with their own unique  format and wording. The stories span from a boyfriend jealous of his girlfriend's infatuation with Holden Caulfield to a girl wrestling with why and if she is a bad person.  Some stories go everywhere while many go nowhere, but it's an enticing ride along the way. This was my very first Levithan novel and also one of the first reviews on the blog, the full review can be found here.

Lover's Dictionary is in a similar vain, but tells the story of one couple and switches things up by being told in dictionary entries. This book stands out in Levithan's bibliography  because it's Levithan's first and up to this point only adult novel. Like Realm of Possibility, you could knock this book out in less than an hour, but  it's also a book you can go back to and dip in and out of for a second read.

I'd heard about this book for a while and kind of strayed away from it because the high concept intimidated me.But after reading it I see what Levithan is really doing is writing a series of chronological mini scenes from the couple's relationship based on a dictionary word. So it will look like:

“encroach, v.

The first three nights we spent together, I couldn't sleep. I wasn't used to your breathing, your feet on my legs, your weight in my bed. In truth, I still sleep better when I'm alone. But now I allow that sleep isn't always the most important thing. "

The couple in this book doesn't have an all lovey dovey sweet romance. Their  relationship clearly has serious issues and will have you questioning if the couple will make it. As Levithan says on his website,the only thing that really makes this book an adult book is that it's about adults, so this book could very easily appeal to a YA (or...New Adult) audience.

Overall these are some of my favorite novels of Levithan's. They play around with how we can use words and pages to tell a story. It's amazing how you can still connect to character and story even after  you strip away  character names, settings, appearances, dialogue and background characters.

For a while, The Lover's Dictionary reminded me of Levithan's YA novel Everyday because the characters were gender ambiguous. However,  later in the book it is stated the narrator is male and their significant other is female.

Monday, March 17, 2014

NoVaTeen Book Festival 2014

NoVaTEEN Book Festival | March 8 2014 | Arlington
A couple of weekends ago, Kat and I headed to Arlington, VA to attend the first ever NoVA (Northern Virginia) Teen Book Festival ! When I first saw this event  pop up on Twitter I was so excited to see a large YA event in Virginia.

The day opened with a keynote from Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Shiloh, The Alice Series)  followed by a main panel and multiple break out sessions every hour. Each panel was a little different. Some were discussions among authors, while others were more laid back and allowed readers and authors to have a Q&A.

Originally, we planned to only attend a few panels and  leave until the signings, but we ended up staying the whole day.

Sara Gilloury, Ellen Oh and Lamar Giles were on the first panel about identity in YA.  It really hit home about all the lack of diversity and problematic trends in YA. Meg Medina (from RVA) was one of the moderators and she had some great stories and insights. It was nice to see a diverse panel on stage discussing YA and how their point of views shape their book.
Yep, even Peeta was there.

The second panel we 
attended was with Marie Lu and Ellen Oh. I am a big fan of Ellen Oh's Tumblr and she was great in person, plus she has read Marie Lu's new book so, we are also very jealous of her.

When I go to events like this, I always like to meet authors I know nothing about. So one of the panels we went to was called Superfreak with Jon Skovron, Jenna Black and Hannah Barnaby. They talked about how literal freakishness mixes well with the perceived freakishness a lot of YA books deal with. Barnaby's book won the Morris Award last year and reminded me of Water for Elephants, so I grabbed it.. - Kat

The last panel we attended was entitled Once in A Lifetime, but was more of a  Cristin/Kristen panel with Kristen Simmons and Cristin Terrill. At the end I awkwardly told her how I really liked All Our Yesterdays

Marie's Lu's end of the event keynote speech was pitch perfect for the teens and adults in the house. She talked about the books we choose to read during our school years and how important those books will be to us later. She encouraged teens to read as many books as they can, so they can look back on them.This certainly made me nostalgic about how I wished I read more YA when I was a teen.

The best thing about events like these is that  we discovered so many  authors and book we would have

never thought about picking up. We wish we could have brought books from every single author there, but that's what library's are for!

The best part of the YA community is of course the people. It was awesome hanging out with YA event extraordinaire  Markella over at It's A Hardcover Life and the members of the DC Forever Young Adult Book Club chapter.  They were great company on the walk over to the signing,

 There were even a few other  Richmond people including Kristi from James River Writers (@RCfiction) . I love how she is is so enthusiastic about YA !

We can only predict bigger and better things for NoVaTeen in the future. 
The authors ! (photo from

Monday, March 10, 2014

Book Review : Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

  • Release Date : 2006
  • Publisher : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Pages : 337
  • Genre : Science Fiction/Survivalist/Contemporary
I picked this book up for my book club  not knowing anything about it. I was interested in it because it was discussed as being Dystopian and I hadn't read a Dystopian in a while.  However, I found this less Dystopic and more of a small-scale survivalist story. This isn't the story about how a teen is going to save the end of the world. . . But how she is going to survive it. Life As We Knew It will have you thinking twice about what it means to survive and the importance of family. A great read if you are looking a more realistic 'end of the world' YA novel.

Life As We knew It is the gripping tale of a family's survival in the midst of a global disaster. Told through the diary of 16-year-old  Miranda, each day presents the challenges that come with daily survival for  her brothers and Mom after a surprise astrological event changes the world as they knew it.

The novel works off  a what-if scenario where an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth. The gravitational pull floods the coastlines, activates dormant volcanoes, creates communication blackouts and brings on harsh early winters. Despite the book's dark tones and hardships it touches on the perseverance  and strength of a family when they have nothing left but each other.

The use of diary entries as a storytelling technique  limited the writing style and at times it did feel a little repetitive. I found myself wanting to see what was happening outside of the diary.

While parts of this book were nightmare inducing other parts could be a little hard to believe. The family catches a lot of lucky breaks and a few storylines seem to disappear, though they might come back in the other books.

Published in 2006  before the big YA boom I liked that this doesn't fall into a lot of the tropes I see in YA Fiction now. For example, parents and other adults  are actually useful and don't disappear. Miranda's mom has to be the strongest character in this story, she sacrifices everything to keep  her family together and healthy

Another plus for me was that even though the parent's are divorced the dad isn't one of the Jerk-Dads I've been reading about lately.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Page 69 Challenge - Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore

  • Release Date: October 2, 2012
  • Pages: 304 Pages
  • Genre: Adult Fiction
  • Publisher: Farrar, Staruss and Giroux (MacMillian)

I  discovered the page 69 theory from the Books on The Night Stand podcast, but I guess it's been circulating the bookternet for while. The theory states that the litmus test for if you will like a book can be found by reading page 69. 

Well, challenge accepted.

I picked five random library books, read page 69 and chose one to read based soley on how much I liked that page. I went mostly toward adult books, because I tended to know less about them. The books I read from were:

A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Haplin
The Dead Run by Adam Mansbach
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Any Resemblance To Actual Persons by Kevin Allerdice

I ultimately choose Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore. Page 69 of this novel is the beginning of a chapter and is actually really indicative of the book. In  the scene, our protagonist Clay is going on a date with the love interest, Kat, through his Mac book because he can't leave the bookstore. One thing I picked up on was a reference to an XKCD comic on Kat's nightsand. I regularly read this webcomic and know it tends to be about millennials, technology and programming  which in the end completely fits this book's worldview and themes.  

I really enjoyed this novel, it's an interesting look at the collision between old and new technology. Clay Jansen is a recent art school graduate in Silicon Valley, working at a cutting edge bagel startup when  it goes under and he is laid off. Desperate for work he takes a job as a night clerk at Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore where he encounters the clandestine patrons who are wrapped up in secrecy and working on  centuries old mission.

 Sloane's writing style is so easy to get lost in. Clay's first person narration is witty and present with an almost stream of consciousness feel to it. It was so easy to get lost in and it was fun to observe this new world and experience he is thrown into.

This book also does some interesting things with Google, it turns the company into this almost mythical place. Clay's love interest Kat is a programmer at Google and at one point he goes to Google to visit her. While I think some of the things he describes about the company are real, I can't find any proof that they have special nutrients in the employees food or that there are massive Legos on the front lawn that house every YouTube video and e-mail in the world.

An interesting fact about this novel, it was originally a short story which Sloane shares for free here (but it spoils the book, kind of) it's cool to see what Sloane added and what he changed. This short story version particularly takes the Google satire to an extreme as in this version the Google campus is just a giant crystal.

In the end, I think there may just be some truth in this Page 69 challenge, it seemed to work fairly well in this novel, so  now I think I'm ready for Round 2 !

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Sense List: February Faves

   A Monthly List of YA Bookish News



On The Web

  • Over at Publishing Crawl Never Fade author Alexandra Bracken discusses The Value of ARCs

Cover Reveals


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